Pam & Tommy: How Much of the Wild Story Is True?

Pam & Tommy: How Much of the Wild Story Is True?
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This week we are welcoming another episode of one of the spiciest new television shows to our screens. Pam & Tommy is bringing us the true tale behind actress Pamela Anderson and drummer Tommy Lee’s famous sex tape scandal.

Some of the events in the show are sure to surprise you and will have you reaching for your phone to find out ‘did that really happen?’.

Like all true story adaptations, Pam & Tommy does take some liberties for the sake of drama. And with neither Tommy Lee nor Pamela Anderson being directly involved with the show we may never know precisely how much is true.

But as it turns out, a lot of the wild happenings in this show have some truth to them.

This article contains spoilers for Pam & Tommy.

Pam and Tommy episode recap: How much of the story is true?

Was the sex tape stolen?

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Seth Rogan as Rand Gauthier, Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Disney+/Hulu

A lot of the information that shapes Pam & Tommy comes from the 2014 Rolling Stone article Pam and Tommy: The Untold Story of the World’s Most Infamous Sex Tape.

Pam & Tommy showrunner Rob Siegel told EW in an interview that “we didn’t make up a whole lot. Most of what you see in those eight episodes is in that article. The basic plot beats are all straight from the article”.

The main source in the article is Rand Gauthier, who is indeed a real person. Gauthier is played by Seth Rogen in the series and receives plenty of screen time as the man who stole the sex tape from Lee’s locked safe.

For years many didn’t realise the truth behind the sex tape scandal was that it was, in fact, stolen. Given the tape’s immense success, many assumed that Lee and Anderson had some part in releasing the tape for publicity or a payout, when in fact neither was true.

In the Rolling Stone story, Gauthier came forward to explain how he was the one responsible for stealing the tape.

Gauthier explained he had been working as a contractor at Lee and Anderson’s L.A. mansion. He alleged that after difficult dealings with the couple involving last-minute changes made to renovations, Gauthier was fired without pay, and even had a gun shoved in his face by Lee.

After this, Gauthier claimed he wanted revenge on the rock star so he plotted to steal his safe.

Gauthier spent months casing the household. Details of the exact theft are muddled, but Gauthier allegedly disabled security cameras, moved all the equipment in the studio to reach the safe and then wheeled it out on a dolly.

Months later the couple filed a police report for the stolen safe and confirmed in the list of missing items that they really didn’t know the videotape was taken from them.

Did Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee really marry after four days?

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Sebastian Stan and Lily James, Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Disney+/Hulu

One thing viewers may be surprised to see in Pam & Tommy is the speed at which the couple’s relationship took off.

Their relationship is the definition of a whirlwind romance. Apparently, the two first met at a New Year’s Eve party in 1994 at an L.A. nightclub. Lee had recently come out of his second marriage to actress Heather Locklear and Anderson was riding the wave of her stardom from Baywatch.

It’s been reported that after just 96 hours of knowing Anderson, Lee flew to Cancun and proposed to her. The couple were married on a beach wearing a bikini and swimming shorts in 1995.

Did the porn business reject the tape?

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Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Disney+/Hulu

Gauthier is believed to have taken the tape to Milton Ingley, the studio manager of the porn business he’d been working at. Together the two discovered what was on the stolen tape and decided to shop it around for distribution.

According to Rolling Stone, their first order of business was to make copies of the tape and then destroy the original Hi8 cassette by scattering its remains outside of Six Flags Magic Mountain in California.

Ingley took the tape to a number of companies he had connections with, but they all refused to take it on. The porn business was notoriously strict at the time and it became clear quickly that the tape had been stolen, seeing as neither Lee nor Anderson had signed release forms.

So the duo turned to this thing called the internet, which was still a very low key market back in the ’90s.

What’s with the talking penis in Pam and Tommy?

pam and tommy tommy lee
Sebastian Stan, Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Disney+/Hulu

Pam & Tommy is no doubt a wildly R-rated show and that becomes instantly apparent by the arrival of Tommy Lee’s very large package. That also happens to talk.

The entire idea is strange but it was one that came from Lee himself. Lee’s memoir Tommyland features an entire section where Lee and his penis have a conversation.

The Pam & Tommy producers thought this would be a good way of exploring Lee’s character further, so they decided to include all of Lee, including his talking penis, in the show. Apparently, they did get some “gentle pushback” on the idea but it made its way through to the final cut.

The result is an animatronic, prosthetic appendage that took four puppeteers to handle. It is voiced by Jason Mantzoukas.

It’s definitely one of the weirdest segments in Pam & Tommy but it’s certainly not the last wild thing you’ll see in this show.

Did Pam and Tommy hire a private investigator?

Sebastian Stan, Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Hulu/Disney

According to the Rolling Stone article, Anderson and Lee did indeed hire a private investigator named Anthony Pellicano, to find out what happened with their safe.

Don Harvey plays Pellicano in the show, who was a notorious “fixer” in Hollywood.

For years he helped take care of duties for Hollywood’s elite, but his tactics eventually caught up with him. In 2008, Pellicano was convicted of 78 counts of wiretapping and racketeering as well as other services like intimidation and identity theft and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Based on that his tough portrayal in Pam & Tommy appears to be quite accurate.

Did Pamela Anderson smash a Paparazzi’s car?

pam and tommy recap
Lily James, Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Hulu/Disney

In episode four of Pam & Tommy it’s revealed that Lee and Anderson tragically suffer a miscarriage. Following this the show depicts the paparazzi being so rampant that Lee pulls over in the street to confront one of their unwelcome stalkers and Anderson goes as far as to smash the man’s windshield.

Did this really happen?

