RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Hortencia Marcari, widely regarded as the best women's basketball player in the world, is pursuing a new line of work.
"She has no problem of philosophy, it's down to a question of money," said Carlos Costa, an editor of the Brazilian edition of Playboy. "Maybe she isn't a classically beautiful woman but she has a very expressive face and a fine body."
The 28-year-old blonde, one of the more celebrated athletes in a country where soccer is king, is trading in her jersey for a birthday suit. She is to pose nude for the magazine although haggling over money could delay publication.
Like many top Brazilian athletes, Hortencia is known simply by her first name. She starred for the Brazilian team that finished second to the United States at this summer's Pan American Games in Indianapolis.
Jody Conradt, the U.S. Pan Am coach, marveled at her speed, electric presence and phenomenal outside shooting. Hortencia plays for the Minercal club and once scored 124 points in a game. The final score: 251-27.
The Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted the player saying she is "religious and hoping to get married some day and have children."
"If I'm going to take my clothes off it's got to be for lots of money," she told the paper.
Costa said his magazine has proposed paying Hortencia $36,000. But he said she is holding out for double that amount, possibly jeopardizing the deal. Costa said the most money paid by his magazine was $100,000 to top television actress Maite Proenca for a special edition that sold 777,000 copies.
It is not unusual for Brazilian men's magazines to publish photos of popular actresses, singers or even relatives of politicians. Costa said Hortencia would be the first sports personality to appear nude.
Erika Mes of Holland, a former world champion body builder, recently was suspended for a year by her international federation for appearing nude in the Dutch edition of Playboy. She will miss the 1988 World Championships in Toronto because of the ruling.
A spokesman at Playboy headquarters in Chicago said the magazine is not using a theme of women athletes. He said the magazine's 13 international editions act "pretty independently" in such decisions.
West German tennis star Steffi Graf recently turned down a request to pose nude for another sexually explicit magazine. No top American female athlete has done such work, although a few years ago Jan Stephenson posed suggestively for a golf magazine.
Costa said he hoped to run Hortencia's photos in December but contract delays may lead to a February or March release.
"The problem is that Hortencia got an offer to play for an Italian club and she's starting to see everything in dollars," he said.