How I Created a Successful Cat Calendar Despite Having No Photography Experience and Limited Access to Cats

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Ah yes, this little rascal. My entrepreneurial venture began, like so many success stories, with decidedly inauspicious beginnings. Like J.K.Rowling scribbling the first lines of Philosopher’s Stone on cocktail napkins in a bar, my cat calendar began its life in a scrap metal recycling plant just south of Lebanon, Indiana. Picture me there, trying to photograph this mangy creature, with nothing but a Motorola flip phone and a burning desire to break into a competitive market.

Before we continue, I need you to understand something. I suffered for this cat calendar. I went through some shit. This was the Apocalypse Now of cat calendars. That animal you’re looking at on the January page opened a vein on my left arm that left me with eleven stitches and a tetanus shot in my ass.

Ok, go ahead and turn the page.

Ah, here we go. This one takes me back. My February model was an orange tabby named Spaghetti. Spaghetti belonged to Mrs. Rutger, who lived in the blue house by the McDonald’s on Northwestern. She agreed to let me photograph her pet after I told her of my artistic aspirations and showed her the barely healed wounds on my arm. If I’m Francis Ford Coppola in this story, Spaghetti is surely my Marlon Brando: difficult, grossly overweight, and never there when I needed him to be.

Let’s look at March.

Ok, now you may recognize this cat’s patchy fur and lazy eye. Yes, it is Spaghetti again. I quickly realized there weren’t as many cats in the city as I had originally imagined. Ideally I wouldn’t have had to repeat models, but when you’re on a mission to create a commercially and artistically successful cat calendar, you can’t let a trivial thing like lack of cats stop you.

Now if you look carefully at April here, you’ll notice a slight glare across the page. Can you guess why that would be? Yep, you got it. I did photograph a computer screen at the library where I had pulled up a picture of a cat. Critics can say what they will about me, but I’m nothing if not resourceful. And since Spaghetti had sadly passed on at this point due to complications derived from cat diabetes, I found myself in a bit of a bind.

It was around this time that I decided to expand my definition of the word “cat”. This partially came from an artistic impulse to be fiercely individualistic, and partially because I just couldn’t find any of the damn things. So for instance, you’ll see the May entry is pretty clearly a bearded dragon.

You see, to be a true auteur, you have to break free of the confines of your medium! Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel using a Paint-By-Numbers kit! You’ve got to shatter the mold! You’ve got to photograph a succulent plant half submerged in a litter box and label it June! Once I accepted this, things really started falling into place for me. I realized I needed to start using my adversities as advantages. I believe it was Einstein who once said, “No worthy problem is ever solved within the plane of its original conception.” To truly transcend the cat calendar genre, I needed to transcend cats! I needed to transcend time itself!!

I walked back on the time thing pretty quickly, as I realized I didn’t know what a calendar that scorned time would even look like. (Maybe some type of levitating, spectral wormhole? Still working on it, maybe next year.) But cats! Fuck cats! I was done with them!

So if you’ll turn the page to July, you’ll notice that in lieu of a traditional photograph, there is a reflective sheet with whisker cutouts in the center. Get it? You’re the cat! And turn the page to August, you’ll see yours truly splayed out, shirtless, on a keyboard, kitten ears affixed to my head. I’m the cat. Once I broke free of the trappings of being a cat calendar, I realized I could fully explore the most horrid depths of both cat and human psyche, one harrowing month at a time.

See, this is the real shit. This challenges the reader. The reader has to engage with this calendar. This isn’t your grandmother’s cat calendar, and I don’t just mean because there’s graphic nudity featured in the November entry. I mean that this is a cat calendar for the 21st century. There’s turmoil in the Middle East, America’s recovering from a devastating recession, the police are militarized, and you want, what, a cat calendar with a freaking Birman in an Easter basket on the cover? Please. Every time Ma Kettle pencils in a parent/teacher conference, I want her to be directly confronted with her own mortality. I want her to question God every time she has to reschedule a dentist appointment.

It’s hard to say why my calendar caught on in the way it did. Who am I to wonder why the cultural zeitgeist fixates on the things it does? All I know is it flew off the shelves like it was allergic to wood. Critics hailed the piece, praising its unflinching look at the raw, negative emotion associated with being a kitty. Comparisons between myself and Jodorowsky were made. Readers marveled at the October entry, wherein I sculpted a grotesque facsimile of a cat from raw hamburger meat and photographed it under a heat lamp.

I think that says it all. I’m immensely grateful to be here, being interviewed by GQ in my new studio in New York City. Things have really — oh, Jesus. Are you alright? Yes, sorry, sit down here. I should have warned you not to look at the December entry on a full stomach.

 

Andrew Martin is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. His work has been featured on Cracked and Buzzfeed. He would very much appreciate it if you followed him on Twitter. His name on there is @AGMV. He would like to thank you for your time, and he wants you to know that he loves you very much.

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