Levi Johnston’s sister takes it off

Another member of the extended Palin clan promises to go nude -- but why?

Topics: Sarah Palin, Levi Johnston, Television,

Levi Johnston's sister takes it offMercede Johnston

It’s not uncommon for siblings to share proclivities, whether it’s an aptitude for math or a flair for tennis. And if you’ve ever skimmed Penthouse or Playboy, you know that even a thing for posing nude can run in the family. But of all the naked-getting clans in the world, who’d have thought the Johnstons of Alaska would turn out to number among them? It’s true, though – following on the heels of her brother Levi’s famed Playgirl wardrobe shedding, Mercede Johnston is apparently taking it off for Playboy. Soon, there will be nobody left in Wasilla still wearing pants.

On Wednesday, the hotheaded 19-year-old blogger directly addressed rumors regarding her impending nudity — and the “insider” who claimed: “She always wanted to be a model, but it can be tough to break into the industry. And she’s obviously choosing to go the easy route and take her clothes off.”

Speaking to E!, Johnston said, “That couldn’t be further from the truth. I want to make it clear I have got a ton of offers but turned the majority of them down. When I accept one, it isn’t for the money but simply because I think it is a good choice for me at that time.” Who knew that simply being Levi Johnston’s sister would open up a lady to “tons of offers” to pose nude?

Why then is this one “a good choice” for Miss Johnston at this time? Perhaps because her notion of what constitutes a good choice is a little outside the box. She’s got a penchant for going rogue that could outdo a Palin, amply demonstrated by her scathing — and deeply Bristol Palin-obsessed — blog. The woman who has a tattoo of her brother’s name on her wrist has deep wells of dislike for the lady who was nearly her sister-in-law, and a scrappy eagerness to dish on the former governor of Alaska’s family. On her blog, Johnston ruminates about Levi (known to her as “Ishy-Bear”) and the Palins, posts flattering photos of herself, and writes, with a tough-to-read candor, of her troubled mother’s medical problems.

It is, in many ways, like any other teenager’s blog, except that there’s a tenuous connection between the girl writing it and the scariest woman in America.  And it’s that raw loathing for the Palins that has given Mercede Johnston a strange cachet in certain circles: the fact that she’s rubbed elbows with the family, is bonded with them by her young nephew, and is only too glad to share her hostile correspondences with Bristol. When Bristol allegedly wrote her to “Get a job, or a hobby, or something,” Johnston shot back, “Believe me it would be so much easier to get a job out here if it wasn’t for your family. Unlike you I have other important things to do rather than traveling around preaching abstinence and earning thousands for doing so then coming home to which ever boyfriend it is this week and doing exactly the opposite of what you just lectured others not to do.” Aside from being a candidate for the run-on sentence Hall of Fame, there’s something in her exasperation that reflects a sentiment shared by many of the Palins’ numerous detractors, an indignant sense that this family has for the last several years been going around on some kind of misery-spreading North American tour.

So when that anonymous source told E! last week that “If she wants to take all of her clothes off at 19 for money, there’s always going to be someone who’s going to pay her to do that,” Johnston made no bones about where she believes the quote originated. She’s now rebutting the “lies” by saying: “That Palin family will say whatever they can to down talk my family. It’s unfortunate they have to act this way.”

Vitriol and spite are fantastic motivators, and Mercede Johnston certainly has both in store. But that’s not all she has going for her. In her writing, Johnston is more than open about the pain caused by her father’s infidelities, her mother’s stint in a correctional facility, and being unable to see her nephew. In addition, she’s a recent high school graduate who needs to make her way in the world, and televised dancing competitions aren’t an option for most people. Most of all, though, she’s a young woman who by her own admission has strained relationships with the primary family members in her life, one who even in her fury can say to Bristol on her blog, “I would love to meet up, or call and talk to you about all of this but since you won’t be mature enough to do that THIS is my last resort.” Sometimes, a last resort can look deceptively like a “good choice.” Johnston may be in as much need of money as the next struggling American, but if she disrobes for a magazine, it’s likely not just because she needs someone to pay her. It’s because she needs someone to pay attention to her.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>