Red Hat Society calendar to benefit teachers - East Valley Tribune: News

Red Hat Society calendar to benefit teachers

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Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2004 10:18 pm | Updated: 5:47 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Draped in red and purple boas, the models arch their backs for the cameras and smile brightly — a little cheesecake; and glimmer of "devil may care" in their eyes.

But this is no Victoria's Secret catalog. It's the "Timeless Treasures" 2004 calendar featuring East Valley members of the Red Hat Society, a nationwide group of women over 50 whose creed is to "greet middle age with verve, humor and elan."

The calender, a fund-raiser for classrooms Valleywide, features members from East Valley Red Hat Society chapters the Decadent Dames of Northeast Phoenix/Scottsdale, Scottsdale's Shady Ladies and Desert Darlins of Mesa, in all states of dress — or undress, as the case may be.

The women said they were inspired by a group of middle-age women from England who took it all off for a calendar to raise money for a friend's ailing husband. After three weekends of strutting their stuff for the camera, the models said they all went to see the recently released movie based on the English ladies called "Calendar Girls" — in full purple and red regalia.

The Valley women are mum on their "trade secret" or whether they are nude, or it just appears that way. "What you see is what you get," Shirley Kelley coquettishly said. The 75-year-old Scottsdale resident — and featured Ms. October — appears in the calendar riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in what seems to be nothing but scarlet feathers and matching cap.

The calendar, a collaboration of Decadent Dames founder and "Queen Mum" Janie Rausch and member Mary Phairas, costs $14.95, plus $3.95 for shipping and handling. All funds will benefit Phairas' nonprofit Treasures 4 Teachers, an organization that once fully created will supply paper products, pencils, pens, rulers and crayons to Arizona teachers.

"We are working on finding a storefront so that teachers can just come in and pick up supplies," Phairas said. Supplies will be harvested from "seconds" and recycled business products, she said.

Although the ladies said they enjoyed creating the PG-rated calendar, the fund-raiser was almost a no-go.

"Everyone was reluctant at first to do this," said Marylyn Griffith of Tempe.

That was until word got out that Griffith's 85-year-old mother and fellow Red Hat, Mary Lou Taylor, also of Tempe, signed up for the project.

Jetta Bourne, (which means "narrow-minded" in French, according to the Scottsdale woman) agreed that she had fun, but wasn't looking to repeat the experience anytime soon.

"Are you kidding," she said laughing, her eyes widening, "At 70, I won't even undress in front of my dogs for fear of traumatizing them."

The room erupted with laughter.

"That's our only rule," Rausch said about membership in the Red Hat Society. "You better come with a sense of humor and ready to have fun."

Red Hat membership is open to any woman over 50. The society of women who wear purple outfits and red hats when in public together has more than 200 chapters in the East Valley. The Red Hats borrow their name from the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph.

And warning is a good word for it. These women are boisterous, rowdy and downright unruly. And, that's just the way they like it, members said.

"We've raised funds, we've raised babies and now we're just raising heck," Taylor said.

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