The Virgin Islands, discovered by Columbus in 1493, were named in honor of Saint Ursula, a ninth-century martyr who supposedly rounded up 11,000 virgins for a pilgrimage to Rome and was killed by Huns on her return trip. That expedition was the largest gathering of virgins on record until a Star Trek convention in Indianapolis in 1997.
produced by DIANE SMITH
assistant editors M.J. FIGEL and JENNIFER STERN
COVER: REBECCA ROMIJN-STAMOS
SWIMSUIT BY Rachel Simon & Eve France Designs ($800), MAKEUP BY Lorraine Leckie for Aveda at Bradley Curry, HAIR BY Ric Pipino for Warren Tricomi NYC
HAIR BY Bruce Libre for Calliste, MAKEUP BY Lloyd Simmonds for Leonore Agency.
We recently spent several weeks on Fantasy Island, and we've got some bad news for Ricardo Montalban: It turns out that his best-known TV persona, Mr. Roarke (and his aide-de-camp Tattoo too), was duped. This year's swimsuit issue was shot on and around an island paradise called Necker, beside which Aaron Spelling's version of Fantasy Island looks like a GOAT RANCH. Owned and developed by Richard Branson, Necker is a resort so gorgeous and blissful (and pricey) that you can practically hear Robin Leach narrating your meals.
This issue features much more than the toned, TANNED TAILS of our curvaceous castaways and shock jock photos ( Joe Montana topless!). In Bill Nack's profile of Branson, thrill to the account of how this bold billionaire nearly lost his life in a ballooning MISHAP—but didn't learn his lesson! Discover that before setting the recording and airline industries on their ears, Branson gave magazine publishing a whirl, going so far as to cajole a piece out of JEAN-PAUL SARTRE, who on another occasion wrote that "three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do."
Sharing Sartre's opinion on the uselessness of midafternoon are world-class photographers HANS FEURER, Dominique Issermann, Andrew MacPherson and Antoine Verglas, all of whom were given the extremely enviable task of creating their own fantasy islands, importing exemplary specimens like REBECCA, Heidi, Laetitia, Chandra, Daniela and Eva. The photographers all agree that early morning and late afternoon are the best times to shoot—THREE O'CLOCK is too late and too early for anything they wanted to do.
Austin Murphy desperately wanted to take a cold shower after filing his report on Verglas's astonishingly revealing shoot featuring supermodels WEARING NOTHING but paint. Accidental argonaut Ed Swift wanted to soak his bum after a hotly contested sailing pro-am that left him with BATTERED BUTTOCKS. A rum drink called a Lazy Turtle—and the fact that he shared a boat with Heidi Klum—numbed his pain, somewhat.
Most of the people Franz Lidz spoke to for his piece on Bomba's Surfside Shack were FEELING NO PAIN whatsoever. Lidz arrived in Tortola just in time for one of the regularly scheduled, legendarily licentious full-moon parties thrown by the Shack's PANTY-POACHING, rum-punching, mushroom-dispensing owner/proprietor, one Charles Callwood (a.k.a. Bomba), who offers this counsel to all his pall trons: "Instead of racing and running, you got to stop and take a I breath."
If not for us, then please, DO IT FOR BOMBA. Stop, look inside and have your breath taken away.