OPINION: Shielding the Kids from the Sexually Provocative in WeHo? Good Luck with That

Thu, Oct 19, 2017   By Woody McBreairty    21 Comments

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.”

The “Anal August” poster in store front window at Pleasure Chest, 7733 Santa Monica Blvd.

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.

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Woody McBreairty

About Woody McBreairty

Woody McBreairty is retired from the film and interior design trades and lives in WeHo with his Rat Terrier Zipper. McBreairty has lived in West Hollywood since 1970 and helped collect signatures for the campaign and ballot initiative that created the City of West Hollywood in 1984.
He was a member of the city’s first Affordable Housing Task Force and served as a Rent Stabilization Commissioner from 1986 to 1987. His hobbies are writing, photography and studying Hollywood history and old Los Angeles architecture.

View all posts by Woody McBreairty →

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  1. IRA ZThu, Nov 16, 2017 at 11:50 am

    There’s a valid argument on this subject but I think Mr. Lee is somewhat off base as West Hollywood & Hollywood have always been considered adult oriented playgrounds. West Hollywood In spite of it’s shortcomings, is indeed a grownup environment & that doesn’t mean it’s “intolerant” of children. It does mean though, that parents are responsible for protecting their children in whatever ways they see fit, not the public

  2. Robert EMon, Oct 30, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Someone called this to my attention for an opinion. Jake Lee indeed has a point, but Woody has a stronger rebuttal. I can’t believe Lee was born & raised in WeHo & all of a sudden he is offended by a poster in a window that has sexual implications. Just doesn’t jive. Welcome to WeHo Mr. Lee. Some of the billboards on Sunset are very openly sexual in nature & I’ve seen a few hair curlers. I think for the most part, these types of billboards & signs are quickly forgotten if observed at all & no one really cares. Maybe we’re too jaded, maybe we’re too sophisticated. I think- just a thought – that Mr. Lee chose this as a target to vent his concern about, but he could have chosen something a little more obvious & colorful than this

  3. J SimmonsTue, Oct 24, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    I bought in weho over 20 years ago. A LOT has changed, much I don’t like, but I live with it along with the amazing property value increase in 20 years. A lifetime owning in weho, must be enough equity to buy elsewhere. BESIDES .. I don’t get out much, but I have seen far more (straight oriented) large SEXUALIZED advertising on Sunset for years and years. This photo has no profane words. Can’t protect kids from the world.

  4. kab1200Mon, Oct 23, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    blueeyedboy, I know how you feel about this. It will never go back, that is the past. I remember when there was no carnival, and we just took over the streets and sidewalks. But the world has changed, and Weho is not the “gay ghetto” it used to be.

  5. blueeyedboyMon, Oct 23, 2017 at 11:05 am

    kab1200 and SaveWeHo, check out the comments from a year ago on the topic of kids and dogs at the Halloween Carnival. Let WeHo be WeHo as it once was without outsiders coming in and requiring that we accommodate them.


  6. Jimmy PalmieriMon, Oct 23, 2017 at 12:55 am

    great piece woody….whoops….i guess i should say great op-ed……lest i sound vulgar..

  7. kab1200Sun, Oct 22, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    SaveWeho, try reading his story before commenting. The guy grew up here and has a home here, and now has a wife and child. I think he has a right to say something. Period.

  8. Corrinne CSun, Oct 22, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    @J.V: Come on, a paper poster is made out of flesh & blood?? It’s every bit as dead and inanimate as a store mannequin. People act like West Hollywood is the only place you see sexy advertising. You see it in every American city & around the world. Sex sells. Money talks. According to Jake Lee’s take on the subject, children wouldn’t be able to go to movies. watch TV or look at magazines or goon the internet. The advertising almost always is sexual in nature. I also agree that the poster could be called subtle. It’s almost like an abstract print & as stated here, has a whole letter of the word anal mostly blocked. It doesn’t exactly jump out at you. Incidentally, this is not a gay directed ad nor is the store a gay store.

  9. SaveWehoSun, Oct 22, 2017 at 2:41 am

    I’m sick of people moving into Weho and then wanting to change it to a Chuck-E-Cheese family zone. I’m also sick of people being so scared of nudity and sex and placing such a taboo on it.

  10. J.V.Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    Woody, you seem to take Mr. Lee to task ad nauseam here. Point made – and I agree with your point, by the way – but no need to overdo it on the guy – a concerned father after all.

