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Following Topless Photo, Claims of Prejean Sex Tape?

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday May 14, 2009
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Web site thedirty.com--which posted a photo of a topless Carrie Prejean, "Miss California"--has followed up that bombshell with a claim that they have in their possession a "sex tape" featuring Ms. Prejean.

The claim was met with skepticism and a degree of disinterest. Even the reliably verbal participants at the conservative online chat forum FreeRepublic.com--which solicits donations from its users with an ad reading, "Hate ’em? End ’em!"--had little to say as of the afternoon of May 14, with only a handful of postings to the article, most of which had little to offer outside of the boilerplate accusations regarding "hateful" and "vile" liberals, etcetera.

One user offered a glimmer of wit, writing, "I believe I’m the only unhip human being who has never made [a sex tape]."

FreeRepubic drew its story from ButAsForMe.com, which viewed the claim as bogus, and which criticized the site for having in the past made explosive assertions, promising evidence that it never presented.

Others wondered whether a May 1 press release from the National Organization for Marriage, which hastened to star Prejean in an anti-gay commercial, might have been an attempt on the part of NOM to "distance" the anti-gay group from the beauty queen, whose April 19 on-air comments about marriage equality drew both praise and ire.

Prejean, "Miss California" in the Miss USA beauty pageant last month, was asked by openly gay celebrity blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton about her opinion on marriage equality.

Saying she was from a religious background, Prejean praised the freedom that some states in America offer for gay and lesbian families to wed, but said that her own opinion was that marriage ought to be reserved for heterosexual couples.

Hilton later posted a video blog in which he insulted Prejean for her comments, calling her a "dumb bitch."

That blog garnered Prejean support from across the political spectrum, with Hilton’s remarks offending people of all political and sexual persuasions. However, the religious right used the comments to bolster claims that Christians are a "persecuted" minority, and to reiterate dubious assertions that all "liberals" and GLBT people seek to muzzle free expression and limit freedom of religion.

The National Organization for Marriage, which had supported California’s ballot initiative to rescind marriage equality for gay and lesbian families, was quick to feature Prejean in a new ad decrying family equality, but as Prejean--who reportedly began to neglect her job duties as "Miss California"--continued to make media appearances to talk about her status as a victim of "anti-Christian" sentiment and to speak against marriage equality, the story began to take on other dimensions.

A reported breast enhancement procedure that Miss California USA, Prejean’s employer, paid for hit the headlines, as did news of a topless photo Prejean said she had posed for at age 17.

The NOM’s May 1 press release sought to clarify that Prejean was not an employee or spokesperson for the group.

The group’s president, Maggie Gallgher, stated, "Carrie appeared with NOM as a private citizen; she does not work for the National Organization for Marriage. She is a spokesperson for her own views, as anyone watching her can tell."

Gallagher’s statement continued, "We are grateful to Carrie Prejean for her willingness to stand up for marriage.

"We would love to work with Carrie in the future if she chooses, and we wish her well in all her future endeavors whatever she chooses.

"We’re proud of her. Americans are proud of her. She is a remarkable young woman. Thank you, Carrie."

But the release’s tone of praise notwithstanding, some, including GLBT site Towleroad, wondered whether the group might be trying to put some distance between itself and Prejean.

The rumored sex tape was mentioned in online conversations about the statement and its meaning.

Sarah Palin was a relative latecomer to the party, posting a comment at Sarahpac.com in which Palin, who ran for vice president last year, spoke of a "liberal onslaught of malicious attacks" targeting Prejean and calling the purported wave of anti-Prejean press "despicable."

Wrote Palin, "Carrie and I spoke soon after the attacks started; I can relate as a liberal target myself.

"What I find so remarkable is that these politically-motivated attacks fail to show that what Carrie and I believe is also what President Obama and Secretary Clinton believe - marriage is between a man and a woman," Palin went on.

The reference to President Obama was an echo of Miss USA owner Donald Trump’s May 12 press conference, in which Trump announced that despite the topless photo, Prejean would be allowed to keep the "Miss California" title.

Trump also observed that President Obama, who has said that gay and lesbian individuals and families should be protected equally by the law and not singled out for discriminatory treatment, had said that he believed in reserving marriage as a special right for heterosexual couples.

Such comments, together with a perception that the Obama administration has lost interest in advocating for GLBT equality issues, has brought concern among GLBT leaders into the headlines.

It seems that speaking of Prejean in jest constitutes just such a "malicious attack" in the eyes of the right. Conservative site Newsbusters.com indicated displeasure at what it seemed to regard as blasphemy against Prejean in the form of a comic remark made by Joan Rivers on The CBS Early Show.

A May 13 article at the site focused on Rivers saying, "God wants you to shut up," and declared that, "Co-hosts Harry Smith, Maggie Rodriguez, and Julie Chen all laughed in response and shared in mocking Carrie Prejean."

Rivers expressed exasperation at the Prejean story, calling a Prejean interview "Totally irrelevant," and adding, "I am against gay marriage. That two men can get married and I can’t get a damn date? I am so pissed off."

Rivers went on to say of the flap, "It’s all so stupid and she’s taking it so seriously and [Prejean is] so well coached."

Asked co-host Maggie Rodriguez, "So... your advice to her is just chill out a little bit?"

Answered Rivers, "My advice is oh, relax. God wants you to shut up."

Rivers’ book "Men Are Stupid... And They Like Big Boobs" was also referenced in the chat, in the context of Prejean’s reported breast enhancement procedure.

Another celebrity unwilling to genuflect to Prejean was former "Miss Nevada" Katie Rees, who, like Prejean, had posed semi-nude before going on to win her title.

Unlike Prejean, however, Rees lost her title when the photo came to light. To Rees, the difference in how she and Prejean were treated constitutes a "huge double standard," reported a May 12 E! Entertainment story carried at Comcast.net.

Rees said that the photo of herself was not taken professionally, as was the semi-nude photo of Prejean; still, because she had signed a contract stipulating that she had never posed for "nude or semi-nude" pictures, Rees lost her crown at Trump’s behest.

Not so Prejean, who was excused by Trump.

The article quoted Rees as saying, "Semi-nude photos are semi-nude photos."

Added Rees, "I don’t know why I am the only one who was punished for their behavior.

"I was only 19 when those photos were taken of me, and it was me in my personal life, far before I was crowned Miss Nevada," continued Rees.

"Carrie actually posed for these professional semi-nude photos. I think that’s worse."

Nor has Rees, like Prejean, been elevated to the status of culture war saint. Rather, she indicated that her reputation had suffered.

"I have been scrutinized in the press and have tried to move on with my life, but it’s hard," the article quoted Rees as saying.

"Everywhere you go, people judge you on these photos and already think they know the type of person you are."

Rees compared her conduct in the midst of controversy to Prejean’s, saying, "At least when those pictures of me came out, I admitted I was wrong and told young women in America how big of a mistake it was and to be careful because everything can affect your future.

"That’s more than Carrie has done. She has lied about her age when she took the photos, lied about how many there were and hasn’t acknowledged that she was wrong by breaking the contract.

"I don’t think that is a good role model and I hope young women recognize that," Rees added.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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