An afternoon movie about sexy seniors posing nude to raise money for charity gave a group of local women an idea they couldn't resist.
Phoenix residents Carole Allen, Emily Bernhardt and Jo Merritt debuted the "Women of a Certain Age" 2013 calendar this fall. And while the calendar has a little zing to it, they toned it down to PG-13 with the addition of furry puppies and kitties.
"Women of a Certain Age" 2013 calendars are for sale online or at Southern Oregon Humane Society for $10.
To order, see www.ofacertainage.org or call the shelter at 541-779-3215.
The acknowledged elder of the group, Merritt, who turns 90 this month, was a big fan of the 2003 "Calendar Girls" movie, based on a true story about a group of sassy Yorkshire women posing in the buff to raise money for leukemia research.
When their neighborhood clubhouse featured "Calendar Girls" on a weekly movie night, Bernhardt, Allen and Merritt watched the show together.
"I love the original movie, and I have the calendar because my daughter bought it for me when the movie came out," Merritt says.
"When all us ladies watched the movie at the clubhouse, I took my calendar over, and we were all looking at it, and we got to thinking, 'I bet we could do this.' "
After moving beyond initial chuckles about "Photoshop for wrinkles" and practicing in various outfits and poses, the group began to focus on the project's feasibility.
"Women of a Certain Age" 2013 calendar was born after the soon-to-be models found a willing partner in the Southern Oregon Humane Society.
Armed with ideas for feisty and fun photos, the ladies put the shelter's executive director, Kenn Altine, through the process of give-and-take, Altine admits with a laugh.
"When they first came and made the pitch for 'Calendar Girls,' I was like, 'Um, OK. How do I say this politely? No nudity!' " Altine says with a laugh.
"And, of course, they said, 'Oh, no, no, no. No skin showing ... well, maybe some skin showing. How much skin do you think — and whose skin — is OK?' "
With a focus on shelter animals, the seniors and Altine agreed on a cleaner calendar image.
Allen, who slips into her alter ego "Miss January," teases that the seniors' ideas were initially "a little bit racier" than Altine might have preferred, though Ashland photographer Judith Pavlik helped the ladies find a compromise between sexy and modest.
"One lady was going to have her photos done on Mount Ashland with two skis in front of her and nothing on," Allen recalls.
"We had some ideas that were a little bit racy, but when the animal shelter adopted our project, we had to clean it up a little."
The women raised more than $4,000 to create the calendar, and Altine says the project was enjoyable, memorable and taught him the value of saying, simply, "Yes, thank you" to groups who offer help. If all 1,000 calendars from the first print run are sold, the shelter will receive $10,000.
"This was a feisty group," Altine says. "At first, they brought in pictures of pinup girls that were hanging on the insides of airplanes during World War II.
"They were throwing around ideas, and I told them, 'Ladies, you're killing me!' But as soon as they brought in the first round of proofs, they were just fantastic, so it was easy to keep things rolling. A few (pictures) were pretty sassy, but they were all just really, really wonderful!"
One of the more scandalous features of the calendar included Miss February, aka Bernhardt, whose fishnet stocking-clad legs grace the front of the calendar as her spaniel, Molly, looks woefully skyward beneath her skirt.
"At first, everyone said, 'We can't put that on the calendar, that won't be nice,' " Bernhardt says.
"Our photographer, Judy Pavlik, told us, 'Are you kidding? That's just what this thing needs!' "
Confirming the sex appeal of the photo, and of 75-year-old Bernhardt's legs, a local advertiser donated billboard space at Elk Street and South Pacific Highway for all the Rogue Valley to see.
The popularity of the calendar, and achieving such an appealing product, was only half the fun, Bernhardt says.
"At 75, it is nice to still have legs that look like that," she quips.
Merritt, who donned a red boa over bare shoulders, was perhaps the most risqué of the dozen women photographed.
"The red, silk outfit it looks like I'm wearing in my pictures? That's really just a red, silk sheet," she says. "That was all I was wearing!
"What was important was we had so much fun, and it was all for such a good cause."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at email@example.com.