December 7, 2007
__Student Environmental Action Coalition members shoot nude calendar to promote eco-awareness__
p. Tell people that a campus environmental group is releasing a calendar, they shrug. Tell them it features nude students, their heads turn.
p. Members of the Student Environmental Action Coalition are starring in a nude calendar to raise environmental awareness. The calendar depicts students posing nearly nude, covered only with environmental gear.
p. Besides serving as Student Assembly President, Zach Pilchen ’09 is also an active SEAC member. Pilchen proposed the nude calendar to the group as a way to spread environmental awareness and as a fundraiser, citing as his inspiration the D-minus grade the College recently received in a campus environmental sustainability survey.
p. “Hopefully the calendar will raise quite a bit of money and, more importantly, spread awareness of environmental issues to students who may not have considered such things in the past,” Pilchen said, adding that the proceeds will help fund on-campus initiatives such as a student-run organic garden.
p. Pilchen was careful to point out that the calendar is meant to be more than cheap thrills.
p. “This is not simply a naked photo shoot, but part of an environmental awareness campaign,” he said. “We’ve got artistic shots of students with compact fluorescent light bulbs, organic food, reusable cups, protest signs and a whole host of other things.”
p. Pilchen himself will be appearing in the calendar.
p. “I’ll be featured in the month on sustainable living, holding one of those little blue recycling bins and crushing an aluminum can on my forehead,” Pilchen said.
p. Among the models, there was general excitement and interest in the project.
p. “When Zach Pilchen stood up at one of the meetings to talk about one of his ‘fantasies,’ I was intrigued,” Michelle McKenzie ’10 said. “When he said it was going to be a nude calendar, I was all in.”
p. Model Luke Pickett ’11 said he was so excited about one of the calendar’s concepts, a take on ’90s environmental cartoon superhero Captain Planet, that he volunteered to cut his long hair in favor of the character’s green mullet for the calendar.
p. “I rushed [headlong] into being photographed as many times as I could,” Pickett said.
p. Many models expressed some discomfort about appearing nearly nude, but many said that the jovial atmosphere and mutual discomfort helped assuage any fears.
p. “Given that there was only a small lighted studio above the Phi Beta Kappa theater available to do photography, going into such a secluded and seedy space felt, honestly, as if I were heading into a sex dungeon or to the set of some low-budget porn film,” Pickett said.
p. McKenzie admitted to feeling slightly uncomfortable as well.
p. “I was really uncomfortable at the beginning of the … shoot, but the whole experience has made me really think about how silly that is,” McKenzie said. “I really don’t have any body issues, so why should I be embarrassed? Everyone is both different and beautiful. It really shouldn’t be a shameful thing.”
p. Per Hoel ’08 took many of the pictures in the calendar. Hoel, like the models, said the experience was new and interesting to him.
p. “This was a first for me. I think it actually comforted some of the models when I told them this,” he said. “I suspect some of them wondered whether I did this sort of thing frequently.”
p. The photographer was not immune to the awkwardness of the situation. Hoel, however, said he quickly became accustomed to the situation, that he became “used to, almost jaded by, nudity.”
p. “The theme of the calendar being what it was, I found myself having to direct the models in ways that I was not used to,” he said. “For example, at one time I had to issue a request for ‘more sideboob.’”
p. Everyone involved stressed that the calendar was for a good cause.
p. “I think it’s a humorous and lighthearted concept to cover ourselves with environmental gear,” Pickett said. “And I felt more secure knowing that the campus will at least have not seen my ding-dong.”
p. The calendar will be available for $10 during a SEAC marathon of “Captain Planet” episodes tonight at 7 p.m. in Washington 201.