It’s a Tough Job…

“It’s a Tough Job, But Somebody’s Gotta Do It”
By: Keith Johnson – Seattle, Washington (USA)

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The blurb on the plastic bag (that keeps prying hands from thumbing through the pages) proudly proclaims, “Stars of the hottest show in Vegas bare all!”

The August, 2005 Playboy Magazine hit the stands recently, with a pictorial featuring some of the female (and male) stars of Zumanity within. While I myself am no expert on the subject of men’s magazines, the duty fell to me. And with all the arguments of whether Playboy objectifies women acknowledged, we shall plunge ahead.

Playboy has been known as a magazine that glorifies the image of a nude woman, while not overly stressing her sexuality in its pictorials. So the pictures of the women featured there have tended to be on the “soft-core” side, and such is also the case with the Zumanity feature. Add to that the idea that this is more of a “celebrity” pictorial (the “celebrity” in this case being Cirque du Soleil) and you get a variety of beautiful pictures of beautiful nude women, while not stressing the erotic factor these pictures might have the capacity of containing.

The women here are showing their beauty, and their bodies, but very few pictures bare the artist’s soul. In Madame’s artist Q&A several ladies spoke of their discomfort – not of appearing nude, but from having to hold their poses for long periods of time. These pictures (taken by Stephen Wayda) are stylish and sensual, but not sexual. While comfortable in their bodies, it would have to be noted that those bodies, as demanded by the physicality of the artist’s life, are fit and trim. There is beauty in that, to be sure, but not a great deal of voluptuousness. (Not to worry, cover girl Doira Baird fills that quotient quite nicely.)

The accompanying article, written by Scott Dickensheets, is short and pedestrian, with no new information. But it does contain a great quote from Joey Arias, who says, “If people leave with an attitude, great or crappy, we did our job.”

It opens on Page 72 with a two-page spread of Tissu artist Olga Vershinina with Alan Jones Silva. The striking lighting adds a purplish tint to her body. Then Dancer Agnes Roux holds a bouquet of Roses in front of Alex Castro’s privates. Elena Gatilova poses in front of the TV she uses for her “TV Dance” with several cast members (Alex, Ugo Mazim and Anton Drija) surrounding her. Below that, ex- Zumanite Laurence Jardin leans back onstage, wearing a lace mask and killer stiletto heels.

Jonel Earl, in one of my favorite pictures, looks powerful with her ruby-red hair and corset, surrounded by the admiring Anton, Jeronimo, Antonio, Stephane and Alex. On the following page, Dancer Wassa Coulibaly poses with nicely placed body jewelry. Next to her, in my favorite of the feature, Hoops Artists Julia Kolosova twirls her hoops. The picture manages to convey both her sensuality and athletic ability at the same time, something I wish more of these pictures were able to capture.

The Water Bowl act is represented by a picture of contortionists Gyulana Karaeva and Bolormaa Zorigtkhuyag, emphasizing Gula’s backside with some nice water trails. And finally, in what might be considered the most “erotic” picture of the bunch, Vanessa Convery allows Ugo Mazim to pour milk over her naked backside.

And that’s it! About what I was expecting when I first heard about the photo shoot. Zumanity can’t be hurt by their appearance in the magazine; it is, after all, a show about sexuality. It would have been interesting to have the more extreme examples of Zumanity’s talent represented (Joey Arias? the Botero Sisters?) but that might have been outside the bounds of Playboy’s mandate. Even Playboy has its foibles.

Thanks to Rod Mariano for help with the cast members names.

For more on the Playboy layout, read some tantalizing reviews by Las Vegas’ premiere publications: the Review-Journal and Las Vegas Sun:

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