The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is published annually by magazine, Sports Illustrated. The cover photograph features fashion models wearing swimwear in exotic locales. All models featured on the cover of the swimsuit issue in the magazine's history have been women. According to some, the magazine is the arbiter of supermodel succession. The swimsuit issue of the magazine carries advertising that, in 2005 amounted to US$35 million in value. New issues come out around the middle of February or later. First published in 1964, it is credited with making the bikini, invented in 1946, a legitimate piece of apparel. The issue that got the most letters was the 1978 issue. The best selling issue was the 25th Anniversary Issue with Kathy Ireland on the cover in 1989.
The swimsuit issue was invented by Sports Illustrated editor Andre Laguerre to fill the winter months, a typically slow point in the sporting calendar. He asked fashion reporter Jule Campbell to go on a shoot to fill space, including the cover, with a beautiful model. The first issue, released in 1964, entailed a cover featuring Babette March and a five-page layout. Campbell soon became a powerful figure in modeling and molded the issue into a media phenomenon by featuring "bigger and healthier" California women and printing the names of the models with their photos, beginning a new supermodel era. However, the issue did not exclusively feature models until 1997. In the 1950s a few women appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but the 1964 issue is considered to be the beginning of the current format known as the Swimsuit Issue. Tyra Banks was the first black woman on the cover.
Several female athletes have appeared in swimsuit shoots, though not on the cover. Steffi Graf appeared in 1997. In the 2003 issue, tennis player Serena Williams and figure skater Ekaterina Gordeeva were featured inside the magazine. Anna Kournikova appeared in an inset on the 2004 cover, and had a photo spread within its pages.
For the 2010 issue, four female Winter Olympians appeared in swimsuits: Clair Bidez, Lacy Schnoor, Hannah Teter, and Lindsey Vonn as well as Ana Ivanovic. Criticism of Ivanovic's appearance in the magazine shortly surfaced, as the Serb was suffering a decline in form and confidence and subsequently dropped out of the WTA's Top 50 a month after appearing in the magazine. However, since November 2010 Ivanovic has re-entered the World's Top 20 and regained her old form and confidence.
To some people, the magazine is an acceptable exhibition of female sexuality not out of place on a coffee table. Recent editions have mixed the modeling with a tribute to sportsmen. The swimsuit edition is controversial with both moralists who subscribe for sports news content as well as those who feel that the focus on fashion and swimsuit modeling is inappropriate for a sports magazine. Also feminists have expressed that "the Swimsuit Issue promotes the harmful and dehumanizing concept that women are a product for male consumption." Subscriptions have been canceled by subscribers when it arrives. The 1978 edition, remembered for its fishnet bathing suit made famous by Cheryl Tiegs, resulted in 340 cancellations.Sports Illustrated makes the controversy a form of entertainment with the issue two weeks after the swimsuit edition packed with complainants such as shocked parents and troubled librarians. Recently, the number of cancellations has declined. Nonetheless, to avoid controversy, Sports Illustrated has, since 2007, offered its subscribers the option of skipping the swimsuit edition for a one issue credit to extend their subscription by a week.
Swimsuit Video, the Swimsuit Issue on video and in television specials
Beginning in the late 1980s, Sports Illustrated allowed television specials to be aired which were later released as video versions of its Swimsuit Issue. The first releases were available on VHS or Laser Disc (LD), and later releases have been available on DVD.
In 1989, The Making of the Sports Illustrated 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Issue was a television documentary by Home Box Office (HBO) which later became available on VHS by Maysles Films. In 1992, a behind-the-scenes made-for-HBO special documentary was released on VHS as the Sports Illustrated Behind the Scenes: Official Swimsuit Video. In 1993, Sports Illustrated: The 1993 Swimsuit Video was released by HBO films. The next year, Sports Illustrated 1994 Swimsuit Issue Video was released on video by Dakota North Entertainment. Since then, the annual video version of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has been called the Swimsuit Video. In 1995, Sports Illustrated began distributing television specials based on the issue, titled '[Year] Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Special'. The hour-long specials have aired on Spike TV and TNT and Minisodes of several specials from 2002 to 2004 are available on Crackle. In 2004, the Sports Illustrated 40th Anniversary Swimsuit Special: American Beauty featured videos of the swimsuit beauties at various US locations, some of which are not usually thought of as beaches: e.g., the host Melissa Keller and Marisa Miller at the grain elevator in Bouton, Iowa, and on a farm near Perry, Iowa. The more recent videos have included some "uncensored" scenes.
Gair, Joanne (2007). Sports Illustrated: In the Paint: The Complete Body-Painting Collection from the SI Swimsuit Issue: The Art of Joanne Gair. Photography by James Porto. New York: Sports Illustrated Books. ISBN9781933821207. OCLC212375500.
Hoffman, Steven (executive director) (2001). Sports Illustrated Knockouts: Five Decades of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Photography. Foreword by Frank Deford. New York: Sports Illustrated. ISBN9781929049479.