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Racy Images from Abercrombie and Equinox Gym Rile Conservatives


UPDATE: Virginia Beach police DROP obscenity charges...

Police seized two murals from an Abercrombie & Fitch store in Virginia Beach over the weekend, citing local obscenity laws. One is the image above. The other is of a woman with her hand over her breast.

Hampton Roads reports: "Adam Bernstein, a police spokesman, said the seizure and the issuance of the summons came only after store management had not heeded warnings to remove the images. The citation was issued under City Code Section 22.31, Bernstein said, which makes it a crime to display 'obscene materials in a business that is open to juveniles.'...The manager was not arrested but faces a fine of up to $2,000 and as much as a year in jail, if convicted. Bernstein said that in a meeting last week with store management, the officer - who is assigned to routine patrol of the mall - said he understood it was a corporate decision as to what would be displayed in the stores. But he explained that that didn't exempt the local store from complying with the city code. Bernstein said management was told specifically: 'We want those advertising signs taken down.'"

Meanwhile, some Catholic groups are up in arms about the latest Equinox Fitness Club ads that depict a group of nuns drawing a well-built nude male as if in a life drawing class.


WCVB Boston reports: "C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts said the ad shows contempt for the Catholic religion. 'It says a great deal about this perverse obsession in both the fashion industry and the advertising industry of exploiting and mocking and sexualizing Catholic religious imagery,' Doyle said. The fitness company responded with a written statement saying, 'Our ad campaigns are based on personal motivation and fantasy and throughout history the body has been considered a form of art.'"

Catholic League go-it-aloner Bill Donohue, of course, was aroused roused by the ad as well. He said: "...this patently stupid ad that Equinox is floating suggests that it must hype its edgy image in order to compete. That’s too bad—apparently their targeted demographic group isn’t lured by the prospect of more barbells and fruit bars. Hence, the need to rip off Catholic imagery in a sophomoric soft-porn ad. Of course, Equinox could have asked Fallon to replace the nuns with Islamic women covered with veils. But that was probably too edgy, even for these trendy types. Guess there are some envelopes that no one wants to push these days. How telling."

Donohue should just settle down. The photo could have been captioned: "Suck it Jesus, this man is my God now."

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  1. That first picture is hardly "obscene." You'll see more asscrack on a plumber.

    Posted by: Wes | Feb 4, 2008 12:10:15 PM

  2. I live in Virginia Beach and used to work at that mall. I went to visit a friend for lunch, and considering the conservative nature of the city, was surprised no one was complaining. A week later, look what happens. Gotta love this town.

    Posted by: John | Feb 4, 2008 12:20:48 PM

  3. Fucking catholics. They're right and the rest of the world better jump into lock-step with them.

    The evil bastards.

    Posted by: jake | Feb 4, 2008 12:20:51 PM

  4. What exactly is wrong with image #1? I guarantee there are worse ones at Victoria's Secret in the same mall. As for #2. Catholics are a pain in the ass. Speaking of...that model's got a nice one.

    Posted by: FernLaPlante | Feb 4, 2008 12:24:58 PM

  5. I love Bill Donohue. He's like that old guy who sits in the back of the Barnes & Noble complaining to anyone who walks by. "What's wrong with the world today, old man Donohue..."

    Posted by: junior | Feb 4, 2008 12:25:33 PM

  6. Oh, no! A coin slot. Shivers!!!

    Considering a nun was convicted of sexually abusing boys this past week, they should be happy these sisters were in the presence of an adult male.

    Posted by: Marco | Feb 4, 2008 12:26:39 PM

  7. Should the Massachusetts Catholic Church be allowed to comment on this...aren't they morally and financially bankrupt from the child abuse scandals. Oh wait, are we not supposed to bring that up. A hot man's ass is way more vulgar than repeated sexual abuse of a minor. Somewhere, Satan is laughing.

    Posted by: Brian | Feb 4, 2008 12:28:36 PM

  8. You can save a larger version of the "catholic" photo from the photographer's web site, Ellen Von Unwerth. It's my desktop image for the week!

    Posted by: Mark | Feb 4, 2008 12:34:24 PM

  9. Ummm, have any of these Catholics seen the Sistine Chapel ceiling? Michelangelo never met a straining, writhing, bulging arm or torso he didn't like.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 4, 2008 12:35:59 PM

  10. My sister lives in Va Beach ... remember, that area is Pat Robertson country.

    Of course if beach/tourism revenue were somehow at stake, this wouldn't be an issue.

