“Bradley Cooper Has Balls!”
That’s the main caption on the cover of Vanity Fair’s latest issue, which includes a shot of the Oscar-nominated actor leaning over a pool table and preparing to take a shot at one of three red billiards balls, all of which are emblazoned with white text.
But that caption isn’t the most suggestive on the magazine. To find that, you have to look closely at the ball on the left edge of the cover. With only half of the ball shown, the text is cut off, leaving a somewhat incoherent collection of letters: “ill lasio ex ape!”
The arrangement of those letters caught the eye of New York Times reporter Michael M. Grynbaum, who understandably wondered if the magazine was making an oblique reference to a sex tape involving New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Take a look for yourself:
The issue does not, in fact, include a story about a de Blasio sex tape. Grynbaum speculated that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter, formerly of the satirical Spy magazine, might have had his finger prints on the Easter egg.
No matter who was behind it, the magazine isn’t exactly running from the prank.
“I’ll give you the same quote I gave the NY Times: ‘That’s what you get for letting Kim Kardashian guest edit the cover lines,'” Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak told TPM in an email.
Asked to elaborate on Kardashian, Kseniak said, “It’s a joke.”
Vanity Fair special correspondent Bryan Burrough got a kick out of it, too.
“LOL,” Burrough wrote in a tweet that included a link to the Times story.
— Bryan Burrough (@BryanBurrough) December 10, 2014
And for their part, de Blasio’s camp is taking the whole thing in stride. A spokeswoman for the mayor gave the Times a statement from de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, who provided a different interpretation to the bawdy text.
“Bill de Blasio Spandex Cape?” McCray said. “Great idea for Halloween next year!”