For a pinup calendar in this bare-all age, it’s remarkably demure. The focus is soft, the poses are classic, and all critical areas are artfully shielded by hands or shadows. So what’s the big deal? That is exactly what part-time photographer Kathy Metcalf, 32, is wondering. Thus far her project has met fierce opposition, first from photoengravers, then from retail distributors and, finally, from her employer, a Dallas company that fired her, she says, for peddling calendars and soliciting models on the job. The calendar models are men—and that, Metcalf asserts, is the problem. “Clearly, there’s a double standard working there,” she says of Glitsch, Inc., a refining-equipment manufacturer where she was a production coordinator. “If I had been selling Tupperware, they would have slapped my hand and sent me back to work.”
Metcalf’s first hurdle was convincing friends and colleagues to pose nude. “Men are very vain and shy,” she says. “I had to talk continuously to keep them from getting too uptight. When the shoot was over, they all worried that a scar or zit was going to show.” She selected men who do not look like models and had them pose in her laundry room. “These are guys who could be sitting next to you or standing on the loading dock. I tried to vary them in age, degree of hairiness and size. Different people have different tastes.”
Some people, she discovered, have no taste for any of it. Obtaining $15,000 from a friend to print 5,000 calendars, Metcalf hired a photoengraver—until he found out the subject. “No way we’ll handle obscene photos,” she was told. Once the engraver saw the pictures, though, he agreed they were not obscene and did the work. “It’s the idea of the male nude they think is lewd,” Metcalf observes. Most bookstores and newsstands turned her down for that reason. “If the calendar was of nude women, I’d buy it in a minute,” one newsstand owner admitted.
Still out of a job, Metcalf is hopeful that the $9.50 calendar will make money and start her on a new full-time career in photography. Her most pressing problem now is calming one of her models, who is a bit queasy about his upcoming exposure. Admits Kathy: “This all started as a kind of practice for me. I don’t think they ever thought I would see it through.”