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” Anderson said. A third video titled “Summer Beach 2010” featured a boy of about 11 alone on a beac

Time:2019-10-24 07:16Underwear site information Click:

business law and courts sexual assault and harassment kids and parenting

The story of how a Washington state company used boys in underwear to draw customers and the man with a secret past who tried to stop them.

Chapter 1: The Craigslist Ad

In January 2009, an ad appeared on Craigslist seeking “BOYS ONLY Ages 7 to 14” for a modeling shoot in Waterville, Maine. The ad was posted by a company calling itself RWE Productions and said the shoot was for a client called Tiger Underwear, a company based in University Place, Washington.

The ad promised “A-level” models $450 for a day’s work, but it emphasized: “IMPORTANT! You must have no compunctions about doing modeling in only underwear briefs in order to do this work, since that will be an important aspect of the photos to be generated for this job.” 

The ad was soon posted to a message board hosted by the casting website backstage.com, along with a warning: “Child actor alert!”

One of the first to comment was Paula Dorn, co-founder of BizParentz Foundation, a Los Angeles area nonprofit created to support families of children in the entertainment industry.

“If anyone is not completely concerned about this ‘job’ by reading what is written here – feel free to visit tigerunderwearstore.com. The catalog pages are not like anything I’ve ever seen on an ad or packaging,” Dorn wrote.

Tiger Underwear’s website looks much different today than it did in January 2009. In fact, since I began reporting this story, the company's website stopped featuring boy models altogether. But you can still find cached web pages from that time by doing a search, as I did, of archive.org, which captures and archives web history.  

That trip through the “Wayback Machine” reveals what Dorn likely saw in 2009. On the front page of the Tiger Underwear website, a shirtless boy, head cocked, stares into the camera. He looks to be 9 or 10. He wears a red stocking cap and a pendant necklace and holds a skateboard. His jeans are sagged to reveal the white briefs he’s wearing underneath.

When I clicked on the tab that said “Boy’s Underwear,” a looping video appeared of two boys in their underwear wrestling on a floor. There was also a series of links to pictures. The images included two boys in their underwear having a pillow fight on a bed.

On the “Men’s Underwear” page, I found more pictures of the pillow fight. But in these photos, the boys were joined by a young man, also clad only in underwear.

The Tiger Underwear website that month featured a link titled “You Can’t Show Boys Underwear Pictures!”

On that page was the following statement: “Most well-known department stores from the 50s to the early 80s proudly used boys to model underwear in their catalogs … Time for some Americans to just relax and understand that boys modeling briefs is not a bad thing.”

There was also a description of the company: “Tiger Underwear specializes in high quality briefs for active men and boys. A retro style from the 1960s and 70s, similar to what you wore as a kid, Tiger Briefs sport blue or red dashes on the waistband and are available in both a single and a double seat (for greater comfort and absorbency). Now you have the opportunity to relive or experience this style of classic full fit brief! Tiger Underwear for men and boys is a design fashion from the past, with the retro look for today!”

That month the boy’s and men’s underwear were on sale for $19.99 per pair. Customers could also buy a 12-month Tiger Underwear membership for $49.99 and receive a free catalog featuring one of the shirtless boy models on the front.

In January 2009, Dorn was not familiar with Tiger Underwear but she was aware of RWE Productions and its owner, Richard Emerich, who also operated a website called Modelteenz.com that sold CDs featuring photos of boy models.

“This individual and company is known to us, but I am shocked at the boldness of this Craigslist post,” Dorn wrote on the backstage.com message board in response to the Craigslist ad for the Tiger Underwear shoot. “This one is a NO, NO, NO …. and we are looking to see what, if anything we can do.”

Part of BizParentz’s mission is to promote the safety of child actors and models. A Craigslist ad seeking boys to model underwear was an automatic red flag for Dorn and her co-founder Anne Henry.

Dorn flagged the ad in hopes it would be pulled down. Henry, meanwhile, contacted the Waterville, Maine, police department.

“I thought that they should know that this was happening in their town,” Henry said. “My goal was really for prevention for those kids that might show up to that shoot.”

A couple of weeks later, a detective named David Caron emailed Henry to let her know that the general manager of the Hampton Inn in Waterville had called to report that Emerich had canceled his reservations for the upcoming photo shoot.

While that model shoot apparently didn’t happen, other Tiger Underwear shoots of boy models did.

In coming years, Tiger Underwear would use those images on its website and social media platforms as a key marketing tool. Over time, the boy models would attract a fan base of men online. Eventually the photos would draw the attention of a mysterious sleuth who would alert school officials, police and prosecutors in hopes they would intervene. But there would be nothing anyone could do to stop Tiger Underwear from using the images of boys in underwear — because ultimately there was nothing illegal about the photos.

In that sense, the story of Tiger Underwear reveals the chasm between what many parents might find inappropriate and what the law says is child exploitation. 

Or, to put it more bluntly: “It’s a sick gray area.”

Those are the words of Julie Kays, a former senior deputy King County prosecutor who handled sexual assault and child pornography cases. 

“Anybody who looks at this is going to say, ‘What the hell? How is the person allowed to do this?’” Kays said.

But in a court of law, she said, lawyers would argue the images constitute protected speech.

“I think what you get is people saying, ‘Is this going to be an infringement on someone’s constitutional right of expression?’” she said.

Tiger Underwear formed in Washington state in January 2008.

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