While they were very thorough, professional, and really a pleasure to be around, 20/20 never asked me a thing about my experience with video or surveillance, despite the fact that the show is about just that.  The episode airs Friday, December 29 at 9pm ET (TONIGHT!) So I’m sharing my "caught" story here.

“Cellulite Cinema” would be the title of any sex tape ever created featuring this redheaded mama.  I’d never agree to being filmed in the act, not only in fear of the tape resurfacing somewhere public, but because if I ever saw myself in the throes of it, bouncing, things folding and flapping, pasty white imperfect skin and bad lighting, I’d spend the rest of my life masturbating.  Alone.

One of the many MIDs of my past, however, had something else in mind.  One night at his place–long after our love affair ceased, and when we were safely behind the thinnest veil of “just friends”—we shared our porn.  In general, it’s never really a good idea to view porn with anyone you don’t intend on ransacking on the spot, but behind the safety of “friends,” and all for an honorable dating cause, sharing, there was.  Had shots of Patron been involved, the telling of this story might be drastically different, but I was dating someone at the time, someone who referred to me as his girlfriend when he introduced me to his friends, so I was on my best behavior.  I’d come to my friend’s apartment because he’d done me a favor, for said boyfriend, in fact.  He bought him some porn, from me

“Please, can’t you just pick it up for me?”  This translated to, “I’m not going into that seedy place so that swarthy man behind the counter can stare at me thinking lewd things.”  Better he think these things of you.  Please? So my friendboy took my money and bought a stash of smut worthy of more than a simple blush.  These weren’t the type of magazines with articles, not even dirty little stories intended to titillate.  They were picture books of porn: Archie for Adults, except these images weren’t drawn.  They were vivid shots of shots, and my intention was to surprise my boyfriend by sending him something racy in the mail. 

I guess I could have opted for a worn pair of sexy unmentionables, but sending dirty laundry seems foul not forward.  Would he smell them? I wondered.  It would have been an unrefined move.  Much better to hand his doorman a sealed manila envelope, filled with salacious suggestions of how we’d spend our time together later in the week, when his work schedule freed him up, to get tied up.  Or something like that. 

Now some might have questioned this behavior, asking another man to buy my man smut, as mildly unfaithful.  Mucking about in sexual tension with a former lover isn’t exactly 100% innocent.  Had I learned my man were looming over porn pages with one of his previous paramours, I would have pouted and then some.  But since I knew nothing would happen between my ex and me, I didn’t question it.

“Show me the goods,” I demanded of my friend with my hands fanned open in the waiting.  He threw the bag o’ smut onto his bed, and I slid the magazines out with the excitement of a child.  He watched me from the ladder of his bedroom loft.  “See,” I said after what had to be full minutes of silence, “this does nothing for me.”  I held open the magazine for him to see.  I didn’t mean I wasn’t visual and that I understood that men are; I meant the airbrushed perfection of the glossy posed porn industry. Maybe I’d have been turned on if it were all less staged. 

“Yuh,” he said while looking over my shoulder, “nothing for me, neither.  I’ve got better stuff.”  He then shut his bedroom door, assuring us privacy from his roommate, and pinched opened his laptop, where he clicked about, revealing secret files for me, hidden deep within nesting folders.  This was his porn. Literally.  The photos he shared with me weren’t Photoshop’d and taken by a professional; they were images of women he’d slept with, some posed, some unsuspecting, taken by him. 

“Holy shit!  I can’t believe these women let you take their photos like this.”   I stared at his ex, the one he dated after me, her breasts peaking out from behind her opened bathrobe.  There were others, a lot more.   

“Wait, check out this one,” he said, particularly pleased with his work.  He wasn’t gloating about his photography skills and use of aperture; he was swollen with pride to have landed all of these buxom women.  I wondered, had he ever taken photos of me when we were together?  “Not photos,” he replied to my question in a squeak, rolling his eyes in false modesty.

