If this guitarcould sing, oh, the stories it could tell. Over the past six months it hassnuggled with Marisa Miller under bamboo trees in Jamaica, sunbathed withFernanda Tavares on the white, sandy beaches of Itacaré, Brazil, and shared awarm outdoor bath (in a horse trough, no less) under a sun-baked Tucson skywith Yesica Toscanini.
"Thisguitar," says SI creative director Steve Hoffman, "has been intimatewith 20 of the most beautiful girls in the world."
"Thisguitar," says Swimsuit associate editor Jennifer Kaplan, "should haveits own frequent flier number."
"Thisguitar," says singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, the instrument's originalowner, "looks like it had a pretty good time. I know I wish I could havebeen caressed by that many beautiful women."
February 16, 2007
So how did this000-JBS Jimmy Buffett--Shellback signature edition guitar (number 5 of 168created by the famed C.F. Martin & Company) get so lucky? Back in August,Hoffman was driving to a golf outing in New Jersey when he was struck by anidea. "I was lamenting the fact that here we were, doing a music-themedSwimsuit Issue, and we hadn't mentioned New Orleans," Hoffman says. "Itoccurred to me that maybe we could do something to raise some money for themusicians there."
That's where themayor of Margaritaville came in. Buffett agreed to donate one of his guitars tothe cause, and he autographed it--Play well, fins to the left, fins to theright, Jimmy Buffett--before it was passed on to 20 of the models in thisissue, each of whom signed the guitar during her photo shoot. (Alas, not one ofthem left her cellphone number on it.)
The guitar willbe auctioned on eBay, with bidding set to close on Feb. 23. The proceeds willgo to the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic and the Habitat for Humanity Musicians'Village, two organizations close to Buffett's heart. "I was born in alittle town called Pascagoula [Miss.], which was devastated by Katrina,"says Buffett, who has worked to focus attention on the area. "I believe NewOrleans is the cultural soul of America and needs to be saved."
This isn't thefirst collaboration between Buffett and SI. Two years ago he wrote a 4,700-wordarticle in the Swimsuit Issue about battling tarpon on a windswept coral reefin the Virgin Islands. Along with his whimsical fishing tale, the issueincluded a CD that featured a single Buffett wrote for the issue, License toChill, and a video of him singing the tune. Because of the success of thatventure and his longtime friendship with SI Group editor Terry McDonell (thetwo have known each other since the late 1970s), Buffett was happy to joinforces with SI again. In this issue you'll find another CD with a catchy newBuffett song, Getting the Picture, plus an accompanying video starring (andinspired by) some of the world's most beautiful women, fiddling with one verylucky instrument.
Since beingdonated to SI, the mahogany guitar has traveled to 14 cities in four countrieson two continents. It has docked in posh surroundings (Four Seasons Maui, TheCaves in Negril, Jamaica) and tight but memorable quarters (Oluchi Onweagbastrummed the guitar in the same tiny room at Sun Studio in Memphis where ElvisPresley recorded his first album in 1954).
The guitar'sodyssey began in late August with a circuitous journey from Buffett's home inSag Harbor, N.Y., to the Brazilian resort town of Itacaré, with one precariouslayover in S√£o Paulo. There it was nearly confiscated by customs officersbefore a quick-thinking Kaplan explained to them that it was part of an SISwimsuit shoot. Upon hearing that story, Buffett smiled. "I have learnedover the years that a guitar is a passport," he said. "It really allowsyou to go beyond borders."
At the Swimsuitshoots, the photographers handed the guitar to the models with fewinstructions. "It was like: Here's the guitar, and let's see whathappens," says Marisa. "I had never posed with a guitar before, andwhile I didn't want it to look like I was making out with it, I did want it tobe sexy. So I snuggled with it and gave it a hug. I wanted it to feelwanted."
It certainly was.Ten girls kissed the guitar for the cameras (by one staffer's estimation) andall decorated it in their own style. Brazilian model Raica Oliveira signed Pazy Amor (Peace and Love, in Portuguese) along with her name. Israeli model BarRefaeli wrote Peace, Love and Lots and Lots of Music in Hebrew, while Anne Vpenned a giant heart and wrote With Love in Russian. Anne says regretfully thatas a kid in Nizhni Novgorod she quit guitar lessons after just a week. "Irealized I don't have enough patience," she says. "People who conquerthis, though, can make such beautiful music."
And for thosemusicians who were so terribly affected by Katrina, SI is proud to have achance to assist them. Says Swimsuit editor Diane Smith, "A lot of thegirls were touched that their beauty could do something to helpothers."
Swimsuit modelsare inspirational in many ways. In Jimmy Buffett's case, they moved him to awrite a song and make a music video
"I'm justdoing my part to add a little escapism to an otherwise crazy world," saysJimmy Buffett, smiling like a man who just tasted the perfect margarita. He'sdiscussing the enviable process of shooting a music video with SI Swimsuitmodel Brooklyn Decker. Last month a small crew that included Buffett, Decker,director Stan Kellam and one well-traveled Jimmy Buffet--Shellback guitar flewto St. Barts on Buffett's private plane to tape Getting the Picture. In thevideo Buffett bumps into Decker on the beach, they pose for a photo and sheplayfully swipes his guitar. The singer then makes a sun-baked trek across theglobe in search of his musical Excalibur. The best news? There's plenty offootage of Brooklyn and her fellow models. "The message of the video isthat it's February, you're probably freezing your butt off somewhere, and hereJimmy Buffett is living the dream, hanging out with all these beautifulgirls," Buffett says.
DANIELLA SARAHY BA;
PHOTOGRAPH BYJ.R. DURAN
SWIMSUIT BY ROSA CHA (SPECIAL ORDER)
EARRINGS BY AGATHA PARIS
PHOTOGRAPH BYPAMELA HANSON
TOP BY BETSEY JOHNSON SWIM ($52)
BOTTOM BY BEACH BUNNY SWIMWEAR (SPECIAL ORDER)
JEWELRY BY EXEX JEWELRY BY CLAUDIA AGUDELO
PHOTOGRAPH BYJ.R. DURAN
SWIMSUIT BY KALI GIRLZ BY JAMAICAN STYLE ($100)
>> To download Getting the Picture, look for the free code on page 99and go to itunes.com.
The romance,sadly, has come to an end, but 20 models left their own indelible signatures onan unforgettable odyssey