A wet T-shirt contest is a form of exhibitionistic beauty contest that typically features young women performing at a nightclub, bar, or resort. Wet T-shirt contests have become a staple of spring break entertainment in popular destinations such as Cancún or Panama City Beach, typically with female college students as participants.
Contestants generally wear white or lightly colored T-shirts, usually without brassieres or other garments beneath. Water is then sprayed or poured onto their chests to make their T-shirts turn translucent and cling to their breasts. Participants may take turns to dance or pose before the audience, with the contest's outcome decided either by favorable crowd reaction or the opinion of judges.
In more risqué contests, participants may tear or crop their T-shirts, suggestively exposing midriffs, cleavage, or the undersides of the breasts; may go topless or fully nude; or may kiss and fondle each other in displays of simulated lesbianism. These contests are sometimes filmed by companies such as Girls Gone Wild and distributed as a form of softcore pornography.
In 1998, a group of teenagers from Portland, Oregon celebrating their high school graduation on a chartered Boeing 727 flight to a Mexican resort held a wet T-shirt contest. A flight attendant encouraged the activity.
An FAA investigation followed, as the aircraft's pilots supposedly judged the contest on the flight deck, disregarding federal aviation rules stating that passengers are not allowed in the cockpit. A video taken onboard clearly showed contestants emerging from the cockpit wearing their wet T-shirts. The FAA disciplined the pilots for sexual misconduct.
In 2002, teenager Monica Pippin brought a federal lawsuit against Playboy Entertainment, Anheuser-Busch, Deslin Hotels, Best Buy, and several other companies relating to her appearance the previous year in a Daytona Beach wet T-shirt contest. Then a 16-year-old junior at Florida's Plant City High School, Pippin had danced topless and allowed men to pour jugs of water over her bare breasts. After footage of her performance was distributed in videos including Playboy Exposed: All American Girls and Girls Gone Crazy: Spring Break, a neighbor alerted Pippin's parents, who immediately hired a lawyer. Pippin admitted in court that she had lied to contest organizers about her age, stating that she was over the age of 18. She settled with Anheuser-Busch and Playboy in April 2006.
In a similar suit brought in 2007, two young women, Heather Marie Kotis and Rachel Christine Mill, sued Deslin Hotels, Girls Gone Wild, and various websites that published footage of their appearance in another 2001 Daytona Beach wet T-shirt contest. The two women, who were also minors at the time, had been filmed exposing their breasts, buttocks, and vulvae, and touching other contestants' breasts in a sexually suggestive manner. Like Pippin, Kotis and Mill had also lied about their age to gain admission to the contest.
In 2003, Youngstown, Ohio, TV news anchor Catherine Bosley caused a controversy by entering a wet T-shirt contest at a local bar while on vacation in Key West, stripping, and appearing totally naked. The competition was videotaped and later broadcast on the Internet. After her appearance became public, Bosley resigned.
This caused intense debate at the time as it was felt that, although high-profile media people customarily have morals clauses in their contracts, her behavior in Key West was not necessarily immoral. She is now a reporter for WOIO (CBS) in Cleveland, Ohio.
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