The Right Side of 40 social group turns regular Joes into hunks for its charity calendar
By Andy Vasoyan
Naked from the waist up, Jason Humphreys sits in a steamy hot tub sporting a top hat and a roguish grin. For a $15 donation, he’ll smile every day for a month from his aquatic vantage point; the 47-year-old man is, after all, Mr. July.
Humphreys and 11 other men in various stages of costume and undress bedeck the pages of the “Right Side of 40” charity calendar, which is for sale online to benefit cancer research. All the men featured in the calendar are part of the over-40 social group that gave the calendar its name.
Right Side of 40 has roughly 3,000 members and coordinates weekly events on the Westside and across the city. Meetups range from Venice happy hours and Santa-themed bar crawls along Washington Boulevard to trips to the Marina del Rey boat parade. There’s also an upcoming park day with three legged sprints and spoon-and-egg races.
The Marina del Rey-based group was started on meetup.com three years ago by Humphreys, who had broken up with his band and was looking to make new friends. Other social groups were aimed at much younger people or had a focus on dating, which Humphreys says he didn’t enjoy.
“I don’t want to say [it’s] creepy,” Humphreys says, “but at some of these singles events you can get a lot of desperate people, so I wanted it to be primarily social. I do get a lot of grief though, because I met my wife at one of our events.”
Mandy Calder, the wife in question, is also the mastermind behind the calendar idea. If someone asks “wasn’t that idea in a movie?” Calder is happy to admit that it was and, in fact, so was she.
“I had worked on the movie ‘Calendar Girls’ with Helen Mirren, which is a true story about a bunch of women in the U.K. who made a calendar for leukemia charity,” Calder says. “Trying [the idea] out on the women might be a little sleazy, if that sounds right, but what about our guys?”
So what about the guys?
“They’re just normal, regular guys, which I think is the appeal,” Calder says. “We don’t want firemen who are really ripped. It’s what the group’s about — meeting people similar to yourself.”
The men chose their own theme for their shoots, which took place all over the marina; some are riding motorcycles, others play soccer. Calder’s own favorite is “December, I think, because he’s got a Superman thing going on where he’s opening his shirt,” she says. “That’s besides July [her husband’s month], of course.”
Guys also make up a smaller number of the group’s members: “It’s about 70/30 women to men,” Calder says. “So using guys for the calendar, we’ve got a better market.”
That market is definitely hot. The first batch of calendars sold out almost instantaneously.
“I’ve bought one for my sister and one for my mom, who is 70,” Calder laughs. “It’s proven really popular with the ladies.”
The group itself has proven quite popular, with 30 to 40 people attending their once- or twice-weekly events.
“There’s a lot of people out there, particularly in their 40s, who maybe have been through relationships, or a divorce, and they just want to meet new people and do new things,” Calder says.
Her husband dutifully agrees. “At a lot of events, people always say, ‘Oh, I’ve wanted to go here, I’ve driven past here all the time but I’ve never gone.’ Now they go, because we did an event there,” Humphreys says.
He attributes the calendar’s success —and the group’s success in general — to its membership.
“At some other groups I went to, it was like a funeral parlor! I thought, is this my future? I’m only 47!” Humphreys exclaims. “We’re a lively bunch. We’re not defined by our age, and we’re still having fun.”
If you’d like to join Right Side of 40 or deck your halls with its hunky calendar, email the group at firstname.lastname@example.org or find their event schedule online at meetup.com/Over-40s-LA-Fun-Events.