We’ve talked here of “Dharma-Burgers,” which, as I’ve said, aren’t some new fast-food sandwich — though they can be every bit as dubious as a Mc-DLT and a super-sized “New Coke.” A “Dharma-Burger” is, actually, any example of Buddhist ideas or imagery employed in the marketing or production of (usually non-Buddhist) services and consumables. Sometimes they’re okay. Sometimes, they’re beyond the pale. What do you make of this one?
That’s right. It’s the sign for a Portuguese strip club called the Buda Bar. It came to my attention by way of Bruno Fernandes, who knows a thing or two about deftly blending Buddhist thought with modern approaches; Bruno is the vocalist and lyricist for the excellent metal band, The Firstborn, whose lyrical content is very much informed by Bruno’s Buddhist practice. (I’ve covered The Firstborn, who describe their music as “Extreme Metal with Oriental influences and a concept dealing with Buddhist philosophy” a few times before on The Worst Horse and in the Lion’s Roar magazine, too.)
Bruno sent me the above photo with a note: “Recently opened, right next door to our rehearsal room… Talk about karma!” So I asked him if it really is a strip club, and he answered, “That and much more, or so I’m told… I’ve never gone inside so I don’t know if there’s some sort of Buddhist theme in regards to interior design and decoration, but I can assure you the people don’t seem to come out enlightened, only lighter on their wallets!”
Like Bruno, I try to have a sense of humor about these things. Still, I’m left wondering: Why would they do this? It’s not even that it’s offensive — which, to many, it certainly will be — it’s more that there’s nothing “sexy” about this at all. Just who are they trying to attract with this unusual signage?
And how do you react when you see this kind of thing?
There are Buddha Bars, Buddha Lounges, etc. in cities around the world. Most of them aren't strip clubs, though.
The Buddha Bar in DC features an 18 foot high statue of Shakyamuni Buddha: http://images.thrillist.com/files/images/pieces/1…
The Buddha Bar in Paris is famous enough to have a spin-off in Beirut.
Rod Meade Sperry says
Yes, I've had countless readers send me "Buddha Bar" and "Buddha Lounge" photos, but this does strike me as taking things to a different level.
how do i react?
i cant tell, im too deeply in denial about it
Reading that sign has rendered my brain incapable of coherent thought…My default switch tells me to pray compassion for them though…
Perhaps they're trying to attract customers looking for a little boodie ….? But, seriously, I can't make heads or tails of that marketing tactic what-so-ever.
Justin Whitaker says
Happily, there is a researcher here in the UK who seems to specialize on religious imagery in advertising. She gave a talk last fall (my article on that here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/americanbuddhist/201…
Basically the extra attention it brings is great free advertising. And as long as your target audience is sympathetic to a bit of religion-jabbing, you're golden.
"Near the end of the talk, Ms Edwards gave this admonition, "If you see an advert and it really offends you: don't say anything!" Just walk away. Sage advice, I'd say. Maybe go meditate on your feelings :)"
Just nobody tell them how to spell "Buddha".
I think it's just a bad translation for booty. And, anyhow, Buddha is going to be exploited by the profiteers of the world just like yoga has been. It's another test to see if Buddhists can truly remain neutral about such a slight. I believe I can. And what helps is to feel compassion for the ignorance.
you must not be an eye doctor