When the Chicks posed nude for Enjoyment Weekly in 2003

It was March 2003, and the Dixie Chicks (now identified as the Chicks) experienced kicked off their new tour. In the course of the opening night in London, on the eve of the Iraq War, direct singer Natalie Maines criticized George W. Bush and transformed her and her bandmates’ lives: “We’re on the excellent facet with y’all,” she told the viewers. “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.” All of a sudden, the state new music trio — America’s top rated-advertising feminine group of all time — was engulfed in controversy as enraged fans and other folks known as for a boycott, place radio stations pulled their tracks and album profits began to drop.

A month later on, the members of the Chicks (Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire) responded in an in-depth job interview with Leisure Weekly — and, in a move considered in particular shocking, posed nude for the address, their bodies painted in terms that people today have been calling them: “Dixie Sluts.” “Proud People.” “Traitors.” “Fearless.” The picture was so placing that it went viral right before likely viral existed.

The cover established the group’s defiant tone heading forward they were not heading to back again down or apologize for remaining women of all ages who experienced views. It altered the program of their profession — paving a route for their 2006 Grammy-sweeping album, “Taking the Long Way” — and affected many other place functions. To some, specifically people already inspired by their songs, they have been heroes. To other people, they have been a cautionary tale, and thought of, to this working day, to be the rationale lots of Nashville singers refuse to say a term about politics. It’s also why most region stations continue to won’t participate in the Chicks.

But even as Entertainment Weekly fades away (a lot to the disappointment of showbiz supporters who grew up on the journal), the Chicks include will never ever be neglected. Here’s the story of how it took place.

John McAlley, who was the new music editor for EW, frequently had to push for the journal to prioritize audio coverage, supplied that the publication was heavy on Tv and motion pictures. But he understood the Chicks controversy was heading to be a huge tale, and it wanted to be entrance and middle. So he was identified to land the interview — his biggest concern was that he was going to be scooped by Time journal, which had a tendency to “bigfoot” EW for stories, even even though they experienced the exact same proprietor.

“The news weeklies at the time were being really effective and definitely high profile,” he explained. “There was so substantially status and visibility hooked up to being on the deal with of a information weekly, that on a lot more than a single situation, we shed a fight for a tale because Time was promising the include. But Time hardly ever gave the address — it would generally close up being an inside of tale.”

Meanwhile, Rogers & Cowan PMK chairman Cindi Berger, the Chicks’ publicist, could notify this backlash was not going absent. She and the band’s workforce established the trio desired to do three interviews: a syndicated radio show, a broadcast Television set interview and the address of a common magazine. So she booked them on place identity Bob Kingsley’s radio show, an ABC unique with Diane Sawyer, and then named … Rolling Stone.

Berger needed the cover to run at a unique time in May well to coincide with the Sawyer specific, as effectively as the start out of the Chicks’ U.S. tour dates, but Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner declined, she reported. Her up coming cellular phone call was to McAlley, who was eager to make it occur, and they began negotiations.

Berger wanted to make sure they were guaranteed the address and that the editors and artwork directors would collaborate with the band on the photography principle.

“It was numerous, several days of back again and forth, terrific uncertainty irrespective of whether we would land the go over or not,” McAlley explained. He vividly remembers receiving the go-in advance phone: “I was in the residing room of my parents’ home in suburban New York when my flip cellular phone rang on a Saturday morning. It was Cindi Berger. She explained, ‘We want to do this.’ ”

Brainstorming commenced, and the EW staff members felt pressured to come up with the great thought.

“We all felt like, ‘Wow, we bought the scoop — now we require an graphic which is likely to be equal to the truth that we acquired the exceptional on it,’ ” reported Geraldine Hessler, EW’s artistic director.

Thoughts commenced to flow concerning the group and the band: For the reason that folks were screaming that the Chicks have been unpatriotic, the first strategy was to wrap Maines, Maguire and Strayer in an American flag. But then the editors ended up worried it would look like they were being denigrating the flag. Another person else instructed the singers have on American flag earrings or kerchiefs. Fiona McDonagh Farrell, the photo editor, recalls staying on the conference contact wherever Maines mentioned some thing together the traces of, “We should really all be bare and branded with the things they’ve been indicating about us.”

“The publicist, normally, was like, ‘We are not doing that!’ ” Farrell reported. “I waited a several minutes and then stated, ‘Let’s go again to the idea Natalie mentioned, for the reason that it could be a definitely, actually intriguing idea.’ ” Farrell favored the plan of juxtaposing some of the horrible items they experienced been known as (“Saddam’s Angels,” for instance) with some of the beneficial reactions (“brave” and “heroes”). In the vicinity of the stop of the simply call, they determined the Chicks would wrap themselves in bumper stickers with all the phrases.

