It's a proud day for the men of Gambier Island. Last August, they started work on modelling for a full colour calendar under the artistic direction of island artist Gloria Masse and the semi-professional photography talent of Joley Switzer. Each participant represented one month in the 16-month calendar and each contributed a corresponding write up about his hopes, loves, lives and hobbies.
The proceeds from the sale of the calendar will go towards purchasing a defibrillator (an emergency device for heart attack victims) that would be readily available on the island. Resident Stephen Sell (Mr. December 2007) was assigned to make a fundraising plea to encourage everyone to buy a copy.
"If it saves only one life on Gambier, it will be worth it," said Sell. The pitch was successful. Less than 24 hours after the launch of the finished calendar last week, they had already sold 120 copies of their limited edition of 200.And all the men had to do was take off their clothes.
Nude calendars have become de rigueur as a fundraising item, but very few of them feature nude men. Or when they do, the men are studly firefighters. But the Men of Gambier Island calendar uses tasteful photos of regular guys doing what regular guys do: buffing their boats (yes, buffing in the buff), sawing logs, fishing, riding their John Deere, kayaking, grappling logs through a sawmill and swinging through the trees on a rope. Well, okay, that last is atypical of the average guy, but it sure looks right when Mr. October, Bobby Bruce, the Neil Diamond impersonator, wrestles that rope while dressed in one half of a glitzy stage outfit.
The calendar men of Gambier Island are all ages: from the youngest, a boat skipper in his 30s, to several seniors, one of whom is 85.At a launch party last week at the home of Joley and Bob Switzer (Mr. December, 2006) several of the men, fully clothed this time, described how the idea was sparked at an 80th birthday party for an island resident. The men give much credit to artist Masse and friend Switzer who took on the all-consuming project. The two women give credit to one another.
"I'm the techie," says Switzer, "and Gloria is the humanist. She made everyone feel comfortable." Each shot was posed with respect to the model's dignity, then rehearsed fully clothed until everyone was satisfied with the result and accomplished with skill at revealing less rather than more. There are no full montys. After the pictures were taken, Switzer wielded the Photoshop program to create the cover photo, and the two artists battled a steep learning curve in finding a suitable print shop for the full colour publication.
Many of the calendar pin-ups were not aware of who shared the pages until the evening of the launch party, when they each received a copy. The general feeling was that the project had been handled with dignity and professionalism.You can still buy one of the limited edition Men of Gambier Island calendars for $20 each. They are available through Gloria Masse at 604-886-8098 or Joley Switzer at 604-886-8823. If you are visiting Gambier Island, they can make arrangements to bring one to the wharf for you, complete with its plain brown wrapper.