Christine Hopf-Lovette Marketed the 1970s Ladies Home Companion Calendar….Here is my interview with her

Half Moon Bay Memories (HMBM): What does “Bo-Tree�? mean and where was the business located?

c.jpgChristine Hopf-Lovette: Bo-Tree is the tree under which Buddha sat when he attained enlightenment. Oddly enough, the name came from my mother, a librarian. I told her I was entering into a publishing venture. I failed to enlighten her about the exact nature of our first product, however.

The company was first headquartered in my apartment in San Francisco. After a year or so, we rented space in the back of an old Victorian on an alley off Union Street.

HMBM: What did Bo-Tree originally produce? Was there something before the Ladies Home Companion Calendar?

Christine: The Ladies Home Companion was our first product.

HMBM: This was, when? The early 1970s– or earlier? Producing books and calendars was very different then [note: I’ve had some experience with both.] You had to hire a typesetter & designer– please tell me about the process, how different it was from today.

Christine: The calendar grid and all the type was pasted on boards that were delivered to the printer along with the photos. The printer made plates and the job was printed by the offset litho method. I don’t think the printing method has changed much but the preprint materials have changed tremendously since the advent of computers.

HMBM: You did the marketing: what did that mean? You contacted the press, got the books into the stores? Which bookstores? Nationwide? How did you sell, pre-Internet?

Christine: We marketed the calendars through gift and stationery reps. We found our first reps through a directory. Some worked but some did not. I remember that we had hired a rep in southern California—a firm that was recommended by our New York rep. Judy [Horst] flew down to the Los Angeles Gift Show. She called me after the first day to say that the rep wasn’t even displaying the calendars. He seemed to be hiding them under the table. The rep was uncomfortable with the product, to say the least.

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1973: “Big Sister” Judy Horst Conceives the Male Pin-Up Calendar

This week, via email, I interviewed entrepreneur Judy Horst about the controversial male pin-up calendar, “The Ladies Home Companion,” that she conceived in 1973.

Half Moon Bay Memories (HMBM): When did you found Bo-Tree Publications?

Judy Horst: believe it was 1972, and in the Spring. It was founded within weeks of when the idea for the calendar popped into my head. We had sample calendars ready for the May Gift Show in New York. We wanted to find sales reps there.

HMBM: What was your background?

Judy H.: I was a consultant, public relations, marketing communications, employee communications, and advertising—to many of the companies spawned by Fairchild Semiconductor where I had worked previously.

HMBM: How did you conceive of the male Pin-Up calendar?

Judy H.: I was with a good friend, her husband, another couple and my date, and we were laughing and talking about the recent Burt Reynolds centerfold in Cosmopolitan magazine as we walked in a jazz club in San Francisco. It was like a light bulb went off—I had no sooner said, ‘someone should put together a male nude calendar’…than I saw it had the name for it, knew what the photos would look like, knew how to execute it and was certain we could market it. It was a once in a life time kind of experience, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it all night long. pinup.jpeg

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Ladies Home Companion (1)


(Pictured: Then Half Moon Bay free lance photographer Mark Fraser, August 1973 pin-up, Ladies Home Companion Calendar, photo by Carol (Fulton) Turner.)

The 1960s and 70s were years of change in all the corners and folds of American society as many traditional customs between men and women were questioned or reversed meaning that women wanted what men had. Or thought they did.

For a time, I remember women boldly opening doors for themselves– not allowing a man to do it for them. It sounds trite, even funny today, but that was a very big deal back then.

Traditionally, it was expected behavior for the average male to open all kinds of doors for women, car doors, office doors, allowing the female to walk through first. A gentlemanly, polite practice– but to the newly liberated woman of the 1970s, the opening of doors by a man was symbolic of their dependence, the precise feeling they wanted to shed.

And opening doors for themselves made them feel equal to men as well as independent. It was a small statement but made a big impact.

Suddenly, if a man attempted the conventional by opening a door for a woman, she might cast him a withering look.

In the beginning of this social experiment, there was a lot of talk about women being the same as men, that there were no differences between the sexes (which has since been muted.)

It was in this environment, that Playgirl magazine was founded about 1973, featuring photos of attractive,unclothed men as well as articles of interest to the liberated female. The thought was that women shared the pleasure of seeing nude men as much as men did looking at pin-ups.

About the same time several women from San Francisco founded Bo-Tree publications, publishing the groundbreaking “Ladies Home Companion,” a calendar of attractive, young nude males Some of the men were locals discovered at the Potter Plantation house in Half Moon Bay.


The project was profitable (they sold 50,000 calendars in 1973) but when you read the interviews, you’ll see the calendar was a success for reasons different than the founders ever imagined. In addition to the calendar, there were other products, featuring nude male models on playing cards and address books.

This week I interviewed, via email, Bo-Tree Production’s original founders Christine Hopf-Lovette and Judy Horst, as well as photographer Carol A. Turner.

I found every aspect of the project fascinating and wanted to know about their backgrounds, how they chose the models, got them to pose, their publishing experience as well as how the work was received.

Watch for the interviews soon.