11 Points

11 Insider Answers to the Biggest Questions About Girls Gone Wild
written by Sam Greenspan

A few months ago, Ryan Simkin's tell-all book, called "Flash", about his time working at Girls Gone Wild came out... despite a lawsuit from GGW's founder, Joe Francis, to try to stop the release. In other words... Ryan clearly had some gold to share.

Anyway, I read his book (in two days -- it's an utterly fascinating read)... and when I found out through the magic of Facebook that he and I had a mutual friend, I reached out to him for an interview. Much to my delight I found out he knew and liked 11 Points... turns out that a little over a year ago he had actually written a review of 11 Points for the "Girls Gone Wild" magazine. I had no idea I was even in that magazine. (Which is what I bet a LOT of the people in that magazine end up saying.)

We ended up mostly discussing the questions that people most commonly ask him about the GGW empire. He gave illuminating and sometimes really surprising answers... and thus, this FAQ.

Here are answers to the 11 most common questions about Girls Gone Wild, courtesy of former employee (and author of "Flash") Ryan Simkin.

  1. Ryan, with Snoop at Mardi Gras.
    Do you bring the girls with you? According to Ryan, when he was out on the road, the most common question he'd hear was... "Where the girls at?" And unfortunately for the asker, his answer was always, "They're in your city."

    "On the bus, it's a surly bus driver, me, and three camera guys. Unless we're in front of a bar between 11 pm and 6 am, the girls are in your city. We have to find them, we can't bring them to us."

    The other biggest question he'd hear? "Where's Snoop?" -- based off of Snoop Dogg's deal with GGW back in the early part of 2003 where they did a video. Apparently people couldn't believe that several years later, Snoop wasn't giving up his music career to take a bus with five dudes to Starkville, Mississippi.

  2. Come on, don't you bring in some pros just to get things going? I swear I saw a porn star on one of your tapes. Ryan: "Sometimes the girls for the infomercials are hired from modeling agencies, because they don't do anything. Just sit there. But on the videos, all the girls are real."

    "[The now-famous porn star] Hannah Hilton does a scene on one tape. But at the time, she wasn't Hannah Hilton yet. In 2006, we were in Vegas doing the AVN Expo. This creepy old dude who ran a little modeling agency shows up with a girl named Erica. She started doing stuff, a random scene, then started hooking up with one of the camera guys. She ends up on the bus for a week. I had to kick her out in a random city. Then, basically, months later she resurfaces as a Vivid contract girl. So she became a porn star after GGW."

  3. Is Joe Francis really as bad as he seems? I read "Flash" and Ryan, whether intentionally or not, really made it seem like Joe Francis was running something close to a cult of personality. (Call him Mao Tse-Tongue. Asstro? Mussobikini? Any will do.)

    If not a cult of personality, at the very least, Francis seemed to be an emotionally-distant father figure -- everyone really craved his approval but walked on eggshells because of his tendency to snap. One of the things that qualified Ryan to write this book was that he was really Joe's right-hand guy for a lot of his tenure at GGW, and had more access to him than anyone else. So even though they clearly had a falling out and Joe's suing him... you can still get hints of Ryan's respect for one of the world's most disliked people.

    About what he's really like, Ryan says, "I guess that all depends on what you think of him, and most think pretty terrible stuff. I didn't hate him back then and that hasn't really changed, even though he's suing me now, which puts a damper on any friendship. As a boss, he was definitely maniacal and controlling, but I guess a lot of power hungry, successful people are. I've seen him be just terrible to people, so some of that reputation is certainly well earned. He has a very charming side as well, and he and his lifestyle can be very seductive. As a boss, he has such horrible ADD, that you sometimes never know what he wants or where he's going, and it's tough to please someone like that. And it's completely exhausting trying to."

  4. The book in question.
    What does Joe Francis think of your book? This was one of the answers that surprised me the most. Even though Joe sued to stop the book... he knew Ryan was writing it, and has for years.

    Ryan: "We had been talking about the book for two years. He set me up with a book agent! He was all about the book. He thought that while we were good friends that the book would be a fairytale puff piece about him. We had a falling out about him owing me money for magazine articles, then he thought the book was for revenge. Rumor is he's read it and he's hopping mad about it, although I'm not sure what's in there that's so terrible."

    "One of our old VPs texted me and said, 'Way to go, you made Joe look human.' I didn't talk about personal stuff. People said, 'You could've buried him alive but you chose not to.' I tried to make a point of just telling stories and having people use the stories to cast their own opinions about him."

  5. Why the hell do the girls do it? Ryan's take: "I always say there are three main reasons. Attention, competition and compensation. Attention: They saw someone else getting attention -- maybe a friend, maybe a random girl. Plus the girls who we mostly find are at an age filled with insecurity, so they crave attention. Competition: They think 'Well I'm hotter than that girl.' And compensation: It's not money, just a t-shirt or a hat is a trophy. Those are at the top of the list."

