Jimi Hendrix became a legend for his guitar licks. But 38 years after his death, could he become equally known for his, er, licks? Vivid Entertainment, a large maker of pornographic DVDs, apparently thinks so -- this week they're releasing a disc called Jimi Hendrix The Sex Tape, and Hendrix's estate is crying foul.
Regarding the 11 minutes of silent footage that is the centerpiece of the two-DVD set, reportedly shot in a hotel room about 40 years go and featuring a man who appears to be Hendrix engaged in various sexual acts with two women, Experience Hendrix, which controls the rights to the late guitarist's music and likeness, has questioned the authenticity of the tape. In an official statement they said, "We strongly dispute the claimed authenticity and affirmatively state that Experience Hendrix is neither involved in, nor have we authorized the distribution of this film." Experience Hendrix went on to call distribution of the tape a "callous attempt to trade on the image and reputation of a deceased artist who is unable to defend himself against such an outrageous and baseless assertion. We are highly offended by the disgraceful portrayal."
In response, Vivid Entertainment co-chairman Steven Hirsch called Experience Hendrix's statement "not in any way a refutation of the authenticity of Jimi Hendrix The Sex Tape. Vivid took considerable time and spent a substantial sum of money to authenticate the footage and we are very comfortable that this is the real thing."
Charles R. Cross, author of the Hendrix biography Room Full of Mirrors, previously said he had seen the film and doubted the man is Hendrix. Cross said the face and nostrils of the man depicted in the video don't match the guitarist, and the man in the tape is wearing more rings that Hendrix was known to wear. "You could look at it for 30 seconds. You could look at it for an hour. You could look at for 11 minutes. It's either him or it's not him. In my opinion, it's not him."
Two people who do think the man in the tape is Jimi Hendrix also took part in lending their commentaries to the DVD: Pamela Des Barres, author of I'm With The Band: Confessions Of A Groupie, and Cynthia Albritton, better known as Cynthia Plaster Caster. Ms. Albritton is known for doing plaster casts of the genitals of rock stars, including Hendrix in 1968. "I'm 100 percent sure it's him," said Ms. Albritton. "The facial bone structure is the same. The eyebrows and the mustache are true to the style he was wearing in 1970."
But Kathy Etchingham, one of Hendrix's steady girlfriends during the '60s, threw water on the claims. "It is not him," she said. "His face is too broad and nose and nostrils too wide for Jimi. Also the hair is too low on the forehead. He would never have allowed anyone to see that. In private he was very shy and would cover up."
Where does MusicRadar stand on this matter? In our carefully considered opinion, we think the whole thing looks like another Volker Spielberg production.