Upon the release of Hot Tub Time Machine, many film students will focus on the grand history of time travel in popular culture, arguing over the merits of DeLorean versus magical island. But they are missing the big picture of the title: What of the honored tradition of hot tubs in entertainment? The water! The jets! The magic! And so, in celebration of the whirlpool bath getting its first major marquee moment since 1984’s Hollywood Hot Tubs, we present a brief history of the last 30 years in Jacuzzis. Hop in, and make sure to tell us what we missed.
In the early eighties, the hot tub was strictly the domain of the wealthy. Self-made man Tony Montana built this ornate, sunken tub for reasons as much practical as aesthetic: Soaking in such a large tub helps wash out blood and cocaine from those hard-to-reach areas.
Young Eddie Murphy writes the first known ode to hot tubs: “Should I get in the hot tub? (Yeah!) Will it make me sweat? (Yeah!) Should I get in the hot tub? (Yeah!) Will it make me wet? (Yeah!)”
By the mid-eighties, Hollywood realized that the hot tub wasn’t just the province of the porn industry, and co-opted the steamy bath for their own R-rated high jinks. Ski-resort-set sex comedies found them particularly useful, as did horny teenagers watching ski-resort-set sex comedies.
Thanks to Rodney Dangerfield, from this point forward, every future frat boy dreamed of one day having a hot tub in his dorm room (and being a marine biology major). This also gave many middle-aged men this same dream, which makes for a much sadder fantasy.
This precursor to the rampant cyber-rutting in Second Life seems rudimentary now, but at the time the soft-core video game felt like the next best thing to making sweet love to Ms. Pac Man.
Five years after his James Brown romp, Eddie Murphy slipped into another hot bath. Now more of a star, however, Murphy was given a much bigger hot tub, and women more nubile than Mary Gross.
The Real World first introduced a house hot tub in season two (Los Angeles), but cast members did not truly embrace it as a V.D.-spattered grope station until 2002’s Las Vegas season. From that point forward, the RW jacuzzi has always been every house’s small, wet Red Light District.
While the term “bromance” would not emerge until the late aughts, scientists would find its earliest traces in Lloyd and Harry’s heart-shaped tub for two.
Up until now, audiences had only been shown the pluses of hot tubs. Thanks must go to Kramer for showing the dangers of a broken heat pump, especially on the run-up to the NYC marathon.
Perhaps taking a cue from Kramer’s PSA, host Jim Carrey’s lifeguard drove home the importance of not blocking the bubble jets.
When Austin Powers’s campy romp began its subsequent endless run on basic cable, Standards and Practices execs must have been baffled about what to do with the name Alotta Fagina in this scene.
Hot tubs don’t just inspire friskiness, they can also inspire powerful ideas, including glass-cutting names like Dirk Diggler.
The SNL hot-tub tradition continues. And not even the soothing waters of a hot tub could keep Jimmy Fallon from laughing in the middle of a sketch with Will Ferrell.
Video-game technology had come a long way, and yet the game’s use of the word “WooHoo” for sexy tub shenanigans was a throwback to seventies Newlywed Games.
Kathy Bates naked. Enough said.
The Bob Guccione to the Real World’s Hugh Hefner, Jersey Shore centered around a tub that packed twice the bacteria into each droplet of water as RW ever could.
Lost showed that hot tubs can transcend time and space, as evidenced by the one built right in the middle of the island’s (possibly) ancient, sacred temple. While the waters are rejuvenating, they can also lead to death and/or a “sickness.” So, caveat emptor.
Finally, hot tubs emerge as the star of their own movie, rather than a convenient prop. However, this is the first time-travel movie in which the characters travel back to a point at which we were already alive, so it’s also the first hot tub to make us feel really old.