"Show us your LDH," read one of the handmade signs that women were waving Saturday night at the EXDO Event Center. The place was filled with screaming, rabid ladies eager to see studly, shirtless firefighters dance down the catwalk and show off their LDH (which stands for large-diameter hose.) This was the 2015 Colorado Firefighter Calendar Tryouts, and I was one of the judges, joining a panel that included radio personalities, local television hosts and underwear company owners.
I thought I was prepared for the insanity of the evening, but nothing could have readied me for the manic vibes inside the venue. Scantily clad women swarmed around the stage, clawing desperately at the even more scantily clad men (and two firefighter ladies) who danced down the aisle. As a judge, it was my job to give the firefighters a score from 1 to 10 for two portions of the evening: the fully-clothed question-and-answer session and the oiled-up, shirtless dance. The night kicked off with speeches and an auctioning off of the chance to judge and the opportunity to grease up the firefighters, which went for upwards of $2,000. Like I said, insane.
Host Chris Parente started off the competition with the question-and-answer session, during which judges asked the hopefuls questions like "Are you a member of the Mile High Club?" "What kind of underwear do you prefer?" "What's the hottest thing you've ever eaten?" And then there was my question: "What does feminism mean to you?" Needless to say, mine did not go over as well as the others. But as the resident Enid Coleslaw/Daria of the evening, at least my feminism question gave Parente some joke fodder for the rest of the night.
All of the chatter was really just filler, leading up to what the crowd of yelling fans had paid to see: firefighters strut half-naked down the aisle while the women tugged at their Adonis-like bodies that looked cut out of stone. I have to say that after a few sets of nicely-toned abs, all of the abs started to look the same to me. As with smelling perfumes or tasting wines, I totally lost all ability to determine relative hotness as the evening went on. They all blurred together into a mass of chiseled six packs and strong jaws, so I started judging based on song choice and snacks. One guy threw out honey sticks to the judges. I gave him a few extra points. The hunk who said his dream date would be at Casa Bonita did even better, and I gave the firefighter who danced out to Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" my highest score of the evening.
The night was by all counts a success -- the competition accomplished its altruistic purpose of raising funds for the Children's Hospital Burn Unit and Burn Camp, and the ladies in attendance seemed satisfied by their experience ogling the oily studs, or in one particularly spirited woman's case, spanking them with a frying pan.
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Watch the Colorado Firefighter Calendar website for announcements of the winners and information on the upcoming calendar release.