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Rob Lowe Says Little on his Book Tour, But Here’s the Dope Behind His Sex Tape & His Porn Connection

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Rob Lowe is on a media tour actively promoting his autobiography,”Stories I Only Tell My Friends.” Here’s the full story about his celebrity sex tape which he’s not telling you, that plus the fact that Lowe’s married to Sheryl Berkoff, the daughter of the late porn king Norm Berkoff. Berkoff, along with his business partner Tony Romano owned a company called VEP which subsequently filed Chapter 11. Berkoff died in 1996 of a heart attack.

From the AdultFYI files: Nine in the morning was not an hour that Susan Sullivan much cared for, but there she was at her desk in the office at Club Rio, a ruby in her nose, circles of black mascara painted thick around her eyes, a telephone cradled against her ear.

Monday, July 18th, 1988. The partying for the Democratic National Convention had already begun. The streets of downtown Atlanta were cordoned, the sidewalks were crowded with name tags from out of town. Club Rio, one block from the convention ball, was booked solid with private parties. Employees were on round-the-clock alert, sleeping shifts in a warehouse next door. Susan’s head was pounding, her nose was running. A party of Nebraska farmers was due in at noon. Now this cheery voice on the phone.

“Guess what Jan and I did last night!” sang Tara.

“I already heard what you did last night. You went home with Rob Lowe.”

“Yeah!”

“Did you have a good time?”

“We videotaped ourselves.”

“You what?” asked Susan.

“We videotaped it. And you know what else? We stole the tape.”

“No!”

“Yeah! Rob passed out, and we took $200 out of his wallet, and a bottle of pills, and the tape.”

“Why didn’t you take the camera? I woulda taken the camera.”

“No. We just took the tape. We wanted to see it. Listen, do you guys have a Video Eight player?”

Susan Sullivan, 32, self-described death rocker and midtown lesbian, publicity director of Cub Rio, Atlanta’s hot spot of the moment, may well have been the first to hear of the thirty-nine minutes of home-movie porn that has come to be known as the Rob Lowe Sex Tape, but she wouldn’t be the last. Within a day, two VHS copies of the tape were available. Within a week, the underground axis of hairdressers, gays, lesbians, fashion punks and new-music rockers was abuzz with blue talk of the events that transpired in the early morning hours of July 18th in room 2845 of the Atlanta Hilton and Towers. The tape had been played in homes, at parties, in a gay club, at a fashion show. It was the inside joke on the scene, their little secret, a source of perverse pride and endless talk among the near hip in the New South:

Rob Lowe Fucked Here. Then, nearly ten months later, a civil suit against Lowe was filed in Fulton County, Georgia, on behalf of Tara’s girlfriend Jan, who was sixteen on the night of their encounter with Lowe. Brought on May 12th, 1989, by Jan’s mother, the suit alleged that while attending the Democratic National Convention, Lowe “used his celebrity status as an inducement to females to engage in sexual intercourse, sodomy, and multiple party sexual activity for his immediate sexual gratification, and for the purpose of making pornographic films of these activities.” An unspecified sum for damages was sought.

One week later it was reported that the Fulton County district attorney was investigating. If charged with the sexual exploitation of a minor, Lowe could face a maximum of twenty years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Said a source from the DA’s office, “I think Rob Lowe is going to have an awful lot of difficulty explaining his conduct. I think a Georgia jury isn’t going to like it.”

Equally difficult to explain would be the revelation, in sworn statements filed in late June of 1989, that the Fulton County DA was given a copy of the Lowe video as early as August 1988 but had taken no action. Such an investigation could have had a disastrous effect on the Dukakis campaign and on the reputation of the Southern city that was so proud to host the Democratic National Convention.

When news of the tapes first surfaced, district attorney Lewis Slaton told reporters that the Lowe matter had I been under investigation by his office for “weeks.” Later, Slaton amended his statement, saying that his office had had the tape in its possession since the summer of 1988 — and that “the decision was made to hold it for a while” though he declined to say why.

Slaton, a Democrat, has held his elected post for twenty-four years. In a recent interview, Slaton acknowledged that he’d had the video since last August and that he’d yet to contact Rob Lowe. Asked if his decision to hold off prosecution was politically motivated, Slaton said, “What I’ve done through the years is try and stay out of the political side. If I try and figure out how to work with politics, I get all screwed up.”

The story of the Rob Lowe tape begins thirty commuter miles north of Atlanta – 1-75 to exit 114A, to I Route 5, past Al’s Carpet Depot, Joe’s Salvage, Sam’s Warehouse Wallpapers, north along the dual lane in the suburban wilds of east Cobb County — at a two-story storefront with a shocking-pink facade: SuperHair Three- 13.

Twenty years ago, east Cobb was a pine forest in steep, remote hills, sliced by dirt roads, overhung with kudzu. Now 40,000 commuters daily ply the choked, congested asphalt highways in the burgeoning county, en route from subdivisions with names like Ward-Meade Farm and Chattahoochee Plantation to jobs in the aerospace and telecommunications industries near-by or in law, sales and business offices downtown. A land of black Jeeps and baby strollers and blow-dried hair, of pillared houses on postage-stamp lots, east Cobb is a melting pot of white immigrants drawn from all over the nation by the promise of upward mobility in the gem city of the Sunbelt.

