Half Moon Bay Memories (HMBM): What does “Bo-Tree�? mean and where was the business located?
Christine 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.
Bo-Tree Productions published three Ladies Home Companion calendars for the years 1973, 74 & 75. Bo-Tree also printed photos of male models on a deck of playing cards, address and day book. Carol (Fulton) Turner and Judy Horst– who came up the fantastic idea of a male pin-up calendar– shot the photos of the models.
Both Holst and Fulton used Pentax cameras and placed the male models in scenes that evoked the aura of the Victorian era. The calendar could be ordered in “bordello red.” It was a magnificent project carried off at the right time.
Here is my email interview with photographer Carol (Fulton) Turner, who, in 1973, casually dressed, drove to the shoots in her Porsche 914. Half Moon Bay Memories: How did you find and choose the models for the Ladies Home Companion (LHC)?
Carol (Fulton) Turner: I know many cute guys (including Mark Frasier)
HMBM: You are a photographer….What other projects did you work on before LHC?
Carol: I was actually a designer. I took a few night classes at a Junior College. Judy saw some fun nude shots I took of women I knew. They were done in the same sepia technique. I sold them in an auction which was a fundraiser. This look sparked the graphic concept for the calendars.
But I did not design the LHC calendar. I art directed the project but a good friend of mine, Paul Sinn, actually designed the calendar along with the playing cards. I think the design was a big part of the success of the calendar. It really was beautiful.
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 advertisingâto 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 offâI had no sooner said, âsomeone should put together a male nude calendarââ¦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 couldnât stop thinking about it all night long.