YACHTs sex-tape hoax: cunning stunt or desperate stab for attention?
YACHT's sex-tape hoax: cunning stunt or desperate stab for attention? Sarah Meadows

LA indie dance band YACHT—Claire Evans and Jona Bechtolt—stroked the internet's prurience and outrage glands yesterday with a fake sex-tape stunt that has earned them more attention in two days than they've earned during the previous 14 years of their existence.

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To recap: YACHT—a romantically linked couple whose arty disco and catchy electronic-pop come glazed with what former Stranger music editor Eric Grandy called in a 2009 feature "quasi-mystical optimism"—said that a tape of them having sex had been leaked to the internet without their consent. Bechtolt and Evans said they were taking legal action against the culprit. In a long Facebook post [read it in full after the jump], YACHT feign hurt, but this passage should've tipped off anyone paying attention that something fishy was going on: "We hope you understand that this is not a delicious scandal. This is an exploitation."

Many have observed that this hoax is an insult to people who have actually been harmed by such exploitative, vengeful tactics. YACHT's prank reeks of desperation, but the media outlets that fell for it have to be feeling shitty right now. Meanwhile, you're listening to YACHT for the first time (or not). Maybe this turn of events isn't surprising, given that Bechtolt has admitted to using, as Grandy's piece notes, "pirated audio-production software."

The head of the group's PR company, Motormouth Media's Judy Miller Silverman, claims that it had no knowledge of the hoax.



This morning Jezebel's Anna Merlan shared an email that Evans and Bechtolt had written to a Gawker Media colleague on April 6 (she also notes that Evans has contributed to Gawker site io9).

For the upcoming music video for our song, “I Wanna Fuck You Til I’m Dead,” we’re faking a sex tape leak.

In the days leading up to the video’s release, we’re going to pretend we were hacked, share and delete confessional social media posts on the subject of our privacy, then try to “get out in front of it” and sell the sex tape, fake a server crash, etc.

Donald J. Trump would be proud.

Here's YACHT's Facebook post outlining their faux concern over the leaked sex video. (By the way, don't bother searching for the clip; it doesn't exist.)
UPDATE: Turns out there is a YACHT sex video, and it is has a shocking plot twist. You may want to have a sick bag nearby. On the fuck.teamyacht.com site today, the band members also defend themselves: "This was not designed to make money or sell records, but to explore the intersection of privacy, media, and celebrity."

We are writing today because we want you to be the first to know some news.

This has been a hard time for us as a band. It’s hard for bands generally these days. We make music in a time where album sales are at an all time low. Tours are a formidable expense with no guarantees that we’ll make the money back. Not even t-shirts sell the way that they used to. Music isn’t art anymore, it’s just content. We don’t need to write yet another op-ed column to describe the intricacies of why mid-level bands like us are in trouble.

That being said…

Today, without our previous knowledge nor consent, a personal video was released.

For more than 10 years, Claire and I have been the frontman and frontwoman of a band that has been core to the meaning of our mutual existence. YACHT is the result of love, tremendous work and unending, unflinching collaboration. We have always operated under the principle of doing our best to maintain dignity and a commitment to openness and truth, both on stage and off.

But today, due to a series of technological missteps and one morally abject person, a video that we made privately has been released to the public. We have commenced legal proceedings against the aforementioned person, but now that it could potentially circulate, we feel like it’s important for you to know what happened and why.

Claire and I — who have been romantic and artistic partners since 2006 — made a “sex tape.” It was intended for us only. We don’t feel the need to justify the reason we made it. Anyone reading this who has been in a long term partnership understands that preserving the relationship is an ever-changing and challenging thing. It’s especially difficult when the lines between career and romance are as merged as ours are. The financial pressures that we’ve been under, which de facto extend into our extracurricular lives, created a circumstance in which we felt like we needed a bit of an escape from the day-to-day. So we turned on a camera, became naked, and had sex. We assumed that we were the only people who would be privy to that video. I guess we were naive. Now you have the option to be privy to that video. For us, that’s a shame. We feel like art is an act of generosity. The art we make for the public is for that expressed purpose. And now we’re in an awkward situation where the art that we made for us and us alone is being viewed by anyone who has the inclination to hit play — a true and humiliating blurring of the public and private.

Our tastes in the bedroom might seem uncommon to some, and possibly off-putting. But considering the variables that go into any sexual experience, wouldn’t anything seem uncommon, and possibly off-putting? This is our private life. And no one should have governance over what people do consensually in their private lives.

Just because we are public figures does not mean we asked for this. Like anyone, we still deserve to have a choice about what we share with the world. Today we no longer have that choice. But our hope is that you fundamentally understand that choice and you choose not to view a private act that was inadvertently made public. We hope you understand that this is not a delicious scandal. This is an exploitation.

We love you all and hope that you will make the right decision. And if you don’t, we hope that you will continue to enjoy our music regardless of what you’ve seen today.

With love and respect,
Jona and Claire