Jeanne RiceThirteen-year-old boys dream of girls like these. American girls, clean-scrubbed, innocent faces traveling in an even dozen, cruising the streets in wifebeaters, underwear and the occasional trucker hat. They are young, hard-bodied vixens who are students, servers, surfers and just plain local hotties, OC's version of barely legal Girls Gone Wild with shirts on. And they are everywhere: spreading out through the Orange County swap meet, walking down Main Street in Huntington Beach, guzzling beer at the International Street Fair in Orange.
They call themselves the Kobe Girls–"Kobe" as in "Bryant." What's intriguing about the girls' fashions–other than the almost complete lack thereof–is what's emblazoned across their private parts. The girls are promoting the merchandise for and website SaveKobe.com.
After other business failures, two guys with an entrepreneurial air that reminds you of the young Joe and Gavin Maloof (owners of the Sacramento Kings), Michael McClain of Newport Beach and Joey Franco of Anaheim Hills came up with the idea while brainstorming strategies to "show support for Kobe and make money off of it."
As a joke, someone suggested a Save Kobe campaign to support the local hero, and it spun wildly from there.
"Our site is based on the fact that the media convicts people before trials begin," McClain says. "We believe in innocence until proven guilty."
Actually, they seem to believe more than that: the homepage reads, "You know he didn't do it. We know he didn't do it."
"If Kobe didn't commit this crime," McClain says, "then he is just as much a victim as the girl."
Of course, if the girl is a victim, then Kobe isn't innocent. And–also of course–justice isn't the only motivation. And it wasn't the partners but McClain's sister, Meghan, who identified a virtually untapped market that begged for exploration/exploitation: women who love Kobe Bryant.
Meghan suggested featuring girls to drive traffic to the site, but she also suggested designing merchandise for the highly desirable 16-to-25 women's market.
While the initial website featured news updates, chat rooms and a limited line of clothing geared mostly toward men, Meghan's idea soon expanded it to feature women's tank tops, T-shirts and underwear–especially underwear–alongside men's shirts and trucker hats, many bearing the slogan "Kobe belongs on the court, not in court."
Considering Bryant's accuser is 19, the young fem market may seem ironic, but McClain and Franco say it has been a wild success.
"The girls love Kobe, and the guys want to be him," McClain said.
In addition to showing support for Bryant, McClain and Franco created an online sexual-consent form. It's primarily satire, they say, but partly serious, designed to prevent future occurrences of what they call the "he said, she said." Simply download it through the website, and check off the specific terms to which you'll agree–kissing (all levels), foreplay, oral, sexual penetration, anal intercourse. There is even a clause stating that the party signing the form is not under the influence of any mind-altering substances and is entering into this agreement of his or her own free will.
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McClain and Franco claim they have received overwhelming support from locals while the Kobe Girls pass out the consent forms. Most, the say, get the humor and end up asking for extras to pass out to friends. But the feedback hasn't been completely positive. One woman said she "couldn't believe what this world has come to" as she watched the Kobe Girls doing their thing–passing out the consent forms in their underwear–at the Orange County Swap Meet.
McClain and Franco remain undeterred. They plan to take their concepts–the clothes, the contract, the he's-innocent vibe–to Colorado for the trial. Yes, the Kobe Girls will be in Eagle County, passing out consent forms on the courthouse steps in their underwear.
And even after the trial is over, McClain and Franco say they are making plans for their next projects, including an expanded female-clothing line and a contingency plan if Kobe is convicted: the Save Kobe crew has purchased the domain for ParoleKobe.com.
(949) 903-KOBE, ww.SaveKobe. com, Iwant2bakobegirl@ savekobe.com.