AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 1, 2009— -- The newest calendar girls have heads -- and pages -- turning.
Twenty-one women with the Texas Library Association are showing off some illustrations of their own in a new calendar called "The Tattooed Ladies of TLA." It's all a part of their latest fund-raiser for the Texas Library Disaster Fund, which helps libraries along the Gulf Coast recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other natural disasters.
"It was just a fun thing to do," said Gretchen Hoffmann, 42, who turned up the heat as Miss August 2010 by posing on a row boat, a purple boa strategically draped to highlight the starfish tattoo on her upper back. "I like the idea that the calendars are stereotype-busters. You don't usually see [librarians] as tattooed and sexy. We're not the little old ladies who walk around with buns."
The 40-page spread features past and present librarians throughout the Lone Star State, modeling tattoos of all shapes, sizes and locations.
"I'm somewhat amazed at the response we've had," said Miss June 2010, aka Melody Kelly, 62, associate dean of libraries at the University of North Texas and former president of TLA.
Kelly, who sports the universal symbol for goddess on her ankle, says the organization has received calls from fans around the world asking if they can check-out the calendar. Thursday morning alone, the association had received more than 60 online orders.
"I am just so thrilled -- it's phenomenal," she said. "There's a need for disaster funds to buy materials and help with shelving in small towns that don't have the resources."
The colorful idea came up in 2007, a year after the "Men of Texas Libraries" calendar flew off the shelves and quickly sold out, bringing in more than $9,000 in donations. After noticing the tattoos on some of her colleagues, Kelly suggested the women capitalize on their inked assets.
"It was one of those ideas that just floated around for a while until someone decided to finally work on it," said Hoffmann, who served as president of TLA when the men's calendar was released. "Now it's more than a buzz. It's an explosion."
Tatooed Librarians Pose for Calendar
Now a lawyer in Austin, Hoffman said coworkers and friends have been supportive of her decision to appear in the fund-raiser. The security guard in her downtown office building did a double-take, Hoffmann recalled, when he recognized her from the glossy pages.
Terese Morgan, associate professor and librarian at Austin Community College, said posing for the calendar was a unique experience.
"I had never done something like it before," Morgan said of the photo shoot. "The photographer came to my house and she took pictures of all my tattoos in different ways. I even posed with my Harley motorcycle. Needless to say, I'm not very typical for a librarian."
Morgan, 53, sports more than a dozen tattoos. She got her first body art when she was 40. After that, she was hooked.
"I had always wanted a tattoo, but my husband at the time was very tattooed and always talked about how painful it was," said Morgan. "Plus, my generation has a stigma around getting them. But when I turned 40, I figured I was old enough to do it."
Now Morgan sports all manner of designs, including insects, floral pictures, and even prehistoric art. One of her more impressive tattoos is of a large Chinese dragon on the front of her thigh.
"I'm very proud of my tattoos," she said. "I love them. I don't go out of my way to show them to people, but I don't hide them either. And I'll talk to people about them if they ask me questions. They all have a certain meaning for me."
Kelly, who lives in Denton, added, "I had no idea that we all shared that creativity, that sense of self and that love for family. Body art is very personal, and if you have the calendar, you'll see that connection."
Kelly's photo, for instance, shows her reclining in a red chair, playing the ukulele with a martini by her side, her goddess tattoo on full display. She got the tattoo, which depicts the three phases of a woman, on her 60th birthday to honor her mother and the other women in her life. Throughout the calendar, you can also find Kelly's twist on the lyrics of Groucho Marx's classic song, "Lydia the Tattooed Lady."
Kelly will soon hand over her library card, as she is set to retire after 38 years with the University of North Texas. She'll probably commemorate the occasion, she said, with some more ink.