Getting (Almost) Naked for Charity: The Travel Blogging Calendar

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Humble Beginnings

It was late in 2011 and I was sitting at my cubicle in iiNet’s Sydney office. While I can’t lie and say that working in a call center for Australia’s #2 internet provider was anything less than the best job I’ve ever had – it did have its drawbacks. Namely: long days spent in front of two computer screens with problems so repetitive that I could resolve them without clicking away from my Facebook page.

And while my former employers probably wouldn’t be overjoyed to read it, I did manage to get a hell of a lot of blogging done during my eight hour shifts. All of this while chatting with some fascinating people from around the world and helping them to get back online as quickly as humanly possible.

What kind of net addict would I be if I didn’t feel their plight?

It was during one of these unremarkable days at work that I compiled a mildly controversial Top 15 Travel Blogging Crushes list. While trolling the internet for photos of my favourite female travel bloggers looking sexy, I started to think to myself:

God, there are some gorgeous travel bloggers out there.

Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler
Alexandra from Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler came in at #4 on the Travel Blogging Crushes list that inspired the whole project.

A thought which, of course, lead to me then wondering how a calendar full of these gorgeous girls would look. I’m creepy like that. But what started as slightly creepy fantasy soon became a far more benevolent idea – why not arrange a calendar and donate the proceeds to charity? A Travel Blogging Calendar.

A Hitch

The hard part of pitching a calendar to pretty girls is that they’re inherently just a little hesitant when a bearded, slightly paunchy Australian man approaches them claiming he’ll only use their photos for good. We’ve all seen enough TV shows to know the cliche of a dodgy ‘photographer’ luring girls into his ‘studio’ to take a few ‘artistic’ shots.

Two hot humans
Heather (Nomadic American) and I on the beach in Miami. Hot by association.

And everything is approximately 67% dodgier when it comes from halfway around the world via Facebook message. That said, Alexandra of Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler was very fast to get on board. But the ‘crazy’ part is something she’s always been proud to advertise.

The solution? Put my money where my mouth is! If I’m expecting these girls to strip down and pose, the least I can do is bare my own hairy chest for the cause.

I put the call out via various Facebook groups and over Twitter, and found I was inundated with willing participants. And not just pretty girls, either! There were plenty of handsome sons of bitches eager to strip down to their all together for a good cause, although I daresay a few of them were only too eager to do it before they’d even heard the word ‘charity’. We are all travel bloggers, and there’s just a hint of exhibitionism in this life we choose to lead.

And so the Travel Blogging Calendar was born.

Helping Hands

While I can proudly say that this project is my brain child, I cannot even begin to take credit for carrying it to term. It’s taken all twenty four participants, as well as a small army of well wishers who have done their part through advertising the project, interviewing its participants, or putting us in touch with people could help.

Jeremy of TravelFREAK has been a leading light. From setting up our beautiful website to editing the photos to putting together a press release, Jeremy has been the tireless workhorse I’ve been able to stand behind looking pretty while he wiped sweat from his well defined brow.

Then there’s been the tireless promotion done by all involved; the donated time from photographers; the promotion from the various charities who had been in the running to be the project’s beneficiaries; the broader travel blogging community; and the wonderful people at uPrinting who have so generously offered to provide all 500 calendars completely free of charge. That has meant that almost all of the proceeds (save the cost of postage) will go directly to our two deserving charities – Mitrata Nepal and VSO Bahaginan.

Many hands make light work, and that’s exactly how this project has felt. Everybody involved has done far more than simply strip down and give the camera a sultry pout. They’ve written posts, approached media outlets, harassed friends, re-taken photos, and chased last minute replacements.

It’s been a fantastic community project that has highlighted, for me, why this is such a wonderful community to be a part of. Any headaches we’ve had getting it organized will all be worth it when we’re able to know that our efforts have gone towards helping two wonderful charities.

All we need from you…

…is to buy a few calendars! Buy them because you want to see Alexandra or Jess Jones in a bikini or because you want to see Laurence of Finding the Universe or Jeremy looking all kinds of fine. Buy them to support your favorite blogger or because the idea of seeing Raymond from Man on the Lam on the toilet does it for you.

finding the universe
One from the cutting room floor from Laurence

But most importantly, buy it to help us make a huge difference to two very deserving charities. Whether or not you ever even look at the pictures inside (and I do hope you do) – buy these calendars because these are two causes that could use every cent they could get.

It’s Christmas and these calendars will make great gifts, but more importantly – you’ll be giving the gift of hope to those who benefit from the good work of Mitrata Nepal and VSO Bahaginan.

My Photo

What picture did I go with? I strained my brain trying to think of creative ways to make use of my base of operations here in China, but I just couldn’t think of a good place to shoot in Nanjing. My visits to Changzhou and Shanghai likewise failed to produce anything useful.

Of course, there were a few choice photos from my past that came to mind…

Super, super gay photo
An early candidate – embarrassing myself (and Australia) in Seoul, 2011.
Pondering the meaning of life by Lake Karakul in Xinjiang, China
Pondering the meaning of life (and funny hats) by Lake Karakul in Xinjiang, China
Fijian drag queen
Baring my chest for free at a New Year’s party in Fiji in 2010.
Craziness on a carousel at California Adventure
Craziness on a carousel at California Adventure

As you can see, I’m a sexy mother-fucker with countless options when it comes to suitably salacious calendar shots. But none of the above felt right. And I couldn’t think of something to do locally, either. Of course, after seeing the below photo – I feel like maybe I missed the boat when it comes to Nanjing.

In the end I opted for a shot from my recent US trip. A photo taken by my talented girlfriend in Yosemite seemed a fitting choice. Who knows? If the project does well this year, I might get down to the buff in 2014. No promises.

Purple Mountain in Nanjing
My friend David didn’t have any such trouble shooting a memorable shot in Nanjing. Should have enlisted him… Photo by David Magro.

Sneak Preview

Oh, but how could I forget to give you a little sneak peak of what your $25 will buy you? Whether you buy the Men of Travel Blogging Calendar or buy the Women of Travel Blogging calendar, you’re going to be getting twelve months of gorgeous backdrops, interesting people, and potentially more than you ever wanted to see of some of the travel blogging community.

Bon appetit!

Men of Travel Blogging Calendar
A sneak peak at the next twelve months if you buy the Men of Travel Blogging calendar.
Women of Travel Blogging
…and the (infinitely more appealing) Women of Travel Blogging Calendar

Buy the Travel Blogging Calendar

Want to buy a calendar (or five)? Head on over to the Travel Blogging Calendar website and you can pre-order now.

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