Authorities Try to Take the Fizz Out of Bill Boam's Heady Dreams of a Nude Beer Empire

updated 11/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/22/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

As far as moments of inspiration go, it doesn't rank with the apple falling on Newton's head. Think of it as a beer bottle to the brain. Three years ago a newly divorced California entrepreneur, William Boam, 32, stopped off after work in Tustin, Calif. to slake his various thirsts. He bought a six-pack of beer. He bought a Playboy magazine. Then he looked at them both and...Eureka!

"I thought, gosh, if someone came up with a concept of something incredibly beautiful on a bottle of beer and changed the photos all the time, it would be a hot seller," Boam recalls. "I said, 'That's it! I'm going to do it!' "

Thus was born Boam's Nude Beer, a brand whose bottles are noted less for what's inside—beer supplied by Hammonton, N.J.'s Eastern Brewing Corporation—than what's outside—a nude (from the waist up) woman adorning each label. (The label girls change monthly.) The synergistic combination of consuming macho passions might have made beer—if not feminist outrage—history if Boam had not run afoul of state and federal liquor laws banning labels that are "obscene" or "contrary to public welfare and morals." The result is that, instead of fulfilling what he claims is $1.5 million in advance sales, Boam is now watching more than 10,000 cases of his beer sitting in a New Jersey warehouse. "I'm stymied over the whole thing," says Boam. "They are illegally restraining us."

Boam, a former adman who once jumped nude out of a plane—with a parachute—still hopes to distribute his beer in California and has a late November court hearing in Sacramento on the case. If he wins that, he plans to sue the federal government on grounds of restraint of trade. The New Jersey alcohol control board won't let Boam move his beer without federal approval. Not one to let formidable legal obstacles get him down, Boam is already forging ahead with a Nude Beer for women customers, a sort of beefcake 'n' brew.

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