When the Chicks posed nude for Enjoyment Weekly in 2003
It was March 2003, and the Dixie Chicks (now acknowledged as the Chicks) experienced kicked off their new tour. Through the opening evening in London, on the eve of the Iraq War, direct singer Natalie Maines criticized George W. Bush and adjusted her and her bandmates’ life: “We’re on the great facet with y’all,” she advised the viewers. “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” Quickly, the nation tunes trio — America’s leading-promoting woman team of all time — was engulfed in controversy as enraged supporters and other individuals termed for a boycott, nation radio stations pulled their tunes and album revenue started off to fall.
A thirty day period later on, the associates of the Chicks (Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire) responded in an in-depth job interview with Enjoyment Weekly — and, in a go considered primarily surprising, posed nude for the protect, their bodies painted in text that individuals had been contacting them: “Dixie Sluts.” “Proud Us residents.” “Traitors.” “Fearless.” The graphic was so putting that it went viral in advance of likely viral existed.
The protect established the group’s defiant tone likely ahead they had been not likely to back again down or apologize for becoming females who experienced viewpoints. It adjusted the study course of their vocation — paving a route for their 2006 Grammy-sweeping album, “Taking the Prolonged Way” — and affected a great number of other nation functions. To some, primarily all those by now impressed by their tunes, they had been heroes. To other individuals, they had been a cautionary tale, and viewed as, to this working day, to be the motive quite a few Nashville singers refuse to say a phrase about politics. It is also why most nation stations nonetheless will not participate in the Chicks.
But even as Enjoyment Weekly fades absent (a lot to the disappointment of showbiz supporters who grew up on the journal), the Chicks protect will by no means be overlooked. Here’s the tale of how it occurred.
John McAlley, who was the tunes editor for EW, usually experienced to press for the journal to prioritize tunes protection, presented that the publication was hefty on Television set and videos. But he understood the Chicks controversy was likely to be a large tale, and it essential to be entrance and heart. So he was decided to land the job interview — his largest issue was that he was likely to be scooped by Time journal, which experienced a inclination to “bigfoot” EW for tales, even even though they experienced the similar operator.
“The information weeklies at the time had been genuinely potent and genuinely superior profile,” he reported. “There was so a lot status and visibility hooked up to becoming on the protect of a information weekly, that on additional than just one celebration, we missing a struggle for a tale due to the fact Time was promising the protect. But Time by no means gave the protect — it would normally stop up becoming an within tale.”
In the meantime, Cindi Berger, the Chicks’ publicist, could notify this backlash was not likely absent. She and the band’s group decided the trio essential to do a few interviews: a syndicated radio demonstrate, a broadcast Television set job interview and the protect of a common journal. So she booked them on nation persona Bob Kingsley’s radio demonstrate, an ABC unique with Diane Sawyer, and then termed … Rolling Stone.
Berger desired the protect to operate at a precise time in May possibly to coincide with the Sawyer unique, as very well as the start out of the Chicks’ U.S. tour dates, but Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner declined, she reported. Her subsequent cellular phone phone was to McAlley, who was keen to make it materialize, and they started negotiations.
Berger desired to make absolutely sure they had been confirmed the protect and that the editors and artwork administrators would collaborate with the band on the images principle.
“It was quite a few, quite a few times of back again and forth, excellent uncertainty whether or not we would land the protect or not,” McAlley reported. He vividly remembers acquiring the go-forward phone: “I was in the dwelling area of my parents’ residence in suburban New York when my flip cellular phone rang on a Saturday early morning. It was Cindi Berger. She reported, ‘We want to do this.’ ”
Brainstorming started, and the EW workers felt pressured to appear up with the best notion.
“We all felt like, ‘Wow, we bought the scoop — now we will need an graphic which is likely to be equivalent to the simple fact that we bought the unique on it,’ ” reported Geraldine Hessler, EW’s imaginative director.
Strategies started to stream involving the group and the band: For the reason that individuals had been screaming that the Chicks had been unpatriotic, the preliminary notion was to wrap Maines, Maguire and Strayer in an American flag. But then the editors had been anxious it would glance like they had been denigrating the flag. Another person else proposed the singers put on American flag earrings or kerchiefs. Fiona McDonagh Farrell, the image editor, recollects becoming on the meeting phone in which Maines reported a thing together the strains of, “We really should all be bare and branded with the matters they’ve been stating about us.”
“The publicist, normally, was like, ‘We are not performing that!’ ” Farrell reported. “I waited a several minutes and then reported, ‘Let’s go back again to the notion Natalie described, due to the fact it could be a genuinely, genuinely fascinating principle.’ ” Farrell appreciated the notion of juxtaposing some of the terrible matters they experienced been termed (“Saddam’s Angels,” for case in point) with some of the favourable reactions (“brave” and “heroes”). Close to the stop of the phone, they determined the Chicks would wrap them selves in bumper stickers with all the phrases.
