“Vanity Fair”: the Annie Leibovitz covers

There’s a half-funny, half-embarrassing
story concerning me and women on the cover of magazines. It involves
the year 1998, a newsagent, Denise Richards, a copy of FHM,
and my firm insistence — to a male friend of mine who happened across
me browsing — that I didn’t realize FHM was a men’s
magazine. I think he believed me … just about.

Nevertheless, for most of my teen
years I didn’t dare to cast more than a furtive eye in the direction
of the men’s magazine section. Fortunately, they’re not the only
magazines to feature lots of glamorous women. In fact, one of my favorite
magazine covers was from around the same period as the FHM fiasco,
in 1997:

Now, I couldn’t care less about
Cameron Diaz
, but Kate Winslet and Claire Danes in
the same frame? Be still, my beating teenage Titanic– and My
So-Called Life
–loving heart!

What I didn’t realize at the time
was that this cover was part of what has become an annual series for
Vanity Fair
’s Hollywood Issue, by a rather well-known photographer
named Annie Leibovitz. VanityFair.com is currently running a retrospective of these foldout covers (which typically
entice you in with three beautiful women on the front, and then open
out to reveal about seven more). That means you can time-travel
all the way back to the first one in 1995:

Um. Yes. Normally I think that the
expression “legs for days” is an exaggeration, but in the case of
Uma Thurman
(pictured second from left), it might actually be true.
And I’m not even going to get started on that picture of Nicole

Also online is the latest cover,
for 2008:

While I’m not mad about the sickly
pastel theme, I vote an enthusiastic yes to anything involving Emily
and an old-fashioned bathing costume. And is it just me, or
does Elizabeth Banks (pictured third from right) strangely resemble
Leisha Hailey

There’s the famous Scarlett
and Keira cover from 2006:

One of the most interesting things
about the large ensemble shots is to see who comes out looking best.
While Nicole Kidman looks Titian and goddess-like, for instance, and
none of the people around her is exactly plain, I think the 2001 cover
shot belongs to Kate Winslet:

2004 is stolen by a Monroe-like Scarlett
Johansson, and, rather to my surprise, Jennifer Aniston:

One thing that bothers me about these
covers is that, while they do sometimes feature women of color, they
almost always seem to be on the inside part of the foldout, rather than
the front. In fact, the only front-cover example I could find in the
14 years these covers have been running is Thandie Newton in

It may also come as no surprise to
hear that 14 years have gone past without a single out lesbian or bisexual
actress appearing in any of the Hollywood Issue cover shots. This is
a problem that must be solved. Either Annie needs to ring up Jodie,
or a lot of actresses need to come out this year. In fact, a combination
of both would be nice.