The LA Times has finally found a way to get people read its Sunday magazine section, with a big promotion for an article that neatly disembowels Girls Gone Wild kingpin Joe Francis.
We’ll take for granted that Joe’s no Mychal Judge. It’s reporter Claire Hoffman who lays herself almost bare and leaves a few questions lurking between the lines.
Claire inserts some nice first-person techniques in the piece, reaching back to her college years and teasing the reader with group skinny dip imagery, but she’s a bit less forthcoming about the circumstances regarding the alleged parking lot attack by Francis that frames the story ("I wriggle free and punch him in the face, closed-fist but not too hard"), and whether she entered Joe McGinniss territory in the techniques she employed gaining access to Francis’ Wild world or in her relationship with him (because if Claire did indeed promise Francis
a sophisticated understanding of the adult entertainment world, she sodomized him better than he did himself on that kidnap hostage video).
In any case, Claire has obviously seen the film, Capote, offering us the hilariously cinematic image of the brainy yet sexy reportrix, simultaneously holding out a microcassette recorder and scribbling away in her spiral notebook while the orgy swirls around her, then clutching her reporter’s pad for dear life when the going gets ugly.
Claire rips off a good one on why there are so many girls willing to go wild for Francis and elsewhere:
...a generation whose notions of privacy and sexuality are different from any other. Nursed on MySpace profiles and reality television, many young people today are comfortable with being perpetually photographed and having those images posted on the Internet for anyone to see. The boundaries that once contained sexuality have also fallen away. Whether it's 13-year-olds watching a Britney Spears video, 16-year-olds getting their pubic hair waxed to emulate porn stars or 17-year-olds viewing videos of celebrities performing the most intimate acts, youth culture is soaked in sexuality...
And there’s a tabloid history lesson, only touching on the former genre's wide sphere of influence:
Francis... got his start in the gritty world of reality television, working as a production assistant on "Real TV," a syndicated show of home-video bloopers... noticing that much of the material submitted for the show was too violent or explicit for network television. In 1997, using $50,000 in credit card debt, he released "Banned From Television," a compilation of footage of gruesome accidents-- shark attacks, train wrecks and general gore. Then Francis moved on, releasing the first "Girls Gone Wild" in 1998...
Real TV, of course, was not a network show but a syndicated program created by tabloid TV inventor Peter Brennan as a recurring segment on Hard Copy. The show’s genesis is covered on page 486 of Tabloid Baby, a book that offers an amazingly prescient view of television and pop culture.
(For an adults-only view of the Girls Gone Wild oeuvre, click here.)