02-1999: SI Swimsuit Issue


In the "Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 1999" Austin Murphy has written an article about the painting of the models for this magazine. The parts of the article, which are about Rebecca Romijn can be written here. The painting has taken place on Necker Island, the private island of Richard Branson on the British Virgin Islands.


It is late Friday afternoon and there is a conference to preside over, trouble to be shot. Clustered at the north end of an enormous teak table in the breezeway are, among others, Rebecca, the model Gair (an internationally known makeup artist, RRF) will paint first, photographer Antoine Verglas and SI creative director Steven Hoffman.

The conference has been convened to make the final selection of suits that Gair will re-create on the supermodels. Gair is crazy about the pastel bikini-and-shirt combo she's going to paint on Rebecca, but Hoffman wonders, "Is it sexy enough?" To find out, he asks Rebecca to model the ensemble for us. When she emerges from the changing room, spontaneous applause erupts at the table. I (Austin Murphy, RRF) find myself biting down on the first knuckle of my right forefinger and recalling the parting advice of my wife, Laura: "Try not to make too big an ass of yourself," she said. "And remember that these women have not had children."

"What do you think, Steve," I say. "Is it sexy enough?" The question is rhetorical: Right now, the sight of Rebecca would be a serious risk to the health of any man on heart medication.

"Before it was on the table," says Hoffman, a tad defensively. "Now it's on her."

As Rebecca stands before us, Gair notices a payload problem. The left cup of the model's bikini top is not quite up to the task of containing the model. "See how the left breast is showing underneath?" says Gair.

"I like that," she says. "We can use that. It makes it more real." she likes it because that's exactly how she'll paint it on Rebecca. "Details like that are important," says Gair. "Seams are important. Bunching and puckering is important."


SATURDAY MORNING: Antoine wants to be shooting at first light, which means poor Rebecca got an 1:00 a.m. wake-up call. She is incredibly game. The painting is taking place in the island's air-conditioned gym. Between 3:30 and 5:30 a.m., Rebecca lies on her back, held in place with pillows, catching a few fitful z's while Joanne and her assistants Jesse Tipare and Ramon Espinosa, work on her with air nozzles, brushes, Q-tips and the occasional towelette.

I show up for my initial interview at damn, as per our agreement. To assure Rebecca that I am not simply a gentleman, but a gentleman solely interested in the emerging art of body painting, I conduct the interview with my back to her. I sit facing a rack of dumbbells.

A.M.: "Rebecca, were you able to get any sleep on that table?"
R.R.: "Some. I had all these weird dreams. It was kind of alternating between moments of tranquillity and self-consciousness, when I'd wake up and realize, Hey, I'm lying here b**t naked!"

A.M.: "Rebecca, do the paintbrushes tickle?"
R.R.: "Only when the painted my belly button. That tickled big time. It woke me from a dream."


Joanne had predicted it would happen, and she was right. The more paint they slather on Rebecca, the less naked she feels. This casting off of inhibitions occurs with all the models, and is, to my mind, a great thing.

What distinguishes Gair from other body painters is her gift to capturing details that make the suits look real, duplicating shadows, highlights and those blessed puckers. Because the outfit she is now painting on Rebecca is extraordinarily intricate, the process takes 12 hours, much longer than anyone expected. To do my part to keep Rebecca's morale up during her ordeal, I pay her frequent visits throughout the morning. It is the least I can do.

When I next pop into the gym around 7:45 a.m., Rebecca and I talk about her recent marriage to actor and musician John Stamos, her new job hosting MTV's House of Style and her highly efficient metabolism. I take care during this conversation - indeed, for the duration of my stay on the island - to follow Jerry Seinfeld's advice to the cloddish George, who once got in trouble for staring too blatantly at a woman's cleavage: "It's like the sun," lectures Jerry. "You glance and look away."

Around midmorning, while on my way to the gym for yet another interview with Rebecca , I walk past the pool, where a dark-haired, seriously handsome man is floating on a raft. We exchange smiles. He is John Stamos, the guy Rebecca married three weeks earlier.

"Duty calls," I trill, holding up my notebook.

"No problem," he says. "But when you get home, just remember to send me some naked pictures of your wife."

I recount this exchange to Laura (A.M.'s wife, RRF) on the phone that night. "He should be careful what he wishes for," she says.

Original article: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 1999

ESPN Interview

The 1999 SI included a section with models bodypainted to look as if they were wearing actual suits. They weren't. They were naked. It wasn't easy on the models, but it sounds like a lot of fun to us. Rebecca Romijn told SI's Austin Murphy that she was woken up at 1 a.m. to have her body painted on a table in a gym. She tried to sleep, she told Murphy, but she "had all these weird dreams. I was kind of alternating between moments of tranquility and self-consciousness, when I'd wake up and realize, Hey, I'm lying here butt naked!" She added that the paint brushes tickled her belly button. A detail we're sure that the five guys who actually read the article savored for months to come.

Original article: espn.go.com

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