Despite its outback location, SuperHair has become a prosperous business, highly visible on the Atlanta fashion scene, regularly doing shows, videos and exhibitions. The salon has also become over the years a safe haven for the young, affluent and disaffected of idyllic east Cobb. It is run by a trio named Marian, Lester and Tony. The two men and Marian live together. Marian, for the moment, wears her hair cropped close and striped white. Lester wears several dozen bracelets; people say he reminds them of Martin Mull with an attitude. Tony’s tattoo, on his left biceps, says, BORN TO PRIMP.

“We dress different, we look wild,” says Lester Crowell, 33. “We let men wear makeup if they want to. Girls can shave their heads. We’re a shock to some people when they first see us, but we’re very devoted to hairdressing, and to fashion and everything, and to making our own look in our own way.”

Marian and Lester, having started young and from the bottom themselves, recruit and train their staff from the legion of young punk hopefuls on the waiting list.

They hire them as apprentices, teach them the ropes, help them qualify for hairdressers’ licenses and bind them to three-year contracts. The staff of fifty is tight. “They’re a unit;” says Rebecca Weinberg, a stripper and performance artist and the live-in lover of Susan Sullivan. “Lester fosters complete devotion to the salon.” Until recently, Rebecca was an apprentice at SuperHair.

In Atlanta’s underground, the people who work at the salon are known as the SuperHair kids. “Basically,” says Rebecca, “they’re into sex, gossip and hairdressing.” They work together, eat together, go to clubs and movies together. They couple and uncouple, dish all day, go home and call one another on the telephone at night. “Some people call us a cult,” says Lester, “but it’s not a cult.

In the spring of 1988, Len Jan Parsons came to work a an apprentice at SuperHair.

She was sixteen, a pretty, five foot-four blonde with a cute boyfriend and “a nice body,’” according to a high-school girl friend. Once an A-B student Jan, as she is known to her friends, let her grades plummet to Fs after she received a red 1966 Porsche from her father on her fifteenth birthday, court documents said. By tenth grade, according to friends, Jar had dropped out of school and “turned punk,” dying her hair Kelly green, wearing white face powder and black clothes, frequenting downtown clubs and hanging out with lesbians.

At the same time friends noticed the changes in Jan, her parents were undergoing an ugly divorce and child-custody battle. “The problems in this marriage are many and complicated,” according to court documents, which characterized the Parsons home as “unhealthy, degenerate, criminal and dangerous.”

Jan’s mother, Lena Arlene Wilson Parsons, according to a motion filed by her lawyers, “has her shortcomings: she is uneducated (having had only the benefit of an eighth grade education), she is conservative in her opinions regarding religion and the training of children, she can have a temper when provoked, she has no marketable skills other than home making, but she loves her children, she has devoted her life to them.”

Jan’s father, John C. Parsons, a retired air-force major, earns $60,000 a year as a computer consultant and an additional $15,000 in military retirement benefits. According to court papers filed by his wife, John “engages in strange rituals in a hidden space in the closet in a bedroom in the basement” of their spacious, modern home in a leafy subdivision called Tremont. John, it was alleged, “fails to discipline the children and refuses to support the wife when she attempts to discipline the children”; “uses his income in manner totally unknown to the wife”; and “attempts to convince the wife that she is mentally unstable.”

Court documents alleged that Jan and her adopted brother, Ashley, also sixteen, “are engaged in the heavy use of alcohol and marijuana. The children punch holes in the wall for which the father refuses to discipline them.” And, documents said, “the husband has allowed a twenty-three-year-old female by the name of Tara Seburt to move into die residence and has made it known to various people in the neighborhood that he wishes to have sex with her. The subject, Tara Seburt, is a known lesbian.”

Furthermore, according to an affidavit by Amanda Hinson, a neighborhood friend of Jan’s, John Parsons had “patted me and rubbed me on the rear.” Jan’s friend also swore that John Parsons allowed Jan and Tara to “sleep together in the same room in the same bed.”

Soon after beginning work at SuperHair, says Rebecca, Jan became “a new believer, like she had Three-13 tattooed on her head. She was a very reserved lady, very quiet. She’d just sit back and watch. SuperHair was a lot to take in at first. You’re learning so much and seeing so many weird people for the first time.”

About the same time Jan began at SuperHair, Tara Seburt became the receptionist at the salon. Formerly a manager of a Domino’s Pizza franchise, Tara, 22, had short, spiked blond hair, a butch demeanor, a midnight-blue pickup truck and a female lover who also worked at Super-Hair. When Tara broke up with that woman, she began seeing Jan. Though friends say Tars is “honestly gay,” they believe that Jan was “probably just experimenting.”

“From what I hear” says Lester, “Tara wanted a lot more than what Jan was giving.”

“From what I saw,” says a hairdresser named Paula, “Jan and Tara were very much in love.”

On Sunday, July 17TH, Atlanta was primed for its first Democratic National Convention. The city had been prepping for months, painting curbs and planting trees, holding seminars for cabbies, sending out packets of best-foot-forward literature.

“As Atlanta’s courtship of the nation’s favor reaches zero hour,” said the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “the city is delighted…. Since the Civil Rights era, Atlanta has worked tirelessly for respect. It has sought to be an American city first and a Southern city second.”

