A calendar has got to be one of the least original Christmas gifts ever. It’s a perfect stocking filler if you’re stuck for inspiration, and comes at the right time of year of course. But now that everybody has a smartphone, who really uses a wall calendar anyway? It’s certainly been a long time since we last used an old-fashioned calendar with charming watercolours or cute kittens as a serious way to plan our time …
But one French calendar is a little different. We might not use it to record our dentist’s appointments and mother-in-law’s birthday, but we certainly like looking at the pictures! We’re talking about the world-famous Dieux du Stade calendar that featuring some of gay Paris’ favourite rugby players—naked!
Back in 2001, the management of French rugby club Stade Français. decided to ask their members to pose naked for a charity calendar, nicknamed ‘Dieux du Stade’, the ‘Gods of the Stadium’. Not only was it a runaway success with French housewives, raking in millions for charity, it also gained the boys a brand-new gay fanbase.
Month after month, the new fans enjoyed tasteful black-and-white photos of them posing oiled up and relaxing in the changing rooms or fresh out of the shower. The photos were a mix of group shots and close-ups on individual stars.
Sport, Art or Porn?
Given the amount of toned flesh on display, the players shouldn’t have beena too surprised at their new-found popularity amongst gay men. Some of the photos are deliberately sexual in nature, and many go far beyond traditional, artistic naked portraits to produce full-on explicit—almost pornographic—photos. Cultural critic Mark Simpson even invented a new term, ‘sporno’, to describe this new mix of ‘sports’ and ‘pornography’, and has identified it as a new trend in advertising.
Since then, the calendar has become an annual institution, with a new photographer taking charge every year. Not be outdone, the French national team also got involved, publishing a whole book of naked photos in 2004.
The 2012 edition is out now!