Without a doubt, Berger was mildly horrified by the concept of a nude deal with. But the band always had quite precise innovative ideas. “The include essential to be vital and wanted to make a statement,” Berger claimed. “When the girls came up with this, I claimed, ‘Well, that is a statement.’ ”

The photograph shoot was booked in April, and it was a scramble — Hessler remembers they experienced 5 days, at most, to prepare for the shoot, which took location in a remote airplane hangar in Austin. Nevertheless Maines, Strayer and Maguire maintained a feeling of calm and great humor, it was an intensive ambiance: Demise threats had been still rolling in versus the band, and protection was everywhere.

At that point, they agreed on the bumper sticker idea, and the artwork department created them. However Farrell started to fret that the stickers wouldn’t get there in Austin on time — and additional importantly, even if they did, that they would search dreadful. She conferred with the photographer, James White, who agreed stickers could not be the finest look. They decided to employ a physique makeup artist who could paint the words on the Chicks, just in circumstance.

Confident ample, the stickers hardly ever showed up. “I imagined, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to have to get to established and have to explain to Cindi we do not have stickers — but we do have this other human being,’ ” Farrell mentioned. “Fortunately, all the stars aligned. And when Cindi was justifiably terribly nervous about this strategy, the 3 women at the coronary heart of the tale were being brave enough to say, ‘Yes, let us do it. Let’s go for it.’ ”

“Terribly nervous” may have been an understatement for Berger, who was earning panicked calls to the EW editors back in New York. Her most significant panic was that the address was heading to be deemed much too explicit and wrapped in brown paper on newsstands, which would defeat the complete goal. “I don’t forget expressing, ‘I never consider this is likely to function,’ ” she said. “And James White explained, ‘I’m likely to location them perfectly.’ And he did.”

White recalled the shoot all round was a “very pleasant day” regardless of the tense conditions and admired the trio’s bond in tough occasions. “They had been quite supportive of just about every other,” he mentioned. “They trapped together, and I liked seeing that.”

In 2013, on the 10th anniversary of the address, Strayer informed EW that “it undoubtedly was the most daring thing” the band had ever completed: “I felt like we realized the gravity of that shoot when it was taking place.”

McAlley assigned the tale to Chris Willman, a revered region-songs writer who had currently been trying to get a element tale heading on the Chicks and their newest album, “Home.” At EW, he stated, it was “always a major fight” to get place new music in the New York-centered journal. Abruptly, the tables had turned.

Willman wasn’t allowed at the photo shoot, so he fulfilled the band later on at a sushi restaurant for the job interview. He reported it was really hard to grasp the enormity of the controversy at the time, and thought it’s possible all the things would blow about in a couple months. But when he saw the include illustrations or photos, he realized that for the band, there was no likely again.

“We all realized what a defiant statement it was,” Willman claimed. “The protect was expressing them as currently being susceptible and possessing been victims in some feeling in all of this, but it was also the largest middle finger you can place up to the world.”

In New York, Farrell commenced modifying the photographs, and it was a “no-brainer” about what was going to be the go over. Hessler said that usually, EW put a large amount of text and supplemental imagery on covers, presented the significance of newsstand income. This was various.

“You did not have to have a large amount of words on the address since the graphic was so powerful,” she mentioned. “We have been just overjoyed by it — it was that thrill when you have a inventive vision and then it wholly will come jointly, and not only as executed, but in a way that is so substantially superior than you at any time thought it could be.”

Irrespective of Berger’s worries, the magazine was not wrapped in brown paper some vendors, this kind of as Walmart, would not display screen handles with nudity. But as Hessler reported, the magazine “wasn’t about to compromise its editorial mission” dependent on that probability.

EW does not permit protect approval from subjects, so when Berger eventually saw the journal, she felt a big wave of reduction and was blown absent by the impression. She immediately faxed it to the band. “It was a impressive, powerful minute,” Berger said. (She said she received a contact from Wenner at Rolling Stone, who reported, “Well, which is the protect of the calendar year.”)

Around at EW, the editors were being overcome by the reaction — it was on each individual news exhibit and reprinted on the front of the New York Publish. The journal gained hundreds of letters from visitors. “It just right away type of exploded in the lifestyle,” McAlley said. In a exceptional prevalence, he acquired a bottle of Dom Pérignon from Berger, who expressed gratitude that the story handled the Chicks with respect and permit them talk their piece. “Thank you. You are a male of your phrase,” read through the note.

All of the EW staffers interviewed say it was a vocation emphasize, even as Willman joked that his prolonged Q&A with the band accounted for a mere 1 per cent of the response. In 2005, the American Culture of Magazine Editors named it 1 of the major 40 covers of the past 40 years. “It was 1 of the these moments where by we took a danger, and the Dixie Chicks, they took a huge threat,” Farrell reported. “Sometimes a protect can be the minimum appealing image, but in some cases, it can be a true assertion.”

The staffers also spoke with a trace of wistfulness — journal addresses never make really the exact splash these times. “This was an act of defiance and strength and it was just a super-bold deal with,” McAlley reported. “And one particular of Amusement Weekly’s biggest moments, for positive.”