Would A Lindsay Lohan Playboy Shoot Help Or Hurt Her Career?

10/25/2011 04:49 pm ET | Updated Dec 25, 2011
  • Jo Piazza Author of "If Nuns Ruled the World: Ten Sisters on a Mission"

Reports are circulating -- and mom Dina Lohan has confirmed -- that beleaguered actress Lindsay Lohan is making plans to try to pose for Playboy in a bid to revive her sputtering brand. Since her last nude photo shoot didn't reinvent her as a Hollywood darling, baring her breasts a second time probably won't win her any more points.

Nudity is a funny thing in Hollywood. The Kate Winslets and Julianne Moores of the world can bare all in the name of art and everyone applauds. But for a celebrity on the brink of a professional and personal crisis, the decision to pose nude is often little more than a desperate Hail Mary pass to stay relevant.

Cases in point: Over-augmented "Hills" reality star Heidi Montag negotiated a reported six-figure deal to pose for Playboy when she was closing in on the end of her 15 minutes of fame. This was her "sweet spot" -- the time before the public begins to lose interest and while a magazine's willingness to pay is still high.

"Beverly Hills 90210" bad girl Shannen Doherty posed for Playboy twice, once in 1994 and again in 2003. What's Doherty up to these days? No one really cares -- although she did just tie the knot for the third time.

Right after the cult hit "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" ended, the show's Charisma Carpenter posed for the racy magazine to showcase her bod after losing her baby weight. Haven't heard much from her lately, other than her small guest spot on "Supernatural."

Posing for Playboy simply wouldn't bring anything new to the Lohan brand mix. Everyone has already seen her breasts and, frankly, no one was very impressed.

In February 2008, Lohan opted to do an artsy nude photo shoot for New York magazine, shot by Bert Stern, which re-staged the famed photographer's famous series of Marilyn Monroe that came to be known as "The Last Sitting." Shot at the Hotel Bel Air, the photos duplicated the 1962 originals down to the lighting, bleached white wig and the subjects' willingness to be photographed in little more than a chiffon scarf.

"Here is a woman who is giving herself to the public. She's saying, 'Look, you've taken a lot from me, so why don't I give it to you myself.' She's taking control back.' " Lohan said at the time about the Marilyn shots -- and unwittingly about herself.

The nude photo shoot didn't give Lohan renewed control over her career, but it certainly was a boost for New York, whose web traffic increased 2000 percent from the same day in the previous year.

According to Forbes, "For a site that's averaged around a million page views a day lately, the results were stunning. NYmag.com recorded a total of more than 40 million page views Monday and Tuesday, more than 34 million of which came from the Lohan portfolio."

That kind of traffic is worth around $500,000 to a website like New York, but Lohan only received more negative attention. She was called "desperate for attention" and a "skank." A report from Associated Content read, "The only thing Lindsay Lohan has in common with Marilyn Monroe in this photo shoot is that she looks like she's intoxicated."

And, to add insult to injury, Lohan didn't even make money on the pictures. New York paid Stern a standard photographer's fee and paid Lohan nada for her participation.

The New York shoot actually led Lohan's likability to plummet. Pre-shoot, in 2006, her brand awareness was 72%. Three out of five people knew who she was. Her positive Q score, a measure of a celebrity's likability, was a 13 and her negative was a 37. After the shoot in 2008 her familiarity with the American public was at 80% but her positive rating remained an 11 while her negative rating shot up to a 52.

Though the rumored $1 million paycheck Lohan will receive for shedding her clothes might help her financial situation, Playboy simply isn't the answer for a true Lohan turnaround. At this point, it's unclear exactly what will help her.

Lindsay Lohan

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