The public figures below have certainly gotten their 15 minutes of fame, so you’ve probably seen them in the news. What may surprise you about the people on this list, who generally caught the public’s attention for other reasons—involvement in a scandal, a shocking medical miracle, membership in the First Family, or even an appearance on a talk show—is that they have all also been paid to strip down for risqué photos or films (voluntarily—this list doesn’t include anyone whose image was captured without consent or which was exposed to the public gaze without permission). Below are 10 folks you might not expect to see in risqué photos, or even adult films…
10. The Women of Enron
When you hear “Enron,” you probably think of the shady accounting practices and corporate deception that led to what was the largest corporate bankruptcy in US history. And when you think of Enron employees, you might envision the duplicitous execs who ran the company, which once had a market value of over $60 billion, into the ground with their criminal schemes. Alternately, you might think of the thousands of lower-level staff members who weren’t aware of the crooked dealings in the C-suite, but lost their jobs and pension plans when the fraud was exposed and the company’s stock became worthless.
But what might not be top of mind is another view of the employees of the ill-fated energy company—the “Women of Enron,” a feature in the August 2002 issue of Playboy that featured ten women who worked at Enron when it went belly-up. While featuring ex-employees of a failed company baring it all seems like an odd idea, apparently Enron employees leapt at the chance, with more than 300 vying to pose. One employee who made the cut, Carey Lorenzo, expressed her desire to maximize the opportunity, saying, “I’m going to ride this 15 minutes of fame and try to make it a million hours.” Unfortunately for her, her flash of glory was definitely on the fleeting side.
9. Melania Trump
Melania Trump certainly looked every inch a First Lady on the day her husband Donald was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Wearing a Ralph Lauren ice blue dress and jacket combo, with matching gloves, and sporting a classic updo, Melania Trump chose a look that wouldn’t have been out of place in Jackie Kennedy’s closet.
However, while her sartorial choices since her husband has become President have been elegant and understated, during her modeling career, Melania’s wardrobe was often more risqué, including a couple of shoots where she wore nothing at all. In one 2000 shoot for British GQ, Melania (who was just dating Donald at the time and using her maiden name, Knauss), posed on a fur blanket wearing nothing but diamonds, heels, and handcuffs. In an earlier photo spread for a French men’s magazine, the future Mrs. Trump shed everything but the heels. Defending his wife after the photos resurfaced in 2016, Donald noted, “Melania was one of the most successful models… This was a picture taken for a European magazine prior to my knowing Melania. In Europe, pictures like this are very fashionable and common.”
8. Levi Johnston (Bristol Palin’s ex)
Levi Johnston is best known as the baby daddy of former fiancé Bristol Palin’s first child. Levi got his first taste of the spotlight when his girlfriend’s mom, Sarah Palin, ran for Vice President. When Bristol’s teen pregnancy, and their purported engagement, became public, Levi suddenly got more attention that a small-town teen from Alaska could have previously imagined.
However, while Levi’s relationship with Bristol was short-lived (the two split in 2009, shortly after the birth of their son), Levi sought to extend his time in the limelight (and to improve his financial position), by dropping his Carhartts to pose for Playgirl. Explaining his decision to disrobe for the magazine, Levi noted, “I just get naked. That’s what I do.” The 2010 photo shoot, in which Levi didn’t quite bare it all, did include some shots of Levi posing with a hockey stick. The bemused Levi subsequently said that the gay fan base he developed post-Playgirl was “great”, though he noted the contrast to growing up Wasilla, where he “had never even seen a gay guy, I don’t think.” While there were rumors that Levi would pose again for the magazine, this time in a more… ‘comprehensive’… way, this surprising Playgirl model has yet to disrobe for Round 2.
7. Tonya Harding
What do you do when you’re a former Olympian who’s banned from your sport for life after pleading guilty to hindering the investigation of an attack on your greatest rival? If you’re Tonya Harding, you sell rights to a video (and stills from it) of your honeymoon night with your ex-husband to Penthouse magazine for $200,000, plus royalties. The sale occurred just before Tonya’s ex, Jeff Gillooly, went to prison after pleading guilty to racketeering for his role in planning the attack on rival figure skater, Nancy Kerrigan, which took place just before the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer. While Tonya was allowed to skate in the Olympics, as it was not proven that she was involved in the attack, she placed 8th, while Kerrigan, who had largely recovered from the blow to her knee, took the silver.
After the sale of the tape, Tonya found other ways to profit from her infamy, enjoying an unspectacular boxing career, where her most notable match was against Clinton accuser Paula Jones. She also would appear on the screen again—this time, clothed—as a commentator on TruTV’s The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest…
6. John Wayne Bobbitt
John Wayne Bobbitt first came to the public attention for “the chop heard round the world,” when his wife, Lorena, cut off his penis while he was in bed, drove off, and hurled it into a field. Lorena, who alleged her husband had repeatedly abused her, was eventually found not guilt of malicious wounding by reason of insanity.
Luckily for John, his penis was found and reattached in a methodical 10-hour surgery. Almost a year later, John shared the success of the surgery in an adult film, John Wayne Bobbitt Uncut. John, who described his reattachment surgery as “part of history,” said he took the film role to “basically show everybody I’m healed and fully functional.” John, who went on to star in additional adult films, including Frankenpenis, claims, “My movies were the bestselling adult videos in history.” While John’s attack served as a catalyst for his adult film career, most men would agree that he paid a fairly steep price for his time in the spotlight.
