OPINION: Is Tolerance a One-Way Street in WeHo?

The store front window at Pleasure Chest, 7733 Santa Monica Blvd.

I’m a 47-year-old straight man born and raised in West Hollywood. I own a home in WeHo, have a wife and a 9-year-old daughter.  Back in August, my wife and I were driving with our daughter on Santa Monica Boulevard during the middle of the day when traffic forced our vehicle to stop in front of the Pleasure Chest, the local sex shop on the east side.

As we casually glanced over at the store front window facing the street, we noticed an advertisement that filled the giant 8-foot-high by 8-foot-wide window with NINE GIGANTIC photos of FULLY NAKED ASSES! Some were male, some were female, some were bent over, others had Lollypops next to them, some had whipped cream on them and some had colored sprinkles that one would normally garnish on a scoop of ice cream.

Written in the center of the banner In GIANT letters was the announcement “ANAL AUGUST!” Our daughter proceeded to point at the sign and asked us “what does THAT mean”? After ten awkward seconds, my wife and I looked at each other mortified, and I replied “nothing” as we drove off.

I took this issue up with the city’s code enforcement as well as with some members of the City Council.  Although they agreed with my concerns, the issue was referred to the City Attorney for review. His response after seeing a photo of the sign was as follows:

“Nudity alone is not obscene, nor is bad taste. Contemporary community standards differ from community to community; in WEHO, those standards are different than in Topeka. Bottom line: Unless the content is obscene, we cannot regulate it.”

My response was: “I respectfully disagree that this sign is’”nudity alone.’ If it were nudity alone, there would be no issue. If it were simply nudity, my daughter would have just pointed and said ‘hey, look at those butts.’

“The fact that she can read the words ‘Anal August’ made her ask ‘Daddy, what does that mean?’ Obviously, a sign that strictly says ‘Anal August’ with NO nudity is not an issue since that could be an advertisement for a special on colonoscopies. But when coupled with naked butts with whipped cream and sprinkles, it takes on a whole different meaning. By the way, what a shame that you feel children in WeHo don’t deserve the same amount of respect as children in Topeka!”

Is West Hollywood incapable of being a city that has tolerance for all, or does it want to be known as a city that simply lacks a sense of decency and decorum? Has Progressivism become synonymous with salacious, lewd, tasteless and indecent? West Hollywood supposedly prides itself on being a city that welcomes any and all people, so how can that possibly be true when families raising children are alienated?


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Michael H
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Michael H

Granted, raising children in an increasingly complex and changing world can’t be easy–so hat’s off to you, Mr Lee, on that score alone. But having children doesn’t qualify you (or anyone else) as the de facto arbiter of taste and decency for an entire community. Like it or not, you have chosen to raise your daughter in a city you know to be sexually and politically progressive. The poster you reference is nothing new in WeHo, and certainly cannot have come as a surprise to someone who was born and raised in the city. So, yeah, I’m gonna push back… Read more »

Pierce
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Pierce

Mike King – To me, your comments appear biased against the WeHo LGBT community. 1. Your word choice: it’s not sexual “preference” it’s ORIENTATION. If you’re straight, did you prefer to be straight versus gay? I cannot imagine that. Just as we did not prefer to be LGBT. 2. Your assumption that LGBT parents would force their own sexuality onto their children. They don’t. If they did, outcome data would be different: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0049089X15001209 https://qz.com/438469/the-science-is-clear-children-raised-by-same-sex-parents-are-at-no-disadvantage/ Why would one want their child to experience discrimination at best, and hatred leading to death (think Matthew Shepard) at worst? Wearing rainbow colored clothing &… Read more »

Mike King
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I’ve seen the gay parade a couple of times in west Hollywood, & Have witnessed 2 homosexual men on many occasions walking with a little boy in hand & they had him dressed in rainbow colors talk about forcing kids into sexual preferences nowadays.i’ve also seen 2 lesbians walking hand in hand with a little girl dressed in rainbow colors.

