By: Grace Moon | October 19, 2010
If you heart Brooklyn girls, or even if you just heart girls then you must get your hands on this years “I Heart Brooklyn Girls” c
If you heart Brooklyn girls, or even if you just heart girls then you must get your hands on this years “I Heart Brooklyn Girls” calendar. For the last four years photographer Erica Beckman has spearheaded this DIY annual pin-up calendar project of and for queer ladies. Each year the calendar has taken on a stylistic theme. This year has got to be my absolute fav, pulp covers of the 60s.
The launch of each calendar happens with the hippest Brooklyn party of the year, its a kind of seen and be seen event. I chatted with Erica recently as she was busy at the printer checking her calendar color plates and planning this Saturday’s (Oct 23rd) launch party.
The “I Heart Brooklyn Girls” calendar has become a New York tradition, what gave you the idea of creating it?
It was originally a project put together by a group of creative friends who wanted two things: 1) to give femme queers more visibility in and out of the LGBTQ world, and 2) to make something that showcased their creative talents.
How many years have you been doing it and what have the previous themes been?
This will be our 4th calendar, but we had a one-year hiatus because of financial restrictions. The 1st was a 2007 calendar and it took almost a full year to produce since it was our first attempt and we were trying to figure it out as we went along.
The theme was pinup through the ages. The 2nd calendar was a swimsuit calendar all shot at Coney Island since it’s such an iconic Brooklyn locale, and we wanted to capture it on film, because it’s been slated to go through so many changes. The 2009 calendar was called “Women at Work,” and was a take on the 40s and 50s classic pinup made iconic by Elvgren and Vargas.
What is this years theme and how did you decide upon it?
This year, we’re doing a lesbian pulp fiction novel theme (not the movie, but the actual genre). Our wonderful calendar hair stylist, Topher Gross, who works at Arrojo Studio and produced a hair show at the salon with a pulp fiction theme, inspired it. All of the co-producers of the calendar helped played a part in the project.
I took all the photos, Jackie Schneider was a make makeup artist, Anna Conlan assisted me and also was a model and Laura Allen donated clothes. The images came out so beautifully, that we wanted to take his idea and really expand upon it.
How do you choose the models? How were this year’s models chosen?
We mostly find our models by sending out a casting call. Usually at least 100 people apply to be considered, and we look through their bios and photographs to see if:
1) they’re comfortable in front of the camera, 2) they seem to be able to aesthetically transform to meet the theme, 3) they fit our basic criteria (live in Brooklyn, are 18+ years-old, identify as lesbian, bisexual, queer or transgender), 4) they will be enthusiastic about participating.
We also find people through friends, facebook, and by occasional scouting. Then we meet with the people who most fit the bill, and see if we can choose the most aesthetically diverse group whose individuals each possess a certain quality that will allow the whole thing to feel cohesive.
Previous years have featured one girl per month, but this year we had over twice as many models. It’s a challenging process choosing the final selection – there are so many amazing applicants!
How many people help on the production and how long did it take to get all the shots. Also tell us about the design process.
The size of the team changes but this year we had a team of four producers (me, Laura Allen, Anna Conlan, and Jackie Schneider). Along with making all of the big decisions together, each of us also had other roles. I’m the photographer photographer, Anna is our diligent head of production, Jackie Schneider does makeup, and along with taking on fashion styling this year, Laura did an incredible job with the calendar design.
We all take on additional tasks during the shoots (art direction, prop styling, etc), as well as once the shoots wrap because we have to edit the images, retouch and digitally process them, design the calendar print it, get the word out, and we have to contact former and potential new distributors, and tend to many other details including the launch party.
We also have additional help from Topher, other hairstylists and makeup artists, and this year, we received a lot of help with our styling from an amazing woman who owns the Red Hook vintage clothing store called Bopkat Vintage.
The process usually starts in the spring. The people who are on-board to be producers discuss theme and aesthetic. Casting happens mid-to-late spring, and shooting begins in late spring/early summer. We need to wrap by end of summer in order to have it printed and ready for a fall launch party.
Every year you celebrate the launch with probably the biggest queer, lez dance party of the year. What’s the plan this year?
The plan is to, on 10/23/2010, celebrate the launch of this amazing new project at Southpaw in Park Slope. It’s our best yet. It’s all-inclusive in terms of gender presentation, and it’s really a great homage to pulp. We’ve learned from over the years that people prefer something that’s carefully planned and infrequent, to something that they feel like they can go to any time.
This year is especially great because we’re offering a limited number of VIP tickets that allow you to skip the long line to get it, and comes with a goody bag and the calendar that comes with all admission.
Purchase @ iheartbrooklyngirls.com
individual posters of images from each of the past calendars also available