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A nude approach to fighting cancer

Paul McDonough strikes a pose on his motorcycle outside his restaurant, Jimmy Flynn
Paul McDonough strikes a pose on his motorcycle outside his restaurant, Jimmy Flynn's Celtic Snug.
— image credit: Elke Tobisch photo

A White Rock restauranteur and his friends are taking a cheeky approach to exposing the lack of awareness on a disease targeting half the population.

Jimmy Flynn's Celtic Snug owner Paul McDonough, his staff and friends stripped down early last month and struck a pose for a calendar aimed to increase knowledge of prostate cancer.

According to McDonough, the decision to do the calendar stemmed from a suggestion by his photographer friend, Elke Tobisch, who  wanted to find a way to support prostate cancer prevention after the recent diagnosis of a number McDonough's friends.

"After a few of my friends were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and then my uncle, it really brought it to the forefront," McDonough said.

Initially, McDonough said he simply laughed at the idea, but Tobisch convinced him the restaurant and its inhabitants would be perfect for the project, which was modeled after a 2003 movie starring Helen Mirren.

"I came here and all these people were so interesting – so warm and welcoming and it was just amazing. I said to Paul, 'look at the cast of characters you've got here,'" Tobisch said. "I told him it reminded me of Calendar Girls, and they could do a calendar and raise the money for something important to them."

McDonough began talking to friends about the risque idea and received an overwhelmingly positive response.

"They thought it was a great idea to raise prostate awareness," he said. "Guys don't talk about it, we just joke about the rubber gloves. It's hidden."

With help from Tobisch, who shot the photos for the calendar, the men posed in what McDonough calls "burly dress."

"This is not a firefighter calendar. We do have some guys with six packs, but most of us have a full keg," McDonough laughed.

McDonough, who hails from Liverpool, England, said he was initially worried people would be offended, but his concerns soon slipped away when he showed the calendar to then-White Rock mayor, Catherine Ferguson. The former nurse barely bat an eyelash at the scantily clad pseudo-models, only offering a single criticism.

"She said, 'the only thing wrong with this picture is this boy's frying pan is too big,'" said McDonough, referring to a photo of Jeff Eley, a staff member at Jimmy Flynn's, wearing only a pan in the restaurant kitchen.

Despite the humorous approach, McDonough and Tobisch are serious about their goal of raising awareness about prostate cancer.

And although the pictures will be what draw people in, McDonough said he wants the calendar to spur conversation about the disease and increase preventative measures, like prostate exams.

"Even I admit, I never really thought about it before. My daughter, who is 25 now, but when she as younger came home and asked me if I had my prostate tested," McDonough said. "I was like, 'hold on, where did that come from, how do you know about all this?' But she was right, there needs to be more discussion."

McDonough and Tobisch have also approached local businesses for support with their calendar and are planning an event – date to be determined – which will include a contest to give away prizes, including two free rooms for four guys at the Ocean Promenade Hotel, a round of golf with motorized carts donated by Peace Portal Golf Course and, of course, a meal at Jimmy Flynn's. McDonough hopes the calendar and its release party will take place before Christmas, or possibly early in the New Year.

The two were also able to get a deal with the calendar, with Buchanan Printing only charging for the cost of design and production.

The money made from the calendars will be split between prostate cancer research and the White Rock Hospice Society.

In 2007, the BC Cancer Agency reported 3,390 cases of prostate cancer, which is the most common form of cancer among Canadian men.

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