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Move over Perez Hilton, here comes Gary V!


Is the famous wine personality increasingly smitten with the world of celebrities?

“Transparency” and “exposure” take on new meaning in this op-ed video by Gary Vaynerchuk. The link comes in an article on, not wine as you might expect, but on three celebrities whose menage-a-trois somehow made its way onto the Internet. The article appears in PopEater, which seems to be an online version of Entertainment Magazine.

The background: The 3 celebrities are ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ hunk Eric Dane, his wife, actress Rebecca Gayheart, and “former beauty queen” Kari Ann Peniche. Dane’s lawyers immediately leaped to his defense, calling the tape “a private, consensual moment involving a married couple, shot several years ago, which was never intended to be seen by the public.”

No, of course not. Embarrassing tapes never are.

To see the rest of him, go to the video

Or at least a censored version of it, here at Believe me, the video isn’t even that hot. The three stars seem dim-witted but that could be because they were stoned. And there seems to be a lot of product placement, including a strategically-placed iMac.

Anyway, this truly tasteless incident never would have made it into a high-minded publication like this blog had it not been for the Gary V. video, which makes it not only wine-related but reportable.

Now, I know nothing about Gary V. beyond his celebrity status. But I’m learning. The PopEater article calls him a “PopEater Pal” and says the video is an “Exclusive Explanation for PopEater” of the videotape’s relevance to a much wider world involving “good [product] exposure and branding.” Which, I guess, means Gary V. has something going on with PopEater.

Gary’s video is 2:13 in length. Here’s a pretty accurate transcript.

“Really excited to talk about what I call the “Hugh Grant” rule…about how naked pictures and this full exposure has not always been bad for the brand, and I understand why…if people come out and say “I’m sorry” we’re kind of okay with it. And so what is going on in this new transparent world — don’t get it twisted, you take a picture or a video of yourself naked, and it’s gonna get out. And if you don’t think that these celebrities and these new internet celebrities, if you don’t realize they’re putting them out on purpose. I think you know. You guys are not naive. But what’s important to understand is it’s exposure. And it’s branding. And it’s opportunity. And as long as you follow up your mistakes with your “I’m sorries,” you’re always in a position, in our society, to build a bigger brand…So my whole take on this is very simple. It’s the movement of everything I’ve been talking about on social media. The fall of newspaper. Wait til television falls., that’s all I’m gonna say. When all this becomes pure content and full exposure, this trend, this new trend of naked pictures and full exposure is going to continue, followed up with the traditional I’m sorry, and brands will continue to get bigger and bigger and bigger, because that’s how we roll, it’s word of mouth, things like Twitter are just word of mouth on steroids. Vanessa Hudgens, her second round of pictures, I knew about 6 minutes after they were online, because it was a trending topic on Twitter. So the word of mouth has changed so much, allowing these kind of micro-events for Rihanna and Sarah and other people to get really more brand value, not less.”

I could bemoan the obvious crassness of a culture that permits such things to happen. I could criticize Gary V. for not merely identifying the phenomenon but doing so glowingly, as if it represents a signal breakthrough in human morality and consciousness. I could rebuke people who think that the best way to get famous, without talent, is to put images of themselves naked on the Internet, then leak the story to barracuda “journalists” of the type who write garbage for the tabloids.

I could do all that, but I won’t. Instead, fair warning. Tomorrow, in this space: Naked pictures of me, Steve, in compromising positions. Groups. Animals. In public, with celebrity chefs, winemakers, Mayors and movie stars. I want my brand to get bigger and bigger and bigger, so I’m applying the “Hugh Grant” rule which we actually may now call the “Gary V.” rule. If it’s sleaze, it leads. After everyone is shocked, shocked at my brazenness, after I’ve offended every measure of public decency, I’ll come out with my phony “I’m sorry,” and I’ll be bigger than ever! Mwahahahahahaaa!

  1. Sam Scarpari says:

    Hi Steve,

    I happen to know Gary Vaynerchuk on somewhat of a personal level, The video he posted re: The Hugh Grant rule is merely a fraction of what his life revolves around as an internet celebrity. He has built his viewer status of his wine library TV video blogs to that of something unheard of in the wine world. Social Media is his outlet – its the new way of communication, building a profile, building a product or even building a brand – this guy has hit mega celebrity status with his unique personality and passion. He has reached nearly 900,000 followers on twitter and he is a person who cares. He replies to nearly every email he receives (1000+ daily) and even rang me personally during a recent USTREAM feed. He is on the pulse with modern technology – transmitting it through social media to help every day joes like me take advantage of such a free and easy public medium. Kudos to Gary Vayerchuk for changing the world of Wine and social media – he only tells it as is.

  2. Steve,

    Hilarious, can’t wait for you to jump on the sleaze train.

    I look forward to the animal pics. But please no Patagonian Toothfish, wild caught Bluefin, Ortolan or other similiarly declining species. If your effort at branding is to really have impact, it should be sustainable.

    Until tomorrow….

  3. Aren’t animals already naked, by design?

  4. Morton Leslie says:

    “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

  5. Sam – It does seems like you know Gary on a somewhat personal level – like being his PR person. 🙂

  6. OMG Steve… It’s going to take me all day to get those visuals out of my head!

  7. Lots of people in SF dress their dogs in little coats and frilly things.

  8. As expected a refreshingly sane assessment, Steve. By lamenting tastelessness, you’re showing your education (a philosophy major?), class, age and the rest of the package that pushes back against the amorality of the age. But your kind/my kind/our kind are dying out. Gary V. comes out a particular setting, a particular heritage (and my god New Jersey) that is alien to many of us. He is everything you are not Steve. In your understated way, you’re screaming into the hurricane.

    How destructive that hurricane of crassness and sleaze will be to this coming of age generation remains to be seen. Perhaps there is something in societal dynamics that will always relegate the barbarians to a side show status, keeping them from truly infiltrating institutions that run our world. But it is dispiriting.


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