Original MTV VJ Recalls The Insanity That Was Spring Break In The 80s

MTV Spring Break 1986

Thirty years ago, MTV VJ Alan Hunter hosted the first edition of what would become one of the tentpole occurrences on the young music network — MTV Spring Break.

The first MTV Spring Break aired in 1986 from Daytona Beach, Florida. The program featured performances from the Beastie Boys a ton of drunk college kids and some moments that should have never made the air. Alan Hunter saw it all and can’t publicly talk about most of it (although a lot of good stuff did make it into the book VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave.)

Hunter sat down with GQ to talk about bikini-related blunders, working hung over, and the early, improvisational days of MTV.

Hunter on the early days of MTV and Spring Break…

It was like the beginning of MTV: Who knew? Early on, I was glad to have a job and didn’t know how long it would last. By 1986, we knew that MTV was a powerhouse, and pretty much whatever we aimed our cameras at was going to draw some attention thereafter. So we knew that if we went down to Daytona and had fun for a week, it was gonna be crazy and probably crazier than it was before. We went down there with the intention of filming every bit of the craziness, and me at the forefront with the microphone—usually with cans of beer being emptied on my head. I loved the chaos.

On the unpredictability…

That was really where I felt most comfortable, standing in front of a thousand frat boys, yelling a phrase I couldn’t really understand. To set the stage, I was interviewing ten Hawaiian Tropic models in their bikinis. I’m being about as sophomoric as I can be. They were all brain surgeons, for sure. But those frat boys are chanting, and I couldn’t understand what the chant was. “Hunter is da-da-da-da! Hunter is something something!” I got up close to one of them, and I was kind of chanting with them, not knowing what I’m chanting—and I realize they’re saying, “Hunter’s got a woody!”

On the late nights and early mornings…

When I think about spring break that first year, I have the sensory memory of stale beer and cheap suntan lotion. But did you have to be of it to bring it to the rest of the world? In a way, yeah. When Spring Break was happening and I was having to do breaks each day, you can bet I looked like I was having fun and a part of the partying, but I had to have some professional angle going in, or I never would have made it. But I was staying up late, and after the show was done, I was out at the clubs and staying out later than I should have. So, the nine o’clock live TV call was tough, but doable. And in a way, appropriate. If I looked kind of ragged because I partied the night before, the audience watching was good with that. Who wants to see the chipper Today Show crew?

But the late-night club activity was definitely drugs and rock and roll. It was very tedious for me to keep myself straight and narrow. I can’t say I always won that battle. Always got up the next day and did my gig. But I got a sense of what it’s like to be a rock star celebrity. Their life is different, you know. The debauchery of their life fuels music and everybody kind of expects it. But VJ Alan Hunter in the middle of a club with the manager and all the people surrounding us, saying, “Here, do this”—I wasn’t cool. MTV had a little liability there. Fortunately, this was back in the day when there were no iPhones and social media, so…you know, we could get away with things then that we couldn’t now.

On the occasional X-rated offerings…

We would show anything on TV. Back in the mid-80s, people had large satellite dishes. I don’t really quite understand why people were getting live feeds on these dishes back in the day, but you could be watching Tom Brokaw on the news, and when they’d go to a commercial break, some people around the country with these dishes wouldn’t get the commercial. They would get the live feed of Tom Brokaw adjusting his tie and talking to the producers. So there we are at Spring Break, and on the break, the camera guys are having fun shooting women taking their tops off. The director’s in the van, and camera three would go, “Hey, Bob, look! Look at this!” And so they’d zoom in and all have a good chuckle. Well, about a half hour into that, people started calling in and complaining to MTV Central up in New York! “What are you all showing nakedness for?” And the guys in the truck—they got in trouble, but that made for fun watching, right?

Read the complete interview over at GQ

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Author: Chris

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