For Mountain Gazette
It was marketed as just a wacky, fun event, but at Copper Mountain, Colorado’s Eenie Weenie Bikini Contest, the real star of the show was the Great American Boob (with a few international hooters thrown in over the years as well.)
In any given year, the ratio of female to male contestants was 5:1, arrived at naturally due to the common understanding that scantily clad women are infinitely more interesting to both sexes than men in banana hammocks or – as occurred one year – a guy wearing underwear made from bubble-pak.
The underlying promise of the Eeenie Weenie — the reason most of the crowd was there — was that “poppage” might occur. Typically, this would happen when an over-endowed woman in an under-developed bikini would either fall on-course or hoist her skis or snowboard in triumph under the judges’ stand. As the crowd cheered and roared, she would be oblivious, for a few precious seconds, of the errant nipple (or even nipples) that had popped out of the private realm and very much into the consciousness of the lower, reptilian brains of the males in attendance.
(Women would look away, only later rendering a verdict of the nipple-baring contestants as either “disgusting” or “hilarious.” Typically, women under 30 thought it was just funny, while older women decried the spectacle altogether, only to return the following year to re-decry it anew.)
Poppage occurring during the male portion of the event was universally despised. It happened rarely, in truth, but when it did, a collective groan-slash-yuk would rise in the crowd, and the dude would hastily stuff his wayward John Thomas back into his camo thong, to the relief of all.
At such events, a guy’s wedding tackle is the skunk at the garden party, as welcome as rain in January. So it goes.
As a judge at the Eenie Weenie for a few years running during the event’s 1990s heyday, I was always curious about the motivations of the women who signed up for such a leer-fest. It’s not the kind of thing you’d urge your sister, daughter or close female friend to do, because the honest pitch would have to sound like this:
“So, Jane, how would you like to ski down the hill in a bikini for the primal gratification of a beer-chugging mob of drunk guys all hoping for a glimpse of your areola? If your nipple pops out, you’ll likely win a season ski pass.”
Of course, the event’s existence depended on at least some women answering in the affirmative to this proposition, and they were honored for it by the men in the audience with hoots of approval and cheap beer sloshed on the hill in front of them. Contestants ranged from magnificently sucky skiers — usually pulled from the ranks of the Bud Girls there for the event but who nevertheless had a surfeit of the mammalian appendage — to local girls who could ski or board the pants off anyone but who, as likely as not, had equine visages and the amorphous dugs of a National Geographic villager.
It was rare to get the combination of “America’s Top Model” morphed with, say, Lindsey Kildow, but that to me was what it would take to get a “10.” As a judge, I had my integrity, insisting that pneumatic boobs, 1,000-kilowatt smiles, acres of blonde hair and even nipple or ass-cheek appearances would only influence part of my vote. They had to be a decent skier, telemarker or snowboarder, so if they fell down five times on the 100-yard course, I would put them down for a “5” or a “6.” Stoically, resolutely would I ignore the siren song of the nipple working on my own lower brain, which cried out, in no uncertain terms, “10!!!!”
Which is, of course, what the crowd was expecting. The mob’s voice was clear: Female contestants with the hottest body should earn the highest scores, regardless of skiing or boarding ability. And, much like the capture of the Golden Snitch in the Harry Potter game of Quidditch all but ensures victory, the crowd believed the baring of a nipple should garner automatic “10s” from all judges. If we deviated from this expectation, we were yelled at, snowballs came our way, our beer would be in danger of getting cut off.
It’d been years since I bothered attending the Eenie, but last year I watched with some mirth as our 14-year-old son tromped off with his buddies with high expectations to see what would be the last one ever. I asked him after the event if there had been poppage, and saw a licentious smile cross his face.
Good friend Brad Odekirk – a photographer for the Summit Daily News who died a few months after the last Eenie Weenie – loved the event above all things. An unabashed girl-watcher and all-pro ogler, Ode prized poppage in his own understated way. “Did you see that?” he would say, with his knowing grin. Then he’d shake his head slightly and raise his camera to capture more.
The contest, the resort flaks say, went down in popularity as the top prize – a season pass – declined in price. Apparently, being mega-ogled on a ski run simply isn’t worth $349 to most women. Too, Copper has become a more corporate, button-downed place since the ’90s, when the lifties were baked most of the time and the Club Med instructors marked conquests with notches on their skis.
The trend to eliminate or water down mountain-town bacchanals is a familiar one by now, and who knows how long it will be before Breckenridge’s Ullr Fest is a bake sale and contestants in Vail’s Pond Skimming event are issued uniforms with company logo. The demise of the Eenie Weenie is, no doubt, due to bean counters at Intrawest determining that the profitability of the event is no longer worth the ire of visiting moms who don’t tolerate wardrobe malfunctions. With the taming of the mountain West by resort companies and realtors, it seems cliché to even mention these deletions anymore, but we miss them all the same.
As for where young men and women will go to bare skin and brazenly leer in public, it’s hard to say. There’s youtube, I suppose, but then there are also editing programs that can delete poppage with a few strokes of the keyboard.
And where’s the fun in that?