Wet T-shirt contest
A wet T-shirt contest is a competition involving exhibitionism, typically featuring young women contestants at a nightclub, bar, or resort. They have traditionally been a staple of college spring break celebrations at locations such as Daytona Beach and Cancún.
Contestants generally wear white or light-colored T-shirts without bras, bikini tops, or other garments beneath. Water (often ice water) is then sprayed or poured onto the participants' chests, causing their T-shirts to turn translucent and cling to their breasts. Contestants may take turns dancing or posing before the audience, with the outcome decided either by crowd reaction or by judges' vote.
In racier contests, participants may tear or crop their T-shirts to expose midriffs, cleavage, or the undersides of their breasts. Depending on local laws, participants may or may not be allowed to remove their T-shirts or strip completely naked during their performance.
In the United States, skiing filmmaker Dick Barrymore claims in his memoir Breaking Even to have held the first wet T-shirt contest at Sun Valley, Idaho's Boiler Room Bar in January 1971, as part of a promotion for K2 skis. The contest was promoted as a simple "T-shirt contest" in which airline stewardesses would dance to music wearing K2 promotional T-shirts. However, the first contestant to appear was a professional stripper who danced topless and the amateur contestants responded by drenching their T-shirts before competing. Barrymore held a second "K2 Wet T-Shirt Contest" in the Rusty Nail at Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont in order to film it, despite the fact that Stowe City Council had passed a resolution banning nudity at the event. He held another promotional contest for K2 on 10 March 1971 at Aspen, Colorado's The Red Onion restaurant and bar, and the contests were featured in a pictorial in the March 1972 issue of Playboy. Later, wet T-shirt contests made an appearance in Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the mid-1970s. Contests were becoming frequently hosted in local bars and restaurants. Many sources claim that an explosion in popularity of wet T-shirt contests can be traced to Jacqueline Bisset's appearance in the 1977 film The Deep, where she swam underwater in several scenes wearing only a T-shirt for a top. In Frank Zappa's 1979 recording Joe's Garage the track "Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt" tells of a character called Mary taking part in a wet T-shirt contest in order to raise money to return home after being abandoned by a rock group in Miami.
The wet T-shirt contest migrated to Spain in 1980, around the same time as the introduction of the Spanish festival La Tomatina. La Tomatina is a large public tomato fight where participants become soaked with juice from tomatoes.
In 1997, teenagers from Portland, Oregon, celebrating the completion of high school held a wet T-shirt contest on a Boeing 727 en route to a Mexican resort, with a flight attendant encouraging the activity. An FAA investigation followed, as pilots supposedly judged the contest on the flight deck, disregarding rules that passengers are not allowed in the cockpit. A video showed contestants emerging from the cockpit wearing wet T-shirts. The FAA disciplined the pilots for sexual misconduct.
Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of underaged contestants who lied about their age to participate in wet T-shirt contests.
In 2002, the parents of teenager Monica Pippin brought a federal lawsuit against Playboy Entertainment, Anheuser-Busch, Deslin Hotels, Best Buy, and other companies relating to her appearance the previous year in a Daytona Beach wet T-shirt contest, at which time she had been a 16-year-old high school student. Pippin had danced topless during the contest and had allowed men to pour jugs of water over her bare breasts. After footage of her performance began to appear in videos and on cable television, a neighbor alerted Pippin's parents, who retained a lawyer. Although Pippin admitted in court that she had lied to contest organizers about her age, her attorney claimed that, as a minor, she was unable to give informed consent to perform or be filmed topless. Pippin settled with Anheuser-Busch and Playboy in April 2006.
In a similar suit in 2007, two women sued Deslin Hotels, Girls Gone Wild, and various websites that published footage of their appearance in another 2001 Daytona Beach contest. The two girls, who were both sixteen at the time, had been filmed exposing their breasts, buttocks, and pubic areas. Like Pippin, they had lied about their age to gain admission to the contest.
- Barrymore, Dick (1997). "Chapter 20: Hot Dogs and Wet T-Shirts". Breaking Even. Missoula, Mont.: Pictorial Histories. ISBN 9781575100371. OCLC 39924562. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- "Roots of an Olympic sport: freestyle – Part II: Freestyle Comes of Age". Skiing Heritage Journal. Vol. 10 no. 3. International Skiing History Association. Sep 1998. p. 27. ISSN 1082-2895.
- Dunfee, Ryan (3 July 2013). "K2, Sun Valley, Aspen & The First Wet T-Shirt Contest". Curbed Ski. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- "The Shirt Off Her Back". Playboy. 19 (2): 151–153. March 1972. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
- "Wet T-Shirt Contests Pack Pubs". The Palm Beach Post. United Press International. 11 November 1975. p. B20. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Chodin (16 May 2010). "A History of the Wet T-Shirt Contest". Uproxx. Archived from the original on 2012-05-04. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Lowe, Kelly Fisher (2007). The Words and Music of Frank Zappa. University of Nebraska Press. p. 153. ISBN 9780803260054.
- Wet T-Shirt Blog (24 May 2011). "Flight Scandal – wet t-shirt contest at 25.000 feet". Wet T-Shirt Blog. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Graham, Kevin (28 April 2006). "Lawsuit says video exploits teen's naivete". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
- Times staff writer (14 March 2007). "Two sue over footage of wet t-shirt contest". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 15 January 2013.
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