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Levi Johnston, dad of Palin grandson, bares all for Playgirl cover

By RACHEL D'ORO, Associated Press

663-Levi_Johnston_Playgirl_sff_embedded_prod_affiliate_56 ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The teen father of Sarah Palin's grandson is featured on the cover of the upcoming print version of Playgirl magazine - sporting nothing but a sultry gaze.

The photos of Levi Johnston - the 19-year-old former fiance of Palin's daughter - were a huge hit last fall on the magazine's Web site. The publisher expects the same results with other photos from the same shoot running in the newly resurrected print version available on newsstands Feb. 22.

Johnston fathered a son with ex-fiance Bristol, the 19-year-old daughter of the former Republican vice presidential candidate who resigned as Alaska's governor last summer. The young couple broke up after the birth of their son, Tripp, in late 2008.

The upcoming Playgirl print spread includes an interview with Johnston, who discussed his strained relationship with the Palins, said Daniel Nardicio, a spokesman for the magazine. An hour-long behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot also will be available on cable-on-demand programming from Friday to March 11.

Bristol Palin, who is in a child custody battle with Johnston, has called the Playboy shoot "risque" in her legal petition. Claiming he made more than $105,000 last year from media interviews and modeling assignments, she is seeking $1,750 a month in child support and $18,350 in back child support.

Palin's spokewoman, Meghan Stapleton, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Johnston initially agreed to do frontal nudity when negotiations began for the fall shoot, according to Nardicio.

Johnston backed away from baring all after he was criticized for taking the job and some called Playgirl a magazine for gay men.

Nardicio said he considers the magazine appealing to both men and women, although the audience is predominantly male.

Some people believed posing nude was a mistake for Johnston, according to his attorney, Rex Butler, who disagreed.

"I think it was the right decision," he said, adding that other media opportunities were in the works but not finalized.

Ultimately, Johnston was strategically posed, revealing only his backside.

"There are a lot of sexy and suggestive shots," Nardicio said.

"The cover is a good shot. I didn't know how handsome that young man is," Butler said.

Two rounds of photos have already run on the Playgirl Web site. At their peak, the photos were drawing hits from about 800 paying consumers daily. Nardicio said 70 percent of the consumers used male names and the rest used women's names.

"Due to the popularity of that shoot, people wanted a print version" and helped fuel a decision to bring back the print version, Nardicio said.

The magazine officially returned to newsstands in December with a special that was already planned. Johnston, however, is the first cover in the regular editions to be published quarterly. Nardicio said 112,000 copies are being printed for the Johnston edition.

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