Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscar Night

The swimsuit models interpret the nominees for Best Picture:

Black Swan
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The Fighter
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The Kids Are All Right
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The King’s Speech
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127 Hours
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The Social Network
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Toy Story 3
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True Grit
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Winter’s Bone

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ranking the Covers

There have been 27 swimsuit issues since the first one I ever owned (1985). I thought I’d rank them, from my least favorite to my most favorite, to see where Irina’s’s 2011 cover fits.

#27: Kathy Ireland, 1992
Kathy is cute, no question. But I never quite understood why she got all the marriage proposals from fraternities—other models from her era earned my obsession more readily. Still, the problem with this cover is the weird pose: kind of an action pose, kind of not. Her hair looks like she’s landing after a jump, but the rest of her body looks pretty stationary. And the point of focus seems to be the side of her body. A head-scratcher.
• • •

#26: Marisa Miller, 2008
If this blog had any kind of following, I think I’d get hate mail about this choice. Marisa is insanely popular, and this was her much-awaited cover—topless, no less. How could she be so near the bottom? But as is the case with Kathy, I don’t quite see what all the fuss is about. Beautiful girl, but (for me) she doesn’t stand above the crowd of beautiful girls the swimsuit issue offers.
• • •

#25: Bar Refaeli, 2009
Another opinion that would have a lot of people questioning my credentials. I’ve mentioned the shortcomings of this cover before, but suffice it to say that the shot they picked doesn’t live up to Bar’s otherworldly beauty.
• • •

#24: Cover Model All-Stars, 2006
A better fantasy than a cover. The girls all look great, and you can’t argue with all that skin. But it’s a little clumsy, and there’s no place to focus. Each of these girls’ individual covers is better than this beach-harem shot.
• • •

#23: Daniela Pestova, 2000
Nice hip-thrust, beautiful bikini bottom, but that’s about all this cover has going for it. The necklaces are ugly and gangly, the facial expression is dead-eyed, even the landscape is kind of grey and post-apocalyptic. Daniela is gorgeous (her 1995 cover is much higher on this list), but this cover doesn’t do her justice.
• • •

#22: Elle Macpherson, 1986
The first of Elle’s covers is also the most bewildering. It’s an unflattering suit and a goofy pose, without a hint of the glories that Ms. Macpherson would attain in subsequent years. (I love you, Elle. Your other covers are much higher.)
• • •

#21: Beyoncé, 2007
I’ve stated before that I thought putting a non-model on the cover was a bit of a misfire, and maybe that is affecting my judgment. But this cover just kind of sits there.
• • •

#20: Kathy Ireland, 1989
Great face, and a perfect museum-quality example of late-80s hair. Everyone was kind of gaga about Kathy on the 25th anniversary cover, but I found it to be a little bland.
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#19: Judit Masco, 1990
Cute cover, and I like seeing the contour of the bikini bottom as it crests her hips. But not the most memorable shot, and it seems like a dim echo of Paulina’s 1985 cover.
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#18: Ashley Richardson, 1991
What other swimsuit issue cover has inspired an Off-Off-Broadway play? Ashley Richardson (Montana, here) demonstrates what is wonderful about a one-piece. A beautiful cover, but a little rote.
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#17: Elsa Benitez, 2001
The whole is less than the sum of the parts. Elsa is freaking gorgeous, and she looks great in this bikini. (There are other shots of her in this same suit that prove it.) But I suspect her face has been touched up all the way to Uncanny Valley.
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#16: Carolyn Murphy, 2005
Classic blonde-in-a-red-bikini theme. Cute “Oops, my top has come undone—whatever shall I do?” scenario. But the pose is kind of an odd choice for the cover.
• • •

#15: Tyra Banks, 1997
This cover pioneered the “thumbs hooked in the bikini bottom” look that would be championed by later cover girls Marisa Miller and Bar Refaeli. Fantastic body, but the face has a wax-museum vacancy that emphasizes Tyra’s slightly alien look.
• • •

