Today in media stunts: Naomi Campbell interviews Vladimir Putin for British GQ. Her opening gambit? "You're in pretty good physical shape. How do you manage to keep yourself so fit?" It gets worse (better?) from there.
'Naomi Campbell Interviews Electorally Dubious Leader X' is actually a Thing that British GQ does. (See: Naomi Campbell touches Hugo Chávez's muscles.) Putin solicits no such intimacies, though the supermodel does ask him about his many shirtless pics. Campbell, clearly settling into her reportorial role, puts the tough questions to ol' Vlad, quizzing the Russian prime minister on his preference for the butterfly stroke (what is it with Russians and the butterfly, anyway?), his love of tigers, and his trim physique. And there's this:
Campbell: In the summer you were photographed on a Harley-Davidson at a bikers' festival in Ukraine. How were you received by the bikers, the Night Wolves?
Putin: Well, these are really cool guys, really tough guys. One of them was a really courageous person who travelled a few thousand kilometres on a two-wheeler bike. He's a handicapped guy with only one leg — he lost it somewhere in Yugoslavia during the war. I'm not the tough guy, those guys are.
As modest as he is handsome. Campbell also asked about the Moscow State University calendar thing. On the occasion of Putin's 58th birthday, a group of journalism students posed for and produced an erotic calendar — then, a second student group created a markedly different calendar to draw attention to official repression and human-rights concerns. Here's what Putin said:
I like the girls a lot, they're beautiful. I like the calendar but it's not the most important thing. As for the other one, well, in almost any country, probably in Russia in particular, it's fashionable to criticise people in power. If you come out in support of someone like me, you're going to be accused of trying to ingratiate yourself. The girls in the erotic calendar were courageous and they were not scared. As student journalists, they couldn't fail to understand what might have been said to them after doing this. Nonetheless, they were not deterred and did the calendar anyway. So, frankly, that's what I liked the most.
See, they knew they'd be presented as political stooges with daddy issues, and they did it anyway! They chose their choice and they took their stand and OMG they were soooo brave.
On the one hand, here is a short list of issues not discussed in the interview: Cult of personality, Chechnya, Aliona Doletskaya, Alina Kabayeva, "Blueberry Hill," corruption. On the other: Way to blow Kate Moss's Davos presentation with Silvio Berlusconi out of the water, Naomi.