Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

And heartfelt apologies to the reporters who've tried to contact me during the slow news week between Christmas and New Year's. I would have been delighted to offer a comment or two on the 2007 crop of calendars, but real life intervened and prevented me from returning any calls. I'm very flattered that you thought of me.

I'll offer a couple of observations here; Perhaps you will find them helpful.

I don't flatter myself that my list is complete, but I suspect it is at least representative. If it is, then there appear to have been fewer such calendars produced this year than in previous years.

It may be that the idea of producing a "nude" calendar had become a fad, fueled by the notoriety of the Rylstone "Calendar Girls" and the motion picture based on their experience. I wouldn't have thought that they had that much international influence, but for several years there was something new each year related to them (the publicity from their original calendar, the announcement of the motion picture deal, the theatrical release of the movie, the release of the second calendar, the movie's home video release). This year, the ladies of Rylstone do have a new calendar, but it's available only locally and features them fully clothed photographed with Prince Charles. That doesn't seem to have piqued the public interest as the earlier calendars did.

But there are still plenty of calendars in release in 2007, including "sequels" from the Men of Long Tom Grange and the Women's Curling Team. This speaks well of the project's potential for success, since organizations that failed with the first one aren't likely to produce a second or third. Search as I may, I haven't found any "horror stories": The vast majority of groups that have published "nude" calendars appear to have raised some money with it... and had fun. Very occasionally, an intended beneficiary may decide they won't accept money raised in such a way, which is certainly their right but strikes me as short-sighted.

I'm intrigued by the comments from professor Peter Rea of Baldwin-Wallace College, in this recent AP article, in which he suggests that in the long term, a charity's resources might be better spent in more conventional philanthropic research, to identify deep-pocket donors committed to the charity's mission. I don't doubt that he's right. But I also think there's a place for this kind of profile-raising project, as well. It has two advantages that Professor Rea's approach doesn't have: One, it can potentially involve larger numbers of volunteers (as models, photographers, or salespeople), and two, it's fun, something which cannot be said of cold-calling potential benefactors to solicit donations.

Look at the faces of the people pictured in these calendars. It's undeniable that they're having the time of their lives. (Who among us wouldn't be flattered by the idea that people would pay money to see us naked?) It also seems to me that the innocent delight depicted in these photographs is a sorely-needed counterpoint to the increasingly-sordid portrayal of sex and nudity in popular media. Everyone should have one of these calendars on their desk.

With the advent of professional-quality digital cameras and the unprecedented ease of self-publishing in the 21st century, it seems likely--if not inevitable--that the phenomenon will continue.

PS--Deep in my archives I did eventually find unhappy endings for Spin and Bare It 2004 and Men of Seminole 2005, each of which lost a significant sum for its sponsor.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bare Because We Care

And this year's winner of the press coverage jackpot is... the Humane Society of Jefferson County's "Bare Because We Care" 2007. Dinesh Ramde of the Associated Press can be proud that his (her?) sentence following appears on hundreds of major newspapers and television news operations' websites:

Miss December is wearing nothing but a Santa hat and a smile. Oh, and holding one strategically placed cat.

I mean, who can ask for a better lede than that? Congratulations, Denesh. (I suppose, if one works for AP, one must get used to seeing one's words and by-line in outlets worldwide. Little ole me still thinks it's kinda cool.)

Miraculously, the Jefferson County Humane Society's servers haven't collapsed yet.

Even more miraculously, neither have mine. That AP story brought me about ten times my normal traffic, as it tempted people to Google for "nude charity calendar" with their new Christmas computers. (I think I'm in the first page of results for just about any permutation of those words.)

For those of you who are new here, welcome! Glad to see you.

UPDATE: In a story for the 2012 edition, WEAU reports that the 2007 calendar raised $30,000! Wahoo!