Hit & Run: A club that's members only

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Sarah Palin's promise to lay bare the backstage details of her vice-presidential bid appears to have been an empty one; sections of her forthcoming memoir Going Rogue have been disputed by McCain campaign staffers before it even hits the shelves. Similarly, Palin's former future son-in-law has broken his vow to bare all for Playgirl magazine, a publication that his former future mother-in-law considers "porn". It was reported yesterday that eager female fans of the buff Alaskan 19-year-old will not, after all, get to see Levi Johnston's Johnson. "We're thrilled with the photos we got and are confident people will love them," said Daniel Nardicio, a spokesman for the magazine, "but although there may be glimpses, we did not get full-on frontal nudity."

Is Johnston just shy, or was this a calculated – if misguided – attempt to salvage some scraps of his reputation, just in case he comes up against, say, Guy Goma in a race for the last spot on the next series of Celebrity Come Dine With Me? Hit & Run says unzip those Levi's, Levi: full-frontal male nudity is invariably a boon to a man's career. Women, of course, have to cross a minefield of issues before deciding whether or not to act in a nude scene, let alone do a naked or semi-naked photoshoot for a magazine. But nudity isn't so hard for guys ... I mean difficult. Nudity isn't so difficult for guys.

Just ask Ewan McGregor, who has introduced cinema audiences to Little Ewan at least four times, and whose image was dented far more forcefully by appearing fully-robed in the Star Wars prequels. Daniel Radcliffe galloped nude around the stage in Equus in an attempt to raise his critical cachet after a string of wholesome Harry Potter blockbusters. Colin Farrell featured in a leaked sex tape and it merely gilded his reputation for swordsmanship. Taylor Lautner, the architecturally-torsoed teenage star of the latest Twilight film, New Moon, spends most of the movie gratuitously topless. Were it not a PG, he'd doubtless let it all hang out.

Magazines from beneath the top shelf such as Nuts, GQ or FHM are frequently lambasted for prurience when they feature the female form, yet Men's Health gets away with airbrushing washboard stomachs onto its cover stars every month – and is now the bestselling men's monthly (beating FHM, incidentally). This despite the fact that every single issue is exactly the same but with the muscles shuffled (sometimes abs get top billing, sometimes it's pecs).

So Levi should take some tips – sorry, take an example – from his predecessors. His elders and betters have been running their flagpoles up the flagpole since before his was out of nappies, and by and large people have saluted them for it. It was recently revealed that Danny DeVito, of all people, would be donning his birthday suit for a Christmas episode of the sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. That's a new moon we could probably do without. Tim Walker

If a hippo eats a crocodile, what eats a hippo?

As grumps go, they don't get much surlier than the hippo. And as they've proved this week, the African mammals like nothing better than taking a bite out of a meddlesome crocodile. Czech photographer Vaclav Silha was on hand in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to capture a reptile dashing across a line of bathing hippos' backs before the croc was duly reduced to scaly mush. "It was the worst choice the reptile could ever have made and it was definitely its last," explains Silha.

But isn't it about time someone put the huffy herbivores back in their place? Which member of the animal kingdom is hard enough to take them on? Unfortunately, few animals are up to the challenge. As the third-largest mammal in the world (behind white rhinos and elephants), hippos are used to getting their own way. If we were to cheat, we could say humans are their biggest foe (the World Conservation Union estimates numbers declined by seven per cent between 1996 and 2006. Hippos are poached for their hides, fat and teeth). Their calves are easier prey: lions, hyenas and crocodiles often attack them. But if you want to make a hippo really angry, go for its calves and see what happens. You'll soon be crocked. Rob Sharp

Join the velvet revolution

The political landscape has been bare of velvet headbands for a while now – hence our righteous indignation at Hillary Clinton's recent unsuccessful attempt to revive the look this week on state business to Singapore.

We Brits got used to seeing them perched atop the indignant faces of the jam-making wives of Tory sleazebags during the last recession. And before that, they framed some of the more equine visages on the King's Road throughout the Eighties.

But Hillary isn't being ridiculous; velvet Alice bands are now on-sale at hipster emporium American Apparel, while all things Nineties (sleaze included) look set to catch on a treat with the urban youth folk. So why not?

Because, Hillary, they only suit those who don't look old enough to have witnessed them the last time round. Just like a Tory government, in fact. Harriet Walker