Laid bare: The annual CancerSoc naked calendar

Louise Cullen sits down with Cancer Soc to learn the ins and outs of their annual naked calendar.

Do people actually want to look at naked Trinity students?

Apparently, yes – if it’s for charity. The annual Naked Calendar, organised by the Trinity Cancer Society, is now entering its fifteenth year of publication. If you’re not familiar with the concept, the calendar contains pictures of 12 student societies and sports clubs, all photographed posing in nothing but their birthday suits. This year, the calendar has been organised by Krista-Marie Ramkalawan, Social Secretary of Cancer Soc. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Ramkalawan to discuss the making of the calendar.

Ramkalawan has been involved with Cancer Soc since she was in first year. Last year, she worked closely with the person overseeing the calendar, and was inspired to be in charge of it herself. As part of her role, Ramkalawan oversees the Naked Calendar subcommittee, which reaches out to different societies to gauge whether they would like to be photographed for the Naked Calendar. However, the Naked Calendar isn’t invite-only – absolutely anyone can get in touch with Cancer Soc if they would like to take part.

“We do get a lot of people who contact us,” says Ramkalawan. “They’ve done it last year and they want to be in it again.” Repeat participants include Trinity Climbing, Trinity Hiking, VDP, and the men’s rugby team – the latter of whom usually poses in the gym.

How does the actual production of the calendar occur? Ramkalawan organises a photographer, and then the society or club is photographed in an area of their choosing – “a lot of societies or clubs might have an area that represents them.” When photographing the Boat Club, for example, Ramkalawan and the photographer went to Islandbridge, where the rowing teams practice and where they keep all their equipment. Other times, clubs may simply book a random room on campus. Notably, Ramkalawan tells me, one brave society even posed in Front Square!

At the shoot itself, society members being photographed firstly pose in their clothes, “just to get an idea of where everyone should be.” Then, everyone strips and covers themselves with a prop, or a book. For some societies, however, things are a little more complicated. “When Climbing does their shoot, there’s usually two or three people on the climbing wall, so what they might do is have a towel around themselves, and when it’s time to take the picture, everyone has to look away and then they throw the towel away.” But don’t worry – in general, people are never naked for too long.

“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Ramkalawan notes, “but I have noticed that the people who do it, the committees, they’re often really close friends, or even if they weren’t close friends, they are bonding over [the photoshoot for the calendar].”

It should be noted that all photography sessions are chaperoned by a Cancer Soc committee member. This is done “just to make sure everyone feels safe and that they still want to do it.” It is completely fine if an individual has second thoughts and no longer wants to be photographed. Furthermore, not every member of a committee is required to take part in the Naked Calendar photograph – there only needs to be a minimum number of people. Ramkalawan prefers to have “at least four, just to make it even and make it look like the society’s really pumped to be in it.”

Not having viewed a Naked Calendar myself, I had to ask how much we get to…see. My initial assumption was that, akin to Barry Keoghan in Saltburn, we would be getting “the works”. Instead, however, Ramkalawan informs me that the calendar “is very classy and tasteful”. Having now been afforded a sneak peek, I can confirm the veracity of this statement. The Juggling Society, for example, posed with artfully placed circus props.

“For those on the fence about getting involved, know that while you will be naked, the more intimate areas will still be covered!”

The TCD Trust usually helps with funding the Naked Calendar; this year, they donated 500 euro, which goes directly towards the costs of printing. This tasteful calendar may be purchased in the Pav on the Friday of Rag Week (February 9). If you miss it though, Ramkalawan tells me that the week after, Cancer Soc will normally set up a stall in the Arts Block – “or people can just message us on Instagram.” The calendar will cost between 10 and 12 euro, with a discount if you are in the calendar. By buying the calendar, students will be helping to raise awareness of cancer and provide support to patients suffering from the disease. “We’re affiliated with the Irish Cancer Society,” says Ramkalawan. “Whatever we raise goes to them.” The Irish Cancer Society provides information and care for cancer patients and their families in Ireland, and funds research to find better treatments for cancer. With an estimated 120 people a day receiving a cancer diagnosis in Ireland, there couldn’t be a better reason to witness Trinity students getting naked. For those clubs or societies interested in getting involved next year, reach out to Cancer Soc via email or Instagram.