We get a lot of press releases from showbiz folks who want us to let you all know about whatever project they’re launching to raise money “for the troops.” The celebrity commitment usually involves some kind of drive-by photo op at a base or a VA hospital and a press release written in the kind of PR-speak that no real human uses in normal conversation. Or it’s some band you’ve never heard of that wants us to offer a free download of their terrible song with military-themed lyrics when it’s hard to fathom how a free download is going to do anything except promote the band.
Gina Elise’s Pin-Ups for Vets project is a rare exception and one worth your attention. She’s putting out WWII-style pinup calendars of herself since 2006 and donating all the proceeds to help purchase state-of the-art rehabilitation equipment for physical, occupational, and cognitive therapy programs in hospitals serving America’s Veterans. She’s raised $50,000 so far selling calendars at $10 a pop.
If you’re doing math at home, that means the girl has generated an average of $7500/year from a project that takes a lot of work and planning and probably requires a lot of explaining to folks when she’s first telling them about it. Still, persistence and commitment counts for a lot around here and Pin-Ups for Vets has earned a shot a your attention.
For the first six years, Gina came up with all the costumes and poses herself but she’s got some help for the upcoming 2013 calendar. Gina visited California’s Long Beach VA Hospital with 80s Playmate and Cinemax legend Shannon Tweed and KISS bassist Gene Simmons and the vets asked Shannon why she wasn’t included in the 2012 calendar.
That tweaked the interest of Shannon & Gene’s producers on their Family Jewels reality show and, the next thing you know, Shannon volunteered to join in for the new calendar and recruited her daughter Sophie and sister Tracy. Gina then invited her friends Bonnie-Jill Laflin (the NBA’s only female scout and a woman who’s done 18 USO tours) and Megan Tandy (an actress and daughter of a Vietnam Vet).
Gene allegedly wasn’t too into the idea, but we’ve all figured out that reality TV is pretty fake, right?
If you’ve checked out the slideshow above, you know this post isn’t only about Gina’s commitment and persistence: the photos are pretty hot. You can order your own copy for $10 here. You can also buy extras and donate them to active duty service members or hospitalized vets and Gina will personally deliver them to the bedsides of ill and injured Veterans on her 50 state hospital tour. There are also t-shirts, bumper stickers and other merch for sale. Here’s hoping Gene agrees to sell them over on the KISS website because those people will buy anything.