Andy Cohen stripped down in public, posed for a nude photo, and posted it to Instagram. No—he wasn’t drunk, and no, Anderson Cooper was not involved. In fact, this isn’t the first time he’s shown all of New York City (that happens to be up at 6AM), what he’s working with.
Thirty years ago, Cohen teamed up with photographer Spencer Tunick for a spicy photoshoot outside the New York Public Library, where the Watch What Happens Live host, then with a mane of hair, posed nude beneath the iconic lion. Today, he’s done it again—this time, for the skin and sun care brand, EltaMD.
May is National Skin Cancer Awareness Month and summer is approaching. While the sun may feel good and natural vitamin D is great for preventing brittle bones, there are downsides. The sun is a major cause of our skin aging; without protection, it can also cause cancer. Seriously. Just ask Cohen—his friend Kelly Ripa encouraged him to get a black dot on his lip checked out by a dermatologist while they were at a party. It was melanoma. “My bout with skin cancer completely changed my relationship with the sun. I spent many years worshipping the sun, which turned out to be a very toxic relationship! I don’t lay out in the sun anymore, obviously, and I’m really careful about taking care of my skin in and out of the sun,” Cohen shares exclusively with ELLE.com.
So to help raise awareness about skin cancer, Cohen recreated his iconic nude photo, wearing nothing but EltaMD’s new UX AOX Mist. It’s the first sheer-finish, 100% mineral sunscreen spray enriched with antioxidants to prevent premature aging and rejuvenate the skin. “The original photo was taken as I was preparing to cut off a head of hair I’d been growing for years. I wanted to commemorate that I had it. A pal hooked me up with Spencer, who pitched the idea of showcasing my lion’s mane in front of the lion at the NYPL,” he reflects on the image. The modern-day photo was taken at sunrise. Cohen describes the experience as “surreal”— “This dude has seen me butt-naked twice,” he exclaims.
Throughout the jokes, he’s very serious about sun cancer awareness. “98% of skin cancer is preventable with proactive measures. Daily sunscreen and regular skin checks with your derm are crucial. Skin cancer is no joke— 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer by the age of 70,” he reveals. And though the TV host is well known for sitting amid (and sometimes instigating) Real Housewives drama, today, he’s speaking up for a good cause, and his kids play a big part in his evolution. “I think having two kids really sent me off my axis of comfort and caused me to re-evaluate the way I was living my life and my priorities,” shares Cohen, who is a dad to Benjamin, 4, and Lucy, 1. “I’m learning a lot about vaginas,” he exclaims when asked what he’s learning about as a “girl dad.”
While a nude shoot would have many New Yorkers running to the nearest Equinox, Cohen felt quite prepared. “I’m on the heels of a major fitness and diet journey, so I was thankfully pretty camera-ready,” he shares. Nevertheless, the man that enters the homes of millions via Bravo admits, “I was still terrified of getting in the buff for Spencer,” before adding, “He made me feel very comfortable.” Speaking of fitness, he shares that his good friend Jane Fonda isn’t giving him workout advice, but rather girl dad advice: “[She] told me to raise her so that she knows she can come to me with any problem and talk to me about everything.”
Now how does the saying go? “Sex sells”—sunscreen in this situation. As part of the campaign, for every person tagged, EltaMD will donate one bottle of sunscreen to the Melanoma Research Foundation up to $100,000 in product value to aid the fight against skin cancer. When they are of age, I’m sure this campaign is something that will make his children proud.
Danielle James is the Digital Beauty Director of ELLE.com. Previously, she was the Fashion and Beauty Director of HelloBeautiful.com and MadameNoire.com. She’s bylined for The Cut, InStyle, Allure, Business of Fashion, Nylon, Essence, Good Housekeeping, The Grio, and Huffington Post. Danielle enjoys sailing, thrifting, Japanese whiskey, Naomi Campbell’s runway walk, and Rihanna in the comment section.