Lights, Camera, Austin!
meet miss july, the bombshell in the bikini on the billboard
Hey, MTV -- here's one for you. The video opens with a high-angle shot of Clearwater -- the sunny strip of land between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. Billy Idol's Hot in the City pumps in the background. The air is sweating. When a long-legged lovely walks by .... Camera cuts to Hooters, the beachy bar just off the causeway. A bright-red Fiero zips into frame and stops. Zoom in on door. Someone steps out. Yeah, you can see the look in her eye.... At first, all we see is blonde hair, the color of Tampa sun. Finally, close-up: Lynne Austin. Then you know that it's hot in the city. She perches her sunglasses on top of her head. Her eyes are deep blue -- bluer than the Clearwater surf. She smiles. Cut to the inside of Hooters. In the background, Jimmy Buffett sings about the blurry joys of tequila. Lynne and her best friend, Brenda Lee, sit at the bar, sipping a midday beer. They're waitresses at Hooters, but it's their day off, so they're kickin' back. "Hey, take the air outa my glass," Lynne says, laughing, to the bartender; they're served another round. Hooters is a pretty funky place -- probably the only bar in Florida where you can find a biker at one table and a doctor at the next. Calling itself "delightfully tacky, yet unrefined," Hooters is a place where the walls tell its history -- an NFL pennant here, an Iowa license plate there, a clock on whose face is written WHO GIVES A SHIT?
The camera pulls in over Lynne's shoulder to yet another piece of memorabilia on the wall: a photograph of Lynne in a cut-off T-shirt and a bikini bottom. The same photo is plastered on a dozen or so billboards in the west Florida area.
The shot dissolves to a close-up of Lynne's flawless face. She is thinking back to the dsys when things weren't as promising as they are now.
High School gymnasium, 1976. Tampa, Florida. A dozen cheerleaders practicing their routines to Rod Stewart's Tonight's the Night, which blasts from a transistor radio. (Years later, Lynne would meet Stewart backstage at a gig. But that's another story.)
Camera pans down the line of pompon-wielding girls. At the end is Lynne. She'd always wanted to be a cheerleader, because she's not so hot on her looks. ("I wasn't exactly the girl to be seen with -- a little less than eye-catching. I was the only cheerleader not up for homecoming queen. And my mother used to ask other mothers to have their boys take me out.")
As Lynne works out with the squad, we hear her voice over the music. She's thinking, I wanna be with the action -- wherever it's blowin'. There's gotta be some shakers and movers on this train -- and I wanna be the conductor.
Fast flash forward: 1980. Springsteen's singing Hungry Heart. Lynne does the community college scene but ultimately gets "a taste of the almighty buck." So now she's at work. Anywhere she can get it.
Quick-cut montage of Lynne the working girl. Almost I Love Lucy-ish, because, try as she may, she can't seem to hold on to a job. Lynne the grocery-store checker. Cut to Lynne the fitness-spa consultant ("Like I ever lifted a weight in my life"). Cut to Lynne the secretary at a fish company ("I got fired because I went through more stationery than my boss could afford"). Cut to Lynne the telephone operator ("You had to keep each call under 23 seconds").
Fade to 1983. The Police: Every Breath You Take. Lynne on the beach. Camera starts at her feet and takes a slow trip up her long legs. She's in a bikini and is achingly beautiful. She's handed a check for $500, having just been named first runner-up for the Miss Savage Tan title. Cut to another beach on another day. And another check. This time, $1000, as Miss Hawaiian Tropic, Tampa.
Finally, fade in on The José Cuervo Bathing Beauty Contest. Lynne's a winner again; but this time, she walks off with more than the $500 first prize. Ed Droste, one of the six owners of Hooters, is among the ogling spectators. (Droste: "I was looking for a cheerleader type with a fantastic body to do my promotion.") And the rest reads like a fairy tale: Suddenly, the highways and byways of western Florida are sprouting giant billboard shots of Lynne Austin, the bikini-clad girl from Hooters. She's popping up on TV. She's talking on the radio. She's the runner-up for Miss Florida U.S.A. She's on the boat with John Candy in Summer Rental. She's running in overdrive.
Soft dissolve back to Hooters. Buffett's turned the juke over to Lionel Richie, who's singing about love. Lynne and Brenda Lee are still at the bar. They're talking about guys, or, as they call them, "trim." Trim? Lynne laughs. "We were getting tired of having dudes call us that, so we're turning the tables."
She continues: "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a guy who cheats. When it comes to guys, you seek your own level. If you're lookin' for dirt, you'll find it. If you just want a good time, you'll have it."
At that moment, a friend of theirs runs up to show off her new diamond engagement ring. "Holy cow!" shouts Lynne. "Take a look at that carbon." And with that, the ladies are up and out of the bar -- all three talking a mile a minute.
Cut to back shot of the Fiero pulling away from Hooters. Billy Joel is singing Uptown Girl, but the car is heading in the other direction, where the girls are gonna check out the "downtown dudes." The camera tilts up to a billboard. And once again, there's Lynne. In a bikini and smiling. Giving the sunshine a run for its money.
Photography by Stephen Wayda