FDNY Calendar 2014 Event

Firefighters are ready to deal with matters of life and death on a daily basis.  So in a way, it was appropriate that I attended the FDNY Calendar Event last week, when I was dealing with matters of life and death, also.  But the FDNY Calendar is also about men showing off their abs, so that was a little less appropriate.  Still, an effective distraction can be useful in trying times.

Gita Sellei with a Firefighter

I joined Gita Sellei of Distract TV and four friends at the Firehouse, a sports bar on the Upper West Side for the NYFD Calendar Charity Event.  Gita soon persuaded all the firefighters present to remove their shirts, pose for pictures and sign our calendars.  I acquired such choice inscriptions on my calendar as, “The only pole we’ll be working with is the one in my pants,” and “I’ll be happy to put out your fire any time.”  Unfortunately someone purloined my calendar, which had my name all over it. If you buy your own calendar, part of your purchase will support the Burn Centers of New York.

Wrestler Veve Lane lifting a firefighter

New York Firefighters receive around 14 calls per day, and between those, they clean and check equipment, cook, eat, and judging by their appearance, work out a lot.  Although there were none at this event, the Fire Department strongly encourages women to become Firefighters.

“How do you get chosen to be in the calendar?” I asked one of the firemen.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said. “You send in a picture and this old guy who’s a photographer chooses.”

The older gentleman is philanthropist and acclaimed photographer, Alan Batt, otherwise known as Battman.  He started the calendar as a way to raise money for charities, and is also known for photographing the city and food. Proceeds from his book, "Street Eats," published last year, go toward Action Against Hunger.

Battman started shooting the FDNY Calendar in 1996. As well as showcasing New York’s Bravest, the calendar shows the landscape of NYC, with backgrounds from the Freedom Tower to the Bronx Stadium. It costs from 12.93 to 19.95, depending on where you purchase it.  As always, The Burns Center of New York receives a part of the proceeds.

Me, a Firefighter and Christina Oden, who has organized previous FDNY Calendar Events

Photos of Firehouse Event by Gita Sellei

Vintage NYC

Vintage Co-founder Kalen Arreola, Distract TV Reporter Gita Cellei, Jewelry Designer Mina D, Co-founder Amelia Meloni

On April 13th, the day of the Vintage NYC Magazine Launch Party, I didn’t feel like dressing up and going to a party.  But Gita Cellei of Distract TV was so enthusiastic, I changed my mind and I’m so glad I did.

Gita Cellei with Crooner Larry Costa

The party boasted a red carpet interview area, Hollywood movies on three screens, models wearing 40s and 50s influenced designs by Henry Picado and Mina D, ballroom dancers Aleksandar Vukosavljevic and Viktoriya Kolbenova, crooner Larry Costa, DJ Teal Camner, and doughnuts.  I’m not sure why doughnuts were the Vintage victual of choice, but Gita was delighted.  For such a petite woman, she got through an enormous number of doughnuts: jelly, cherry, chocolate and custard; she tried them all, several times.

Gita with dancers Viktoriya Kolbenova and Aleksandar Vukosavljevic

One of the surprises of this event was that I found myself surrounded by British women.  Gita moved to New York from London last year.  Her friend Fiona moved here from Scotland more recently.  We chose a prime viewing position for the performances, and soon the space beside me was filled by two girls from London, Heather and Jazz, who came to New York with an International Professional Services Organization. 

London Ladies Jazz and Heather

Amongst the many photographers, Distract TV was the only company recording video of the event.  Distract TV covers fashion, burlesque and cultural events, and Gita is their New York Correspondent.

Mina D, Gita Cellei and Cameraperson Pablo

Several photographers came around snapping Fiona and I while Gita was working.  One photographer asked me to describe my outfit. 

“It’s a burgundy lace sheath dress,” I said.

“I’m wearing a top and a skirt,” said Fiona, flapping the waistband at him.

“I can’t wait to see how she describes her outfit,” said Fiona as the man went on to photograph a girl wearing jeans and a flowery bomber jacket.

Models with Larry Costa (center)

My favorite models were the ones who came as couples, because I love the contrast between the long shimmering gowns and the classic men’s suits.  At the end of the evening, the models were judged by audience applause.  The winner wore an exquisite monochrome beaded gown and jewelry.

Winner of Model Contest

Once Gita finished recording, she, Fiona and I started dancing.  Fiona is a Scottish dance instructor, and we tried to copy some of her moves.  I removed my wedges, deciding the time for elegance was over.  Fortunately, the photographers had decided the same thing and were on their way out. 

Dancers Viktoriya Kolbenova and Aleksandar Vukosavljevic

I’m looking forward to seeing Distract TV’s report on the event.  And I’m glad I went out when I didn’t feel like it, because I realized that looking cool and having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  And nor do being skinny and eating doughnuts.