Robin Leach's Vegas DeLuxe
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For the next few hours, the sexy swimwear models of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition are on pins and needles waiting to find out which one of the 17 of them has been selected as this year’s cover girl. Late-night TV host David Letterman will reveal the winner on his CBS show tonight, and we’ll tweet (@Robin_Leach) the name after its announced.
Ten of the issue’s 17 models will appear to read tonight’s Top 10 list on David’s show before he names the -- top secret ’til then -- identity of the lucky lady. Meantime, call it the ultimate catfight, as the claws come out in a no-holds-barred contest for the coveted cover spot. Every model on Earth wants this particular spotlight because she becomes a brand name star.
“This is the most exciting and surprising group of models we’ve had in the last several years,” said Diane Smith, the magazine issue’s editor.
Will aspiring actress Brooklyn Decker, who is married to tennis player Andy Roddick, repeat as cover girl? Will it be sassy South African Genevieve Morton or Anne V, who is Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine’s girlfriend (they met here last year at Vanity at the Hard Rock Hotel)? She was a Lady Gaga pallbearer at the Grammys last night! Or will it be soccer stud Cristiano Ronaldo’s Russian darling Irina Shayk?
Whoever wins will be celebrating tomorrow as the Swimsuit Edition goes on sale, and then Wednesday all of them arrive here in Las Vegas for a 48-hour nonstop party whirl with Diane and Time Inc. Sports Group President Mark Ford. Diane, who makes the cover girl choice, told me it’s a year-round process, and even when she’s here on The Strip this week, she’ll be plotting the first stages of next year’s issue.
Mark said: “It’s a 365-day-a-year ongoing process, and we start shooting again in April! Some 66 million people will see all of this excitement, and we will sell some 4 million copies at $6.99 each. It is a big business, and although it is only one specific edition a year, it’s the most important.”
The Swimsuit Edition reportedly accounts for more than 60 percent of the sales and ad revenue for the year. I asked him to explain its phenomenal appeal. “We have a very unique lens that makes us different from anything anybody might say is similar. We have the right balance of being tasteful and presenting very sexy, smart, beautiful women. It’s very tastefully done, and we’re proud to say our issue isn’t covered up or hidden from view anywhere in America.”
Mark told me that his six swimsuit issue photographers take a mind-boggling 155,000 photos and admits that one or two may have dropped on the floor accidentally that could have been a cover contender. He said that the final say for the cover girl selection belongs to the Swimsuit Edition editor, Diane. “But we’ll go through some 20 mockup covers and have focus groups voting before that final decision is made. After all, 4 million sales depend on that choice.”
After Wednesday’s official welcome by our Merry Mayor of Mirth Oscar Goodman, the ladies celebrate with their first luncheon at STK at The Cosmopolitan. Mid-afternoon, they watch the Jabbawockeez at Diablo’s Cantina at the Monte Carlo, capped by a big 9 p.m. party at LAX at the Luxor.
Thursday starts at 10 a.m. with the temporary renaming of The Strip as Swimsuit Boulevard, with Oscar officiating the new signs outside the Monte Carlo. At noon, the swimsuit models appear at Fashion Show mall and then split up for a meet-and-greet and autograph session at the Hard Rock Hotel’s retail store and Rao’s at Caesars Palace with Imperial Palace headliners Human Nature.
Hometown hero Ne-Yo performs at the first of two nighttime parties, as the girls go on parade at Vanity. Then Pure at Caesars Palace, recently named the Mega Nightclub of the Year, hosts a midnight farewell before they jet Friday morning.
This week’s visit is the second in a 3-year deal between Las Vegas and S.I. Rossi Ralenkotter, head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said: “It’s a great partnership. Where else than in Las Vegas could possibly be better to celebrate beautiful women? Vegas and the Sports Illustrated special edition are a heaven-made match. We’re glad they will be here for many years to come.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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