Looks like Cindy Crawford is Vanity Fair's post-Demi, post-Madonna mascot. She's on the half shell on the August cover, exactly one year after her barber-shop romp with k.d. lang. The Cindy article, by Cathy Horyn, is a smart explanation of both the 1994 notion of beauty and Cindy Inc., the multimillion-dollar business the supermodel has built with endorsements for Pepsi and Revlon and a few high-powered struts down the runway. Her American goddess image -- "big hair, a little cleavage, not too tacky," as Cindy herself puts it -- now sends consumer-approval ratings through the roof.
What exactly is the Cindy magic, excluding, of course, The Mole? Fashion-world watchers are torn on the matter. "I think of Andy Warhol, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy and Cindy Crawford," says clothes designer Isaac Mizrahi, while Barbara Lippert, Adweek's media critic, is less allusive: "She doesn't really have to be anything. Just the whole idea of being is very appealing to the slacker generation." Meanwhile, Cindy has turned down Mattel's offer to market a Cindy doll, and unlike fellow supermodels Andie MacDowell, Elle McPherson and Rene Russo, she's saying no to Hollywood: "I'm not ready to play somebody else yet. I'm still trying to play the best Cindy Crawford I can play."
Vanity Fair also has a good, tart piece on the TV newsmagazine queens: Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Connie Chung, Katie Couric and Jane Pauley. Writer Lloyd Grove takes us to the tabloid front, where these smooth superanchors trip over one another trying to capture the Tonya-Nancy-Erik-Lyle-O.J.-Caning Boy-Joey-Amy monster. For instance, to gain an interview with Michael Durant, the pilot taken hostage in Somalia, Barbara sent his son a bandaged teddy bear. Diane forwarded her home phone number. Finally, after deluging Durant's wife with notes during and after his captivity and flying to Germany, where he was in the hospital, Connie walked off the winner.
VF also visits Bret Easton Ellis, the young "Less than Zero" author who became addicted to controversy when his gross-out serial-murder novel, "American Psycho," sent the literary world into a lather.
"Artists today," he says. "Everyone is so careful, you rarely read anything or see anything that really kind of drives you crazy, makes you mad, gets you excited. . . . I think people should be sending death threats to Amy Tan and Terry McMillan."
Mr. Ellis' forthcoming novel, "The Informers," is sure to ruffle some feathers with its portrayals of vampiric violence in Los Angeles.
Details for August profiles box-office incendiary Jim Carrey, "America's geek tycoon." Before "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," Mr. Carrey took home a mere $450,000 for a movie. Now he's at $7 million per, and rising. Not everyone, after all, can twist his entire body into "something resembling a human hiccup" -- except, maybe, Jerry Lewis. These days Mr. Carrey is less prone to the depression of his younger days, though he subscribes to a romantic view of it: "The pain is there for a reason. A lot of times when I was in those depressions, I also had the thing going through my head that this is what I've asked for. I've prayed to God that I would have depth as an artist and have things to say."
There's a slippery profile of Courtney Love in the August US, in the wake of the deaths of her husband, Kurt Cobain, and her band mate Kristen Pfaff. In the mostly historical piece, Ms. Love is seen traveling in her trademark dresses and confessing to a fancy for "thirtysomething": "I always liked it but couldn't tell anybody." Clearly, writer Neal Karlen is not able to delve deeply into Ms. Love's recent tragedy, but he does extract a fragment of hope: "I'm half Irish and half Jewish," she tells him. "That's how I know I'm going to survive."
The latest issue of Colors, the Benetton magazine published out of Italy, is devoted entirely to the subject of AIDS. Each page in the magazine, which is available at select newsstands, at Benetton stores and by subscription, goes light on the words and heavy on the photos. The strongest photo is of Ronald Reagan, speckled with Kaposi's sarcoma and made to look like he has AIDS. It's a powerful statement -- about Reagan's attitude toward AIDS and about our ability to convincingly doctor photos through imaging.
The biting, ironic obituary beside the photo, which praises President Reagan for "his quick and decisive response to the AIDS epidemic early in his presidency," is almost unnecessary.