The Cultural History of the Hot Tub

To celebrate Hot Tub Time Machine 2, we take a deep dive in the whirlpool of dreams.

When the Jacuzzi brothers emigrated to America from Italy in the early 1900s, they never could have dreamed that their eventual eponymous invention would become such a cultural phenomenon. Third-generation Roy Jacuzzi (yes, his real name) is credited with taking their existing hydraulic bathtime technology to the next level by installing therapy jets on the sides of a tub. In 1970, Jacuzzi expanded the tubs to accommodate large groups — and the rest is history. Hot tubs have since titillated generations, carving out a place in popular culture as fantastical pools rife with constant sexual encounters. They’ve also served as a vehicle for hedonism: After a night fueled by copious amounts of Chivas and cocaine, Hunter S. Thompson was purported to unwind in his hot tub with “champagne, Dove Bars, [and] fettucine Alfredo.” 

In honor of Hot Tub Time Machine 2’s upcoming release (February 20th), we’re taking a look back at the most memorable hot tub appearances in movies and television throughout the years.

James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party, Saturday Night Live(1983)

From the moment Eddie Murphy jumps on screen in a bedazzled bathrobe, until he strips down to a gold lamé, he completely embodies James Brown. (If James Brown was singing passionately about his hot tub.)


Scarface (1983)

Even while soaking in a luxuriant tub, Tony Montana can’t seem to chill out. In the midst of an argument with Elvira, he points down to his bubble bath and yells “I work hard for this.” We get it.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

In which Cameron ruins Ferris’s hot tub time by pretending that he’s drowning. Typical.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Who could forget Powers clumsy erotic encounter with Alotta Fagina — or his copious chest hair?

The Lovers, Saturday Night Live (2001)

Rachel Dratch and Will Ferrell depicted aging horny professors Virginia and Roger Clarvin — the precise two people you’d never want to run into in a hot tub.

About Schmidt (2002)

The infamous hot tub scene in About Schmidt features Kathy Bates going full-frontal. We say, more power to her. (We can’t show the video here, so use your imagination.) 

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

The movie that made us believe in the magical power of hot tubs, and also introduced us to future Mad Men star Jessica Paré’s assets.

Game of Thrones (2011 – Present)

Westeros might constantly be plagued with issues, but from Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen to Brienne of Tarth — they all seem to make time for hot, luxurious baths.

The League (“Hot Tub”) (2014)

Jenny surprises Kevin with a Hot Tub for their sexaversary, and like in most episodes of The League, everything goes terribly wrong.