    Posted by: ATLSteve | Feb 4, 2008 12:41:27 PM

  11. I love Equinox ads, they have some great marketing people behind them. I used to work for them.
    the thing is don't we have other things to focus on, like wars and poverty, global warming, ah the mortgage crisis. Sheesh!!
    it is a fucking ass!! Get over it everyone has one, course maybe not as a firm and oh so beautiful!! :)

    Posted by: Paul | Feb 4, 2008 12:53:01 PM

  12. The 1st pic is hardly obscene.

    The second....the dude looks like he is supposed to be DAVID which just happens to be owned by the Vatican and shown to the world in the Vatican museum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Feb 4, 2008 12:54:33 PM

  13. the great artists (and great lovers) have always known there is nothing more godly or holy than a beautiful man's body, his ass is verily a temple of worship and i fall to my knees in adoration, amen...

    Posted by: the queen | Feb 4, 2008 12:57:34 PM

  14. If half the energy spent chasing down "obscenity" were directed at real world issues we could perhaps live in a really nice world.

    Posted by: Robert | Feb 4, 2008 1:01:45 PM

  15. I bet Sister Wendy wasn't offended. What's the problem? Nuns can't be trusted to draw a nude male? Isn't the human body created in the image of God? And Jimmy's right... it's a take on Michelangelo's David... one of the most beautiful pieces of art in all of human history.

    Donohue's a disgruntled dork with a computer. That's all he is. No one should take him seriously.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Feb 4, 2008 1:02:34 PM

  16. Just to pick a nit... Michelangelo's David is in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. I'm not sure who owns it. Probably the Italian state.

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 4, 2008 1:12:15 PM

  17. Michelangelo's David isn't owned by the Vatican.

    It was originally created for the City Hall of Florence, as the symbol of civic pride. Although it has been moved indoors, it is still in Florence. There are plenty of other nude statues in the Vatican though, including one of Emperor Hadrian's lover Antinuous.

    In fact, the Pope is (literally) surrounded by male nudity from day one. Look up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling where new popes are elected.

    Posted by: John | Feb 4, 2008 1:16:39 PM

  18. I thought I would never be surprised by American puritanism anymore...I was wrong...some people really need to get laid...

    Oh, and just as clarification, the statue of David is exposed in Florence, not in the Vatican, but the message still works ;)

    Posted by: brboy87 | Feb 4, 2008 1:17:43 PM

  19. I think people here are misreading Doyle and Donahoe's objections to the Equinox ad. When they complain about the sexualization of Catholic imagery they don't seem to be talking about the nude model. They're focused on the nuns themselves.

    Just look at them. Are they supposed to be real nuns? Or are they high-priced prostitutes in nuns clothing?

    As for the folks in Viginia Beach, they've clearly lost their minds.

    Posted by: David | Feb 4, 2008 1:23:11 PM

  20. And of course, we all know how respectful the catholick church is towards human beings who don't participate in the same mythology that the church relentlessly pushes on the rest of humankind.

    Posted by: MikeinSanJose | Feb 4, 2008 1:52:16 PM

  21. Milkman: Sister Wendy can be seen in one of her art documentaries enthusing about the "wonderfully fluffy" pubic hair in a painting by Stanley Spencer. Not all Catholics are fucked-up people who loathe the very body that their god is alleged to have created.

    Posted by: John C | Feb 4, 2008 2:04:52 PM

  22. Individual Catholics are usually far more moderate than the bishops.

    In fact, most Catholics I know don't pay any attention to the Vatican's pronouncements. For them, going to church is more like a ritual than a guiding light for their everyday life.

    I had Catholic relatives who took my coming out far better than the atheists in the family, so you never know how people react to particular circumstances.

    Posted by: John | Feb 4, 2008 2:19:12 PM

  23. Okay, so I just had to comment on the brillance of the retort: "Suck it, Jesus, this man is my God now!". Yes. Brilliant. I've just crawled back into my seat from the cold, hard floor I had fallen onto... lol

    Posted by: Brooks | Feb 4, 2008 2:37:18 PM

  24. I think the reason that second image is offensive isn't because nuns are drawing a nude man. I think it comes from the sexualization of the nuns. Why was it necessary to have the nuns show any leg at all?

    And you all may not like Catholicism, but you all are being hypocritical when you deride them for their beliefs.

    Live and let live.

    Posted by: Matt | Feb 4, 2008 2:40:56 PM

  25. While the original David is housed in-doors at the Galleria dell'Accademia, there is a copy outside in its original location in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. It's easily visible in all its naked glory to any passersby.

    Regarding the various Catholic leagues and their leaders, have any of them ever gone on record decrying the church child abuse scandals and cover-ups in Massachusetts and elsewhere?

    Posted by: RJ | Feb 4, 2008 2:53:49 PM

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