Now if I were smart, I would have played this next part differently.  Upon hearing that he once secretly filmed us getting it on, I ought to have feigned excited.  Said things, like, “That’s hot.  You have to show me.”  I could have slipped off my cardigan, if I actually were one to wear cardigans, touched his thigh, and encouraged him to play it for me, for us.  Then once he shared it with me, I could have destroyed it.  Instead, I snapped, “You’re fucking kidding me, right?”  He wasn’t.   

He’d hidden a small video camera up in his bedroom loft, where he mostly stored boxes.  Among the boxes of winter clothes, he had an empty box designed to crate a cat, perhaps, to the veterinarian.  It had holes for breathing.  He admitted that before I’d arrived, he’d set it up to record, placing the camera in that very box, aimed down at us, at his bed down below.  “No,” I said, shaking my head in disbelief.

“Oh relax.  I erased it.”
“Why would you do that?  What would make you think it was okay?”
“What, you’re all liberal, talk dirty in bed, but you’re all squeamish when it comes to—“
“Being filmed secretly?  Uh, yeah!”
“I was planning on showing it to you, as a surprise, but when I watched it, there was nothing good on it, so I erased it.”  Filmed over it, I thought.  And what the hell did that mean, nothing good?  It was his way of keeping things racy, he insisted.  It wasn’t porn left with a doorman with a post-it reading, “Study up.” It was an invasion of my privacy, and I left his place feeling dirty, violated, and suspicious, wondering if the tape still existed. 

On my walk over to my boyfriend’s apartment, I wondered how many other times I’d been so unsuspecting.  It’s scary when you think about it, how trusting we can be, leaving ourselves open to invasions by simply living our lives.  We trust that the person beside us won’t harm us in our sleep, that our neighbor won’t violate our privacy just because we’ve given them the emergency key.  We trust strangers to become our lovers, our friends, and some of us marry them, learning more as we go, as we age and grow.  And we maybe become more trusting or less, depending mostly on the choices we’ve made. 

Maybe it’s why I reveal so much about myself: because I can.  I have the power to do so, to slip out naked, for all to see, without apology, in my own words, on my own terms. It’s the ultimate defense mechanism when you’re that candid because no one will have the chance to out you. When I reveal my secrets, it’s empowering not embarrassing, because it’s a choice.  And maybe that’s why some women feel powerful creating their own sex tapes or pornographic images… because they have the power to reveal what they want you to see, just as I do as a writer.  I’m just a lot more secure in my words than I am in the backs of my thighs.

secret sexy


  1. Wow, I'd feel pretty skeeved out finding out I had been taped too! I don't blame you, AT ALL.
    Your candor is amazing, and admirable.

  2. "We trust strangers to become our lovers, our friends, and some of us marry them, learning more as we go, as we age and grow." I like this. So true and so strange when you think about it.

    But, listen, you're misusing the word "swarthy". People do it constantly and I don't know why, but it bugs me. Unless you mean that the guy behind the counter is dark-skinned, which I don't think you mean. Look it up, okay?

    FROM STEPHANIE: I did look it up, and I used it appropriately. But thanks.

  3. Wow. That would have fed into my already elaborate paranoia. My ex used to search my password protected computer journal files and get angry at me about things I wrote to vent in my (supposedly private) paper diary. My current fiance is at home in my bed as I write, and now I have snoop-a-phobia….. the sad thing is, I don't really have anything juicy to hide.

  4. Ok Steph, I don't know how to email you. Your question was are orgasm's OK? Well here is my answer. I am not a doctor. I had 3 kids in four years. Orgasms are definitely OK. Just stay away from penetration. And as all of us girls know, who actually needs penetration. Anyhow, another thing I thought I would tell you is this. My husband and I never made it the six weeks, the longest we made it was 4 weeks. So finally by baby #3 I told the dr the truth when he asked if I had sex yet. He said it was OK as long as I had stopped bleeding, and it felt OK to me. So to each his own. Good luck.
    PS your babies are beautiful and all the crazy stuff you feel, is completely normal, even the stuff that you are afraid to tell anybody you feel, because you thinks they will think you are crazy is normal too. Babies will be fine, you and Phil will be fine and your body will be fine in time.

