Photogenic philanthropy

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McGill Reporter
December 12, 2002 - Volume 35 Number 07
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Photogenic philanthropy

Some are dark. Some are blond. Some could be the boy next door. Others are brooding and exotic. Seven are McGill students. All, of course, are handsome and photogenic.

Photo Kristen Bussandri
PHOTO: Claudio Calligaris

Who are these guys? None other than the "Men of Montreal" -- 12 gentlemen who donated their mugs to a charity calendar for the McGill Cancer Centre.

Kristen Bussandri, a third-year psychology student at McGill, was the brainchild behind the non-profit almanac. The "Men of Montreal" calendar, which features black-and-white headshots, is to be printed this week and is in stores now.

"We're asking $12 per copy," Bussandri says. "I figured $1 per month was appropriate for this cause."

"Beyond the funds that this initiative will collect," says Michel Tremblay, director of the McGill Cancer Centre, "this calendar will remind people that our institution is fighting cancer 365 days a year."

Susan Grossman, special events coordinator for the McGill Cancer Centre, adds the calendar could raise up to $5,000. The Canada Foundation could quadruple that amount, since the funding agency provides $4 in grants for every $1 in donations raised by the Centre.

"This is a sure bet," Grossman says. "At $12, you can't lose! Who wouldn't want to buy this very tasteful product, that features guys with a wide range of looks and backgrounds?"

Grossman lauds Bussandri for having taken the initiative to launch the project. "She's done a fantastic job and I'm very impressed she did it all by herself."

Photo

Originally, Bussandri had planned to collaborate with sorority sisters, but most graduated before it came to fruition. "I've spent 600 to 700 hours working on this thing," recalls Bussandri, sipping green tea at a café. "I didn't realize what a big project this would be."

While she's grateful that her hands-on approach taught her much about photography and fundraising, in hindsight, Bussandri would have preferred more collaborators. "My mistake was that I didn't delegate," she says.

Yet she's visibly proud of her achievements, which included recruiting photographer Marcel Pinchevsky and makeup artist Marissa Nemes, critical players who volunteered their services. She also convinced the Pegabo shoe chain to donate $500 towards the purchase of film.

Then she scouted the city for models, beginning at her alma mater to simplify her search. The McGill calendar boys are Chris Eich (economics), Jordan Nemis (science), Tyler Chernin (microbiology and immunology), Peter Tomkinson (kinesiology), Jacob Grzywacz (engineering), Elliot Pastor (political science) and Jamie Govan (management).

Everyone came on board because of Bussandri's vision of delivering a classy product for a good cause. "I didn't want to produce a calendar with a bunch of beefcakes with their shirts off," she says, noting that only Mr. August is shirtless. "He insisted because he'd thought it was a requirement and spent three months working on his body. Everyone else is dressed because there are plenty of calendars with shirtless, oiled guys out there."

One question looms. Why produce a calendar of men as opposed to women? "I figured it would be easier for me to approach guys to model and it would be more fun," Bussandri admits. "I also thought of producing a 'Women of Montreal' calendar as well, but I've had no time."

Twenty men were asked to grace the calendar. Only 12 made the final cut. Bussandri deliberately sought out models with differing aesthetics or ethnic backgrounds, she says, "to please ladies with different tastes."

She stresses she wasn't scouting for eligible bachelors, since she has a long-time boyfriend. "I had no ulterior motives," she laughs, noting she was also reluctant to have pals pose for her project. "This is not Kristen's calendar of ex-lovers, boyfriends and friends."

All models were interviewed before being considered. Bussandri reports most men were pleasantly surprised to be approached or recommended for the project. Yet some weren't keen to take part -- at first.

Tyler Chernin was one pin-up who needed convincing. "I was a bit apprehensive at first," he says, self-effacingly adding that he's no contender for an Adonis almanac. "I'm probably one of the more nerdy guys in the calendar."

He ultimately agreed, he says, "because this project was completely harmless and it's for such a good cause."

Chernin is already involved with fighting cancer, as a part-time researcher-technician at an ocular pathology lab at the McGill University Heath Centre. Being a cancer charity model, he says, "was a completely different method to fight the same thing."

Chris Eich, a part-time model, didn't need convincing to strike a pose. He volunteered after hearing about Kristen's project. "I wanted to take part because my mother is a breast cancer survivor and an example of strength," he says, noting he is now helping with the distribution of the calendar and other logistics to maximize the calendar's chances of raising big bucks.

As for Bussandri, her motives for launching this calendar are simple. "I've lived an extremely privileged life," she says. "It's essential that I give back."

Copies of "Men of Montreal" can be purchased at the McGill Bookstore or at the Paragraphe Bookstore (2220 McGill College).

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