Ombudsman: Army spouse’s sexy calendar draws jibes
By DAVE MAZZARELLA | STARS AND STRIPES OMBUDSMAN Published: June 4, 2008
According to a letter writer, Stars and Stripes "hit an all-time low" with a May 22 story about a military spouse who posed for a sexy calendar. The model and spouse is Alessandra Bosco, who is married to an Army sergeant based in Katterbach, Germany. She says the calendar idea emerged when downrange soldiers, fans of her Web site, asked her to send photos of herself in military gear. That’s what she has on in the calendar shots, as well as lingerie.
"If they (the troops) have good taste, they will definitely enjoy the calendar," Bosco told reporter Seth Robson. She did say the item was intended for "the military public, mostly male soldiers, rather than families." She’s certainly right about that, judging from a letter, written by Jodi Ventimiglia, from Stuttgart, Germany. She wrote, "I am appalled that Stars and Stripes would even consider this to be something that families of deployed soldiers would want to see." She said she was offended as "a woman, a parent and a proud defender of our troops."
She was backed up by another letter writer. "I am shocked that she (Bosco) is going to be allowed to wear military gear and parts of the uniform in her calendar," wrote Lauren Ross of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. "I really hope this calendar doesn’t make it into Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores in Europe." (The answer to that is inconclusive. An AAFES spokesman told Stripes the organization deals only with distributors, not individuals, and the matter apparently hasn’t come up yet.)
It’s not my place, or anybody’s, to tell these letter writers they are wrong. Obviously the opinions are honestly held. There is room for an explanation, however, and Stripes editors offered one. Doug Clawson, the managing editor, said there was a "lively discussion" among editors about running the calendar story. But he and Robb Grindstaff, the executive editor, pointed to newsworthy elements: Bosco is a military spouse, living in the paper’s circulation area, is a professional model, and had her calendar photos taken by a well-known photographer (Italian Alberto Magliozzi). "Sounds to me like a story that would have some local interest," Grindstaff said.
That’s true, I believe, even though some would find it appealing while others would find it objectionable.
There was an earlier story about Bosco, in a "Spotlight" feature that ran last Sept. 10, that to my knowledge didn’t bring complaints. The angle for that story was that Bosco was the spouse of a local soldier and was also a professional model. Being both, she said then, "can be a problem when you have to deal with other wives in the military who don’t like the idea of you doing pictures." Pretty prescient comment, I’d say.
Speaking of pictures, those accompanying both articles were more provocative than anything Stripes usually runs — just a shade this side of the Playboy variety.
There are those who would not have objected, however. On Bosco’s Web site there’s a submitted photo from downrange showing three U.S. Army majors, a lieutenant colonel and one Iraqi major general. The accompanying message says:
"I will send you pictures of your new fan club as a way of connecting with the men that find you sooo (sic) amazing and are thankful for what you do to get our minds off missing our families, friends and the ugliness of war."
Got a question or suggestion for the ombudsman on what appears, or should appear, in Stars and Stripes? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 202-761-0945 in the States. For several links associated with this column, please go to David Mazzarella’s Readers’ Corner blog. It can be found here.