When longtime nightlife promoter Daniel Nardicio—known in New York for his rotating gay underwear parties—joined Playgirl full time as marketing director, he knew the brand needed a boost. He’d already been working with the company, doing events, and driving his Playgirl-branded van, covered in pictures of men in their skivvies, all over the country (it’s parked in Williamsburg when it’s off duty.) He always kept an eye out for models: “I had a kid once who came up to me when I had a flat tire, and he got naked in the back of the van,” Nardicio says. “That was fun.” He knew that since the magazine decided to go quarterly, depending more on its website, it could use some buzz to keep it on the map. But Levi Johnston, who was already going around boasting that he would pose nude for a price, was slightly harder to reel in than the flat-tire boy. Nardicio made the call to Tank Jones, Johnston’s right-hand man, who proposed the Playgirl shoot to him while the two were being filmed by VanityFair.com in a town car. Johnston sounded incredulous at first (“Is that a serious question?”) but seemed to take it up as a dare. Jones teased him about whether he was endowed enough for the gig (“You gotta have some johnson”) since he was pretty sure they wouldn’t enhance him.
Nardicio says that he has been assured by Johnston’s camp that he will indeed pose full-frontally nude. “I really thought we were just going to get ass, which I was okay with, because it’s really kind of a political statement,” he says. “I sort of look at him out of this circus as the only ethical one.”
The shoot is scheduled for November 13; Nardicio has four scenarios planned, ranging from the hockey-inspired to something “more elegant,” possibly at the Hotel on Rivington. “My experience in this business has been that 19-year-olds have a tendency to be very show-offy,” says Nardicio, who expects it to go well. “We’re going to make the environment kind of comfortable and sexy.”