RON HART: Bankruptcy Gone Wild

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 04:26 PM.

ROSEMARY BEACH — There is sad news for hormone-driven boys nationwide. The Girls Gone Wild empire went into bankruptcy — brought down by hubris, missteps, litigation and changing technology.

It was a tragic day in America for purveyors of pornography. On the day the bankruptcy was announced, nudie bar owners across the nation ordered their strippers to fly their tassels at half-mast. Anyone who watched late-night TV during the early 2000s understands the business model of Girls Gone Wild and its Hugh Hefner understudy, Joe Francis. He made millions by applying incremental thinking on how trashy mass entertainment could get.

Even as a pretty easygoing father of two college-aged daughters, I never looked forward to seeing GGW ads on TV. I’d like their videos to be shown in reverse; that way, it would have looked like the girls had learned their lesson.

The free market brought porn to the Internet — literally for free (or so my guy friends tell me). That, and legal battles of GGW's founder, caused the company to file for Chapter 11 reorganization, claiming only $50,000 in assets and $16 million in debt.

The bankruptcy interests me more than the videos. Allegations abound that Francis bilked the company before filing. In a telephone interview with Bankruptcy Beat, which I presume is like Teen Beat without pictures, founder Joe Francis called the bankruptcy trustee, ex-FBI agent R. Todd Neilson, a “four-foot-two Mormon who points his finger and yells.”

Neilson got court permission to pay the bankruptcy attorneys up to $980 an hour; so, in an ironic twist, Francis will get a taste of being taken advantage of and screwed. I’ve witnessed bankruptcy proceedings. They are not about victims; they are all about attorneys making money.

Making his troubles worse, an LA judge named Sandra Klein (who Francis said lacks a "good grasp" of the law), will rule on his case. She is a government appointee from Massachusetts who co-chaired the Women Lawyers Association of LA, so I’m comfortable she will give him a fair shake. She is only a hyphenated last name away from giving him the electric chair.

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