This time out let's take a look at a pop culture phenomenon I discovered in the late 80's when my parents - in the throes of some middle aged crazy - chucked our life in Illinois and headed to the sunny clime of Florida for a fresh start.
I decided to go too - as I was still living at home. So we packed up and headed down to Florida in mid September. We stayed with my parents' friends in Auburndale, close to Orlando and Tampa. We were there for exactly 60 days - after which my parents decided Illinois was better and we headed back.
During those 60 days I watched 125 movies - and lots and lots of wonderful Florida TV. My goodness they had some great goofy television down there back then!
At that time a small restaurant chain was springing up in central Florida - Hooters - they served chicken wings and sandwiches and the wait staff was exclusively attractive women in a very iconic costume.
The owners of the business were pretty canny, and they hired a very attractive woman named Lynne Austin to pose for a picture they used on a billboard. So many people stopped by the original restaurant looking for her that they owners convinced her to leave her telephone operator job and come work for them. She waitressed and made public appearances for a while, then they added another feature to her job - Hooter's Midnight Movie - or Hooter's Night Owl Theater - which originally aired on WTOG channel 44 out of central Florida at midnight Saturday nights.
They shot a plate shot of a real Hooter's restaurant, then put one of the tables and stools in the studio in front of the green screen. Lynne sat on the stool at the table and it almost looked like she was really in the place. I'm sure this was a move necessitated by the thoughts of the tipsy Hooters' patrons wandering into shot constantly had they tried to actually shoot there! During the later incarnation of the show they actually built a small set to look like the restaurant, and stuck some extras in to make ot look more real.
They showed a fairly standard issue package of flicks, and Lynne hosted with bits before and after the commercial breaks. Eventually the show proved popular enough to move to Saturday afternoons - and was retitled Hooters' More Than a Movie and then Hooters' Movie of the Weak - as most of the movies were (according to them) pretty bad. The show ran into the 90's before Lynne retired in I believe 1993.
Here's four segments from that later incarnation...
I have some footage of an older episode - when it was still Night Owl Theater - along with the original opening credits sequence - stashed away on a VHS tape in the video vault. One day soon I need to transfer this stuff into digital form so I can post it. Florida TV in the late 80's was absolutely nutzoid - and I caught a pretty good amount of it.
I miss crazy local programming like this - there's not a lot of local flavor left when you travel now - the local newscast being about all that's left that's produced in or near the town you're in - you used to see scads of crazy local shows throughout the broadcast day. Now everyone has the same cable channels and something is lost.
Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!