Kool Kat of the Week: Pinups for Soldiers Co-Founder Dena Stahl Brings Back a WWII Tradition to Support the Troops Overseas

Posted on: Sep 7th, 2011 By:

By Spookie Susie
Contributing Blogger

Watching. Waiting. Worrying. Night after sleepless night, Dena Stahl got up, took care of her children, worked, managed her household and anxiously awaited the safe return of her husband, Sergeant Travis Stahl, from the war in Afghanistan. When Dena learned from her husband about all the soldiers who didn’t receive care packages from home, she teamed up with longtime friend, photographer Danielle Thiery Camp, to remedy that.

Together they founded Pinups for Soldiers (PUFS), a nonprofit group that produces an annual World War II style calendar to raise funds for our troops overseas. With the 10th anniversary of 9-11 coming up this Sunday, we caught up with Dena to learn more about Pinups for Soldiers, their 2012 calendar, their Sept. 10 Memorial Ride/Poker Run and other upcoming events to support their worthy cause.

Danielle Thiery Camp & Dena Stahl. Photo courtesy of Dena Stahl.

How did you meet Danielle Camp, and what made you two decide to start Pinups for Soldiers?

Danielle and I have been friends for over 18 years. Danielle wanted to do a pinup shoot and asked if I was interested in helping her build her portfolio. I reached out to my friends for ideas, and one of them mentioned that she had always wanted to do a pinup calendar. It was March 2010 and my husband, SGT Travis Stahl was deployed to Afghanistan serving our country. During his deployment I became aware that there were many soldiers who did not receive care packages from home. Travis began giving items from the care packages I was sending to those soldiers. We decided that if we were going to make a pinup calendar, we were going to make it a nonprofit and use it to raise money so that we could send care packages to soldiers stationed overseas.

Tell us about having your husband deployed.

Having a husband deployed is one of the hardest things I have ever been through. A year of sleepless nights waiting on a phone call, email or text to confirm he is okay, the constant worry and not knowing where he is or what is going on, the fear that enters your body any time there is a knock on the front door, the empty spot in the bed beside me, handling everything on the home front on my own…is all very hard. However I am honored to be a soldier’s wife. He is my husband, my hero, and his dedication not only to me and our family, but to our amazing country makes me so proud.

Travis & Dena Stahl. Photo courtesy of Dena Stahl.

How many units does PUFS help? Do you have a most memorable request for assistance?

Currently we are supporting three units totaling almost 200. The units are stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. We have a unit that is about to deploy, bringing us to almost 600! We are always touched when we receive emails from soldiers. For me, they are all memorable. The requests we get range from necessities to soldiers wanting pictures. Our motto is “Brightening Lives Protecting Ours,” and that is our mission and we take it to heart. We feel as if the American Soldier is a true patriot and should be honored and appreciated. We want them all to know that they are not forgotten.

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Retro Review: Hillbillies, Hobos, Cockfighters & Bandits, Oh My! Invade the Starlight Drive-In This Sunday

Posted on: Sep 1st, 2011 By:

By Philip Nutman
Contributing Blogger

It must be Labor Day weekend when hillbillies, hobos (getting sledgehammered; no shotguns), cockfighters and bandits in sports cars invade the Starlight Six Drive-In. Yes, it’s time once again on Sun. Sept. 4 to load up the truck with lawn chairs, coolers and portable grills to hit the low end of Moreland Avenue and get down with the World Famous Drive Invasion 2011.

In addition to an afternoon/evening of cool bands, headlined by the legendary Roky Erickson of The 13th Floor Elevators fame (see end of this article for full band list), this year’s movie line-up is a rootin’, tootin’ rough and tumble grab bag, from the silly to the Southern sublime. Where else are you going to get to see HILLYBILLYS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE, the late, great Warren Oates in the very rare COCKFIGHTER, Ernie Borgnine and Lee Marvin smashing the $*#@ out of each other, and relive the high octane fun of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT?

HILLBILLYS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE (1967) is a ‘60s country store full of old school horror star cameos (John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., Basil Rathbone), country and western (let’s hear it for Merle Haggard!), spies and general craziness. En route to Nashville, a carload of country singers with names like Woody Wetherby, Boots Malone, and Jeepers break down and end up in an old haunted mansion. But in addition to ghosts (oh, yeah?), the house is full of spooks of another kind – spies! Forget the plot, this flick’s really a musical showcase, and not a particularly good one, either, but it’s the right kind of silliness to get the movie party started.

COCKFIGHTER (1974) is a striking, unusual, little screen Roger Corman production directed by existential cult fave/cool dude director Monte Hellman. Hellman started out with THE BEAST FROM THE HAUNTED CAVE (1959), but is beloved by movie geeks like Tarantino for the weird Jack Nicholson westerns, RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND (1964) and THE SHOOTING (1965); but is most famous for the 1971 road movie TWO-LANE BLACKTOP. Based on an off-beat novel by Charles Willeford (best known for his Hoke Moseley detective novels), which won the Mark Twain Award way back when the novel was published, COCKFIGHTER is a bleakly fascinating character study with Oates as a man obsessed with winning a cockfighting award and who’s vowed not to speak until he does. But, hey, his best friend’s played by Harry Dean Stanton who more than makes up for Warren’s silence.

EMPEROR OF THE NORTH (1973) is one of director Robert (THE DIRTY DOZEN) Aldrich’s most interesting and brutal movies – some of the violence is hard to watch as Ernest Borgnine (coincidentally in town this weekend as a Dragon*Con guest), as Shack, a sadistic railroad conductor, uses his sledgehammer on hobos who dare to ride his train. Loosely based on a Jack London short story, the movie’s a battle of wills between Borgnine and Lee Marvin’s “A” Number One, a famous derelict and rail rider who is intent to be the only man to ride Shack’s train and live to tell the tale. Great photography, riveting performances. It’s an ATLRetro favorite!

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977). Really, what needs to be said? Burt Reynolds, cool cars, a great cast – Sally Field at her cutest, kick-ass Jerry Reed as his partner Cledus, Paul Williams as Little Enos…and Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice! Time to put the hammer down and burn some rubber…a car chase movie that always leaves a good taste in the mouth thanks to former stunt driver-turned-director Hal Needham’s snappy, slick direction.

 

WORLD FAMOUS DRIVE INVASION, Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011; Gates at 10 a.m.; Adults $25 Presale / $28 Gate, day of; Kids 3-9 $5; Tickets here.

Includes Silver Screen and Gasoline Car Show sponsored by Garage 71!

Performers: Roky Erickson (headliner), Jack Oblivion & the Tennessee Tearjerkers, Dex Romweber Duo, All Night Drug Prowling Wolves, Gargantua, Hot Rod Walt & the Psycho Devilles, The Disasternauts, Ghost Riders Car Club, Burt & the Bandits, The Marques, Dusty Booze & the Baby Haters, Spooky Partridge

If you missed our ATLRetro features on Hot Rod Walt & the Psychovilles, Ghost Riders Car Club and Burt & the Bandits, read ‘em here, here and here!

 

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