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It all started over a couple of adult cocktails and a wandering imagination last summer, when a group of Oak Parkers decided to create a sexy 2011 calendar for their wives as a surprise Christmas gift.
After some contemplation, the idea was rebuffed. After all, who would want to spend 12 months looking at a bunch of scantily clad, middle-age guys battling beer bellies and balding belfries?
"We were thinking we would do beefcake shots where we try and be good-looking, but we realized there were only one or two guys on the block who actually were good-looking," Steve Bankes, 45, who came up with the idea, said with a laugh.
Instead, they decided to take shots of themselves doing what their wives might find even more attractive — chores. The final product features 12 men who live on or near the 700 block of North Grove posing suggestively while ironing, vacuuming or scrubbing the toilet.
The photos — snapped by neighbor and Chicago Tribune photographer Chuck Berman — are accompanied by double entendres penned by Bankes, such as, "No romance until that toilet sparkles like your eyes."
Joe Raschke, 46, posed doing what he hates most — folding laundry. The calendar is funny, he said, but will also remind the guys to help out around the house year-round.
"The best thing I could do for my wife would be posing folding towels and clothes," he said.
Berman, 58, shot the pics mostly at Bankes' house, over the course of two afternoons in September and December. Mr. April had fun creating the calendar and said his wife Barbara "shrieked" with glee when the gift was revealed to the wives a few days before Christmas.
"This is an extension of Steve embracing this block and just enjoying ourselves and each other," Berman said. "It's more than just a calendar; it's friendship and camaraderie."
And what do the wives think? Carrie Bankes knew something was up when she found a picture of one of her husband's friends on the computer, posed scrubbing their toilet. She admired the creativity and has placed the present proudly on their fridge.
"I knew he was up to something, but I was amazed that he talked them all into it," she said.
Some of the women on the block have joked about doing their own version next year. But Cathy Raschke, 46, is skeptical, imagining what most men might want to see their wives doing in a calendar. Probably not chores.
"It would be a lot different calendar for the men than for the women, and I'm not sure we're up to that," she said.