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Behind the Scenes at Girls Gone Wild Inc.

The founder of the wildly popular pornographic video series takes an L.A. Times reporter into his $40-million-a-year world.


L.A. Times:

… Maybe you’ve seen the “Girls Gone Wild” infomercials that run on late-night cable, advertising mail-order videos of women exposing themselves (“and more!” as the jackets promise). [Joe] Francis didn’t invent the notion of spring break — and all the binge drinking, flurried hookups, wet T-shirt contests and general you-only-live-once exhibitionism that it entails — but he and his company, Mantra Entertainment, have affixed themselves to this youthful domain and transmitted its middle-American hedonism to the world. By packaging and dispersing it, people close to Francis tell me, Mantra does as much as $40 million a year in sales.

At 33, and after almost a decade as the king of soft porn, Francis says he wants to leave this twilight existence and wade into the mainstream. He is quick to list the projects he says he has in the works: a feature-length film, a series of “Girls Gone Wild” ocean cruises, a “Girls Gone Wild” apparel line and a chain of “Girls Gone Wild” restaurants. He says he’s producing a new line of videos called “Flirt” that will be racy, but not explicit, and could be sold in mass-market retail outlets such as Wal-Mart and Target.

In short, Francis wants to insinuate himself and his view of the world into the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the vacations you take and the entertainment — filmed and glossy — that you consume. He sees “Girls Gone Wild” as the ultimate lifestyle brand. “Sex sells everything,” he says. “It drives every buying decision . . . I hate to get too deep and philosophical here, but only the guys with the greatest sexual appetites are the ones who are the most driven and most successful.”

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