Let the record show that they were not itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny bikinis. They were, admittedly, two-piece suits that bared a bit more than Annette Funicello did in Beach Blanket Bingo. And they were on girls too young to vote or, in one case, drive. But “exploitative?” “Flesh peddling?” “Playboy-like?” That’s strong language, especially for officials in Gilroy, Calif., a San Jose suburb that usually gets from one annual Garlic Festival to the next without too much excitement.
The flap began after Gilroy High seniors and student council members Frank Haseler and Jennifer Pate got the idea to raise money for a class trip to Disneyland by putting out a student calendar. “Car washes don’t bring in money anymore,” explains junior Lori Hughes, who modeled in a sweater and skirt. She was one of 14 students, including one boy, recruited to pose in outfits appropriate to each month. For October, Laurie Chavez sported a shirt and a skirt. December’s Andy Barberi had on a formal dance dress. And, logically, the Misses June, July and August wore their bathing suits.
But when the seniors asked for funds for printing, some faculty and school board members proclaimed that taxpayers’ money should not be spent on exposed flesh. Never mind that the models all had parental permission (“If my mom and dad approved, it can’t be that racy,” said one) or that you can see such garb “at the beach and in the Sears catalogue,” as even school board President John Arvizu admitted. Principal Ernie Zermeno denied school funds to the project.
The students are getting the last laugh. The well-publicized fracas has pushed orders for the calendar over 3,000 at $7.50 per, while private donations have added $2,000. Haseler and Pate will spend it all on the senior outing. “I know it sounds real Brady Bunch,” he says, “but that was the plan and we’re going to stick to it. We want to go to Disneyland.” It’s not too late for the officials, now known in some circles as “the killjoys of Gilroy,” to get in on the act, but they’re holding fast. “I received two calls from out-of-town administrators who wanted to place orders through me,” says school Superintendent Ken Noonan. “I told them I don’t do calendars.”