From Wild West sharpshooter Annie Oakley to trigger-squeezing Police Woman Angie Dickinson to today’s female gangsta rappers, gun-toting women have long exerted a firm grip on the American popular imagination.

Until recently, though, there has been little room for the weapons enthusiasts in the real world—those anonymous hunters, self-defense advocates, everyday survivalists, and plain old-fashioned gun lovers across our paranoid nation (which was, after all, won by the gun). Women like Sandie, near right, a 33-year-old Florida mother and housewife who belongs to her local rifle and pistol club and enjoys target shooting. Poised for battle in a leather jacket, a ribbon, panties, and camouflage makeup, Sandie mischievously wields a Kalashnikof semi-automatic rifle that could wipe out an entire Wal-Mart’s staff in a matter of seconds.

Sandie is one of the more willful of the scantily clad, heavily armed females in the 1997 Stacked & Packed calendar, G. Gordon Liddy’s annual salute to “Guns, Gals, and a healthy appreciation of both!” In a holiday season overrun by celebrity pinup calendars, Stacked & Packed provides a refreshingly skanky—if ultimately disturbing—take on the upcoming year, featuring a nearly naked Ms. 45 for every month.

As usual, the iconoclastic ex-con and radio personality goes against the grain for his latest calendar. Instead of enlisting high-profile types like Marion Hammer, the feisty first woman president of the National Rifle Association, Liddy opts for a cross-section of the female population’s gunpowder brigade. And the G-Man has his PC bases covered: Stacked & Packed includes Tamara, a security-conscious Asian-American gemologist, and Angela, an African-American service consultant in the automotive industry.

“They’re all sorts of different people,” says John Popp, producer of Liddy’s talk radio program on WJFK (106.7 FM). “They’re all real listeners of the show, and those are their own firearms—sometimes it’s their husband’s or boyfriend’s; sometimes it’s theirs.”

Lisa, a premed student, lounges poolside with her Smith & Wesson revolver and a signed, framed photo of Liddy. (If the need arises for hand-to-hand combat, she’s got a dagger strapped to her thigh.) A smiling Shannon crouches on a bed with a Colt .45, contemplating her career in special education. Meanwhile, Nikki keeps her Baretta pistol dangling around her neck on a chain—not for gun safety but because the photographer told her to.

The calendar’s most arresting image alludes to the most momentous conflict in our nation’s history, the Civil War. Dressed as a whore for the Union army, Lesli stands coquettishly next to a full-size working replica of an 1862 Gatling Gun, the mass-destruction weapon that helped the North win the war. (“I love sushi, Disney movies, and expensive cigars,” confesses Lesli.)

At once demeaning and empowering (at least from a firearms standpoint), utterly tasteless and oddly compelling, Stacked & Packed is further proof not only of our country’s romance with guns but of the validity of D.H. Lawrence’s dark quip, “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer.” An undeniable menace lurks behind the cheesecake poses; next to the chiseled flesh glints the cold, hard steel that rules from January to December.

Stacked & Packed also features monthly aphorisms from the G-Man himself, on topics ranging from Clinton’s foreign policy to violent crime to his inspired interpretation of the Second Amendment: “The right to defend oneself with a firearm is like the beauty of a woman. Both are derived from nature. Government has nothing to do with either.”

—Eddie Dean