Conan O’Brien Grass Skirt Photo Mystery Solved!

A picture of the late night host half-naked and taking part in a strange ceremony came from a 1982 issue of the Harvard Lampoon

Last Updated: August 11, 2010 @ 1:04 PM

The origins of this mysterious photo of an 18-year-old Conan O'Brien wearing a grass skirt and posing with a boy in a dress have been revealed. It came from Harvard — of course. 

When I posted the picture Tuesday, I speculated that it depicted "some weird, homoerotic, Ivy League, secret society thing," those suspicions have since been confirmed. 

Gawker picked up on TheWrap's post about the photo, and a commenter there shed some light on how this weird picture came to be. Conan's grass skirt ceremony was staged for the fall 1982 issue of the Harvard Lampoon humor magazine, which was a parody of Newsweek. The photo was part of a series of shots used to illustrate a fake news article about a television special called "Battle of the Backward Nations." 

VCR provided Gawker with a scan of the article. The photo that's been making the rounds online wasn't included in the Lampoon, but there's another picture showing Conan and some of his grass-skirted buddies taking part in a game of Twister. VCR said the picture that popped up on the Internet was published in a LIFE magazine feature about the Lampoon.  

The photo of the full-page Harvard Lampoon article featuring Conan's grass-skirted antics is below.