‘Girls Gone Wild’ to Broaden Brand With Food, Drinks, Dancing

Rhett Pardon
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The “Girls Gone Wild” concept is expanding to food and beverage.

XBiz learned Monday that Santa Monica, Calif.-based Mantra Entertainment signed a deal with Titan Bar Concepts to launch Girls Gone Wild Cantina and Dance Club in Las Vegas, New York, New Orleans and Miami.

Titan is injecting $30 million into the new restaurants scheduled to open in either late summer or early fall that will feature dance routines by waitresses and bartenders, as well as big screens for watching sports.

Mantra official Bill Horn said the company plans to expand further after the initial four, franchising even more restaurants. The deal with Titan was signed two months ago, and Mantra will receive a percentage of the revenues, he said.

Titan is likening the concept to Hooters: “The most fun spring break party that you could ever imagine,” without the nudity, said company officials, who are behind the 11-chain Coyote Ugly saloon, which inspired a 2000 movie.

Horn also told XBiz that MGM has purchased the rights to use the “Girls Gone Wild” videos as the theme of either a teen comedy or a reality movie, and Jive Records is planning to release a compilation CD of dance music under the “Girls Gone Wild” brand.

XBiz also learned Mantra is also entering the fashion apparel business, with a full line to be sold in “cool, hip, young” stores like Urban Outfitters, Horn said.

“We have been selling a trucker’s hat there for $18 that has sold really well,” he said. “The retail aspect of “Girls Gone Wild” was inspired by the success of the Hustler [chain].”

Mantra is owned by Joe Francis, the 31-year-old creator of the “Girls Gone Wild” videos, who has built it into a reported $100 million company. The company’s direct-to-consumer video series “Girls Gone Wild” has released 83 different titles and sold 4.5 million videos and DVDs in 2002.

While Francis tries to exploit the “Girls Gone Wild” franchise, he is also facing a slew of legal disputes, including a complaint by the Federal Trade Commission alleging that his company engaged in deceptive business practices by charging consumers for unordered videos.

He also faces criminal charges in Panama City Beach, Fla., for which he is currently out on $165,000 bail. Francis and some of his employees are charged with racketeering, obscenity and enticing underage girls to expose themselves and engage in sex acts during spring break last year. Francis has pleaded not guilty.

And just last month, Francis is being probed by Miami Beach police, who are investigating an allegation by a 21-year-old woman that he drugged and raped her in his hotel room in South Beach.

There are also several lawsuits filed by young women who were filmed for his videos, including one submitted by seven underage teenagers in connection with the Panama City Beach case.

Francis owns four homes – two in the Los Angeles area, as well as a Lake Tahoe, Nev., ski retreat and a 37,000-square-foot home in Mexico.

He got started on his production career after graduating USC, marketing such videos as “Banned From Television,” which featured TV bloopers and gaffes. That year, in 1997, he made $10 million from the show.