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Bidet business's bare-buttocks billboards barred from building

By The Associated Press

Editor's note: The Associated Press reported on July 31 that a deal had been struck to cover the bare backsides on the planned bidet-seat billboard. The ad is instead to show the models' legs and torsos, with their derrieres covered by the slogan for Toto, maker of the Washlet bidet. Times Square Church objected to a cheekier version that featured smiley faces on people's bare bottoms. "This is our bottom line," reads the new slogan. "Clean is happy. No ifs, ands, or ... ."

NEW YORK — In response to a minister's complaint, a judge yesterday temporarily barred bare-buttocks billboards that a bidet company had planned to put up in Broadway's theater district on a building that houses a church.

State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman granted the temporary restraining order against raising the billboards at the request of the Rev. Neil Rhodes, pastor of the interdenominational Times Square Church.

The billboard ads, featuring naked buttocks with smiley faces, were to promote the Washlet, a bidet-toilet seat that uses warm water and air. They were to go up for 30 days beginning July 1 on two sides of the building at 51st Street and Broadway that houses the Times Square Church, which claims 8,000 members, and its Bible school and day-care center.

The judge ordered Rhodes and the church to post a $90,000 bond pending a decision on the issues discussed at a conference between the parties. She said the bond would go to the defendants for damages and costs — including lost revenues — if the court determines the church was not entitled to an injunction.

"The court finds that the motion presents novel and significant issues on which further legal authority is required," the judge said, suggesting she needed to do research before she could decide the case.

Rhodes had asked the court to block billboard-ad company Van Wagner Communications LLC from putting up the cheeky displays, claiming they would interfere with the church's religious mission.

A lawyer for Van Wagner did not return calls in time for this article. No one could be reached at the church.


Digital billboards light up debate over advertising limits

Minnesota city pulls plug on company's signs, sparking court fight that local governments, advertising industry alike are watching. 02.23.07

Billboards become free-speech venue of choice in Newark
Teachers union criticizes murder rate; D.C.-based anti-union group fires back, accusing city's teachers of failing kids. 04.02.07

Chicago boots racy divorce billboard
City alderman says attorneys' ad proclaiming 'Life’s short. Get a divorce' was removed because they didn't have permit, not because of sign's message. 05.09.07


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