Hustler’s Mudflap Girls in Downtown Cincinnati

Posing Mudflap Girls in Downtown Cincinnati

I don’t know the title or the artist, but this is a new mural on the side of the Hustler store on 7th St. in downtown Cincinnati. “Mudflap girls” sums up the subject pretty well, right?

Posing Mudflap Girls in Downtown Cincinnati

It’s such a simple mural, painted with rudimentary skill, and yet I don’t really understand it. Why only women? Why two? To me, this seems like a really generic and obvious representation of “sexy” as a large-scale ad for the store masquerading as a piece of public art. Is there a message? Is there a take-away other than pimping the store?

Given Hustler founder Larry Flynt‘s roots in this area, the mural could serve to communicate a bit of history, or to share a sex-positive message. Instead, the public is treated to a trite, passably painted cliché.

Just down the street, artist Scott Donaldson has been working with teens on a new ArtWorks mural that is already almost finished. Given Donaldson’s witty, informed prior public art projects — murals in Over-the-Rhine and Camp Washington — I wish that this wall and this subject had been given to him, because I know that he could find a way to cleverly and appropriately represent the story and mission of Hustler.

Posing Mudflap Girls in Downtown Cincinnati

Hustler, you missed an opportunity to communicate with and possibly educate your public. Instead, you used this large-scale canvas to reinforce the uninformed stereotypes that people surely already have about you. Your mural joins billboards in my mind as the colossal visual pollution I have to ignore in my daily life. Eww…

8 thoughts on “Hustler’s Mudflap Girls in Downtown Cincinnati

  1. To be fair, their target audience is probably Bud Light Lime drinkers from Caddy Ranch.

    But I agree, with all the streetart and murals happening downtown they missed a golden opportunity to be part of the discussion.

  2. It’s not so much what I expect from Hustler, but I do expect more from a mural. A lot of murals happen in partnership with a business or institution, and they often serve to inform or promote, however indirectly. This mural could be something playful, clever and sexy, and it could appeal to both the Cadillac Ranch crowd and those of us who, ahem, expect a bit more from our environment.

    Imagine if Amanda Checco, who did the Ice Cream Daydream mural just a few blocks away, had been charged with designing a mural for Hustler. I think she could come up with something fun and bold that would engage the public.

  3. It’s not really a mural. It’s a billboard without the billboard. It’s a whorehouse without the whores. It’s Flynt promoting on the cheap. There is nothing sex-positive about Hustler, nor does it have a mission. It’s designed to interest the ancient animal part of the brain which existed before language evolved.

    Hope it doesn’t remain on that wall long enough to become a ghost sign.

    The First Amendment has nothing to say about judgement or aesthetics.

  4. David, you’re absolutely right. I was being generous and thinking about the approach that Hustler could take [and arguably should]. I do think Hustler could have used this canvas to do more than promote the brand in this base way. As it stands, I’m disappointed that this was approved by the city [I’m assuming that it had to have been].

  5. I’m not sure what’s funnier– two twenty-foot bikini girls guarding a Vine Street parking lot, or a bunch of entitled aesthetes overthinking Hustler’s design strategy. Hustler is selling exactly what’s on the wall, with as much concern for “educating the community” and “sex-positive messages” as it has for the Pope’s views on abstinence. You want “playful, clever, and sexy?” Go to Victoria’s Secret. And if you “expect a bit more from our environment” downtown, maybe focus on the empty storefronts and growing numbers of wandering homeless.

  6. Fair enough. I walk around downtown all the time and notice all these phenomena. But, I’m a designer, not an economist, so I focus my own critique on things that I feel I can adequately describe and explain, and sometimes complain about. I could write about empty storefronts, but I would be approaching that topic from a position of relative ignorance rather than educated entitlement, and that doesn’t seem very interesting.

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