Concentration Camp Mannequin in WeHo Gay Store Window Provokes Controversy

Holocaust mannequin in the window of Nir Zilberman's LA Jock store at 8915 Santa Monica Blvd. near San Vicente.
Holocaust mannequin in the window of Nir Zilberman’s LA Jock store at 8915 Santa Monica Blvd. near San Vicente.

A mannequin dressed as a Nazi concentration camp prisoner in the window of a store in West Hollywood’s Boystown is sparking controversy.

The mannequin is wearing a concentration camp uniform decorated with both a Star of David and a pink triangle, a badge that Nazis used to identify gay concentration camp prisoners. It is in the window of LA Jock, a store at 8915 Santa Monica Blvd. near San Vicente that sells underwear and other clothing aimed at gay men. Zilberman’s Mantrends company also markets a variety of underwear brands to gay men,  including ES Collection, STUD, Addicted, Freedom Reigns and James Tudor.

“I’m pretty shocked,” said Rabbi Denise Eger, founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami, a Jewish Reform synagogue that welcomes LGBT people. “It’s quite a shocking display, and I’m sorry that the [owner] doesn’t understand the sensitivities of the Holocaust survivors that live in West Hollywood. It’s taking the Holocaust and the memory of those who perished and commercializing it, which is truly an affront.”

LA Jock owner Nir Zilberman, who is from Israel and is of Russian descent, said he’s “proud of being a Jew” and that he put the mannequin up several days ago to raise awareness about anti-LGBT laws in Russia.

“I did it to get people’s attention” Zilberman said. “I truly believe that what [Putin] is doing right now in Russia is exactly what we got in the second world war.”

Zilberman is the organizer of a rally and march that will begin in front of the store at 8 p.m. Thursday in advance of the Sochi Olympic games, which begin Friday.

“It’s not about selling clothes,” Zilberman said. “This is about love, and it’s the only way I’m going to wake up people. If this is what I have to do, then this is what I’m doing. Why in my store? It is the best billboard I can do.”

Earlier this week, Zilberman told WEHOville.com that after Russia’s anti-gay laws were passed he “became obsessed” with the subject. At one point, he said, he spent 10 to 12 hours each day watching deeply upsetting, sometimes disturbing videos. He told WEHOville.com that it “felt like we were going back to Hitler.”

Eger said that her congregation stands with the LGBT community in opposition to Russia’s anti-gay movement and that Kol Ami will have a Shabbat Service on Friday night to protest Russia’s anti-gay laws.

However, she said, “We cannot as a Jewish community and a gay community allow the evils of the Holocaust to be commercialized or used for shock value.”

Zilberman said that the mannequin will stay up for the rally/march, when another component of the display will be revealed. It will include photographs that depict many aspects of life after the Holocaust, he said.


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nir zilberman
Guest

thank you for all the comments, wow. it’s about time we as people get together and not worry about looking good, just be children the want peace all over the world, i promise you all my store windows will display what ever we as people, as human forgotten…even if it’s not always going to be “pretty”. we can not keep leaving here in west hollywood in a “fantasy world” and let some of our friends here at home in WEHO or any place in AMERICA and all over the world leaving in HELL. people remember we are all mirrors of… Read more »

Shawn Thompson
Guest
Shawn Thompson

I went to this Rally that happened in the rain. I was compelled strongly after seeing all the images of violence against the ‪#‎lgbt‬ community coming out on public record in video right now. It is unacceptable in my mind to sit quietly and let gays be beaten up, harassed, tricking into meetings where they are video taped and tortured. As well as permitting a law declaring a rainbow flag unlawful and trying to suppress them by saying they are propaganda. This is a dark point in our worlds history and as a community and myself as a gay man… Read more »

Vance Decker
Guest
Vance Decker

What people are missing by reading such trash as the daily mail, is the alarming, unspoken partnership between right wing white supremacy groups in Russia and the police and government. Behind the scenes there is growing fascism in Putin’s Russia. These laws against gays are just a symptom of a much larger problem.

We overuse Hitler and the Nazi’s today, but in this case, I believe the association is spot on. Thanks for making people uncomfortable. Too many gays are so desperate to be accepted that they immediately criticize anyone making waves.

Chloe Ross
Guest

YGJ&IA
Well – that was unexpected and quite lovely. Thank you!

young gay jewish and informed angelino
Guest
young gay jewish and informed angelino

i love you chloe ross!

chloe ross
Guest

I actually have plans to go and meet Mr. Zilberman because he is a mensch. The ability to carry on a discussion rationally is rare and he knows how to do it. I will be delighted to meet him. I respect him as well.

Wes E
Guest
Wes E

Chloe Ross and Joan Henehan there are several signs at the store that are not shown in the picture above. If you just pass either location you would have clearly seen that it wasn’t merely a mannequin dressed up in concentration camp prison wear.

This video shows just a fraction of the crimes against the glbtq community happening as we speak.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/lesterfeder/this-short-film-shows-just-how-terrifying-life-is-for-lgbt-p

Chloe Ross
Guest

Please elucidate Mr. Palmieri – I have been aware since the 50’s that the number was 11 Million and know that the pink triangle was another Nazi invention. And as far as I am concerned – personally, Mr. Zilberman addressed me – personally and very eruditely. Look it up. He appears to be both an informed individual and one who is able to engage in intelligent commentary. And Mr. Palmieri – thank you too for taking the time to post.

jimmypalmieri
Guest

Too bad you needed an explanation.

Chloe Ross
Guest

Nir- You cannot imagine how much your comment meant to me. And your willingness to say what you did. It is entirely true that at least 5 million “undesirables” were also murdered by Hitler. Some were probably gay Jews and other people who were simply gay, religious, Roma… I do not hear this mentioned enough for my own feelings. That Hitler made his mission to eliminate Jews from the plant and that was what he had in mind – Judenfrei – then it should come as no surprise that any other human who did not suit him would also be… Read more »

nir zilberman
Guest

Chloe Ross, i want you to know im only a kid in my heart, the image that they post its not the complete image, i will love to show you the real image of the full window including the posters the ithe pink on him. if you look good on the image its the yellow with the number and the pink on top. i know that the yellow “took over” the pink. please know in my heart im all about love. the problem that the news paper did not even take the time to put the finsh window. the T.V… Read more »

luca d
Guest
luca d

as far as underpants store owners go, i’d say that larry block has a new rival.

chloe ross
Guest

How many of you were in LA for the ’84 Games? Those who were here may understand why Sochi is such a travesty to me. How many of you are the children of survivors? Drive them by LA Jock and see what they have to say – their opinion is far more valid than mine. LiL Kim is indeed a rapper. I simply cannot get NK Kim’s name right. A recent article in the NYer details very succinctly the cost – on many levels – of the Sochi Games. I suspect the cost to human dignity is immeasurable. I find… Read more »

nir zilberman
Guest

chloe ross thank you, this why we are in america. my attention was and is pure love and commitment to our tomorrow, i knew when i did it some people will agree and some not, this what make AMERICA so amazing. i respect your comments and we do not have to agree on it. i believe in my heart that what i did is what i needed to do to let people remember about hitler and millions of people the die because the color of the skin, religion or gender. in our public schools most children do not even learn… Read more »