Alan Strasburg
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Alan Strasburg

Interesting commentary, and I take only those who disclose their full and true identity as valid. The rest are trolls. I personally lament the increasingly prudish and uptight reaction to realities of life that should be celebrated as beautiful expressions of diversity and sexual reality. I’m not a parent, because I know that parenting is tough work, and requires people who have the intellectual skills to navigate a tough world, and not try to mold that world to make their tough jobs easier. Life is indeed easier in Simi Valley. Those who want the easy route should choose such locales… Read more »

Randy
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Randy

Anthony, I’m not whining about straight restaurants popping up in WeHo. I also lived through the 80’s and 90’s and witnessed people die. If, as you said, they are going to “still do as they do,” (not use condoms, I’m assuming you mean), then you should advocate PrEP as a prevention measure. The fact is, people (mostly under a certain age) aren’t afraid of HIV anymore, because they haven’t witnessed people die, and some of them see it as a manageable disease, and do not understand how serious it still is. My attitude is, do whatever we can to prevent… Read more »

Joshua88
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Joshua88

Puritan(s).
Sex = good. Violence = bad.

Todd Bianco
Guest

Holy crap! There sure is a lot of unnecessary pearl-clutching going on over a simple poster of naked butts superimposed with some colorful graphics and the words “Anal August.” I know that you can put parental controls on devices and not allow your kids to watch TV shows or play video violent games rated for adults. But you can’t sanitize everything. The kids I’ve met are pretty good at getting around these things, whether on their smartphone, tablet, laptop or any other internet-connected device. Your home may be “secure” but that’s not the case everywhere they go or on every… Read more »

John Otis Robinson
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How do you explain Trump to your daughter?

Celestine
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Celestine

Since the majority of commenters are men, I’ll gladly give my two cents as a female – and as a former 9-year old girl. Well, I grew up with brothers, so finding some questionable porn mags as a kid just made me shrug. Kids aren’t stupid and figure out stuff while parents stumble to explain (and fail, as in this case). I’d be more worried about Hatchet Man – that guy would have for sure given me nightmares as a kid. And maybe, in this case, I’d not eat sprinkles for a while. Butts and food doesn’t seem appealing, but… Read more »

Tony
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Tony

Let’s keep it real simple: What is the age restriction to enter, browse and/or buy any of the products that are for sale in the business? If the answer is 18 and over, which it is, then the advertising that convey the explicit nature of the business inside should be kept inside and not openly dispalyed to minors who are not even allowed to enter the premises. PERIOD

Randy
Guest
Randy

Anthony, you said “the word F@CK on a taxpayer paid street or sidewalk, or any of the other seedy and tasteless displays which are only there to be provocative. They serve no purpose except to amuse a small gaggle of people while the rest of us cringe because we pay a lot to own property here…” Ummm, no, that sidewalk marketing campaign by The Gay and Lesbian Center isn’t there for our “amusement.” It is there because it is an affective way of getting young people to pay attention, and get them to consider PrEP, which has reduced HIV transmission… Read more »

Anthony
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Anthony

To Randy- you claim that HIV transmission rates are down due to Prep which contradicts the CDC report of a year ago where HIV rates and other STD’s are frightenly up for 25 and under. In addition I donated to the center for several years thousands of dollars but the decision to use a vulgarism served no purpose and it won’t change the reality that those who did not live in the 80’s and 90’s will still do as they do and to treat Prep as some excuse for what continues to be reckless conduct is beyond the pale yet… Read more »

Stuart Jarvis
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Stuart Jarvis

Hey some of these comments getting a bit nasty….gays v straights….all because of a poster with bums! I’m a 70 year old and driving by that poster with my four grandkids we laughed had a joke it was fun. I lived in west Hollywood …had a blast…now retired on the beach in Santa Monica. West Hollywood will always have a place in my heart because it celebrates diversity and tolerance. That poster should not fuel anger and hate. What is happening to this country???? Chill out and enjoy this country for what it is……and for what it will remain…everyone living… Read more »

Stay Classy WeHo
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Stay Classy WeHo

This is not a gay or straight issue. This is a public perversion issue. A public window display that read “Vaginal November” over female crotches would be just as questionable as the display that reads “Anal August” over butts. While we can all celebrate that WeHo is a place where gays feel so free to be themselves, it does not mean people are free to do anything – whether that’s having sex in public, defecating on the street, or putting up pornish materials in store windows. WeHo should take steps so a few public perverts don’t debase the whole community… Read more »