#14: Yamila Diaz, 2002
This is another cover, like Elsa in 2001, that should be better than it is. Yamila is a breathtaking model, and she’s sitting there in a red bikini—how could you go wrong? Face and cleavage: beautiful. But the pose is awkward from the waist down.
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#13: Vendela, 1993
Weird suit, but a very sleek look. Vendela uses her icy princess face to its best advantage, like a sexy vanilla ice cream cone.
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#12: Veronica Varekova, 2004
This cover was originally lower in my ranking, but it benefits from extended viewing. Veronica is flawless. All that silky skin, the dangling top, and the seductive thumb-bite work wonders. It’s also one of only two truly butt-centric cover shots in SI history. (This is the other.)
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#11: Valeria Mazza and Tyra Banks, 1996
I love how playful this is. It’s a very kinetic picture—you can almost see them undulating, hips and shoulders shimmying, hair flying in the breeze. And the leopard print? This picture takes the cheesiness and owns it.
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#10: Heidi Klum, 1998
Great girl, great suit, great pose, great cleavage. Heidi is one of the most beautiful women ever to walk the earth, but her facial expression in this photo leaves something to be desired. A little more softness, or a smile, and this would have probably been in the top five.
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#9: Elle Macpherson, Kathy Ireland, and Rachel Hunter, 1994
I was a little dismissive of this cover in the past, but I have to admit, that’s a lot of wonderful pulchritude on display here.
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#8: Irina Shayk, 2011
Without the benefit of distance, I’m placing this year’s in the top ten. Gorgeous body. Sexy suit. Irina is presenting her breasts like a tray of canapés. But her face is a little waxen, which leads me to suspect that this cover may sink in my rankings as the years go by.
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#7: Brooklyn Decker, 2010
Last year’s cover also makes the top ten. Beautiful, curvy girl, smiling and sun-kissed in yellow. What’s not to like?
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#6: Petra Nemcova, 2003
What a beautiful girl. That flirty little squint reveals so much of Petra’s personality. It’s like she’s caught you watching her adjust her string—but she’s not going to stop. And let’s not beat around the bush: those breasts are heart-stopping.
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#5: Paulina Porizkova, 1985
My first swimsuit issue. I love how friendly Paulina looks as she offers up her hip for your inspection and enjoyment.
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#4: Rebecca Romijn, 1999
Just magnificent. That pose, that sculpted body, pretty much the Platonic ideal of a swimsuit issue cover.
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#3: Elle Macpherson, 1988
Sultry! The staring-down-the-camera look can come off as corny, but Elle pulls it off very nicely, her huge brown eyes glaring from behind the mussed overhang of her luxurious hair.
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#2: Daniela Pestova, 1995
I love the angle of her body. I love the legs-together pose. I love the beginnings of a smirk and the way she plays with her top.
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#1: Elle Macpherson, 1987
Ladies and gentlemen, the best swimsuit issue cover of my time. Elle Macpherson at her peak, sopping wet, staring at you with a warm and flirtatious grin. She presents her body in a suit cut as high on the hips as only the mid-to-late 80s could deliver. The greatest SI model in the greatest of her five cover appearances.

These rankings are purely subjective and subject to change from one day to the next.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

One-Piece Wednesday: Carol Alt, 1989

It's been a week of brand-new photos, so let's kick it back a couple of decades with Carol Alt from the 25th Anniversary issue.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Like Two Peas in a Two-Piece

One of the photos of Jessica Perez on her 2012 model search page features her wearing this bikini:Look familiar?
Bar Refaeli, 2009

There's been a lot of hullabaloo about the sudden lack of Bar Refaeli in the 2011 issue. But somehow, she found a way to make her presence felt.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Random Notes

There are hundreds of pics online for the 2011 swimsuit issue. I’ve only scratched the surface. I downloaded all the painted rookies first, then I moved on to Kenza, to confirm that I was in fact obsessed with her.

