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EXTRA: All the Nudes, All the Time

HOLLYWOOD, June 30, 2000 – It has been said that people eventually move past their mistakes. And for Darva Conger — who made the mistake of (briefly) wedding the putative multi-millionaire in the one-shot Fox game show “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire?” — posing butt-naked in Playboy looks to be one way of getting over it.

Call us progressive, but when we first heard about Darva’s nudie spread in the August issue of Playboy, our reaction was not to judge the 34-year-old ex-Gulf War vet cum ex-E.R. nurse for nabbing a reported six-figure payday in a shameless publicity stunt. Rather, without bias, we decided to look at the Playboy spread as an opportunity to finally get to know the controversy-shrouded figure as she lets down her guard (and clothes).

Darva Conger (c. August 2000 Playboy) When the Playboy people denied our request for an advance (read: free) copy of the Darva-anointed issue, we proceeded to scour newsstands and magazine stores in the greater Los Angeles area hoping to locate a renegade copy. (The Playboy folks told us that it’s not officially supposed to hit sales racks until Monday.)

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And as if fate was on our side, the first place we called -– Circus of Books in West Hollywood – told us that they’d be getting the Darva Playboy issue on Thursday morning.

So come 9 a.m. (PDT), we embarked on our mission to get the Playboy – all in the name of journalism, of course. Here is a diary of our journey – where we’ve been, what we learned, what Darva looks like without her clothes on and what John F. Kennedy Jr. has to do with all this:

Circus of Books is located on Santa Monica Boulevard, a busy street rendered even busier of late by the road construction in the area. After contending with bumper-to-bumper traffic, we arrive at the modest, almost-empty magazine shop and parade toward the adult magazine area. We see seven or so copies of the sealed, vaunted Playboy — with one additional, deliberately unsealed issue available for complimentary browsing. We skip the free peeks, grab a (sealed) copy and head straight to the cashier, who tells us that we just made it on time since the Playboys “had just come in.” See, the cashier let us know that an unusually large number of people had been calling regarding this particular mag, but “most of those people [who called] probably won’t end up buying the issue.”

Why? Because customers “were looking at the magazine in the back this morning,” the guy says, and their verdict was that “it really wasn’t that big of a deal.”

(c. US Weekly 2000)

We drive back to the office. Before we even get a chance to crack open the Darva mag, news of the supposedly semi-nude spread on JFK Jr. in the upcoming US Weekly reaches our ears. The coincidence in the timing between the Darva Conger and JFK, Jr. pin-ups is simply too uncanny to pass up. We call US (blah, blah, blah), and they fax us a copy of the article – but not all of the photos. (We’re merely left with this assurance from the publicist: “The photos are unabashedly provocative and depict JFK Jr. in a manner never before seen.”)

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With both materials at hand, we decide to compare and contrast Darva and JFK Jr. Our findings:

1. Darva shows more skin than John, Jr.

2. Darva seems to enjoy lying nude in the desert in various different positions, since three out of her nine photos are set on really arid-looking land. (We didn’t see the scandalous JFK Jr. pics yet, so we don’t know where he enjoyed lying.)

3. Maybe it’s just a smudge from the fax toner, but John Jr. seems to be wearing a tattoo on his right arm in the US Weekly cover shot.

4. During John Jr.’s undergrad studies at Brown University, “there was a tacit agreement to grant him anonymity, a respite from the world’s notice and pursuit,” US says. Darva says she had no such luck. After “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire,” she says the tabloids “stalk,” “hound,” “threaten,” and tell her that they “won’t leave until [she] talk[s].”

5. John Jr. was described as moving “with a graceful and practiced quiet – at least during his tenure at Brown. As for Darva, when commenting on the Playboy shoot, she said, “It’s amazing how comfortable I felt, maybe because everything was so professional and it was a natural environment.”

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6. John Jr. had a penchant for acting, “a passion that – in a timeless dynamic – alarmed his mother, who wanted her only son to have a stable career.” And as for Darva, she confesses that she “never had any problem with Playboy,” and added that, “neither has [her] family.”

So, what did we learn? Three things, we think: (1) nude photos are, in general, are much more provocative and scandalous when you hear about them, rather than see them; (2) you really don’t learn anything about people by looking at naked pictures of them; and, (3) neither do you learn anything about them by reading the accompanying copy. Given our epiphanies, would we do it again — would we scour Los Angeles for skin magazines featuring people who were famous for being famous? Hell, yeah. It still beats being cooped up in the office.

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