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Tuesday, 27 September 2011 08:40

Native Models Glamour Calendar 2012 sacks Window Rock sales!

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Window Rock, Ariz.—The popular native model calendar genre has been given a makeover, and the only thing that was missing before… was “professionalism,” according to Michael J. Laudini, 42, publisher of the 2012 Native American Glamour Calendar (via Tua Bella Studios, which Laudini owns). The 2012 NAGC made its third debut to the public at the 2011 Navajo fair, just a couple of weeks ago.

The calendar (11.5” by 11.5” when folded) features female models from various Native American tribes, and Laudini said he started with a pool of 40 applicants for the 2012 project, and that selection was narrowed down to 11 in the final product, which is a 16-month calendar (beginning September 2011).

Having 20 years of experience “in the business,” Laudini said their are a lot of “fly-by-nights” out there who take photos of models, with the premise of a calendar venture, but nothing ever materializes from them. Laudini does not operate this way. His secret? Professionalism.

And, so, Laudini wanted to try his expertise at a Native American project. Thus, direct from Tua Bella Studios is the now available 2012 NAGC stocking stuffer for Native Model aficionados everywhere.

“I did my research, first,” said Laudini, stating the obvious (as the crowds at the Window Rock presentation of the calendar did not hesitate to dig in their wallets and purses) and noting that the general mainstay production of Native model calendars has been in the lines of “traditional” and “conservative” (as in the tribal values), but, overall, the end results have been lacking in quality of presentation—of, both, the product and the subjects or models.

Therefore, a lot of Native calendars fail in the market due to the productions lack of professional make-up, amateur photography (as e.g., harsh shadows become obvious, a major flaw), and the lack of having supporting staff for the projects. 

A first Native American presentation by Tua Bella Studios, based out of Seattle, Wash., the calendar has been setting precedent by the welcomed reception of the “modern” calendar by the Window Rock public—as demonstrated by the interest, autographs and overall market talk at the Nakai Hall booth.

What is so modern about the calendar? Well, the 2012 NAGC features the Native models in lingerie and night wears, or as retail refers to as “soft lines.”

While at Window Rock, Laudini was accompanied by some of his staff and three of the models from the calendar, to sell the calendar, answer questions, and provide photo-op with the models and for the dance of Sharpie markers the models orchestrated in the signing of autographs—on purchased calendar or on T-shirts and baseball caps, even.

According to Laudini, about only five-percent of the predominantly Navajo crowd, who dropped by the NAGC booth, held the verbal opinion that: “Navajo women should not be showing this much skin or this much exposure!”

Selena Watchman, 24, who is Navajo and one of the calendar models, said the Navajo public received the NAGC very well. “A lot of Native American women are beautiful! …It’s good to see the up rise of fans! and have that support!” enthused Watchman, who is a junior-year physical therapy major at the University of New Mexico-Main, in Albuquerque, New Mex.

The projects Facebook page statistics predicted the target market for the 2012 NAGC right on target, as the consumers who purchased the calendar at the Navajo fair were 23-45 years in age, which corresponded positively with the FB metrics of fan demographic. Laudini created the FB page this past June, and the page had 9,300 fans as of the Window Rock gig (only three months), and the numbers are expected to rise in fans and sales. The Window Rock stop was one of three publicity debuts for the 2012 NAGC, thus far, as there were initial appearances at the Apache Gold Casino and another stop in Wisc.

Another 2012 NAGC model, Trayce Morgan, 25, who is Navajo, said her involvement with the project has been great because she met a lot of Native American models from the western U.S. Morgan, a business and graphic design student at Scottsdale Community College, in Scottsdale, Ariz., said she has been modeling four years and the 2012 NAGC is her first calendar stint, and the first time she has ever worked with a non-Native photographer [Laudini]: “I learned a lot of professionalism from him.” Morgan aspires to work in the mainstream professional world after she gets her degrees. Modeling is just one of her hobbies, as she has had minor acting roles in the Sara Connor Chronicles television series, and in Rez Hope, a Norman Patrick Brown (of Return of Navajo Boy fame) film aimed to prevent the youth from getting involved in drugs and to raise awareness of reservation social ills.

Again, like the FB fans, the people buying the calendar, thus far, are balanced between male and female, and sales of the first printing of the 2012 NAGC are, according to Laudini, in one word, “Amazing!”

The project was photographed in two locations (Scottsdale, and Santa Fe, New Mex.), which were properties Laudini rented because of their unique architecture. The photo shoots occurred in November 2010 and in April 2011.

