Sydney Leathers: The Best, Only, and Last Interview With Her You Should Ever Read

Finally, her moment in the sun.

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Complex Original

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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 toThe 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.


So: I was considering a vote for Anthony Weiner before all this happened. 
Uh-oh. Did I ruin that for you? 

You did. Now I’m going to vote for someone else, and not explicitly because of those texts—but they didn’t help. 
Yeah, I understand that. I’m sorry if I dashed your Anthony Weiner hopes and dreams. I didn’t mean to. 

No need to apologize. But how does it make you feel to know that you might be changing votes? 
I’m a little conflicted on it because part of me thinks back to last summer and how close I was to him. Then I think, “Oh, am I being disloyal?” Then I realize I never owed this man anything. I’m not married to him. I do feel like the voters deserve to know the truth. I feel like if I didn’t come forward, another woman would have. We all know he’s admitted that there were other women. 

Why do you think those other women haven’t come forward?
They’re probably seeing what’s happening to me and they’re terrified. Seriously.  

So if you had seen this happen to someone else, would you have still come out? 
I don’t think so. I really don’t. I think I would have been way too afraid of the backlash and the frenzy. 

Of all the people you've spoken with since you've started, who's been the most disgusted by you?
Well, I'm assuming you're hoping for a media name. 

Oh, definitely.
Honestly, most people in the media have been really nice to me. Even Sean Hannity, who I expected to be rude to me, was so nice to me. 

Something tells me if Weiner were a Republican he wouldn't have been so nice to you.
Yeah, I totally know that. [Laughs.] It's been more just strangers than media personalities. 

Do any of those interactions stick out? 
No. They're all kind of the same. Everyone's pretty unoriginal.

What's been the most exciting part of this whole process for you? 
People are going to think this is crazy, but I had so much fun at my photo shoot. That was amazing. Going on Howard Stern was amazing. I've had a lot of fun with the opportunities that I've been presented with. 

YOLO to all that?
[Laughs.] Exactly.

Do you think the media are a bunch of suckers for giving you this much attention? 
I think the media are like unmedicated children with ADD, or something, you know? It's bizarre to me. They get fixated on such strange or unimportant things, and it's like they cannot let it go, they cannot let it die. 

You were in The New York Times, too.
See, I don't know any of this, because I've been like, sheltering myself from it all.

Right next to news about Syria, or something.
That's insane to me! [Laughs.] Syria's much more important than me doing a photo shoot or whatever.

I think so, too. 
I'm not so deluded to think I'm really this important person now. I'm really not at all! [Laughs.]

I wanted to read you a few things that have been written about you. 

This is from a Jezebel post

Leathers' actions are hurtful to people who did nothing wrong — like Weiner's wife and son — and therefore, if you believe that hurting people is wrong, flaunting those actions and causing collateral emotional damage in the process is immoral. Just because Anthony Weiner is a bigger jerk doesn't mean that Sydney Leathers is not also a jerk, and [her] defensive, incoherent, and transparently wounded tone...doesn't do her any favors.

How does that make you feel? 
It's still surprising, but it's nothing I haven't heard before. I'm not gonna go cry about it, by any means. But as I've said before: I do feel badly for Huma. I really, really do. But then again, I'm not married to her. If anyone should be groveling, it's him. Not me.

I think the media are like unmedicated children with ADD, or something, you know? It's bizarre to me. They get fixated on such strange or unimportant things, and it's like they cannot let it go, they cannot let it die.

Would you ever apologize to Huma? 
I don't think she wants an apology from me, because I'm no one to her. If that makes sense. It's between her and her husband, and they have to work it out, and I'm not important. I'm not so delusional to think that I'm in their every discussion. 

Regarding the tape that will come out of the photo shoot, in order of sexiniess—one being Hulk Hogan, five being Farrah Abraham, 10 being Kim Kardashian—how would you rate your own tape?
Is Kim Kardashian really the sexiest?

As high a bar for DIY arthouse-style sex tape proportional to its cultural impact, sure. 
Umm...I don't really want to rate myself, but I will say I had so much fun on the photo shoot, and everyone made me feel really comfortable, and they were so professional, and I felt great about my body. It was just wonderful. I'm not out here saying, 'Hey, young girls, take your clothes off.' I'm not trying to be a role model for anyone. I'm a young adult, it's my life, I'm just doing what feels right to me in the moment.

In the Howard Stern interview, you asked, rhetorically: "How are you going to be mayor of New York City if you’re coming [ejaculating] like five times a day?” 
I did. [Laughs.]

But you also said it never took him very long to "bust." So, the question is then...
Oh, it didn't always happen so fast, but sometimes it happened really fast…if that clears anything up.

Even if that is the case, how many times is the acceptable amount of times a day for the mayor of a larger-than-average metropolis to bust?
[Laughing.] I'm gonna say two, tops. 

