Vaginas 'R' Us

I'm in LA this week, but I haven't seen this billboard everyone's talking about. If anyone has a snapshot, do tell. Update: BoingBoing reader Jason* delivers the goods.

Snip from news report:

A McDonald's near LAX has a big poster outside showing hamburgers, and a neighboring gas station mini-mart ad displays its snacks and beverages. And now a nearby strip club and adult shop on Los Angeles' Century Boulevard is advertising exactly what it has to offer -- in very plain language. Passersby on the busy thoroughfare were greeted Tuesday with a freshly posted sign outside the Century Lounge proclaiming "Vaginas R' Us." (...)

"The word 'vagina' is not an obscene word and we're not in a position to question the First Amendment," Councilman Bill Rosendahl said.


* BB reader Jason, who shot and shared the photo above (link to larger image), says, "I work a block away... in a COMPLETELY unrelated field! ;-)"

My inner copyeditor notices that the strip club owners didn't do such a good job of spelling 'R.' But hey, a gold star for getting "LIVE VAGINAS" right.

Reader comments: One BB reader -- a *real* copyeditor -- points out that "we" would actually be the appropriate pronoun here, not "us."

And John Brooks, PhD, MD says:

I noticed you complimented the club in LA for getting the term 'vaginas' correct. I suppose that is indeed more admirable than most, and while 'vaginas' is technically correct, a more correct spelling would be 'vaginae'. I guess that would look weird on a sign though.

So if our readers ruled the world, strip club billboards would look like this.

Kenny Byerly adds,

My girlfriend was the copy editor on the actual Daily Breeze article. As stated in the article, opponents of the sign were going to challenge the sign on the grounds of it being a code-violating vinyl sign and/or on the grounds of infringing on the Toys 'R' Us copyright. Looks like the strip club owner changed the sign to a marquee and changed the wording to cover his bases before the photo was taken -- hence the 'R' vs. "are" discrepancy.
Kim Cooper says,
What's not being discussed in this whole airport strip joint signage controversy is the fact that The Century previously sported one of the most gorgeous vintage logos in all LA. You can still see 4 letters of the original '60s type in the word "Nude"--but time was, you'd drive past and see the quaint promise of "Nude Nudes!" in that same fluid, psychedelicized font. So that sign has always specialized in interesting linguistic tricks.
Seth says,
In the 1970s and 1980s it was also a bowling alley that advertised, on that same billboard, "live, nude bowling". We never understood if this meant total nakedness, or if bowling shoes were allowed. As far as we could tell, this was the only live, nude bowling alley in the country, but some time in the 1990s they closed the bowling alley. So much for clean family fun.
Kevin says,
My friend Brian took this photo of the pre-alteration "Vaginas R' Us" sign the other night: Link.

An anonymous reader provides another "pre-alteration" photo, shown above (link to full size), and says:

Here's a photo I took during the day on Aug 5, and here's a copy of the one i took at night on Aug 2. You can see that they've deleted the apostrophe in between the two snaps! Glad to know that the live nude bars have no shortage of copyediting talent.
And my co-editor Mark Frauenfelder points us to this LA Times piece, Strip Club Forced Into a Pole Dance With Its Sign. Snip:
Laurie Hughes, executive director of Gateway to L.A., a business- improvement district composed of 40 major business and property owners near the entrance to LAX, said her group contacted both White's landlord and Toys 'R' Us Inc. to protest the sign. Hughes said officials from the toy retailer raised the issue of trademark infringement with White.

Friday afternoon, Hughes notified the toy company of the new sign and its wording.

"Once he spells out the 'are' instead of using an 'R,' he's probably OK," Hughes said of White. "The property owner is a member of our business district association. He can't do anything because he has a lease that isn't up until August of 2009."

As for the sign's content, "about all we can do is get him on misuse of apostrophes," she said.


Now -- if we can just get Chippendales to advertise, "We Are Dicks!" all will be right with the world.