Sure, there are the usual columns, profiles and fashion pictorials, including one in which the model sports goat fur and a giant ribbon on her head -- with a bow that would fit on the roof of a Lexus. But what lets W be W and garner its monthly buzz, is the shock it supplies with its celebrity photos.

August is no exception: The cover line offers "exclusive access to the season's ultimate shoes, bags and Jewels." Come on, that's like saying you read Playboy for the fiction. The true jewels (and ultimate bags) belong to Posh and Becks, who poutily grace the opening page, and who, with their near nakedness and matching platinum 'dos and tattoos, are determined to become, as the oversized fashion book puts it: "The New American Idols."

Oy. Where do we begin?

Obviously, it's easy to despise her -- a woman whose jaw is wider than her hips, whose latest claim to fame is being Mrs. Tom Cruise's fashion muse. He, on the other hand, is a genuine athlete, and by playing in LA, might invigorate the world of American soccer. Or not, if he keeps posin' in them crotchless pants.

Steven Klein, the photographer who shot this multipage portfolio, has what you might call his own visual agenda, involving very crotch-based psychodramas. He's famous for Calvin Klein jeans campaigns, and also did the 1999 W photo portfolio of Brad Pitt bound and gagged.

So how gagacious is this?

Well, think of it as some sort of Zen koan -- after you expose the exhibitionists, what's left? Ashes to ashes, crotches to crotches. And the whole thing is shot in a hole. For real.

Isolated, apocalyptic settings are also a Klein trademark, and this series is shot "at the bottom of a secluded rock quarry 100 kilometers outside of Madrid." How's that for end-of-the-world pretentiousness? The best shot shows Beckham bare-chested (what else is new?) walking toward the camera in his, I kid you not, latex pants made by Fetish.

Another shot is in black-and-white, at night, and shows Victoria in her own private reverie grasping her bare-ass cheek as she lays across the hood of a car, like road kill, while he stands shirtless and proud, again staring down the camera, wearing black cotton and nylon pants that are slightly open and happen to have a belt that meets in a V under his crotch.

To keep you up to date on their bodily ink, he has a tattoo that looks like an angel crossed with Jesus on his back. (The holy person pictured wears a diaper-like apparatus over his private parts, which is far more modest than the soccer god himself.) Above that is a big cross with wings. Then, like a holy trinity, the names of his children (Romeo, Cruz and Brooklyn) appear in layers in Gothic letters across his back. Oh, family values!

She's emaciated, a coat rack with soccer-ball-sized implants. But never mind -- the attention is definitely on him -- his nipples, six-pack, occasional thong/and or leather pants with zippers. In another shot, he's shirtless with a cape.

But let's be fair. Klein's point-of-view would make crotch meat of most celebs. So let's go to the interview.

Her reality TV show, "Victoria Beckham: Coming to America," was produced by Simon Fuller, the man behind "American Idol." It was such a disaster last week that the planned series was turned into a one-time special. However, just before it aired, VB said: "I think people are going to see me for the first time. I think they have this impression that I'm this miserable cow who doesn't smile. But I'm actually quite the opposite." This takes big soccer cojones to say, after appearing in a 28-page portfolio in which she never cracks a smile.

But he comes off even worse. Of his "loveable metrosexual qualities," as the writer puts it -- in England he's known as "The Prince of Ponce," he says: "I've always had a liking towards clothes, but when I met Victoria, she directed me in the right way. When she tells me something doesn't look good, I believe her. We have a connection that way."

To sum up, don't cry for them. They claim they don't read their press. "We just look at the pictures, to be honest," Victoria says.

W probably thinks this is edgy, but in a larger sense, we ought to thank them. It's just a giant hole that the mag has dug for another set of pointless celebrities.


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