Playboy recently announced it would no longer publish images of nude women. (There's little point in putting soft porn in print when the internet offers easier and faster access to hard-core stuff.) Instead, the iconic men's magazine is shifting its focus to reported journalism and booze coverage—with some photos of scantily clad women tossed in for the purpose of turning dudes on.
So, with Hefner giving up nipples, pinup culture is now officially (if it wasn't already) purely vintage. What's odd is that "vintage" carries the connotation of good taste. For example, '90s fashions that were until recently considered cringe worthy have been retired for long enough to reappear in style. But if we're going to accept pinup as tasteful in 2015, the definition of "taste" in regard to hot pics must include equal representation. Dudes need to get naked, too.
Hampden—which is still, for now, a vintage hot spot in Baltimore, though some of its antique and vintage retailers have recently closed or moved—is already on it, and for a good cause beyond leveling the naked playing field. Three local business owners—Dr. Lou Catelli of Genco Pura LTD, chef Bernard Dehaene of the Corner Restaurant and Charcuterie Bar, and David Alima of The Charmery—got Hampden-based photographer Justin Tsucalas to shoot two wall calendars (the classic pinup format, aside from an old Playboy) full of nude, partially clothed, or otherwise sensually posed Hampden men. "Boys of Hampden" is safe for work, more or less, while the "Boys Gone Wild" edition is better suited for the bedroom. Officially launching this week, each calendar is $20; all proceeds go to the Hampden Family Center. The calendars are marked with the photographer's and models' birthdays, as well as Hampdenfest, Hats Off To Hampden, and the Mayor's Christmas Parade. And it's printed on nice, thick paper that will withstand all kinds of abuse.
Inside the non-"Gone Wild" edition, masculinity runs rampant—which, in another context (like life) might be annoying, but is totally acceptable here, even hot in a self-aware kind of way. It's all beards, beer, and bikes. In May, Union Craft Brewing's Kevin Blodger, Jon Zerivitz, and Adam Benesch grip their kegs, showing off their guns. Mr. September Nicholas Mulkey of Drudge Parlor exposes his torso, surrounded by hand tools, beneath the hog he's skillfully repairing.
A double-page spread between June and July shows The Charmery co-owner and Master Creamer (heh heh) David Alima wearing only (as far as we can tell) a black bow tie and denim apron as he seductively douses a dripping cone with rainbow sprinkles (this image also appears on the August page of "Gone Wild") and Baltimore's "Rat Czar" Matt Fouse reclining on a couch in stars-and-stripes sweats, his biceps and belly plastered with his oval rat bumper stickers.
October appropriately features the creepy crying-baby-masked Greg Hatem and Brian Henry of Bazaar. Amid their stuffed, dissected, X-rayed, and glass-cased wares, one of the partners holds a skull, Hamlet-like; the other, a disturbing baby doll. And then there's an utterly darling July photo of Charlotte Elliott's father-and-son duo Fred and Elliott Hays, inexplicably laughing at a book of "Classic Steam Trains" as they stand, dressed in kilts, in their beautifully chaotic bookstore.
I'm partial to the "Gone Wild" edition, and it has everything to do with the nudity. That, and the glorious cover, which bulges with the proud belly of Asian Taste's Mr. Ming, who dons a cowboy hat as he chugs a Heineken with two more in hand.
Few things are hotter than pizza, and this calendar features not one, but two nude dudes sitting in front of brick ovens. Mr. March Kelly Beckham poses in Paulie Gee's; the spiky-haired Joey Faiola on the counter in front of the brick oven at the Arthouse. Both are carefully and cruelly censored, like most of the models.
Mr. February is Gasman, Hampden's star toilet bowl racer. Shirtless and perched atop his pink motorized toilet bowl, he strikes a victory pose with his tiny Gasman doll, also wearing, of course, a gas mask and a red cape.
And then we get to May, the model of which, naturally, is Johnny May of Twenty20 Cycling Co. And he's totally naked (save for a hat and sneaks). On a bike. We're talking about biker butt here. So tight.
Perhaps even more immaculate than biker ass, though, is July. Here, chef Bernard poses on a mini-bike, which is perilously balanced atop the Corner Charcuterie's bar countertop. Dressed only in hot pink boxer shorts, he caresses a slab of cured meat with a knife like a violin, with a gaze that says, girl, I'm gonna feed you right. At the bottom of the page, Charm City Skin is credited with the model's waxing—which I can only presume refers to his scalp.
The back covers of both calendars tease "Ladies of Hampden," coming in 2017. For once, it's a good thing the guys came first.
Photographer Justin Tsucalas will present the "Boys of Hampden" calendars at Atomic Books on Nov. 12, with some of the models on hand for signing. For more information, visit atomicbooks.com.