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RIO DE JANEIRO -- The last time Playboy had to pull its front cover in Brazil it was at the orders of the military dictatorship. Thirty years later, the magazine has once again been forced to change its lead photo, this time by the country's nurses.

The offending cover printed by Sao Paulo-based Editora Abril features well-known local model Ariane Latuf dressed up as a nurse, reportedly wearing a surgical mask and a pink nurse's cap. What really incensed Brazil's Regional Nursing Council (RNC) is that Ms. Latuf has been widely seen gallivanting in high-profile parties in Rio singing the hit tune "A Little Spanking Doesn't Hurt," earning herself the nickname "the nurse of funk." It's hardly the sort of impression the RNC wants to portray for its profession.

The upshot was that the furious nursing body went to the Federal Court of Rio de Janeiro's Third Region and won its case. Athough special first editions of the magazine have already apeared in the city's newsstands, any further editions have been instructed to feature no allusions to the nursing profession. If Ms. Latut must apear in the front cover, she must do so without sporting a nurse's outfit.

Predictably, the publisher has cried foul. "It's the first time in our history that we suffer a censorship in a democratic society," said Cynthia de Almeida, director of Playboy.

With all the ensuing media coverage, there's no doubt that the latest copies of Playboy, with or without a nurse, will be in high demand. --Claudia Penteado

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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