Calendar girls

Tired of all the stereotypes about Dundalk women, photographer Joe Giordano counters with a year's worth of memorable images.

November 29, 2005|By SAM SESSA | SAM SESSA,SUN REPORTER

Loan officer Kimberlye Lamana never planned to preen or pose.

But last weekend found the 35-year-old Dundalkian proudly leaning forward and pursing her lips for the camera.

Step aside, Sports Illustrated.

Cameraman Joe Giordano moved around Lamana, intently snapping shots and cajoling her. The best photo will become the November fold of the "Girls of Dundalk" calendar, which is due out in late December.

The calendar is Giordano's brainchild - his proof that women from Dundalk don't fit the "good ol' girl" stereotype they're given. To some smug urbanites, the women of the much-mocked community are all big-haired and low-rent. Giordano thinks that's hogwash, and with every shutter click he's taking a subtle swing back at those who poke fun at the ladies of his hometown. A Dundalk native, Giordano grew up fending off these kind of remarks.

Their "studio," the front parking lot of Howard's Pub in Dundalk, might have been a bit more blue collar than what most calendar models are used to, but Lamana was right at home.

For Lamana, the calendar is a source of pride - no matter how much people may tease her about it. She's never modeled before and landing a calendar spread of any kind is something for her to flaunt.

"Everybody's like `You're in a `Girls of Dundalk' calendar?'" she said. "I'm like, `How many girls can you say that you know that are in a calendar?' I don't care if I'm in a dog food calendar. I am in a calendar and you're not. It doesn't matter. You can say you know a girl in a calendar."

About a year ago, Giordano was at Howard's with a friend who lives in Baltimore. Giordano's friend glanced around the place, liked what he saw and said something to the effect of: "Dundalk women are always getting a bad rap," Giordano said.

That planted the seed in Giordano's head.

About a month later, Giordano and his wife were out with some friends who made a crack about Dundalk ladies.

"That was the catalyst," said Giordano, a 33-year-old photographer for the Dundalk Eagle. "Internally, I hit the guy. Externally, I was like `You know what, I'm going to do a calendar. I want to show these people that there's a lot of good-looking women down there. I'm sick of this.'"

Giordano pitched the idea to the folks at Howard's, who laughed and said they'd sponsor the calendar. After Howard's recoups printing costs, all of the proceeds will benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Giordano gathered six judges (himself included) and posted a calendar sign-up sheet at the bar. About 18 women put their names on the audition list, and arrived at Howard's in late October dressed for their favorite month, Giordano said.

He and the other judges (two of whom were women) set rules for deciding who made the calendar and who didn't. The women had to be attractive, live in Dundalk and show identification. No professional models were allowed.

Lamana had a few reasons for signing up to pose. "I thought it would be neat," she said. "Plus, I knew my ex-boyfriend would see it and he'd get jealous, because he lives in Dundalk."

But Lamana admits at first she was a little leery about what she was getting herself into. "I was thinking, `Oh my God there's going to be girls with big hair or stripper girls,'"Lamana said. "But no, when I came in, the girls were really attractive. I was happy then - it's not that kind of calendar."

The calendar features 13 women and spans from January 2006 through January 2007. Giordano used classic Dundalk sites such as Berkshire Elementary School and Howard's Pub for backdrops.

The models come from a wide span of professions, including a house painter, waitress and baker. Miss June, Melissa Schisler, is a real estate agent with two kids.

"I'll show my daughter when she gets older," Schisler said. "`Look, your mom was hot when she was young.'"

Giordano shot the photos on weekends this month, often squeezing several sessions into one day. The models' outfits vary from bikinis to parkas, depending on the month. Miss January 2006, Amanda Corso, stands in the middle of a corn field in a white parka.

Lamana wears a small purple T-shirt, slit a few inches down the middle, and jeans. Giordano said he wanted the poses and clothing to be tastefully sexy.

"The girls are really pretty, and I didn't want to disrespect them by bending them over pool tables," Giordano said. "I think that's what people were expecting, and that's not what we're going to give them."

During Lamana's shoot, cars and pickup trucks drove down Holabird Avenue past Howard's and slowed as drivers peered across the parking lot at Lamana. Some were just curious, but others hit their horns and hooted. Lamana just laughed.

"I am Miss November," she said.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

To order

For a Girls of Dundalk calendar, call Howard's Pub at 410-282-6050. You can preview Girls of Dundalk calendar photos at flickr.com/photos/jmgiordano.

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