Buchanan magazine editor to publish story on inner-city DetroitPublished 9:00am Thursday, April 15, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
When Carla Johnson says she likes “to rock the boat,” she’s not kidding.
The Buchanan resident works as the editor of the international publication NUDE Magazine.
Her most recent story to be published in the spring edition of the quarterly fine art magazine is an expose on the city of Detroit to be accompanied by artistic photos of nude women in abandoned buildings in the inner city.
“To put a nude in the abandoned ruins of a once great city makes a political statement,” Johnson said. “I think those pictures are going to be immensely powerful and probably controversial.”
She interviewed a Detroit metro news reporter who covers the inner city and the story will look at the current state of the inner city.
“It’s going to pretty much be a look at your bailout money at work,” Johnson said.
Johnson, a Buchanan High School grad, spent five years living in Detroit and was surprised at how far the city has fallen.
“When I went back to visit a couple years ago, it was an incredible shock to see what happened to it,” she said.
Going NUDE in Buchanan
Johnson didn’t waste any time in writing an edgy piece. She was just hired in November as the managing editor of NUDE, which is based in California and published by Carrie Leigh – possibly best known as “First Lady of the Playboy Mansion” for Hugh Hefner in the 1980s.
When she was contacted by Leigh, Johnson was working as a writer for a French fine art online magazine, Univers d’artistes.
“Carrie and her husband Gary read my writing (on the Web site) and were impressed and contacted me, miraculously enough,” she said. “I was writing for France in Buchanan and someone in Hollywood sees me. It was really cool.”
Johnson, who has a doctorate in English and taught classes for 20 years at St. Mary’s College, works out of her home office in Buchanan and is in constant communication with Leigh via e-mail and telephone.
Her main responsibilities are writing and editing stories and generating story ideas. Even though she lives in a tiny city in Michigan, Johnson said she has very little trouble coming up with internationally relevant stories.
“I was writing for a year for the French publication. In that time, I became acquainted with about 400 international artists, so I’ve been operating internationally with fine art for some time,” she said.
When Johnson tells people she works for NUDE magazine, some people get the wrong idea, she says.
“Unfortunately the prevailing attitude in contemporary society is that a nude is sexual,” she said. “It’s too often identified with pornography, but there’s a huge difference between what you see in NUDE and what you would see in Playboy or the horrible online porn.”
Johnson says the photos actually empower women by showing their strength and beauty. An art history class she took as an undergrad helped her realize the importance of nudes in art and society.
Johnson compares the magazine to an art gallery, as it features world-renown photographers and painters. In fact, the publication was modeled after the fine art quarterlies of Paris in the 1930s.
People’s negative perceptions of the magazine don’t deter Johnson. They may actually encourage her.
“I’ve always been a maverick,” she said. “I’m always trying to rock the boat and shake up the status quo. NUDE really flies in the face of establishment, because it’s publishing photographs and paintings of nude women at a time when that is very misunderstood and unappreciated.”