Ask someone you know in a cover band, and they'll tell you one of
the hardest things about playing live is getting the audience's
attention. For obvious reasons, the Calendar Girls don't seem to
have that problem.
Using their good looks, the Calendar Girls - aka Jo-Ann McMahan and
Trish Cleveland - have emerged as one of the brightest party duos on
the club scene in southern New Jersey. Yes, they wear tight clothes.
Yes, they dress sexy, but they also can sing their pants off ...
although not literally.
"We've only been together a year, and we can't believe how much
we've grown and how well we're doing," says McMahan, who will
perform at the Old Oar House Brewery in Millville with her partner
on Friday, Dec. 19. "We sing everything from Motown to country to
golden oldies, and we love singing classic rock. We can also do some
doo-wop. We're always looking for new songs to make people happy."
The Calendar Girls, although a musical duo, really are calendar
girls. McMahan produces an annual calendar titled "The Girls of
South Jersey Shore." The 2003 edition featured McMahan and other
southern New Jersey models but did not contain Cleveland, who will
be the cover girl of the 2004 edition.
"I actually met Trish after the calendar was in print," McMahan
explains. "We were both cast as extras on the set of 'Sex and the
City,' and I saw her across the room and approached her about the
calendar. We started talking, and before you know it, we decided we
were going to sing together."
The meeting definitely paid off. The 2004-2005 calendar will be
released this summer to cover September, 2004 through December, 2005
so that tourists can purchase it.
"We developed an audience over last summer, and by the time May 31
comes around, no one would buy a calendar after half of the year
will already be over. So now that we sing on the Boardwalk and play
at festivals and big events, opening for larger bands, we could have
our calendars there, sell them and autograph them. It should work
It certainly should. The first calendar sold more than 6,000 copies
with the Calendar Girls performing a few nights a week. When the
calendar finally does it hit the streets, you will see McMahan as
the model for October, 2004 and July, 2005, and Cleveland as the
cover girl as well as December, 2004 and November, 2005.
"It's going to be a great calendar," says McMahan, a former Playboy
model who was featured in semi-nude lingerie special issues in the
1980s. In fact, a flashback of popular models from the '80s titled
"Lingerie" is on stands right now. "Since the first calendar did so
well, we had a lot of very beautiful girls call us to be on the new
calendar. Our calendar is definitely PG rated. We do that so we can
cater to the overall market. But it is very sexy."
The launch of the new calendar, which will be inexpensively priced
at $10, may also come at the same time the Calendar Girls launch a
full band. The duo is currently looking for support players.
Meanwhile, Cleveland, who already plays harmonica, is brushing up on
keyboards, and McMahan is learning "a little guitar."
The Calendar Girls -
Jo-Ann McMahan, left, and Trish Cleveland - are putting a full
band together so they can play bigger gigs, like casinos.
"We really want to break the casino market as a band, and we think
we need a band to do that," McMahan says. "We think a band will put
us over the top."
McMahan, who lived in Texas for 18 years, where she also played in a
duo, loves her new partner.
"It's great," she says. "We're both easy on the eyes, and we can
sing. People really like the way we work the crowd. When we're
setting up our equipment, we get a lot of looks like, 'What are they
doing?' They like the way we look, but then we start, and it's like,
'Wow, they can sing, too.' We think we have something here. We're
looking to get in on the cruise ship thing for next winter. We want
to say bon voyage to South Jersey for the winter."
Until then, McMahan and Cleveland are making sure they cement
themselves as musical staples right here.
"When we get booked, we always get booked back," McMahan says. "It
was only a year ago when we started singing in front of the Atlantic
City Cyber Café on the Boardwalk for free. We always left with a tip
jar full of money, knowing only 12 songs at the time. But we
developed from that. Now, we go back to the same places and get
paid. We love this. It's a lot of fun