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Some say stores' displays X-rated.

Byline: Tony Castro Staff Writer

COMPLAINTS: Look of models in front of Tarzana shops has residents upset.

They're hardly Victoria's Secret models, but well-endowed mannequins in lingerie shop display windows along Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana have aroused the triple-D-size wrath of residents who have taken their complaints to City Hall.

City Building & Safety Department officials and code enforcement investigators have been monitoring compliance, according to Councilman Dennis Zine, but the sexually suggestive lingerie displays of those businesses so far have been found to be within the law.

The budding controversy is over the shops' storefront mannequins, more bosomy and large-nippled than those found in most department stores.

While the shops in question offer adult sex toys and gadgets, a recent complaint made by Tarzana resident Tracy C. Taylor targets the mannequins - some of them placed in racy lingerie in front of the stores as well as in the storefront windows - and which she called "lewd" and "XXX-rated."

In her complaint to Zine's office, Taylor said she is concerned because her young children are exposed to the display windows each weekday morning when she drives along the 18500 and 18600 blocks of Ventura Boulevard.

"They have asked me 'Why are the women naked?' 'What do they sell?' and 'Why does she not wear a shirt or anything?"' Taylor wrote. "I have told my children that they have not finished dressing the mannequin, and they seem to accept it.

"Sometimes these mannequins are on public property outside of the window fronts topless with limited material for underwear."

Taylor said she believes the lingerie shops in Tarzana are getting by on a "technicality" of the law and she is preparing to take her opposition to her neighborhood council and beyond.

Zine said his office has received periodic complaints about the lingerie shops from other residents, which prompted the involvement of Building & Safety Department and code enforcement investigators.

"Some people are offended by the product they sell and don't want it in their neighborhood," Zine said.

Owners of two of the shops denied that they indulge in lewd conduct by displaying sexy mannequins and said they have been told by city officials that their displays are within the law.

Susie Arazy, owner of Susie's Delights at 18633 Ventura Blvd., who has been in business for 16 years, said she displays big-bosomed mannequins not to titillate shoppers but to appeal to women who are that size.

"There are women who are well-endowed," said Arazy. "There are small women and big women, and we represent both."

The owner of 69 Adult Toys, who goes by the name Alan L., said that in the two years since operating at 18545 Ventura Blvd., he has never heard of any complaints directed at his store and has complied with requests made by code enforcement officers who have checked his business.

"We are a legal business, and we comply with all the codes and laws," he said.

Owners of the two shops said at least a couple of other lingerie stores nearby on Ventura Boulevard had closed in recent months because of the economy.

A third lingerie shop in the area did not return calls for comment.

Zine's office said those shops fall under the city's Planning and Zoning Code regulating Adult Entertainment, which has definitions for "specified sexual activities" and "specified anatomical areas" that define what can be termed X-rated.

"These businesses that you see on the boulevard are not officially considered 'Adult Bookstores' because they stay under the threshold in their percentage of merchandise that is considered adult," Zine's chief planning director Jonathan Brand told Taylor in an e-mail response.

"By doing this they are not required to get the conditional use permit of full on 'Adult Bookstores' and are not prohibited from being on Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana, Woodland Hills, Encino, Sherman Oaks, etc."

In addition to sexy lingerie, the two shops mentioned in the complaint also sell adult sex toys.

Taylor also maintains that these mannequins are far more suggestive than those seen in lingerie displays at Victoria's Secret stores.

"These breasts on these mannequins are abnormally huge for the average female," she said. "They have them exposed, and they have these protruding nipples on them. And I know that on TV, if you have any nipples exposed, that it's in violation."

Taylor said she has also visited one of the shops and found that they were selling pornography, but that she was not bothered by that.

"The thing that bothers me is that they have these women (mannequins) in the windows, and they're exposing themselves," she said. "That's not right."

tony.castro@dailynews.com

818-713-3761
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 30, 2010
Words:770
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