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5600 francs fine for an advert for an escort website

Le Matin, July 13, 2023

The owner of BemyGirl tried to pass off the pixelated images of sexual lovemaking as art, but the courts wouldn't listen.

In 2022, first a motorist and then the City of Geneva noticed the big black pickup carrying a poster with the slogan: "Envie de cul-ture?". The pixilated image shows, from a sufficiently long distance, a sexual romp. In both cases, the police were alerted and, upon receiving a complaint from the municipality, towed the truck away and confiscated the vehicle.

The case ended up in court and, according to the penal order consulted by the "Tribune de Genève", the owner of the vehicle, which he used to advertise his BemyGirl escort site, was sentenced to a suspended fine of 5,600 francs. The grounds for the sentence were the display of pornographic images accessible to minors under 16, and a violation of traffic law for... distracting other road users.

Posters refused everywhere

If the pick-up truck was chosen as a means of promotion, it's because no advertising space in Geneva would accept the posters. The same site experienced a similar setback in 2021 with its "Élise à la ferme" campaign, which the Mont-Blanc parking lot refused, as Léman Bleu reported. Even then, the vehicle had been used to display the image of the blonde Élise.

This time, the "Envie de cul-ture?" campaign did not show escorts from the site, but paintings by contemporary artists, including Jeff Koons, according to the owner of BemyGirl, who therefore tried to emphasize the artistic dimension of these images, evoking a misunderstanding. But the prosecutor disagreed. Blurred, the images show only the sexual acts, without even recognizing the original works, according to her. They do not "distance the work from the crude and vulgar" and place "exaggerated emphasis on the genitals", so they are pornography and not art.

The owner of the pick-up told the "Tribune de Genève" that he respects the authorities' decision, even if he "disagrees with their interpretation of our images". He will not appeal.

by Michel Pralong