Playboy in Portugal shut down for its 'blasphemous' Jesus photoshoot

Playboy in Portugal shut down for its 'blasphemous' Jesus photoshoot July 9, 2010

A TRIBUTE in the Portuguese edition of Playboy to the late Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago – a “militant atheist” – has gone horribly wrong, and the magazine has been shut down for “blasphemy”.

The 'blasphemous' cover of Playboy Portugal
Playboy‘s “crime” was to re-imagine Saramago’s novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ as soft-core porno. Curiously, it wasn’t the Portuguese authorities who took action, but the parent company, Playboy Enterprises in the US.
An outraged Theresa Hennessy, Playboy Enterprises’ Vice President of Public Relations, said:

We did not see or approve the cover and pictorial in the July issue of Playboy Portugal. It is a shocking breach of our standards, and we would not have allowed it to be published if we had seen it in advance. As a result of this and other issues with the Portuguese publisher, we are in the process of terminating our agreement.

Hennessy explained Playboy Enterprises’ relationship with Playboy Portugal:

All international publications of Playboy magazine are licensed editions (we currently have 26, including Portugal) and our international publishers sign detailed licensing agreements. While using the format of the US edition, our partners publish local editions of Playboy magazine that reflect both the standards and culture of their own country, as well as our own standards and practices.

Writing on Gawker, Maureen O’Connor  commented:

This is disappointing because it was among the few Playboy photo features I’ve found interesting … Smut in honor of a controversial novel by a militant atheist Nobel laureate—why not? Fashion photography has long monopolized the world of thoughtful magazine imagery. I say, give serious smut (gimmicky smut, silly smut, even mindlessly provocative smut!) a chance. At its core, Playboy is designed to shock. Top-selling copies frequently trade on the shock value of mainstream starlets and other incongruous public figures shedding their garments and getting dirty …

The pictures show an airbrushed, idealised Jesus with familiar centre-parting, long hair, beard and robes radiating an unearthly glow as he watches various topless models. Two women enjoy a lesbian clinch, another reads a book, a fourth seems to be a prostitute touting for business while the last woman appears to have died in Christ’s arms.
Jesus perving over a pair of snogging lesbians
According to this report, Jose Saramago’s 1991 novel The Gospel According to Jesus Christ is a fictional retelling of the life of Christ, seen from his perspective. Its publication caused outrage because it depicts a human, passionate Christ who ends up firmly opposed to God’s plan to create a new religion through him.
In one particularly criticised scene, a shepherd tries, unsuccessfully, to persuade Christ to have sex with a sheep. The book caused such controversy in Portugal – then a good deal more Catholic than it is now – that Saramago moved to the Canary Islands to escape, dying there on June 18 this year.

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  • Great Satan

    Spoilsports & Killjoys ! Can’t someone put a pirate edition online for the benefit of the rest of us !
    Also, how about someone doing a porn film about the Sex life of Mohammed maybe along the lines of the Satanic Verses etc with some lovely Arabian belly dancers et al ?!

  • Simon Chase

    cowards dont want to upset their American readership who are mostly bible-thumping hypocrite southern redneck trailer trash masturbators.

  • Mike

    GS, that sex life of mo, do we rally want that, think ron jeremy with a really small weenie,

  • Simon Chase

    my comments dont appear straight away now. have i been put on moderation?

  • Broga

    @Simon Chase. Dunno but I doubt it. Sometimes mine don’t appear – not often – or take their time. I always assume, being a computer dumbfuck, that I have pressed the wrong key. Anyway, I hope you get sorted.

  • ZombieHunter

    Wouldn’t a porno about the sex life of mohammad be illegal in most countries baring in mind he had a thing for underage girls??

  • Arnold Lane

    Simon, I’ve often seen that happen and wondered if it puts people off posting comments here.
    Don’t think I want to see a Mo porn but would watch a drama that handled the subject of his epilepsy, mental state, violence, greed and sexual obsessions. Which probably covers every salient aspect of the man.

  • Angela_K

    No doubt the American fundies had a hand in the ban and Playboy’s owners caved in.
    “…to persuade Christ to have sex with a sheep”. I thought it was compulsory in some parts of the middle east.

  • Erp

    Actually Mohammad only had one known underage wife and given the culture of his time almost any first marriage of a woman would have involved an underage girl though perhaps not as young as this. His other wives were all previously married and considerably older upon their marriage with him. Personally I wouldn’t rule out his wife having shaded the truth about being so young when the marriage was consummated; the major source of the information is her and she had a great deal at stake in emphasizing how much he loved her (she was a fairly influential political figure after his death).
    I would note that Jesus in Islam is a prophet second only to Mohammad so some Muslims could be almost as upset about this as they would with Mohammad so depicted.

  • Janstince

    ZombieHunter – my thoughts exactly. Plus, all the rape and violence wouldn’t really go down well for a modern porn. I suppose there would be some takers to make a snuff out of it, all “8mm” style.

  • Sig

    Blasphemy is a victimless crime

  • Broadsword

    A Mo-porn film would have include scenes of bestiality in addition to the excellent earlier suggestions.
    According to internet stats muzzies are quite partial to it:
    As for Playboy, I think Simon’s nailed it. I can’t see how the content of a Portuguese magazine would upset American readers but thereagain, I don’t have a religious mind.

  • Broadsword

    Off topic but I just stumbled across this and thought it a useful tool.
    Most decent parents use a variety of filters to stop their kids accessing adult web content. Godblock is a programme that’ll prevent your issue getting indoctrinated online.

  • Barry Duke

    Sig, blasphemy isn’t a crime. Period!

  • NeoWolfe

    Finally a avatar, but isn’t that David Niven? 🙂 You, an unrecognized James Bond, and BDuke playing Muhammed, I’m getting so confused. :-).
    On topic: One could have interpreted the cover photo to be a sixties hippie and a whore with typical grotesque silicon tits, if they hadn’t plastered the Portugese equivilent of the “Second priesthood of jesus” on the headboard. It’s funny and audacious, particularly when you compare it to the strict English translation, which is the “second COMING of christ”. I think I was twelve when I had my first COMING, but I was fifteen when I had a COMING that involved a girl, other than my imagination. I can’t remember my second COMING, having discovered new ground, so who could hope to remember the countless COMINGS before I disappointed my first sexual encounter. Virgins go in clueless like babies shitting their diapers. No parent teaches you where the buttons are, but bad girls do. I thank all of them.
    NeoWolfe 1

  • stargraves

    shame – thats a nice rack she’s got there. Put me in a white robe, and I wouldn’t look that different from these depictions of jebus. THey could change the captions – and claim they were depicting what I used to get up to as a student.
    Though the wife would naturally get a bit shirty if she found me on a bed with topless models.

  • Broadsword

    Yup, it’s Niven, a man I came to admire after he died unfortunately.