Known for it’s vibrant LGBTQ community, creativity and inspiration rarely is in shorty supply in the LGBTQ haven of Asbury Park, NJ. The re-emergence of the Dark City Mermen direct from the Atlantic Ocean and onto the pages of the 2022 Dark City Mermen calendar certainly reflects that. Dark City Mermen is the brainchild of Asbury Park’s Celal Ismet and his husband Jimmy Berry, who created the men’s lifestyle brand to support the local LGBTQ community in 2018, with a “mermen” calendar being released in 2019. The calendar is also an opportunity to showcase the talents of photographer Tim Horn, vibrant costume styling & fins by Manuel Gonzalez Jr, and graphics by Denis Randall.
Like so much of our community, the Dark City Mermen Calendar was unfortunately dark for 2021. As the mermen emerge from the sea once more and back into society, I asked photographer Tim Horn what it was like getting back behind the lens for this project. He told me exclusively “The last two years have been a lot, haven’t they!?! So many of us were looking for some sense of normalcy around this time last year and we genuinely hated telling everyone, “sorry, no calendar for 2021.” But COVID really did pose all kinds of challenges for everyone involved. Spirits were at an all-time high during the 2022 shootings, however. I mean, you can actually see the awesome energy brought by all of the models in this year’s calendar”!
This year’s calendar included Finn Brigham, a trans man. The impact that inclusion has is definitely not lost on Horn, who said that Brigham is simply, “a rockstar”. He goes on to say “the importance of what he has done, with Callen Lorde in New York and the LGBTQ Health Center here in Asbury Park, to elevate trans and nonbinary health issues as priorities to our community can’t be overstated. Finn was just amazing to work with – that smile says it all – and he seemed super-excited to be our first trans guy in the calendar. And I mean, c’mon – If a calendar featuring mermen doesn’t demand a celebration of gender diversity, I don’t know what does”.
After photographing twelve stunning men for this year’s calendar, Tim Horn knows exactly what it takes to be a Dark City Merman. He tells men that the recipe is simple; “Some confidence, a great big smile, and a willingness to make a spectacle of yourself on the Asbury Park boardwalk! And knowing Jimmy Berry, the calendar’s producer – that definitely helps as well!”
Dark City Mermen officially launch their 2022 calendar on Thursday December 2nd at Rebel Supply Co in Asbury Park NJ. Proceeds will benefit The LGBTQ Center for Health & Wellness, Asbury Park, NJ Rescue Ridge, and Saving Pets by the Jersey Shore.
Order your Dark City Mermen Calendar on DarkCityMermen.com