You may or may not know the name Joanna Alexandra.
But if you live in Indonesia you’d almost certainly recognize her face.
And that’s cos she starred in a frequently shown TV ad for Ponds whitening cream in which she has to make a choice between two men. You know the one that I mean, right?
Then at the tender age of 19, while still a law student at the prestigious University of Indonesia, she released her bombshell: a stunning photo spread in the second and now legendary issue of Playboy Indonesia.
11 exquisite photos that delighted connoisseurs of Indonesian beauty yet which, at the same time, outraged the seething fanatics who have a perverse aversion to all the best things in life.
So mad were they that besides Playboy’s editor Erwin Arnada, the fanatics also reported lovely Joanna and one of the other featured Indonesian models (Fla Priscilla) to the authorities for supposedly “violating public morals”. While still threatening the use of violence to get their point across. Obviously.
The second edition of Playboy Indonesia is also remarkable in that it is, as far as I know, the only widely circulated issue of any magazine to be printed in Indonesia without any advertisements: the advertisers had all pulled out, cowering to the threats of the radical loonies. Pages left blank where there should have been ads for watches, handphones, cars, cigarettes etc.
But in a memorable editorial, Erwin Arnada remained defiant:
“Nama Playboy menjadi sesuatu yang sangat penting dan tak mungkin diubah” (the Playboy name is something which is very important and which cannot possibly be changed).
Erwin even faced the prospect of two years in jail for his courageous stance.
But thankfully, the Indonesian legal system came to its senses and exonerated Erwan of the ludicrous charges filed against him.
Fantastic news of course. And I’m sure Joanna would agree with me. Especially since she was courting controversy long before Playboy Indonesia was first published.