Who was the first celebrity to bare almost-all on GQ magazine? Read on.
GQ, or Gentlemen’s Quarterly magazine, used to be considerably more … well, gentlemanly. Today it’s as if the staff has decided that, hey, we’re not actually a quarterly anymore, let’s just dispense with the being gentlemen part too while we’re at it. Take a look at some recent articles, if you want evidence. “Supermodel Chanel Inman Knows Her Way Around a Stripper Pole” is a good start. “Are You the Office Sexist” is a good follow-up, especially as it's a humor piece. Sexism = hilarity. (And for the record, if you have to ask, it’s you).
|GQ Magazine in more gentlemanly times.|
|GQ today. Style alert: Popsicles and boobs are in fashion.|
|Kate Upton's Bomb Pop was more outfit than Rihanna was given.|
The earliest issues of GQ (which morphed out of Apparel Arts, a trade mag for fashion retailers) display a savoir-faire that evokes the charm of a lost era. While we know there was plenty of misogyny in the ‘50s and ‘60s, it was to be found at home (and in the office) rather than on the cover of the magazine, which was firmly committed to fashion and style. Though the male cover models or fashionable celebrities sometimes appeared with women who were clearly used as mere photo props, the ladies were always plenty clothed and never more sexualized than their male companions.
|"I'm grinning because I've seen the future, and it has more nekkid ladies."|
|Looking good, taking care of his bitches.|
|Imagine the difference if JFK had modeled in a Speedo with an ice cream cone.|
|Cary Grant. Pure class. Even the font is to dig.|
The first hint of a more blatant sexism came with the Winter ‘65-’66 edition of GQ. The image of a woman’s face with a bow tied across her mouth and the words “Do Not Open Until Christmas” are jarring. The woman in question was Barbra Streisand, one of the first female celebrities to appear on the cover (though Carol Channing beat her to it), so while it’s possible the cover designer may have meant to suggest that Streisand’s voice is a gift, the overt imagery of a woman silenced is hard to ignore. (Don’t open your mouth until Christmas, Babs. You get a ten-minute set, then shut your trap again.)
|And no talking during Hannukah, either.|
It was a full year later that GQ featured a nude celebrity on its cover for the first time, and despite my aversion to some of the modern clothing-optional covers, I couldn’t be more pleased. It’s Phyllis, Phyllis Diller, wearing naught but a bow and a big grin. No one’s telling this lady to keep it quiet till Christmas.
|Phyllis Diller: GQ's first nude cover model.|
Diller herself used to quip: “I once wore a peekaboo blouse. People would peek and then they'd boo.” In this case, I peeked, and then I cheered. Featuring the gawky body of a joyful comedienne is such a far cry from Kate Upton having her way with a Bomb Pop that I wish there were more covers like this. I know GQ won’t be ditching the sleazy covers anytime soon, so I’d like to plead with them to add more non-traditional (in the cover model sense) body types to the mix. If Phyllis Diller’s naked body sold magazines, anyone’s can. I vote for Lisa Lampanelli.
Who would you like to see baring it all on the cover of GQ? With a Bomb Pop or a bow?