With its bustling bars and nightclubs and reputation for fun loving – if sometimes scantily clad locals – Newcastle’s nightlife has gained an international reputation.
US show encourages young women to strip for the camerasPhoto: NNP
By Martin Evans5:05PM BST 25 May 2011
But now a notorious American adult television company is looking to exploit that reputation by filming a deeply disturbing programme on its streets.
The controversial Girls Gone Wild franchise – in which young women, often intoxicated, are encouraged to strip and perform sex acts on camera – is planning to hit Britain and it is feared the party loving North East is firmly in its sights.
So concerned are a group of local MPs that they have now asked the Home Office to intervene to prevent the programme makers being allowed to operate in Britain.
The seedy Girls Gone Wild phenomenon has been broadcasting in the United States since 1997 and features camera crews approaching young intoxicated women in public places and encouraging them to expose themselves in return for free T-shirts and other merchandise.
Based in California, the programme makers, Mantra Films, announced in January they were heading to the UK with their tour bus and were looking for suitable areas to film.
But a group of MPs led by Ian Mearns from Gateshead have lodged an Early Day Motion calling on the Home Secretary to ban the film makers from operating in this country.
It is not clear whether an itinerary has been agreed, but Mr Mearns said he was sure that Newcastle – with its reputation as a party city – would be on the list.
The Girls Gone Wild franchise, which was set up by 38-year-old Californian millionaire Joe Francis, has sparked widespread controversy in the United States.
In 2008 Francis was convicted on child abuse and prostitution charges after pleading no contest to a set of charges. Despite pleading guilty he has always denied any wrongdoing.
But despite the controversy, the producers remain undeterred and are hoping to begin broadcasting on a pay-per-view adult channel which will be available on many digital television packages.
While the programme itself is not watched by a large number of viewers the franchise makes a vast amount of money marketing the footage on adult DVDs
Mr Mearns’ Early Day Motion has won widespread support from other MPs, including Pat Glass, who represents Durham North West and Mary Glindon Tyneside North.
The motion states: “This House is deeply concerned that US pornography production company Mantra Films Inc is filming Girls Gone Wild in the UK, which approaches young women, many of them intoxicated, in public places, and encourages them to expose their breasts, simulate sex acts and have sex on camera in exchange for Girls Gone Wild merchandise.”
“The motion went on: “Mantra films has been sued in the United States for filming young women in sexually provocative poses, using their images without consent and filming minors in scenes of a sexual nature.”
It concluded: “This is a form of demeaning, exploitative and casualised prostitution; and [we] urge the Government to examine, as a matter of urgency, how it can protect young women and halt this attempt at sensationalist entertainment.”
Mr Mearns said: “I want the Home Office to see if this company can be prevented from coming into the country. This is not in the best interests of young people.”
It is understood the film company plans to visit all of Britain’s major cities as well as a large number of smaller locations.
Mrs Glass said: “There is a real concern that this American company is making money out of putting young women in danger and doing it in the name of entertainment.
“We don’t want these people on our streets and placing our young girls in danger. Life is tough for young girls these days and there is far too much access to things like alcohol at too young an age, and this kind of thing just makes it worse.”
But a spokesman for the Girls Gone Wild tour said the show was a household name in the United States and well received wherever it went.
The spokesman said: “We are really excited about bringing the brand and its road show to the UK and we expect British young men and women to have a fantastic time at the events which are a really fun celebration of freedom and youthful expression.”