CHICAGO — Chicago cab drivers are showing some skin and striking raunchy poses in a pinup calendar to raise money to fund a federal lawsuit against the city.
The photos featured in the Chicago Taxi Driver Calendar 2014 aim for comedy over sex appeal, although there are some racier images, acknowledged Melissa Callahan, the Chicago cabbie who came up the idea for the calendar and took the photos.
Callahan, a 34-year-old West Town resident, got the idea after a friend of hers sent an email a few weeks ago with a link to a website for the "NYC Taxi Drivers 2014 Beefcake Calendar." Callahan browsed the site and thought, "This is a great idea for raising money."
"We've been struggling to raise money for this lawsuit against the city," she said. "And it just seemed like it would be a fun way to open people's pockets and get them to contribute."
The group behind the calendar and the lawsuit is called Cab Drivers For Justice. Callahan and others argue that city regulations — which include setting meter rates and licensing and leasing fees — are so extensive that drivers should be considered city employees. They should receive all the benefits afforded employees of the city rather than being considered independent contractors, the suit argues.
Callahan began "calling drivers up" to be featured as models, and while some weren't thrilled about being photographed, others happily obliged.
Callahan is pictured on the cover of the calendar wearing a black evening gown. But most of the images inside are a lot different than her elegant picture.
Mr. December, taxi driver Bill Burns, stands in front of his cab with his flannel shirt open, showing his hairy belly, with a candy cane in his mouth and a Santa hat — in 20-degree weather. Asked how he thinks he looks in the photo, the 65-year-old West Ridge resident replied: "Well, I look cold."
Burns said the calendar is "an expression of the fact that cab drivers have a sense of humor.
"And we hope the public has a sense of humor," he added.
No offense to Burns — but Mr. November is Callahan's favorite model, she said.
The model, who prefers to remain anonymous, is pictured from behind, sitting on the hood of his cab and reading a magazine page with a picture of a smiling Kim Kardashian. Both flash a bit of derriere.
"I just thought it was ironic," Callahan said.
The calendars have been on sale since Friday for $15, but not many have been sold. About 10 have been sold so far, and Callahan said she still has about 2,000 stacked up in her apartment.
"I'm hoping I don't get stuck with 2,000 calendars of cab drivers, though I love cabbies," she admitted.
Cab Drivers for Justice has raised about $30,000 for the case against the city with help from various unions and individual donations from cab drivers. But "that's still not enough, and there's still a ways to go with the case," Callahan said. She said the cabbies need to raise another $30,000.
Cabbie Burns said that the taxi drivers' case against the city "is being watched by lawyers across the country."
"The reason it's important is because the city is controlling us in every way possible, and yet, they want to have their cake and eat it, too," he said.