Sometimes it’s cool to be running a magazine. For about 10 days in late March, I did little else but ask beautiful women to take their clothes off for this issue’s cover.
Given that this year’s annual medical cover story is all about holistic, pain-free health, I wanted the cover to be a tasteful celebration of the body, something natural. Surely I could find a Philadelphian to pose, right?
Public relations executive Kelly Boyd considered being our cover model. Grudgingly, she declined. Main Line real estate powerhouse Lavinia Smerconish thought about it, too. (“Hmmm, I’m having trouble visualizing this,” her husband, talk-radio host Michael, e-mailed me. “Send over a few pics of your wife in the buff for my thoughtful and reflective appreciation.”) Bernadine Munley, the striking blond partner at Ballard Spahr, likewise demurred — flattered though she was.
Truth is, any of the aforementioned women would have looked wonderful on this cover, as these clothed photos of them attest. So does Issa Dixon, who adorns it. Issa is a Narberth mom and a businesswoman — she and husband Trevor Dixon run Dixon Photography; Trevor, in fact, shoots often for this magazine. The daughter of free-spirited parents, Issa grew up in rural West Virginia with no running water or electricity. She is also a cancer survivor — six years ago, she had, as she describes it, “a monstrous tumor removed from my tush.” Issa’s outlook is totally in keeping with the holistic ethos of our cover package; she knows firsthand that total health encompasses mind, body and spirit. “After the tumor was removed, I was insecure about my body,” Issa says. “I’m now okay enough with myself to say, you know what, I grew up with a lot of nothing and I’ve survived a lot of stuff, and I’m only 31. I’ve learned to be happy with what I have and to appreciate every day.”
So, you may ask, why a naked woman on the cover, as opposed to a naked man? Well, we considered it. But Charlie Manuel didn’t return my calls.
Pardon me while I pause to pat my staff on its collective back. We were nominated for a National Magazine Award in General Excellence — the magazine equivalent of the Best Picture Oscar. The winner will be announced May 1st, at a New York gala.
Though this magazine has been nominated for 24 National Magazine Awards, and won six, we’ve only been nominated in General Excellence once before — in 1998, under editor Eliot Kaplan. So it’s a big honor. (Here’s the part where I’m supposed to say that just being nominated is honor enough. Screw that noise. I want to win. And if we don’t, hey, I’m from Philly … so the editors of Foreign Policy or Mother Jones or whoever else takes what is rightfully ours had better watch their backs.)
We’ve had other terrific news, getting seven nominations from the City and Regional Magazine Association. Among them: senior writer Matt Teague, who is up for Writer of the Year and who took two nominations in the Feature Writing category; features editor Bob Huber for his profile of Bill Cosby; Noel Weyrich for Columnist of the Year; associate art director Andy Zahn for Spread Design; and the staff as a whole in the Excellence in Writing category for the December issue.
Finally, if you’re looking for our annual Top Doctors survey, as compiled by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., you can find it this year on our website, phillymag.com. Check it out as a first step for information about how best to navigate the local medical terrain.