Mormon Church-Owned Building the Latest Victim of Rogue Strip Club Ad
INWOOD — It's deja vu all over again.
An illegal ad for a Bronx strip club that sparked controversy this winter when it was projected illegally onto the wall of a local Starbucks has reappeared despite promises never to show it again — this time on the side of a building owned by the Mormon Church.
In late June, Inwood residents reported seeing the ad for Sin City Cabaret projected on the side of the Dyckman Street bike shop, whose building is owned by a nearby branch of the Mormon Church. In addition, residents said that the ad has appeared several times over the past two months on the underside of the Henry Hudson Parkway overpass that runs above Dyckman Street.
Ozzie Perez, who has owned Tread Bike Shop at 250 Dyckman St. for 15 years, said he never gave permission to anyone to project the ad. He called the building’s property manager after a friend texted him a picture of the ad, which was being projected from Payson Street onto the west side of the building.
“I just thought it was an inappropriate thing to put on a building without permission,” Perez said. “And the fact that it’s owned by a church, I mean, hello.”
A spokesman for the Mormon Church said the owner had been informed and was not happy about the incident.
“We certainly object to anyone using our buildings as a backdrop for their advertising," spokesman Eric Hawkins said. "It’s especially objectionable when the advertising directly contradicts our values and message."
The same ad, which advertises “Over 50 Hot Girls,” caused an outcry in the community in February when it was projected onto the wall of the Starbucks on the corner of Broadway and Dyckman Street without permission from the business or the building’s owner.
"It’s not really appropriate for the neighborhood," local resident Alicia Batista, 48, said at the time. "We don’t want to be the red-light district of Inwood.”
At the time, Scenester Marketing, the company responsible for projecting the ad, apologized and said it would not happen again. The company also noted that the ad had been projected without Sin City’s knowledge in an attempt by the marketing agency to win back the club’s business.
A Sin City representative also said at the time that the club had no knowledge of the projections.
Scenester Marketing claimed responsibility for the most recent projection, but a representative said the company did not know that the building was owned by a church.
“I spoke to someone at the parking lot [near the building] who told us to shut it down, and we did,” said a Scenester employee who would only give his name as Frank. “It was an empty lot, in an industrial area, near parking. We had no idea that it was owned by the church.”
Frank said the ads were once again projected without Sin City’s knowledge, though he would not confirm whether the strip club is once again a client of the agency.
He added that Scenester was not advertising for Sin City, but instead testing the spot out as a possible place to project ads for other companies they represent by using an old projection.
He said that he was aware of residents' concerns when the ad was projected in February, but insisted the company kept its promise not to project the ad in the area near the coffee shop.
“That was a Starbucks," Frank said. "It was a residential building and we didn’t project in that area again.”
However, the most recent projection went up about a block-and-a-half from the coffee shop.
He noted that Scenester has only projected the ad once underneath the Henry Hudson Parkway, but promised the company would no longer use the Sin City projection to advertise or test out any sites in the neighborhood.
Sin City did not respond to requests for comment.
A Department of Buildings spokesperson said projected signs don’t require permits but that they must comply with city zoning regulations. The spokesman could not confirm whether or not the building owned by the church was zoned for such activity, but said the agency planned to send an inspector to examine the site.
The city Department of Transportation said that the Henry Hudson overpass fell under state jurisdiction. The state DOT said that the ad was not allowed on its property.
New Yorkers can report illegal advertising to 311, with offenses carrying a minimum fine of $10,000.
“It was a test," the Scenester rep, Frank, explained, "and it’s not going to happen again."