Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Why sucessful women are eager to strip off for playboy

Rosanna Davison

As Rosanna Davison confirms that she will pose for Playboy, Chrissie Russell looks at how appearing in the girlie mag has become almost respectable.

Nakedness is often seen as the domain of the damned, the desperate and those on their way down.

Strip clubs are sleazy, actors brandish nudity clauses to preserve their modesty and aspiring models keep their clothes on, rather than running the gauntlet with the unpalatable ‘glamour' label.

But it seems there's one occasion when getting your kit off is not only acceptable but downright desirable, and that's when it comes to posing for ‘Playboy’.

Over the years, a litany of successful actresses and serious sportswomen have lined up at Hugh Hefner's door, eager to strip off for his infamous flesh-filled magazine.

More surprising is the fact that its steamy stars are often ladies it's hard to imagine even daring to go topless on a secluded beach.

‘Playboy's’ most recent signing is rumoured to be squeaky clean Disney teen Miley Cyrus and, of course, Ireland's own girl-next-door Rosanna Davison is poised to show some flesh in the European edition of Mr Hefner's prestigious magazine — a bold move that was celebrated in the press and supported by mum, dad and boyfriend, Wesley Quirke.

It's hard to believe that ‘Playboy’ was banned in Ireland until 1995. For 36 years, its material was deemed too lewd for the delicate sensibilities of Catholic Ireland. Now we have the bunny logo branded on kids' stationery.

Even family-friendly broadcaster Gerry Ryan thought it was okay to traipse off to the Playboy mansion and pay homage to Hugh Hefner, or ‘Hef' as the pyjama-wearing soft-pornographer is affectionately known to millions.

Somewhere over time, the man famed for dating harems of identikit blondes has become a national treasure and his boob-filled lads' mag is hailed as a cultural icon “Doing ‘Playboy’” has undoubtedly become a coveted CV entry for many women in the public eye. In the past, actresses wanted their skill set to include roles in theatre, film and TV.

Now, stripping off in the 58-year-old publication has joined the list of must-dos.

In the words of ‘Playboy's’ CEO, Sandra Piccoli: “Every woman wants to appear in ‘Playboy’.”

But why? Part of it is undoubtedly due to the internet. In today's XXX-rated online world, where punters can log on and indulge their desires in eye-poppingly lurid detail, the soft-focus snaps of ‘Playboy’ look tame by comparison.

It may have been the bad boy of the 1950s and 1960s, but placed alongside today's hardcore offerings, ‘Playboy’ is positively prudish.

Its venerable age earns it kudos on the newsstand, so too does the host of genuinely A-list names it has managed to snap in the buff over the years.

Magazines such as ‘Zoo’ and ‘Nuts’ might be content to settle for Z-list reality stars' bosoms splashed across their covers, but ‘Playboy’ serves up Golden Globe nominees, TV stars and Olympians.

Over the years, having the likes of Drew Barrymore, Kim Basinger and Daryl Hannah bare all has given the magazine a certain prestige and respectability.

After all, if it's all right for Hollywood legends such as Joan Collins or Farrah Fawcett to treat four million readers to an eyeful of their unmentionables then it must be allowed, right?

Especially if the lady daring to bare has lofty reasons for flaunting her assets. When actress-turnedreality- TV-star Tara Reid stripped for her cover last year, it was to overcome personal body issues surrounding her botched cosmetic surgery and to help women in a similar position.

Dannii Minogue is adamant that her 1995 naked edition wasn't done to pay the bills, but because “being able to get naked and look beautiful after feeling so worthless for such a long time gave me back my long-lost self-esteem”.

Star of this year's August cover, Daisy Lowe, reckons her eight-page nude pictorial was nothing short of a rallying cry to feminist empowerment. “I would like it if taking my clothes off meant other women feel they can do the same,” she explained. In some cases, it seems likely money will have played its part.

Rod Stewart's leggy ex Rachel Hunter pocketed a reported $1.8m for her shoot in April 2004, and, despite being virtually unknown in the States, Kelly Brook earned some $500,000 for her cover last year.

Of course, there are those who cannot be tempted no matter how big the dollar signs — Jennifer Aniston turned down a deal said to have been worth in the region of $10m — but the magazine retains an exclusivity by not letting just any naked body on to its pages.

Hef is said to have turned down Britney Spears during her bald phase, and he said of reality star Kate Gosselin: “I don't think she's a celebrity”.

In 2006, Kelly Osbourne reportedly expressed an interest in doing a nude shot for the magazine but, being considerably more Rubenesque back then, confessed that she may need a little bit of airbrushing.

To which the ‘Playboy’ boss is said to have replied: “I can't see it happening somehow, we don't airbrush to that extent.”

Russian pop duo Tatu were apparently turned down by both the European and US editions of ‘Playboy’ — showing at least a certain level of musical taste on the proprietor's part.

Occasionally, those who manage to make it on to the pages wish they hadn't.

Choosing to pose nude has cost some police officers, flight attendants and TV presenters no end of stress at work.

Most recently, German Sila Sahin broke barriers by becoming the first Muslim Turk to pose nude for the publication. “I feel like Che Guevara,” said the 25-year-old actress, only to be branded a “whore” and “Western slut” by a swathe of detractors.

But it has to be said that far more women find the experience offers them positive exposure.

Pamela Anderson, who has shot a record-breaking 13 covers for the magazine, built her career on the publicity generated by her frequent naked photoshoots, while Belinda Carlisle's decision to strip off reminded people she was still a force to be reckoned with when many had her relegated to the 1980s.

Much like in the episode of ‘Sex and the City’ when Samantha decides to celebrate her fine figure with a set of nude shots for her own personal enjoyment, many of ‘Playboy's’ more famous stars agree that their sexy shots aren't about pleasing anyone but themselves.

Rosanna Davison said of her own racy shoot: “When I'm old and wrinkly I will have shots like these to look back on. It will be as tasteful as possible. I want it to be classy”.

The shoot, which is reported to have earned her a six-figure sum, is due to appear in the European edition of the magazine in spring 2012.

Her new German-based agency, Celebrity Network Management, which is believed to have brokered the deal, will certainly be wise to the publicity such a shoot will generate. Their new signing is, as yet, less well known outside Ireland.

Dublin-based model Shelly Radley is familiar with the added benefits that come with posing for the Hef 's magazine.

A professional nude model, she posed for ‘American Playboy’ in May 2008 and ‘European Playboy’ in April this year, and she's already signed up for another shoot in the States for the magazine next year.

“‘Playboy’ is one of the most well-known magazines in the world and both of the shoots I did for it definitely got me great publicity and helped me book more work,” says Radley (29).

“As a model, being published in a big magazine like ‘Playboy’ moves you from amateur to professional. I enjoyed the shoots; they were on a different scale to a lot of photoshoots I've done in that a lot of people were involved. I was really happy with the results; my ‘Playboy’ pictures are hanging up in my bathroom and bedroom.”

She adds: “But at the end of the day, posing nude is my job. Doing ‘Playboy’ was a good career move for me, but I'm not like any glamour model who wants to take her kit off for free to get into the magazine; it was a booking my agent made for me and just another job.”

Which is something worth bearing in mind.

As a professional nude model, Radley wants to be known for taking her clothes off. But for the women whose career interests and talents lie elsewhere, perhaps it would be wise for them to pause first and ask, is getting naked in a lads' mag really something they want to be remembered for?

Irish Independent

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