Jamie Sneider's calendar, the video
Cheesecake might be a crowd-pleaser when it comes to desserts, but for calendars the appeal is slightly more limited.
The trend that started with barely there pinups in World War II has become so acceptable in recent years that it's served as a fundraising vehicle for various charities, inspiring the PG-13 film, "Calendar Girls." These racy, tongue-in-cheek calendars are also an inspiration for Jamie Sneider, whose photos appear on every page of the "Jamie Sneider: Year of the Jewish Woman" calendar for 2009.
Most of the photos feature Sneider, dressed in bikini bottoms, swapping her top for matzah balls, challahs, bagels, black-and-white cookies and other culinary Jewish favorites. In addition to filled champagne flutes for New Year's Day and Chinese takeout boxes and movie popcorn for Christmas, the calendar also takes an irreverent approach to the Jewish holidays, including Tu B'Shevat (two seedlings) and a strategically placed etrog and lulav for Sukkot.
"I wanted to celebrate the Jewish woman in a way that we might not think of her, but to also celebrate the religion in a unique way ... and to get a couple chuckles," Sneider said.
In contrast to Hollywood producer Adam Cohen's "Nice Jewish Guys 2009," featuring marriageable professionals with their clothes on, Sneider doesn't portray a nice Jewish gal as much as she does a nice Jewish stripper. Still, the for-profit calendar and its more than 60 images were carefully planned to assure the accuracy of each religious reference.
"Even though it's a comedic calendar, it could not be amateur. It had to look professional and beautiful," she said.
The total cost to produce 1,000 calendars and several posters -- $18,000.
The money was a family investment, she said. Her parents were a little surprised but were ultimately happy that Sneider "was getting back into [her] religion in a unique way."
Unique is definitely the word. The month of March features a classic Purim charm: two groggers and a poppyseed hamantaschen that requires a double-take. April offers Sneider as human seder plate with a sexually provocative question for the second night: "Guess where I hid the afikomen?"
The calendar also includes Hebrew dates, religious holidays (some secular included), a glossary of Jewish terminology and the weekly Torah portion.
A native of Wayland, Mass., Sneider isn't just skin, bones and baked goods. She earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts with honors from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts at the Experimental Theatre Wing, has worked as an actress for "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and performed solo shows throughout New York City.
Shortly before leaving New York, she started a humor blog, Reluctantly Moving to L.A., which she still maintains, even though she now resides happily in Los Angeles.
The blog was actually the starting point for the calendar, Sneider said. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response to her photos, she decided to make her idea a reality. Since the release of her calendar in mid-October, Sneider has made a television appearance on the KTLA "Morning Show" and done a radio interview on Sirus' Playboy Radio channel.
Although "Jewish Woman" will undoubtedly offend people, Sneider doesn't think it crosses a sacrilegious line.
"We only used symbols of celebration as opposed to religious items for the photo shoots. If anything, it's an ode to my religion and completely expresses my love of Judaism," Sneider said. "Hopefully, this calendar can encourage people to express their identity more openly."
For more information about the "Jamie Sneider: Year of the Jewish Woman," visit http://www.jamiecalendar.com.