An excited reader has notified me that Playboy magazine is running a feature titled Too Hot to Handel: the sexiest babes in classical music.
Before you waste a moment’s click on the site, let me assure you that all of them are decorously clad. Along with the all-too predictable Anna Netrebko and Danielle de Niese, Playboy has selected violinists Leila Josefowicz, Julia Fischer, Janine Jansen, Hilary Hahn and Anne-Sophie Mutter, the last in a photograph that must have been taken at least ten years ago, or in very flattering light. Ms Mutter is described as Austrian – she’s German – and a MILF, which is a term that does not bear cultural elucidation.
Two relative unknowns are included. One is the oboist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the other, perhaps, someone’s girlfriend.
All good clean fun, right? Wrong.
Let me tell you a story. Ten years ago, a Finnish violinist called Linda Lampenius allowed herself to be talked into posing nude for Playboy under the stage name Linda Brava. Her centrefold appearance landed an EMI record contract and an avalanche of media attention. Her first record reached number 14 in the UK charts and there was no follow-up. She was taken up as a talent by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and quickly dropped. She appeared on Baywatch, just the once.
A victim of unrealistic expectations, Linda went through years of turmoil before making her way back home to Finland, where a producer friend of mine recorded her some months ago playing chamber music – rather well, he said. The story has a happy ending. Linda, 38, is expecting her first baby in the coming weeks. Let’s wish her well.
The Playboy experience is not to be recommended as a means of advancing a musical career. It’s exploitation, that’s the bare truth. Don’t bother to look.