Tits Revisited

Here's how to make a man groan with dismay: tell him Pamela Anderson Lee is on the cover of the February issue of Esquire. It's not that her career is hurting. It's not that she's already turned up on the covers of three magazines in the last year, including the Farrah Fawcett pose she struck for Details. It's just that, to a connoisseur, Lee can't compete with the Teutonic perfection of Heidi Klum, whose breasts ran fresh and wild across the pages of the January GQ.

"The difference is that Pamela was manufactured by surgeons," says Vogue research editor Sean Murphy, "while Heidi has been manufactured by God. I think the true beauty of a woman's breast is in the fact that it's in its natural state, whether large or small." Murphy speculates that given the "extraordinary competition for cover girls" among the men's magazines these days, Esquire may have had to settle for second best.

Not so, says Esquire editor in chief David Granger, who denies that Esquire is joining the trend toward C and D cups on the covers of men's magazines. (See any issue of Maxim.) Indeed, Esquire might unintentionally put an end to it. Granger says that Lee was chosen to illustrate a high concept the editors call "cleavage culture."

"We noticed something in the culture, and we wrote about it," he says. "The breast is now the predominant sales tool, and everyone from men's magazines to women's magazines to ad agencies to clothing manufacturers is trying to sell their product using cleavage, by using the American woman's breast."

So is the Lee cover meant to be . . . ironic? Or, even worse for the actress, a dis? Granger says it's up to the reader to decide. "She seemed like a worthy emblem of the phenomenon we're talking about, because she's as well-known for her breasts as for anything else."

Time will tell whether American men buy the two-in-one concept that serves up cheesecake alongside cheesecake criticism. But Granger seems to think the stories in Esquire's cleavage package will offset the idiot's appeal of the cover. In addition to a man's-eye view by Tom Kelly, Granger gave big-breasty bylines to two women: Mim Udovitch, who makes fun of America's obsession with everything false, from grand jury testimony to Wonderbras, and comedienne Sarah Silverman, who surveys her own bust. They should make a nice addition to the canons of tit lit, which include Nora Ephron's small-breasted manifesto for Esquire, "A Few Words About Breasts," and Lynn Snowden's SPY classic, "Busty Like Me," in which the author donned falsies and explained how they ruined her life.

So if you're a guy hoping to talk about breasts with your dinner date, study the February issue of Esquire. If you're just ordering takeout, better pick up the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue instead.


Paradise Lost

You wouldn't expect to find them drinking together, but zine king Jim Goad and investigative reporter Gary Webb have a few things in common. Both write about red-hot topics, and both recently fell from grace, tumbling so far that no commercial publisher would touch their books. Both hit bottom, only to see their travails become the subject of epic magazine stories last year. (The December issue of Spin dubbed Goad "American Psycho"; in September, Esquire called Webb "The Pariah.")

Rotten luck. But both men have found brave new sponsors: Webb's book Dark Alliance was published in 1998 by Seven Stories Press, and his first magazine story comes out in the April issue of Esquire. Goad has just sold his memoir, Shit Magnet, to Feral House.

You may not have heard of Jim Goad, but he is definitely in a shitload of trouble. The underground legend goes to trial January 15 in Portland, on charges of attempted kidnapping and assault. Is he guilty? We'll see. His accuser is a former stripper and spurned lover who has been known to land a scratch or two herself; his prosecutor has kept Goad in jail for nine months and plans to use the defendant's writing to prove his intent.

Goad was riding high just a few years ago. He was putting out a popular zine called Answer Me!, which dished out equal doses of anger and irony. And while the fourth issue, a/k/a "the rape issue," pissed off a lot of people, it also landed him a two-book contract with Simon & Schuster. His first book, Redneck Manifesto, was published in 1997 to favorable reviews. (Publishers Weekly concluded that Goad was "writing at the top of his voice.")

By the time Goad was arrested last May, S&S had already canceled Shit Magnet, because of disagreement about its direction. The book is now a work-in-progress, scribbled in a jail cell, which he plans to end with an account of his trial. Goad's agent, Janet Taylor of Portland's Northwest Literary Agency, says she sent the incomplete manuscript "to most of the big houses. The typical response: it didn't fit in their line." One editor who passed on the manuscript calls it "part autobiography, part self-justification, part screed" and notes that "Goad is something of a local pariah."

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