Canadian women invited to 'go wild'

Drunken teens: DVD producers seek young women to bare breasts

February 19, 2005
National Post
By Siri Agrell

A controversial American production company is helping Canada shed its reserved image one city and one raised tank top at a time.

The $100-million enterprise Girls Gone Wild, which produces low-budget videos featuring drunken girls lifting their tops and kissing one another, is in the midst of a 20-day Canadian tour.

"It's a different crowd up here," said Bill McCoy, head of the Canadian Girls Gone Wild scouting mission. "It's a much younger crowd because your drinking age is lower so the girls are much more attractive."

His crew has already visited Calgary and Edmonton and parked their tour bus outside Toronto's Guvernment nightclub last night.

The company, founded by a former production assistant named Joe Francis when he was just 24, sells its subscribers three videos a month for US$9.99 and has created an empire on the willingness of inebriated university girls to give their breasts 15 minutes of fame.

The venture has earned him millions, outfitted him with a company jet and countless accouterments of the rich and famous, but has also landed him with several charges related to racketeering, obscenity and profiting from the stupidity of underaged girls.

Bill Horn, spokesperson for Mr. Francis's privately held company Mantra Entertainment, said Mr. Francis has never been convicted and that the company goes to great lengths to protect themselves from further charges.

"Any corporation that makes millions of dollars is ripe for lawsuits. It's the nature of the game," he said.

Mr. McCoy said the production crew has not had any problems with Canadian police forces or by-law enforcement.

"We find out exactly what the laws are wherever we go and make sure we stick to them," he said.

At the Guvernment last night, signs at the entrance informed patrons that Girls Gone Wild was inside and that they were consenting to be on video by entering the premises.

The crew was decked out in GGW hats and T-shirts, ensuring that they could not be mistaken for a CBC documentary crew.

Because most municipal bylaws prevent nudity in establishments that serve liquor, Mr. Horn said Girls Gone Wild films only atmosphere and dancing inside clubs.

"We do not shoot nudity," he said. "If someone does choose to go wild, we'll bring them on to our tour bus."

The Girls Gone Wild Canada bus parked outside the Guvernment is wrapped in a montage of northern images, including the national flag and a vista of snow-capped mountains.

Girls who enter -- no men are invited to go wild -- must sign a consent form on camera and produce identification proving they are at least 18.

"We don't want any trouble," said Mr. Horn. "We don't want anyone to be on our videos who doesn't want to be."

But finding Canadian girls who are ready and willing to go wild does not appear to be a problem.

In Edmonton earlier this month, Mr. McCoy said 400 women were in line by 8 a.m., waiting to be immortalized, at least from the neck down. "It was bigger than New Year's Eve for them," he said.

Every Canadian venue they have visited has sold out, and Mantra Entertainment takes a percentage of the cover charges from each location.

The excursion has been so positive, Mr. McCoy plans to return to Canada in the summer to do a three-month tour across the country.

He hopes to market the footage as a series of Girls Gone Wild Canada DVDs.

"I think Canadians would be really excited about that," he said.

Mr. McCoy said women who appear in the videos are given a hat, T-shirt or G-string as a "thank you for showing us your goodies," and that the production team is determined to change the image Girls Gone Wild has earned in the media and the courts.

"People think we're a bunch of creeps who work out of a garage sneaking videos of people taking their tops off," he said. "It couldn't be further from the truth. We have a bus!"

Girls Gone Wild will be at the Dome in Montreal tonight.