Carol Pinalski and Marion Hutchinson with the newest Red Hat Sooke Siren’s calendars.

In the buff – Sooke Red Hatters

The Sooke Red Hat talk candidly about growing old — and posing naked – gracefully

Britt Santowski

Sooke News Mirror

Meeting strangers for the first time can be a daunting experience, especially when one of them wears an in-your-face Bad-Word pin on her cowboy hat.

Which the wearer later explained, stands for Babe In Total Control of Herself.

The Queen, Marion Hutchinson, and her Queen Executive Officer, Carol Pinalski (and owner of the Bad-Word pin), sat down in a local cafe to discuss the merits of aging — and posing naked.

To begin with, to be a Red Hat Sooke Siren, the criteria is pretty straight forward: you must be a woman, over 50, willing to wear a red hat, and love having fun.

Those under 50 are welcome to join, but must wear a pink hat until the monumental semi-centurion birthday arrives. At which point, you Red-u-ate.

Membership, which is currently at 31 members, is open. When they hit 40, which they do periodically, membership closes and a wait list is established.

One thing the Red Hats emphatically do NOT do is fundraisers.

“We did that all our lives, the kids and sports and whatever. We don’t want to do that anymore,” said Pinalski. And then, she explained this big exception. “But this just ended up … we started out doing it as fun and then this is what happened, they sold so well.”

The concept of the calendar was first conceived by Agnes Harper after watching the movie, Calendar Girls.

Once conceived, the calendars established momentum of their own, and were published from 2006 to 2008. These three calendars collectively raised over $16,000, all of which was donated to Sooke’s senior centre. Since then, models have been stepping up, stripping down and strutting their stuff for another calendar.

“The last calendar we did was in 2008,” adds Hutchinson, “and since then we’ve had a lot of ladies … join our chapter who are well, ‘I want to be in the calendar.’”

The time had come, the time was now.

Hot off the press — with tasteful, bright and beautiful photography done by Angie Bailey, and delectably scant clothing designed by Sue Truman — the Red Hat’s Sooke Siren’s calendar is now available.

The Red Hat Society started serendipitously when, according to RedHatSociety.com, back in 2001, the Exhalted Queen Mother (EQM) Sue Ellen Cooper “impulsively bought a bright red fedora at a thrift shop, for no other reason than that it was cheap and, she thought, quite dashing. A year or two later she read the poem ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph, which depicts an older woman in purple clothing with a red hat. Sue Ellen felt an immediate kinship with Ms. Joseph.” So she wore her hat with pride, and bought another one for one friend. And then another. And then another.”

The Sooke chapter started up in 2004, hosting their first meeting in the end of May.

Fast forward 10 years, and in 2014 the Sooke Sirens will be hosting a Red Hat convention of their own, proudly boasting the hidden gems in Sooke to a bunch of self-centred and laughing semi-centurion-plus ladies, wearing eloquent red hats and purple dresses. And, if they strictly adhere to the poem “Warning,” you may encounter one or two learning how to spit.

This year’s calendar is a limited edition. They sell for $20 each, and you can order them online or on location at People’s Drug Mart, the Sooke Museum, Buffy’s Cold Beer and Wine store, and the Sooke Seniors’ Drop-In Centre. To sell this calendar from your location, send an email to redhatsookesirens@gmail.com.

To order the calendar online, send an email to redhatsookesirens@yahoo.com.

For more information, visit www.sooke.org/redhats

Just Posted

Sooke cannabis report does little to answer production questions

Council is trying to get ahead of the issue

Average housing prices would have to drop by $413,000 for Victoria to become affordable

Alternatively, salaries need to increase to $134,000 per year, more than double current levels

Bears have killed 17 people in B.C. since 1986

Number of bear complaints and bears killed rose sharply during same period

Oak Bay resident wins fight to remove tree

With St. Patrick Street tree removal, Oak Bay now aims to plant 6,401 trees

Victoria Weekender: What’s happening this weekend, June 15-16

Car Free YYJ, a barber battle and an Outdoor Discovery Day

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

Teen stabbed after end-of-night limo dispute in downtown Vancouver

A young man, 19, is in serious condition following a dispute between two groups

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody 6 months after release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

Three Albertans land ‘monster’ sturgeon in B.C.’s Fraser River

For angler who landed the exceptionally large sturgeon it was an ‘incredible dream come true’

Most Read