The night before, Rob Lowe had flown from Paris to Atlanta and checked into the Atlanta Hilton and Towers downtown. Wearing an LA. Lakers T-shirt, Lowe was shown to room 2845, where he pulled a handful of French francs from his pocket, shrugged, then told the bellman that he had no American dollars and would have to tip him later.

Lowe was in town as part of a delegation of about three dozen Hollywood luminaries under the auspices of California assemblyman Tom Hayden. Though the group was composed primarily of producers and other off-camera insiders, the most visible were the young stars like Lowe, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy.

“It was an educational effort, a political education, an opportunity to meet the leadership of the party,” says Hayden spokesman Bill Schuhn. “It was a very serious group of people.”

After spending his Sunday at the ballpark with Tom Hayden — donning an Atlanta Braves baseball uniform, taking batting practice with the pros, answering questions for a Savannah TV station and watching a game against New York — Lowe returned downtown, skirting an anti-Klan rally that was raging near his hotel. That evening, he went to a convention party hosted by Ted Turner and CNN, where he was photographed with Laura Turner, Ted’s twenty-seven-year-old daughter. Lowe told People magazine that he might run for president someday but that he had “to learn a lot more about acting first.”

Lowe, 25, has had “a peculiar acting career,” one reviewer has written, “based until very recently on little more than his outrageous handsomeness.” With his sculptured cheekbones and bright-blue eyes, Lowe is arrestingly pretty, the very model of a modern movie heart-throb: A Seventeen magazine reader poll two years ago found that forty-eight percent of teenage girls named Lowe as their favorite star.

Lowe was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, while his father was attending law school at the University of Virginia. Soon after, the family moved to Dayton, Ohio, where his parents were divorced and his mother was remarried, to a Dayton city planner.

From the beginning, Lowe has said, he wanted to be an actor: “I liked to recite dialogue and make-believe and do stuff like that.” By the time he was six, he was modeling in ads. By eight — after seeing the musical Olivier! at a local theater, he was appearing on local TV shows, in Midwest summer stock, on radio and in several college stage productions, playing “every child role available.” “There wasn’t a lot of competition for roles,” Lowe has said. “No boy in my neighborhood wanted to be an actor. I took a lot of flak…. Acting took me away from gangs and stealing cars.” When Lowe was twelve, his mother was married for a third time, to a Malibu psychiatrist, and the family moved to California.

Upon arrival in the exclusive beachside community, Lowe intensified his efforts to become a Hollywood star. Every day after school he’d ride a bus two hours to Hollywood to take meetings and leave head shots. On weekends he hung out with his friends Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, making home movies and dreaming of fame.

“All Rob ever wanted to be was an actor,” says Lowe’s good friend Cassian Elwes, a thirty-year-old British producer who’s been friends with Lowe for six years. “He’ll hate me for saying this, but when he was in high school, he was a longhaired geek with glasses, and he never had any girlfriends, and people didn’t take him very seriously. It was only when he cut his hair and put the contact lenses in that suddenly he became the Rob Lowe we all know.”

Finally, Lowe got his start; skipping high-school graduation and appearing in two After School Specials; in a short-lived TV series; and then, with a cast full of pretty, young Hollywood boys, in a feature film for Francis Ford Coppola called The Outsiders. He went on to major roles in Class, Oxford Blues, The Hotel New Hampshire, St. Elmo’s Fire, About Last Night.., and Masquerade. His best notices (and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor) came with his 1987 role as a mentally retarded youth in Square Dance. Despite the presence of Jason Robards and Jane Alexander, New York Times critic Vincent Canby wrote that “the most arresting performance is Mr. Lowe’s.” Lately, according to industry insiders, Lowe has been receiving $1 million or more per film.

Though Lowe has been quoted as saying that he is “the most shy when it comes to girls” he has been cast opposite Nastassja Kinski, Jodie Foster, Jacqueline Bisset, Cindy Gibb, Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham, Jenny Wright and Virginia Madsen. Romantically, he’s been linked with Princess Stephanie of Monaco, Melissa Gilbert, Fawn Hall, Jane Fonda, Grace Jones and many others. Of the beautiful women and leading ladies in the Hollywood firmament Lowe has said, “If I haven’t been with ‘em, I know ‘em or have been engaged to ‘em.”

Today, Lowe lives in the hills above Hollywood, in his first house, a renovated multi-million-dollar bungalow with a pool and a basketball court. Decorated in grays, blues and white, the house is furnished with retro deco, California modem and Japanese electro-tech. On the walls is a collection of paintings by obscure artists in a style described by Elwes as “Jean-Michel Basquiat meets Pee-wee Herman.” Lowe drives a gray Porsche 948.

“To describe Rob would make him sound like he lived in Ohio,” says Loree Rodkin, personal manager to many of the young stars in Hollywood. “He’s no different from your average twenty-five-year-old, other than he’s got more money and he’s famous. He’s prone to barbecues and going to the movies with a girl or the guys or going to the beach. He knows he’s pretty, but he fights it. He’s witty, he’s funny, he’s very self-deprecating. He’s very, very humorous. He’s smart. He’s not a stupid boy. He’s not abusive. He’s really pretty wholesome. I think if you can say anything, you can say his only indulgence is women.”