5. Patti Davis (Ronald Reagan’s daughter)
Melania Trump isn’t the only member of the First Family to have bared it all. Another Presidential family member has also posed in the buff, though Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, did so well after her dad had left the White House. Davis, who took her mother’s maiden name to be able to make her own way without the associations of the Reagan name, didn’t always agree with her parents, often publically championing liberal causes. She also wrote a quasi-autobiographical novel, and then a tell-all autobiography that detailed her battles with her famous family.
“I knew, given my reputation as the rebellious First Daughter (even though my father was out of office by then), that I’d get criticized for doing Playboy, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t doing this to spite my parents; I was going it for me…Despite all the criticism I got, which was plenty, I’m still proud of that shoot.”
Davis, who sees her physique as a testament to the role of fitness and her success in overcoming addiction, disrobed to pose again, this time for More magazine in 2011, at the age of 58.
4. Senator Scott Brown
Scott Brown surprised the political establishment when in 2010, as a Republican Massachusetts state senator, he upset the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney general widely viewed as a heavy favorite, to win the Senate seat that was left empty by the death of Ted Kennedy. While Brown didn’t win reelection, his electoral success in 2010 wasn’t the only surprise that emerged as the result of his campaign.
Before he began his political career, Scott Brown had been dubbed “America’s Sexiest Man” by Cosmopolitan magazine, stripping down to pose for the centerfold of the June 1982 issue. Brown went on to model for other ads during law school, but nothing as racy as his Cosmo shoot. After his election, the Senator defended his birthday suit centerfold, saying, “You don’t see anything. It’s Cosmo, not Playgirl.” In an interview with Barbara Walters, Senator Brown advanced possibly the oddest argument a public figure has ever made when confronted with risqué photos from their youth: “My grandmother saw it. She laughed.”
3. Paula Jones
Paula Jones rose to national attention when she accused President Clinton (then Governor of Arkansas) of sexually harassing her when she worked as a Arkansas state clerk. After a long court battle, President Clinton finally paid Jones $850,000 to drop her case, though the fallout from the lawsuit eventually led to Clinton’s impeachment by the House. In the wake of her accusations, Jones was vilified by Clinton allies, who sought to portray her as a trashy opportunist. James Carville, a Clinton advisor, once said of harassment allegations against Bill Clinton, “Drag a hundred dollars through a trailer park and there’s no telling what you’ll find.”
But Paula quickly irritated her allies on the right as well, when she decided to bare in all in Penthouse magazine spread, after previously saying she would, “never… never” pose for a men’s magazine (when photos previously taken by a partner were released without her consent). Abrasive conservative commentator Ann Coulter led the chorus of those who denounced Jones’ decision to pose: “I totally believed she was the good Christian girl she made herself out to be. It turns out she’s a fraud, at least to the extent of pretending to be an honorable and moral person. Now, she’s just as gross as Monica.” Jones defended her abrupt shift, saying, “I meant [I would never pose] at the time, but I changed my mind… I’m a single mother now and need to support my two little boys.” Gracing the pages of Penthouse isn’t the only commonality Paula Jones shares with scandal-ridden Tonya Harding; as we mentioned previously, the two would later face off in the boxing ring.
2. Searcy Hayes (girl who looks like Ted Cruz)
US Senator Ted Cruz has a face only a mother could love (and even she doesn’t seem so charmed by him). Various media outlets have pointed out that he looks exactly like Grandpa Munster and is a “noted lizard person.” His college roommate said of Cruz, “When I met Ted in 1988, I had no word to describe him, but only because I didn’t speak German. Thank you Germans, for ‘Backpfiefengesicht‘.” In case you’re curious, that means “a face in need of a slap.” One neurologist even took to Psychology Today to explore why, exactly, Cruz’s facial expressions made him feel “uneasy.”
But while Ted Cruz may not have a face “that launched a thousand ships,” his face did launch one adult film career: that of 21-year-old Searcy Hayes from Natchez, Mississippi. Hayes originally appeared on Maury to prove to her fiancé that he was the father of her son. But she quickly went viral for a different reason—her startling resemblance to Ted Cruz. One adult film site offered Searcy and her fiancé $10,000 for a 6-minute amateur adult film, an offer they quickly snapped up, hoping to buy a truck and pay off their house. So the next time Senator Cruz mentions creating jobs, rest assured that there are at least two (temporary) jobs in film that are directly attributable to him.
1. Nadya Suleman (AKA “Octomom”)
Nadya Suleman surprised everyone (including her doctors, who were only expecting seven babies) when she gave birth to the world’s first set of living octuplets in January 2009. But that was just the beginning of the surprises Suleman, dubbed “Octomom” by the media, had in store. Questions quickly emerged about the ethics of the procedures that led to Suleman’s octuplet pregnancy when it was revealed that Suleman, a single mother who lived with her parents, already had six children when she had the IVF procedure that produced octuplets.
Observers also wondered how Nadya (who now goes by Natalie) would support 14 children and cover a hospital bill that was estimated at $1.5 to $3 million, when her main income in the preceding years had been disability payments. But Nadya, who claimed she, “just pinged back into shape like a rubber band after the kids,” had a plan up her sleeve (or rather,down her shirt) posing topless for a British magazine for $10,000. Despite this payday, the critics’ fears about Suleman’s financial stability proved correct, and Octomom filed for personal bankruptcy in 2012. Later that year, Suleman, who had previously claimed she would never consider appearing in pornography, starred in a solo adult film entitled “Octomom Home Alone,” which was nominated for four Adult Video Network awards, winning in the “Best Celebrity Sex Tape” category. Suleman also worked as a stripper, but quit after discovering her daughter playing dress-up with her performance attire. Since 2013, Suleman has made her living with her clothes on–as a family counselor and therapist, relying on food stamps to help her cover the expenses of feeding her giant brood.