The Men in Bras are back for another round in the 2013 "BRAve Men of Dexter & Beyond" fundraising calendar. But unlike their "Men in Black" counterparts, these men aren't sporting neatly pressed black suits, Ray-Ban sunglasses, and hunting for aliens.
The Men in Bras are taking it off, save for pants and a specially designed woman's brassiere, to bring awareness to the American Cancer Society in Dexter, Chelsea, Grass Lake, and Ann Arbor.
Orchestrated by residents Patti Christian and June Mann, close friends and members of the Dexter Relay for Life Team "Family and Friends," the calendar features elected officials, firefighters, and business owners.
"Half the fun is keeping the models a secret," Mann said. "No one knows who is in the calendar until they buy one and open it up to see their neighbor."
Past models have included Dexter Village President Shawn Keough, W4 Country host Brian "Bubba" Cowan, and Dexter Area Fire Department firefighter Kyle Jones. Originally the calendar featured only men from Dexter, however this year the duo expanded to include outlying communities.
"Our plan was always to create the calendar in Dexter for a few years and then, depending on its success, branch out to other communities," Christian said.
And while most men might balk at the idea of sporting a woman's bra, Christian said each year the calendar is in no short supply.
"Many of our models are survivors or battling cancer or know someone who has been through the fight,” Christian said.
Gary Klapperich of Klapperich Welding in Dexter is featured in this year's calendar for his fundraising efforts at the Chelsea Community Hospital. Klapperich, a cancer survivor, has organized the "It's a Great Day to be Alive" event for the past four years and raised $70,000 for the hospital's cancer infusion center.
"The calendar is an excellent way to raise money for cancer research," Klapperich said. "I heard rumors that June and Patti were going to ask me to participate and I jumped right on board. I'll do anything to help fight cancer."
Klapperich said he enjoyed the experience and bought five calendars to give to relatives as gifts.
Dewey Winkle and Jon Dyer of Ugly Dog Vodka in Chelsea agreed to model with their dog, Ruger.
"All of us know someone, be it a friend or family member, affected by cancer. The calendar is an awareness campaign, and we want to support what these women are trying to do," Winkle said. "I think we'll get quite a few comments."
The popularity of the calendar is catching on, and sales of the 2012 calendar brought in roughly $7,000. Christian's cousin even started her own version of the calendar in Milford this year.
"I would love to see a 'BRAve Men' calendar for every community in Michigan," Christian said. "The American Cancer Society needs help; we are just doing what we can to support research."
The calendar can be found at Dexter Pharmacy, Busch's, Country Market, Dexter Bakery, Ugly Dog Vodka in Chelsea, Lafontaine Chevrolet, and Applied Fitness Solutions in Ann Arbor.
The cost is $20 cash or check made payable to American Cancer Society.
To fund the calendar, Christian and Mann find local sponsors who pay for the cost of the printing. Tonya Dunn of Blue Peach Photography, donated her time to shoot the pictures.
If anyone has suggestions for future bra designs or models, or would like to sponsor the calendar or donate a decorated bra, email email@example.com.
The women, along with all the models, have been touched by cancer.
“Patti and I get as much out of this as we give,” Mann said of the planning and sale of the unique calendars, which raise money for all forms of cancer - not just breast cancer.
Both women have personal experience with cancer; Christian is a survivor, as is Mann’s husband. Both woman enjoy the calendar experience so thoroughly, they are already working on next year’s edition.
“Many of our models are survivors or battling cancer or know someone who has been through the fight. One is a three-time survivor,” Christian said.