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Celebrity Slam - March 12th, 2014

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Heeeere's Johnny!

Like it or not, we live in a world where celebrity can be gained through nothing more than filming yourself getting busy. The number of 'sex tape celebrities' out there is too numerous to count; it seems like every time you turn around, some D-lister or another won't shut up about how a video has been 'leaked' often to the tune of six figures. It has become a shortcut to the spotlight, creating or reigniting careers that probably shouldn't exist in the first place.

But the latest sex tape revelation is something else altogether, featuring a classic Hollywood icon who couldn't possibly be more famous.

Sometime in the 1970s, Johnny Carson made a sex tape. Although when you think about it, it's probably more of a sex reel

Anyway, according to reports, the tape's owner approached the Carson estate back in September with an offer to sell the footage. The estate responded with an emphatic 'no thanks' while also threatening legal action if the owner ever sold it.

Well, whoever it is, he doesn't seem all that worried those threats, because the video has officially hit the market though it should be noted that he isn't peddling it to the usual suspects (i.e. porn companies) for legal reasons; he's offering it up to private collectors only.

Sources who have seen the roughly 25-minute tape say that it starts with Carson and a woman presumed to be one of his wives at poolside. They spend five minutes there, where theylet's just say 'warm up'before retiring to the bedroom for 20 or so minutes of apparently impressive action.

(It bears mentioning that without fail, every single person who has seen the tape thus far has made specific mention of the prodigious nature of Carson's...you know.)

Is it weird and skeezy that some random dude is peddling a 40-year-old sex tape featuring one of the biggest icons in television history? Absolutely. And it's hard to say if the fact that it will only be sold to a private collector makes the situation more or less uncomfortable. On the one hand, the idea of Johnny Carson's coital gymnastics disseminated across the Internet is a bit off-putting. On the other, the notion of some random millionaire sitting in a private screening room and watching over and over isn't much better.

(As an aside, we expect a fierce bidding war to immediately break out between Leno and Letterman.)

And yet doesn't this kind of humanize Carson in an odd way? Doesn't it connect him to this generation's pop cultural world in a way that nothing else could have? There's some appeal to the thought that Carson a pioneer in so many facets of celebrity was a trailblazer in this respect as well. He basically defined the talk show; why couldn't he have defined the sex tape as well? It's kind of creepy, yes, but also kind of cool; it's like he reached back in time to show these young whippersnappers of today how it's done. No matter how edgy or ahead of the curve they think they are, the King of Late Night already did it and did it better.

There's something to be said, too, for the fact that Carson's partner in these shenanigans was his wife. While 21st century sex tapers are happy doing whatever with whomever as long as it buys them a few more seconds in the spotlight, Carson was doing it up right in more ways than one with the woman that he loved. It's sweet in a raunchy sort of way. And while this out-of-the-blue revelation certainly comes as a surprise, we've known for a long time that there was a subversive edge to Johnny Carson. Sure, we only saw glimpses of that edge on 'The Tonight Show,' but it's awesome that the guy let his freak flag fly in the privacy of his own home.

Yes, it's unfortunate that the footage seems likely to make its way out into the world in some fashion, but there's no doubt that we love the fact of its existence. These sorts of relics from entertainment history rarely turn up, after all.

Frankly, the only thing that could possibly make it better is finding out that Ed McMahon was running the camera.

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