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When the Chicks posed nude for Amusement Weekly in 2003

It was March 2003, and the Dixie Chicks (now recognized as the Chicks) experienced kicked off their new tour. During the opening night time in London, on the eve of the Iraq War, guide singer Natalie Maines criticized George W. Bush and changed her and her bandmates’ lives: “We’re on the excellent aspect with y’all,” she told the audience. “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” Instantly, the region music trio — America’s top rated-selling woman group of all time — was engulfed in controversy as enraged lovers and other people termed for a boycott, country radio stations pulled their songs and album profits begun to drop.

A month afterwards, the members of the Chicks (Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire) responded in an in-depth interview with Enjoyment Weekly — and, in a move deemed in particular surprising, posed nude for the deal with, their bodies painted in phrases that folks were contacting them: “Dixie Sluts.” “Proud People.” “Traitors.” “Fearless.” The graphic was so putting that it went viral ahead of going viral existed.

The cover established the group’s defiant tone going ahead they had been not likely to back again down or apologize for currently being women who experienced viewpoints. It improved the program of their occupation — paving a path for their 2006 Grammy-sweeping album, “Taking the Extensive Way” — and affected numerous other nation acts. To some, particularly these previously impressed by their songs, they were heroes. To some others, they were being a cautionary tale, and considered, to this day, to be the purpose many Nashville singers refuse to say a term about politics. It is also why most nation stations nonetheless will not play the Chicks.

But even as Enjoyment Weekly fades away (a lot to the disappointment of showbiz fans who grew up on the journal), the Chicks cover will by no means be overlooked. Here’s the tale of how it happened.

John McAlley, who was the tunes editor for EW, routinely had to thrust for the journal to prioritize new music protection, given that the publication was weighty on Tv set and flicks. But he knew the Chicks controversy was going to be a significant story, and it essential to be entrance and center. So he was decided to land the job interview — his major worry was that he was going to be scooped by Time journal, which experienced a inclination to “bigfoot” EW for stories, even however they had the similar operator.

“The news weeklies at the time were being definitely strong and seriously high profile,” he reported. “There was so a lot prestige and visibility connected to becoming on the protect of a news weekly, that on much more than 1 occasion, we misplaced a struggle for a tale because Time was promising the protect. But Time never ever gave the go over — it would always stop up getting an inside of story.”

Meanwhile, Cindi Berger, the Chicks’ publicist, could tell this backlash was not likely away. She and the band’s crew established the trio wanted to do a few interviews: a syndicated radio clearly show, a broadcast Tv interview and the address of a well known journal. So she booked them on region personality Bob Kingsley’s radio display, an ABC unique with Diane Sawyer, and then termed … Rolling Stone.

Berger wanted the cover to run at a particular time in Might to coincide with the Sawyer exclusive, as effectively as the get started of the Chicks’ U.S. tour dates, but Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner declined, she explained. Her following phone simply call was to McAlley, who was keen to make it take place, and they commenced negotiations.

Berger preferred to make certain they were being assured the protect and that the editors and artwork directors would collaborate with the band on the photography notion.

“It was lots of, lots of days of back and forth, good uncertainty no matter whether we would land the cover or not,” McAlley claimed. He vividly remembers getting the go-in advance simply call: “I was in the residing area of my parents’ household in suburban New York when my flip cellphone rang on a Saturday morning. It was Cindi Berger. She stated, ‘We want to do this.’ ”

Brainstorming started, and the EW staff felt pressured to occur up with the fantastic plan.

“We all felt like, ‘Wow, we acquired the scoop — now we want an image that is going to be equal to the actuality that we bought the exclusive on it,’ ” said Geraldine Hessler, EW’s resourceful director.

Thoughts started to movement among the crew and the band: Due to the fact persons had been screaming that the Chicks have been unpatriotic, the original concept was to wrap Maines, Maguire and Strayer in an American flag. But then the editors were being anxious it would search like they were denigrating the flag. Somebody else recommended the singers wear American flag earrings or kerchiefs. Fiona McDonagh Farrell, the photo editor, remembers remaining on the meeting connect with wherever Maines reported one thing together the strains of, “We need to all be naked and branded with the matters they’ve been saying about us.”

“The publicist, the natural way, was like, ‘We are not carrying out that!’ ” Farrell stated. “I waited a number of minutes and then reported, ‘Let’s go back to the strategy Natalie talked about, due to the fact it could be a genuinely, actually interesting principle.’ ” Farrell preferred the plan of juxtaposing some of the awful items they had been called (“Saddam’s Angels,” for illustration) with some of the favourable reactions (“brave” and “heroes”). In close proximity to the end of the get in touch with, they made the decision the Chicks would wrap themselves in bumper stickers with all the phrases.

