Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Skip and Go Naked (a drink) - Tower Records 1981-82

This is a lot about the Tower Records Tacoma store in the 1980s; the old one, not the one up by the Tacoma Mall entrance. Skip and Go Naked parties. Kind of like the Shandy on steroids, before I even knew what a Shandy was back then.
Notice it no longer says Posters
To set the atmosphere, I started at Tower working at the Posters store in 1980, next door to the Record store on 38th street in a shopping center parking lot where across from us was a great tavern called, "Mom's"; what a great place.

I had gone for a job at the Record store but got hired by the manger of the next door Posters Store (a head shop really). I was out of the Air Force, no more wife, no job, started college and thought I'd see my childhood dreams through. Like working at a record store. So, I stopped by Tower Records, figuring I didn't have a chance in Hell at a job there. Everyone wanted to work there.

So, I was talking to a woman in front of the Poster store, trying to get courage to go into Records, and I asked her about the Record store. Once she knew I was looking for a job, she started asking ME questions. I didn't realize at the time that I was being interviewed for a job at the Posters Store. So she hired me on the spot. Easiest job I ever got. I mean, I didn't even know I was in the process of getting a job there.

After I was hired, Record store employees would come over to talk, purchase (we'd "write them up", indicate their purchase and employee number and they'd get a discount) and on occasion they'd off-handedly mention that they were having or were about to have a "Skip and go naked" party. I was always envious. 

Eventually, I did end up working at Records. Another long story how that came about, let's just say our new manager fired my room mate who was the current interim manager, then fired me, the Records manager obviously hated that guy and hired me on the spot when he heard I'd been fired; he knew it was probably for no reason. "That guy" (Posters manager) had been demoted from Seattle to Tacoma and no one had much nice to say about him. He pretty much fired every one eventually and hired new people. Mostly really overweight scary women. I kid you not. It was horrible because trying to get by them behind the counter with VERY little room was simply miserable on several levels. And these women all had really bad attitudes, simply not Tower people as I understood it.

And so, we did indeed sometimes, have these parties.
 Tower Tacoma Tacoma Store #188 1980s back room
Someone would get the blender we kept in the back room, mix it up and we'd all grab a big red "kegger" cup and get a drink, then head out on the sales floor ("the stage" I liked to call it as you felt you were on stage all the time) and of course, we'd keep working. I can't remember if we were supposed to not take it out on the floor, but I do remember being out there with it.
 Sales floor of Tower Records Tacoma Store #188 1980s
I think that we could if we just kept it under the front counter at the cash register and at least TRIED to be discrete about it. We were professionals after all so we didn't act drunk, or we'd hang out in the back room till we got more professional and could go back out on the floor again. But then we had that famous Tower attitude that we ruled this domain and were certainly there to help you, but don't push it too far. I'll have to talk sometime about the shoplifters situation.

Anyway, I do however, remember one annoying customer, Mr Middle-Class (or Mr Buzz Kill) in a cheap suit, I think his name was. Just an ordinary family guy probably going to Church on Sunday, who asked me at the register if I had alcohol in that there red cup?! 

"Uh, Yes sir, its a Skip and Go Naked, the manage..r is mak--ing them in the uh, back, want one, pal? okay, we never actually said that. However, I did have a woman I was supervising, years later, at the Seattle Tower Video store, I caught saying to a customer who was being an ass to her: "Fuck you very much, Sir and have a very nice day!" She said this cheerfully. He cheerfully (and obliviously) thanked her, took his purchases and left with his wife. I was stunned. I said, "did you just say what I think you said?" She said: "Yes, of course. Why?" Of course, I said intensely and quietly: "You CAN'T say that to a customer!" She said: "Why not? I say things like that all the time. Has anyone ever complained?" I said: "Well, no, but...." She said: "Well then, what's the problem?" I said: "What if someone catches what you said?" She said: "Oh, they never will. They never have, had they?" I said: "No. But....if they do, you know what I'll have to do?" And she said: "Not to worry, you'll never have to deal with it." And, ladies and gentlemen, I never did have to deal with it.

