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Billboard Makes Splash With Vandals

August 08, 1989|FRANK CLIFFORD | Times Urban Affairs Writer

Billboard vandals have cut off the Beatles' heads, shot holes in Shamu's rubber hide, stolen Superman and, now, splashed paint on the Barbi twins.

Is nothing sacred?

Nestled on a curve of Sunset Boulevard, just up the street from the Golden Crest Retirement Home, the fulsome twins have been bringing motorists up short for the past couple of months. Over the weekend, someone found their presence a bit too irresistible.

West Hollywood officials said they were not surprised by the defacement of the billboard.

"There was such an uproar when it went up. People wanted them cited," said Howard Zelefsky, planning manager. He said one person complained that the scantily clad Barbi twins were tarnishing the reputation of Barbie dolls.

But Zelefsky said the city had to respect the twins' 1st Amendment rights, although he said he had no idea whether the Barbi twins have a life of their own off the billboard.

A woman who said she is Shane Barbi telephoned The Times after a reporter called the firm that owns the billboard. Barbi said she and her sister, Sia, modeled for the billboard hoping that it would advance their belly dancing careers.

So far, Barbi said the billboard has led to offers for a Barbi twins calendar and a music video.

She said she was surprised by some of the hostile reactions to the billboard. "I didn't think it went too far. The shots we do for our calendar show a lot more."

And she said she and her sister were proud of the billboard. But she admitted that, besides turning heads, the sign has caused a few headaches.

"My mother said she saw two people have an accident right in front of our sign, and we've had so many weirdos try to get in touch with us. . . . Actually, I don't mind if they do take it down."

West Hollywood officials say they have been told that the current billboard is just the first in a campaign promoting the Barbi twins. They said the next one will feature the twins in belly dancing attire.

"We'll be rolling quarters across our stomachs," Shane Barbi said.

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