Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

I write for and about magazines for a living. Like I'm going to pass up the chance to jibber-jabber about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Year in and year out, it pisses me off. I subscribe to Sports Illustrated because I like--get this--sports. And while I'm way too polite to decline a side order of supermodel nipple with my Petr Prucha profiles, I'm perfectly capable of satisfying my cheap-titillation needs elsewhere. I like to think that a majority of SI readers agree; the number of swimsuit-issue copies that remain perched behind the toilet in my friends' bathrooms through the summer, however, suggests otherwise. Hey, who am I to judge?

Since nothing I say about this year's swimsuit issue could add much to the general discourse, I'll take the easy, incoherent route here and list a few fast observations.

  • Does the suspected Sports Illustrated cover jinx hold for swimsuit models? If so, can we expect Elsa Benitez to choke on a wisp of lettuce? Yamila Diaz-Rahi to take a header onto a waffle iron?

  • A hearty boy-howdy goes out to the advertisers who crafted creative specifically for this issue, whether Budweiser's four-page bottlecap-bikini spread or Pontiac's display of its very own "topless hardbody" (a convertible, natch). Best, however, are the three brand-free ads featuring models in comparatively chaste swimsuits, upon which a bunch of formulas and "" are inscribed. I couldn't enter this URL into my browser fast enough; it's a perfect example of how marketers can engineer a compelling print/online hookup.

  • Here's what makes Elle Macpherson the hottest SI gal in history: her smile, which distinguishes her among a sea of clumsy come-hither gazes better suited to Cinemax. This needed to be said.

  • All things being equal, I could do without the quickie profiles of newbie swimsuit gals. Carla Campbell reveals that "The One Item I Can't Live Without Is... my lip gloss" (me, I'd have listed "lip balm," but to each his own). Yesica Toscanini, on the other hand, notes that "You Would Be Surprised to Know... I love Agatha Christie novels" (I'm not surprised to know you can read; I'd be surprised to know that you hold multiple patents for sediment-filtration technology).

  • Okay, it's a swimsuit issue, and we should thus expect the homogeneity of image: babes on beaches, chicks in cabanas, etc. But every time the swimsuit issue attempts to get a little creative--like with this year's plodding "Swimsuit Goes Hollywood" motif--it bores rather than titillates. If that's the case, then why not take it even further? I propose a midwinter Nome, Alaska swimsuit shoot, as well as bikini-clad honeys being photographed as they attempt to evade lions in the Serengeti.

  • Apropos of precisely nothing, last week's SI profile of Don King ranks among the best features I've read in any magazine in a long, long time.

  • How many I'm-just-a-lowly-and-jowly-basketball-writer-accustomed-to-press-box-chicken-fingers-but-yowza-now-I'm-frolicking-in-St.-Thomas-with-the-world's-most-beautiful-women!!!! blurbs are we going to be forced to endure? The "Behind the Scenes" passages spew forth tripe about "the whisper of the waves," leading me to urge Congress to pass legislation restricting all sportswriters to the transcription of batshit-insane Darrell Jackson quotes ("People are expected to do X-Y-Z things, but I don't do X-Y-Z things. I'm Darrell Jackson, you know? I went to Florida. Nothing was ever given to me. I'm D-Jack." That's a real quote, by the way).

  • The witty, erudite SI staff must ache when they're prompted to craft tabloid-y cover lines like "Tennis Ace Maria Sharapova As You've NEVER Seen Her" and "Heidi Klum Wearing Just Paint."

  • Other titles that should consider a swimsuit issue: Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel (grade-D models clad in Kmart nylon bikinis posing in Motel 6 lobbies), Modern Bride (they can derive inspiration from Pam and Tommy's beach wedding) and Salt Water Sportsman (talk about a seXXXy natural landscape).

  • Kudos to whoever's in charge for continuing to push the multimedia envelope. Not that I have the slightest inclination to visit supermodel-specific pages on SI's web site or download the freebie videos from iTunes, but a multimedia swimsuit play makes a whole lot more sense than a print-only one. As my grandfather always used to tell me: it's tough to encapsulate the magic of a gently heaving bosom in the static print environment, kid.

  • The "Swimsuit Cover Reunion" motif falls flat owing to the absence of Cheryl Tiegs; this is the equivalent of honoring the 1986 New York Giants and not inviting Lawrence Taylor. On the other hand, Tiegs has got to be pushing 60 at this point, and likely wouldn't be ready for bikini duty without extensive embalming and retouching. I don't really have a point here.
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