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Watch Out! This Rihanna Photo Shoot Might Turn You to Stone

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Rihanna as Medusa (British GQ)

Rihanna certainly knows how to make a provocative statement. And a scary one.

Just in time for Halloween, the "Diamonds" singer posed topless and covered in snakes (zoiks!) for the cover of British GQ's special December issue celebrating their 25th anniversary (hitting newsstands Dec. 31). The shoot was styled by reclusive U.K. artist Damien Hirst, whom some think may be the most wealthy living artist in the world.

Of course, becoming Medusa involves snakes … lots of snakes. And it appears that the Barbadian native didn't shy away from working with her slithery co-stars. In fact, the only thing Rihanna, 25, wore for the shoot were high heels and a thong made from what looks like the broken pieces of a disco ball (side note: ouch!). In at least one shot, she dons her own snake fangs (she posted several of the mag's inner pics on her Instagram page).

Medusa, of course, is the Gorgon creature from Greek mythology whose eyes turn anyone that looks at her to stone. The hero Perseus slays her and takes her head as a prize to defeat a sea creature sent by the sea god Poseidon to kill his true love Andromeda.

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In other words, steer clear, Chris Brown.

Hirst spoke about the shoot and had some very interesting things to say about his famous muse.

"At the end of the day the only interesting people are the people who go, 'F*** off. This is what I think.' And you know what? That's why I like Rihanna. She's very 'F***the lot of you, this is what I think.' Oh, and she's also really sexy."

As for 'Why Medusa?' the artist explained, "I'm working on a new collection, a series called Treasures. There are some paintings of Medusa, some sculptures. The idea has an arc. I've been working on it for about four years and it probably won't be finished for another four."

He even shared an anecdote about how Rihanna was supposed to visit him once to buy a piece of his art, around the time when "Umbrella" was a hit (2007), after Jay-Z had given her a Hirst and she had acquired an initial taste for his aesthetic. "She arranged to come to the studio about five times I think. She never made it. It made me laugh actually because that's precisely what I used to be like back in the glory days. I just kept missing appointments; going out on a Friday night and turning up to meetings on Monday morning like a tramp, still off my head. I waited a few times for her, getting a taste of my own medicine."

Rihanna certainly seemed excited about the cover shoot with the famous artist, tweeting up a storm on Friday about it:

So, how many of the snakes were real? Omg! has reached out to Rihanna's team and Britsh GQ for details, but hasn't heard anything back and Damien Hirst's rep declined to comment. However, we did catch up with a snake expert to get their take on Rihanna's reptiles.

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"Only the one ball python appears to be real — the rest appear to be artistically modified in some way," says Christina Simmons, who works in Public Relations for the San Diego Zoo. "Ball pythons are snakes that are often kept as pets by people interested in reptiles. They tend to be relatively easygoing and work well with people."

So, there you have it. Your move, Miley!

(Story originally published on Oct. 29, and updated on Oct. 30 at 11:45 a.m. PT)

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