Apr 28, 2016
Burt Reynolds Naked on a Bear Skin Rug
The most famous male nude photos in history:
1. Johnny Crawford's full-frontal nude shot advertising The Naked Ape (1973).
2. Burt Reynolds's nude centerfold in the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan
Then Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown approached Paul Newman about doing a nude centerfold. He refused, so she approached Burt.
Burt lay supine on a bearskin rug in a parody of the popular baby photos, grinning mischievously, coyly hiding his sex organs. It was not an erotic photo.
But it was groundbreaking. Nude male photography was still in its infancy -- only a few years ago, it was judged de facto obscene. This was the first time that any man had ever appeared nude in a mainstream publication.
It was a victory for women's liberation. Helen Gurley Brown reminisced: "Men liked to look at women naked. Nobody talked about it, but women liked to look at men naked." A few months later, Douglas Lambert was inspired by the photo to launch Playgirl magazine, featuring pictures of naked men: "It came to me -- that's what women want."
Both of them were disgustingly heterosexist, trying their best to pretend that they were unaware that some men like to look at men naked, too. But men were watching. Burt Reynolds became a gay icon without ever playing a gay character.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982), and the Smokey and the Bandit series (1977, 1980, 1983), often with his bff Bert Convy.
It has been recreated by many other celebrities, including Neil Patrick Harris and Mario Lopez.
See also: Bert Convy: Spending the 1970s Nude