Now what if this were Seattle?
Sure, maybe three! I don't know. I'm not a masturbation expert.

On that note: Do you watch Downton Abbey?
Actually, I don't.

That's too bad.
But it's something I've saved on Netflix. I just haven't gotten around to it.

But what about Mad Men?
I love Mad Men. I love Homeland and Damages, also. I love a good legal drama.

You ever seen House of Cards?
Love House of Cards.

See any parallels?
Yeah, I've mentioned that. People made fun of that. But what they don't know is that Anthony's the one who actually brought up the similarities, before I even could. I was just in the beginning of the series.

Uh, spoiler alert much, Anthony Weiner?
No, he didn't [spoil] it. He was kind of just like, "Wait and see…." 

Seems clear that Anthony Weiner, House of Cards fan, has been exhibiting a pattern of behavior. So it's not unfair to assume that you're in the midst of a pattern, too. Prior to this, had you engaged in extra-relationship affairs or sexting? 
Yeah, I had. A lot of young people have met someone or had a boyfriend and sexted with them. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. But I've never done anything to try to get myself in the spotlight, for sure.

What's the next move in the pattern for you, though? Do you ever worry about the psychology of trust if or when you try to get into a new relationship?
Of course. It is something that I worry about. It's not just the fact that they're gonna have trouble trusting me—I'm going to have so much trouble trusting the next guy that's in my life. I mean: Look at the situation. I have people I haven't talked to since elementary school that try to float things about me in the press. You really learn that you can't trust anyone when you get the smallest amount of attention. 

People have said some massively shitty things about you.
Oh yeah. And I've had ex-boyfriends texting me out of nowhere, and I know better than to respond, because the second that I respond, it'll be all over...whatever website. 

Some of these things—"she knew exactly what she was doing when she put herself into that," "he was so stupid to get involved with someone like her," "her main goal was to become fam..."
Yeah, the guy that said that, the thing that "he was so stupid to get involved with her"—he also said that I had a coke problem, which has never been true, and the funniest part about all of that? He was an adult when he dated me and I was a teenager, I was 17 years old. Who's the bad person in that situation? 

Oh really, now? 
Exactly. And like I said, I was 17 years old when I dated this guy. And he was already 22. At least. We weren't even in high school at the same time or anything. 

[Ed. note: We should probably note here that we didn't get a chance to ask Leathers what state this went down in, but that the age of consent for both Illinois and Indiana—the states Ms. Leathers grew up in—is 17 and 16, respectively.]

Feel free to name this person!
I'm just trying not to get myself in trouble. I don't know that my manager wanted me to directly respond to him and give him the chance to say more shit that isn't true. I will say that it was a National Enquirer article. So that tells you how low everyone in that situation is.

Let's play a round of word association: "Cocktease."
I wouldn't call myself a tease, because he was getting off. 

Touche! Theoretical time: Would you rather be a nun who's completely abstinent but saves children with cancer, or the Sydney Leathers of the last three weeks? 
I would rather be myself.

Angelina Jolie or Mother Theresa? 
Angelina Jolie, obviously. I actually don't like Mother Theresa. I don't think it's right to go to countries that have been ravaged by AIDS and tell them not to use condoms.

On Howard Stern's show, you said that Anthony Weiner was a "needy little bitch who needs his ego stroked." 

Have you ever heard the expression "takes one to know one"?

Do you think...
that I was a needy little bitch?

…Who needs her ego stroked?
[Pause.] Yeah, I don't think—not in that situation, at least. I was not a needy little bitch in that situation because—I don't know if I said this on Stern, [Weiner] would block his phone number when he called me. So he was only able to call me, and I wasn't able to blow up his phone all day. 

What do you think you want for yourself in 10, 15 years? 
That's such a long time, I don't—I don't know if I've ever thought that far ahead for myself. I know this is going to sound corny, and I don't know what direction I'm going to go in, but I just want what everyone wants. I want to be happy and healthy, you know? [Laughs.]

One last thing: As you've been going through all of this, what have you been listening to lately? 
Like, music-wise? I actually...

[Laughs.] No. I actually have really weird tastes in music. I don't listen to country like everyone from my area does. I love Kanye, which is actually kind of embarrassing to admit since he's like, with Kim, and I'm not a huge fan of hers. 

Have you listened to Yeezus?
I have.

What's your favorite song from Yeezus? 
Oh, that's so hard. I love the whole album, obviously. And I love Lana Del Rey, she's like, my major girl-crush. Chancellor Warhol, "Games," I like a lot of songs of his. Let's see…I like Frank Ocean....

Frank Ocean, right, but if you had to pick just one song off of Yeezus….
OK, let me think about it. That's a really tough question. I literally play that album the whole way through every time I listen to it, from start to end.

It's one of those albums.
OK, "Blood on the Leaves" is really good.


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