Long story short: Sydney Leathers is a 23-year-old who happened to exchange some texts with a guy, except those texts were sexts, and the guy is now running for the mayor of New York City, one Anthony Weiner. Leathers leaked her texts to a website, her identity was uncovered, and her life went from that of a 23-year-old paralegal from Indiana to that of a 23-year-old at the center of a political sex scandal currently threatening to totally derail Weiner's campaign. She's also been on Inside Edition, Howard Stern's radio show, Sean Hannity's Fox News show, multiple covers of the New York Post and New York Daily News, and recently did a photo shoot and video with adult entertainment company Vivid Entertainment.
She also struck us as a Complex reader. So we had to talk to her, if only to find out what kind of phone she used to sext Weiner with. Also, if her older brother is going to kick Weiner's ass, how she's going to introduce herself to a future boyfriend's father, who she's endorsing for mayor, how she rates her tape against Kim K's, and whether or not she's being exploited, or is doing the exploiting.
Without further ado, here's Sydney Leathers: The Complex Interview.
Is Leathers really your last name?
It really is.
What’s the genealogy behind that?
Leathers is actually a German last name.
Duly noted. What kind of phone were you using to text Anthony Weiner?
I had some kind of a Droid. I’m not sure what kind. I know that’s totally disappointing.
You have no idea. Have you switched to an iPhone since then?
I have Galaxy S4 and an iPhone 5. Obviously I have trouble making up my mind, right?
It's tough. Pretend that you’re meeting me for the first time and I’m a Complex reader that doesn’t really read political news. I ask you what you do for a living now. What do you say?
See, that’s the funny thing. People that seem to be unaware of the situation, like if I’m on a flight or something, will be like, “Oh, you’re flying to L.A.,” or “You’re flying to New York, what are you doing there?” I never have a good answer, because I don’t want to be like, “Oh, I’m the Weiner girl.” You know? I have no idea what to say in those moments and I get really awkward. Half the time I’m just like: “Seeing family.” My brother did go to New York with me last time, so it’s not like I’m completely lying.
How old is your brother?
I think Jason’s like—this is horrible of me—I want to say 28. He’s the closest in age out of all of my siblings.
If I were a certain kind of older brother in this situation, I’d maybe want to kick some ass. Does Jason have the taste for Weiner blood in his mouth right now?
Actually, no. Both of my brothers have always been very protective of me, but they also know that I can definitely handle myself in any situation. They’ve seen that I’ve handled all of this pretty well and they’re like, “You’re an adult. Make your own decisions. Do what makes you happy.”
Back to what you do for a living. Let’s say I’m your boyfriend’s father. Then how do you answer that question?
Oh my god. See, that’s terrible. I have no idea.
Have you thought about that?
I haven’t. I’ve been single for a while, too, so I guess that’s probably part of the reason. I really have no idea.
Maybe you could say you’re in the #lifestyle business or you’re a #entrepreneur?
I have no idea. Like I said, I haven’t had a boyfriend for a while, so I haven’t had to worry about the whole meeting-the-parents thing.
Eventually you might have to come up with some good euphemisms for this, you know?
I really am. You’re right. You’ve got some good ones. Maybe you can help me.
Do you have any regrets about the way this has all gone down?
Honestly, no. Initially I [tried] to release everything anonymously. To be honest, in a way, I do wish it would have remained anonymous. Obviously that’s not the case. I don’t regret leaking the information because he was No. 1 in the polls. He was completely pulling the wool over the voters’ eyes. The hypocrisy's what really got to me.
Once my face was out there, it was like, 'You might as well capitalize on it while you can.' Because what am I going to do? Hide in a cave and pretend I don’t exist for the rest of my life?
This is a mayor’s race in New York City and you seem fascinatingly invested in it. So: Who would you vote for in this election?
Christine Quinn. That was easy. I’m a huge political junkie.
What excites you about Christine Quinn?
Obviously she doesn’t have the impulse control problems that Anthony has. I love the fact that she is out and proud. I have so many gay friends and I feel like she would be a great ally for that community. She cares about middle-class people. She cares about students. I feel like she is more in line and up to the standard that should be set for the mayor.
Speaking of the leak, why did you leak to Nik Richie and The Dirty? Have you read The Dirty before?
Oh yeah. It’s kind of hilarious to say this, but I had an ex-boyfriend who gave me a really hard time about reading sites like TMZ or Perez Hilton. So I gave up those sites, but for whatever reason I was still hooked to The Dirty. April was the first time I started to tell Nik things. We had known some people in common, were Facebook friends, and communicated a little bit. We kind of knew each other. Then in April I just kind of started to spill the beans to him. He’s a gossip blogger. The fact that he didn’t immediately rat me out told me that I could trust him. So I trusted him to keep me anonymous as long as he possibly could and he did that.
On Howard Stern you discussed crashing a press conference of Anthony Weiner's. Really? Would you really do that?
It’s a possibility. That was Howard [Stern’s] idea. I was like, “I love it.”
Why would you do it? Are you looking for closure?
There’s no closure needed or anything like that. I would like him to stop lying.
So what would you say to him?
Oh my gosh, there’s so many things I would say. Obviously he needs to stop humiliating his wife. That’s very difficult for everyone to watch. I feel sorry for her.
But in the same way you don't feel humiliated, Weiner's wife doesn’t feel humiliated either. Or says she doesn’t.
I think she does, though. If you watch that press conference that she spoke at, it seemed like she was embarrassed and shaken up. She just didn’t seem happy.
But somebody out there could be thinking the same thing about you, that your pride is a facade for shame. Do you think she’s entitled to her pride about this?
Yeah...I can’t tell her what to feel or what to think.
What’s been the most disappointing part of this whole process?
How easy it is for people to run and say things without knowing the facts.
Say what things?
That I’m a homewrecker. And I lured him into this situation just to get some notoriety, which totally isn’t the case at all.
And what's your response?
The easiest explanation is: If I really wanted fame or attention, I probably wouldn’t have tried to remain anonymous (for as long as I did). I probably would've came out sooner with everything. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have given away the exclusive photos and the transcripts of our conversations for free to Nik Richie if I was looking to gain from it.
But it looks like you’re seizing the moment for gain, now.
Once my identity was leaked, I felt like I had no choice. It was like, “You might as well speak for yourself, otherwise everyone else is going to try.”
So you feel like you had no choice to do the photo shoot? Or this interview?
I’m not saying I had no choice to do the photo shoot, but once my face was out there, it was like, You might as well capitalize on it while you can. Because what am I going to do? Hide in a cave and pretend I don’t exist for the rest of my life? There were press camped out outside of my apartment. It was crazy.
In this situation, are you the exploiter, or the exploited?
Really, not either. I don’t feel like I exploited and I don’t feel like I’m being exploited either.
Let me rephrase: Are you exploiting these opportunities, or are these "opportunities" exploiting you?
Like I’ve said in other interviews, I’m keeping all of my options open. I just love to remind people that this isn’t the life I wanted or had planned. Once my identity leaked my life changed immediately. It was pretty terrifying.
If this isn’t the life you want, and you’re just seizing the opportunities because they’re there, have you ever had the impulse to just slam on the brakes?
Oh yeah. Once you get thrown into a situation like this it’s pretty easy to get cold feet, get scared about things, get nervous.
I mean more in sheer terms of lifestyle choices, and making an exit from the press spotlight. Have you ever had the impulse to say, “I’m done with all of this. This is the last interview. This is the last thing I’m going to do”?
Yeah...Who knows when that’s going to happen? I could get sick of it next week. You never know. I can’t predict the future.