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SCV’s own ‘Calendar Girls’

Twelve senior women featured in 2010 “This is Not Your Grandmother’s Senior Center” calendar

Posted: December 20, 2009 9:28 p.m.
Updated: December 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Photographer William Innes took photos of the 12 senior women for the 2010 calendar.

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Shirley Laurino, 55, of Stevenson Ranch is a full-time special education teacher. She's also a calendar pin up.

Laurino's one of 12 senior women featured in the 2010 "This is Not Your Grandmother's Senior Center" calendar produced by the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center as a way to raise funds for its non-profit organization, as well as awareness of ageism.

"I wanted to begin to change the image and stereotypes of seniors," said Robin Clough, director of recreation and volunteers at the center. "When women become seniors, their experience, wisdom, and self-knowledge really makes them empowered and beautiful. As people will see in the calendar, they are vital, gorgeous and fun."

Professional photographer William Innes donated his time to photograph the 12-month calendar, which retails for $10 or two for $15. One hundred percent of profits benefit the senior center.

"We had a blast. The people here are phenomenal," Innes said. "I only have two and a half years left before I classify as a senior myself, so I really wanted to give back."

The idea for the project came about when "Calendar Girls," a British movie that depicts the uproar caused by the creation of a sexy senior calendar in a small village, was shown as the featured selection of "Senior Center Cinema."

Clough began to imagine their own version, featuring the many senior volunteers at center. She recruited Innes and, along with a committee, outlined the different scenarios for each month.

The 12 scenarios are focused on particular services and programs provided by the center, including home-delivered meals, the handyworker program and art classes.

Locations were scouted throughout the valley, from a bountiful garden off of Bouquet Canyon to a local gym that provided the backdrop for Miss August Joyce Menta, 57, looking very fit in a tank top, boxing gloves and not much else.

Decked out in an apron in a modern kitchen, Laurino's look was decidedly more demure, to the chagrin of her husband.

"He said, ‘Honey, I wish you would have shown more cleavage,'" she said with a laugh.

Laurino's mother, Helen Johnson, who died this April, was one of the center's most active volunteers. Part of the appeal to pose was to do so in her mother's honor.

"My mother loved this place," she said.

The spotlight came naturally for Laurino, who likes to sing, act and dance in her spare time.

"It was a ball. I had a great time," she said.

For Miss April, Armida Brooks, 67, of Friendly Valley, the process wasn't quite so comfortable. Admittedly shy, Brooks donned a nurse outfit to illustrate the center's many health and wellness programs. Once the camera started shooting, though, Brooks found herself relaxing.

"I don't usually like getting my picture taken, but this was fun. William made it fun," she said.

Clough and Innes matched each pinup's personality to the proposed scenarios, which was easy to do since he had taken portraits of many of them during a prior charity shoot for the center.

They also met as a group to brainstorm the calendar prior to principle photography, which took place over late summer and early fall.

"We had a chance to sit down and relax. All these women had great stories and most weren't shy. There was a lot of innuendo floating around. They were very open and a lot of fun. They made me blush," Innes said.

Makeup artist Tammy Holoter donated her services and helped inspire the women on set.

"It was do this, put your hand there, lower your glasses," said Diane Hill, 70, of Canyon Country. "It was all a big giggle."

As Miss September, Hill portrayed a teacher clad in a blue shirt and short khaki skirt, saucily showing off her sexy gams, pointing to a globe amongst a mountain of books. The inscription under her photo reads "The world is at our fingertips with life long learning.

Best of all, there's no homework."

Hill, who acts a cashier for the center's lunches on Mondays and Tuesdays, didn't want to participate at first, but as a volunteer, finally felt compelled to answer the call.

"I don't mind making a fool out of myself," she said. "I hope people realize that we're not a bunch of old fogies, that we still know how to have fun."

Innes, who usually photographs weddings, learned new computer software so he could design the calendar, which offers interesting bits of trivia on select dates. A local printer gave the center an extreme discount so that it could retain maximum profit from each sale.

Clough, excited about the final result, is already starting to plan the 2011 calendar in her head.

"Senior women are contributing more to society than any other demographic. Age is just a state of mind. People don't realize, they should never underestimate a senior woman," she said.

Brad Behrens, executive director of the center, couldn't agree more.

"Ooh la la for our wonderful, beautiful senior ladies," he said.

For more information or to purchase the "This Is Not Your Mother's Senior Center" calendar, call (661) 259-9444 or come to the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center at 22900 Market Street, Newhall.

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