Quick, name the first WWF personality to pose for a porno mag.
You’re thinking of Sable, right?
Nope! It was Shawn Michaels, who posed for Playgirl magazine in 1996, three years before Rena Mero. And unfortunately for him, he ended up getting a lot of crap for it backstage (just not in his bag).
The New Generation era was an odd one in terms of the use of sex appeal in wrestling. By early 1995, the WWF was the proverbial sausage fest, with a sparse women’s division and one female on-screen personality in the form of Stephanie Wiand. And none of them were exactly sex symbols.
But what the Federation lacked in cheesecake, it made up for in beefcake.
(And what it lacked in Brutus Beefcake, it made up for in actual bare male ass)
And so Shawn Michaels, WWF’s resident Sexy Boy, gradually evolved from a narcissistic pretty boy to a stripper.
Don’t think I’m exaggerating here, either. Not only did he prance around the ring, shimmying out of his studded leather chaps, but he ended up actually pulling down his trunks on a regular basis.
And no amount of ab-displaying could sway them. Apparently, the Boy Toy routine that enraged men during his heel run did not appeal to them in his babyface run, either.
Now (ahem) firmly established as the champion of women (and also for kids — just ignore the innuendo for that part), Shawn decided to give a sizable portion of his fan base what they wanted, agreeing to a magazine spread in 1996. And no, it wasn’t Highlights for Children; it was Playgirl: Entertainment for Women.
(Playgirl, by the way, is not affiliated with Playboy. And you thought it was unrealistic that Playboy and Playdude co-exist in the Simpsons universe)
The idea was that women the world over who wanted HBK to deliver his “sweet chin music” to them could now have their fill.
And so, Shawn’s female interviewer figuratively gushed over the Sexy Boy as they chatted about his turn-ons.
It turned out, Michaels was a shy guy who liked being pursued rather than doing the pursuing himself and thought girls were “just the neatest thing in the world.” Shawn called himself, and I quote, a “kissy-kissy, touchy- touchy, feely-feely” kind of guy who, more than anything, was looking for “Mrs. Right.”
Shouldn’t that be “Miss Right”? Apparently there was more truth to that Diana Smith home-wrecker angle than we figured!
Shawn said he liked smart women who are in shape, which should come as no surprise to anyone who knew his history with former Raw Girl Themis Klarides, who, as a current State Representative from Connecticut, puts the “congress” back in “sexual congress.”
It wouldn’t be a Superstar sex talk without a comparison of wrestling on the mat to wrestling in the sack, and this interview was no exception, with Shawn boasting that “nobody can make people yell louder than me for more. And if they can, I just work harder.” And yes, this did translate into the bedroom. “I am an athlete, for God’s sake.”
And as for his interactions with the crowd being like sexual energy, Shawn agreed that “there’s definitely some form of erotic feeling” out there. So I guess that “Kliq Kam” footage he used to take was his version of a sex tape.
He and his interviewer traded jokes about being “larger than life” and having “heart-ons”…
…before she asked what he would do in a bar if he saw a woman he liked who didn’t know he was HBK. Sadly, the answer was not, “hit on her, then get my head slammed against the side of a car by Marines.”
But it wasn’t just an interview that women (more on that later) were paying good money to see. No, Shawn got the towel treatment…
…before performing this, uh, unique pose with the world title. Some guys wear the belt around their waists, others on their shoulders, and a select few even wear the championship around their necks. Still, I don’t recall the WWF title ever being used as a jock strap.
(And the Federation had long been an innovator in jock strap fashion)
If I were Vince McMahon, and I’d seen Michaels disrespecting the belt like that, I would have forced Shawn to relinquish it… after cleaning it thoroughly and putting on some pants. At least Jerry Lawler used his own crown to cover himself.
I can’t imagine Sid was too pleased to take that belt at Survivor Series, either.
But a photo shoot during the Monday Night War wouldn’t have been complete without Shawn paying tribute to his opponent on the first-ever Monday Night Raw…
But the punchline to all of this silliness was that, after this issue hit news stands, Shawn found out that many, perhaps most, of Playgirl’s “readers” were not the smart, fit, possibly married women he pined for in his interview.
No, Michaels had cast himself as a big, wet, hairy, lovable teddy bear for a largely gay male audience.
Now you can look back at this old magazine spread in a whole new light!
Just make sure it’s not a black light.