The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 February 2005

It's a bikini world

Time was when February, for sports fans, was a desolate, empty time. After football, before baseball — and long before college hoops became an industry unto itself — there wasn't much to talk about at the water cooler. (Well, yes, there used to be hockey, before its keepers decided that the take would be better if they expanded it to places where ice was something you dropped into your glass of tea, but that's another story entirely.) It was into this brief period of protracted boredom that Sports Illustrated introduced its first Swimsuit Issue. And it wasn't that big a deal, really: a pretty girl on the cover, and six pages of girls in relatively modest beachwear. But then, this was 1964.

Cut to this year's edition bounding across the newsstands, and there's a shark looking up at it. Eight years ago SI spun the swimsuits into a separate edition instead of having them share space with the basketball scores. Since then, the innovations have come fast and furious: suits painted on the models, 3-D photography (with glasses!), and, this year, actual die-cut trading cards. But on almost every page, including the smirking advertising pages, there's a definite air of "been there, done that."

This year's body-painting is actually better than last year's, with team jerseys brushed onto the young ladies, and I never grow tired of either trompe l'oeil or women without clothing, but it's time they integrated it into the rest of the (un)coverage, rather than give it its own section — the desired "Great Caesar's ghost, that woman is naked!" effect doesn't work so well if everyone in the next ten pages is likewise. And if we're going to have them skyclad, the prototype is in the same issue that introduced that body-paint section, which would be 1999; a later page shows Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (she's since had a Stamosectomy) with two suits, which are hanging, not on Rebecca, but on a makeshift clothesline.

Something else they tried this year was actual underwater photography. (Well, these are swimsuits, right?) This didn't come off well; the page with Michelle Lombardo with her beach ball looks like it was shot in a wind tunnel and then supplemented with Photoshopped "water highlights." The online photos seem to look better, perhaps for reasons of lower resolution.

No, I don't think I wasted my six bucks, but really, I'm thinking March Madness might be more entertaining. And frankly, I wonder when Swimsuit Illustrated is going to come out with an annual Sports issue.

Posted at 9:09 AM to Rag Trade


I applaud your ability to intellectually analyze the swimsuit tabloid. My neurons, synapses, and ganglia enter some sort of dormancy period when I look at it.

Posted by: Mike at 3:23 PM on 27 February 2005

Mine do, um, something different. However, I am sufficiently removed from the Land of the Libidinous to be able to view things through a relatively-dispassionate lens.

Not that I enjoy this removal, particularly, but I may as well get some use out of it.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:36 AM on 28 February 2005