Reid Armstrong: Baring some of it … for a good cause
Grand County, CO Colorado
Ever since the movie Calendar Girls was released in 2003, risque calendars have been a growing arm in the world of non-profit fundraising efforts.
One of my personal favorites has to be “Men of Mortuaries,” which features month after month of “dead sexy” men. The calendar is a fundraiser for KAMM, which puts money directly into the hands of cancer patients.
The “BRAve men of Dexter” calendar features prominent members of that Michigan community decked out in women’s bras to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Another famous in-the-buff fundraising calendar featured the “Ladies of Granby” and raised money for Granby businesses that were affected by Marvin Heemeyer’s 2004 bulldozer rampage.
This year, Grand Adventures’ snowmobile guides are taking a spin on the stage of calendar fame. The calendars are selling like “hot cakes” and raise money for the Grand Foundation, which makes grants to numerous local non-profit organizations.
Photographer Steve Willis (Mr. August) took the guys out into the cold and snowy elements over the course of several weeks, making them “bare it all.” OK, well only one guy (Rockin’ Rob Keith – Mr. February) actually bared most of it. Others took their shirts off or left them slightly unbuttoned. Mr. August (the photographer himself) wore bottomless chaps.
“Rockin’ Rob helped set the tone for it a little more,” Willis said. “And I had to bare a little … to get these guys to open up, I had to be willing to go out there myself.”
“I like to be pretty out there,” said Keith who wore a spiked collar and fishnet stockings for his shoot. “I don’t need to be very conservative. It fit that I’d do something wild like that.”
Considering that Grand Adventures is more of a family operation, “We went right to the edge,” Willis said.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Mr. Mom/Mr. May, Adam Brown, with his baby on board and the well-clad Mr. September, Steve Cook, with his fishing pole.
As to getting out there in the brutal elements for a photo shoot, even the hardest shot came pretty easy, Willis said.
“The December shot was probably the coldest,” Willis said. “It was snowing out that day. And snowflakes kept getting on the lens.”
As the photographer, he found it a bit awkward when it came to coaching the guys to open their shirts a little bit more. “I’m used to shooting girls,” he said.
“It was tough getting some of the guys into tights,” he added.
Once the photo shoots were under way, “people would drive by doing the double and triple look,” Willis said.
The theme for each month focuses on what each guy does for his summer job or hobby. Mr. March, John Simon, who is also a fireman, appears draped in bunker gear with a rescue sled behind him. Mr. July, John O’Connor, who also works for the U.S. Forest Service, appears clad in his unbuttoned uniform with a chain saw.
With the release of the calendar, the guides have become “instant studs,” Keith said. “Every time we go into a restaurant or bar, people are coming up to us and asking us to sign it.”
“I can’t go out to a bar without getting razzed about it all,” Willis said. “I’ve got more guys telling me I have a nice ass …”
The attention doesn’t bother Keith: “I’m enjoying the life of being a celebrity,” he said … even if it has gone to his head a little: “We’re just a bunch of real men with hot bodies.”
On a more serious note, “The reception throughout town is more than I expected,” Willis said. “It’s was a good morale builder for us, and it’s for a good cause.”
The calendars, which are available at Grand Adventures’ three Winter Park locations, sell for $10. Grand Adventures will donate 50 percent of the proceeds to the Grand Foundation.
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