It’s hard to find any evidence of that specific event, however, Lee wrote in Mötley Crüe’s book The Dirt that “the paparazzi were so intent on getting photos, they kept cutting off the ambulance on the way to the hospital.” He said that while everyday paparazzi was one thing having them crowd the ambulance “was another story.”

Was Tommy Lee thrown out of the Viper Room?

Sebastian Stan, Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Hulu

In episode 5 of Pam & Tommy news reports depict Tommy Lee being thrown out of the famous Hollywood Viper Room after an altercation.

It’s doubtful that this scenario played out exactly as it did in the TV show but in 1996 Lee was charged with battery for allegedly throwing a cameraman to the ground outside the Viper Room. Lee and Anderson were apparently harassed and even pepper-sprayed as they were leaving the club, according to the Chicago Tribune’s report. Lee pleaded no contest to the charges.

Did Pam and Tommy really sue Penthouse?

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Lily James and Sebastian Stan, Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Hulu

Another major event depicted in the Disney+ series is Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s move to sue Penthouse magazine.

This did indeed happen with The Rolling Stone article reporting that Penthouse had acquired a copy of the sex tape but a lawyer from the outlet allegedly promised that no images would be published. In 1996, Lee and Anderson filed a $10 million civil lawsuit against Penthouse, as well as everyone else they thought was in possession of the tape, including Rand Gauthier.

Once the press picked up on the lawsuit the news that the sex tape existed well and truly exploded.

Was Pamela Anderson discovered at a football game?

Lily James, Pam and Tommy episodes. Image: Disney/Hulu

How exactly did Pamela Anderson become a household name? While many know her for her role on Baywatch, Anderson’s initial discovery did surprisingly happen at a football game.

As was depicted in the show, when she was 22 years old Anderson attended a BC Lions Canadian Football League game in 1989 in Vancouver. While there she was featured on the Jumbotron wearing a Labatt’s Beer t-shirt.

According to ABC News, the appearance got her so much attention that Labatt’s Beer eventually hired her as a spokesperson which lead to her poster as the Blue Zone Girl.

When did Pamela Anderson’s Playboy career begin?

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Lily James, Pam and Tommy episodes. Screenshot: Disney/Hulu

Pamela Anderson has certainly made a name for herself over the years as one of the top Playboy cover models of all time.

Her first appearance on the cover of the adult magazine was in the October 1989 issue. In February 1990 she was chosen as the Playmate of the month. Anderson’s partnership with Playboy has continued over 22 years and she has appeared on the cover of the publication more than any other model.

Did that Jay Leno interview really happen?

pam and tommy
Image: Disney/Hulu

In episode 7 of Pam & Tommy, Pamela Anderson appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (with Leno played by Adam Ray) to promote her new film Barb Wire. During the interview, Leno cracks jokes about the couple’s sex tape, making things quite tense between him and Anderson.

In reality, Anderson did appear on Leno’s show, quite a few times. It’s hard to say how faithful the interview presented in the show was seeing as only snippets are available on YouTube.

Did Rand become a debt collector?

pam and tommy episode 7
Image: Disney/Hulu

According to Gauthier’s recollections in the Rolling Stone article, he really did become a debt collector for the mob after Louis “Butchie” Peraino demanded his money back and forced Gauthier to work off his own debt.

Gauthier said that he would allegedly approach victims with a coffee cup full of ammonia, throw it in their face, break the person’s collar bone and then disappear.

Did Rand really demand money from Tommy Lee?

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Image: Disney/Hulu

One of the stranger events from Pam & Tommy episode 7 was Rand’s blackmailing of Tommy Lee.

In the show, Rand confronts Tommy and demands he pays him what he was owed for renovations of his house. Instead of paying him the ransom, Tommy burns the money in front of Rand.

It’s hard to find evidence on whether this actually happened. Neither Lee nor Gauthier have ever mentioned it publicly so it’s more likely this is the writers taking creative licence for dramatic effect.

Did Penthouse really win the lawsuit?

pam and tommy
Image: Disney/Hulu

Despite their best attempts, a judge denied Anderson and Lee’s lawsuit against Penthouse which allowed the magazine to publish written descriptions of the tape and depict what was happening with illustrations.

Because Anderson had publicly posed nude before and the couple were open about their sex life, the lawyer for Penthouse argued the couple had forfeited their privacy rights and that the tape was newsworthy enough to write about.

Did they make a deal to sell the tape?

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Image: Hulu/Disney

After months of attempting to plug holes in the exposure of their stolen sex tape, in episode 8 of Pam & Tommy the couple decides to settle.

This is also based on fact as Rolling Stone reported that on November 25, 1997 Lee and Anderson signed an agreement with Internet Entertainment Group (IEG) allowing the company to sell the tape to anyone who bought a subscription to the website. Despite only agreeing to the online rights, the tape found its way into physical distribution anyway.

Did Pam have Tommy’s name tattooed?

pam and tommy recap
Image: Hulu/Disney

Towards the end of Pam & Tommy, Anderson is shown at a tattoo parlour getting Tommy’s name covered up on her finger. This appears to be based on fact as pictures were compared of Anderson’s tattoos over time and the one on her finger has since been changed to read ‘Mommy’.

You may have noticed Anderson’s barbed wire tattoo during the show as well, which the actress really did get for her role in Barb Wire to avoid having it drawn on in the make-up chair every day. Recently Anderson has had the tattoo removed.

How many kids do Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee have?

pam and tommy recap
Image: Hulu/Disney

At the end of the series, we’re introduced to Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s first child, Brandon Thomas, who was born in June 1996. Their second son Dylan Jagger was born a year later in December 1997. The couple divorced in 1998 and neither Anderson nor Lee has had any more children.

Pam & Tommy’s is streaming now on Disney+.

This article is updated weekly with the arrival of new episodes of Pam and Tommy.

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At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


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