Sex Sells!

Europe has a fairly laissez faire attitude towards nudity and sexuality, but on our trip it seemed that any sort of premises, business or advertising campaign could be spiced up by adding a naked female…not that I’m complaining!

Our first taste of out-of-the-ordinary nudity was inside a pumping Czech nightclub in the old town of Prague, right near the famous Charles Bridge. Zlaty Strom is made up of a dozen or so underground rooms, some cavern-like and quiet, others decorated like an English pub or Saturday Night Fever dancefloor…except for the one side-room with vaulted ceilings, sky-high shelves of alcohol…and topless strippers dancong on poles in front of the barmaids! Suffice to say, it was a pretty popular room (with both guys and girls…but mosty with guys). Clearly impressed, Dane was keen to take some of the moves he saw up on the bar down to the Euro-disco dancefloor room – but I don’t think he was keen to emulate the nude sex toy show that apparently went on at the bar very early in the morning. This might sounds like we actually just went to the strippers, but no, Zlaty Strom is a legitimate, high-end club in Prague (but ok, we did get the tip-off to go there from a scantily clad Prague Hooters Girl who frequented the club often – but, like the slogan says, maybe she was just: “Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined”?).

A couple of days later In Spindleruv Mlyn we came across this trashy sign on the way into town that advertised a ski school and ski gear rental. What is with the chick? Going on the quality we saw on our trip, she must be the ugliest girl in Czech! Whose topless sister is she…and why did they decide to make a billboard from a photo that looks like it was taken with a 4-year-old point and shoot camera?

But while that advertisement and business was clearly low-rent, even the official ski school of Spindl had funny sex-themed billboards to get you to employ their services…and teach hot girls to keep their legs together, presumably?

But it wasn’t just the crazy Czech’s using booty to try and relieve you of your hard earned, ah, booty. After the Innsbruck Air and Style we maxed out the gutless little Renault Kangoo on the autobahn on our way to Munich for the ISPO tradeshow. This thing is huge, rivalling, and some say, out-doing the SIA trade show in Denver. There are three halls full of snowboard companies, at least four for ski companies, a couple for outdoor brands, then some halls for Asian manufacturers to show their wares. I only saw the three snowboard halls, complete with the Volcom skate halfpipe, and visited the aussie boys in at 3CS and Destyn Via.

It was good to these guys making inroads into the massive European market, but what impressed me most was the Ride Snowboards stand. It was the first thing you saw after entering the snowboard wing, tall and imposing and styled up like a New Orleans Bourbon Street strip club, complete with a huge black bouncer guarding the velvet rope and curtains of the entrance. Out the front among the thronging crowd promo-girl hotties handed out specially minted coins, which you could then go into the private booths and put in the peep-show slot. And behind the frosted screen was a 2011 board, boot and binding package, lovingly presented by a busty stripper under UV lights. Impressively creepy! But after hearing rumours of actual nudity, I was lucky enough to get myself inside the Ride booth just as Big Black closed the rope and shut the curtains…just in time for that same stripper to get on the podium and pole in the middle of the salesfloor and give a real performance! Does this sell more snowboards to the dealers and distributors? Who cares! I’ll take a freebie anytime.

And just to round out our european sex-sells adventures, while we were filling up the hire car’s tank before taking it back, I came across this great point-of-sale display for Jack Links beef jerky. Coz clearly smoke-dried dead-cow is a natural fit for naked babes!

However, that is one display that certainly makes me want to buy all the packets to see what’s underneath!

Did I forget to mention that I love Europe?

Keep an eye out for some more of my Euro adventures in the next few days.

Air and Styling…in Innsbruck

Last Saturday the Billabong Air and Style was on for its sixteenth installment at the famous Bergisel Olympic ski jump site overlooking the city. With a rejig of our plans for the magazine trip through the Czech Republic, we booted down via Munich to arrive in Innsbruck on Saturday afternoon to try and cheer for our mate, Robbie Walker, who was one of the invited final 16 pro-riders.

Dane and Jeremy hadn’t been to Innsbruck before, so we did a little bit of sightseeing through the old town before dinner and making our way up to the ski jump site which was lit up on the hill like a christmas tree, music echoing across the valley. The Innsbruck Air and Style is an absolute snowboarding institution, and something I have always wanted to experience. It began in 1994, quickly becoming one of the biggest and best snowboarding competitions in the world. Crowds of up to 45,000 crazy spectators were attending the event in 1999 when six people were crushed to death in a panic of people trying to exit, and so it has only been the last couple of years (afrer some renovations) that the Air&Style is being held back at it’s original home. It is now joined as a TTR World Snowboarding Tour 6 Star event with it’s sister events in Beijing and Munich.

So I had some sort of idea what to expect, but I was not prepared for the absolute party that the night was: 15,000 crazy, neon-bright mostly-teens drinking, dancing, partying, and pashing while nightclub-loud beats blared across the amphitheatre and ol’ school punk rockers, Pennywise, belted out a killer set. Then of course, there was the snowboarding…

Ridiculous is not a strong enough word to describe the antics on show. Unfortunately Robbie was knocked-out in his first round head-to-head clash with eventual second-placegetter (and last year’s TTR Overall World Tour Champion), Peetu Piiroinen. The current level of big air snowboarding is at a level that was unfathomable just a few years ago. I think I only witnessed on swtich backside 900, with all other tricks being 1080 double corks, 1260 corks and flat spins every which-way, and Sage Kotsenburg landing the first ever cab 1440 double cork in competition!!! What.The.Fuck?!! Check out the footage here.

Little Mark McMorris, who was down at Stylewars last year, was a deserved winner however, stomping super huge and super stylish 1260 double corks (or late cork according to some) all night long. Check out this footage to see how it looked from his point of view. Insane!

I was only able to hook myself up a free grand stand ticket, so all the photos below are taken frmo amongst the heaving scrum of dancing crowd. And i’ve got to say, my four-year-old Canon EOS 1D MkIIN struggled a little with ‘noise” in the low light trying to shoot at 1600 and 3200 ISO, but I’m still pretty happy with the few shots I snapped before I put the camera down to watch the superfinal four riders without being obscured by a lens. If I was to shoot more of these events it might be worth a $5000 investment in the newer MkIV Canon. And having said that, after the Innsbruck Air and Style experience, I am changing my plans so I can head up to Munich this Saturday evening for the Nike 6.0 Air and Style final. It should be epic is this footage is anything to go by.