The Most Totally âAwesomest ’80s Bedroom Posters
If you grew up in the ’80s and lived within a dirt bike ride of a mall, you probably spent a lot of time looking at posters. For me, I’d check out the girls and cars (hopefully together!) in the poster Rolodex at Spencer’s Gifts, then hit up the rockers at Sound Warehouse, and finally the ball players at Dave Cook Sporting Goods. And then, if I hadn’t spent all my money on Chic-fil-a and Orange Julius yet, I’d actually go back and buy one poster for like a buck. If I did purchase, I’d then have to go home, and somehow squeeze out some valuable display space on my bedroom wall. Being your average Midwestern kid, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in this practice. So for all you fellas pining for the good ol’ days when a woman in a bathing suit lying on top of a Lotus Esprit was the closest you’d ever get to getting some, this list of the greatest ’80s bedroom posters is for you.
Squeaky Clean Ford Pantera
I first got the idea for this list while watching the crappy Corey & Corey movie, “License to Drive.” Sorry, it was on, and the remote was far away. Plus, young Heather Graham is irresistible, and, most importantly for this list, the time and place shines through in that inimitable ’80s way. In the film, on Corey’s bedroom wall (I believe Haim, but I never did quite figure out which one was which), there’s a myriad of classic posters, but this is the one that immediately brought me back to middle school: the squeaky clean Pantera, kept that way by an ample amount of suds.
This whole list comes down to personal tastes, really, which is why it is so rad. But if your tastes didn’t include Van Halen’s 1984, then you had bad taste. And you missed out on David Lee Roth, the King of the Sexy Interlude; Eddie Van Halen, heroic wielder of the world’s most recognizable axe; his brother, Alex Van Halen, the man with four kick drums and a gong in one kit; and the bass player.
Everybody has particular tastes in cars too, but I doubt most kids were as discerning about cars and babes as they were about music, sports, and movies. Because any car or any babe at that age was just dream material anyways. But still, some cars stand out as being just a bit more dreamy than the rest, and that starts with the C4 Corvette. In 1984, the first C4 looked like the automotive expression of America nuking Russia. It was surely the car Duke from G.I. Joe would drive whenever he and Wild Bill would get shore leave and go bird-dogging for local whores.
Vincent Bo Jackson was such a transcendent athlete that even this diehard Broncos fan had the poster above, knowing full well that Jackson played for the hated Raiders. And according to my go-to source for all-things sports, the Champs Sports blog, I now know I wasn’t the only one rooting for a guy who wasn’t on my team. Apparently, after Nike’s “Bo Knows” campaign in support of the Air Trainer 1, sales margins swooshed to the tune of nearly 1,000 percent. See what you can do with cheap labor, suspect business practices, and a Blue-Chip pitch man.
The Uptown Girl, the swimsuit issue cover girl, the girl in the red Ferrari 308 GTS, and the girl in this poster are all era-defining images of one the world’s foremost supermodels/infomercial hostesses. In those dreamy days of the mid-’80s, Christie Brinkley was the one you dreamt about.
I didn’t want to overload this list with cars, as even a preteen adolescent punk should be well rounded, but there were a lot of hot rides in the ’80s. Perhaps none more posterized than the Countach, the very car driven by the two girls in zip-down unitard pantsuits in “The Cannonball Run.” Unfortunately though, none of the posters of the day (at least not the ones that made it to Buckingham Square Mall) really showed that exact car, which had not just two tubular girls driving it, but two tubular spoilers too – front and rear – so you could really dial in that aero.
Even though you can get big money for this poster on Amazon nowadays, I still don’t know who Kathy Smith is or if she’s famous for something other than this poster. How she came into my life, I’ll never know, but I’m guessing I discovered her at Spencer’s, much in the same way a Hollywood mogul discovers a young starlet. I was Immediately smitten, what with Kathy’s golden locks blowing in the rowing machine, as she pushes the tensile stability of what appears to be a neoprene workout…what would you call that, a swim suit? A singlet? Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Nothing matters when she’s in your bedroom, staring down your pimply face, as she’s going to work on those 10-pound weights. And then you read that plucky inspirational “Believe in yourself” signature, and how can you not? I can recall many a morning reading that, kissing each of Kathy’s ample breasts, throwing on some white lifting gloves, and having some inspired workouts of my own.
