Jessica Hahn

Born July 7, 1959, Massapequa, NY

Many people know of the infamous Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, the TV televangelist couple, famous for stealing millions from their congregation to fund their lavish lifestyle (and crying with mascara), and eventually Jim Bakker being convicted and sent to prison for mail fraud, conspiracy, and wire fraud in late 1989.

Before that however, Jim Bakker and fellow preacher, John Wesley Fletcher, drugged and raped Bakker’s 21-year-old church secretary, Jessica Hahn, in December 1980. They paid her $279,000 pay-off for her silence. But eventually in March 19, 1987, Bakker announced he was stepping down as head of PTL Satellite Network and Heritage USA, after disclosing their ‘sexual encounter’.

Rather than shying away, Hahn came forward in the Press, no longer afraid and ashamed. Her major act of defiance, of not letting Bakker’s abuse and continually denial that a rape occurred, was when she agreed to pose for “Playboy” that year and became the cover girl of the November 1987 issue. She was reclaiming her body, no longer ashamed or having to hide what happened to her. I understand this feeling, of having experienced sexual trauma growing up and now as an adult finding confidence in my nude body. 

Through the act of embroidery, I am actively relooking at and contemplating, Hahn’s story and how she was affected. By embroidering images from her photoshoot and framing them in conjunction with pages from a ‘dirty’ magazine, I am elevating Playboy to fine art and exposing a new audience to Hahn’s story of bravery and defiance during the conservative Reagan-era in the US. 

 
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Part I:

Jessica Hahn: Born Again, 2019

Playboy, November 1987

 
 
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PART II:

The Cover-Up, 2091

Playboy, December 1987

 
 
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Part III

The New Jessica

~In Progress~

Playboy, November 1988

 
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The Penthouse Prologue:

Her Own Story

~In Progress~

Penthouse, October 1987

 

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