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Girls Gone Wild Founder Joe Francis Exposed in New Documentary

*Trigger Warning: This article features sensitive content, including written references of physical abuse, sexual assault and rape.

Girls Gone Wild became a household name in the early 2000s after their videos of wet t-shirt contests and girls flashing their breasts on camera raked in $20 million in two years. By 2004, the franchise was amassing $100 million annually and featured numerous celebrities.

But what was sold as sexy, spring break revelries, and sex-positive female empowerment, was actually deeply exploitative, sinister, and outright criminal.

In a new documentary series called Rich & Shameless: Girls Gone Wild Exposed, Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis has been exposed as a sexual abuser and a predator – a not-so-shocking revelation considering the exploitative nature of the early 2000s DVD franchise that profited off of inebriated girls at nightclubs and beaches.

The series showcases first-person accounts and interviews with women who shared their lives were left in shambles after being on the show.

Emmy-nominated director Katina Blackford Newman told The New York Post, “Behind the fun, the wet T-shirt competitions and the faux-feministic liberation centered around flashing your breasts in front of a camera, lives were being ruined.

The exposé series paints quite a predictable picture of the entrepreneur—one which reveals his predatory nature as a man who believes women are “horny sl*ts” who would show their breasts and engage in pornographic acts “if you simply asked.”

Francis was at the forefront of an early 2000s culture that feasted on overt female sexualization. In the height of Girls Gone Wild, Francis was even called the “Hugh Hefner of the new millennium.”

A closer look into Francis revealed a cruel, abusive man who finessed women into situations that featured sexual abuse and violence. It is no surprise that his on-camera manipulation of vulnerable women was escalated behind the scenes, resulting in coercion, physical abuse, and rape.

Girls Gone Wild: Haunted by the Memories

One girl, named Jannel, details her traumatic experience in the Rich & Shameless series that occurred after visiting a favorite nightclub that was also playing host to Francis and his colleagues in 2006.

RELATED: Why Do Girls Participate in Hookup Culture?

The self-described 18-year-old “party girl” was charmed by the celebrity businessman into downing drinks “like it was water.” Jannel soon found herself agreeing to return to his bus, where she assumed that the worst she’d be asked to do was flash her breasts at a camera. However, what awaited her was much worse.

In the back room of the bus, she was coerced into drunkenly signing a waiver and then was forced to “touch” herself on-camera with sex toys.

According to Jannel, what followed was a nightmare. “I didn’t give my consent that night and he totally raped me. And then he got off of me like I was garbage.”

The documentary also features footage in which a Girls Gone Wild employee tricks barely legal, drunk women into shooting same-sex pornography. An off-camera man can be heard coaching three woman to perform oral sex on one another and make sexy sounds while he films.

Francis Led a Violent and Sexually Abusive Life

Joe Francis’ escapades in violence and sexual abuse don’t end there. In 2003, he was arrested on child pornography charges for allegedly filming two underage girls having sex in a shower. He was also accused of forcing a pair of 17-year-olds to massage his privates. That same year, after the alleged arrest, Francis was sued by a woman who claimed that her NSFW photo was included on the cover of a DVD without her permission.

We are in an interesting time of tension. Our culture is widely accepting of porn but at the same time horrified—and somehow shocked—by the unmasking of exploitation and abuse perpetrated by the porn industry’s founding fathers.

In 2007, Francis was then arrested on contempt of court charges for telling the opposing counsel to “suck my d–k.” That same year, he reportedly advised his good friend, Kim Kardashian, on how to make the most of her leaked sex tape to build her career.

RELATED: Debunking the “Porn is Harmless” Myth

Then, Francis struck again in 2011 when he forced three women from an LA club into his car and took them to his mansion in Bel Air. One of the women claimed Francis “choke-slammed” her to the floor and repeatedly bashed her head. Another victim said in court, “It was the scariest moment of my life. I just wanted it to end. I just wanted help.” At the end of the night, the girls said Francis told them, “You’re trespassing. Get off my property.”

He was convicted on five misdemeanor charges in 2013. Francis later faced tax evasion charges and other lawsuits for $20 million that made “Girls Go Wild” go under, which later filed for bankruptcy.

Shortly after, he fled prosecution and currently resides at his estate in Punta Mita, Mexico. His estate often caters to the rich and famous, despite his reputation.

But Francis didn’t learn his lesson. In 2020, he was arrested for domestic violence in Mexico. Francis grabbed a woman by the neck and spit in her face in order to give her Covid. When the woman, whose identity remains anonymous, tried to call for help, he reportedly grabbed her by the hair, threw her to the ground, and proceeded to step on her head and put the full weight of his body on top of her. Francis then grabbed her by the hair and dragged her down the hallway.

Her injuries took over two weeks to heal and required special medical treatment.

The Porn Industry’s Innate Exploitative Nature

Unfortunately, Joe Francis is no different than many other porn industry producers, manipulating, abusing, and sexually assaulting the women off whom he profited.

Earlier this year, A&E released Secrets of Playboy, a documentary series featuring ex-staff members, former Playboy bunnies, past executives, and Hugh Hefner’s ex-girlfriends recounting their experiences at Playboy, including everything from corruption, suicide, and illicit drugs, to rape, illegally filmed orgies, and beastiality.

RELATED: Secrets of Playboy A&E Documentary Reveals Truth About Porn Industry

Much like Hugh Hefner and other power-holders in the industry, Joe Francis views women as disposable. Rich & Shameless: Girls Gone Wild Exposed is yet another blow against the industry, and the world is starting to wake up to the truth.

The porn industry is rife with cover-ups, the silencing of women, lack of regulation, corruption, assault, suicide, manipulation, STIs, and rape. Yet, the mainstream media often sings its praises. Some officials have even gone so far as to suggest porn should be taught to children.

This line of thought follows the propaganda pushed out by the porn industry claiming that porn is harmless, encourages a healthy sex life, and even improves relationships. According to countless research studies and the hundreds of stories collected by Exodus Cry, that is patently false.

Porn is a grooming tool. When children and teens are repeatedly met with images that depict women as sexual objects who never say no—or if they do, they don’t mean it—and men as the violent dominators who only seek to be sexually gratified, it teaches them how they are meant to be treated and how they ought to treat others.

As seen in our film Liberated, women who have grown up in a pornified culture aren’t likely to run away immediately when faced with a situation in which they could be sexually harassed or assaulted. Part of the reason for this is because of overwhelming social pressure to participate, and part is because these dangerous situations are everywhere.

As a mother of teens, Blackford Newman said, “That could have easily been my kids. Some famous guys who’s friends with the Kardashians comes along with a camera, asks them to sign something, they’re drunk and don’t know what they’re doing, and bam [their sex tape] is out there for the next 20 years.

We are in an interesting time of tension. Our culture is widely accepting of porn but at the same time horrified—and somehow shocked—by the unmasking of exploitation and abuse perpetrated by the porn industry’s founding fathers.

Later this year, Exodus Cry’s film production studio, Magic Lantern Pictures, will release a three-part film series that continues this conversation and takes a deep dive into the inner workings of the porn industry. While documentaries like Rich & Shameless and Secrets of Playboy focus on the abuses of the past, our new series will expose the dangerous, exploitative, and downright criminal activity occurring on porn sets every day.

Subscribe to Magic Lantern Pictures on YouTube in order to stay up to date on all the new things coming this year!

In the meantime, watch our documentary Raised On Porn for free on YouTube to learn more about how porn is shaping our culture and, especially, the lives of children.

You can help tell the truth about the sex industry so people everywhere can be free, and bring practical assistance to victims of sexual exploitation. Give below to make an impact.

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