Thirty years ago, when the “M” in MTV stood for “music” and not “moron”, MTV ran a contest called Paint the Mutha Pink, in which one lucky winner would win an “MTV Party House.” Provided to them by MTV, the winner and 25 of their closest friends (or “25 of the wrong people”) would then be treated to a party, a barbecue, and a concert…by John Cougar Mellencamp!
The one caveat was that the participants were going to have to paint the house pink.
This all tied in with Mellencamp’s Uh-Huh album release, and as the hit tune “Little Pink Houses” comes from that album, it was only natural to run a contest where a person gets to live in their own little pink house.
I’ve always remembered the commercial, since in addition to winning the house (located in Bloomington, Indiana, hometown of JCM… more on that in a moment), the recipient would also receive such seemingly random items as a Jeep, a complete Pioneer sound system, and a “garage full” of Hawaiian Punch fruit punch! (It was the fruit punch that I always thought was the most ridiculous prize in the list). Also, that night during the concert/party there would be a screening of the movie Streets of Fire (featuring one of my favorite movie songs from the 1980s “I Can Dream About You” by Dan Hartman!).
Here’s some vintage MTV footage of the prizewinner, who doesn’t seem as though she often fights authority.
Nonetheless, Mellencamp paints and parties with her and her friends!
If you’re a curious person, such as myself, you’re probably wondering whatever happened to that house?
Well, first a note about the original house itself: according to the book I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, MTV purchased the house cheap, for about $20K. And then they learned why. Rolling Stone reported that the house was located across from a toxic waste dump in Bloomington, so MTV had to then purchase a second home to actually give away. They sent Director of Promotions John Sykes back out to Indiana to find another house. That first house still belonged to MTV until about 1992. They ultimately wrote it off.
OK, but what about now? How does the house fare these days?
According to a 1991 article in the Herald Times Online, it turned out that Susan Miles, the winner of the contest, kept the house long enough to reap some tax advantages from owning a property, and then she sold it to Stephen Wright (not the comedian). She never even lived in the house! She went back home to Bellevue, WA, after the contest was over.
Ain’t that America?
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist
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