On Friday, news broke that Playboy Playmate and former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner, Shera Bechard, was granted a special visa. The headlines read: "Playmate Granted 'Genius' Visa" followed by information about the visa and, in most cases, sarcastic comments. Bechard was granted the visa, know as O-1s and EB-1's, for her development of the Twitter craze, 'Frisky Friday'.
Each Friday, Playboy's Twitter accepts sexy photos of women, usually not nude, with the hashtag #Frisky Friday attached to them. Towards the end of the day, three photos are picked as the top entries. There are no prizes, other than the honor of Playboy recognizing their photo. When Bechard started the program, shortly after being named Miss November 2010, only Playboy models participated. Now, there are thousands of entries as well as affiliations and tie-ins and it has become one of Twitter and Playboy's best success stories.
The articles about the story have contained hateful comments such as, "Does pretending you're sexually attracted to an eighty-year-old man qualify as a special skill?", "...something [needs to be] done about all these obvious loopholes.", and far, far worse. Especially mean are the article comments, many assuming Hefner paid to get Bechard the visa. Her attorney, Chris Wright, the go-to visa guy in Hollywood and Silicon Valley, must have anticipated the reaction and said, "There's nothing in those regulations that requires you to be a genius. It's quite condescending to say, 'Oh, the idiot Playboy Playmates, they don't qualify.'"
Today, Bechard spoke out about the assumptions in the media on her Facebook page. "For the record, I didn't receive a "genius" visa. I'd be the first to admit I'm not a genius. The visa is given to those in the arts, athletics, business & sciences who have extraordinary abilities. You don't have to be a genius to be a good fashion model, actor, baseball player or track and field star. You just have to achieve a certain level of success in your field, which I have done. I took me many months to put the application togetherÂ—no strings were pulled, no extra cash was paid, no favours doneÂ—I got it because I deserved it."
Shera Bechard recently ended her year-long romantic relationship with Hugh Hefner, moving into the 'Playmate House', near the Playboy Mansion. She is also an actress, having starred in the movie 'Sweet Karma', winning a Best New Actress award at Fantastic Fest. A sequel to 'Sweet Karma' is in the works. Bechard recently posed for a new upcoming Playboy pictorial. She is also an environmentalist who promotes animal rights, in particular the plight of polar bears in her native Canada.
Â© Margie Wilson-Mars 2012