One year after being fired by energy giant EnronChristine Nielsen was positively giddy when she told her father she had finally found a new job. Yes, it was with another big corporation, only this time it was publishing. And yes, the salary offered was good - incredible, actually. And unlike working at Enron, where long skirts and sensible shoes were de rigueur, in this new job the dress code was really, really, really loose. Dad's reaction? Ah, nothing like quoting the old I-promise-it-will-be-very-tasteful mantra when everybody from your parents to your priest asks why you posed naked in Playboy's Women of Enron issue, which hits stands in the US this morning.
Better than admitting you want your 15 minutes of fame or the chance of a lifetime to give corporate America the finger.
Who's next? The women of WorldCom?
In the US, Playboy has long cornered the market in scandal-plagued women - from Paula Jones, who sued former president Bill Clinton on charges of sexual harassment, to Jessica Hahn, mistress of disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker. The difference is that those women had sex scandal written all over them. The 10 current and past employees of the bankrupt Houston energy giant, who decided to shed their clothes "tastefully" Shari Daugherty, So in the new century, the goalposts for women who want to become Miss July have shifted.
No longer do you have to behave badly to land a pictorial - you just have to take dictation for someone who did. But why would former employees of Enron, which collapsed amid one of the worst ing scandals in US history, want to shed their clothes for a porn mag? Well, why not?
It seems almost socially acceptable these days when your company has hit the skids. In Britain, the Women's Institute and trusty old farmers went the naked route to raise funds - gracing the covers of calendars rather than magazines. The move raises eyebrows but not outrage. She insists that getting naked boosted her damaged self-esteem.
Another Enron playmate, Courtnie Parker, 27, laid off as an Enron recruiter last December, was the only model to avoid frontal nudity in the pictorial because she didn't want to offend her grandparents. Nielsen had no such qualms.
47 playboy women of enron premium high res photos
I was worried about telling my year-old grandmother, but she said she didn't have a problem with it. Her only concern was that after I did the layout I didn't get involved with the mafia. I guess in her era that happened. How else besides committing a crime or getting naked do you get attention these days? For some of these women, this will be an opportunity to change careers and go into modelling.
They think that with this much exposure, maybe somebody will see something in them. And it will be hard not to, because they are soon to be everywhere.
On Thursday, four former Enron employees-turned-bunnies began a publicity tour around America, meeting and greeting their new adoring public. Nielsen calls from a cellphone in the back of a stretch limo shepherding her around New York City all day for appearances. By 11am she has already done a radio interview and a photo shoot.
It sure beats sitting behind a desk in Houston trying to make sense of s that don't add up. But you wonder whether the 15 minutes of fame these Enron women are claiming - as is their birthright these days - is worth it in the long run. What about their chances of getting another job in corporate America?
Don't they realise this stunt is just helping to sell copies of Playboy, which has been plagued by declining circulation as men go elsewhere for their kicks? But to hear Playboy and Nielsen tell it, they are not exploiting these women, they're helping them. This might even turn into a modelling career for them," said Playboy spokeswoman Elizabeth Norris when the call went out for fired employees to pose.
These are women who are out of a job. We are offering what you could view as a part-time job, or what might turn into a new career. Cover girl Nielsen, a former projects coordinator at Enron, has a degree in environmental science and anthropology.
Playboy magazine unveils 'women of enron'
She says she loved working at the company. She says doing Playboy is her way of fighting back. I had stock that was given to me during my time there. My father had quite a bit of stock that he lost. After being unemployed for a year, Nielsen is back at college studying to be a midwife. She says she responded to the call from Hugh Hefner to bare all - along with other Enron women - because, well, secretly, who doesn't want to be in Playboy? I wanted to do this, nobody forced me. I understand that Playboy needs us to sell magazines, but this is an adventure we will never forget.
Doing this, I am not less moral, I am not a slut. I am proud of it.
In 30 years I will look back and say, 'You were in Playboy. Not everybody sees her point of view. The message board at EnronX. Debbie Perrotta, a former senior administrative assistant, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "We're fighting for our severance pay and reforms, and Playboy is just in it to make some money. Yes, but as the women see it, they might make some dough as well.
Nielsen admits coyly that if Hollywood came calling she would consider every offer on the table. I remember the morning of the shoot, I lay in bed for a minute and said, 'You ed up for this, this can make you or break you. Of course she will. In the meantime, more than a few people are wondering why it's just women who have to do all the dirty work.
Why won't men pose nude in Playgirl and cash in on their scandal status as well? Please don't say it's because they have more dignity than us.
I don't think it would sell. Asset strippers.
They lost their jobs in one of the biggest corporate collapses in US history. So what did the former employees of Enron do next? They took their clothes off for Playboy, of course.
Sharon Krum reports. Sharon Krum. Topics Enron. Reuse this content.