May 9, 2016

Lucky Vanous: The Diet Coke Guy

Like Scott Madsen, the Soloflex Guy , and Clara Pelter, who asked "Where's the beef?", Lucky Vanous became famous in an instant.  Though the Nebraska native had been modeling and studying acting for several years, he became the talk of the town through a series of heterosexist commercials for Diet Coke: some female office workers gaze through the window at the construction site next door, where lean, muscular Lucky goes on his break, rips his shirt off, and opens a can of Diet Coke.  They become more and more aroused as he drinks.

He was not a bodybuilder, but he was lean, muscular, and hirsute, a perfect New Sensitive Man even without saying "I know how you feel."

Lucky's exercise book and video, aimed at a female audience (The Ultimate Fat-Burning Workout) appeared in a few months.  In May 1994 he took off his shirt on tv sitcom Wings.  He was a presenter at the Clio Awards (for excellence in advertising).  In December was profiled in Playgirl.

A couple of movie roles followed, plus some tv: the evening soap opera Pacific Palisades (1997), guest spots on Pensacola: Wings of Gold and Will and Grace, and finally 18 Wheels of Justice (2000-2001), about a federal agent turned trucker who helps people with their problems.

Although in real life Lucky was always gracious to his gay fans, his stage persona maintained the heterosexist "every woman's fantasy" myth, insisting that all women but no men wanted to see him with his shirt off.  So the shirt came off when the audience was mostly women, but stayed on when it was mostly men.  This promo for 18 Wheels of Justice gives you the general idea.

Today Lucky owns the Lucky Devil's Tavern on Hollywood Boulevard, near Highland, which offers healthy choices in addition to the usual deep-fried bar cuisine.

See also: The Coca-Cola Kid.