October 19, 2012 in City

Legislative hopeful Amy Biviano posed topless in Playboy

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Video: Biviano vs. Shea, Education: Are higher taxes needed?
Video: Biviano vs. Shea, Introduction

Biviano
(Full-size photo)

Amy Biviano, the Democratic challenger in a high-profile battle for a legislative seat representing Spokane Valley, is defending a 1995 topless photo shoot with Playboy magazine as a confidence-building experience while attending Yale University.

In an interview Friday, following a conservative website’s disclosure that Biviano appeared in a “Women of the Ivy League” edition, Biviano said she doesn’t regret the photo shoot but wouldn’t do it again as a mother.

“It was one of the youthful college kinds of things. I was interested in pushing my limits,” Biviano said in an interview Friday. “This was my small act of rebellion.”

Biviano, who said she earned less than $500 for the pose, is running against incumbent Republican state Rep. Matt Shea, who called the revelation about the photo “alarming” in a news release on Friday.

Back in 1995, when Biviano was a college junior, her appearance in the popular men’s magazine sparked anger among some feminists on campus. But Biviano argued she was a feminist, too, and that she had a right to pose if she wanted.

Biviano, 37, said her appearance in Playboy was known by many of her friends and her sons and that she has never tried to hide it. Her husband, Andrew Biviano, was her boyfriend at the time and encouraged her to do the shoot. Not long after her first son was born when she was in her early 20s Playboy asked her if she’d be interested in posing again. She declined.

“I learned a lot from my college experiences,” Biviano said in a statement. “Since then, I have gone on to build an extremely happy marriage of 15 years, have been blessed with amazing children, have been active in my church, and have worked and volunteered to help my community while living with a disability.”

Biviano was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 18.

Her appearance in the magazine was revealed Friday afternoon on the website for the conservative Western Journalism Center.

Shea did not return calls seeking comment but said in news release that he knew about Biviano’s photo but had instructed his campaign staff not to disseminate information about it.

“This type of negative campaigning is exactly what is wrong with politics today,” he said. “While these revelations are indeed alarming, my heart goes out to Amy and her family.”

Former state Rep. George Orr, the last Democrat to represent Spokane Valley in the Legislature, said that as an avid hunter who faithfully follows the laws on concealed weapons, he and Spokane Valley voters will be more worried about the gun charge Shea faces in Spokane Municipal Court than the photo of Biviano.

“What’s worse, a woman going topless 15 or 20 years ago, or a guy pulling a gun on somebody? How can the Grand Old Party get upset about that when their rock-star senator from Massachusetts was a centerfold?” said Orr, referring to U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s 1982 chest-bearing pose in Cosmopolitan.

Spokane County Republican Party Chairman Matthew Pederson said Biviano’s appearance in Playboy was well-known in political circles but that the party didn’t believe it was an issue.

“It’s something that we’ve known for a long time, but it’s not germane to the campaign,” Pederson said.

Shea was charged late last year for keeping a loaded gun in his pickup without a valid concealed weapons permit. Shea had let his expire. Police records indicate that Shea pulled his gun out of his glove compartment without pointing it anyone during a road rage incident in downtown Spokane.

In a column she wrote in 1995 for the Yale Herald, Biviano says her decision was likely to affect her future, but that it helped give her a “sense of self-reliance.”

“Yes, it was fun to have my five minutes of fame both on the Yale campus and on the national scene. It is a nice little boost to the ego to know that some people consider me to be attractive enough to be in Playboy. But of course I know now, and I knew when I first chose to pose, that these benefits will fade, and they will only be remembered by a few people searching through dusty archives,” she wrote in the column. “However, posing for Playboy has permanently changed me by making me think a little bit differently about myself – I’m now more of a risk-taker, fear social approval less, and know a bit more about what I’m capable of. I may never do something this controversial again, but it’s nice to know that I could and did.”


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