Getting back to Mr. Middle-Class thinking I had alcohol at the register of all things....and I had thought I was being so discrete, too! So, I tried to be nice, but he kept ragging me and there was a line of people waiting to purchase and so I finally just said, with just a tiny bit of force behind it: "Do you want that album?"
We stared at one another for a moment or two while he thought about it and he got the hint, paid for it, left, and we never heard another word about it.

Some years later, at the new Video store, in the same location as the old Posters store, the boss allowed us to bring alcohol as we all had to work that night, late and all through the night. We had a blast. But, we had to do recounts of stock too much. For obvious reasons. We paired up, and everyone counted racks of videos. We drank as much as we wanted. Everyone pretty much did what got them comfortable in that respect. All racks were counted at least twice to assure accuracy but there was one rack, the "Haunted Rack" we called it by end of night; we had teams counting that rack thirteen times before we got a duplicate number indicating accuracy. For at least a couple of hours, no matter how we counted that rack of videos we could NOT come up with the same number twice. I really have no reason how that could have happened. Once we hit end of night, early AM really, the manager, Mark, said, "I'm glad we all had fun, but I think we all agree, we're never having alcohol for another inventory ever again." And we didn't. But at least everyone knew (and agreed on) why.

We had some good times working at Tower. Great times. I started there at the beginning of my college career, went back there for a while after graduating until acquiring a position at the University of Washington, Medical Centers Information Services (or Systems, they changed the name at some point) department. MCIS was no way as much fun as Tower, though it was five years of night work by myself with full access to the mainframe of two large hospitals. 

Some of the bands doing in store appearances at Tower stores could be really jerks (Cinderella for one, what pompous asses they were, I thought the employees were going to mutiny and kill the entire band one day), 

Years later at the Seattle, Mercer Street Tower Video, the Playboy Playmates were most excellent. The stories I could tell. I was lucky(?) in that I got a unique perspective, having worked at three of the types of stores at three locations, in two cities, and one store space in two iterations of a version of store. Yes, I think that's correct but sounds funny, though. :)

About the Skip and Go Nakeds:

One friend said: "I like the fact that you use the empty can from the frozen lemonade concentrate as a measure for the gin!"

Now the recipe that was used at Tower Tacoma back in the 80s (if not also before that):

In a blender fill with Ice
8oz (frozen) pink lemonade concentrate
One cheap beer
Using the empty lemonade container, fill with cheap Vodka
Blend all together.

Skip and go naked....

According to GroupRecipes website:

"Skip and Go Naked. A Connecticut drink from the 70's. Sounds awful-tastes absolutely delicious. Won drink of the year. You will skip [they did taste pretty good and maybe you'll go naked, too]."

GroupRecipes says:


  • One can of frozen pink lemonade
  • One can full of gin
  • One can of beer

How to make it

  • Blend in the blender on high.
  • Be in a safe place. Wear a helmet if necessary.
  • ENJOY!

Other people's comments on that site about SAGNs:

"Whoa baby...these are wickedly powerful. To all peeps: First of all, don't start drinking these on an empty tummy. I did and by the second drink, I really started listing to one side. Fortunately I had assistance to right me - and act as a prop. And its probably good to sip them slowly, otherwise the naked part will be incredibly easy - but the skipping part will become a definite challenge. Heh."

"I used to be involved with the named drink in the early 70,s and it was mixed in a garbage can, larger quanities, as you can imagine, and included melted sherbert ice cream, additional liquor, and all mixed together with a canoe paddle... man!!! the good ol days!!"

"Skippies!!! These are great. Don't drink them sitting down, you'll discover gravity the hard way when you stand up. Also - use a pilsner or "Export" style beer - something like a budmiller..."

So, drink up!

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