The Who2 Blog

The Weekend of the Naked Kennedys

This week’s flap over the John F. Kennedy naked-women-on-a-yacht photo — the one that turned out to be a big fake — came at an odd time for our family.

36 hours earlier we had been confronted with a naked photo of Jackie Kennedy at a hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The hotel, 21c, is a groovy boutique with modern art galleries in its lobby and basement. Tucked back in one corner was a grainy black-and-white nude shot of the former First Lady (renamed Jackie Onassis by then) against a white background.

I had no idea such a photo existed (or that it was art), but a quick trip around the internet told the story: a paparazzo nabbed the shot 1972 on Skorpios in Greece, it was published in Hustler in 1975, and just recently the photographer gave a little tell-all chat about how he got the shot.

At 21c the artist had pasted a dagger in the middle of the photo, then added a nonsensical side statement declaring that the photo was no longer a nudie shot but now a meditation on iconography, intrusion, the modern world, etc, etc. It still looked a lot like a nude photo of Jackie Kennedy to me. Turning a corner in a lobby museum, after cocktails but before dinner, and seeing a shot of a naked, pale, and rather skinny Jackie Onassis, and then finding out it really is an actual naked photo of Jackie Onassis, is enough strangeness for any weekend.

(I’m a bit too modest and judgmental to link to the photo here, with or without the artistic dagger. The shot is surprisingly scarce online anyway, though I found it by searching Google Images for “Jackie Kennedy nude.”)

Our hometown of Cincinnati is also the site of the first Hustler store, and of Larry Flynt’s infamous obscenity trial back in 1976. And just this month his brother sued Flynt in some kind of complicated fraternity-of-adult-bookstores wrangle. Between that, the museum, and today’s JFK photo, the whole holiday season was starting to seem like a psychedelic whirlwind of naked Kennedys and yachts, with the unwelcome visage of Larry Flynt looming in the background.

Thank heavens the JFK photo turned out to be a phony.

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