Playboy.com Pictorial Raises Ire Among Anti-Porn Activists

Playboy.com Pictorial Raises Ire Among Anti-Porn Activists
Gretchen Gallen
HUNTINGTON, N.Y. – Playboy.com's nude pictorials of women from mainstream companies like Starbucks, Enron, Wal-Mart and Home Depot have finally caught the ire of a group of anti-porn activists who think that associating corporate identities with porn is in poor taste.

A group of angry activists gathered in the parking lot of a Huntington, N.Y.-based Home Depot on Wednesday to protest a recent Playboy.com pictorial titled "The Women of Home Depot," which featured nude photos of the chain stores' employees from across the country.

The nude pictorial made its debut on a special website Playboy.com launched in July to cater to Internet surfers interested in catching a glimpse of their favorite sales clerks from the popular improvement center. The photo spread was featured in Playboy.com's pay section for $19.95 per month with a submissions gallery for a bonus pictorial.

Yesterday's protest was staged by the Long Island Citizens for Community Values, a nonprofit organization that carries the slogan: "Working to reduce the harmful effects of pornography."

LICCV is asking the home improvement chain to denounce its participation in the Playboy.com pictorial. The group is also asking Home Depot to issue a formal apology to its customers or face a public boycott.

LICCV has been in existence for more than nine years fighting to reduce sexual violence against children, women and families, with a specialty in mobilizing and assisting citizens in becoming proactive in their community against the "influence" of porn.

"We are asking Home Depot to get out of the porn business," Robert Lloyd, executive director of the advocacy group, told Newsday. Lloyd and other activists are claiming that Home Depot has tarnished its image through an affiliation with the porn industry

However, corporate representatives for Home Depot have maintained all along that it had no involvement with the Playboy.com project, and Playboy.com has also come forward and said that Home Depot was never involved in the pictorial spread.

A spokesperson for Home Depot said employees who posed for the nude spread did so on their own free time.

"We couldn't stop it. ... Obviously they [the employees] didn't do it on store time," Home Depot said in a statement.

A Playboy.com representative said that more than 400 women from the home improvement chain responded to a casting call in May soliciting "Hardware Hotties." Only six models were chosen for the nude spread in exchange for an undisclosed amount of money and a "lifetime opportunity." The online spread launched on July 6.

Playboy.com ran similar corporate spreads in 2002 and 2003 featuring nude photos of female Enron and Starbucks employees, and last year Playboy targeted Wal-Mart for a similar spread. In each instance, particularly with Wal-Mart, the corporate names behind the spread took hits from anti-porn groups, and Wal-Mart's ultra-conservative management denounced any involvement by its employees as being in "poor taste."