LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A videotape said to show rock guitar great Jimi Hendrix having sex with two women was released for sale on the Internet on Tuesday, following a wave of stars, alive and dead, showing up in homemade porn.
The 11 minutes of footage of a man resembling Hendrix cavorting with two unidentified brunettes in a dimly lit bedroom is packaged in a 45-minute DVD distributed by Los Angeles adult-film studio Vivid Entertainment.
Vivid, which also distributed the notorious sex tape of actress Pamela Anderson and rocker Tommy Lee, among others, said in a press release that its Hendrix footage was shot about 40 years ago in a hotel room and was unearthed by a rock 'n' roll memorabilia collector.
Hendrix, considered one the greatest rock guitarists of all time with such hits as "Hey Joe," "Purple Haze" and "Foxy Lady," died in 1970 at age 27 in London.
"This new movie shows that Jimi Hendrix could have been as great a porn star as he was a rock star," Vivid co-chairman, Steven Hirsch, said in the release.
The film's authenticity, however, was immediately challenged by some. The musician's longtime girlfriend during the 1960s, Kathy Etchingham, told the New York Times after viewing still photos taken from the footage: "It is not him."
"His face is too broad and nose and nostrils too wide for Jimi," she was quoted as telling the Times via e-mail.
Charles R. Cross, author of the noted Hendrix biography "Room Full of Mirrors," also disputed the identity of the man in the tape, who sports a large Afro hairstyle and head band.
"It doesn't add up to Jimi," Gross told the Times, saying he had encountered the film during his book research and dismissed it, as have others, as a fake.
But Vivid said it consulted with several experts to authenticate the footage, including Pamela Des Barres, author of the book "I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie," and Cynthia Albritton, better known as Cynthia Plaster Caster, famed for making plaster molds of celebrities' genitals, including those of Hendrix.
Both women appear on the DVD, titled, "Jimi Hendrix the Sex Tape," offering their commentary.
"They both immediately had the same reaction: 'I can't believe it, it's Jimi Hendrix,"' Hirsch quoted the two women as saying when they first viewed the footage.
Vivid bought the tape from an individual distributor, Howie Klein, who had approached Vivid after purchasing it from the collector who found it, Hirsch said.
Hirsch told Reuters that private investigators hired by Vivid's lawyers tracked down the man who claimed to have shot the footage in 8-millimeter color film, and Vivid struck a deal with him for rights to commercially distribute it.
"That's why we believe in fact that we own the copyright," he said.
Bob Merlis, spokesman for Experience Hendrix, the Seattle company owned by the musician's relatives that controls rights to his music, said, "We're in no position to verify" the tape's authenticity. He declined further comment, saying only that rights to Hendrix's likeness remain an unsettled legal issue.
The sex tape DVD, which retails for $39.95, was available for sale online at www.hendrixsextape.com and will be available in stores starting next Tuesday, Hirsch said.
Distribution of the Hendrix tape comes two weeks after a New York businessman purchased a 15-minute film of Marilyn Monroe engaging in oral sex. But the broker of that deal said the buyer planned to keep the film out of public view.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Cynthia Osterman