Press Box

The Times Travel Section Plays Hide the Salami

As Austin Powers would say, “Very shagadelic!’

In photographing nudists, the Times proves playfully shy

Sunday’s New York Times Travel section pays obvious homage to the Austin Powers movies with a photo spread of vacationing nudists cavorting in their absolute uncovered glory—without showing much in the way of private parts.

To refresh your memory of the Powers technique, watch this YouTube clip from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. As newlyweds Austin Powers (Mike Myers) and Vanessa Kensington (Elizabeth Hurley) romp around their hotel suite in the all together, strategically placed objects screen their private parts from the camera’s lens. Pineapples and melons are hoisted to Kensington’s chest level just in time to mask her breasts. The camera carefully frames Powers and Kensington so that as she huffs and puffs to inflate a pink phallic balloon, it does double-entendre duty as Powers’ johnson. You get the idea.

Eschewing fruit and balloons, Times photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas relies on well-placed appendages in the section cover picture. You might want to pull your Times out of the recycling bin for examination as the Web reproduction doesn’t really do the composition justice. The guy on the left reclining under the awning conveniently places his left foot just so to conceal the wedding vegetables.

Elsewhere in the shot, an amply racked water volleyball player lifts her arm to block her left nipple  from inspection. A woman on the pool deck hides her chest behind an umbrella pole. A swoosh of water fills the buttocks crack of the leaping volleyball player. In what may be the photo spread’s only slip, a female breast—nipple and all—can be seen in the extreme left of the shot. At least, I think I can see her nipple when I strain my eyes.

After the jump, we’re treated to a shadow of a tennis player’s nut sack, and, in a Web-only extra, bent legs censor the mossy naughty bits of a sunbathing guy and gal. Her love bags? Veiled from the elements and my pervy eyes by her cowboy hat. And so on.

The Times’ photo-illustration leaves me with one question about the paper’s standards. After going to such extremes to protect readers from the overtly lewd and prurient, why did the paper’s editors include this image of a crouching billiards player lining up a shot as two lusciously nippled maidens in Modigliani knockoffs stare down from canvases behind him? Paging Clark Hoyt!


For more hide-the-salami action, see the credit sequence from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Disclosure: Slate Deputy Editor David Plotz put me up to this column—I have far higher journalistic standards. Send me your journalistic standards via e-mail: (E-mail may be quoted by name in “The Fray,” Slate’s readers’ forum, in a future article, or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)

Track my errors: This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a “Press Box” correction. For e-mail notification of errors in this specific column, type the word pervy in the subject head of an e-mail message and send it to