Time was when raising funds meant having Wifey-Poo bake cookies for the annual church bazaar.
Today, raising cash for charity—especially if you're a cop, fireman, farmer or undertaker—may mean exposing your beefy backside in the pages of a glossy calendar, in the hope strangers (queer men, too) will pin your oiled-up image on their wall. I blame it on those old British bats who posed "nude" in the almanac that became the basis for the film Calendar Girls.
And the trend's huge. Except here in Portland. Last winter, I said how NOT HOT this city's first firefighters calendar was ("Where's the Beef?," Queer Window, Jan. 11, 2006). I don't think they heard me. '07's version (it's available at redcross-oregontrail.org), deemed "appropriate for all ages," is even lamer than last year's attempt.
That's not the case with the rest of our nation. With Men of Mortuaries (menofmortuaries.com), a Long Beach, Calif., funeral-home director has created what has to be the weirdest calendar ever to benefit breast cancer. MOM features 11 real, live Six Feet Under types who were each paid $1,000 to pose, in the (near) buff, as if they were burying the dead. They smile their asses off whether they're washing a hearse, embalming a loved one, or delivering ashes on a dock. My fave is blond-tressed Clayton Draggoo of Omak, Wash., who beams as he hands the stars-and-stripes to a dead soldier's family.
On the subject of soldiers, America's Heroes (freedomisnotfree.com) features steamy Reconnaissance Marines showing off their Iraqi-proof six-pack abs as they go about their biz of saving our collective asses (in swim trunks, natch). Sold to aid wounded "heroes," the calendar includes a disturbing photo of a soldier whose hand has been blown off. I guess it's there to remind us what war is about, but I think it's really there to tame the USMC-sanctioned boner that's about to pop out of your pup tent.
However, no one beats NYC's Fire Department when it comes to sexing up those who protect us. They have two shirt-free page turners that could teach PDX about turning up the heat without setting off any morality alarms. Although I like the trashy tourist vibe of New York City Firefighter (battmanstudios.com), the official FDNY Firefighters (fdnyfirezone.org) has truly fiery men. Not one to be left out, New Jersey decided to get into the biz with Calendar Cops (calendarcops.com), where Garden State's "finest" pack heat and little else.
Closer to home, Junction City, Ore.'s, The Men of the Long Tom Grange (grangecalendar.com) evokes the balls-out charm of the original "calendar girls." Posed so as not to expose their naughty bits, these 55-and-older Oregon farmers hide their junk behind tractors and bushels of walnuts. And, really, who doesn't want to see Mr. December, a double amputee, in the nude?
Penciling an appointment on my wall has never felt so good.