Folks, it’s Sunday, a religious day, and I have a topic on a somewhat religious note for you. Now, please don’t get offended by this. I’m a little nervous even going here but in all sincerity, I am just trying to unravel and demystify a phenomenon that has been puzzling me for the last few years, when I first saw it appear on Roman newsstands. So, without further ado, I give you: the “hot priests” calendar:
For the price of just €6 (about $8 US), you too can be the proud owner of 12 months of black and white shots of men of the cloth.
What IS this?
I mean, first of all: will you please look at Mr. March?
Is that not just a little bit, well, I don’t know…suggestive? It kind of gives me the heeby-jeebies. I mean, it’s a priest. And if I’m not mistaken, they’ve taken a photo of him, trying to make him look almost seductive. Do I need a new pair of contact lenses or is this a fairly accurate assessment?
Another point to make note of: there’s not one ugly priest in the bunch. It’s not like they got a shot of some 90-year old priest giving confession, or tried to represent the entire spectrum. These priests are in their prime and they are all fairly or very good-looking. I mean, HELLO October!
Again, I feel kind of blasphemous even saying that but people, is it not the truth?
This brings us to several questions:
1) Who makes this calendar and why?
2) Perhaps in answer to why: where do the profits go? Charity?
3) What is the target market for this calendar? I mean, WHO really buys it?
Yes, people, I bought the calendar, but only in the name of blogging. I swear! I was considering taking some photos of it at the newsstand but in the end, the embarrassment quotient of taking digital shots of the thing from the sidewalk was, for me, greater than that of actually purchasing it and then scanning various photos at my leisure.
Now. In answer to question #1: they have a website. I saw the name Piero Pazzi on the calendar, looked it up on Google, and there it was. I don’t see it written anywhere that the profits go to charity, because the same website also offers a calendar of Venetian gondoliers (which, frankly, I would feel a lot less guilty about hanging on my wall and admiring) and a calendar of angels. So the answer to part 2 of question 1 is clearly: cha-ching. Unless you can find evidence to the contrary. I don’t feel like going to the trouble of emailing the guy to ask because it seems fairly clear to me. In the English part of his website, he explains the calendar's purpose like so:
This calendar intends to give basic information and some notes on the general characteristics of the Vatican with the hope of sating the thirst for knowledge continually demonstrated by the Eternal City's visitors.
Yes, you read that right. Please, Mr. Pazzi, sate my "thirst for knowledge."
All I could find by way of news was this little bit in Italian, which says that it’s the 5th year running that Pazzi, himself a gondolier, has made the calendar, and that the photos are all taken during public services and on the streets, in Seville, Rome, and Venice. Do you think the priests have to sign some kind of release form or get permission from someone in the Church to be photographed and appear in this calendar? Do you think they even know what the photos are for?
I ran into a discussion thread in Italian here, where the participants are trying to answer the same questions. One even contacted some people associated with the Church but didn't get any answers. Someone suggests that they might not be actual priests. I have no idea, but it seems like it would be a heck of a lot of trouble to go to, dressing these guys up and parading them around. My gut feeling is that they are real priests.
Signore Pazzi (which, coincidentally, translates to “Mr. Crazies”) suggests on his website that his calendars make a great Christmas present. So, looking for that perfect gift for the person in your life who's got everything? I can almost guarantee you they don’t have this.
And folks, I still have mine. Now that it has served its purpose, I’m putting it out in the first ever At Home in Rome Rummage Sale. Only at my rummage sale, like the one I saw over at my pal African Kelli’s place, is a free one. So, first come, first served, and it’s yours, in the mail and on its way. Just send an email with your mailing address to ahirswap AT gmail DOT com. Leave a comment so others know when it's taken.
At this point I guess all that's left to say is Happy Holidays, and happy priest-admiring! (Heeby jeebies, I tell you!)
Oh, and by the way? Apparently they’re doing “casting” for 2008. Know anyone who might be interested?