"Real Housewives," spare us your sex tapes

Danielle Staub, newest amateur porn star, brings narcissism to a new low

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published June 8, 2010 7:30PM (EDT)

Danielle Staub
Danielle Staub

To all you reality stars, beauty queens and members of KISS out there, I have something to say on behalf of a weary world. Please, we beg you: Stop making sex tapes.

Today's revelation that Hustler is releasing a 75-minute opus of "Real Housewives" star Danielle Staub doing the nasty is just the latest in a genre that wore out its welcome long before Dustin Diamond popularized the Dirty Sanchez. At this point, if you're a contestant on "Survivor," ever ran for president or have the name "Kardashian," we just assume there's a video out there of you making your O face. And our fatigue from your narcissism has actually finally won out over mere prurient curiosity.

Believe us, when it comes to the getting on of anyone's freak, we give a really wide berth. But call us cynical, we just can't shake the suspicion that what was once a private, loving act between an aspiring model and an aspiring DJ has now become something else -- the pilot for a new Bravo series. Spare us the outrage at how you feel sooooo betrayed, how you have no idea how this could have fallen into the wrong hands. At least Jesse James admitted that, deep down, he wanted to get caught. This whole pretext of "I didn't really make and distribute my own little porno here" so you can give the public something that appears furtive and dirty and secret while still showing off how weird you look in night vision? Enough. And if you are actually dumb enough to make a sex tape and think it won't get leaked, you are too dumb to ever have sex again.

There may have been a time, long ago in the Tommy and Pam era, when simultaneous horniness and access to technology was a novelty. And there are no doubt still many, both in the celebrity spotlight and here among the rabble, who just want to mix it up a little in the bedroom now and again. There's no shame in wanting to watch yourself blow your boyfriend, I suppose. As far as attention-getting ploys go, though, the sex tape makes going out without your underpants look downright classy.

It also speaks volumes about our cultural compulsion to not just experience life but to also document it. We get that: We like attention, too. We're the people who upload pictures of ourselves doing things while we're still doing them. Wow, standing here on the Great Wall of China is amazing -- but how does it look on the Facebook app on my phone? At a certain point, though, if your whole sex life is one big wank, a thing to be watched rather than lived, what do you need a partner for? So, famous-for-being-famous person, consider this another of those modern era clichés: the intervention. Not everything has to be a performance; you can just let sex be sex. Please don't go at it on our account, because seriously, we'd rather watch kittens reenact an oil spill

As a friend pondered recently: What happened to the eroticism of imagination? Whether you're a Real Housewife or just plain folk, a transitory adventure, with no record beyond the smile you just can't wipe off whenever you remember it, can be pretty goddamn awesome. And if ever there were a moment to stop self-promoting, to worry less about how cool this looks and more about how nice it feels, that'd be while you're doing it.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

MORE FROM Mary Elizabeth Williams

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Celebrity Love And Sex Pornography Sex The Real Housewives