Jake Lee, who wrote a recent Op-Ed titled “Is Tolerance a One-Way Street in WeHo?” made a legitimate point about trying to prevent his daughter from being exposed to sexually suggestive advertising. However, I think it’s easier said than done, especially in West Hollywood, where the human body is not considered obscene nor would such a sign in the window of a commercial establishment that caters to adult sexual enhancement products.
Since Mr. Lee was born and raised in West Hollywood, I find it hard to believe that he didn’t or doesn’t understand that West Hollywood is geared toward its mostly adult population. Even those who’ve recently chosen to live here, know and understand this and in many, if not in most cases, that’s why they move here to live.
In a small city of nearly 35,000 people, 19,293 (57%) are male, and 41% or so are gay men while 43% are female. There are 76 children under 6 years or 6 – 17 years old in the city, according to 2016-2017 statistics, living in less than 5% of WeHo households. Describing West Hollywood’s character as salacious, lewd, tasteless and indecent takes Mr. Lee’s objections from reasonable to ridiculous. Even people newly at home here are well aware of the implications of West Hollywood’s adult and progressive “nature.”
I believe the city attorney’s response to Mr. Lee’s code compliance complaint was very concise and appropriate. Standards vary from community to community and West Hollywood is not Topeka – or Apple Valley – or Bakersfield, for which I think most of us are grateful. I agree with those who suggested that Mr. Lee could have used this experience as a “teachable moment” to educate his daughter in positive terms and help her gradually fit in to a very diverse and tolerant local culture that welcomes everyone without discrimination. In fact, we now live in a changing progressive and more sophisticated world, period.
If Mr. Lee thought this subtle poster, which by the way, I have never noticed, although I drive by the Pleasure Chest numerous times each week, if not each day, is salacious and indecent, then I strongly suggest that he avoid driving with his daughter past Hustler Hollywood on Sunset, whose windows are always filled top-to-bottom with human form mannequins, not only with bare buttocks, but with often crotchless G-strings and men’s briefs and peek-a-boo bras and other provocative novelty attire for both men and women. They are always accompanied by sexually suggestive advertising, usually painted on the windows in large bold, colorful letters, especially on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas and New Years. You don’t need to be stopped in traffic to notice these windows, in fact they’re quite in your face. Nor should he take her past Trashy Lingerie on La Cienega, which mimics the above description, only much more of the same and also a can’t miss from the street at any speed.
There’s also The Body Shop on Sunset that has sky high neon signs with female silhouettes and flashing lights advertising “Live Nude Girls.” Further down Sunset is the 7th Veil, where there are also flashing neon signs advertising nude dancing girls to the passing public, only more of them. You can’t miss these huge flashing neon signs if you tried, including from a great distance in all directions. I wonder if Mr. Lee’s nine-year-old daughter has expressed her curiosity about these in passing by.
Nor should Mr. Lee walk with his daughter down the WeHo sidewalks advertising the LGBT Center’s PrEP Campaign called “F*CK WITHOUT FEAR,” whose purpose is to educate sexually active gay men in a safe and effective way to prevent HIV infection. The same advertisement can be seen from far and wide on well lit and highly visible Los Angeles billboards. Of course, there are people who object to this, but it serves a very worthy purpose in that it educates and saves lives and is, of course, targeted at adults.
And I suggest he not drive his daughter past Boystown where dancing go go boys are visible from the street through open front bars and restaurant doors. I don’t think they would be comfortable at the Pride parade of the Halloween Carnaval either since there are always sexually suggestive costumes at both.
I wonder if Mr. Lee’s daughter has seen the homeless people laying passed out on WeHo sidewalks or if he has ever taken her to visit the WeHo library and observed the homeless people camped out both outside and inside the building. If so, I wonder if she asked for an explanation. Or the transsexuals and drag queens that frequently trod the streets of Boystown, not always inconspicuous, not always accepted by outsiders, but who feel welcome and unthreatened in WeHo. These also could be very worthwhile and positive teachable moments for children rather than another way to teach them prejudice and intolerance. And would likely evoke more curiosity from a child than bare buttocks in a store window.
To suggest that West Hollywood rejects the inclusion of children into its demographic makeup is absurd on its face. In fact, West Hollywood welcomes children and provides many ways for them to engage with others in play and educational activities. I don’t think I’ve ever gone into WeHo library without seeing children’s activity pamphlets along with an invitation to join the community fun. This is particularly generous of the city, perhaps even excessively, since there are a very small number of small children who are actually residents. Many of those participating in city and park activities come from outside the city and are obviously welcome.
In fact during the planning phase of the new WeHo park, there were three playground spaces given to children and none at all for dogs, even though there is a much larger population of dogs in the city than there is children. Only because of public outcry and strong objections from the community did we actually get an off-leash doggie space, which we needed. It will be used and appreciated by many WeHo residents and their doggie “children.”
In view of the numerous examples I have given of public advertising that includes sexually provocative themes, the bare buns sign in the window of an establishment that caters to sexual enhancement products for adults is the least of them.