Last Saturday, Canada played the USA in an ice hockey match in Christchurch. Calendar Girls, a strip club, sponsored the event. They also paid $500 to All Star Cheerleaders to have them perform at the event, a team made up of mainly underage girls, including a nine-year-old (disclaimer: I know someone on the team.)
‘“They were announced as All Star Cheerleaders brought to you by Calendar Girls,” [Jacqui Le Prou, Calendar Girls owner] said.’
I’ve been told that the team was referred to as the “Calendar Girls Cheerleaders” throughout the night. Online comments from those attending on the night support this too:
“We were at the Ice Hockey – and did think it was rather strange to be introducing the obviously young girls as ‘calendar girls’ – it was never mentioned that they were from a cheer leading club (although it was obvious they were trained in cheerleading) It wasnt just once they said it either – all night!!! If that was my daughter – i’d be FUMING.”—MT
“Did find it a little strange to have the young girls announced as Calender Girls Cheerleaders.”—Michael
I’ve also been told that someone, I’m assuming from Calendar Girls, got a caption for a photo changed from the All Stars Cheerleaders to Calendar Girls Cheerleaders, that someone at The Press picked up on that caption for a photo of obviously young girls and that’s why a reporter started investigating.
Above, Jacqui implies that the girls weren’t referred to as “Calendar Girls Cheerleaders”. However Calendar Girls’ social networking pages tell a different story.
Even more concerning is a photo of the Christchurch cheerleading team, including the nine-year-old girl, and I’m told Jacqui Le Prou’s young daughter, that was posted on Calendar Girls’ Auckland Facebook page. Faces blurred by me because they and their parents didn’t know where this photo was going to end up.
“They don’t sign up for other people to pass them off as Calendar Girls, but then again their parents were all there and they didn’t pull them from their performance.”—The team’s coach, Claire Stackhouse.
The frustration is understandable. I’d say the reason why teams do events like this is to show that they actually have to put in work to pull off a performance, and to raise the profile of cheerleading to be more like a sport and less like something seedy. A comment on the Yahoo article hits the nail on the head on why the girls don’t have horrible parents:
“…cheerleading here bears little resemblance to the US or rugby style cheerleaders. Here it has morphed into something quite different, involving agility, skills, strength…”—Judy
I understand there was a second part to Claire’s quote that wasn’t included in the article (probably due to space constraints, understandable): during a performance that is supposed to be professional, it is very unprofessional to walk out half way through.
The same match was also played in Auckland and an All Star Cheerleading team performed there also.
“[Jacqui] Le Prou said the cheerleaders at the Auckland event were between 18 and 24.”
I’ve been told there were cheerleaders as young as
14 12 on the Auckland team. This also prompts the question: if Calendar Girls is really against using underage girls to promote their club (“she sent me a nine-year-old, which I wasn’t very happy about”) why did they not pull the Christchurch performance when they became aware that there were people on the team under 18, including a nine-year-old?
People familiar with cheerleading have said that cheerleading teams always have members of varying ages and that it would be near impossible to find a cheerleading team that only has people aged 18 and over in it. I question why Calendar Girls didn’t hire 18+ models, promo girls or use some of their own staff if they wanted to promote their club.
Whether someone involved was aware of what Calendar Girls wanted to introduce the team as or not still leaves the question as to why the team was referred to as the Calendar Girls Cheerleaders when the team was clearly made up of underage girls.
Image credit: Eustaquio Santimano