The digital sign in front of the Wild Orchid has been a source of controversy for several years, but club managers have recently decided to remove the provocative images, and instead offer free advertising space to local businesses.
Club managers sent out the below letter to midtown businesses in an effort to be better neighbors. Wild Orchid manager Ken Bell said, “we’re trying to become a part of the midtown community. We want to be good neighbors and interact with them in a positive way.”
Bell said all of the more provocative images on the sign have already been removed. He said “the only shots that we will use are face shots… Nothing below the shoulders. No cleavage. No girls in bikinis.”
Instead, the sign now flashes ads for nine Midtown businesses. Bell said he hopes more businesses will take advantage of the opportunity as well. “We’re trying to change and become a part of the community.” He hopes the community will “accept us for moving forward, not what’s happened in the past.”
Recycled Records owner Paul Doege was one of the first people to take advantage of the free ad space. He said, “who doesn’t like free advertising.”
The Midtown District Reno President said he’s happy to see the Wild Orchid turn a new leaf. “They’ve been very difficult to deal with over the past few years and it’s nice to see them change,” Doege said. “Especially something like this where they actually invite us to use their billboard. That’s wonderful.”
While it seems the club managers are trying to make amends with the midtown community after a years-long controversy over their digital sign, the free ads could open a whole new can of worms.
Scenic Nevada director Lori Wray said, “we understand that it’s well meaning to put someone else’s business identity on their sign, but it’s just against the code and it could lead to chaos.”
Wray said the sign now shows what are called off-premise advertisements. “That makes that sign change from a regular digital business sign to a digital billboard; and you need a permit to have a digital billboard.”
Lori Wray with Scenic Nevada said there is currently a moratorium on digital billboard permits in the City of Reno, so it is not likely the Wild Orchid obtained one.
News 4 reached out to several people with the City of Reno to see if Wild Orchid managers are violating any municipal codes or if they’ve applied for a digital billboard permit. A spokeswoman pointed toward an ordinance the city council approved in December that regulates on-premise electronic signs.
Reno City Planning & Housing Manager Claudia Hanson said, “we are still working on our position on this.”
NOTE: This article has been corrected to include a response received from a city of Reno spokeswoman.
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