Lowe also likes to Jet Ski, go to ballgames, watch videos on his wide screen, hang out with the guys. He and Nelson, Estevez, Sheen, Elwes and several other Hollywood prodigies form a tightly knit boys’ club. They go to the Hard Rock Cafe for beers and French fries or go “mindless bowling” at a Japanese alley called Rock and Bowl, which features automatic scoring. Lowe likes wearing jeans, T-shirts and thrift-store casual, though he also frequents the pricey men’s stores on Melrose Avenue. Lowe is known for his imitations of Mr. T., Richard Gere, Marion Brando and Cary Grant, his marshmallow-and-toast sandwiches, his loyalty to friends.

“It’s mainly the weekends that we get together,” says Elwes, who met Lowe on the set of Oxford Blues, one of the fourteen films Elwes produced in the last seven years. “People stay home during the week. The one thing about all these young actors is that everybody is very work obsessed, and they don’t think like James Dean and Marion Brando did in their heydays. All they’re thinking about is what the next job’s going to be. They want to work — and they want to work hard “Rob would like to be Cary Grant,” says Elwes. “He’s very funny, and he’s very charming, though he’d like to be Clint Eastwood, too. He has, as you get to know him, lots of little soft spots. His weaknesses are his strengths. He’s sort of clumsy, he’s kind of a geek sometimes, and yet he’s very strong. He has a tremendous magnetism to him. There’s something that draws you to him.”

And, says Elwes, “Rob absolutely adores women. He loves them, he’s crazy about them. He still loves every girl that he ever met. In every girl there’s something that he can find that is the good part. I think that’s what women respond to. He can make any girl feel like they’re capable of going out with Rob Lowe.”

On Sunday afternoon in Cobb County, inside Super-Hair Three-13, there was little talk of conventions or politics or even Rob Lowe until a client called with a proposal. A friend of his, John Roca, a photographer for New York’s Daily News and a stringer for the Star tabloid, was in town looming to freelance. Would SuperHair supply some models?

At 6:30 that evening, Roca met about fourteen employees of SuperHair at their small in-town satellite salon, Extension Three-13. After shooting several rolls of film, Roca says, he arranged to meet the SuperHair kids at Club Rio later that evening. He had in mind a piece on Atlanta night life during the convention. He thought the kids, with their blue, green and yellow hair, wild outfits and good looks would dress up the shots nicely.

“I called Rio,” Lester says, “and Rebecca Weinberg answered the phone and said she was the hostess that night. I told her we had some underage people and we were just going to come in for a photo shoot, would it be okay. She said, ‘Fine, get here before it gets really busy, and we’ll comp you in.’”

“Ten minutes to nine, they all showed up, thirty of them, and they all looked great and perfect,” says Susan Sullivan. “The owner was thrilled to have the club so full so early. She said not to charge them admission. That didn’t mean they didn’t have to have an ID. Maybe Jan was using someone else’s ID, but she had to have one or she wouldn’t have gotten into the club.”

While the SuperHair kids waited for Roca to show and take the pictures, they milled, gossiped, danced and drank in the cavernous two-story club. Three years old, Club Rio occupies a building that was once an RKO Films promotion center and later a warehouse used by Hustler magazine. The club has six different bars in three big rooms, high-intensity disco upstairs, cutting-edge live rock downstairs. Along a hallway, film vaults converted to mini-galleries feature avant-garde installations. “The whole concept of Club Rio is that life is an illusion and so are nightclubs” says the club’s current PR director, Eron Thomas. “We create illusions. That’s why people keep coming back.”

Catering to a diverse crowd, Rio has at its core a group of fashion punks whose lives are based on clothes and style. “Sometimes clothes are like armor,” says Thomas. “Certain people in life will judge you based on your clothes, and if they do, you never have to deal with their bullshit. It’s like a flea collar. It keeps them away.”

Rio, along with two or three other dubs in the city, constitute Atlanta’s underground. The club brings in bands like Slaves to the Siren; Thelonious Monster and Urban Blight and the action starts late, continuing at a thundering, strobe-lit frenzy until closing, at four in the morning, whereupon the scene shifts to one of several twenty-four-hour bars nearby. Low-grade cocaine and bootleg ecstasy are easily available from small-time drug dealers who make the rounds of the clubs.

“People get into the club scene,” says Marion Crowell of SuperHair, “and that becomes their whole life. The idea that you’re going out to have fan gets lost. Instead the clubs are all they live for. Going out, partying, drugs. It really happens. It’s sad. I’ve seen a lot of people who were pretty good kids just get mixed up. I don’t want to say it’s because of the bars, but maybe its because of their perception of what the scene is supposed to be. They see it on TV and the movies and on cable. They think this is how they live in Hollywood, how all the glittery people and celebrities live, so this is how they’re trying to live here.”

On Sunday night at ten, with the SuperHair kids waiting for the photographer, Susan was in her office. “Someone from the door staff called up and said ‘somebody from Rob Lowe’s entourage had just come by and said that Rob, Judd, Ally Sheedy and some a guests would be coming by,’ ” she says. “I went and found Rebecca and said, ‘Listen, we got VIP5 coming in,’ and I told her to get champagne, buckets, ice and a private room ready. As we were doing that, I saw Tara and Jan sitting at a table. I walked over and said, ‘I can’t really talk, because Rob Lowe is coming in,’ and the both of them said, ‘What? That’s great!’ And I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m getting the VIP room ready.’ And they said, ‘Really? We want to meet him!’ And I said, ‘I’m sure he’ll be in and out of the VIP room — that’s fine, just introduce yourselves.’ So they took their drinks and, like, ran over to the table right outside the VIP room and sat down.”

