"Why shock your readers with pictures of half-nude dames when you should have put Notre Dame on the cover as No. 1 ?" he wrote in '74. "We don't need pictures of girls in swimsuits (if you can call them suits) to get over 'the midwinter blahs' when there are so many sports to be illustrated."
"Your swimsuit edition was disgusting, despicable, diabolical, demoniac pornography—to say the least. There's trouble in America!" he wrote in 1981.
"As a charter subscriber I strongly object to your swimsuit edition," he wrote in 1987. "To paraphrase St. Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians 2:9-10, I find it part of the workings of Satan, encompassing all the power and wonder at the disposal of falsehood—or any seduction the wicked can devise—for the ruin of many, spiritually and morally."
I asked Father Lemay if he anticipated writing another letter this year. He said he already had noticed the advertisements about this special 25th anniversary issue.
There are patterns to these letters. Are there not? I have looked through the bunch of them and have found various schools of swimsuit thought. Have you noticed the same thing?
Example: I have noticed that most of the parental letters you receive mention "a 13-year-old boy." Most of the parents seem to be concerned about their "13-year-old boy." Why are there never comments about a "14-year-old boy" or a "12-year-old boy" or a "13-year-old girl"? This seems to be a trend, a 13-year-old-boy trend.
Example: I have noticed that the frat-house letters always seem to include the word "wow." Half a dozen names are always signed at the bottom. Do these frat-house guys all say "Wow!" at the same time, then sign their names? Or does one guy—the honors student in the crowd—say "Wow!" and everyone else agrees with him? Why is the term "hubba-hubba" never used anymore? Is it out of date?
(My favorite letter came from St. Anselm's College in Goffstown, N.H. "We are students at St. Anselm's College," four students wrote in 1981. "Our patron, St. Anselm, was most notable for originating the ontological argument for the existence of God. After reading your annual bathing-suit issue, we believe." Wow. I tried to reach the four students, now graduated, but officials at the college declined to help, saying "It would be against the interests of the school." Wow.)
Example: I have noticed that the chauvinist-pig letters—written by women—usually ask when you are going to print some pictures of men in skimpy bathing suits, "someone like Jim Palmer." Why is Jim Palmer always mentioned? Is it because he appears in those underwear ads? Do the underwear people receive letters from angry men asking when they are going to print pictures of pretty women in skimpy suits, "someone like Elle Macpherson?" What must it be like to be Jim Palmer?