Why make a nude calendar? Is it attention seeking? Did we do it to show off? Or was it because we want to make some dosh?
In all honesty, money was a motivating factor. We’re always trying to think up new ways to cover the costs of the sport we love so much. Many weird and wonderful project ideas are bounced around the Swords of Cygnus admin discussions. This particular idea was suggested one cold, dreary night of early January. Our wonderful Silks was having rather a jolly evening on one of her exciting escapades. She messaged our exec team with this grand plan in the driven, animated and compelling way she has when she is focused on something she wants. Needless to say when the hangover kicked in the next morning so did her doubts on this outrageous scheme.
However, the seed had been planted. Me, being the trouble that I am, jumped on the idea because naturally all ideas from Silks are brilliant. We just had to actually convince her of that fact.
I mean look where we are now as a team. Just a year after she joined us and she organised the first independent U.K. women’s trip to an international tournament! She has a passionate motivation which is inspiring. Jeeze that is enough silk-worshipping wouldn’t want it to go to her head.
After nearly 8 months of hard work, finding time around our personal lives, work and of course the very busy opening season for Swords of Cygnus, we finally decided to turn this grand plan into a reality.
So for those people out there who might think we’re attention seeking show off’s or have the audacity to throw derogatory comments our way.
For one, how dare you?
Two, for the people of that opinion and won’t believe otherwise, putting together a naked calendar isn’t as easy as you’d think. It involves a lot more than just taking off your clothes and posing in front of a camera. Self-confidence, guts and faith are required, all characteristics a lot of people struggle with on a day to day basis. I take my hat off to those full time attention seeking show offs. It is hard fucking work (s’cuse my French; and speaking of French don’t forget to follow our next adventure, Tournoi de Flandres!)
And three, you know how the old phrase goes. Maces and halberds may break my bones but words they do not hurt me.
At long last the day of the photoshoot arrived! We had decided on the beautiful Cheddar Gorge, Bristol, as our location. The day preceding, Rexie had driven nearly half way across the country and back to fetch enough weapons to arm a small battalion. Her hard work and dedication ceases to overwhelm me.
Silks arrived at Rexie’s humble, tea-haven of a home the night before seeking sanctuary from the madness of the capital. While I worked a very long bar shift to the early morning, only to get up three and a half hours later. Dashing south on the train to rendezvous with our wonderful photographer, Tony, at Temple Meads.
Being troublesome as I am, I had failed to follow the first instruction given from Tony about getting a good nights’ rest to avoid the deep purple bags under my eyes. But alas my job had other ideas.
It was at this moment that the nerves had kicked in for my fellow brave shield maidens.
A flurry of text messages back and forth set an unsteady mood for what we had decided to embark upon.
“What are we doing? Is this a stupid idea?! Who’s idea was this? Why are we here? Who am I?”
However, this was not the time to start questioning the meaning of life.
It was time to take our kit off.
I personally realised I have no qualms about taking off my clothes in public. I thought, is that normal? If they’re nervous shouldn’t I be too? Quickly followed by, ‘meh’. And not far behind that some ecstatic jiggling in my train seat occurred. Wearing my trusty newly named ‘stripper coat’, and draped in skins for the shoot with my rainbow booties, I was as ready as I was ever going to be!
The amazing and wonderful Tony picked me up. I might add that Silk nor I, had met Tony before. Rexie knew him from previous modelling assignments and had arranged for him to help us bring this grand plan to fruition. On our way to the gorge we talked about this, that and the other and I asked.
“What’s the most ‘out-there’ and unusual shoot you’ve done?”
Which he replied, “probably this”. The Cynuts don’t do things by halves.
Rexie and Silk were fashionably late. So Tony and found a location and proceeded to have a little warmup shoot, still fully clothed at this point.
My wonderful warrior women arrived and I was mildly distracted… Tony perfectly captured the genuine look of joy on my face as they pulled up.
Now it was time to get down to work. Time was of the essence. So we claimed our area in the rocks and proceeded to create a plethora of what the UK Fed describe as ‘admin’. It was easy to identify where we’d made camp with a trail of clothes, weapons, shields and furs on the rocks behind us.
All nerves out of the window, Silks led the way and we were down to business. In a weird twist of fate, just as we got fully undressed the previously deserted gorge started to fill with weekend walkers, families out for picnics and even a coach load of holiday makers stopping for respite and to take in the view. We were undeterred and it seemed like the onlookers daren’t cross the line of weapons adorning the rocks.
Top tips now for those of you who may join us next year:
Don’t wear underwear the morning before the shoot. An odd request I know, but with logic behind it as bras and pants tend to leave imprints on the skin.
Wear loose clothing for the above reason. Yes, commando! (This is very liberating with no underwear on just to let you know).
If your shoot is on a summer’s day on rocky terrain, wear boots and bring a light dressing gown. I brought a fluffy one because naturally I thought I might get chilly between poses, but apparently rock climbing in your birthday suit with swords and shields is sweaty work! I felt like I’d been at the gym all day!
We worked straight through from 10 till around 14:30 without a break. Silks brought quiche reward which we gobbled whilst reviewing the results of our efforts. After an intense and exhausting day we were satisfied we had achieved what we set out to do. A quick discussion on our charity, printing costs and when to go public were all decided on. As well as preparing ourselves for the mixed opinions to expect after the release. There are some attacks that armour and shields cannot protect you from but strength in the friendship that we share convinced us that we will win this fight.
The next month involved a whirlwind of editing and making selections for the calendar, considering format, costing and promotion.
Finally, we decided on our charity. We wanted something local and community based to hold true to the U.K. Federations’ family ideals of fun, fighting and support. We chose Nottingham Women’s Centre, a support network specifically for women established in 1971. They support women with mental health needs, previous offenders, those seeking asylum as well as women escaping abuse. If you need help and support they will be there for you, an attribute of the Fed which we treasure above all else.
This quote from Nottingham Women’s Centre describes our feelings towards this project perfectly. It has boosted our teams’ confidence and self-esteem leaps and bounds and we want to share this with everyone.
All three of us and our photographer have invested many hours and hundreds of pounds into this project. The feedback we have received so far has been glowing.
So, why make a naked calendar?
To raise money for a cause that we believe in.
To put gender stereotypes to the sword (literally). Would the haters be calling us if we were half naked men? I don’t think so.
Because we are three strong, independent female fighters who would like to share our passion for this sport and raise awareness for any women with a fight on their hands.
A Troublesome Cygnet
You can pre-order your calendar here
P.s. I am proud of my girls. It took real guts to do what we did together. Everybody who knows me knows that I am a minimalist at heart when it comes to clothes. It may have landed me in trouble several times, hence the nickname… France comes to mind again.
Despite others disapproval of my minimalist views though, I hope some of my self-confidence and surety has rubbed off on you because you are both so beautiful.