Like last year, I am saving Jessica Gomes for dessert.
Okay, one little taste.
• • •
It will take me a while for me to get to her, though. Sometime on Thursday, changed the way the photos are labeled, from clearly named and numbered titles to random codes. For example, Thursday morning, this luscious picture of Kate Upton was labeled “11_kate-upton-body-paint_23.jpg”:…and you could find it at

But by Thursday evening, that URL led you to this graphic:…and the photo of Kate is labeled “qRk8iOaz3NH2EA.jpg.”

My guess is that there are two reasons: 1) To disrupt all the hotlinking that must have sprouted up in the hours after the site launch, and 2) to make it a bit harder to skip along through the files and download all the pics (without being exposed to the ads). No longer can you just change the URL from “11_kate-upton-body-paint_23.jpg” to “11_kate-upton-body-paint_24.jpg.”

Well, by “you” I mean “I.” There’s probably some easy way of downloading all the pics en masse. I’m not very savvy.
• • •
Paulina Porizkova has a column up at HuffPo in which she casually dispels the personalities (e.g. the “sexpot,” the “surfer girl,” the “elegant beauty”) we are liable to project onto the paper dolls in the magazines:

The sexpot may be as sweet and bland as baby cereal, the sporty sunny girl is a heavy smoker and the lady swears like a truck driver.

So maybe Daniella is not the sweet and cheerful gal pal I see in her photos. Maybe Kenza is not the brainy coffeehouse wallflower. And maybe Paulina does not control the sun.
• • •
SI has a contest where you can vote for a model to appear in 2012. And a site called Super Booyah offers some suggestions for 2012’s cover girl. (I don’t want to link directly to it, as it opens up a popup ad I don’t like the look of. But SI links to it here.) It makes sense to start planning now, since according to the Mayans it will be the last swimsuit issue. (Maybe they’ll shoot at the Yucatán Peninsula!)
• • •
It recently occurred to me that, barring the end of the world, I’ll see the 100th anniversary swimsuit issue if I live to 90. It will probably arrive in the form of digital contact lenses, and it will feature clones harvested from the DNA of favorite models from the magazine's history. Cheryl and Elle and Tyra and Brooklyn, frolicking on the same beach, each of them a perfect 23 years old!

That’s the utopian version anyway. Then there’s the dystopian version.
• • •
Obama may be the first sitting president to appear in a swimsuit issue.If you can pull your eyes past Kenza, he’s there, holding a flag and a … fried pickle? No idea.
• • •
Happy 45th, Cindy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

One-Piece Wednesday: Alyssa Miller, 2011

We’ve come full circle, in a way.

The bodypainting for 2011 was all rookies. Five rookies, five painted-on suits.

Only one of the suits was a one-piece. Alyssa Miller’s.And the finished product looks much better than the work-in-progress I posted as the very first One-Piece Wednesday back in December.And I think Alyssa Miller and Marisa Miller are our first pair of rhyming swimsuit models.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My 2011 Rookie of the Year: Kenza Fourati

I’m just starting to get into the 2011 pics online, but the first thing I have to report is that I’m kind of smitten with Kenza Fourati.She’s just so unusual for SI. She looks like a girl who catches your eye in the corner of a coffee shop. She’s in a bulky, black turtleneck and she’s reading a book in a foreign language. You get the feeling she doesn’t quite buy that she could possibly be all that alluring, which of course makes her even more alluring.

If she and Brooklyn Decker were both at a party, you’d spend the whole party staring at Brooklyn but then go home and be unable to get Kenza out of your mind.

I described her as this year’s Laetitia Casta, and I still see it. (Kenza’s biography on points out that while she grew up in Tunisia, she was actually born in France. [Tunisia, for that matter, used to be French too.])

But as I looked through Kenza’s pics, I saw a lot of Petra Nemcova. Some of that may be the bangs, but there’s also a certain sweetness that she gives off.
Laetitia Casta…

…plus Petra Nemcova…

…equals Kenza Fourati.