March 28, 2023


Without Art It's Really Boring!!!

When the Chicks posed nude for Leisure Weekly in 2003

9 min read

It was March 2003, and the Dixie Chicks (now acknowledged as the Chicks) had kicked off their new tour. All through the opening night time in London, on the eve of the Iraq War, lead singer Natalie Maines criticized George W. Bush and adjusted her and her bandmates’ lives: “We’re on the superior aspect with y’all,” she advised the audience. “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” Instantly, the state audio trio — America’s prime-providing woman group of all time — was engulfed in controversy as enraged supporters and others named for a boycott, region radio stations pulled their music and album gross sales begun to fall.

A month afterwards, the members of the Chicks (Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire) responded in an in-depth job interview with Enjoyment Weekly — and, in a shift considered especially shocking, posed nude for the cover, their bodies painted in words that men and women were calling them: “Dixie Sluts.” “Proud Americans.” “Traitors.” “Fearless.” The impression was so putting that it went viral ahead of likely viral existed.

The address set the group’s defiant tone heading ahead they were not heading to again down or apologize for currently being ladies who experienced viewpoints. It modified the training course of their occupation — paving a route for their 2006 Grammy-sweeping album, “Taking the Lengthy Way” — and affected numerous other place acts. To some, in particular individuals currently impressed by their tunes, they were being heroes. To others, they were a cautionary tale, and considered, to this day, to be the rationale a lot of Nashville singers refuse to say a term about politics. It’s also why most state stations even now will not play the Chicks.

But even as Amusement Weekly fades absent (a great deal to the disappointment of showbiz followers who grew up on the magazine), the Chicks address will under no circumstances be neglected. Here’s the tale of how it took place.

John McAlley, who was the songs editor for EW, often experienced to press for the journal to prioritize new music coverage, offered that the publication was major on Television and motion pictures. But he knew the Chicks controversy was going to be a huge story, and it essential to be front and middle. So he was identified to land the job interview — his biggest problem was that he was likely to be scooped by Time journal, which experienced a tendency to “bigfoot” EW for tales, even while they had the identical proprietor.

“The news weeklies at the time had been genuinely highly effective and seriously superior profile,” he claimed. “There was so much prestige and visibility attached to currently being on the cover of a information weekly, that on more than just one event, we shed a battle for a tale since Time was promising the deal with. But Time never ever gave the address — it would usually finish up remaining an inside of tale.”

In the meantime, Rogers & Cowan PMK chairman Cindi Berger, the Chicks’ publicist, could convey to this backlash was not going away. She and the band’s group identified the trio wanted to do three interviews: a syndicated radio show, a broadcast Television interview and the deal with of a well-known magazine. So she booked them on state identity Bob Kingsley’s radio display, an ABC particular with Diane Sawyer, and then known as … Rolling Stone.

Berger required the cover to run at a precise time in May perhaps to coincide with the Sawyer exclusive, as very well as the start off of the Chicks’ U.S. tour dates, but Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner declined, she mentioned. Her upcoming cell phone phone was to McAlley, who was eager to make it happen, and they started negotiations.

Berger wished to make positive they have been assured the cover and that the editors and art directors would collaborate with the band on the images principle.

“It was several, several days of again and forth, great uncertainty whether we would land the go over or not,” McAlley explained. He vividly remembers obtaining the go-in advance get in touch with: “I was in the residing place of my parents’ house in suburban New York when my flip cellphone rang on a Saturday early morning. It was Cindi Berger. She stated, ‘We want to do this.’ ”

Brainstorming began, and the EW workers felt pressured to come up with the best idea.

“We all felt like, ‘Wow, we bought the scoop — now we require an picture that is heading to be equivalent to the fact that we got the unique on it,’ ” mentioned Geraldine Hessler, EW’s imaginative director.

Thoughts commenced to stream concerning the workforce and the band: Mainly because men and women had been screaming that the Chicks were unpatriotic, the initial notion was to wrap Maines, Maguire and Strayer in an American flag. But then the editors were worried it would search like they ended up denigrating the flag. Anyone else recommended the singers dress in American flag earrings or kerchiefs. Fiona McDonagh Farrell, the image editor, recalls currently being on the conference call exactly where Maines reported something alongside the strains of, “We ought to all be naked and branded with the things they’ve been indicating about us.”

“The publicist, the natural way, was like, ‘We are not executing that!’ ” Farrell claimed. “I waited a handful of minutes and then claimed, ‘Let’s go back again to the strategy Natalie talked about, because it could be a actually, truly intriguing notion.’ ” Farrell appreciated the concept of juxtaposing some of the terrible factors they had been referred to as (“Saddam’s Angels,” for example) with some of the good reactions (“brave” and “heroes”). Near the finish of the simply call, they determined the Chicks would wrap on their own in bumper stickers with all the phrases.

