Lauren Frayer for NPR
"Ms. October" is one of several moms who posed for a calendar to raise funds for school bus service in their Spanish town. The page reads, "No to the budget cuts!"
"Ms. October" is one of several moms who posed for a calendar to raise funds for school bus service in their Spanish town. The page reads, "No to the budget cuts!" Lauren Frayer for NPR
Lauren Frayer for NPR
Eva Maria Casas Sancho — Ms. June — shows off the racy calendar. The calendar has raised enough money to pay for three months of school bus service.
Eva Maria Casas Sancho — Ms. June — shows off the racy calendar. The calendar has raised enough money to pay for three months of school bus service. Lauren Frayer for NPR
Spain's economic woes have forced municipalities across the nation to cut back on all kinds of basic services. In the small town of Montserrat, 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean, not even the school bus was spared.
To restore service, neighborhood mothers came up with a rather racy idea to raise money: They transformed themselves into calendar girls.
Nestled among orange groves, Montserrat lies just down a busy highway from Valencia, the regional capital. It's the same highway where Eva Maria Casas Sancho's children walked almost three miles to and from elementary school each day when the bus service was cut.
"There's no sidewalk and there are lots of trucks going fast," Sancho says. "It's one of the main roads. The truth is, it's pretty dangerous for kids to be walking there."
So Sancho and some other unemployed moms decided to raise the funds for a school bus by posing nearly nude for a calendar.
"It started as a joke, but then we realized it might just be the most effective way to raise money for our kids' transportation," Sancho says.
Sancho, a 41-year-old mother of three, is Ms. June.
"At first it was really embarrassing," Sancho says. "One of my photos was taken outside at the bus stop near my house — in November! It was so cold, and I was naked in the street, with my neighbors gawking."
But it worked. The pinup moms have raised $12,000 selling the calendars — enough to rehire the school bus through spring. They even sold copies to regional politicians who decided to cut the school bus service in the first place.
"It's like a noose around our necks, these budget cuts," says Jose Maria Mas Garcia, the Socialist mayor of Montserrat. "We're forced to pay interest on debt rather than help our citizens."
Valencia had Spain's biggest real estate bubble — and is now the country's most indebted province. Montserrat's bars are packed with laid-off construction workers.
And out of about 7,000 residents, a certain 12 women are the talk of the town.
"What do we pay taxes for?" one man yells. "Our women shouldn't have to do this."
But his friend disagrees. "I think it's a great idea," he says. "Where can I buy one? It's the least we can do — to support them, of course."