Anything for the Animals
Many of the models are rescue-animal owners, so they had a very personal stake in the project. Still, a seminude calendar was quite a stretch. Frame shop owner Karen Sergent-Rakers (Miss September '08), who has five rescue animals at home, says she couldn't quite believe she was posing and won't soon forget the moment the photographer said, "It's time to drop your robe." Flip through the calendar and you'll find her in a classic cheesecake pose behind a strategically placed gilt-framed portrait of Moses, her yellow Labrador retriever/Newfoundland mix.
For photographer Allen, perhaps the biggest challenge was keeping order in the boardroom during the topless group shot. "You'd get one side of the table settled and the others would start laughing," he remembers. "We had to try not to look at each other," says construction company president Monika Barkley (Miss February '09).
When the Petals & Paws calendar debuted last May, 1,000 of the 3,000 copies were snapped up immediately. At press time the WCHS had grossed $25,500, with sales ongoing both locally and online at www.goldsboro-wchs.org. Along with other fund-raising efforts, the calendar has helped the humane society get three-quarters of the way to its $150,000 goal. The all-volunteer staff is still working to raise the rest of the money, but that didn't stop the new shelter from opening on August 16. Landscaped with crape myrtle trees and outfitted with spacious pens and brightly lit visiting rooms where potential owners can bond with pets, the new Wayne County Animal Adoption and Education Center is a far cry from the depressing pound it once was.
Though it's unlikely they'd ever have to pose half-nude again, you get the sense that the women of Goldsboro would do whatever is necessary to protect their four-legged friends. Said Barkley, who agreed to the project despite worries that her recent heart-surgery scar would show, "I'd have run naked in the streets to give a shelter animal one more day of life so someone could adopt him."
As a plus, most of the models were happy with their photos, and their husbands found the whole thing a hoot. "We probably sold 30 or 40 calendars to friends and relatives," says Bob Crenshaw, co-owner of the local health-food store, whose wife, Susan, is Miss October '09. "When people see the opening shot, where the girls are topless, they all say, 'I wish I'd been there!'"
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, January 2009.