December 12, 2012

The Full 'Gansett: Twelve Months Of Mens

Kitty Merrill. (click for larger version)
The life of a reporter is one of self-sacrifice, penury, obligation, and the grinding torpor of town board meetings . . . and then you get invited to watch the making of a male pinup calendar.

It was a dirty job, but Indy had to do it. Last weekend, volunteers from the Donald T. Sharkey Memorial Community Fund gave The Independent exclusive access to photography sessions with fulsome fellows who will grace the pages of the first-ever Original Mr. Amagansett calendar.

The all volunteer effort was hatched just about three weeks ago on a Friday night at Sotto Sopra in Amagansett – "in a bar, as many great ideas are hatched," producer Kathryn Reid recalled. Erica Yardley was credited with wanting to create something that would rival the popular FDNY calendar. "If it's good, we'll all take credit. If it's bad, we'll blame her," Reid joked.

Julie McMahon of JEM photography was pressed into service for the difficult task of shooting the hunks, many of whom were solicited by one of the Fund's founders, Tina Piette – "In a bar," Reid reported. "Tina likes to get them in a contained area, that's her MO."

"And my other MO is this," Piette said Saturday night, holding out her hand and tapping her palm, in the classic money-seeking gesture.

Saturday night's shoot took place at The American Hotel in Sag Harbor. There was a brief debate over whether manly mixologists Vinnie and Paul would provide their last names, or wear shirts. They decided to skip the names and keep the shirts, despite urging to the contrary by those assembled to witness the historic shoot.

On Sunday afternoon a chilly and scantily clad contingent of models from East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue wrestled the heavy lifeguard stand onto the beach at Indian Wells for their session. After it was finished, Piette looked from the group of buff guards to John Ryan, Sr., as he wrote a check to the Fund. "That's my favorite sight," she said.

Piette, and other members of the charity, have seen the check-writing sight quite often. Since 2009, shortly after the death of beloved Amagansett resident and East Hampton town chief building inspector Don Sharkey, the Fund has raised over $83,000.

Contributions to the fund support those in need in the community as well as efforts to which Don volunteered his own time, according to the fund's website. East End Soldier Ride (which later became a part of the Wounded Warrior Project), the Amagansett, East Hampton, Springs, Montauk, Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton Fire Departments, East Hampton Boy Scout Troop #298, and Jordan's Honor Fund, are some of the organizations that have been recipients of Fund endowments.

Additionally, the fund offers a $2500 scholarship each year to a local student and last year sent nine children to summer camp and paid hospital bills for several community members. "It was especially poignant to us that when everyone's good friend Carl "The Greek" Gust passed away, donations were made to the Fund in his memory," the website notes.

The wildly popular Mr. Amagansett Pageant held each February at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett is dedicated in Sharkey's memory, as are a handful of other fundraisers throughout the year, including an annual bike ride. This year the pageant will be held on February 2. Fund members are already drafting contestants. Residency in the hamlet is not a requisite; "that limits the pool," Piette pointed out.

This is the group's first shot at crafting a calendar. Funded by individuals and local businesses, the project is so far slated to include a bevy of bodacious bartenders from several local establishments, fetching firemen from Amagansett Fire Department's Company 2, the fine physiques of Body Tech trainers, rugged gents from Montauk Rugby, majestic – and shirtless - men from East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue, and more. Of course, the current Mr. Amagansett titleholder will be found among the months, as will local personalities from the business community. No local politicians or elected officials will appear on the glossy pages, which many consider a plus.

Fund members hope the calendar will be ready by Christmas. Stay tuned for distribution news, or visit the Fund's website or Facebook page.


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