Panty raid

City manager goes bonkers and defaces billboard.


Jack Boulware
April 6, 2000 8:00PM (UTC)

"On Sunday, April 9th, Six Beautiful Women Will Show You Their Panties."

That's what the billboard read above Azusa Avenue, in the Southern California town of Azusa. Part of an outdoor ad campaign to promote the debut of the new Los Angeles Avengers football team, sexually suggestive signs like this have been appearing all over Los Angeles. The panties in question supposedly refer to those of the team's cheerleaders. The garments are also called kick-pants.

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Another one reads, "On April 9th, Twelve Men Will Go Both Ways," meaning the members will play both offense and defense. Within the law, yes, but clever? Not particularly.
Azusa City Manager Rick Cole thought the panties billboard in his hometown was disgusting, especially a block from a city playground. On a recent Sunday afternoon, he snapped and did something about it. He brought in a cherry picker, rode the bucket up to the billboard and covered up the last two words ("their panties") with black paint as a crowd cheered him on.

Although defacing billboards for the local sports team is irresponsible, especially for a politician, many citizens agreed with Cole. The area is very conservative. Political groups have stalled a planned casino and blocked the Playboy Channel from local cable service.

But in protecting children from panties, Cole still broke the law. The Azusa Police Department -- Cole's own cops -- turned him in to prosecutors, who are investigating him on suspicion of criminal vandalism.

Cole, a former mayor of Pasadena, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times he acted on his conscience as a father and a citizen. "I took action to address that concern. Of course, I accept full responsibility or any consequences ... I did not think through the ramifications of a city manager doing this."

Preparing for their debut this month at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Avengers are disgusted at the act.

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"We would like to express our extreme disappointment regarding the actions of a veteran politician," said team spokesman John Tamahana. He added that the team has changed billboards in other cities after hearing complaints.

On game day, however, the cheerleaders will still wear panties, and the team will still go both ways.


Jack Boulware

Jack Boulware is a writer in San Francisco and author of "San Francisco Bizarro" and "Sex American Style."

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