Sunday, January 30, 2011

Unleash Your Inner Iooss

Brooklyn Decker is in the February Esquire, with some nice photos. Want to watch the accompanying video? Or maybe read a self-satisfied, pseudo-earnest article that pretends to transcend the paradigm of the “dopey, worshipful interview of a swimsuit model” while actually wallowing in it? You can do that here.

There’s also an iPhone app you can use to take virtual photos of yourself with Brooklyn at Barnes & Noble stores.

I guess they need a supermodel to coax people toward print media now. The teen ritual of building up the nerve to take a swimsuit issue up to the counter at the bookstore is probably a thing of the past.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One-Piece Wednesday: Frankie Rayder, 2005

Frankie Rayder is 36 today.She’s a bit of an also-ran in SI history, and not the most traditional-looking supermodel. She only did two swimsuit issues (thus robbing her even of one-hit wonder status). But this photo is probably my favorite of hers.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Show Some Restraint

This is a photo upload from the swimsuit issue’s Facebook page. Apparently lack of closet space and/or hangers during the 2011 shoot resulted in an improvised method of hanging all the bikinis: they strung a room with rope.

“Rope goes a long way!” declares Darcie Baum, Assistant Editor of the swimsuit issue.

Is there a little kinky flirtation to that statement? Or am I just a pervert?

Because there is a significant category of SI pose in which the model is handling or otherwise interacting with rope…Of course, swimsuit photography repeatedly finds itself on boats and beaches, two places where rope is often handy. Sooner or later it’s going to be used as a prop. It doesn’t mean there are any B&D implications.

Except… In this photo from 2007, Anne V went beyond just posing near some rope and plunged straight into coiling it around her bikini-clad body:Also in 2007, Yesica Toscanini actually managed to get herself lassoed:And in 2003, Sarah O’Hare seemed unable to stop trussing herself up:Well, it’s still nonsense. I mean, they’re just playing with the rope. Of course it’s going to find its way around their bodies; there’s only so much you can do with a length of rope.

Well, what if we removed the rope from the equation altogether? Might there be poses that kind of look like the model is tied up, even in the absence of any actual rope?

Let’s see. Would you like her tied to a post?
Maria Joao, 1978 • Stacey Williams, 1993 • May Andersen, 2003

Esti Ginzburg, 2010 • Christine Teigen, 2010

Or chained to the ceiling?
Julie Henderson, 2008 • Cintia Dicker, 2009 • Bar Refaeli, 2010

Or secured to a frame?
Jeisa Chiminazzo, 2008 • Jessica Gomes, 2008 • Bar Refaeli, 2009

Or spreadeagled on a couch?
Rebecca Romijn, 1999

Or just standing submissive before you?
Kim Alexis, 1988

Or—why not?—staked out as a sacrifice to the Kraken?
Lujan Fernandez, 2001

I always thought this 2010 pic looked like Julie Henderson was some bikini-clad cattle rustler who’d been tied to the back of a horse and led into town upon her capture:Now, do I seriously believe all these are supposed to make me think of bound swimsuit models? No.

Do I believe none of them are? No.

I remember a behind-the-scenes video from 2007 (I can’t find it anymore) in which Julie Henderson and Jessica White were wandering around what looked like a Walmart. At some point, Julie picked up a fishing net and “captured” Jessica. Jessica asked, “Now that you have me, what will you do with me?” Julie said something like, “Hmmm, I’m not sure…” Then a female off-camera voice said, “It’s like a really bad porno!” And everyone laughed.

I don’t think many people would claim that the swimsuit issue is explicit. Many would call it quaint and innocent, as sexy materials go nowadays. But it is sexy, and there are certain shadowy-corner sexual triggers that can be pulled with some degree of subtlety.Food for thought.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One-Piece Wednesday: Christie Brinkley, 1978

Mmmmm. 23-year-old Christie Brinkley, Brazil.Christie was the first model I recall knowing by name. Her last regular appearance in the swimsuit issue was a few years before I got my hands on one, so she must have just been in the air.Timeless.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cindy Crawford: Patron Saint of One-Hit Wonders

Cindy Crawford. She was the most famous and most omnipresent model for a period of time stretching from the late 80s through the mid-90s. She was all over posters, calendars, commercials, TV shows, and runways. I myself had three swimsuit posters of her in my college dorm room, including this one of the yellow one-piece, which I may still have, rolled up in a closet somewhere. Every straight guy on the planet made a habit of drinking in her swimsuit-clad body.

With that kind of presence, it’s pretty amazing that she never appeared in Sports Illustrated. The swimsuit issue was standing tall in the Age of the Supermodel, and Cindy was the most sought-after swimsuit body of the era. Seems like it would have been a match made in—

Wait, what? She was in the swimsuit issue?Yup, 1988. The issue featured only this one photo of her. A couple weeks later, SI published an indignant letter from Robert T. Peck of Oshkosh, Wisconsin demanding more, and he was rewarded with this:So by March 14, 1988, she was already famous enough to be in demand. Why were her pics so scarce, and why did she vanish from the pages so suddenly? Was there a feud between magazine and model? Did Cindy’s career skyrocket so decisively that she felt more SI appearances would be slumming it? I have no idea.