    "Alcohol barely cracks the top 10. I don't think that many girls are affected by alcohol -- if she's going to do it because she's drunk, she was going to do it sober. Really, drunk girls weren't that good for us. They look sloppier on camera."

    I found the alcohol thing to be the most interesting. I guess I've assumed alcohol and public nudity are an inseparable combination. Just like how, in most people's social lives, alcohol and private nudity are an inseparable combination.

  6. How do you explain to people you work for GGW? When you are, ostensibly, a pornographer, how exactly does your mom spin that when the pastor asks about you? Here's Ryan's strategy. "When I was working there, I tried to tell the shiny side of the truth. I generally said I was doing mostly event planning, locking in hotels, travel. I also shaded my job description towards less time on the road that I actually spent."

    "With girls I was dating, there were definitely some that had preconceived ideas about me before they met me, they thought I was a sleazebag pervert. I actually enjoyed that, because it gave me the opportunity to put on my charming face and prove them wrong."

    Ryan's mugshot from his arrest.
    "Going the other direction, some girls just like the bad boy. On our way home from going to jail [after Ryan and the crew were arrested in Daytona Beach] I actually called a girl I was sorta seeing and told her we were out of jail. She was all hot and bothered about it. Maybe I should change my name to Snake and get some tattoos. Um... temporary tattoos."

  7. Do you ever get tired of looking at the girls? "Absolutely. I got desensitized to it. Sitting in editing for weeks, looking through footage, or being on the road, sure. I had nightmares I was going to get desensitized to normal girls and have to develop some weird fetish."

  8. Did you ever seen anything too crazy to make it onto one of the DVDs?"There were definitely times where dudes would come up and say, 'Hey, can I [eff] my girlfriend on your cameras?' This wasnít what we were looking for, although one of the shooters said OK once, and the footage never went anywhere. On Spring Break one year we saw a dude whipping a chick with an Indiana Jones style whip. It was painful to watch but she was into it."

    I'm zero percent into BDSM stuff, but that still sounds like it would've been easier to watch than "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull".

  9. If a girl (or her boyfriend, or father, or pastor, or whomever) asks you or threatens you to erase footage will you? "We never erase footage. We would say it screws up the tape and the time code which is sorta true. We would agree to not use the footage, but wouldn't erase it. I was in charge of the phone calls about it for a while. If someone called and asked not to be used, we would do everything in our power to find her footage and mark it 'not for use.' It was tough though, because even when they would send us pics and give us a description of the night and their camera guy and everything, there was just so much footage. I spent many wasted hours with editors not finding the needle in the stack of needles."

    "[As for the men in her life,] we typically had some bigger dudes with us, and usually had the cooperation of bars and their bouncers, so there wasnít much animosity that led to beating people up. I'm not very big, but I can run real fast with only a tape in my hand, especially if the footage is really good."

  10. How does the GGW office differ from working in a regular office? I guess the GGW office falls under the same principle of every office -- no matter what the end result of your company is, at some point, you all have to have meetings to discuss a proactive approach to synergy.

    From Ryan: "This is a funny question, because the office was always a big mystery to people. When we first started, I think people envisioned the operation as Joe and a couple sketchy dudes selling DVDs out of their garage. Joe's a pretty stylish dude, and his offices always reflected that. People walked in expecting to see busty blonde chicks on roller skates bouncing around the offices, but it wasn't like that. In all actuality, the GGW offices were like working in a regular office."

    "Of course once you started walking back towards some of the editing bays, you saw things and heard things that made it quite different. And other times we would have castings in the office, and our neighbors really enjoyed that. The offices are in a really nice complex in Santa Monica, and when we first moved in there, we tried to keep our identities quiet, to not offend the accountants and the attorneys. One time I got in the elevator with some dude who asked me what floor I was going to, and I said 4. He said to himself, 'Girls Gone Wild'. I said I didnít realize people knew. He looked and me and rolled his eyes and said, 'Everybody knows.'"

  11. Ryan on the GGW bus.
    I want to work for GGW! Can I have your job? On the road, this was one of the most common things that guys would say to Ryan. At the time, he and the crew liked what they were doing (even with low pay and crazy hours) that they joked about making t-shirts that said "Yes, I like my job" on the front and "No, you can't have it" on the back.

    With a few years off and some perspective, Ryan's stance has changed a bit. "I would probably recommend against it. In the old days, the pay wasn't great, but it was offset by the fact that it was really crazy and fun and we were all a part of something when the brand first started to blow up. It actually seemed OK when bad things happened around us, because we were having fun. When we were kicked out of bars or ran from the cops, that was all part of the experience and part of the fun."

    "Things are different now. Everything is super corporate and legal like, which is the way it should be. The buses have GPS devices and cameras on them. [Eff] that noise."

For a lot more behind-the-scenes stories and to read about the rise (and partial fall) of the GGW empire from someone who was there every step of the way, I highly recommend Ryan's book. Even if it isn't advertised on late-night cable commercials with strategic blurring.

This post was originally published on Monday, November 8, 2010 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Interviews.

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