Sunday, January 25, 2004

Overexposure Alert!

Nude calendar flood
When the ladies of Rylstone, England, decided to take it off -- well, take it almost all off -- for a fund-raising calendar, they couldn't have foreseen the worldwide fallout.

The Rylstone Women's Institute 2000 calendar, which showcased not nubile young women but nearly nude middle-aged ladies discreetly posed behind gardening or homemaking equipment, sparked international interest and the current movie Calendar Girls.

The calendar honored one of the institute's members, whose husband had died of cancer. The participants could not have known that the project, begun as a lark, would raise more than $750,000 for leukemia and lymphoma research.

Nor could they have known that gardeners in Texas, firefighters in Rhode Island, accordion players in Newfoundland, wool spinners in Maine and the full-Vermont-y ``Men of Maple Corners'' soon would follow suit.

In Massachusetts, former Clinton Cabinet member Robert Reich posed for a 2004 calendar supporting Cambridge Community TV -- in the buff behind a shopping basket filled with greens and an impressively large baguette.
And the last is sure evidence that the trend is past its prime. More details (but no pictures) by following the link, but here's the punchline:
In the United Kingdom, where it all began, some commentators are growing bored with the phenomenon. Annie Gunner, who writes an online column for Third Force News, a project of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organizations, laments that the world is ``now awash, alas, with nude calendars. Anyone, anywhere, trying to raise funds has hit on the idea of getting their kit off and becoming Mr. January.''

She quotes 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who once said, ``I have seen three emperors in their nakedness and the sight was not inspiring.''

``Go, Otto,'' Gunner writes. ``And for gawd's sake, the rest of you, get bloody dressed.''