I publish a sexy calendar for feminism
A few weeks ago I posted about looking for talent for the Accordion Babes Pin-up Calendar online and an older man commented that my calendar is sexist. He said that it exploits women.
We are re-defining sexy to include older women and people with a wide range of body types. We are showing that using your brain and your heart are actually the biggest elements in the new definition of sexiness. It angers me, but doesn’t surprise me, that some people mistake this mission for exploitation. Sex is used to promote everything from cars to toothpaste. Now somebody is using it to distribute accordion compilation CDs. Artist exploitation! Real feminists reject all notions of sexiness!
I publish the Accordion Babes calendar for a lot of reasons. It has brought me in touch with many of my favorite people, women who are amazing artists whom I’m glad to now call friend. They are women who inspire me every single day. I don’t publish this calendar to make a lot of money, I don’t do all this work with recruiting, art direction, fundraising, printing, album mastering, distribution, in order to exploit people. I publish this calendar because I’m a feminist and I want to fix my world’s broken ideal of femininity and celebrate the real heroes in our culture. I also want to celebrate accordions because they are really, really fun and cool. More people need to know about that!
If you know of women accordionists who are perfect for this calendar, who are ready to celebrate their unique bodies and their beloved accordions in front of the camera, please send me links to their websites, or give them my email address which is [email protected]. There are a few places still open in the 2020 edition. If I don’t get enough photos and songs by mid-August then I have to wait another year to publish. So… now is a great time to reach out and let them know about the Accordion Babes!
-Renee de la Prade
The Accordion Babes Creative Team
Editor/ Producer: Renée de la Prade
Art director: Julie Nagel and Renée de la Prade
Graphic Design: Vicki Moriawietz and Roman Korsch
Calendar Cover drawing: Rosie Steffy
Web Maven: Maggie Martin
CD Mastering: Mr. Toad’s Recording, Vallejo, California
What is the Accordion Babes Pin-Up Calendar about? Why does it exist?
The Accordion Babes Pin-Up Calendar is the brainchild of Renée de la Prade, who was working as a street performer, professional Irish musician and accordion repair technician in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008 when the first Accordion Babes calendar was produced. Through her job at Smythe’s Accordion Center, and through her gigs with the celtic band Culann’s Hounds, Renée got to meet hundreds of accordionists who travelled through California. One day, she was invited to do a photoshoot in the San Francisco Mission district by photographer Keith Brown. The resulting photos featured her accordion prominently, and they were sexy and raw and rebellious, very different from the accordion’s reputation as an instrument which is only for grandpas. That’s when the wheels started turning in her head. There was no place to publish these accordion photos, but there should be… wouldn’t it be great if someone published a pin-up calendar with sexy accordion photos? Wouldn’t it be an amazing vehicle for promoting indie artists, if it also came with a compilation CD?
Renée kept this idea in the back of her mind and handed out her business card to dozens of female accordion players whom she met at gigs and at Smythe’s Accordion Center. When she earned the interest of two phenomenal artists, Big Lou the Accordion Princess and Isabel Douglass, she decided to go for it. Who wouldn’t want to be in a calendar with their heroes? Smythe’s Accordion Center agreed to put up some money for an ad in the calendar… and that started a whole path of creating ad spaces, to pay for the print run with sponsorships. The first editions of the calendar relied heavily on the go-getter nature of all the Accordion Babes, who had to promise to distribute 50 copies, and sell advertising to be participants. Today it’s a little different, the print run is funded with crowdsourcing and pre-sale orders.
The calendar has always been a lot of work, but it turns out, the world is a better place with the Accordion Babes Pin-up Calendar in it! Female sexuality usually gets defined by a male-dominated publishing industry which values an ideal which only a few young, thin white women can try to achieve. Sexiness is a much broader concept than you see in magazines, it encompasses things like confidence, creativity, intelligence, uniqueness, passion, zest for life, real curves, and a young woman who knows nothing is NOT always sexier than a seasoned performer with a shining soul. Renée very much wanted to prove that the strong musicianship of the Accordion Babes was even sexier than their collection of photos. She also wanted to show that a variety of body types and ages can be sexy; and in order to do this, she invites all talented, committed female accordionists to give it a shot to be included in the calendar; but she upholds very high standards for the production quality of the photos and the album. The calendar stands on its own as a high-quality product which is sensuous, funny, fun, and not demeaning to the artists; which empowers their very unique beauty to shine for accordion-loving audiences around the world. Hopefully, young children will also get to see the calendar, and be exposed to a different beauty standard which can accommodate different skin tones, different philosophies, different brilliant minds. We don’t all have to be Barbie dolls in order to be sexy.
There is nothing which is more fun than a room full of Accordion Babes. These women are smart, fun, talented, and they have amazing style. Each one can be the life of the party on her own. Together, they’re irresistible; and we hope that one day, you’ll come see the Accordion Babes live. Each artist in the calendar is a professional independent musician; you can read about their bands in the bio sections of each calendar. Sometimes, these multi-talented women get together for an Accordion Babes Revue, learning each other’s music and forming an awesome woman-powered band.
Vive la différence!