Birthright leaders, beware: Group hormones are raging, and the streets of Tel Aviv are lined in as many sexual innuendos as Jerusalem's Old City is with "Jesus Was Here" placards.
Tel Aviv is where the Middle East throws back its hijabs and its tzniuts; where the Orthodox of the East come on Friday mornings to release their sexual repressions before Shabbat closes in; where nightclubs set up special drug/sex stalls so their bathrooms won't clog with the fiending and horny; where every girl leaning on a street sign in a short skirt is assumed a streetwalker.
For better or worse, this city is so steeped in sex that the steam inevitably fogs up nearby advertisements, street signs, window displays, art installations — even, um, children's play structures and toy stores. Below, I've helpfully mapped out five particular spots to avoid when your judgy Jewish grandparents or little cousins come to town.
5. Plopped rather conspicuously into the central meeting point along the Shlomo "Cheech" Lahat beach promenade, the infamous Vagina Sculpture — er, "Beyond the Limit," by acclaimed Israeli artist Zadok Ben-David — towers over the swarms of half-naked beautiful people at Jerusalem Beach. Perhaps as a soft reminder of why we've all congregated so half-nakedly?
4. This gigantic poster is plastered onto the side of a bus stop near where Ha'Aliya Street becomes Allenby Street. I can't begin to fathom who would buy/wear teddy-bear necklaces this fugly in the first place — even if their hindquarters didn't so unfortunately resemble a pair of Beverly Hills bazoongas.
3. Yuval Hamebulbal, or "Yuval the Confused," is arguably the most famous children's entertainer in Israel. Here he is as a life-sized cutout in the window of a toy store along Allenby Street, one of Tel Aviv's busiest roadways, right next to a temple. What possessed the store's owners to outfit a childhood hero in bondage straps and nipple piercings, is so beyond me.
2. The Rothschild Masturbator is a legend among newcomers to Tel Aviv; he who has not snapped a photo alongside The Rothschild Masturbator has simply not downed enough beers whilst barhopping Rothschild.
1. Shopping at the Dizengoff Mall in central Tel Aviv is a pretty seedy experience in general — but nothing can prepare a wandering ex-pat for an encounter with the play structure on the top floor, near McDonald's, where children can be seen tumbling joyfully from a giant enema tube protruding from an elephant's asshole. I know there are bigger problems in this part of the world, but Christ, can we please find a different slide configuration to replace this tragic Thief of Innocence?
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