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

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.

  1. I don’t blame Jack at all for wanting to protect his child. If I were raising children I would feel exactly the same. I agree that The Pleasure Chest went too far. Every freedom should come with “speed-bumps”. Just because we CAN doesn’t mean we SHOULD. It’s arrogant to expect the rest of the world to accommodate our freedom.

    I remember when my mother and her best friend came for a visit and we drove down LaCienega and saw a big sign at a theater for their current production of “Puppetry of the Penis”. I realized that it’s not like that in Ohio. When my teenaged niece came for a visit shortly after that I avoided that block of LaCienega.

  2. With Jake’s right to shield his daughter from anything he doesn’t want her to see, I do not believe his daughter asked questions about this poster with the word he found offensive partially blocked & virtually indecipherable at a glance especially from the road. I think he’s using his daughter as an excuse to express his own outrage. As far as Jake’s comment “you can tell by the comments here”, opinions are like anuses, everybody has one ,

  3. Woody et.al, please allow me to retort. There is not enough room to cover all the smug, snide and condescending remarks but I’ll try. First off, many of you are trying to insinuate that this is a “Straight vs Gay” issue and it’s not. Last time I checked, the gay community didn’t have a monopoly on anal sex. There are reasons why strip clubs and sex shops aren’t allowed to display their wares in the window and that is because no person under the age of 18 is even allowed to step foot onto the premises.

    With that being said, the Hustler Store has mannequins in the window wearing lingerie, so what? The Body Shop has silhouettes of strippers and it says “Live Nude Girls”. Again, so what? Trashy Lingerie also has scantily clad mannequins in the window, so what? These examples are a far cry from photos of naked asses sprinkled with candy and describing the act of inserting a penis into another person’s anus until one or both parties ejaculate. West Hollywood offers many “teachable moments” but that is not an appropriate one for a child, sorry.

    The commenters who are saying “what’s next, men kissing will bother you”? Nope, kissing and holding hands are Worlds apart from butt f-cking, sorry again. It’s unfortunate that some people in this town label and identify their entire existences by where they put their tongue and penis. West Hollywood is simply not a giant Red Light District and for those who say “If you don’t like it, move” just proves my point regarding intolerance. You say that you want tolerance, integration, diversity and acceptance yet you have no tolerance for those who raise children in this town.

    Now, had I chosen to take my daughter down to Boys Town at 9 pm on a Friday or Saturday night and I didn’t like what I saw outside Rage, well that is on me. However, I should be able to walk down the main drag of my City with my kid without being subjected to “Anal August” in the middle of the day. Should a Strip Club be allowed to broadcast live on a Jumbotron outside the premises what is going on inside? No, because its for people 18 and over. I’m not against Strip Clubs, Gay bars or Sex Shops in WEHO but there is a time and a place for everything. There is no reason why West Hollywood cannot be a progressive, gay friendly, artsy, fun, clean and respectful City just like Laguna Beach or Palm Springs. Have a little more self respect and keep it classy.

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. @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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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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