Baristas against breast cancer

An Ashland developer who watched his mother die of breast cancer has created a calendar featuring local women baristas as a reminder to wake up and smell the coffee — and keep current on breast checkups.

Evan Archerd has teamed with pinup photographer Debra Thornton to create the calendar, sales of which will be donated to breast cancer research. The calendars will be offered at cost to breast cancer awareness groups who can then sell the calendars for $20 as a fundraiser, Archerd said.

It is being marketed by their nonprofit Hot Mama Coffee.

"I wanted to do something to support women's health issues," said Archerd. "One in eight women will contract breast cancer during their lifetime, but if it's detected early, it has a 98 percent survival rate to five years, so the key is early detection."

Local baristas donned costumes and volunteered for the playful cheesecake photos, which feature coffee props and are superimposed on fantastical art scenes from the Burning Man festival by Sarah Petty. Some asked for a little PhotoShop help with their curves, Thornton admits.

"I started by asking my barista at the Human Bean, and a few others and word got around," says Archerd, adding he will seek to market the calendars at local coffee shops.

"People want to be photographed," says Thornton, noting that each calendar page echoes the female anatomy with paired, round objects — donuts, fried eggs and such — as a reminder to get that exam.

The "arresting, evocative" models are shown at '50s lunch counters, posing with a lion, decked out as a ballerina, charming a python, wearing a full-length headdress of feathers. It's appropriate to hang on the fridge and may get shaped into a phone app, Archerd says.

Every one of the models has remarked that someone close to her has had to come to grips with breast cancer, says Thornton.

"Everyone knows someone," says Thornton, who went through a recent scare around the disease, with a benign diagnosis.

About 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the U.S. and 40,000 die. The rate has decreased 2 percent a year since 1998 because of a decreased use of hormone therapy in menopause, according to the American Cancer Society. A decline since 1990 stems from more screening and treatment, it says.

The calendar will be launched at a party at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, at Miller Paint, 2205 Ashland St., with dancing, a deejay and no-host bar. The models will be present. It's free and open to the public. Calendars will be on sale and may be signed by models. The calendar is viewable at www.hotmamacoffee.com.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

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