  5. My ex recorded us fucking once on a little hand held dictaphone that I used for journaling. He didnt mean to, actually.
    I had insisted he snored and since he didnt believe me I recorded his loud, piggy snores for him.

    He was embarrassed, and to get back at me he recorded us just sitting and watching tv, hoping for some embarrassing moment caught on tape. He forgot it was still recording, an hour later when we had sex. He didnt know we'd end up fucking.
    Later when I played the tape to see what was on it, I heard deep breathing and "Oh yes…give it to me" <- who talks like that in bed? I did and it was mortifying to listen to! :P

    But it was kind of hot listening to us have sex. I still have the little tape of our grunts.

    On another note, this is what Tv Guide wrote about tonight's 20/20 episode:

    "A report on the cultural phenomenon of capturing crimes, celebrity gaffes, political missteps and ordinary events on camera and immediately sharing the information online."

    Looking forward to watch you, Stephanie! :)

  6. This is why I read your blog. Your honesty and ability to share things that alot of people can relate to, but most won't even reveal to their own best friend. Kisses to Lucas n Abigail, and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

  7. I liked your story, I did, but then there is this:

    “I’m not going into that seedy place so that swarthy man behind the counter can stare at me thinking lewd things.”

    As a woman who might be classified by some as "swarthy" because of my middle eastern descent, I find that rather narrow-minded and stereotypical.

    FROM STEPHANIE: I happened to know exactly where he was going to get the porn, to a magazine store with which I was familiar, and the man who worked there was swarthy. It's not a stereotype. It's a description. I didn't realize I had to make everything so clear, or defend myself against being called "narrow-minded" when describing a situation honestly. My ex-boyfriend in this post was in fact swarthy himself, and always indicated to me that the word didn't just mean dark-skinned, it also meant darkly beautiful. So please understand, no harm meant.

  8. Marif,

    Please look into YOUR issues. Swarthy is not exclusive to middle eastern. The only person here being narrow minded and stereotyping is you.

  9. Constance –

    Huh? Swarthy means dark-skinned, and obviously that's not exclusive to middle-eastern people (or even applies to all middle-eastern people). My point, which you clearly missed, is that the way the word was used in the sentence was to create an image a stereotypically sleazy clerk in a porn shop. Or why else use the adjective?

    Somewhat ironically, the person she trusted to help avoid the "swarthy man" in the porn shop was the guy who was filming her without her knowledge.

  10. Stephanie –

    It just jumped out at me so I thought I'd comment. I think it's one of those instances where one includes a description of a person's skin color (or ethnicity or whatever)for no legit reason, and it seems to feed into a stereotype.

    FROM STEPHANIE: While I understand what you're saying about putting in a skin color or ethnicity for no reason, it is a description, an honest one. And had it been a redhead, I'd have stated that. Or someone with amazing eyes or horrible breath. Or someone with skin so white it looked reflective or translucent, I'd have included that too. Anything that helps you imagine the person is description worthy of including.

  11. Besides being highly unethical and an enormous betrayal of his lovers' trust, I actually think there could be something illegal or criminal about what he did. At least in the Paris Hilton or Pam and Tommy tapes, they knew they were being filmed. But having a guy just do it on the sly to keep a trophy log is just plain CREEPY. Shiver. No doubt he taped you too and wouldn't fess up. Wasn't secret sex taping the plot of a movie? Which one am I thinking of?

    I also want to echo the others and say that the PP meltdown you're having is familiar territory to every single mother here. It won't last long.