Brittney Jackson, 20, who is also a Navajo, is working on liberal arts studies at UNM-Gallup, with the goal of becoming an anesthesiologist in the medical field. About the calendar project, she commented, “It was something new, a new challenge for me … it [the business aspects] was really intimidating …as he [Laudini] was explaining distribution… my pictures… my name being out there.” Thus, professionalism left a definable impression.

Regarding the calendar project layouts of the Navajo models who were on hand at Window Rock, the following describe their pages:

With dark brown hair, Jackson is Miss July 2012: she faces forward, wears a black, knee-length chiffon dress, which creates a subtle “I-line,” with a lateral shift to a Rome-styled twist in the mid-chest, and a wavelike couple is formed, accenting the fashion with no lack of modesty whatsoever. She faces the camera with a subtle and curious gaze and a radiance that says hurrah for daylight! And, she slightly lifts the left edge of her soft, black nightdress to reveal her lower-left thigh, a light skin tone that makes the black dress a perfect contrast-match for the daytime shoot. She is a bedtime story in the afternoon.

Morgan, a black brunette, is Miss May 2012: she wears a fitted, one-piece, opaque, red satin top that extends down and long into a playful skirt, and she complements her stunning, semi-seated pose with immaculate legs and black high heels. Her pose is tranquilizing, bespeaking that it is in the first or second watch of night! The flash lighting glams up the scene, as she is beauty beside a geometric swimming pool with a slate tiled trim, and she extends her left leg ever so to her left—to form a reflected “L” on its side with this stunning pose—and her eyes gazing at the lens and what seems like infinity!

Watchman is Miss November 2011 (which is just right around the corner): her form is turned, at an angle, away from the camera, but before she turns completely, she looks back… over her right shoulder, and, as if on tiptoes, she gives that chance-of-a-glance at the camera, ever so slightly. She wears a black bra and panty set, obscured and covered by a loose-fitting and bright pink, lingerie camisole that has a floral design weave in it. Watchman is playful, with black, wavy hair that has brown highlights, and she appears to balance the garments and pose in the shade of a day, a scene that says: “See you next year… Adieu, adieu.” {Watchman exits the scene through patio doorway in center-stage facade.}

Concerning the garments worn by the Native women in the 2012 NAGC, Laudini said, “I require models to bring their own wardrobe.” It is a matter of hygiene and he likes to keep things professional, as some productions furnish the wardrobe to their models and then re-use the same articles of clothing on different sets, which lacks in originality by its tackiness, but the most important aspect is that such practices do not promote good hygiene.

At interview time, during their Window Rock appearance, the aforementioned Navajo models being present, along with Laudini, received handshakes, kudos, smiles and the women were kept busy signing autographs. “A lot of folks comment, ‘Wow! I’ve never seen any media calendar presenting Native American women in this way,’” said Laudini about the Window Rock reception, adding that the calendar is “another option.”

Out of a pool of 40 Native applicants, Laudini chose 11 women for the 2012 calendar. The names of the featured Native American models are: Joelynn Benter (Sakaogoan Chippewa and Zuni), Desirae Martinez (Santa Ana and Laguna), Selena Watchman (Navajo), Hali Lewis-Quam (Zuni), Jacquelynn Jesus (Navajo), Alexandra Edmo (Blackfeet), Wileeta Ann (San Carlos Apache), Amber Sekakuku (Hopi), Trayce Morgan (Navajo), Brittney Jackson (Navajo), and Julie Cassidy (Sioux-Mohawk). Four of the above-listed models appear in the calendar twice, and Amber Sekakuku appears twice in months and as the centerfold poster (11.5” by 11.5” vertically).

Laudini has a resume that includes working with London Levi—a la Playboy Miss October 2009 and Tyra Banks’ Americas’ Next Top Model fame—and there are 20 solid years of glamour photography experience under his belt. So, details of possible plans are already on his mind for retrieval, as he has 71 applicants for a possible 2013 Native Models calendar, and all interested parties can check the notes section of the FB page.

Further, concerning their modeling endeavors and any last tidbits, the Native women had to say:

Morgan, with a winning night pose in the calendar, said she would like to do non-nude lingerie modeling, in the future, as well as swimsuit modeling.

A final note from Jackson was that she comes from a traditional and strict Navajo family, and this is apparent in her chosen attire for the calendar. “I don’t do lingerie,” she ended as a last comment and resumed autographs.

And, as for Watchman, the 2012 NAGC was her first time doing glamour modeling, and she said the experience was different and she liked it. “I started [modeling] in San Diego … doing jewelry ads for various clientele,” she said, and that there is more information about her in an interview that is available on line.

As far as being the first Native American glamour calendar with lingerie in the mix, Laudini mentioned a project called “Native Curves,” and added that they shoot the same genre as he does. –RA

[For more information and 2013 Casting Call details, see the notes section:]

Read 19476 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 15:58

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