It’s not often I get to combine my love of pretty ladies with my passion for covering veterans’ issues. In fact, until now, those two topics have remained entirely separate in my clip book. The problem, it seems, is that I hadn’t met Gina Elise.
Gina is a classic pin-up beauty, complete with pin curls and pencil skirts. But she’s a hell of a lot more than that, too. She’s also a sweet young woman with a heart of gold and a philanthropic endeavor that I hope everyone reading this will go out and support. Gina, the granddaughter of a World War II soldier, produces pin-up calendars to raise money for wounded warriors. She works tirelessly, year-round, to put together gorgeous photo shoots for her calendars and posters, and then visits military hospitals and bases to meet with the troops her fundraising efforts serve.
I discovered Gina after a coworker sent me a video she’d shot for AOL talking about her project. “This might be fun for Warrior Wire,” my coworker (also a classic pin-up beauty) suggested. The project sounded interesting, and after watching the video, I knew that I had to talk to this woman who looked like she’d stepped straight out of the 1940s. My editor agreed that we needed to share Gina’s story, and off I went.
When I first contacted Gina, she sent me the above photo (shot by Mark Menchaca), an outtake from one of her first calendar shoots. She hadn’t been able to use the photo in her calendar, but when I told her I worked at Penthouse, she dug it up for me. It seemed like kismet that we were finally connecting—and like a good luck charm, too, since our connecting resulted in a four-page cover story.
I want to tell you so much more about this wonderful woman, but I think you should read my article, Calendar Girl, which appears in the May 2013 issue of Penthouse—on sale April 16th—instead. It has all the backstory on Gina’s fundraising efforts and some great words of praise from some important men and women.
And don’t forget to head over to PinUpsForVets.com to buy a couple calendars. You can buy one for yourself or donate one to an active-duty or wounded soldier. Gina will even autograph your purchase if you ask nicely. So go on, get shopping! After all, it’s for a good cause.