Susan left Rebecca to take care of the VIP room and walked downstairs. There was Rob Lowe. She introduced herself to Lowe and to Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Holly Robinson, Justine Bateman, Alec Baldwin and the rest, then took them up to the VIP room, an alcove just off the dance floor with a velvet rope across the entrance. “Rob was okay, you know?” says Susan. “He had his little Poindexter glasses, a jacket, a polka-dot shirt. Mr. Young Democrat. He was polite.”

“I was working strictly the VIP room,” says Rebecca. “I was kind of socializing. Judd Nelson was following me around with two cocktails in his hands, weaving, saying, ‘You’re so beautiful, wanna come home with me?’ ” Meanwhile, Jan and Tara waited outside, just a few feet from the VIP room. “Jan kept coming up to me and saying, ‘When’s Rob gonna come out? When’s he gonna come out?’ ” says Rebecca.

“The place was packed with people,” says Sheedy. “Atlanta was different than being in other towns. In New York and Los Angeles, because there are so many actors, people are, kind of more relaxed about it. In Atlanta, everybody knew we were in town, and the word got out that we were at this one club. People were coming up to the door of the room, looking in. They weren’t allowed in, but they were coming in anyway. I felt like I was trapped. I left with Judd and Alec.”

Lowe remained behind and continued to party. Finally, all at once, Lowe came to the door of the VIP room, Rebecca opened the velvet rope, and Jan and Tara rushed over.

“Rob, this is Jan and Tara,” said Rebecca.

“Jan was real excited,” says Rebecca. “Tara was less excited. She’s not really into boys. But Jan, you know, this little sixteen-year-old, she was really excited. I mean,~ here’s this girl who’s never been anywhere, and she was~ meeting Rob Lowe. I could see it. I could see it in her eyes: Rob! She was really hyped up about it.”

Jan and Tara disappeared into the VIP room. The partying continued. At about eleven, Rebecca says, she went to the employees’ lounge to take a break. There she found Lowe and two boys. “They were doing blow,” she says, “and then one of the guys asked Rob if he wanted some ecstasy, and he just took it. I stayed a few minutes, hanging out, catching what was going on. I asked Rob about Ally Sheedy, like is she a lesbian. He didn’t say anything. He was really drunk.” By 12:20, according to one witness, Lowe “was hanging on people, really drunk. It was pretty sickening.” Lowe asked Rebecca to call him a cab. With Jan and Tara in tow, he headed for the exit.

“That’s when I popped them,” says Roca, the photographer, who was just arriving for his shoot with the Super-Flair kids. “I got off a few shots, then ran out of film.” According to Roca and several other witnesses, Rob, Jan and Tara piled into the cab and sped off into the night.

Exactly Ten months later, the Rob Lowe sex scandal surfaced out of the underground. On May 18th, 1989, six days after the civil suit was filed, Atlanta’s WXIA-TV, acting on a tip from a courthouse insider, was the first to break the story. It wasn’t until the next day that Jim Shuler, a reporter with the local CBS affiliate, WAGA-TV, became the first member of the media to actually see the tape.

Shuler jumped on the story Friday morning. “That afternoon I got a call from an insider in the club scene,” he says. “He laid out this entire scenario for me: Lowe, the girls, the videotape, all that, and it just sounded so bizarre and so unbelievable that we decided the responsible thing to do was not to air it.” On the five and six o’clock broadcasts, Shuler summed up the charges in the lawsuit against Lowe and interviewed district attorney Slaton about possible criminal investigations. The phone lines lit up with tips, outrage and offers of access to the tape.

By eleven that evening, after a clandestine meeting in the suburbs, Shuler had a dub of the tape in hand. The station ran with highly edited electronically censored clips. “Once we realized what the liabilities were, we knew we’d best be very careful about the way we handled it,” says Shuler. In Atlanta, possession of such a tape for distribution carries a one-year jail sentence and a $5000 fine. Making even one copy could constitute intent to distribute, according to the Fulton County solicitor general.

The first twenty-five minutes were made in Paris just before Lowe came to Atlanta for the convention. They show Lowe and a twenty-one-year-old male friend having sex with an American model named Jennifer. According to a source, the friend, a production assistant from New York, had met Lowe sometime earlier on a movie set, and the two had become “great friends.” In Paris, Lowe and the other man were “in the middle of a bout of partying for, like, three weeks in a row,” says the source, who has spoken to Lowe of the events and has asked not to be identified. The night the tape was made, says the source, Lowe and the friend were out partying until the early hours with Grace Jones. On the tape, Rob and Jennifer are called by first names; the friend is called by his first and last.

The segment opens with the friend laboring atop Jennifer, who is visible to the camera only by her kneecaps. The room is dark, the quality of the video poor. After some time, Lowe enters the scene, carrying a bottle of beer. He sits on the bed, then says, “Go on. I’m watching. I’m watching.” While the friend continues, Lowe places the beer on the night table and manually arouses himself until Jennifer complains about the friend. “You’re torturing me!” she moans, a comment on the friend’s prodigious endowment.

