By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
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Although tight, revealing garb and Burberry tams are venerated as South Florida cultural standards, Lior Gonda, a Web designer from Weston, was asked to leave a popular mall because he was wearing a demure floor-dusting skirt.
This past July 17, Gonda and a group of friends spent an enjoyable afternoon shopping and socializing at the Boynton Beach Mall. They had just left Claire's Accessories -- no doubt stocking up on black rubber bracelets and Hello Kitty gear -- when they were approached by mall security guard Erik Jean François.
"It was maybe 4:00 p.m. We were standing around, talking, deciding where we were going to go next, and François came by and told us we were blocking pedestrian traffic. We started walking away. I took two or three steps, and the guard looked at me and said that because I'm a guy, I'm not allowed to wear that kind of outfit at the mall," Gonda recalls.
Turns out Gonda's Highlander-looking getup meets all Bitch Sartorial Safety Standards.
"It was probably completely black. Most of my skirts are black, and all of them are long, floor-length. They're really baggy and really comfortable. Much more comfortable than pants, I can tell you. I was probably wearing like a fishnet shirt with a shirt over it. Also most of the time I wear some kind of hat," Gonda says.
But back to the incident: "I guess the guard was paying close attention to me, because from far away, my skirt just looks like baggy pants. He said I either had to zip it up and make it a two-legged item -- and the skirt I was wearing doesn't do that -- or I had to leave. I didn't feel like making a big scene, where he would call the cops or anything like that, and it was close to closing time, so we just left," remembers Gonda.
The Bitch wonders: If a Scottish gentleman were to enter the shopping complex wearing a traditional kilt, would he be asked to leave? Or a Vietnamese male in an ao dai or Greek fellow in a foustanella? What if the ghosts of Mohandas Ghandi and Kurt Cobain wanted to get together at the food court to talk poppy propagation? Is there an official mall regulation against tasteful gender-bending style? Efforts to obtain a copy of the mall's rules were met with stubborn refusal.
"After we were kicked out, I asked one of my friends who wasn't wearing a skirt to take my camera and please take a picture of the rules, which are posted on a bulletin board near the entrance. The security guy who kicked me out suddenly ran in front of the board and told my friend he was not allowed to take pictures at the mall," Gonda explains. "My friend was being respectful, and some malls do have that policy, so he requested a printed copy of the rules -- which I believe is a decent request -- and the guy ignored him and just repeated himself, no pictures at the mall. That's what my friend told me. I wasn't actually with him because I didn't want to go inside the mall again and have the security guy yell at me."
Attempts via e-mail to obtain a copy of the mall rules were in vain. The Bitch made several further stabs at gathering data from the management office of the Boynton Beach Mall, including leaving voicemail messages for Carla Davis, the head of mall marketing; and Andrea Horne, the mall's manager. The Bitch was informed by an unfriendly receptionist that Davis and Horne were the only people who could provide her with a copy of the mall's rules. Some semblance of an irrational response came from Sam Yates, the public relations representative for BBM, who sent The Bitch's request through the proper elaborate channels. Yates then responded via e-mail by saying Gonda's ejection was related to behavior, not appearance: "The mall welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Miami New Times inquiry. Our records indicate that on July 17, a group of youth at the mall were asked to leave after they were observed creating a disturbance.... Rowdy or inappropriate behavior is in conflict with Rules of Conduct posted in the mall. We ask all mall visitors to adhere to our Rules of Conduct for the safety of everyone."
The Bitch pointed out that, given her love of provocative attire, it would be difficult to plan an inoffensive outing to, say, the mall's Hot Topic -- a presumably rent-paying, mall-traffic-generating chain store dedicated to outfitting My Chemical Romance-loving alternateens -- without a copy of the mall's rules. Yates's response: "Feel free to visit the Boyton mall [sic] if you would like to see the Conduct Code that is posted at several locations in the mall. A hand-out/printed version is not available."
Gonda says his fashion sense isn't meant to be a big confrontational deal, nor is it inspired by the wizards of Harry Potter, Wiccan worship, or intense fandom of Dungeons & Dragons.