    Two things I disagree with you on, however. First, I don’t think the Anal August poster in the Pleasure Chest window can be referred to as “subtle”. Obnoxiously poor taste of the gay variety would be a better description (I also don’t care to see the hair in the hole of someone’s butt), but of course this is to be expected in WeHo. And second, the Hustler store using mannequins to market its smut is not quite the same as real human flesh, and I imagine the poor taste involving plastic mannequins is probably a bit more palatable to Mr. Lee (in reference to his daughter) than trying to explain why the moistened holes of people’s fleshy asses as featured in an SMB store window. But again, Woody, I agree with your overall point.

  11. blueeyedboySat, Oct 21, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Children would much rather go trick or treating in their own neighborhoods, or go to Halloween parties with other kids their age. But selfish parents who don’t want to pay for a babysitter drag kids to WeHo. The safety of the children is a big issue, but the appropriateness of their presence affects us all. The Halloween Carnival is an adult event, but when children are there most responsible people are careful of their dress and behavior in consideration of them. The Carnival from years ago was one of the sexiest and fun nights of the year, but that was before all the little kids started showing up.

    I did see that mailer last night that you spoke of, kab1200, but no one outside of WeHo is going to see it. I think it’s likely that nearly 100% of the parents who bring their children to our Halloween Carnival don’t live here. All the local TV and radio stations cover this party every year, so if City Council announced that children and dogs would be turned away, I bet the news stations would cover it.

  12. AMSat, Oct 21, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Jake’s article is so silly it made me giggle. Much ado about nothing. Woody shattered Jake’s theory that WeHo is a corrupt undesirable place. WeHo is what it is & it’s intentions are all good. Good Woody. Bad Jake

  13. kab1200Sat, Oct 21, 2017 at 1:27 am

    Blueeyedboy, I personally don’t mind children being there, because I see whole families having a fun time. But I do feel bad for the dogs who are brought there, just not the venue for them.

  14. blueeyedboyFri, Oct 20, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    I didn’t see that mailer, kab1200, but people are barred from public events all the time. It seems that for reasons of safety alone children and dogs should not be allowed to attend. Very few of the people who bring along their kids and dogs will have seen that mailer, but if they are asked to leave this year, they are not likely to try it again next year, and the word will spread.

  15. kab1200Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Blueeyedboy, on the mailer I received from the city, they state that children and pets should maybe be left at home. I doubt they could ban them, legally.

  16. WeHo-JFri, Oct 20, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Excellent piece, Woody! This sums it up perfectly.

  17. Just SayingFri, Oct 20, 2017 at 11:23 am

    On this sign, the world “Anal” is very hard to figure out since it has part of the window frame practically blocking the N.I don’t know how a 9 year old girl saw it so clearly. I didn’t

  18. Ida ClaireFri, Oct 20, 2017 at 11:19 am

    JR: Comments are limited to 3-400 words. Woody’s article speaks volumes & points out the hypocrisy of those who are intolerant of human differences. BTW it is your comment that is “laced’ sarcasm. Get over it

  19. Bruin21Fri, Oct 20, 2017 at 7:48 am

    My grandmother said: ” if you try, you will find you agree with everyone on something.” Well I never thought I would with Woody McB., but What do you know–Woody I Agree! Just a few days ago I was driving-up Robertson and traffic stopped me just in front of the formally Here/now Chapel. I spied to my left a woman double parked in a Lexus. Trotting through the alley were two boys about 5 and 7 with nanny (who must have been playing with the kids at the park). Mom stood in front of Hamburger Habit dressed head to toe in black as Nanny Jay-walked in front of me, my car in park in case an anxious driver ran into me and until the kids and nanny got safely across the street. Thanks to a silver car traveling South that stopped as he passed over the crosswalk they crossed unharmed.. in my mind i transformed into the Police Commissioner’s Daughter, Barbara Gordon. As Batgirl, I scooped the two kids up on my motorcycle for a short ride over to the Police station at Santa Monica and San Vicente. It turned out that the Nanny was the Penguin in disguise and the “mother” was Catwoman. The kids are now back with their parents who love them and don’t expose them to dangerous traffic. It’s what you don’t see that can really harm you!

  20. JRThu, Oct 19, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Not sure why Mr. Breairty gets his own “Opinion” page laced with sarcasm and arrogance when it could just have easily been added to the comments of the original article where so many had much more intelligent things to say.

  21. blueeyedboyThu, Oct 19, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    I wonder if Mr. Lee takes his daughter to the Halloween Carnival? If so, he shouldn’t, nor should any other child under age 15 be there. I’ve suggested several times that those who have the power to ban children and dogs do that, but no one has yet picked up that mantle. The Carnival has been toned down significantly to accommodate those who should not be there, and I wish City Council would respond to that accordingly.

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