It’s just sex, my friends. Let it be!” Rendy Alimudin had enough of his advertising agency colleagues discussing the hottest issue in the country. Their focus was on videos purportedly showing 28-year-old Nazril “Ariel” Ilham, the lead singer of pop band Peterpan, having sex with female TV celebrities Luna Maya, 26, and Cut Tari, 32.
“Every workplace, and not just mine from what I’ve heard, was practically frozen watching the video,” Rendy said with a laugh. “Friday was the most unproductive, though certainly entertaining day, ever.”
According to trendistic.com, which monitors statistics on micro-blogging site Twitter, the video of Ariel and Luna was leaked on the Internet on June 3.
It quickly spread on social networking sites as well as local Internet forums such as Kaskus.us, where links to downloads of the video were widely shared, to the chagrin of the forum’s moderators.
With a lot of Jakartans having access to a BlackBerry — and Twitter and Facebook by default — it didn’t take long for the video to become the talk of the town.
People like Noviar Akbar, who works as a credit officer, learned of it over BlackBerry Messenger.
“I found out about it after receiving a message sent to all on my BlackBerry,” Noviar said.
“I didn’t believe it at first. There has been a lot of gossip about Ariel’s and Luna’s romantic relationship obviously, but you know, there’s never been a real celebrity sex-tape case in Indonesia.”
Evelina Rahardja, a housewife, said she also got word via her BlackBerry. When she clicked on the link for the video, she discovered that it was already offline.
“So I sent a message to all my BlackBerry contacts asking if anyone had an active link to the video,” Evelina said, adding that she also made “more than a few phone calls” to friends and relatives asking about the video.
As the country with the sixth-biggest number of Twitter users in the world, it could only be expected that a number of people also found out about the video from the micro-blogging site.
“I knew about it from Twitter when the news was really hot,” user Kathrien Karnadi said. “I victoriously downloaded it with ease.”
Dio (not his real name) also got the video from a friend on Twitter. While he acknowledges forwarding the video link to a few friends, Dio decided not to post this on his Twitter account because distributing porn is illegal in this country.
Not everyone learned about the sex videos online. A few, like Conrad Pamungkas, was clued in through more traditional means.
“I learned about it from the news on TV, but I didn’t look for it,” he said.
“I actually saw the video because my girlfriend downloaded it from her office. She told me that everyone at her office watched and talked about the video the whole day. I think that’s stupid. Not working because of porn? But I guess that’s why it was a phenomenon.
“It was a regular sex video anyway. Had it been bondage …” he added with a laugh, trailing off on the last detail.
Liani Wijaya said that she was having lunch at work on Thursday when her colleagues began discussing the video. “After lunch, I quickly tried to find where I could download it because I would be the laughingstock if I wasn’t up to date with such hot gossip,” she said.
Liani added that she and her colleagues all watched the videos together at the office.
As with any hot topic, youngsters were well aware of it. Fannie, 11, said that she found out about it from TV newscasts. She added, however, that it was not a big deal among her friends.
The scandal reached fever pitch when another video was leaked on Tuesday morning. This time around, Ariel’s “co-star” was said to be model/actress/TV personality Cut Tari. Ironically, Cut Tari is a host of a gossip show. She is also married to another man.
By Tuesday afternoon, Ariel was christened with the monicker “Peter Porn” on the Internet, a play on Peter Pan, the name of his band. The online response was overwhelming in that “Peterporn” even became the highest trending topic on Twitter for a few hours, knocking off trending teen singer Justin Bieber from first place.
A few pseudo-celebrities, such as American porn star Vicky Vette, joined the Twitter discussion on the topic. Vette tweeted: “I personally have a hard drive that now has the sex tape of Ariel Peterporn and Cut Tari on it,” adding later that if “Ariel Peterporn and Luna Maya … come to the USA, I’ll shoot another sex tape with both of them … wonder if that would be a hit in Indonesia.”
A few other obviously fake celebrity tweets with questionable grammar, allegedly from socialite Paris Hilton and Bieber asking who Peter Porn was, also made the rounds.
Enda Nasution, a well-known Indonesian blogger and Twitter user, said that Peter Porn became a phenomenon because of “basic themes” that made it easy for people to relate to. Enda explained that such themes often lead to intense discussion on the Internet.
“It’s common that sex and scandals attract people’s attention,” Enda said. “Anything sensational or anything that scares people usually receives this kind of reaction.”
Enda said the hype surrounding the Peter Porn phenomenon on Twitter was comparable to that of Indonesia Unite, when Indonesian Twitter users expressed solidarity after the twin hotel bombings in Jakarta last year.
Enda added that last week’s Ariel and Luna Maya video did not make it as a trending topic on Twitter because it had leaked during the day in the United States, where the majority of Twitter users are from. The second video, however, came out early on Tuesday morning in Indonesia, prime time in America.
The second video was also accompanied by rumors colorful enough to push it further up the sphere of public interest.
News Web sites, such as detikhot.com and inilah.com, and a few others have reported that there were as many as 32 other sex videos involving Ariel and a few other female celebrities.
Some news reports have it that a video would be leaked online every few days.
“It’s almost like he’s releasing a series of singles from an upcoming album,” said Rianti (not her real name), who works at one of the country’s leading news Web sites.
She said the person in contact with their Web site, who claims to be the alleged distributor of the videos, is holding the recordings ransom for a few million rupiah. “This person said that in the videos, Ariel has sex with 30 different female celebrities, as well as two male celebrities,” Rianti said.
Criminologist Erlangga Masdiana was quoted by news portal detik.com as suggesting that Ariel may have been a victim of blackmail.
The singer is rumored to have lost either his cellphone or laptop, where he may have possibly kept the files. “If that’s a possibility, then Ariel may be a victim of blackmail or exploitation,” Erlangga said.
Either way, Indonesians are eagerly waiting what is billed as “Part 3” of Ariel’s sexual adventures. Many have even created fake movie posters for “Peter Porn,” with shoddy graphics and taglines such as “Who’s Next?”
Kaskus was flooded with endless threads discussing Peter Porn, with whimsical topics such as “Who do you pick as the next actress to star with Peter Porn?” and “Proof that it is indeed Cut Tari” on the second video, where a user used a screen cap to compare a photo where a mole can be seen on Cut Tari’s hand, similar to a clip from the video with the same image.
Kaskus eventually deleted other discussions involving Peter Porn on its public forums and left only one thread active. It has since quickly expanded, with thousands of replies posted literally every second.
On his Twitter post, Kaskus founder Andrew Darwis commented on the matter, referring to it as the “thread that is faster than the speed of light.”
Other aspects of the sex video phenomenon itself became entertainment fodder.
Photos showing groups of people gathered in front of a computer and TV set, tilting their heads together in one direction, became an online meme. These photos poked fun at the angle in which the second video was shot, as the first few frames were filmed vertically.
“It’s funny to see how people watch it because the sex tape is recorded with a tilted camera,” Dio said.
As of press time, it was rumored that a third video of Ariel with singer Aura Kasih was making the rounds.
It looks like the red-hot issue of Peter Porn is not dying down any time soon.