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Playboy meets Wal-Mart

Playboy is famous for many things, and I’m not talking about the articles, people.

I’m talking about the creative way the magazine dresses up its glossy pages with undressed women.

While pictures of naked women are usually all a men’s magazine should need to provide brisk sales, Playboy is losing ground to competitors such as Maxim, FHM and Stuff that don’t even use pictures of naked women. What these mags lack in nudity, they make up for in snarkiness and creativity. Oh yeah, that and the fact that they can enlist the hottest starlets around by telling them that nudity is not part of the photo shoots.

Since it is hard to imagine Playboy without the nudity, the magazine is often forced to come up with quirky, sexy ways to get readers involved. Playboy is renowned for its pictorials on college girls, usually photographed by athletic conference: “Girls of the ACC,” “Girls of the Big 10,” “Girls of WAC.” But even that annual rite doesn’t have the impact it once did, largely because these lithe young women are unattainable for men who aren’t college quarterbacks or Snoop Dogg. In order to reach out to more people, Playboy has come up with a new spread that promises to offer pictures of women that everyone has access to: “Women of Wal-Mart.”

Playboy has announced a search for models on its Web site. This is certainly not the first gimmick Playboy has used as an excuse to get women to take off their clothes. Last year, it featured the women of Enron, playing off the news of the company’s collapse. And since Enron stock was completely pummeled after the scandal, it’s hard to imagine that the women weren’t lining up to cash in in any way possible.

But Wal-Mart is different. Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is cut from very conservative cloth. You can’t even buy Maxim, FHM or any of the racy men’s magazines there, much less Playboy.

“Wal-Mart employees have a reputation for being cheerful, and now is giving them a chance to smile for the camera,” Playboy said in a press release to CNNMoney Online. “ wants Wal-Mart’s sexiest assets to roll back their clothes and pose nude.”

The only problem: I’ve never seen any Playboy-quality models greeting me, stocking shelves or running the cash register when I’ve visited Wal-Mart.

To be truthful, I don’t spend that much time at the store, but it’s an enormous company so there would probably be some talent somewhere.

But why Wal-Mart?

“We knew that this would be a very provocative thing for us to do,” John Thomas, editor of, told CNNMoney. “Wal-Mart has a conservative corporate image, and we knew they wouldn’t be thrilled. But we’re hoping that the company will be pleased once they see how fun the pictures are and how empowered the women at Wal-Mart feel.”

So in the interest of helping Playboy, I’d like to offer other unlikely groups that might make for interesting, if somewhat controversial, photo spreads:

The women of the Bush administration.

The women of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The women of toll booths.

The women of the county fair.

The women of the public library system.

The women of the McDonald’s drive-through.