The Rear-View Mirror: Leisure Suit Larry (1987)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!


How many 1980s nerds had their first sexual experience at Lefty’s Bar? How many teenagers learned about the perils of sex by catching an STD and having to reload an earlier savegame – or restart the game because they forgot to “Save early, save often”? How many never made it past the pimp in the first place, or forgot to properly prepare (also known as GET NAKED) to do the deed?

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards – or just Larry, as we used to call it back then – gave us a glimpse at a different world… though not all that different, because Larry Laffer, the protagonist of the game, wasn’t the suave ladies’ man he wanted to see himself as. Leisure Suit Larry was a sex comedy, but the joke was less at the expense of the girls, girls, girls! you’d find throughout the pixellated, 16-colour world than at the sadsack who thought that his tacky white suit, his medallion and the list of cheap pick-up lines he’d memorised would open up the thigh-shaped doors to Paradise.


I don’t know what it’d be like to replay Leisure Suit Larry thirty years later. Looking at my hairline, I’m closer in age to Larry than I was back then, but my supply of leisure suits is mercifully low. My experiences in dealing with matters of intimacy aren’t hampered by a primitive parser that didn’t allow for finesse (“I DON’T UNDERSTAND FOREPLAY.”). I’m not sure I want to find out just how sleazy ’80s sex comedy aimed at computer gamers could get.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards

Nonetheless, I have fond memories of my time spent with Larry. Even if my prurient interests at the time were stimulated more by my imagination than by the blocky, garishly coloured images on the screen. Even if the puzzles were partly obscure, partly unfair and my English at the time wasn’t always up to the task (I could count the number of synonyms I knew of the dirty words required to progress on one hand). Even if the act itself was covered by a jokey, bouncy “CENSORED” box. Back when teenagers couldn’t download enough sexy pictures to last them until well past retirement age, we took what we could get, and if we got to laugh a bit in the process – and learn some choice English vocabulary! – all the better. Thanks to Larry I now know that unprotected sex can kill, crossing the street in the wrong direction gets you run over by a cab and the phrase “KEN SENT ME” gets you into sleazy bedrooms. Most importantly, I know not to carry around spinach dips in my suit. Leisure Suit Larry has made me a man.


The Rear-View Mirror will return every Friday, looking further and further into the past. Fasten your seatbelts: it may just be a bumpy ride.

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