Image: Naaem Callaway and billboard
Edward Lea  /  AP
Naaem Callaway, 31, of Egg Harbor Township, shown Tuesday, takes issue with the billboard behind him, which features a large picture of a nearly nude showgirl's derriere.
By
updated 2/10/2011 9:14:38 PM ET 2011-02-11T02:14:38

The judge who wrote the book "Boardwalk Empire," now an HBO series about vice-ridden Prohibition-era Atlantic City, has ordered the state's transit agency to keep its hands off a billboard that shows a nearly naked showgirl's backside.

The highway sign promotes a stage show at Resorts Casino Hotel, which has adopted the Roaring '20s as its new theme, in part to capitalize on the show's popularity.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson ordered NJ Transit and its advertising agency not to touch the billboard until a hearing can be held March 10 on what to do about it.

Casino owner Dennis Gomes says the sign doesn't hurt anyone.

"I've got five kids and they've seen butts all their lives and they all turned out fine," he said. "When you go to the beach, you see women in G-strings all the time. In Europe, they go topless. I really don't understand what all the fuss is about."

The fuss started shortly after Feb. 1 when Resorts rented the billboard on the Atlantic City Expressway, over a NJ Transit train station, to advertise "Moonshine Follies." In case anyone missed the subtlety, the word "moon" is highlighted just to the right of the model's rear end.

Gomes said he and his marketing team knew not everyone would love the billboard, but that's the point.

Gomes is known in the casino industry for using outrageous promotions and wacky stunts to generate publicity for his casinos.

The most famous involved a tic-tac-toe-playing chicken that competed against customers when he ran Atlantic City's Tropicana Casino and Resort a few years ago.

At the same casino, he enraged Cuban exile groups by using billboards of Fidel Castro to market a Cuban restaurant.

NJ Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett-Hackett said the agency's lawyers are reviewing the matter. She declined further comment.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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