  12. Wow! I never felt 'swarthy' was a negative adjective, and I am a parent of children with disabilities to whom many negative adjectives are often assigned. My connotation of the term is as Stephanie described "darkly beautiful", and I, for one, have always been drawn to "swarthy" men :)

    Looking forward to the show tonight, Stephanie. TIVO is ready!!

  13. this reminded me of the friends episode where…was it ross and rachel…watch themselves on videotape (or was it rachel and joey) and then like 5 seconds into it they're both like…'oh, yuck. oh, no. turn it off!'
    that's nasty that he videotaped the two of you without your consent. not to mention criminal. what a skeeze! why do people think they can do this?

  14. With all the hoo-ha over "swarthy," did not one of the word police notice "in the throws of it"? The correct word is "throes". I wouldn't have pointed it out, had it not contrasted like a freshly laundered white shirt against swarthy skin with the other word debate going on.

    Do you have any idea which 1/2 hour of the show tonight includes your piece?

    Happy 2007 to you, Phil & the babies.

    FROM STEPHANIE: I've changed it to throes. Merci. And no, I have no idea when in the episode I'll appear. I haven't seen it beforehand and will watch right along with you…

  15. My bad. I've found that people often say "swarthy" when they mean something closer to "smarmy". Perhaps I carry a stereotype of dudes who work the counter at adult video stores, but in that sentence, it seemed that "smarmy" was the word you were looking for, rather than a descriptor of skin color. Anyway, hope things are going okay with the kiddos. Word Police Officer #242, signing off.

  16. Interesting. After reading your post I got to thinking. I'm not sure if that didn't happen to me too. Its kinda of a blurry memory, as it was a long time ago and I was pretty drunk. But your post sparked some kind of memory for me. Oh well nothing to do about it now. Besides he was a real asshole anyway. I will pry the remote from my husband's fingers tonight and watch. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy new year.

  17. Stephanie, I think it's gracious of you to respond to various comments, as if you needed to. You have big cajones (I'm sure someone will spell check) and yet grace, sister.

  18. Hmmm, I have never though of 'swarthy' as a skin color but rather an attitude .. I guess like jr said, I have used it interchangeably with 'smarmy' ..
    Anywho … I can't imagine. at all. Now I am rethinking my previous partners and wondering who coulda, who woulda … but hey, that was all decades and pounds ago :) I might actually like to see 'that' Frannie.
    Good for you Stephanie for handling it with some grace.

  19. It never ceases to amaze me that people actually feel the need to edit and comment on the grammar/punctuation/word usage in your blog. Wow. I hope these persons have day jobs that take advantage of their linguistic skills. On a separate note, this was a great post! I suppose there is a certain security in choosing to stand "naked" before a crowd. So interesting.

  20. One would imagine that if it truly does still exist, it will turn up on the virtual pages of or (Or he'll send you a letter about it years from now.) Based on what I've seen on those sites, women should be more selective in who they make tapes with.

  21. After freaking that someone taped me without my consent (why isn't consensual spelled with the "t"?), I would have further freaked that he erased it. I mean, once you tell me you have it, you tell me nothing good was on it? Excuse me for not being cinematically-worthy. Of course, *I* feel this because it didn't happen to me. But what a way to add insult to injury.

    Years ago, an alleged upstairs new neighbor called to say the prior tenants had left tapes behind. Of me. In the bathroom. With my boyfriend. Having sex. I lost it! I asked for his name, which sounded suspiciously familiar, and thanked him. He assured me the tapes were safely with the building manager. I called my boyfriend at work, and he promptly lost it. And then he realized that where the guy said the camera was in the ceiling was blocked by a pile of towels on shelves. Hmmm, he might be right.

    Called my brother in law, who's a lawyer, and he told me NOT to go upstairs and check it out. Could be a set up for someone to get me in their apt.

    I called the doorman and asked if anyone new had moved in above me. Nope. This is getting really suspicious.

    When my boyfriend got home from work, we went upstairs to check it out. A woman lived there.

