In the year 2016, the photo calendar is little more than a relic of the bygone Hallmark era. Dethroned from its organizational dominion by basic e-planning technology circa 1984, and later eschewed for the more minimalist Moleskine, the photo calendar now hovers, in terms of status, somewhere in between the tea cosy and the blu-ray DVD. It’s usually just cute dog and cat calendars that make up the bulk of the stock. And sure, FDNY’s female firefighters recently got their own photo calendar, but that was more of a win for feminism than anything else.
That all said, there’s a new photo calendar coming to town. This town, specifically. And it features never-before-seen pictures of one of the most elusive species of all: Brooklyn boys.
The calendar is the brainchild of a professional photographer in BK, Spencer Starnes, who told Brokelyn he first stumbled onto the idea by accident.
“I shot the first photo as a test shoot with my roommate in November,” Starnes, 25, said. “I [was trying] to do fashion photography and I didn’t like it, but I enjoyed the style of lighting. And I thought it would be really fun to put it into a calendar.”
With a name like “Brooklyn Boys,” normally we’d just roll our eyes and move on, but this calendar isn’t going for the same low-hanging fruit of Brooklyn stereotypes as most. You won’t see these Brooklyn boys fixing bicycles, for example, or combing their cascading beards with tortoiseshell utensils. Instead, you’ll see them crouched naked on their coffee tables playing video games, or surrounded by mounds of Texas paraphernalia. It’ll either delight you or infuriate you.
“It’s really easy to go after the stereotypes of beards and bike fetishes and artisanal everything,” Starnes said, “but I think it’s more fun to engage in the individualism of the people of Brooklyn, in the thing of just existing.”
To that end, Starnes enlisted his roommates and friends as models, and pictured them in their respective elements. One calendar model, Hudson, is pictured in jorts, a Texas hat and cowboy boots, leaning back in a foldout lawn chair and popping open a foaming 40 (strategically placed near his dick). Another sits on the toilet in a red-lit bathroom next to a steaming shower, reading Vanity Fair.
“What makes a Brooklyn boy is someone who owns it,” Starnes told Brokelyn. On his website, the calendar’s tagline reads: “They’re rough, they’re tough, they’re sensitive and they don’t care.”
Are Starnes’ images the ones conjured up when you think of a “Brooklyn Boy?” Probably not, but let’s not forget how useless the phrase “Brooklyn Girls” was when Catey Shaw tried to re-coin it. There’s no singular definition of what makes someone a Brooklyn anybody, and we certainly shouldn’t be striving to generalize.
“Yeah, I could shoot [guys on] the Brooklyn Bridge or the art museums … but I think it’s interesting to keep it a little less cliché,” Starnes said. “I get sick of shit like, ‘Let’s all take the L train! Oh no, it’s so crowded!’ I’d rather establish new stereotypes.”
As far as the monthly themes go, there’s nothing explicitly month-specific about any of the photos. Still, Starnes told us he tries to draw inspiration from the months of the year for the visual worlds he constructs. “Hudson’s ended up being July, because it’s over-the-top, outdoors and America.” The January photo, with the naked video gamer, came out of the fact that “there’s nothing else going on in New York at that time, and everyone’s stuck inside and everyone’s miserable.”
It’s fair to say that despite claiming a borough-wide reach with the calendar name “Brooklyn Boys,” Starnes’ cross-section of the borough remains limited. He told us that “making sure [he has] a diverse cross-section is important,” but so far, his models are a (mostly white) crop of roommates and friends. I guess he’s taking after the old Lena Dunham saying, “I always want to avoid rendering an experience I can’t speak to accurately.”
Right now you can only pre-order the Brooklyn Boys calendar for $24, which Starnes told us he expects will come out sometime in October and feature all the months of 2017. Starnes also said that if this edition gauges enough interest, he might consider doing other editions in other cities, such as a Philadelphia Boys (told us he’d call it “Philly Jawns”) calendar. For now, he’s just enjoying the challenge of twisting the traditional fetishism of scantily-clad female photo calendars into a higher-brow source of humor.
“The paper calendar is such just a ‘thing’ people have, and I don’t think people know why. It’s like ‘It’s June, great, it’s June. I can’t wait to see July. And the fact that the 30-so odd boxes beneath the pictures are always empty, has sort of a sad thing about it.”
Wanna be a Brooklyn boy? Email Spencer at Calendar[at]spencerstarnes.com.
And for more “times of the month,” follow Brokelyn’s resident calendar girl on Twitter: @ahoysamantha