But Cindy Crawford is proof that having only one solitary appearance in the swimsuit issue doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve failed as a sex symbol. So I hereby declare her Patron Saint of One-Hit Wonders.Coco Mitchell (1986), Jenny Brunt (1994), Kylie Bax (2000), Ariel Meredith (2009) and others: look to her for guidance and inspiration.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

One-Piece Wednesday: Vendela, 1993

Vendela is 44 today.

She’s always seemed a little out of place in the swimsuit issue. She’s gorgeous, obviously, but she’s got an icy, Hitchcockian blonde thing going on. She’d be more at home getting stalked by Jimmy Stewart than playing beach volleyball.So when 1993 found her posing in the gelid terrain of Alaska, it seemed her Scandinavian beauty had found a home.

It hadn’t, as it turned out. After enduring some arctic blasts from a helicopter, in one of the most bizarre shoots in SI history, she’d had enough—she walked off the set, “on strike,” earning the (facetious?) disapproval of Ashley Richardson:

“I hate being a professional supermodel. Because I have to do this sh— stuff.” (sotto voce) “Vendela’s not a very professional supermodel. Look at her. Running off, ‘I’m on strike!’”

Ashley stayed behind and brought the photographer’s vision to life: an Antarctic climatologist in a shiny, blue, long-sleeved leotard escapes from her kidnappers and flags down a passing helicopter for rescue. The fun starts at 1:44 here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

(Six-)String Bikini

A while ago, I declared that I had only seen two SI photos in which the model is wearing a bikini top but not a bottom. I think I may have been mistaken.

I happened across this photo of Ana Paula Araujo from 2007.After much careful consideration, I have determined that she is not wearing a bottom.

I was very scientific about it. To keep the variables as controlled as possible, I took the bottom from another photo of Ana:…and tried to position it in such a way that it would be hidden by the guitar. (It will help to imagine the guitar as translucent.)As you can see, in all likelihood she is not wearing a bikini bottom. If she were, portions of it would be visible on her hips.(It’s a good thing it’s not a translucent guitar.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Seymour Than I Needed To

Pictures popped up around the internetosphere recently of Stephanie Seymour frolicking on the beach with her 17- or 18-year-old son. posted the pics with the headline, “How Close Is Too Close Between Mother and Son?

Answer: This close.Imagine the dilemma from his standpoint though. He's 18, and he finds himself on the beach with a bikini-clad Stephanie Seymour.

She's 42 and still looks pretty freaking awesome. And there’s that ankle tattoo that semi-scandalized me as a kid.

Anyway, let’s cleanse the palate, shall we?Stephanie in 1988. I have no idea why it’s black & white. But it’s too great a photo to pass up.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2-Pieces in 3-D. 4 real.

Sony Bankrolls 3-D Video of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit IssueI have little to no interest in owning a 3-D TV. I’m very curious to see this video, but not curious enough to take any significant steps toward it, much less shell out a lot of money.

At least the 2000 issue came with a pair of cardboard red-and-blue glasses, and that’s all the expensive technology you needed.

Apparently the same 3-D specialist who worked on Avatar worked on this video. Apparently Avatar was pretty amazing looking. (I never quite got around to seeing it.)

Frankly, I always saw 3-D (2000) as one of SI’s disposable gimmicks, like trading cards and players’ wives and “The Equator” and those weird 360° “Virtual Reality” gadgets. Kind of cool, but quickly set aside. It’s unlikely you’d see this kind of effort and capital being set aside for Heidi Klum to dick around with Will Ferrell. I still have those glasses from 2000. They don’t do much but sit in between pages of the magazine.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bar Remodeling

The swimsuit issue Facebook page wishes its followers a happy new year with this photo of Bar Refaeli from 2009:It’s a nice pic. But if you look closely, you can see some sloppy touching-up.Apparently, seeing a bit of skin buckle around a swimsuit string would have been too hideous a sight for the cheesecake-viewing public—and made Bar look like a hideous monster.

Obviously, touching-up happens to every girl to some extent. It’s a good bet that it often takes place even before the photo is taken.

People with experienced, sharp eyes are probably able to find the seams in any photo. But to my eyes, there rarely is a gaffe like the above.

That brought to mind this photo (on the left) I found somewhere online. It looks to be a pre-retouch photo of the 1996 cover.The whitened the heck out of the teeth and eyes. They smoothed over Valeria’s cleavage and Tyra’s thigh. For some reason, Tyra’s butt had some sort of boxy angle to it, and they took care of that. Why they got rid of the dangling string of Tyra’s top, I can’t imagine

Last February, in anticipation of the 2010 issue, ran a gallery of Kathy Ireland photos. In the process, they unwittingly revealed that when this photo ran in the 1993 issue, they had erased her (admittedly creepy) disembodied right hand.I’ve noticed a couple other small, non-retouching-related mistakes, like this misplaced watermark on poor Melissa Haro from 2009:…and this photo of Paulina Porizikova labeled “Kim Cloutier,” which is in the rotation for the front page of the Swimsuit Collection:And then there’s this bewildering detail from Brooklyn Decker’s 2009 bodypainting video. (What was it about 2009?) The compass on her left hip (and another on her butt) is blurred throughout:…and in the photos that ran, it’s clearly a different compass:Joanne Gair must have been guilty of some sort of compass plagiarism. (I would have thought having “north” point upward was in the public domain.)