When video series came to town, even some women who said they wouldn’t ended up showing skin
Feb. 7, 2003, Austin American-Statesman
Lauren is not getting naked.
Somehow, the bleached blonde with a toffee tan thinks that a girl can get wild without really getting wild. That in this day and age a girl can attain most righteous wildness by spurning the fundamental step of giving the public a peek.
What gum drop world is she living in?
When the video cameras from “Girls Gone Wild” come to your town — and they came to Austin on Tuesday night — there are certain expectations, and every single one of them has to do with bare skin. The “GGW” cameras do odd things to young women. Naughty things. Namely, they inspire women to lift their tops and expose themselves, often while their tongues hang out sloppily. This is called wild.
Not, says Lauren.
“I will not be showing (anything). Absolutely not. No way. It’s called ‘Girls Gone Wild,’ not ‘Girls Gone Naked,’ ” says Lauren, who, like many in this story, withheld her last name. The 21-year-old with a leonine mane of yellow hair and jeans low enough to reveal lots of red silk thong works at a bar and is studying to get her real-estate certification.
“I don’t look down on any girls who are wild enough to do that. To each her own,” she says. “But that’s just not my style. You’ve got to leave room for the imagination, you know.”
Thirty minutes later, Lauren was taking it off.
There she was, on stage at country-dance warehouse Midnight Rodeo in South Austin, gleefully lifting her Girls Gone Wild mini-tank top for about 700 howling, whooping, screaming, yelling, barking, caterwauling young men, who were apparently seeing their first bare breasts. Writhing with professional panache and shooting a carnal glare at the boys, Lauren’s soft-spoken modesty melted, then hardened into Elizabeth Berkley in “Showgirls.”
Woooooo-yeeeaaaahhhh-owwwww! went the men.
Ha! went the dozen women on stage.
The women, ages 18 to 23, were competing in a “Girls Gone Wild” talent contest (is lap dancing a talent?), the winner of which will appear on a “GGW” pay-per-view event in March.
The direct-order video company’s Austin stop was part of a 31-city tour that’s brought camera crews to San Diego, Philadelphia, Dallas, Lubbock and, the night before, San Marcos. First prize Tuesday night was $100 cash and an all-expenses paid trip to Panama City, Fla., where the winner will take part in another “GGW” contest.
It’s a common perception that in party aka college towns, Mardi Gras has become a kind of open-air flesh bazaar. Like members of a native tribe, grunting young men proffer tacky plastic beads to greedy women, who gladly, if drunkenly, haul their tops over their chests and under their chins for impromptu peekaboos. The boys go wild.
Joe Francis, the 29-year-old multimillionaire who created “Girls Gone Wild,” decided several years ago to bring video cameras to these and similar spring breaky gatherings. Give the girls beads, make them go wild, tape it and sell it.
“GGW” boasted more than $90 million in direct-response orders last year and the brand has become shorthand for “drunken-girl antics.” “GGW” trades in “normal people” and avoids strippers, Francis says.
The company’s 83 titles include “Craziest Frat Parties,” “Ultimate Spring Break” and “Sexy Sorority Sweethearts.” MGM is making a feature film based on the video exploits, something between “Spring Break” and “American Pie.”
Francis says any young woman will lift her top for the low price of guaranteed male attention.
“You’d be surprised, man,” Francis says by phone from his L.A. office. “Every time I go out, I see a girl who I thought would never do it.”
Joe, meet Lauren.
“I know, I know,” says Lauren, holding her forehead like a kid who’s been caught breaking a promise. She’s backstage, being escorted by the “GGW” crew to the winner’s circle. Lauren won the contest.
“It was the heat of the moment,” she explains.
Sociology of a shirt lift
“I’m not drunk enough,” says Crystal Woodworth, a bespectacled blonde in a white tank top.
Tonight, she’s leaving the stripping to her peers.
“I encourage them. If you have a beautiful body, why can’t you share it with everyone else?”
Crystal’s friends have been wheedling her to do it all night.
“Why do I have to go on stage to do it? I can do it for you myself. I don’t need that extra push. I do it for my friends all the time.”
Crystal is a good friend. Continue reading