They are women of a certain age — an age not typically seen in calendars of nearly-nude women.
They are past the point of caring.
“You get to a point in your life where you think, ‘Been there, done that,’” said Roberta Rossman. “You figure, you know, what the heck?”
Rossman is one of a dozen women of a certain age who live at the Riderwood retirement community in Silver Spring and who bared almost all for a fundraising project called “Going Bare for Benevolent Care.” Expenses for the calendar included three rolls of surgical tape used to reposition sagging body parts to a younger setting.
The project started more than a year ago when resident Beth Gordon had the idea to raise money for struggling Riderwood residents in the spirit of the 2003 Helen Mirren movie, “Calendar Girls,” in which women of a certain age raise money to fight leukemia. The women in the Riderwood calendar are in their 70s and 80s. Many were recruited during water aerobics class.
“A lot of our business for this project was conducted in the pool,” Gordon said.
Miss January, Shirley Dearfield, is photographed with a giant record
covering her chest. During a rehearsal, she fell off a piano. For July, Sylvia Valentino wears a hat, a gold bracelet and a very large and well-positioned red purse. Gordon is Miss November. She is shot wearing a pearl necklace while reading the book “Hidden Pearls,” which covers the area she typically covers with a blouse.
Gordon wanted to run the photo by her pastor. He declined. However, he told her, “This is a side of your personality I wasn’t aware of.”
The guiding principle for the project: Have fun. A lot of fun. Also: Glamorize women who sometimes ride around on scooters or struggle to bend over the pool table. Virginia Nitkiewicz is shot not on a scooter but on a Harley Davidson. Retired D.C. police sergeant Pat Howell shoots pool while appearing to wear nothing.
“We laughed so much during this project,” Gordon said. “We felt adventurous.”
The project was supervised by Riderwood philanthropy manager Fiona Divecha, who the women came to lovingly call Mother Superior. Divecha gently nudged the women if the photos got too risqué. Rossman’s photo of her lying on a massage table was slightly Photoshopped, Divecha said, because of “too much side boob.”
Only a few residents, including a mother and daughter, turned down an opportunity to take part in the photos, which were shot by Robert Boger, a resident handy with a camera who was approached about the project after a professional photographer got too busy and had to drop out. Boger has been taking photos since he was 10, but none like the ones in this project.
“I thought it sounded interesting,” he said. “Another line for my résumé: ‘Bob works well with bare-naked ladies.’ ”
The women confirmed that he did, in fact, work well with bare-naked ladies, covering his eyes or turning his back or leaving the room when key unclothed body parts emerged from behind props, often without warning.
The calendars are $15 and go on sale Sept. 10. You can preorder them here. The first print run is for 5,000 copies. The women of a certain age hope they sell many, many more.
“We think is a wonderful keepsake,” Gordon said.
Indeed, it is.