Without a doubt, Berger was mildly horrified by the plan of a nude cover. But the band generally experienced very distinct imaginative tips. “The go over required to be significant and essential to make a statement,” Berger claimed. “When the ladies arrived up with this, I claimed, ‘Well, that’s a statement.’ ”

The photograph shoot was booked in April, and it was a scramble — Hessler recalls they had 5 times, at most, to put together for the shoot, which took put in a distant airplane hangar in Austin. Although Maines, Strayer and Maguire taken care of a sense of calm and superior humor, it was an extreme ambiance: Dying threats have been nevertheless rolling in in opposition to the band, and security was everywhere you go.

At that position, they agreed on the bumper sticker notion, and the artwork office created them. Still Farrell began to be concerned that the stickers would not get there in Austin on time — and far more importantly, even if they did, that they would appear awful. She conferred with the photographer, James White, who agreed stickers could possibly not be the best search. They resolved to use a system make-up artist who could paint the text on the Chicks, just in situation.

Guaranteed adequate, the stickers by no means confirmed up. “I considered, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have to get to established and have to convey to Cindi we never have stickers — but we do have this other particular person,’ ” Farrell reported. “Fortunately, all the stars aligned. And though Cindi was justifiably terribly nervous about this principle, the 3 women at the coronary heart of the story have been courageous sufficient to say, ‘Yes, let’s do it. Let us go for it.’ ”

“Terribly nervous” might have been an understatement for Berger, who was making panicked calls to the EW editors back in New York. Her greatest dread was that the deal with was heading to be deemed way too specific and wrapped in brown paper on newsstands, which would defeat the entire function. “I remember expressing, ‘I really do not think this is heading to work,’ ” she stated. “And James White reported, ‘I’m heading to put them beautifully.’ And he did.”

White recalled the shoot total was a “very pleasant day” regardless of the tense situation and admired the trio’s bond in challenging instances. “They ended up incredibly supportive of each other,” he said. “They stuck together, and I loved seeing that.”

In 2013, on the 10th anniversary of the address, Strayer informed EW that “it surely was the most daring thing” the band experienced at any time completed: “I felt like we realized the gravity of that shoot while it was taking place.”

McAlley assigned the tale to Chris Willman, a revered nation-songs writer who had now been hoping to get a characteristic tale going on the Chicks and their most current album, “Home.” At EW, he said, it was “always a major fight” to get region songs in the New York-centered magazine. Instantly, the tables had turned.

Willman wasn’t allowed at the photograph shoot, so he achieved the band afterwards at a sushi restaurant for the interview. He said it was tough to grasp the enormity of the controversy at the time, and imagined probably every thing would blow around in a handful of months. But at the time he observed the go over illustrations or photos, he realized that for the band, there was no going back.

“We all recognized what a defiant statement it was,” Willman claimed. “The deal with was expressing them as staying susceptible and owning been victims in some perception in all of this, but it was also the most significant center finger you can set up to the planet.”

In New York, Farrell begun editing the images, and it was a “no-brainer” about what was heading to be the deal with. Hessler said that commonly, EW place a good deal of text and further imagery on addresses, provided the significance of newsstand revenue. This was various.

“You didn’t have to have a good deal of words on the include since the graphic was so sturdy,” she said. “We were just overjoyed by it — it was that thrill when you have a artistic eyesight and then it absolutely arrives together, and not only as executed, but in a way that is so much improved than you ever imagined it could be.”

In spite of Berger’s problems, the magazine was not wrapped in brown paper some stores, these kinds of as Walmart, wouldn’t display screen addresses with nudity. But as Hessler explained, the journal “wasn’t about to compromise its editorial mission” based mostly on that possibility.

EW does not allow include approval from subjects, so when Berger finally saw the magazine, she felt a large wave of relief and was blown absent by the image. She straight away faxed it to the band. “It was a highly effective, impressive moment,” Berger said. (She stated she acquired a simply call from Wenner at Rolling Stone, who explained, “Well, that’s the deal with of the calendar year.”)

Over at EW, the editors were confused by the reaction — it was on every news display and reprinted on the front of the New York Post. The magazine been given hundreds of letters from viewers. “It just immediately type of exploded in the lifestyle,” McAlley said. In a scarce occurrence, he acquired a bottle of Dom Pérignon from Berger, who expressed gratitude that the story taken care of the Chicks with regard and permit them discuss their piece. “Thank you. You are a gentleman of your term,” read the note.

All of the EW staffers interviewed say it was a career highlight, even as Willman joked that his prolonged Q&A with the band accounted for a mere 1 p.c of the response. In 2005, the American Culture of Journal Editors named it one of the best 40 handles of the last 40 several years. “It was one of the these moments in which we took a possibility, and the Dixie Chicks, they took a enormous threat,” Farrell explained. “Sometimes a address can be the the very least interesting graphic, but often, it can be a serious statement.”

The staffers also spoke with a hint of wistfulness — journal covers don’t make quite the identical splash these days. “This was an act of defiance and toughness and it was just a tremendous-daring protect,” McAlley claimed. “And 1 of Entertainment Weekly’s biggest times, for sure.”

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