Big naturals are more than just a body part. They’re an energy, a culture, a lens through which we consume and create the world around us. And while big-breastedness may be both spiritual and bodily, there is a material world and timeline of events that document how this culture came to be. As MEL’s resident boob culture writer and a woman of breast-experience, I’ll be analyzing these objects and happenings, telling the stories of their origins and their impact on society. This is Big Moments in Big Naturals
Between 2002 and 2004, Anna Nicole Smith had a reality show. For reasons you’ll have to discuss with my mother, I was allowed to watch it with her. Every now and then, the end of the theme song still gets stuck in my head: Anna Anna Fabulous Anna Nicole, you’re so outrageous! Anna Nicole!
It’s been some years since I’d actually heard the full song, so I decided to look it up:
Born poor in Texas
Tryin’ to get some fame
Then you used what you got
And that was a lot!
You became a household name
Married a billionaire
So he was 88
You didn’t care
It all disappeared
As fast as it came!
If there is one individual in recent history who — despite having fake breasts — embodies the ethos of “Big Naturals” energy, it’s undoubtedly her. There are no two more perfect words to describe Smith’s personality: Big and natural. The lyrics to the theme song really put it all out there before the show even has a chance to start.
A woman initially brought to fame purely through her sex appeal, her entire cultural impact was founded upon her breasts. As the lyrics state, she used what she got and became a household name. Even as she grew into the Anna Nicole that people knew, loved and hated — both glorified and vilified — her breasts were always an essential part of the flashy, unfiltered presentation of herself that she offered unto the world. The holiday party episode, the finale of the first season of The Anna Nicole Show, delivers the perfect embodiment of this dynamic.
The episode begins with the then 34-year-old explaining that the party is a celebration of her successes during the year, and in order to properly commemorate them, she had an ice sculpture made from a mold of her torso and head. But the ice sculpture wasn’t simply for decoration — it had utility. One could take a shot off her frozen breasts, or as Margaret Cho later told VICE, they could pour the shot into the mouth of the statue where it would travel down the interior of the body, only to be released through her frosty vagina. Other guests of the party included Rip Taylor, Kathy Griffin and Smith’s driving instructor.
“Of course, she was just as beautiful as anyone could imagine,” Cho told VICE. Cho had been sober at the time, but the prospect of taking a shot of Jägermeister out of an Anna Nicole Smith ice sculpture was more than she could resist. “The surrealness of her pouring the Jägermeister into the top and sucking the Jägermeister out of her own vagina — it tore down all of my resistance,” she continued.
The rest of the holiday party featured plenty of the usual festivities, like karaoke carolling, eating and binge drinking. Anna Nicole wore a Santa-esque wrap gown: red velvet with white faux fur trim, cut to still reveal her cleavage. “By midnight, everyone was feeling really loose, so we had some fun with the mistletoe,” Anna Nicole told the cameras during the episode. “And I deep-throated Margaret Cho.” The two make out for an almost-awkward amount of time, and Cho later recounted that Anna Nicole tasted like pickles: “Delicious, salty, sweet and womanly.”
Not much else happens in the 20-minute episode. Everyone seems very drunk. But although Anna Nicole is clearly intoxicated, even at the times she gets a little pouty, she still has a sense of charm and sweetness to her. When some people are wasted, they lose the facade they’ve built up for themselves. When Anna Nicole is wasted, it’s clear there was never any facade at all.
Anna Nicole’s fame was dictated by her body, particularly her breasts, but she seems to have never let either of them change who she was. From her struggle to cook a turkey before the party, to her toothless cousin who she let steal the show with karaoke, to the lipstick smeared across her face after making out with Cho, there’s always the sense that Smith is indeed the Texas bombshell who both cleverly and foolishly romanced her way to a precarious position of fame and fortune. The reason we got to bear witness to any of it is because she had the wherewithal to leverage her body into a public image.
But as her reality show partially chronicled, there was something fundamentally untenable to all of this. For whatever reason, Anna Nicole could only be herself for so long. She died of an accidental overdose at 39 in 2007, and neither reality television nor celebrity culture have been the same since. The stars who have built an image of themselves using their bodies, like Kim Kardashian, will only ever show us a hint of their true selves. For a time, though, we had Anna Nicole Smith. And as the holiday episode of her show reminds us, we ought to be grateful for that.