Given the recent cancellation of The Playboy Club which we mourned mainly because Laura Benanti deserves to be famous.... Given James Franco's Flaunting and pants-dropping... Given the waves the oft-naked Shame has been causing at festivals ... Given disgraced actress Lindsay Lohan's newly announced decision to pose for "Playboy" for a million bucks (only a million? I hope she realizes she used to make more than that for acting) today feels like the unofficial Mandatory Day of Nude Celebrity Appreciation. [Disclaimer: I type this fully clothed.]
So let's celebrate the movie actresses who have gone before Lindsay!
Oh sure, sure. The common wisdom is that this is La Lohan's new rock bottom and we shouldn't be celebrating but -- please -- actresses take off their clothes all the time for totally worthwhile purposes (Acting!) and the only thing that's shameful about the human body is that we're ashamed of it. Plus, it's worth noting that actresses have won Oscars AFTER doing this so this isn't rock bottom so much as a lame opportunity to have just said "Lindsay Lohan" and "Oscars" in the same sentence!
If anything this might be her first smart move in years. But only time and Lindsay herself will be able to confirm that.
TOP TEN PLAYBOY ACTRESS PICTORIALS
#10 MARILYN MONROE 1953
#09 SANDRA BERNHARD 1992
I thought I'd kick off with this perverse double bill, and I have a reason. Marilyn Monroe was on the first cover of Playboy in 1953 the year of her definitive ascent (Niagara, How To Marry A Millionaire) but she didn't actually pose for the magazine. The famous nude was shot years prior to her stardom, in 1949 to be exact. Sandra, one of Hollywood's most consistent provocateurs, posed purposefully for reasons of her own 40 years later. We won't deign to speak for her as to why but it did carry a certain exegetic charge as an imagined passive/aggressive (aggressive/aggresive?) response to ex-friend Madonna's "Sex" book which also debuted that year. All of which is to say these are the two poles between which the general truth of nude photospreads lies: first what Playboy imagined itself to be with women as commodity specifically for male pleasure (again, Marilyn wasn't actually involved) and second what Playboy pictorials often become with women as entrepeneurs of their own career/bodies and the pleasure of men of secondary, tertiary, or even no concern at all.
Not to get all fancy about T&A.
NSFW Beauties after the jump: Julie, Charlize, Drew, Kim and more...
#08 CHARLIZE THERON 1999
CAREER BEFORE THIS SHOOT: incrementally increasing high profile as "rising star" and three co-starring roles the year of this pictorial (The Cider House Rules, The Yards, The Astronaut's Wife)
AFTER: A list stardom, endorsement millions, and an Oscar for Best Actress (Monster).
#07 DARYL HANNAH
Love that the famously blonde blonde put on a brunette wig for this.
CAREER BEFORE THIS SHOOT: Her major 80s stardom (Splash, Roxanne, Steel Magnolias) was already fading. The cable film remake Attack of the 50 Ft Woman was the same year as this.
AFTER: More roughgoing on the silver screen throughout the nineties but her tireless environmental activism is truly admirable (and plain old bad-ass) and her still underappreciated talent got a well deserved spotlight in the Aughts with a series of strong character-acting pieces peaking with her absolutely brilliant work as Elle Driver in the Kill Bill films.
#06 STAR 80 (1983)
I'm cheating here because I accidentally only wrote up nine women. (Sometimes I am bad at counting.)
But if you haven't seen this biographical film about Playboy Playmate Dorothy Van Stratten (post Oscar nomination Mariel Hemingway) directed by the genius Bob Fosse, you should. Eric Roberts stars at his sleaziest/sexiest (same difference in his case) and won a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actor. There are many things you could say about this movie but the most important is to merely reiterate that it's part of Bob Fosse's very short but gobsmackingly potent filmography and one should see all of his work in one's lifetime.
Now back to the naked ladies...
#05 JULIE NEWMAR 1968
'I always thought she was so statuesque'
CAREER BEFORE: Dancing actress of the 50s (Seven Brides For Seven Brothers) and best known today as the purrrrfect original "Catwoman" in the 1966 & 1967 (... no, Pfeiffer did not invent the role. She just reinvented it and continues to own it is all) which was her big gig right before this pictorial.
AFTER: Mostly just TV guest spots. But she did have a whole movie named after her in the 90s and not many centerfolds can claim that. Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar.
#04 LUDIVINE SAGNIER 2008
Ludivine's pictorial was actually far more clothed than many but when you have as much natural smolder as Sagnier, a little goes a long way. [An earlier example: Uma Thurman giving Henry & June its NC-17 rating without actually taking her clothes off]. Also highly recommended should you be building up your own legend: smear your name all over everything; rap stars have known this forever.
CAREER BEFORE THIS SHOOT: Her big breakthrough came in 2002-2003 with three international hits: 8 Women, Peter Pan and Swimming Pool (in which she was famously nude and lusted after)
AFTER: Still in demand and interviewed right here at The Film Experience.
#03 GRACE JONES 1985
There was nothing that wasn't awesome about Grace Jones in the 80s -- except the fact that she didn't do the theme song to her James Bond movie (A View To A Kill) -- including her decision to have Dolph Lundgren do the photos with her. Was there a more striking visual couple in the 80s? No.
CAREER: There is no before and after, it was just another performance piece in a continuum of provocations
#02 KIM BASINGER 1983
She wrote the book on how you use this sort of publicity to supersize your career.
CAREER BEFORE: After playing a centerfold model on TV in the late 70s she graduated to movies and became a Bond girl in 1983 (Never Say Never Again) and this covergirl gig led to...
AFTER THIS SHOOT: A list stardom and major leading roles immediately thereafter (1984-1989). Eventually of course she won the Oscar (97) and she's still working regularly.
#1 DREW BARRYMORE 1995
Steven Spielberg famously sent her a quilt and a "cover yourself up" note when this photoshoot arrived but the greatest thing about mid-90s Drew is how celebratory she was about life. It shows in her movies and in the photos.
BEFORE: Child Star (E.T., Firestarter), Troubled Teen Star, Recovering Addict, On the Comeback Trail...
AFTER: Successful Producer, Beloved Actress, Fledgling Director, Golden Globe Win, Emmy nominations, and now no longer anybody's idea of a weak link in the long line of this famous acting family.
Drew should be a shining beacon to any troubled young Hollywood stars -- including Lindsay Lohan -- that you can overcome troubled pasts, addiction, volatile family and relationship issues, and become not just a success but a joyous person. You can even do all that while still keeping your wild child cred' if you're the kind of person who needs that.
Who doesn't love Drew?!