Southern Frat: The 1979 “Are You a Preppie?” Poster

Ivy-Style has just learned from a top-notch (and top drawer) source, who will be the subject of our next post, the identity of the creator of the late ’70s dorm-room poster “Are You a Preppie?”

Long before he went on to helm such films as “Patch Adams,” “Ace Ventura” and “Liar, Liar,” Tom Shadyac created the above poster as a fundraising effort for his fraternity while studying at the University of Virginia.

Subsequent research revealed this isn’t exactly news to the rest of the world, but the poster creator’s identity was news to me and probably a few others in Tradsville.

The poster is an important touchstone in preppy history as it falls between Nelson Aldrich’s Atlantic Monthly cover story and “The Official Preppy Handbook.”

The model for the poster was Shadyac’s fraternity brother Stephen Tunnell. To see what he looks like now, click here.

So much for preppies never changing. — CC

31 Comments on "Southern Frat: The 1979 “Are You a Preppie?” Poster"

  1. Ha, my boss just walked by and recognized this poster immediately. Apparently he was at UVA a year behind this Shadyac character.

  2. Added you to our blogroll hope you’ll consider adding us to yours! Can’t wait for the new Preppy Handbook in Sept!


  3. Dutch Uncle | April 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm |

    Can’t quite figure out why this guy doesn’t really look Preppie in spite of the garb:

    Is it the greasy, too-long hair?

    Is it the oversized eyeglass frames?
    They seem to be a disorted version of the classic Anglo American 406.

  4. I have always enjoyed this poster. I look forward to the next post.

    Always Bumby

  5. I think I saw this guy at the ‘Vous in College Park. He owes me $5 and some Little Tavern Burgers.

  6. kinda the ‘aesthete prep’ species.

  7. Elaine Miceli | March 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm |

    I had a similar version of this, with as girl dressed in pink…where can I find it?

  8. “Monitary?”

    I had to read that two or three times.

  9. Having read this I thought it was extremely informative. I appreciate you spending some time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!
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  10. Actually, that is not Steven Tunnell. It’s his brother, Spencer Tunnell.

  11. I actually have in my possession several of “are you a preppie” & “are you a preppette” jigsaw puzzles. Brand new still in the wrapper. If anyone is interested please email my wife at

  12. Here is the aforementioned companion poster; “Are You A Preppette?”

  13. whiskeydent | January 3, 2018 at 3:45 pm |


    Remember, it was 1979, which happens to be smack in the middle of my college years. Punk rock was roaring and, in Austin, you also had a Cosmic Cowboy thing going on. There were a lot of cultural and political cross-currents banging into each other.

    Shaggy hair and other rule violations were part of what I’d call the “Rebel Frat Boy Look” of that era. Guys wanted to show they were a bit wild and dangerous and not one of those boring, prissy boys. Or something like that.

    I think this sub-group grew out of Animal House, but that’s just a guess. After about a dozen drunken viewings when I should have been studying, I can attest to the movie’s impact on me and many others. On one trip home for a weekend, my mother looked at me as I arrived and said, “Bluto!”

  14. I thought that was a revolver.

  15. What an unsavory looking character he is.

    • whiskeydent | January 4, 2018 at 12:35 pm |


      Describing someone you don’t know — from a single black and white photo — as “unsavory” is simply rude. You owe the guy an apology.

  16. I said “unsavory looking”, not “unsavory”. There is a significant difference.

  17. In any case, I was certainly not talking about Mr. Tunnell,
    I was talking about the character that he was portraying in the photo on the poster.

  18. You appear to have failed to notice the key word “looking”, which rather pulls the rug from under your assertion.

  19. Sorry Fortingale, I should have refreshed the page. I was of course responding to whiskydent’s assertion, which you’d already addressed more than satisfactorily.

  20. If Mr. Whiskydent had looked at the bottom of the poster, he would have seen that it portrayed a fictional character “Nathaniel Worthington Eliott III”.

  21. Am I the only one intrigued by the email blondfire@suchandsuch?


  22. Many on the internet have claimed to have found a second hand copy of the OPH with items ticked off as addenda. Too many for it to hold true. Yet the book still haunts some.

    • whiskeydent | January 5, 2018 at 9:35 am |


      Oh please. The looking defense is pedantic. An unsavory person is likely to be unsavory looking. The messages are the same.

      And you’re right, I didn’t read the caption and that actually helps make my point. You should consider that people will skim by stuff like that before hurling an insult.

  23. Houghton Mead | January 5, 2018 at 9:35 am |

    Did anybody bother to read the text at the upper left top of the poster?
    That character (and the like) are being mocked.

  24. whiskeydent | January 5, 2018 at 9:48 am |

    It just dawned on me that your comment could have been directed at the character in the poster, not the link to the picture of Tunnell posted immediately before yours by BRB. If that’s the case, I apologize for my own dumb mistake.

  25. This sort of reminds me of how Steve Bannon dresses. Popped polo under a button down, blazer or Barbour and khaki trousers. He cleans up well when needed for not having a “clothes horse” body. Images of him in college show him to be very Ivy/Trad, fit and well groomed.

  26. @whiskeydent
    I most certainly was not referring to the distinguished landscape architect but to the fictitious creep in the poster. We all make occasional mistakes.

    • whiskeydent | January 5, 2018 at 2:21 pm |


      Thank you for your gracious response. Nonetheless, the crow I ate for breakfast this morning was, um, unsavory.

  27. i have a framed copy of this poster if anyone is interested in purchasing

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