This story is part of WLRN's new investigative blog, What's the Story? It originally ran as part of WLRN's Under the Sun What's Up With South Florida? series, in March of 2010.
Some time ago, journalist Nicholas Spangler wrote in The Miami Herald, “He calls to mind Michelangelo’s David, with a mission from a more swinging time.” He was referring to Don Bailey, the naked carpet guy you’ve noticed on the billboard driving down I-95.
When we ran a poll in 2009 to find out the question our readers most wanted answered, you chose the bronzed, scantily clad Don stretched out on a burgundy shag.
The picture is an ad for Don Bailey Carpets, but the idea came from an iconic photograph from 1972 where Burt Reynolds posed for Cosmopolitan magazine in the same state of undress. It was believed to be the first male centerfold. The picture of Reynolds sold out at newsstands in a matter of days, but Bailey’s flooring ad is still with us. Maybe carpet is still sexy?
Update: After this story originally aired, Don Bailey posed for another photo shoot. Soon after, his delivery trucks started displaying the classic portrait on one side and the new photos on the other. “I still look pretty,” Don said.