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Demi's Birthday Suit

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Demi's Birthday Suit, August 1992.

Demi's Birthday Suit, or The Suit, was a trompe-l'œil body painting by Joanne Gair photographed by Annie Leibovitz that was featured on the cover of the Vanity Fair August 1992 issue to commemorate and exploit the success of Leibovitz's More Demi Moore cover photo of Demi Moore one year earlier.[1][2] As an example of modern body painting artwork, it raised the profile of Gair in pop culture as an artist in that genre.[3]

The work is considered to be groundbreaking by some, although there is controversy surrounding its originality. The converse of this image serves as the cover to Gair's second bodypainting book, Body Painting.[4] The photo shoot also let Moore show off the results of her fitness regimen.[5]

Artistic perspective[edit]

Gene Newman considers the body painting of Moore to be the introduction of modern body painting to the world.[6] Although willing to credit Moore and Gair with the rebirth of bodypainting in a San Francisco Chronicle story, the "makeup artist, wig maker and stylist" Jim Ponder had difficulty calling interest in bodypainting a trend because it traces back to the "beginnings of man."[7] Joanne Gair has described the painting as a stylized reference to Botticelli,[8] since the sinuous pose is reminiscent of the central figures in both Primavera and The Birth of Venus. The product description for Gair's book calls her participation in this photoshoot as her "defining moment."[9] Soon after the release of the magazine Gair became such a pop culture icon that she was considered for an Absolut Vodka Absolut Gair ad campaign according to a story in The New York Times.[3] The work is considered to be an example from the most sophisticated end of the bodypainting spectrum which extends all the way to Henna tattoos.[10]

Some sources have claimed that the work is a derivative of preceding works. Playboy published a photo with similar bodypainting, with a necktie, suit jacket and similar pose, in its March 1968 issue, as part of a feature on bodypainting.[11]


Gair had worked with Leibovitz and Moore on More Demi Moore. Departing Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown felt "The only thing to do for the anniversary cover was to reprise it." According to a Houston Chronicle story that quotes both Moore and Brown, about 100 million people had seen the earlier cover,[12] and this cover capitalized on the anniversary.[13]

They decided to attempt a body painting during the week-long shoot at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles, California in 1992. Gair was provided with a pinstriped three-piece suit by Richard Tyler as a model to paint onto Moore. Since in those days she did not generally work with assistants, the day started at 6:30 A.M. and Demi Moore slept that night in the painted-on suit in case they needed to resume the next day.[4] It took 15 hours to apply the suit because it was difficult for Gair to build the proper paint density. Moore's body heat melted the paint.[2] For the 1992 cover, which required a full-day sitting for Gair and her team of make-up artists, Leibovitz could not decide where to shoot, and "reserved two mobile homes, four hotel rooms and five houses".[1] Stylist Lori Goldstein assisted with the application.[14]

Having started rigorous workouts in the final trimester of her pregnancy the year before to prepare for her role in A Few Good Men, Moore was physically fit for the photoshoot.[2] Thus she appeared in additional nude photos within the magazine's cover story.[5] Moore viewed the photos as a chance to show off the results of her workouts: "I said I would get better with each baby and I have."[5] The weeklong effort also involved shots taken in Kauai, Hawaii that are included in Gair's second book, Body Painting.[4] Moore felt she looked better on the cover at age 29 than she had in a bikini nine years earlier in Blame It on Rio.[14]

More Demi Moore[edit]

Main article: More Demi Moore

Demi Moore had appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair exactly one year earlier in the August 1991 edition in Leibovitz's photograph, More Demi Moore. As a groundbreaking work, the photograph of her pregnant pose was an iconic one for Moore, Leibovitz and women in general who now view public representation of pregnancy as socially acceptable.[15] It had a cultural impact by causing numerous celebrities to pose for photographs in advanced pregnancy, which has made pregnancy photos fashionable and created a profitable business for photographers such as Jennifer Loomis.[16] The American Society of Magazine Editors regards it as one of the best U.S. magazine covers ever,[17][18] and it is one of Leibovitz' best-known works.[19][20] Additionally, the photo served as a litmus test when Internet decency standards were first being legislated and adjudicated.[21][22]


  1. ^ a b Bellafante, Ginia (2003-10-26). "ART; What Celebrity Looks Like: The Annie Leibovitz Aesthetic". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  2. ^ a b c Sell, Shawn (1992-07-06). "Demi Moore, painted lady". USA Today. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  3. ^ a b Elliott, Stuart (1993-06-06). "Advertising's Marathon Auditions". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2008-02-19. 
  4. ^ a b c Gair, Joanne; Klum, Heidi (2006). Body Painting: Masterpieces by Joanne Gair. Universe Publishing. ISBN 0-7893-1509-2. 
  5. ^ a b c "Want Less of Moore: See New Vanity Fair". The Deseret News. 1992-07-07. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  6. ^ Newman, Gene (2000). "body work and paint jobs". Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  7. ^ Rubin, Sylvia (1992-08-13). "When Statues Come to Life - Painted posers play at posh parties". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  8. ^ Gair, Joanne (2005). Paint A 'Licious: The Pain-Free Way to Achieving Your Naked Ambitions. Andrews McMeel Publishing. ISBN 0-7407-5537-4. 
  9. ^ "Body Painting: Masterpieces by Joanne Gair (Editorial Reviews)"., Inc. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  10. ^ "Inprint - Nine to Five Magazine". July 1998. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-23. 
  11. ^ "Naked Truth". The Commercial Appeal. 1992-07-21. Retrieved 2009-04-02. (subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ Mesinger, Maxine (1992-07-07). "VF dresses Demi in paint". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  13. ^ Fernandez, Don (1992-07-07). "Does Bruce ever visit the newsstand?". The Tampa Tribune. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  14. ^ a b Stage, Jeff (1992-08-19). "Ms. Moore: Demi, Not Demure". Syracuse Herald-Journal. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  15. ^ Matthews, Sandra and Laura Wexler (2000). Pregnant pictures. Routledge. p. 199. ISBN 0-415-90449-8. 
  16. ^ "Celebrities make pregnancy seem glamorous". Microsoft. 2006-04-26. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  17. ^ "Lennon leads list of top magazine covers". Microsoft. 2005-10-17. Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  18. ^ "The Editor's Desk". Newsweek Magazine. 2006-10-02. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  19. ^ Lacayo, Richard (1991-09-30). "Shadows And Eye Candy". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  20. ^ McGuigan, Cathleen (2006-10-02). "Through Her Lens". Newsweek Magazine. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  21. ^ Levy, Steven (1996-05-27). "An Indecent Proposal". Newsweek Magazine. Archived from the original on March 6, 2009. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  22. ^ Levy, Steven (1997-07-07). "On The Net, Anything Goes". Newsweek Magazine. Retrieved 2008-03-21.