    So, we let it go. My boyfriend went cycling that weekend and was telling friends about the incident when one of the guys interrupted and finished the story. The same thing happened to his girlfriend. Seems some nut was getting off on frightening women. No sex. Just fear. That's sick.

    Stephanie, if the tape existed, your appearance on 20/20 tonight could be for an entirely different reason. At least when you stand naked, it's because you choose to.

  22. Something about "things folding and flapping" cracked me up! I needed that good laugh today! Looking forward to watching 20/20 tonight!

  23. God bless you!! So happy you are ready to write about this kinda stuff!!! Fuck all those who are offended!!! You rule and I think you are amazing!!! Good luck with the lil ones!!!

  24. Stephanie,
    I feel for you and have been in your shoes with 2 preemies at once! It is a very difficult time, where you feel your hands are tied and everyone is taking care of your babies but you. You are doing just the right thing by getting rest, providing the best food for them and trying to get strong physically. It is perfectly okay to have an orgasm (or 2 or 3), as long as you are not "inside". Your children do know when you are there, so don't feel like they don't. Your comment about Kangaroo care brought back a lot of memories, as I did Kangaroo care with my twins 13 years ago. The saying is true, they grow up so fast! Enjoy even the hard times right now, as it will get better. You will do great. The most important thing is to try to get rest, partner with your husband and love those babies as a team. I wouldn't have been able to do it with my twins without my husband. You will start feeling better very soon. Best wishes for a fabulous New Year.

  25. Not only did this post make me laugh, but I feel slightly smarter having read it. Who knew I would get a lesson on when it's appropriate to use "swarthy" AND how to spell "throes?" Thanks Stephaine, for making me laugh and educating me.

  26. Stephanie! Thank you so much for writing Straight Up and Dirty. I am currently going through a break-up and your book has encouraged me so much. I can't thank you enough for being so open about your life and everything that you have been through. Much love and I hope you and the babies are doing wonderfully!

  27. You were great on 20/20. It just went to commercial. You came across as intelligent, relevant, and interesting. And the babies are adorable. Well done!!


  29. Just saw you on 20/20. You look fantastic. How sweet to see you and Phil with the babies! I love your honesty. I want to be like you when I grow up (even though I've got a good 5 years on you!)…you know, I just want to get over myself, stop caring what others think, and just put it all out there. One day. Thanks for being you!

  30. I just saw you, the babies, and your hubby on 20/20, and I suddenly realized… I haven't checked Stephanie's journal in a WHILE, and oh my God… she had the babies!!! :)

    Anyway, I just wanted to say, you looked great, congrats on the interview, and especially on the twins! :-D

  31. Just saw you on 20/20! Which is funny because I bought your book a couple of days ago(very good read by the way). Keep up the good work and congrats on the new additions, they are very cute!

  32. I saw your interview on 20/20 and wanted to give you some support, not on the topic "Caught" but rather on Abigail and Lucas. I too had twins that were 10 wks early, they were born in April. It gets easier as time goes on. The hoospital visits are overwhelming and exhausting, but exciting at the same time. The time will go quickly, my sons were in the NICU for three weeks. Hang in there! Before you know it they will be coming up on a year old!

  33. Great job on 20/20!!

    I can't believe some of the horrible e-mails you have received…that is horrible. Keep doing your thing, Stephanie, and ignore the haters!


  34. London Southern Belle,

    you'll probably be able to find the 20/20 segment on in a few days or a few minutes… who knows?! ;-)

    Stephanie, beautiful family… all the best for you

  35. Just saw you on TV and had to Google you, because I love blogs :) I have to say that I love your attitude towards life, and that you are such a pretty girl!

  36. You were great on 20/20! It was fantastic to see you make a nationwide appearance.

    I can't believe your blog only gets about 300,000 hits a month. Did I hear that right? I would have thought more! I'm sure your hits will be on the up now.

    Your family looks wonderful. Kisses and hugs to the babes.

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