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Miss America, Vanessa Williams, will appear nude in Penthouse

NEW YORK -- Miss America, Vanessa Williams, will appear nude in Penthouse Magazine's September issue, and the pageant's director said Thursday the board will meet in a few days to decide whether to take away her crown.

The 10-page sexually explicit photo layout of Miss Williams, the first black Miss America, features photos taken in early 1983, several months before she won the contest, Penthouse spokesman Sy Presten said in New York. She appears totally nude and in love scenes with another woman.

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Miss America also will appear on the magazine's cover, which Presten said marks the magazine's 15th anniversary and will be on newstands at the beginning of August.

Pageant officials learned of the photos Tuesday and Miss Williams confirmed to officials that she posed. At the time the pictures were taken, she had been working as a receptionist for a photographer.

Presten said the magazine bought the 'very sexy' pictures from a freelance photographer Tom Chiapel. Presten said Penthouse would not dislose the price of the deal.

'We're extremely distressed, obviously distressed,' pageant director Albert Marks Jr. was quoted saying by WBBM-TV in Chicago.

He expressed concern at 'the impact on the pageant, whose image has been perhaps too pure.'

Miss Williams' mother, Helen Williams, in Millwood, N.Y., said she knew nothing about the photographs and her daughter was traveling and unavailable for comment.

Marks said the pageant board of directors will meet in next few days to decide whether to take away Miss Williams' crown. It would be the first time ever that Miss America was forced to give up her crown.

The pageant's board, however, was reported meeting in Pleasantville, N.J., but it was not known whether the meeting had been previously planned to discuss September's pageant or to discuss Miss Williams' future.

If Miss Williams is forced to give up her title, she will be succeeded by Miss New Jersey, Suzette Charles, 21, who is also black.

In interviews shortly after she won the title, Miss Williams, 20, told an interviewer, 'I know I'm a very controversial person. I have an invigorating kind of personality. I want to be distinctive and I want people to remember me as interesting and not be stigmatized as a beauty queen.'

Gary Cole, photo director of Playboy Magazine, told the television station the pictures were offered to that magazine, but 'did not want to be the publication that cost Miss America her crown.'

Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione said the photos ended up in his magazine because 'the way I heard it, Playboy didn't want to pay the price for the photos.'

'I don't think we did anything wrong. If there is fault somewhere, it's the pageant that's misinformed...out of step with reality.

'This shows that Miss America is also a real live, flesh and blood American woman ... that she and we and we all can be proud of.

'The Miss America pageant is out of step with reality,' Guccione said in a live telephone interview with WBBM-TV. 'To equate morality with nudity is unrealistic in this day and age.

'It's like asking the public to believe in the tooth fairy,' he said.

Guccione said when Penthouse agreed to publish the photos, it knew 'there would be considerable difficulties' between Miss Williams and pageant officials.

'But maybe this is the best thing that could happen to the Miss America pageant,' he said, 'that people realize you can be Miss America and a real live woman at the same time.'

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