Did This Person Make a Michelle Trachtenberg Soft-Core Porno Or Did I?

One of the perils of working at a gossip site in the age of internet tipsters is that you never know whether you are corresponding with a person who is about to unmask the next Craigslist Congressman—or a demented pervert who is masturbating while describing an imaginary encounter with a starlet.

For the last two days, I corresponded with an anonymous person who claims to have a video of Gossip Girl actress Michelle Trachtenberg gamboling in the nude with her sister. The emailer claimed to have "no interest in humiliating Michelle," but a demonstrable interest in sharing images of her naked body with the world.

At first I assumed I was emailing with a man, possibly one who had been in a relationship with Trachtenberg. But as the story grew, the details became stranger: The emailer claimed to be a woman with a male "friend" who "happens to live in a place overlooking" a hotel room where Michelle and sister Irene played a game of truth-or-dare that culminated in a boozy, giggling moment of outdoor nudity. The descriptions sounded alternately like the sexual fantasies of a Trachtenberg superfan, or the confessions of a nightmarish peephole stalker.

Even as my skin began to crawl, I kept up the correspondence. Particularly detailed emails came with high-resolution photos of Michelle on the red carpet, as if to encourage my imagination. The emailer claimed to have videos of other unaware celebrities, which her "friend" acquired in a "trade." Was there some secret ring of private celebrity smut peddlers I didn't know about? (As opposed to public celebrity smut peddlers like Rupert Murdoch and me.) I found myself wondering more about the anonymous emailer than the contents of the purported video. Rogue paparazzo? Maybe. Sexual predator? Possibly. Scorned starfucker? Unlikely. James O'Keefe laying a To Catch a Journalist trap? If only.

The most likely guess, I concluded, was "celebrity-obsessed fabulist." After staring at those words on my screen for a few minutes, I realized that some people would define my job that way, too.

Welcome the virtual glory hole of online gossip. Here is my correspondence with Michelle Trachtenberg's mysterious creeper.

from: [redacted]
to: tips@gawker.com
date: Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM
subject: Michelle Trachtenberg caught naked on hotel balcony

Michelle Trachtenberg (yes - the one currently starring in Gossip Girl, formerly of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) was recently caught on camera parading around on the balcony of a room at an NY hotel, completely naked ("Buffy star in the buff"?). Photos and a short video of it exist and are verifiable as being her, video has already passed as legal to redistribute.

Interested in seeing any of the material for possible use? (Not seeking payment for it - just want to do something with it). Email asap.

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Yes! Want to send it along so we can check it out?

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Hi! Wasn't expecting a response quite so soon and am at work. Any preference for the video or the photo set sent over first? Anything you'd like to know about it?

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 6:01 PM

How did you get them?

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 6:14 PM

In basic terms, from a friend who happens to live in a place overlooking the hotel she was at (amusingly he was on the rooftop at about 2am doing some astronomy/stargazing hence had a good camera handy... B-list she may be but he did see a star! ;)

There was some event on in NY that night she had been at that there are pictures from and aside from the audio and video/clear photos making her recognizable you can clearly recognize the dress in part of the video as the same one from that event. I can write up a brief overview of it if you want or have any other questions?

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 11:11 PM
subject: Re: Michelle Trachtenberg caught naked on hotel balcony

Why don't you send me the material you have, plus date/location info?

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Hi,

As I said I hadn't been expecting quite the quick response to this. It's also not something I've done before (even though I have a similar video of someone else well known from that source), and I am pretty busy at the moment. I have had some issues getting the video to convert to a decent format and keep it small enough to send without having to lose too much of the 720p quality - grainy already due to it being night - but I'm on it when I have a chance.

I checked up and can add a few little bits that help verify it is definitely her. As well as herself there is her sister Irene visible in some of the materials, clearly identifiable via other pictures of her online. There are also pictures taken at an event earlier that evening (14th September - the video is taken after midnight so would be roughly 2am on the 15th, from a rooftop overlooking the hotel suite balcony/glass doors into the room) on various sites which clearly match to it being Michelle as she is wearing the same dress for part of the video. (Attached is a random googled photo from that event just to help with that later - "US Weekly's 25 most stylish new yorkers" iirc - and it's plainly seen at the start of the video and in a couple of the photos.)

