By Duane Wells
Originally published on Advocate.com September 02 2009 5:50 PM ET
As former Alaska governor and GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin contemplates her post-gubernatorial political future, Levi Johnston, the father of her first grandson, by daughter Bristol, is mulling over offers to pose nude for two magazines with largely (if not almost exclusively) gay readerships.
In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Tank Jones, Levi’s manager-bodyguard, confirmed to Advocate.com that negotiations were underway with both Unzipped Media and Playgirl.com to have Bristol Palin’s baby daddy take it all off for an exclusive photo shoot.
“Naw, that’s serious. Mr. Butler is doing that,” Jones said, referring to Levi’s lawyer, Rex Butler, when asked if such a photo shoot might actually happen.
Rick Andreoli, executive editor of Unzipped Media -- whose owners also own The Advocate -- also confirmed that Unzipped magazine had made an overture to Levi about appearing au naturel in an upcoming issue.
“When Levi was on Bravo saying that he was willing to pose nude if the offer was right, we made an offer to Tank Jones and we’re waiting to hear back on that,” Andreoli said.
The specter of Johnston doing a nude photo spread was raised by behind-the-scenes video from a photo shoot set to accompany a feature titled "Me and Mrs. Palin" in the October 2009 issue of Vanity Fair. In the video Jones and Levi are captured discussing a potential Playgirl pictorial while riding in an SUV.
"I'd do it ... if it would get me out of there," Levi says when Tank initially asks him about posing in the buff.
However, neither Jones nor Johnston seems to know much about the current state of affairs at Playgirl. While Levi thinks Playgirl is all about “a dude posing for women,” Tank seems to be unaware that the print version of the magazine folded late last year.
"You've gotta have some johnson. You can can't come in there lacking in the johnson area. You've gotta unfold some things, “ Jones says of the potential Playgirl spread while lecturing Levi in the video. “ A dude posed for the magazine and they had to add an extra leaf to fold out for him ... [so] I'm saying, do you need extra magazine or do you don't [sic] need that?"
The exchange left Unzipped’s Andreoli scratching his head.
“What’s confusing is that on the Vanity Fair video, Tank is talking about how Levi is going to pose in the magazine, but there is no Playgirl magazine. The real offer is for Levi to pose for Playgirl.com. A lot of people are under the assumption that Playgirl is still publishing print magazines, but it’s not,."
Perhaps even more intriguing is the notion that Levi appears to be completely unaware of just who reads Playgirl.
"The problem is that I think there’s a misconception on Levi’s part. He thinks that Playgirl is a magazine where guys pose nude for women," Andreoli said. "As a gay man, I can tell you that’s not your primary audience at Playgirl. Many of the models that are seen in Men or Unzipped have also been in Playgirl. There’s a huge overlap of our models."
And despite a story this morning on Gawker suggesting that a deal between Johnston and Playgirl.com was as good as done, Jones said nothing is confirmed.
Confusion aside, no matter the audience for any photo shoot Levi may appear in, Jones is very clear: His client is completely comfortable.
Asked how Levi felt about becoming a gay sex symbol, Tank said, “I’m gonna be honest with you ... you’ve got to understand that you’re dealing with a young man here, and what he has done is he’s broadened his horizons. However he has felt in the past, this [experience] has afforded him the opportunity to meet a lot of different people and find out that people are just people. Sometimes, some things happen for a reason ... and [Levi’s] eyes are open, so we don’t care what kind of situation it is or who views the magazine.”
That said, don’t expect anything too outrageous from a naked Levi.
“If we do anything like this, it’s going to be done tastefully and professionally. We’re not going to do any smut ... We’re not committed to anything,” Jones said before adding that negotiations have not yet reached such a level as to warrant discussion about restrictions or limitations on a potential photo shoot.
If Johnston, who made his shirtless debut in GQ just a few months back, does end up stripping down for a photo shoot, it will only be the latest salvo in his war of words with Sarah Palin, who once called his family “trailer trash.”
Ironically, even though Johnston’s recent revelatory media tour has proved to be something of an embarrassment for Palin, the former governor has remained conspicuously quiet, suggesting Johnston might have the potential to strip away more than his clothes if given the opportunity.