Joe Francis’s Tainted Love?

Are B-list couple Joe Francis and Kimberly Stewart embarrassed about their budding affair? Despite numerous reports that the Girls Gone Wild guru is dating Stewart (daughter of Rod), sources say the debauched duo persist in denying their well-publicized romance—perhaps because their brand of tough love doesn’t exactly qualify.

We hear Francis and Stewart, who reportedly stole her man from Jimmy Choo founder Tamara Mellon at last month’s Comedy Central roast for Pamela Anderson, were walking out of a Blockbuster hand in hand last week in Brentwood, California, when “all of a sudden they started wrestling in the exitway of the video store, and it got really rough.”

“Joe started strangling Kimberly, and she was laughing and then started screaming that he was choking her,” says an eyewitness. “Then this paparazzo came up, and they totally freaked out.”

We’re told that as the photographer began snapping pictures, Stewart, known in some circles as “the poor man’s Paris Hilton,” screamed at him, “We’re not together!” The pissed-off party girl then turned to Francis and ordered him to “tell [the photographer] we’re not together,” according to the source. On cue, Francis mumbled that they were “definitely, definitely not together,” and the two posed “as friends” for a quick photo before slinking off to the softcore-porn king’s car.

Asked about the incident, Francis’s rep, Bill Horn, says, “I’m not really sure why that photographer said that Kim said they weren’t seeing each other. Joe said that did not happen. Regardless, they’re seeing each other.” Stewart’s manager did not return calls for comment.

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