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Candidate Criticized for Online Business Ads

Politics: Council hopeful Ken Gerston denies having role in his jewelry's 'Bad Pig Girl' marketing.

March 13, 2001|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rivals criticized Los Angeles City Council candidate Ken Gerston on Monday for doing business with a firm that features scantily clad models called "Bad Pig Girls" on its Web site.

Gerston said that he only manufactures jewelry for Bad Pig Creations and has no creative control over how the merchandise is marketed.

"I've never seen the Web site," said Gerston, a Sherman Oaks businessman who is a candidate for the 5th Council District. "I condemn that. I am very pro-woman."

But other candidates in the race said they hold Gerston responsible for the marketing of the jewelry on the Web site, which includes a woman in lace underwear holding a Bad Pig bumper sticker across her otherwise bare chest.

"Having fought to keep a Hooters' bar out of Westwood, I find this offensive," said Laura Lake, one of 11 candidates vying to succeed Mike Feuer as the 5th District Council member. "Any vendor would check out the advertising ahead of time and this advertising is offensive."

Candidate Steve Saltzman said it was demeaning to women to call them "Bad Pig Girls."

"Having viewed the site, my own company would use or portray women in a much more sensitive manner," Saltzman said.

Gerston said his firm was paid about $12,000 by Bad Pig Creations owner Brian Olea to make bracelets and necklaces designed by Olea. The pieces feature mock barbed wire and the face of a pig wearing sunglasses. Olea's firm sells clothing and jewelry for motorcycle enthusiasts.

"I don't have any idea how he sells it," Gerston said.

Among the scantily clad Bad Pig Girls featured on the site is "BonBon," who holds the bumper sticker across her chest with the caption "This 36-24-35 beauty is a former Playboy playmate."

Another woman wearing a "Bad Pig" halter top sits next to a hot tub. The caption says, "Would you believe this hot babe is a police officer? Jacuzzi anyone?"

Olea, who owns the Chatsworth company, said that the marketing plan was his idea and that Gerston "has nothing to do with it."

As for the use of scantily clad women to bring attention to his jewelry line, Olea said, "Unfortunately, society is such that sex and women and models are used to sell products.

"In defense of this, women make up seven out of 10 of our sales," he said. "They are one of our biggest clients."

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