NEW YORK – Putting the "news" back in "nudes," Playboy magazine is again trying to reveal more than just the account books of the women of today's corporate scandals.
This time, the magazine, which just showed off the women of Enron for the July issue, is sounding the call for female employees from beleaguered telecommunications giant WorldCom and disgraced accounting firm Arthur Andersen to grin and bare it in a future pictorial.
Energy corporation Enron's cooking of its ledgers has become the biggest scandal in recent corporate history, sparking congressional hearings and calling into question America's system of fiscal oversight. It also dragged down Andersen, the company's accounting firm. Enron's fall was swiftly followed by market-shaking crises at WorldCom and ImClone.
But unlike the Enron pictorial, it was actually the women who came up with the idea for Playboy to do a pictorial on them, not the other away around, the magazine's spokeswoman Elizabeth Norris said.
"We started receiving phone calls as soon as the Enron issue hit the stands," Norris said. "They said, 'I'm with WorldCom and I just lost my job and would like to be considered for a pictorial.' I said, 'If you look as good as you sound, you'll be perfect for a pictorial.'"
The magazine announced its search for current and former employees of the company on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, it had already received 50 inquiries via e-mail and over the telephone, Norris said. The pictorial would take several months to complete and publish.
While Playboy has covered — or, rather, uncovered — three companies from the recent spate of financial woes rocking the U.S., it's not a trend for the magazine, Norris said.
"I think people are thinking of this as a story of scandal, but Playboy's always on the cutting edge of what’s going on in culture," she said. "Enron was very big in pop culture beyond the business pages. Everyone knew about Enron; they may have not understood completely but they knew it happened and that it was a very sad story for a lot of people. And WorldCom and Andersen were also big in pop culture."
And don't expect to see "The Women of ImClone" in Playboy next. The next corporate pictorial Playboy may do will be a success story, not a tragedy.
"I think what we'd like to do is a pictorial on a company that's doing very well," Norris said. "We have one in mind. It's a company that everyone's aware of, and you probably use their products yourself."
Of course, there’s always the odd exception, she said.
"If Martha Stewart would like to be in the magazine, we'll take her," Norris said.