Girls Gone Wild Scammed My Dad

In 2000, as if to jump start the 21st century with a well-deserved load, my grim and reserved yet somewhat pervy father ordered a Girls Gone Wild DVD, in which physically liberated ostensibly collegiate American women exercise their freedoms by flashing the camera at bars, clubs, house parties, hotel rooms, etc., then bi-curiously make out with each other in cramped shower stalls, followed by, at the film’s climax, some inebriated oral sex effaced by pixels.

It arrived in an unmarked package in the mail, and my father watched it with newly discovered joy. I wasn’t there, and can only infer this narrative by corroborative comments made by both my father and mother regarding this matter. I believe he must have watched it 2-3 times in the first 24 hours, eventually abusing himself until he was spent. It is odd to imagine one’s father masturbating, our very conception contained in its ultimate genetic matter. I believe my mother knew what he was doing, and even felt grateful to these girls for getting him off, which she considered, at that point in most marriages, a manual chore.

A few weeks later, another DVD arrived, this time “Sexy Sorority Sweethearts,” as opposed to “College Girls Exposed.” He checked his bank account, whose debit card number had been used to purchase the first, and saw that he was charged again. He frantically called Girls Gone Wild customer service and kept dialing zero “to speak to a customer service representative,” a sum which equaled the exact number of times he spoke to one: 0. He called his bank to have the charges reversed. No one answered the phone. He began stuttering expletives in his native language. He may have, in the downtime between this Kafkian nightmare, even popped a load to his new DVD.

In 2004, Girls Gone Wild settled for $1.1 million after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a compliant against the company for their evasively written “continuity program,” to which subscribers had unknowingly agreed. Two years later, they paid another $2.1 million for failing to record the ages of the subjects, some of whom may have been under-age; then, another $5.7 million a few more years later after they failed to show up at court for a trial involving the alleged non-consensual removing of the plaintiff’s halter top in a bar in St. Louis. In 2008, four women filed suit for “emotional distress” after being unfavorably captured in film. In February of last year, Girls Gone Wild, legal entity GGW Brands LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Girls Gone Wild spent upwards of $20 million annually in direct-response marketing, mainly in late night 30-minute infomercials, whose demographic were idle middle-aged men near the end of their libido watching television at 2:00 a.m. Such men, including my father, were not interested in the explicit mechanisms of pornography, but rather, a personalized return to nubile frivolity, innocent entendre, that simpler time when boys loved girls and snuck away to blow their loads in their honor.

Young enough to be his daughter, my younger sister, her spray-on tan drips away in the shower, its diluted orange hue a kind of unabashed lie of who she is. Like a graffiti artist, or a dead man’s symphony, or the very act of writing at this present juncture, they too only want to be noticed, remembered, as if life were but the messy draft of one’s elegy. In the morning, she is pale again. It may be easy to judge these girls, or their corporate enablers, and their subscribers, but we are all in search of a feeling. Some feeling.

A phone number flashes on the screen, rhetorically supplemented by severe calls for initiation. Behind the glass screen and my father’s own glasses, layers beyond layers, nipples sing their appearance in cotton’s wet translucence. These girls seem so friendly and good natured, beside whom all men wish, in trust, to lie. My estranged father, who never liked talking on the phone or to people in general, especially this contributor, will patiently recite his credit card number to a stranger on the other end, that dark ether of a much needed conversation. TC Mark

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