It's pretty easy to tell what the editors, at least, were thinking. Consider the Los Angeles Confidential cover picturing the starlet sitting on the edge of a bed, next to the cover line "Lindsay Lohan turns 21!" Or the cover of an old Rolling Stone featuring Ms. Lohan, labeled "hot, ready and legal!"
Maxim once showed her in a white dress, promising "stunning photos that will bring you to your knees!" She, herself, appears already on her knees.
GQ has returned to the well a few times. One reassuring cover promised that "Lindsay Lohan isn't teasing"; another put her front and center on its second-annual "Love Sex Madness Issue." A British GQ cover headlined her as a "girl gone wild!"
Entertainment Weekly wasn't so one-dimensional. Its 2004 Lohan cover allowed that she was "surviving stardom" and opening up "on fame, family and those nasty rumors." She appeared, nonetheless, apparently naked except for pantyhose.
For all that, no magazine had run any Real! Live! Nude! Lohan shots until New York magazine's Spring Fashion Issue came out last week. The response was water-cooler bedlam.
For its spring-fashion issue, New York fronted a nude Ms. Lohan re-creating Marilyn Monroe's "last (nude) photo shoot," both shot by Bert Stein. The photos on Nymag.com drew record traffic, averaging more than 20 million page views on Monday and Tuesday, the magazine said. The New York Observer reported a server crash. The website of Radar magazine (where Ms. Lohan is the lone celeb to have actually posed for a cover) wondered whether going nude -- "a monumental move in her career" -- was wise.
Well, wonder no further about that last point. Dina Lohan, Lindsay's mom and manager, told People magazine the shoot was very tastefully done. "I looked at it as art, and as Lindsay doing a character," she said, according to People. "So I don't look at them like it's Playboy. She was being a character. So if you look at it that way, you can look at it as a mother."
Uh-huh, motherly -- we're sure that's exactly the sort of reaction New York et al. were going for.