Then Lowe takes over, and for the next six and one-half minutes, his rear end to the camera, Lowe continues to pump, uttering a guttural “uh-huh…uh-huh.” At the same time, Jennifer fellates the friend as he stands at die head of the bed. The friend coaxes Lowe as he goes, suggesting at one point that Jennifer would like to be treated more roughly. The sounds of slaps are heard. On it goes, the two men taking turns. “Do you like all this attention?” Lowe asks the girl.

Finally, Jennifer says, “Jenn needs a ten-minute break.” Lowe responds, “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” and a discussion ensues, wherein Rob and Jennifer talk about holiday plans, St-Tropez and Grace Jones.

The second segment of the film lasts about seven minutes and documents Lowe’s Sunday afternoon in Atlanta. There’s a shot of Lowe in a glass elevator in a downtown hotel, of Lowe’s gym bag with his baseball glove inside, of Lowe’s taking batting practice with the Braves, of Lowe and Tom Hayden (Hayden says many people have mistaken him for Lowe’s father), of Lowe’s being interviewed by a reporter from Channel 22 in Savannah, of the Goodyear blimp, of the California Raisins and of an anti-Ku Klux Klan demonstration downtown.

The final seven minutes begin with Jan coming naked out of the bathroom, carrying a newspaper. Tara is seen drinking a beer. Then Jan and Tara begin having sex. The camera is at the foot of the bed. Lowe says, “I want to see what girls do. … I want a serious lesson,” and the girls proceed to kiss and engage in oral and manual sex. A hand, presumably Lowe’s, darts now and again into the frame, stroking one or the other of the girls. Then Lowe is heard to say, “I want to show you this after, show you how you look Jan, you’re so sexy.” The girls giggle and smile, appear to be having a good time. At one point, the camera zooms in for a gynecological shot. Tara, in a mock instructional tone, starts labeling body parts. “This is Jan’s clit,” she says. At another juncture, Jan can be heard to say, “This is fun. Give me a pucker,” whereupon she picks up the camera and focuses on Lowe, who mugs, smiles and kisses for the camera.

Coming as it did in the midst of television-ratings sweeps, the airing of the tape on WAGA brought a stampede of broadcast and print media to Atlanta. Stories were carried in publications as far ranging as the New York Post, the Washington Post, the supermarket tabloids and the London scandal sheets. Arsenio Hall quipped that “finally, Rob Lowe has made a movie that everybody wants to see.” David Letterman, in his list of reasons the ayatollah had to live, posted as number 5 “Hasn’t yet seen the Rob Lowe sex tape.” In Atlanta, crews and reporters camped outside Club Rio and outside Jan’s home and school. Several different video journalists brought hidden cameras into SuperHair. They paid for hair cuts but got no information. Craig Rivera, Geraldo’s brother, on assignment for Inside Edition, chased Tara, camera klieg blazing, through a club and into the ladies’ bathroom. He was booed roundly by patrons and shown the door.

The day after broadcasting the video, WAGA was offered $10,000 for the tape by a nationally syndicated television show. Later a representative from the same show offered Shuler $3000 in cash on the spot. When other staffers at the station received offers of bribes, an internal memo was pasted in the employee’s break room advising them to report any offers for their own protection.

Soon, other stations and programs cane up with copies of the tape, though most included only the first segment of the action, the part with Lowe, his friend and Jennifer. Because of this, viewers were given the impression that the first segment of the tape had been made in Atlanta and that the girl seen with Lowe and his friend was Jan. In reality, few people have seen the portion of the tape that landed Lowe in trouble.

According to several sources, when Tara first called Susan on the morning after, she asked if Rio had the facilities to copy the original Video Eight cassette onto VHS format. When Susan couldn’t help, Tara and Jan took the tape to Lester at SuperHair. As a favor to Lester, a local video freelancer made two VHS copies, putting sound and color effects onto one. The freelancer, to his later disappointment, did not view the tape before copying it and did not keep a copy. Lester, as a favor to the girls, kept one of the tapes at home. Lester erased the part with Jan and Tara and on several occasions, he says, lent it out to friends. For a while, Lester says, he lost track of the tape. He stresses that neither he nor anyone else at SuperHair made copies. It is believed that Lester’s edited tape, dubbed and redubbed, is the one that circulated around Atlanta for ten months prior to the filing of the suit.

According to Susan and other sources, Tara has said that there were “several eight balls” of coke in Lowe’s room on the night of their encounter. She has also said that at one point, while Lowe was having sex with Jan, she picked up the camera and tried to shoot some footage of the two but that she couldn’t make the camera work. Court documents filed in the case also said that drugs were used and that Lowe had sexual intercourse with Jan. In addition, Tara has told friends that at one point, while she sat in a chair, drinking a beer and watching Lowe and Jan have sex, Lowe looked at her, stopped, crawled over to Tara and ripped her shirt off. Tara also said that Lowe was having a hard time achieving orgasm due to the cocaine and ecstasy ingested that evening. In the end, Tara brought the actor to climax orally, whereupon he passed out and the girls left, taking with them the tape, $200 for a cab home to east Cobb and a bottle of prescription pills.

In the days following, the underground glowed with the neon gossip of Jan, Tara and Rob. “I think Jan was a little more embarrassed of it and Tara was a little more proud of it,” says Lester of SuperHair. “Tara came up with the idea of having a party and showing the video to everybody, and Jan sort of agreed to it, but knowing in her mind that there was no way it was going to happen. That’s another reason they took the tape. They didn’t want Rob Lowe to have it. And they didn’t want Jan’s parents to find out she had been with another woman. They realized what had gone on, but they were mesmerized by it. It was like ‘Hey! We were with Rob Lowe! We’re gonna be stars around the Atlanta area!’”

