Sex Sells…. Next To Local Grade School!
Sex Sells....Next To Local Grade School!
By Gary G. Toms
Fueled by a number of phone calls from angry residents, The Wave recently looked into a matter concerning a billboard ad that had been placed on Beach 35 Street and Beach Channel Drive. The ad is a promotion for the urban contemporary radio station HOT 97, which is targeted at young people within the hip-hop community.
The billboard depicts HOT 97 remix DJ's, DJ Enuff and DJ Clue, and two popular hip-hop stars, Ludacris and Mister Cee, at a strip club. They are shown looking up between the legs of one of the dancers. Their mouths are agape, as if they are in a state of amazement. One of the men, Ludacris, has his eyes fixed on what appears to be a particular section of the woman's body, and the ad has many people up in arms because it is situated only two short blocks from P.S. 106, where the average age of the students is 5 to 7 years old.
"This is disgusting. I can't believe someone would place an ad like this right near a school. What kind of message is this sending to our kids? Hot 97, and the others who are involved with its placement, should be ashamed of themselves," said a parent from the Beach 41st Street Houses.
"Kids have to see this everyday on their way to school, and when they go over to Bayswater Park. What are people thinking when they put up this garbage? Our children don't need to see this," she continued.
The billboard is also upsetting many community organizations and leaders, all of whom are working to have the ad removed.
"That ad has to go," exclaimed Jonathan Gaska, District Manager from Community Board 14. "There are a number of billboards that go up all over Rockaway, and promotional and media companies pay for the space, but this is clearly a case where something has to be done when you consider the content. We don't need this type of ad in our community." In an attempt to get their position on the billboard controversy, The Wave contacted the entities listed within the ad: HOT 97, Vista Media, and Def Jam Recordings.
A spokesperson in the public relations department of HOT 97 stated, "This is the first we've heard of the billboard. You said it's located right next to a school? Well, I can't comment on the situation at this time. However, I will turn you over to Mr. Rocco Macri, Director of Marketing for the station," he said.
To date, neither Macri, nor Def Jam Recording representatives have returned our calls. A Vista Media spokesperson said that the matter was being looked into.
When questioned about what they thought of the advertising bit, young people's reactions were mixed.
"I don't see nothing wrong with it. She's doing her thing and getting paid. Shake that ass girl! Get that money," one young girl responded.
"It is degrading to women, and since it is posted in this community, it is especially degrading to women of color. It needs to go," said a female student from Far Rockaway High School.
"This is deplorable. I could not believe what I was looking at when I saw it. This is disgraceful, and that sign must come down. Who in their right mind would put up a billboard like this, in an area with kids no less? This is totally unacceptable," said Reverend Evan D. Gray, who is the pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Arverne.
While some men, like Gray, expressed anger over the ad, most of the men who spoke to The Wave did not find it offensive, but they did not like the fact that it was placed so close to a school.
"Yo, that's whack! This is an ad for grown-ups. Kids don't need to see this stuff," said one young man, who was headed to Bayswater Park with his son.
May 17, 11:30 a.m.
Prompted by the Wave's covereage of this story, Vista Media acted quickly and removed the HOT 97 billboard from the area. "We regret any discomfort the ad may have caused, and it was not our intent to anger the community or display the ad in full view of children. We have wasted no time in removing the ad," said a Vista Media spokesperson, who chose to remain nameless.