Certainly, Berger was mildly horrified by the notion of a nude protect. But the band normally experienced pretty precise imaginative thoughts. “The protect essential to be essential and essential to make a assertion,” Berger reported. “When the women arrived up with this, I reported, ‘Well, which is a assertion.’ ”
The image shoot was booked in April, and it was a scramble — Hessler recollects they experienced 5 times, at most, to get ready for the shoot, which took spot in a distant plane hangar in Austin. Although Maines, Strayer and Maguire preserved a perception of relaxed and great humor, it was an extreme ambiance: Demise threats had been nonetheless rolling in from the band, and protection was in all places.
At that stage, they agreed on the bumper sticker notion, and the artwork office intended them. Nevertheless Farrell started off to fret that the stickers would not get there in Austin on time — and additional importantly, even if they did, that they would glance terrible. She conferred with the photographer, James White, who agreed stickers may not be the ideal glance. They determined to use a physique make-up artist who could paint the text on the Chicks, just in circumstance.
Positive sufficient, the stickers by no means confirmed up. “I believed, ‘Oh my God, I’m likely to have to get to established and have to notify Cindi we really do not have stickers — but we do have this other man or woman,’ ” Farrell reported. “Fortunately, all the stars aligned. And even though Cindi was justifiably terribly anxious about this principle, the a few females at the coronary heart of the tale had been courageous sufficient to say, ‘Yes, let us do it. Let us go for it.’ ”
“Terribly nervous” may possibly have been an understatement for Berger, who was building panicked phone calls to the EW editors back again in New York. Her largest anxiety was that the protect was likely to be considered much too express and wrapped in brown paper on newsstands, which would defeat the entire objective. “I don’t forget stating, ‘I really do not believe this is likely to operate,’ ” she reported. “And James White reported, ‘I’m likely to spot them properly.’ And he did.”
White recalled the shoot total was a “very great day” regardless of the tense instances and admired the trio’s bond in complicated periods. “They had been pretty supportive of each and every other,” he reported. “They caught with each other, and I liked looking at that.”
In 2013, on the tenth anniversary of the protect, Strayer advised EW that “it certainly was the most daring thing” the band experienced at any time completed: “I felt like we understood the gravity of that shoot even though it was going on.”
McAlley assigned the tale to Chris Willman, a highly regarded nation-tunes author who experienced by now been attempting to get a attribute tale likely on the Chicks and their most up-to-date album, “Home.” At EW, he reported, it was “always a major fight” to get nation tunes in the New York-based mostly journal. Quickly, the tables experienced turned.
Willman was not permitted at the image shoot, so he achieved the band later on at a sushi cafe for the job interview. He reported it was tough to grasp the enormity of the controversy at the time, and believed probably almost everything would blow about in a several months. But after he noticed the protect pictures, he recognized that for the band, there was no likely back again.
“We all recognized what a defiant assertion it was,” Willman reported. “The protect was expressing them as becoming susceptible and obtaining been victims in some perception in all of this, but it was also the largest center finger you can set up to the entire world.”
In New York, Farrell started off enhancing the pics, and it was a “no-brainer” about what was likely to be the protect. Hessler reported that ordinarily, EW set a large amount of textual content and supplemental imagery on handles, presented the relevance of newsstand revenue. This was distinctive.
“You did not have to have a large amount of text on the protect due to the fact the graphic was so sturdy,” she reported. “We had been just overjoyed by it — it was that thrill when you have a imaginative eyesight and then it fully arrives with each other, and not only as executed, but in a way that is so a lot far better than you at any time believed it could be.”
In spite of Berger’s problems, the journal was not wrapped in brown paper some suppliers, these as Walmart, would not display screen handles with nudity. But as Hessler reported, the journal “wasn’t about to compromise its editorial mission” based mostly on that likelihood.
EW does not allow for protect acceptance from topics, so when Berger eventually noticed the journal, she felt a substantial wave of reduction and was blown absent by the graphic. She straight away faxed it to the band. “It was a potent, potent minute,” Berger reported. (She reported she been given a phone from Wenner at Rolling Stone, who reported, “Well, which is the protect of the calendar year.”)
Above at EW, the editors had been confused by the response — it was on each and every information demonstrate and reprinted on the entrance of the New York Article. The journal been given hundreds of letters from viewers. “It just straight away sort of exploded in the society,” McAlley reported. In a scarce event, he been given a bottle of Dom Pérignon from Berger, who expressed gratitude that the tale handled the Chicks with regard and enable them communicate their piece. “Thank you. You are a person of your phrase,” read through the observe.
All of the EW staffers interviewed say it was a vocation spotlight, even as Willman joked that his prolonged Q&A with the band accounted for a mere one per cent of the response. In 2005, the American Modern society of Journal Editors named it just one of the leading forty handles of the previous forty several years. “It was just one of the all those times in which we took a hazard, and the Dixie Chicks, they took a substantial hazard,” Farrell reported. “Sometimes a protect can be the minimum fascinating graphic, but in some cases, it can be a actual assertion.”
The staffers also spoke with a trace of wistfulness — journal handles really do not make very the similar splash these times. “This was an act of defiance and power and it was just a tremendous-daring protect,” McAlley reported. “And just one of Enjoyment Weekly’s best times, for absolutely sure.”