Soon after, according to an affidavit given by Amanda Hinson, Jan “came over to my house and told me that she had had sex with Rob Lowe and to come over and see the video tape of the sex scene. Jan Parsons told me that if I told her mother, Lena Parsons, that she would kill me. Subsequent to that, Jan Parsons told me that she was going to have a party over at SuperHair . . . and have a showing of the film.” In addition, Hinson swore, “Jan Parsons is now being treated for a vaginal infection.”

Then Jan’s brother, Ashley, found the tape in a closet in her room and watched it. He promptly told their mother.

Papers filed on June 14th, 1989, by J. Hue Henry, attorney for Lena Parsons, continue the saga: “This film was discovered by Plaintiff in early August of 1988 and immediately was conveyed to the appropriate law enforcement officials in the jurisdiction where the pornography film was made.” That jurisdiction was down town Atlanta, in Fulton County.

The filing of Henry’s affidavit has called into question the actions of Fulton County DA Lewis Slaton. When first questioned about the incident in mid-May, Slaton told reporters that the case had come to his attention just weeks ago, and that he was just then “looking to see if any prosecution is merited.” In a recent interview, however, -Slaton confirmed that he had had the tape in his possession since August 1988.

“There’s been some holdups, some places where we purposely held up,” said Slaton. “There’s a whole lot of things we needed to know. Where they met, how old the girl looked, if any force was used, a whole lot of factual stuff we had to find out.” Asked if Lowe had been questioned, Slaton said he had “not yet attempted to contact Mr. Lowe.”

Could Slaton have held off prosecution to avoid harm to the Dukakis campaign? Was Lowe spared for political reasons?

“I haven’t covered it up too much,” said Slaton. “The media’s been following it. I do run as a Democrat, but I have prosecuted an awful lot of Democrats in my time, about 10,000 a year. There aren’t many Republicans down here. A lot of cases around here are older than this one. By law, I have to act within four years. Different cases take longer than others.”

At the time Lena Parsons found the video, she and her husband were in the midst of a bitter divorce. The tape added fuel to the fire. Affidavits from Amanda Hinson stated that Jan told her that “she was going to use the film to blackmail Rob Lowe for $2 million.”

Whether such boasts were the product of a teenager’s imagination or the truth is a subject of contention between Lowe and Lena Parsons. Documents filed by Lowe’s attorneys claim that the Parson family attempted to “extort” half a million dollars him the actor in order to avoid adverse publicity.” A motion also claims that an attorney for John Parsons told Lowe’s attorneys that his client was “interested in attempting to have any criminal investigation of Mr. Lowe dropped,” but only in return for the $500,000. John Parson’s attorney, Pamela G. Guest, refuted this charge, saying, “I never stated to anyone I could or would get the criminal investigation dismissed or dropped. I have no such power.”

Lowe’s attorneys asked the court to dismiss the suit and impose sanctions against Mrs. Parsons. Lowe’s attorneys deny that Lowe seduced Jan Parsons. They said that Lena Parsons has no claim to seek damages for emotional stress she says she suffers as a result of Lowe’s alleged seduction of her daughter. Her claims, said Lowe’s attorneys, lack any “substantial justification” and are being pursued “for an improper purpose through “extortionist tactics.”

Lena Parsons’s attorney countered with sworn affidavits stating that Lowe’s Century City attorney, Dale Kinsella, told them that he “conferred with Mr. Lowe, who had admitted that he met my client’s daughter in Atlanta and that he had appeared in the pornographic video tape. (Kinsella has not returned phone calls.) In regard to the charges of extortion, Parsons’s attorneys claim that they “have conducted themselves in an exemplary manner throughout negotiations;’ in contrast to Lowe’s attorneys, “who have engaged in a pattern of threats, profanity, temper tantrums, defamation and mendacity. . . . His attorneys have used the process of this Court as a public relations gimmick.”

In early July, a federal-district-court judge granted Lowe’s motion to dismiss that part of the Parsons suit that asked for damages to be paid to Mrs. Parsons for the pain and suffering she endured as a result of her daughter’s alleged liaison with Lowe.

They let stand, however, Mrs. Parsons’s right to sue for damages for Lowe’s alleged seduction of her daughter. Both sides were refused their request for sanctions.

In the aftermath of Jan and Tara’s night with Rob Lowe, much has changed in all the players’ lives. When the news of the civil suit broke, on the heels of Lowe’s embarrassing musical performance with Snow White at the Academy Awards, the actor was in France for the Cannes Film Festival. Though he told a reporter from People magazine that he was “not worried about the allegation,” a friend who was with him in Cannes says he had been preoccupied for some time with “being sued or blackmailed.” The friend also says that Lowe, fearing prosecution or other reprisals, had several months earlier destroyed a library of videotapes showing similar encounters with other women. “I don’t think he had any inkling this was going to come out,” says the friend. “Rob’s being very evasive about this. I think he’s embarrassed.”

