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Remembering the "Swedish" Bikini Team

The national flag of Sweden.

Sexy, "Swedish" and sleazy in Old Milwaukee? Absolutely. When Detroit's Stroh Brewery attempted to blend sex and humor into a successful television advertising campaign to promote Old Milwaukee beer the brewery quickly discovered that buxom blondes, bikinis and macho males are a recipe for disaster. The commercials, aired in 1991, featured manly men enjoying male-bonding outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and camping. When these weekend warriors agreed that "it didn't get any better than this" the Swedish Bikini Team (American models, not Swedish females) arrived by raft or by parachute, a harem of full-breasted ladies wearing blonde wigs and dressed, of course, in teeny-tiny bikinis and carrying gifts of Old Milwaukee. Angered by the sexist commercials, five Stroh female employees charged in court that the ads encouraged sexual harassment, discrimination and physical assault (especially butt pinching) in the brewery's workplace. To Stroh's astonishment, the January 1992 issue of Playboy featured a bikini-team member, nude and naughty, holding a squirt gun and wearing a platinum-blonde wig. Playboy even created a 900 Bikini Team number, which, for three dollars a minute, sober and drunk callers alike could hear California actresses portray team members who in bad Swedish accents chitchatted about tight buns and described alleged Swedish sexual characteristics ("faster sex"). "Yes," confessed a bikini-team member's agent, "the 900 number is sleazy." Sources: George F. Will, "Suing the Swedish Bikini Team," The Washington Post, 1 Dec. 1991, and Joanne Lipman, "Stroh ad campaign spins out of control," The Wall Street Journal, 12 Dec. 1991.

Penis art factlet: In 1999, the British artist Sarah Lucas created a small "erect" sculpture titled Beer Can Penis from two empty, twisted and compressed aluminum beer cans displayed on a Plexiglas base. Source: WBT's erotica files.

Penis girth factlet: In the vocabulary of erotic body-part slang (that is, any slang term that makes a reference to human sexual organs), the "beer-can penis" (a.k.a. "beer-can dick") is an erect penis with a girth (circumference) larger than the average penis girth in the United States, which is about 4.8 inches (12.19 cm), but rarely (if ever?) as large as the girth of the average 12-ounce (355 ml) beer can in United States, which is 8 inches (20.32 cm). Sources: Tia Ghose, "How big is the average penis?" Live Science (.com), 12 Jul 2013, and WBT's beer-can files.

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