Unfortunately for Paris Hilton, life was simpler before the advent of the Internet.
Despite threats of legal action by her parents, links to bootleg copies of the vixen's steamy sex tape sprouted like fungus all over the fertile ground of the World Wide Web Tuesday.
In less technologically advanced times, the hotel heiress' family fortune might have been enough to buy her an innocent reputation.
But nowadays, just about any interested onlooker can do a quick search and stumble upon the X-rated romp between Hilton and ex-boyfriend Rick Salomon, who's also the on-again, off-again husband of Shannen Doherty.
The tape, reportedly shot three years ago, when Hilton was a barely-legal 19 and Salomon was 30, is a grainy, night-vision glimpse into a session of mattress frolicking between the two. The version making the rounds online is purportedly an excerpt of a much longer video.
When rumors of the tape first surfaced, Hilton denied its existence, calling Salomon "a complete liar and scumbag" in New York magazine, but she was later forced to backpedal after it become obvious that the video was all too real.
The Hilton publicity machine kicked into high-gear last week in a frantic attempt to de-tarnish Paris' already besmirched rep and to strike guilt into the hearts of those who would circulate the tawdry footage.
"The Hilton family is greatly saddened at how low human beings will stoop to exploit their daughter, Paris, who is sweet-natured, for their own self-promotion as well as profit motives," read a statement released by the family.
Unfortunately, self-promoters with profit motives aren't likely to take the reported sweet natures of amateur porn subjects under consideration--just ask Pamela Anderson.
It's a whole new kind of reality TV for Hilton, who's the star of Fox's upcoming riches-to-rags reality series The Simple Life. Despite the negative publicity surrounding Hilton and Simple Life costar Nicole Richie (Lionel's daughter is currently in rehab following a heroin bust), Fox says it has no plans on preempting the debut of the fish-out-of-water program, which transports the socialites to Arkansas. The show will debut on December 2 followed by another new episode on December 3; the half-hour-long Simple Life will air at 8:30 p.m. both nights.
As for Salomon, who recently launched a clothing and video venture titled Beverly Hills Pimps & Hos, which is described as an A-list version of Girls Gone Wild, one would think the leaked sex tape would serve as marketing gold--particularly since he bragged about the tape's existence earlier in the year.
Lawyers for Salomon say that he has nothing to do with the video's release, and that he is even threatening to sue the Hiltons for defamation for claiming that he took advantage of a definitely-not-camera-shy Paris.
However, Don Thrasher, the man behind the sale of the infamous tape, told Celebrity Justice that Salomon actually had a hand in duplicating and selling the fruits of his night as an amateur pornographer.
Thrasher said he received a check for $50,000 for the tape and gave $25,000 of it to Salomon in cash. He said Salomon was the one who told him how and where to hawk the footage.
Salomon's lawyer, Marty Singer, told Celebrity Justice that his client was not involved with leaking the tape, and that Thrasher took the tape from Salomon's home, copied it and returned it without his knowledge. Singer said Salomon has a police report alleging the theft and plans to sue Thrasher.
Both the Hiltons and Salomon are reportedly trying to stop the Seattle Internet porn company Marvad from hawking the full-length video of the ribald romp on its Sexbrat.com site.
In the meantime, merchandisers and pranksters have decided to use the media frenzy over the tape to make hay while the sun shines.
"Paris Hilton Sex Tape" T-shirts are available in online boutiques, while a search for "Paris Hilton Sex Tape" on the file-sharing site KaZaA leads to clips of everything from large naked women doing provocative dances to a monkey drinking its own urine.