To give a rough idea of the video contents there is a short bit of footage showing Michelle and Irene (both clearly slightly inebriated) in the room with Michelle wearing the distinctive black dress from that event. She goes off into what I believe is the bathroom. There's then an abrupt timecut (just done by the original source for the sake of removing 30 minutes or so where Michelle wasn't in the room) where she returns into the room clearly having showered and with a towel around her. There is about a minute where she is visible talking to Irene while wandering the room before she opens the door out onto the balcony. In the audio you fairly clearly hear Irene saying something to the effect of "Go on Michelle I dare you". Michelle says something back, drops the towel standing out on the balcony, takes a drink for about 10-20 seconds standing there, (with Irene laughing in the background), briefly sits up on the edge of the balcony facing into the room and finishes the bottle, gets back down, picks the towel back up and goes back into the room. Draws curtains across, end of video. Sadly nothing too scandalous but plenty amusing.

Any other questions in the meantime, feel free to ask.

Did This Person Make a Michelle Trachtenberg Soft-Core Porno Or Did I?from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 10:31 AM

(Oops - as traditional on the internets I forgot to attach the event photo I mentioned... more are easily googleable if need be btw. The actual photos I have are actually higher quality - 3000x5038 iirc - and are very sharp even viewed at 100% size. Fairly similar to this framing, though from further right and higher up.)

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 12:23 PM

Do you want to send some screenshots from the video now? Once I see it, I can try to help you figure out how to get the video to us.

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 12:53 PM

As I said I'm very busy with work. It shouldn't be a problem to get it converted just time consuming when I'm home. Would a variety of screenshots from throughout the video work for you just as an example of the content? (starting to wish I'd done this before with the other 'celeb' video I have just so I'd had the practice now!)

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 1:16 PM

Yes, that sounds fine.

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 2:28 PM

How do the following caps sound:

- Two/three from the start of the video with Michelle and Irene talking in the room, with Michelle wearing the dress seen before.
- Two of Michelle in the towel, one in the room one on the balcony
- One of Michelle `out of` the towel, full front nude/drinking
- One of Michelle sitting on the balcony edge nude (back/right side toward camera, bare butt/back showing)
- One of Michelle picking the towel back up
- Two reentering room/closing curtains (full rear nude/front through glass doors)

Any other point or sort preferred?

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 2:43 PM

That sounds fine.

Did This Person Make a Michelle Trachtenberg Soft-Core Porno Or Did I?from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Okay. Those roughly correspond to the 12 photos that are available along with the video - difference being where the video is slightly grainy and far, the photos are extremely clear and detailed. Took the liberty of attaching a random internet photo that is pretty close in approximation of the image quality - although they appera a couple of feet further away and more to the right and above it's pretty close... to the point where I would prefer to say now that I'd never want the full res ones put up, especially in an uncensored fashion. Nothing against embarrassing Michelle a little bit but I draw the line on humiliating her - which the uncensored ones at that level of detail would clearly be. I'll send a couple examples of those two if I can have some basic assurance they aren't going to be "leaked out". Possibly even the other 'famous person' set too though IDK how much interest there might be in her.

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:10 PM

When can you send the screenshots?

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:14 PM

I certainly understand your concerns, and can give you a better picture of what we'll do once I see them. Are you talking to any other websites about these?

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Soon as I'm home really... Assuming the same 'no leak' disclaimer applies. May add one or two from the other video to see if that one would be of any interest too.

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:26 PM

When will you get home?

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:36 PM

Are you a man or a woman?

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:42 PM

Thank you - as I say, no interest in humiliating Michelle by having the full res shots get out since they are full front/rear, but a little embarrassing 'stupid things to do when drunk and famous' story wouldn't hurt. Oddly enough in answer to that I talked to TMZ who were extremely keen on getting them, but were beyond vague on any question at all I asked on how they might be used or even if the uncensored full res versions might be published if I signed them over to them... which is exactly where I stopped dealing with them since I'm not keen on having that happen and the evasiveness led me to believe they might be intending to do so. The other video I believe I talked to another site over (a long while ago) but simply didn't have time to deal.

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:43 PM

It does sound funny. What is the other video of? Also Michelle?

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM

To answer the other questions first; travel time varies but probably 2-3 hours from now. I'm female though the original source for these is a male. Other video I referred to was Kelly Osbourne (not exactly hugely famous now I guess) from sometime in December, though I believe he has another Michelle one I haven't had access to.

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Where did you get the Kelly Osbourne video? Same source?

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Yes, although that one is a bit more "showy" but fairly boring other than that.

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Why does your friend have so many celebrity naked videos?
Also, you mentioned being at work. What kind of work do you do?

from: [redacted]
to: maureen@gawker.com>
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Wouldn't say he has many, the Kelly one is supposedly old and traded from someone he knew in Hawaii. Other than that there's the one Michelle one and possibly another that I have no idea of the content of.

from: maureen@gawker.com
to: [redacted]
date: Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 4:30 PM

"Traded from someone he knew"? For what?

As of the time we published this post, the anonymous emailer had not responded to my last email. If she (or he) ever sends the video, I'll let you know.