In a studio in New York’s theater district, Duncan Pflaster, a playwright and part-time photographer, was unpacking props for his photoshoot: yarmulkes, a menorah, and a book called The Jewish Pleasure Principle. Mr. Pflaster isn’t doing a swimsuit calendar — he’s creating the Naughty Jewish Boys calendar, which will feature a Jewish man in various states of undress each month.
The idea came to Mr. Pflaster as a more risqué alternative to the Nice Jewish Guys calendar, which Mr. Pflaster finds emasculating. “It’s guys with sweaters and puppies and looking like somebody you’d take home to your mom,” he said, adding, “I feel like there’s like a lot of unreleased sexiness that Jewish men don’t get credit for a lot of times in mainstream media.”
Mr. Pflaster, who is not Jewish but says he has long been fascinated by Judaism, is using the calendar to promote the idea that Jewish men are sexy. His original Craigslist ad promises to “show the sexy side of Judaism” and is “seeking Jewish men willing to pose shirtless, in underwear, or tastefully nude. Chubby/hairy ok. Yarmulkes and payess a plus.”
So far, Mr. Pflaster says he has photographed six men, and gotten emails from people as far away as Los Angeles who want to come pose. “I had one kid send me pictures of himself in his underwear saying, ‘This has always been my dream to pose for a calendar like this.’”
Ethan Kaplan, a film major at Hunter College, jumped at the chance to model after hearing about the photoshoot from a family friend. Mr. Kaplan, who sees the calendar as in line with his own work in Jewish comedy and parody, wanted to participate in the shoot because he thought it important to get away from the common Hollywood stereotypes about Jewish men being fat and lazy.
“I think there’s a lot of humor in it,” he said about Mr. Pflaster’s project, “but I also think there’s a lot of seriousness.”
And serious business it is: The company behind the Nice Jewish Guys calendar, Jumbo Jet Inc., has sent Mr. Pflaster a cease and desist letter, alleging it infringes on its firm’s copyright. In his response, Mr. Pflaster wrote that “aside from the existence of Jewish males in the calendar our aspirations are different.”
In the meantime, Mr. Pflaster is moving ahead. He’s had models pose shirtless while lighting the menorah and says he has a naughty Haman costume for a Purim-themed shoot.
Not that it would faze Mr. Kaplan, who said even his mother was supportive of his participation. “She is a big fan of mine. She was like, ‘good, you should be modeling for this stuff, you’re perfect for it.’ I was like, ‘Yes, mom.’”
Adam Kroopnick is a recent graduate of SUNY Geneseo and is now a freelance writer.