Propelled by efficient, picture-perfect production, Sports Illustrated dives into
3-D with SI Swimsuit 2000.
Once a year, Sports Illustrated throws readers a curveball, tempering the weekly magazine's hard-line athletic focus with a touch of the aesthetic—and the aquatic. Unlike a typical off-speed pitch, however, SI's annual Swimsuit Issue is neither unexpected nor unwelcome; on the contrary, it's a perennial hit with recipients.
The Swimsuit concept first appeared as a single pictorial feature, "A Skin Diver's Guide to the Caribbean," in the January 20, 1964 issue of SI. The magazine's purpose, explains Diane Smith, senior editor, Swimsuit Issue, was to provide an escape from winter, "to give readers a fresh, wholesome look at the beach: sun, sand and—yes—beautiful women."
Readers responded, and the feature evolved into a freestanding Swimsuit Issue. The theme—beauty on the beach—remains constant, but presentation changes with the times. Today's Swimsuit editions exude a more open, robust sexuality, reflecting societal and mainstream media trends.
Mindful that some people may object to the issue or the idea behind it, SI sends its subscribers a questionnaire allowing them to indicate whether or not they'd like to receive the Swimsuit Issue. According to Smith, while a few readers consider the content inappropriate for their households, the vast majority—men and women—check yes.
"Millions of women read SI, and they like the Swimsuit Issue for same reason they like fashion magazines," she contends. (Author's Note: this female reader would appreciate more equal-opportunity eye candy—augmenting Rebecca Romijn-Stamos with jock hunks like NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long or baseball's David Justice.)
For the heterosexual male demographic, the appeal is obvious. The Swimsuit Issue overflows with sultry sirens who beckon from exotic shores, inviting onlookers to pick up the volleyball and come play. Sure it's all fantasy—actual frolicking with supermodels is highly unlikely—but fans of the issue ogle contentedly, nonetheless.