As a child of the 1990s, I'm very excited to see how Hulu portrays the saga of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's stolen "home video" in the series "Pam & Tommy" that debuts this week.
Hulu doesn't really have to do all that much work to make a compelling show because the real life true story was absolutely bonkers.
Sebastian Stan portrays Tommy Lee. Lily James portrays Pamela Anderson.
Seth Rogen portrays a guy named Rand Gauthier. Without Rand, the world would never have seen Pamela and Tommy's X-Rated honeymoon escapades. Escapades that would eventually generate an estimated $100 million in revenue while also pioneering an art form: The leaked celebrity sex tape. Within just a few years this art form would transform Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian into permanent superstars. Kim Kardashian's sex tape would become the highest grossing example in the genre.
Pam and Tommy's story starts in 1995 at this Malibu mansion:
If you are old enough to remember "MTV Cribs," then you may recall Tommy giving a tour of the above home, which he dubbed "Tommyland," in an episode that aired in 2000, roughly two years after his marriage to Pamela ended. You may recall Tommy showing off his kitchen shark tank, enormous pool, nightclub, pillow room, master bedroom sex swing and in-home Starbucks cappuccino machine.
The above mansion also makes a brief cameo in Hulu documentary "The Curse of Von Dutch: A Brand to Die For," which tells the history of the fashion brand Von Dutch. According to the documentary, the world at large probably never would have heard of Von Dutch if Tommy hadn't made the last-minute decision to wear a Von Dutch TV shirt during the filming of his "Cribs" episode. That documentary is also very interesting, worth watching… I swear I'm not getting paid by Hulu… but I would accept a free month or two if someone from their promotions department felt like reaching out 🙂
Tommy Meets Pamela
Tomme Lee and Pamela Anderson met for the first time at a Hollywood nightclub on New Years Eve 1994. He licked her face. She gave him her phone number. A fairy tale meet-cute.
Fast forward six weeks.
Tommy bought his Malibu mansion on February 14, 1995 for $837,886. That's the same as around $1.5 million in today's dollars. On February 15 Tommy calls Pam for the first time.
On that phone call he learns Pam is about to fly to Cancun. He spontaneously decides to join her. Actually, he basically stalks her. But it works. Pam and Tommy are married on the beach in Cancun on February 19, 1995 – 96 hours after that first phone call. He wore board shorts with no shirt, she wore a white bikini. For their honeymoon, they rent a yacht and tool around for a few days. They have sex a lot. And they film a lot of their romps on Tommy's camcorder.
Upon returning to Los Angeles, they settle into Tommy's new Malibu mansion. She is at the height of her Baywatch fame and the show is primarily filmed at a beach just a few minutes away. So it all works out quite well.
Tommy's house was constructed from scratch on a 2.3 acre property just a few years earlier, in 1991. Yet despite the fact that it was only a few years old, the couple embarks on a massive renovation project.
In an article published in Rolling Stone back in 2018, contractors who were hired to work on the home back in 1995/1996 described how Pam and Tommy spent "an obscene amount of money" over multiple years turning the home into a "hedonist's paradise." An interior designer would later say, "They spent money like they hated it."
One of the contractors was…
Rand Gauthier is actually the son of a somewhat-famous actor from the 1960s and 1970s named Dick Gautier. Rand changed the spelling of his last name to "Gauthier" (adding an "h") to separate himself slightly from his father's legacy.
In the 1980s Rand starred in more than 70 adult films under the name "Austin Moore." By the mid-1990s he was working as an electrician.
Rand was hired by Tommy to re-do all the electrical wiring throughout the Malibu house. Tommy constantly changed his mind about where he wanted outlets and lights to go. Tommy woke up most days after noon hungover and would change his mind constantly about the work he needed done. He was not great at paying people on time or he would refuse to pay people because he thought the job wasn't done correctly.
For whatever reason, Rand at one point believed he was owed $20,000 for services rendered. That's around $36,000 in today's dollars. Not nothing for an independent blue-collar guy.
When Rand went to confront Tommy about the unpaid debt, Tommy allegedly pointed a shotgun at him and ordered him to never come back.
Rand's anger festered for months until he hatched a plan for revenge. His plan? To steal an enormous safe that Tommy kept in the garage, crack it open and then sell the guns and jewelry he knew was kept inside. Rand knew he could evade the home's security systems because… HE INSTALLED THE SYSTEM!
This was the plan the Rand Gauthier enacted on a night in October 1995. And by all accounts, it went off without a hitch.
When he got the safe to an undisclosed location, Rand discovered guns, jewelry, the white bikini Pamela wore at the beachfront Cancun wedding… and the camcorder tape.
Pam and Tommy didn't notice that the safe was missing for TWO MONTHS. They finally contacted police and hired a private detective in January 1996.
Within a few months, Pam and Tommy began to hear rumors that physical copies of their sex tape were being bought and sold on the streets of Los Angeles. By late 1997, the tape had made its way to a relatively new medium called the world wide web.
In November of 1997, Pam and Tommy signed an ill-advised contract with one of the online distributors that they hoped would at least give them some control and a share of profits in exchange for their copyright rights. Because the internet is impossible to control, Pam and Tommy have claimed they never made a penny from the tape's roughly $100 million in sales… though they did likely make some money when a professional adult company called Vivid took-over distribution in early 1998.
For a bunch of reasons that I'm sure the Hulu show will explore in better detail, Rand Gauthier also never made a penny off the tape he stole.
And what happened to Tommyland?
Tommy sold the Malibu mansion in 2005 for $2.5 million. It was sold again in 2007 for $3.25 million. In November 2019, the mansion was completely destroyed in a fire.
Below is a video tour of the property from a year before that tragic fire. The sex swing, shark tank, pillow room and night club were all replaced:
And here is a video and some photos that Tommy posted to Instagram about a week after the fire:
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By the way, there's one more strange twist in this tale. From 2007 to 2008 Pamela was married to film producer Rick Salomon. They were then briefly re-married in 2014. Ironically, Rick is most-famous for being the man in Paris Hilton's "leaked" celebrity sex tape.
Pam has reunited with Tommy a number of times over the years as well, though not legally.