Joe Francis was at the epicenter of events in Hollywood that dark night of January 22, 2004.
Francis, 33 years old, got obscenely rich by inventing the video series called "Girls Gone Wild." Francis has sold enough videos to have a state of the art production office in Santa Monica, a mansion in Bel Air, a home in the Carribean, two private jets, a Ferrari and a Bentley.
On that day in January, Francis was robbed at his home by an intruder with a gun. Francis says he was frightened for his life. “I had seen these happen before. Guys who came in your house and telling these victims that they weren't gonna do anything if they cooperated. But then at the end, they always killed them. So all these things were playing out in my mind. That, oh my God, ‘this is how it all ends.’”
The intruder also ordered Francis to lie face down on the bed, pulled down his pants, and revealed what he’d brought with him to Francis’ house: a video camera and a sex toy -- which he posed suggestively on Joe's posterior.
According to L.A. county prosecutor Hoon Chun, “The purpose of the video was quite clearly extortion— [the perpetrator] demanding various sums of money in order to not publish the videotape that he had forced Mr. Francis at gunpoint to make.”
Joe Francis, who'd made a fortune getting girls to strip for the camera, became the star in his own nasty video – the only difference is that he was forced to do it by the point of a gun.
Is it karma? Some people feel that what happens on “Girls Gone Wild” videos is also obscene -- Francis and his cameramen persuading young, often inebriated women, to expose themselves and even have sex with each other. (Just last week, Joe and his company plead guilty to violating a federal law designed to prevent pornographers from working with people under 18.)
What the extortionist didn’t count on was that Francis would not be threatened by the release of the video tape.
“That just is ridiculous to me… that somebody's gonna think the owner of "Girls Gone Wild" is gay,” says Francis.