April 29, 2014 will go down in history as the day the mold was broken and the first ever plus sized model made the cover of Penthouse Forum.
Kelly Shibari, a big, beautiful woman, adult film actress, and sexual educator for gals of every size has the honor of being featured on Penthouse in all her rock and roll glory proving once and for all that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. The June issue hit the stands today everywhere Penthouse products are sold (Barns and Noble, 7-Eleven, etc). Yes, you read that correctly. The June issue is out at the end of April. Go figure!
And it’s about time adult magazines give readers more than just the expected cookie-cutter centerfolds! I mean, who wants to stick to just one flavor ad nauseum when there are so many tasty choices to choose from? Even the cover is a departure from the usual boudoir chic showing Shibari looking as if she’s about to blow the roof off an arena at her own concert.
“It’s not the picture I would’ve picked” laughs Shibari. “Penthouse - everyone is usually scantily clad – very much in lingerie, you know what I mean, bikinis and such, and the managing editor, Eric (Danville) was like ‘I want THAT photo to be on the cover’, and I was like, “Okay”. The photo is a reflection, according to Shibari, of Danville’s own rock and roll personality.
It’s theatrical, commanding, and in-your-face. It’s also intriguing and inviting which will seduce and lure the curious and please those who revel in the fuller figure. “It’s a striking cover, and I’m very, very happy with it.”
Kelly Shibari was not an unknown to Penthouse and Danville. She’s known some of the players for the past few years collaborating on projects and public relations. So when the decision by Penthouse was made to finally shake things up, Shibari was the first to come to mind.
“They’ve profiled non-adult performers in the past, BDSM performers like my friend January Seraph for their main magazine, but they’ve never really touched on a lot of Alt or non-mainstream performers, and…I don’t know if it’s because I’m a little bit different. I’m older. So my take on adult entertainment is kinda steeped in – to the point, I used to watch in the 90s and the late 80s. The kind of porn I watched was for entertainment, kind of just fantasy-based storylines so it wasn’t meant to be a replacement for sex education. A lot of kids these days watch a lot of porn because it’s more accessible, and then the boys think ‘that’s how I’m supposed to have sex with my girlfriend’ and the girls are like ‘What! That’s disgusting!’ And then a lot of the girls go ‘Oh, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing and then there’s nobody having a good time because they’re trying to do something that’s not meant to be real sex. But my entire attitude towards my own personal choices, what I want to do, my sexuality, and anti-bullying – all that kind of stuff – I think must be a little more developed because I’m older. If I were in my 20s, my reaction to all this - I’ve been in the business for seven years – I’m 41 – so if I’d been in my mid 20s or early 20s, and I got into this industry and you know some of the trolling that happens online, right? I think my reaction would have been a lot different – because I’m older, I’m able to almost be maternal? But I’m able to tell the guy (the online troll) ‘is that really how you wanna talk to me?’ instead of saying ‘I hate you, you a***hole!”
She speculates that when that conversation came up at Penthouse, it was knowing all this about her already that brought her to the forefront and made the decision easy for executives to say let’s feature her. She’s the one.
“I’m just really grateful for all the things I’ve been able to do.”
Shibari is articulate and thoughtful in her conversation and that is a key indicator of her level of confidence in herself as a person; something she cites as one of the most important assets women can possess, but so often don’t. “It’s part of the much larger mainstream media marketing. If the big networks and their TV shows, adult entertainment in general, if all they’re telling you when you’re first discovering your sexuality and erotic inspiration, whether it’s pornography or books – If all you being told and as you’re formulating your ideas that the most beautiful women in the world have to look this way then that’s all you buy because you don’t know anything else exists.” She makes the analogy of someone saying that chocolate is the only candy available. It’s all you’re ever told so you don’t know that there’s butterscotch, Jolly Ranchers, caramels, and more. Same goes with sexual inspiration. If you’re told it’s only one type of given beauty, then how would a person know that there are other body types – shapes, sizes, ethnicities, hair colors, heights, and more that are also beautiful?
Breaking the mold in media-created stereotypical sexual types opens the door for every woman to see that someone like herself is front and center being desired and in demand. It’s a confidence booster all women need to be comfortable with their own bodies.
Since, as Shibari notes, many young adults and teens are exposed to sexuality and pornography at often very early ages, it’s important that they understand, during those crucial formative years, that their bodies are beautiful and that there is nothing wrong with them.
“The fact that Penthouse has the balls to say ‘you know what? Let’s talk about other shapes and sizes, and ethnic backgrounds, BDSM, and all these other things, and is able to expose that to an audience that is curious and open is a really good step in the right direction.”
The cover, a fabulous black and white photo by Se7en, is just the appetizer as the interior “photo set by Eddie Powell from New Sensations’ Big Girls Are Sexy 4, the 7-page profile gives readers an inside look at Kelly’s background, personality, and appeal.”
The interview, titled “Suck it, Vogue!” is conducted by Sarah Deming, and as managing editor Eric Danville says “With this issue, Penthouse Forum breaks with a long-held tradition in the mainstream adult magazine field,” it states. “We’re not trying to be politically correct. We’re not doing this to ‘prove a point.’ And we’re sure as sh** not doing this to assert, as some second-generation, post-modern feminists do, that ‘this is what a real woman looks like.’ We’re shining the spotlight on Kelly Shibari to show that we love women of all shapes, sizes, and colors – just like our readers! So, welcome to the biggest, boldest, issue of Penthouse Forum yet. Enjoy!”
This issue is an historic marker in the way we visualize and appreciate all women. Go out and get a copy (you can purchase one directly from Kelly’s website and if you happen to run into her with your copy in hand, she’ll be happy to sign it for you, too!) (NSFW – Kelly Shibari Webpage)
Be sure to also drop the powers that be at Penthouse a little thank you note as well on Twitter at @PenthouseForum.
Special thank you to Kelly Shibari. Follow her on Twitter at @KellyShibari.