Without a doubt, Berger was mildly horrified by the plan of a nude go over. But the band often had quite specific innovative concepts. “The cover required to be important and wanted to make a statement,” Berger said. “When the ladies arrived up with this, I explained, ‘Well, which is a assertion.’ ”

The picture shoot was booked in April, and it was a scramble — Hessler recollects they experienced five times, at most, to prepare for the shoot, which took put in a distant plane hangar in Austin. However Maines, Strayer and Maguire managed a feeling of tranquil and very good humor, it was an extreme ambiance: Demise threats had been continue to rolling in towards the band, and safety was almost everywhere.

At that stage, they agreed on the bumper sticker plan, and the artwork office made them. Nonetheless Farrell started out to be concerned that the stickers wouldn’t arrive in Austin on time — and much more importantly, even if they did, that they would search dreadful. She conferred with the photographer, James White, who agreed stickers could possibly not be the very best seem. They made a decision to use a human body makeup artist who could paint the phrases on the Chicks, just in scenario.

Guaranteed adequate, the stickers in no way showed up. “I believed, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have to get to set and have to explain to Cindi we do not have stickers — but we do have this other man or woman,’ ” Farrell reported. “Fortunately, all the stars aligned. And when Cindi was justifiably terribly anxious about this thought, the three girls at the heart of the story were brave ample to say, ‘Yes, let us do it. Let us go for it.’ ”

“Terribly nervous” may well have been an understatement for Berger, who was generating panicked calls to the EW editors again in New York. Her biggest panic was that the include was going to be considered as well express and wrapped in brown paper on newsstands, which would defeat the entire goal. “I bear in mind expressing, ‘I never believe this is likely to do the job,’ ” she mentioned. “And James White explained, ‘I’m going to put them beautifully.’ And he did.”

White recalled the shoot total was a “very good day” inspite of the tense situations and admired the trio’s bond in tough occasions. “They were extremely supportive of each and every other,” he reported. “They caught together, and I liked looking at that.”

In 2013, on the 10th anniversary of the deal with, Strayer told EW that “it undoubtedly was the most daring thing” the band had at any time carried out: “I felt like we knew the gravity of that shoot even though it was taking place.”

McAlley assigned the story to Chris Willman, a respected country-tunes writer who experienced by now been attempting to get a function story going on the Chicks and their latest album, “Home.” At EW, he stated, it was “always a significant fight” to get state new music in the New York-primarily based journal. Abruptly, the tables experienced turned.

Willman wasn’t authorized at the image shoot, so he fulfilled the band later at a sushi restaurant for the job interview. He mentioned it was really hard to grasp the enormity of the controversy at the time, and believed it’s possible almost everything would blow in excess of in a number of months. But once he saw the deal with illustrations or photos, he recognized that for the band, there was no heading back again.

“We all understood what a defiant statement it was,” Willman claimed. “The cover was expressing them as becoming vulnerable and obtaining been victims in some sense in all of this, but it was also the major center finger you can set up to the world.”

In New York, Farrell started out editing the pics, and it was a “no-brainer” about what was likely to be the include. Hessler claimed that normally, EW place a large amount of text and additional imagery on covers, supplied the significance of newsstand income. This was distinctive.

“You didn’t have to have a lot of words and phrases on the protect since the picture was so sturdy,” she said. “We have been just overjoyed by it — it was that thrill when you have a inventive eyesight and then it wholly arrives jointly, and not only as executed, but in a way that is so a lot greater than you at any time believed it could be.”

Even with Berger’s issues, the journal was not wrapped in brown paper some vendors, such as Walmart, wouldn’t display addresses with nudity. But as Hessler reported, the magazine “wasn’t about to compromise its editorial mission” primarily based on that possibility.

EW does not let include approval from topics, so when Berger finally observed the magazine, she felt a large wave of aid and was blown absent by the picture. She instantly faxed it to the band. “It was a strong, powerful minute,” Berger reported. (She mentioned she acquired a contact from Wenner at Rolling Stone, who explained, “Well, that’s the protect of the 12 months.”)

Over at EW, the editors had been confused by the response — it was on each individual news show and reprinted on the entrance of the New York Article. The magazine received hundreds of letters from viewers. “It just straight away kind of exploded in the tradition,” McAlley mentioned. In a uncommon incidence, he obtained a bottle of Dom Pérignon from Berger, who expressed gratitude that the story taken care of the Chicks with regard and let them speak their piece. “Thank you. You are a male of your phrase,” read the observe.

All of the EW staffers interviewed say it was a vocation highlight, even as Willman joked that his prolonged Q&A with the band accounted for a mere 1 % of the reaction. In 2005, the American Modern society of Journal Editors named it one of the leading 40 addresses of the very last 40 decades. “It was 1 of the those moments where by we took a risk, and the Dixie Chicks, they took a enormous chance,” Farrell stated. “Sometimes a include can be the least intriguing impression, but often, it can be a genuine statement.”

The staffers also spoke with a trace of wistfulness — magazine covers really do not make fairly the same splash these times. “This was an act of defiance and power and it was just a super-daring include,” McAlley stated. “And a person of Enjoyment Weekly’s biggest times, for sure.”