A Breakdown of the True Story Behind Hulu's 'Pam & Tommy' Series

Here's everything you need to know about the true story behind Hulu's Pam & Tommy series starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan

Pam & Tommy
Pam & Tommy. Photo: Erin Simkin/Hulu

Pam & Tommy is shedding new light on Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's whirlwind romance.

Based on a Rolling Stone article from 2014, the show starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan tells the relatively unknown story of the couple's infamous sex tape in the '90s, including how the tape was stolen from their home and the legal battle that ensued after it was leaked and sold without their permission.

Despite Anderson and Lee not being involved with the show, showrunner Rob Siegel told Entertainment Weekly he hopes the story "sets the record straight" about what the couple really went through.

"The show is very much on, I think if you had to name one person with whom the show's sympathies lie, it's Pam," Siegel said. "And we're very much taking the side — when you tell people about the show and about the tape, when I bring up the subject of the tape and that I was doing a show about it, I was shocked by how many people assumed that [Anderson and Lee] were in on it, which is something I'm happy that we were able to set the record straight about. We very clearly, unambiguously present them as the victims of a crime, which they were."

For more on Pam & Tommy, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day.

As you dive into the limited series, learn more about the true story behind it ahead.

When Did Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee Get Married?

Lee and Anderson met in December 1994, but officially connected when they took a trip to Cancún, Mexico in February 1995. 96 hours into their trip, the two decided to get married during a beachside wedding.

"I don't know if they were in love with each other," witness and local club manager Marcos Corminas told PEOPLE at the time. "But they really liked each other a lot and were having a lot of fun." Corminas added that the wedding "was very informal, very spontaneous."

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee attend Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas Grand Opening Party in 1995.
Steve Granitz/WireImage

How Did Rand Gauthier Know Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee?

As the couple moved in together, they hired a group of people to renovate their Malibu mansion, which is how Rand Gauthier comes into the story.

During the home renovations, Gauthier did work for the couple as an electrician. However, he was eventually let go when Anderson and Lee fired a group of workers on the renovation project. In addition to losing work, the couple also refused to pay him, saying the work was "shoddily done," according to Rolling Stone.

Gauthier and a general contractor eventually went back to the house to gather their tools, when Lee allegedly pointed a shotgun at them and ordered them to get off his property.

Upset with the whole situation, Gauthier devised a plan to get "revenge" on Lee by stealing his safe, which he believed held Lee's guns and Anderson's jewelry.

How Was Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's Sex Tape Stolen?

During an interview with Rolling Stone, Gauthier said that he "spent the entire summer of 1995 preparing for the heist," including driving to their house at night and sitting outside in his car.

Five days before Halloween, Gauthier decided to carry out his plan. According to Gauthier, he arrived at the house at 3:00 a.m., while Anderson and Lee were asleep. He draped a yak fur rug over himself to attempt to resemble a dog, then jumped over the fence. He disabled the security cameras, which he initially installed, and walked into Lee and Anderson's bedroom.

He eventually went to the garage, where he tipped the safe onto a dolly he brought with him and left the home. He told Rolling Stone that he took the safe to a "secure location" and cut the back of the safe off with a saw. In addition to finding family photographs, jewelry, and the white bikini Anderson wore to her and Lee's beach wedding, Gauthier discovered the sex tape, a Hi8 tape used for a handheld camcorder.

Who Leaked Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's Sex Tape?

After discovering the tape in the safe, Gauthier took it to the North Hollywood porn studio where he worked. He showed the tape to adult film producer Milton "Uncle Miltie" Ingley and the two made copies of the tape to sell. They also disposed of the original Hi8 tape by melting the casing and scattering pieces of the tape near Six Flags Magic Mountain.

Though they approached a few different companies to distribute the tape, no one wanted to work with them since Anderson and Lee didn't sign a release. They eventually met with mobster Louis "Butchie" Peraino, who agreed to give them $50,000 to cover manufacturing and distribution of the tape on the internet, "with the expectation that he would receive interest on the loan and a cut of the sales," as reported by Rolling Stone.

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee in London

Did Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee Sue Over the Leaked Sex Tape?

It wasn't until two months after Gauthier's burglary that Anderson and Lee first noticed the safe was missing. They filed a police report and hired a private investigator named Anthony Pellicano, who eventually connected Ingley to the leaked tape. (Ingley said he got the tape from interior designer Guerin Swing.)

Following news that Penthouse magazine had obtained a copy of the tape, Anderson and Lee decided to take legal action. On March 29th, 1996, they filed a $10 million civil lawsuit against all parties they believed to be in possession of the tape, including Penthouse, Ingley, Gauthier, Swing, Troy Tompkins, and Dominique Sardell, according to Rolling Stone.

Anderson and Lee requested a temporary restraining order against Penthouse, which was denied, and the magazine eventually released its June issue with Anderson on the cover and details of the sex tape inside. They didn't have copyright permission to use images from the tape, so they used stolen Polaroids of the couple from 1995.

The couple sued the magazine for invasion of privacy, but their suit was dismissed by a Los Angeles judge who claimed that the images were not "private" since they had already been published in other magazines prior. Penthouse's lawyer also argued that "since Anderson had posed nude several times and because the two discussed their sex life in interviews" they had forfeited their privacy rights regarding the video's content," per Rolling Stone.

Internet Entertainment Group (IEG) founder Seth Warshavsky later obtained a copy of the tape and began broadcasting it online. In an effort to end things once and for all, Anderson and Lee settled. Under the impression that Warshavsky would only be allowed to broadcast the tape online, and not fully comprehending the reach the internet would have, the couple signed over their copyright of the tape.

When physical copies of the tape continued to be released, they sued Warshavsky in federal court. However, by the time the suit reached federal court, Warshavsky had fled the country to Bangkok. A judge ordered his company to pay Anderson and Lee $740,000 each, but they reportedly never saw that money.

Did Rand Gauthier Go to Jail For Stealing the Sex Tape?

Despite being the person responsible for stealing the tape, Gauthier never faced jail time. However, he did face legal and financial troubles as bootleg copies of the tape began to circulate. Peraino, who had given Gauthier funding to distribute the sex tape, later forced him to pay back his debts by working for the mob.

According to Rolling Stone, Gauthier resides outside Santa Rosa, California, where he works as an electrician and "grows marijuana in his garage."

Pamela Anderson and musician Tommy Lee
Todd Williamson/Getty Images

How Long Were Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee Together?

Anderson and Lee were married from February 1995 to 1998 and have two sons together, Brandon and Dylan. Anderson and Lee briefly got back together in 2008, but it didn't last.

Though they had a tumultuous relationship, Anderson has regarded Lee as the "love of her life."

"There was Tommy and then there was nobody else. He was the love of my life. We had a wild and crazy beginning that was too much for both of us," Anderson told PEOPLE in 2015. "It really was love at first sight. I only knew him four days before I married him. My kids are grateful to be born out of true love. Everything else I was trying to piece together."

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