Though Lowe refused to be interviewed for this story he did ask several of his friends to agree to interviews. Through his publicist, Lisa Kasteler of PMK, a picture of a kinder, gentler Rob Lowe was portrayed. Stressed were his longtime interests in the political affairs of Malibu and in charity foundations, most of which benefit children.

Lowe, says Cassian Elwes, “was devastated by the Atlanta thing. We all went up to the house. And he was, like, ‘Listen, I’m going to somehow make it through this, and someway I’m gonna find my way out of it, and I feel bad for all my friends to have to put you all through this, and I’m apologizing to you for that.’”

“Rob has a very strong sense of humor,” says Ally Sheedy. “Basically, that’s what he’s using to deal with this whole thing. He’s, like, ‘Okay, this happened. I really want to get it all cleared up and get over with it.’ Working as an actor is very important to him. He’s worried about everything that’s happened and how it will affect him.”

Shortly after the revelation of the sex tape, Lowe was pulled from the cover of Teen magazine’s back-to-school issue. A spokesman for the magazine said it was “inappropriate to publicize a public figure of Lowe’s stature when serious charges are challenging his reputation.” In early June, a women’s clothing line bestowed upon Lowe their No Excuses Award. Lowe was pictured in a full-page ad in Women’s Wear Daily. HOW LOWE CAN YOU GO? read the copy. In July, following the airing of the Rob Lowe Sex Tape on Al Goldstein’s cable program, Midnight Blue, copies of the tape — featuring only the first segment — have been selling in LA. for $29.95 and are the talk of the town.

Though the incident has proved a public-relations nightmare, it has not necessarily dashed Lowe’s career. While some in Hollywood are obviously outraged at his behavior, others believe scandal rounds out his appeal, adding an edge to his pretty-boy image. Lowe began a previously scheduled nine-week shoot in Los Angeles on June 20th. The movie, ironically, is titled Bad Influence. In it, Lowe plays a drifter who surreptitiously videotapes a businessman having sex with a woman. Lowe’s character, says producer Steve Tisch, is “a guy who we have all had in our lives, a bad influence.”

Tisch, who produced such hits as Risky Business and Soul Man, says he is standing by his choice of Lowe for Bad Influence. He and Lowe have become close through the ordeal. “I think that Rob has experienced his own mortality,” says Tisch. “In the business he’s in, he will be destroyed by the same people that created him: his audience, his fans, the people who believed him. There is an element of Rob Lowe who knows he has got to become a better actor and less of a personality And I got to admit, selfishly, that the timing cannot be better. I think what he faces is the ultimate challenge. Can you turn a liability into an asset? He’s acknowledged to me that this has changed his life. He’s said to me that some of his little-boy rudeness, some of his little-boy attitude, has got to now become part of Rob Lowe’s history and not his present.

“This incident has focused him. Between setups he’s not looking out the window and saying, ‘Look at the tits on that seventeen-year-old.’ Instead he’s, like, ‘I’ve got to get serious about my work.’ I’ve seen the guy go from an attitude of ‘Where’s the party tonight, dude?’ to ‘I’m gonna really get focused on my work, because what I got to do is come out with a movie, a character, a performance, not an item in People magazine about who I’m taking to the Academy Awards.”’

Lowe’s friend who appears in the first segment of the tape was, according to a source, scared at first. His parents know Rob, and they watched the footage on A Current Affair while eating dinner. “He hadn’t had a chance to warn them that he was in it too,” says the source, who also said that Lowe’s friend was offered $25,000 for an interview with a syndicated television show. He refused, remaining loyal to Lowe.

John and Lena Parsons, Jan’s parents, have since divorced. Lena Parsons has gone to work part time as a $4.50-an-hour clerk in a Kroger supermarket. John Parsons, who received custody of Jan and her brother, said in a television interview that Jan never intended to blackmail Lowe and that “she’s a very modest girl. It may not appear that way on the tape, but she’s a very modest girl yet today.”

As for Jan, she was ordered by the court to stop work at SuperHair and to attend an alternative high school in Cobb County. In the fall of 1988, soon after the tape was discovered, Jan spent ninety days in a psychiatric facility undergoing treatment for depression. She is furious with Lester for “fucking her over” on the matter of the tapes, Lester says, adding that “she is real mixed up,” and that her Porsche is out of commission. In a recent telephone interview, Jan referred a reporter to her attorney saying, “Please, please, I don’t want to talk.”

Tara, meanwhile, was fired from her job at SuperHair for what Lester says was nonperformance based on alcohol abuse. Since the ambush by Craig Rivera, she is lying low. She refuses to be interviewed, saying that she has already turned down a $25,000 offer to talk about that night.

“You know” says Susan Sullivan, “people have two opinions about this whole thing. Either that Rob Lowe’s a scumbag, a cradle-robbing pornographer, or that he got taken. You have to see both sides. Everybody was in the club. Jan was acting like an adult; she got herself in an adult situation. She enjoyed being with Rob Lowe. If it was some guy named Beauregard from Clayton County, you would never have heard that he videotaped it.

“It’s stupid, because America makes such gods out of its matinee idols. Years ago it was Rudolf Valentino, now it’s Rob Lowe. Hollywood puts him up in a sexual position. That’s the whole focus. That’s the publicity. They market him so that little girls will go to the movies, buy his posters, fantasize about fucking Rob Lowe. So why wouldn’t Jan want to fuck him if she got the chance? Why shouldn’t she?”

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