Molly Moorhead’s story, “From USF to Sun City Center, Playboy has ties to Tampa Bay” - written in response to this week’s announcement that Playboy will cease to publish nude photos as of March 2016 - featured a bizarre 1983 photo of an exotic dancer presenting her derriere for inspection by a Pinellas County judge.
We now have the, ahem, story behind the photo, straight from Tampa Bay Times staff photographer Jim Damaske.
First, from Molly's story: A longtime judge in Pinellas County can count Playboy as part of his legacy. In 1983, Judge David Demers was presiding over a trial of three exotic dancers charged with violating Pinellas' anti-nudity ordinance. During the trial, according to a 2001 Times profile of Demers , a dancer bent over in front of the bench to show the judge that her outfit did not expose anything too anatomical. The photo of the scene was republished around the country, including Playboy's "The Year in Sex."
And here's Jim's recollection of the story behind the photo: "I was shooting freelance for the Clearwater Sun and UPI when the Sun got a tip what was going to happen. I got the call. Exotic dancers said that their shorts were too big to show what the undercover officers said they saw. The judge agreed with the dancers after they bent over. The photo went out on the UPI wire, which is how it got picked up everywhere."
Jim also reports that, in addition to appearing in Playboy, the photo was featured in ‘Best of Photojournalism, 9: Newspaper and Magazine Pictures of the Year’ by the National Press Photographers Association. Ken Kobre used it in his book ‘Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach’ for many years. The German weekly news magazine Der Stern ran it as a double-page spread. And Tampa Bay Times staff writer Craig Pittman is going to include the photo in his upcoming book ‘Oh, Florida! Inside America’s strangest state and how it’s shaping the country.’