A new calendar raising money to open an animal shelter in East Texas has caused some heads to tilt and tongues to wag after featuring a dozen prominent community leaders (almost) baring it all.
It's called “Taking It Off For The Dogs” and it’s exactly what it sounds like -- a group of men over the age of 50 who bravely drop trow to "tell the naked truth" about the needs of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of East Texas.
"We decided that rather than sad, crying-in-your beer music and pictures, go with something light-hearted and funny and make people go, 'On my gosh, look at these men!'" said Deborah Dobbs, the board president for the SPCA of East Texas.
Proceeds from the $19.95 calendar, which is being sold on takingitoffforthedogs.com, will go toward building a community shelter capable of holding 75 dogs and 25 cats. Dobbs explained to HLN that the lack of a community shelter in Smith County has led to thousands of animals being euthanized each year.
J.B. Smith, the retired sheriff of Smith County who held the position for more than three decades, was given the task of helping with the stray problem a few years ago. Part of that assignment meant putting hundreds of animals to sleep.
"That's not a job that I wanted to do," Smith told HLN. "It’s a sad, sad thing to do. So when I was asked if I would participate [in the calendar], I jumped at the chance."
Smith poses as "Mr. February" with a saddle, hat and boots -- and not much else.
"Being from Texas and being a sheriff, you better wear a hat and cowboy boots -- you gotta be a cowboy," Smith said. "Of course when you’re 70 years old, you need all the touch ups you can get -- trust me. My body looks like the air conditioner went out in a wax museum."
Many other community leaders, including doctors like cosmetic dentist Rick Coker, also fill the pages.
"Hey, I’m 67. If a woman asks me to take my clothes off -- it doesn’t take a lot of talking," Coker, who poses as "Mr. April," told HLN. He said many of his patients have actually purchased the calendar from his office. "If I’m in a treatment room and I hear somebody laughing I know they’ve just seen the calendar. It’s just so unexpected."
The men say the majority of the reaction has been positive, although one woman did decide to resign from the board of Meals on Wheels after the board's president, Aubrey Sharpe, decided to show it all as "Mr. January."
"She felt like the board president ought not to be photographed nude," Sharpe, who is also a dean at the local community college, told HLN. "Well I believe that, too! Because I wasn’t actually nude. You’d see more of me at the swimming pool than you would in that picture... Life’s all about the illusion and people see what they choose."
Sharpe echoed what the other men had to say about the experience -- that it was a blast and he didn't feel uncomfortable at any moment.
"If you give us a drink, we’ll do almost anything – for a good cause," Sharpe said. "If they don’t like the calendar just send 20 bucks for the animals -- it’s easy!"
Cindi Featherston-Shields, an SPCA board member who came up with the idea, said the project was executed in just 30 days.
"It takes a certain personality to be able to do this," Featherston-Shields told HLN. "They had no hesitation. You didn’t have to talk them into it or anything. So that’s what was wonderful about it."
Dobbs said the nonprofit organization, which is just four years old, has been able to raise more than $20,000 so far and that sales of the calendar have skyrocketed in the last few days.
"The great thing about these guys is I think they’ve reached an age where they’re flattered for the attention and they’re very secure with who they are," Dobbs said. "I admire them. I wouldn’t take my clothes off for anybody!"