That more photos from it aren’t readily available to us is something of a mystery. Because for one brief, shining, sun-oiled moment, TKE’s annual Miss A.U. Tan contest was an Auburn institution, a major campus event—it typically had upwards of 5,000 in attendance—that doubled as the embodiment of 1980s “COLLEGE” lechery. Each year, from 1981 (I think) to 1989 (I think), come late May, the Teke lawn was the cover of Hardbodies come to life, a (now) politically incorrect, high heeled parade of high-riding, French-cut bikinis (and those cutout monokini things) set to the live sounds of bands like Adrian Belew
and King Crimson of King Crimson, the Dickey Betts Band, and other big time regional acts, and perfumed with the sweet sweat of Hawaiian Tropic, which along with Budweiser (Bud Man showed up a couple of times) sponsored the thing and flew winners to Daytona Beach to compete in the mega contest (First Place got you a Porsche, a Jet Ski, and an anywhere-you-wanted vacation for two).
But that there isn’t a Tumblr of Polaroids of Spuds McKenzie posing with Aubie or the eagle or Pat Dye or Lawyer Tillman, or in an Auburn shirt or something (or if—God forbid—they don’t exist) is a straight up slap in the face of Auburn’s historical record. Because according to the Glom, he was there one year—Budweiser’s bull terrier big shot was in Auburn, 1988 I believe, when his bark was at its pop culture pinnacle. That, more than anything, should show you or remind you what a big deal this thing was. Spuds, people—Spuds. That is so legit. Friends, Greeks, countrymen—lend me your ears: Comb your negatives, harvest your old trunks, plunder your fraternity scrapbooks and FIND US THAT DOG.
And if you happen across any photos (or video… has to be out there) of the contestants, feel free to send those as well so that we may regularly augment this post (we’re working on the interviews). Judging by the search terms that steer traffic our way, Miss A.U. Tan nostalgia will never yield.
If you have any Miss A.U. Tan / Spuds McKenzie photos or stories you’d care to share, send them to [email protected]
Photo credits: The Auburn Plainsman, Glomerata, Opelika-Auburn News.
More Miss AU Tan: Aubie and Miss AU Tan 1985, More early Miss AU Tan photos surface, More early photos of Miss AU Tan… and Aubie.
Related: Playboy in Auburn, 1989.
If you’d like to help TWER keep on keepin’ on, click here.
* Playboy photographer loved first visit to Auburn
* Elvis says “War Eagle”
* Alabama in Auburn gear
* Bo Jackson’s pencil mustache
* VIDEO: Dog dominates 1964 Auburn scrimmage
* Secondhand Shug
* Auburn’s Legend of Zelda
* Tomatoes growing at Toomer’s Corner
* That OTHER time they burned the Glom
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This first girl on the left in the top picture went to high school (and Auburn) with me. Although I haven’t seen her since our 20 year high school reunion, she is a friend on Facebook. Big hair tan queen is now a mom with 3 kids.
I remember that day well. She came in second and she WAS NOT HAPPY. I wonder how she feels about it now? 🙂
hair spray and skin cancer, not too sad that I wasn’t at Auburn in the 80s
Van P in Southern IL says
Denise Devigne was my next-door neighbor the year she won. I recall she worked on that tan a LOT at our pool.
TKE Little Sister says
Also want to point out that most of these tans pre-date tanning salons. We girls had to ‘work’ for our tans!!!
Thanks for this article, brought back a ton of memories! And don’t be surprised if some of the TKEs from the early 80s don’t start sending photos.
Will Collier says
Correction: that was Adrian Belew and The Bears, not King Crimson in ’87 (or maybe ’88). I’m guessing the actual advertisement said “Adrian Belew OF King Crimson,” or something to that effect… either way, the actual band King Crimson did not play Miss AU Tan.
But The Bears were really good…
Hey Will, I remember your comment about Adrian Belew and the Bears. The Glom actually reviewed it as Adrian Belew AND King Crimson, not OF… which I thought was crazy, but went with. I trust your recollection, though. Post-70s Gloms aren’t exactly known for their accuracy.
jeff hinkle says
wow – blast from the past. I met Debbie Bass at this event and we ended up getting married 😀 Fun times!
I wonder why they stopped having it – I am sure it would still be a big event.
Will Collier says
Glom, Schmom… although I think I remember reading that bit myself.
They were wrong, anyway…
el carg says
I remember seeing Michelle Samford out by the Lemans pool and being just gaga — Ms AU Tan. Got to know her later, and she was one of the nicest, coolest people I ever knew at Auburn.
Ahh, back when visors were cool….
Mark Thompson of WHHY-102 (in Montgomery), who apparently emceed some of these events, is now half of the nationally syndicated Mark & Brian morning radio show, out of KLOS in Los Angeles, CA. He left Y-102 for Birmingham, where he teamed up with Brian about 1985 or 1986, then they took the show to LA in 1987.
I was wondering if that was the same Mark.
col tom says
I remember my best friend coming down the weekend this was held in 1984. He went to a small private college and his eyes were literally bugging out of his head. He kept saying “man, we don’t have anything like this at our school” – indeed.
Chris Milano was a Beta little sister. Fraternities don’t have Little Sisters anymore do they? I had heard they did not.
What? No picture of the Pike’s entry, Amy Dempsey? Fail.
Please, we would love to see Amy Dempsey. Mail [at] thewareaglereader.com
A similar picture of Tasha Burchardt ran on the front page of one of the local newspapers (probably The Plainsman, unless there was another paper making the rounds back then) and right next to it was a feature of a student who was working his way through college as a bouncer at a bar. So, right next to the picture of Tasha was the headline “Bouncing Through College.”
End of an era.