Retrofitted: Joel and Linda Godfrey, Eenie Weenie Bikini royalty
A piece of advice from Joel Godfrey: You’ve got to end with a bang, especially when ladies are watching.
For seven straight years in the ‘90s, Joel was the undisputed king of the Eenie Weenie Bikini Contest, an end-of-season bash held on Copper’s Main Vein for closing day. The true bikinis were always the main attraction, no doubt about that, he says, but the guys in homemade man thongs knew they could bring a little humor and flare to the skin show.
“It’s not because I had some hot, chiseled bod, Phil, don’t get me wrong,” says Joel, a 60-year-old St. Louis native who moved to Colorado in 1991, started the Aces and Eights Casino Shuttle, and is still at it today with a few more shuttles. “We guys just knew we had to be the warm-up act. You have 3,000 sex-starved perverts who haven’t seen skin since September. They wanted to see the women.”
From across the bar at The Maggie in Breckenridge, Godfrey’s wife of 25 years, Linda — another St. Louis native and Eenie Weenie Bikini champion — chimes in between making round after round of Bloody Marys on a warm February morning. She’s a pro to the core: a bartender who can hold conversations with me, Joel, her servers and the smattering of early-bird barflys strewn around, all without getting a single drink wrong.
“They used to throw snowballs at the guys,” she says while mixing peppers with tomato juice. “They’d get boos and snowballs and everything.”
Godfrey nods with a wide, devious grin.
“Oh yeah, they just wanted to see the skin,” he agrees. “I have all the pictures right here — pictures from the world’s greatest bikini contest.”
We’re sitting on the far end of the bar overlooking Peak 9, surrounded on all sides by artifacts from the Godfrey’s two decades in Colorado: Joel’s rear-entry Salomon boots (the same pair he still skis in today); a god-awful ‘90s one-piece covered in pastel rocket ships; and the ‘78 flat-brim hat Joel’s sister crocheted with pieces of original Coors Light cans, the ones with nothing more than a Coors crest pressed on glistening tin.
“For 38 years, this hat has given me nothing but smiles and good luck,” Joel said, telling me about the time he got a big, fat smooch from a beautiful liftie just because he was wearing the hat. “That’s my trademark.”
Greta Grape and a champagne shower
Yet the “pièce de résistance,” Joel tells me, is a nondescript scrapbook with trapper rings, the kind used for high school book reports. It’s filled with photos, news clippings, season-pass certificates and even a few conceptual drawings from his time as Eenie Weenie Bikini King.
Joel starts flipping through the pages and the first thing I notice is, of course, the women. He has dozens and dozens of women wearing bikinis at Copper, like a homemade Playboy for ski bums with a decade’s worth of winners, runners up, Swedish strippers, Midwest body builders and, finally, the page he’s been looking for: his wife in 1991, the first year the two entered the contest.
Bacardi sponsored it that year, and so Joel came up with the idea to strap a Bacardi Breezer to his wife’s ski boot. When she reached the bottom of Main Vein, she popped the bottle top and doused herself — the bang.
“You’re totally oblivious to the fact you’re having a f—— blast out there,” he said. “You’re just thinking, ‘Don’t fall, damn it, don’t fall.’ And then you hear the roar of the crowd. Man, they just go crazy.”
Linda took third with the Bacardi Breezer Strip Teaser — she was up against the Swedish stripper that year — but it marked the start of Joel’s reign as King. He debuted in ‘91 with Smokey the Almost Bare, an ingenious strip tease that started as a full bear costume at the top of the run. Each furry part was attached to string held by Joel’s brother hidden in the trees, so that when Joel skied down to the crowd his costume disappeared, piece by piece, until he ended with a back-facing snowplow to roars. And maybe a few snowballs.
“When I reached the bottom I was almost naked, wearing nothing but butt floss,” he says, showing me the money shot of his spread-eagle finish with smoke bombs attached to a hard hat — the bang.
A few more flips and we come to 1993, Linda’s final contest and the year she was crowned Queen. The concept was Greta Grape, and like Smokey the Almost Bare it was a strip tease. Linda started her run covered in purple balloons, then strategically popped them to end in a wild purple bikini. This time, her final act was a champagne shower — a much classier bang than imitators who did the same with 40-ounce bottles of Budweiser. He grins.
“She went out on top.”
The King and The Bunny
Now, back to the King. Joel’s undefeated reign lasted from 1991 to 1997, when he won on the strength of creativity, a man thong and that all-important bang. The booty for the winner: a Copper season pass.
“I used to tell people it was 30 seconds of lunacy for a full year of enjoyment,” he says. There was the yellow submarine — Linda’s favorite, with a periscope attached to her husband’s crotch — followed by an outhouse and a skimpy biplane. Smokey the Almost Bare returned in ’92 and ’94, only to retire when a sheriff cited Joel for shooting fireworks over the crowd.
“I said, ‘I can’t believe it — I win the contest and you’re giving me a citation?’” he says, reaching into the scrapbook to show me the ticket for illegal display of fireworks on U.S. Forest Service property. “And it doesn’t end there. Copper Mountain gave me a citation for being illegally parked. You know you’re not doing things right if you don’t run afoul of the law every once in a while.”
Joel’s favorite costume came on Easter Day in 1995. Dubbed Charlie Davidson, it featured a massive Harley-Davidson chopper built with hand-cut foam rubber. For the bang, he stripped away the bike to reveal a leather thong with a rubber pig’s head, known simply as The Hog. It spewed baby powder on command, and like every other contest, a winning costume meant he posed for royalty photos with the female winner.
And man, that Easter… well, Charlie will hardly forget The Bunny.
“She was probably the rowdiest crowd result of everyone,” Joel says, remembering The Bunny’s barely there bikini. “She could ski, she could smile — she wowed all of them.”
Did she return to defend her crown?
“Nope, flitted in and flitted out,” he says. “I never saw her again. She retired on top and you can’t argue with that.”
The King retires
But did people have to create a show to go with everything? I wondered. Like, was it required? Or was a bikini enough?
“If you were smart you would,” Linda says from across the bar. “That was the real trick.”
“You had to create a theme around the outfit,” Joel agrees, pulling out a few more photos of his wife. “You had songs, you had performance. When you were the Bacardi Breezer Strip Teaser, you came out to ‘Hey Bartender’ from The Blue Brothers.”
She laughs without blushing. It’s the one thing the King and Queen have in common: They don’t blush.
“That’s when you had a theme,” Linda says. “It wasn’t just ‘skin to win.’ I think that’s what ended it, was when Copper saw it was turning into a skin show.”
Her husband nods solemnly. Near the end of his reign most women just stripped off their tops for a shot at the season pass, which put an end to the original Eenie Weenie Bikini. The contest is back at Copper after a decade-long hiatus, but the King says it’s not quite the same.
“These days it’s back and that’s good to see, but I don’t just see the same level of preparation,” he says. “If you wanted to win back then — if you wanted to get that whole season pass — you had to get creative.”
Will he return to reclaim his crown on April 16 this season? Nah. He’d rather get his costume fix at Halloween, when he and Linda are heading to Long Beach for a full week of revelry.
“I’ve had my fun in the sun and it’s time to pass it along to some young kid,” he says, returning his bikini and man-thong photos to the scrapbook. “No one wants to see a 60-year-old man with a paunchy belly careening down the mountain.”
“Unless, that is, he’s shooting fireworks from his poles,” he says with a final grin. “Then I’d see it.”
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