John Matrix was the baddest mofo on the planet, as far as I was concerned. When Matrix goes “shopping” for arms with co-conspirator Rae Dawn Chong, it’s probably the second best arming scene in all of film, right after another ’80s classic, “Red Dawn,” which did not feature Rae Dawn Chong, though it sounds like it should have. When Arnold finally lands on the beach to go save his daughter Alyssa “Mint” Milano, the suiting up scene is…well, it’s just the camouflaged embodiment of totally awesome. But what really secured John Matrix’s placement on my wall was that move where he uses the saw blade as a Chinese star and lops off that guy’s skull. God, what a great role model for a young, impressionable 11-year-old.
I need only to close my eyes to be right there with feathered Heather in her teal bikini, showing off most the goods as she exits that dressing room during “The Fall Guy’s” opening credits. That’s the indelible impression Heather left on many a young man back in the day. But to supplement her TV career, Heather brilliantly went the poster girl route, and in doing so, the Fall Guy’s gal became the undisputed queen of my bedroom. As memorable as that “Fall Guy” credits image is to me, it’s the poster above that first springs to mind when I think of Heather Thomas, fondly, in no small part due to that thing she does with her bikini strap. Many a night I spent wondering what goes on underneath that thing.
Before we all worried about what our adoration had turned Michael Jackson into, we all adored Michael Jackson, particularly Thriller-era MJ. Since the bestselling album ever often came with a free poster, you probably had a Thriller poster too. Weird to think that of all the billions of people who loved MJ, that tiger was the only one who ever really understood him.
If you didn’t have a poster of His Airness on your wall, you were a hater (or just a Cavs fan). But actually, most of this MJ’s most memorable posters probably came before the championships, right around ’87 and ’88, when he was flying into dunk contest history. Nobody jumped as far, as high, as long, or as stylishly as Jordan, which was perfect for posterizing, and also somewhat amazing, considering he was placing bets the whole time he was up there.
If you didn’t have a “Star Wars” poster on your wall back in the day, odds are good you bitched about your Facebook feed the other day. Depending on which year it was, I had a rotating collection of iconic “Star Wars” posters, so it was hard to decide which one to choose for this list — the official movie posters, Yoda or Wicket stand alones, or the one above. So I went with a “Star Wars” poster that also doubles as one of a pinup girl — a chained-up, dressed-down royal pinup girl who feels the force flowing within.
Not only is the Testarossa the car in “Outrun,” the first driving game I’d ever played that actually had a shifter, but more importantly, this was also Sonny Crockett’s second Ferrari, the white one, the one that made me think that a career in law enforcement was a surefire way to get rich. Fortunately, I started doing lots of drugs in high school and learned the truth.
Remember when Stallone teamed up with Michael Caine and Pelé to play Allied POWs during World War II who go up against a Nazi soccer team in a “friendly.” As a youngster, this poster was as inspirational as Kathy Smith. I didn’t need one of those stupid quotation posters. Nope, I’d just wake up, say good morning to Heather, Christie, Kathy, and Leia, then I’d give a nod to Sly and Pelé, and Caine’s curls, and I’d just know that whatever 2nd grade held for me that day, I would conquer it. Of course, this was before I learned that Pelé would have as much chance of playing in that game as my grandmother’s murdered family, and in all likelihood, would have very likely been turned into soap. But still, an excellent poster back in 1981.
Who wasn’t crazy in love with the Franken-aerobicizer that Anthony Michael Hall and that other guy made with their computer in “Weird Science?” Not only did this film give a generation of horny little maniacs the realization that girls underwear was much better than boys, but it also gave us the impetus to learn how to use a computer, and so, launched a generation of Oregon Trail experts.
I’ll admit, I never had this poster, or knew anyone who did. I’ve never seen it on anyone’s wall. But while searching high and low for every classic ’80s poster I could find, I discovered this gem of Hall & Oates cozying up to a Pontiac Fiero, which I’m pretty sure is the most crystalline expression of the decade you can find in poster form (not powder form). The only thing that could make this better is if Daryl and John shared a “Bitching!” thought bubble.