It's pretty tough to drive along the local stretch of Interstate 94 and not notice them.

"All the liquor. None of the Clothes," reads one of the billboards, which features the image a topless woman turned away from the camera.

Another has a woman bent down and looking seductively at passing motorists along with the message, "The Bare Facts."

A recent drive along I-94 revealed at least nine billboards promoting various types of adult-oriented businesses along the 13-mile stretch between Burr Street in Gary and Ind. 249 in Portage. The signs promote strip clubs, adult bookstores and adult "romance" hotels, located locally and in neighboring Illinois.

Those paying for the signs, such as Polekatz Gentleman's Club owner Jimmy Gerodemos, defend their right to advertise along the main artery through the region.

"This is America," he said. "This is business. You've got to make money."

Gerodemos said his billboards, like his Gary club, are classy and contain nothing more revealing than a woman in a swimsuit.

While no one contacted suggested removing the billboards, a few, including Northwest Indiana Quality of Life Council Executive Director Jim Flannery, acknowledged these types of signs could be negatively impacting the region's image.

Flannery also said some people are offended in the same way by billboards for local casinos.

"I'd like to see more that celebrates this region," Flannery said.

Flannery said he would like to find a way to fund billboards along I-94 that promote the region as home to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, four Nobel Prize winners and a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, who were America's first Black military airmen.

While the Indiana Department of Transportation is charged with approving the location of all billboards along I-94 that are not on the site of the business, control over the content is handled by the local communities, INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield said.

Portage has an ordinance on the books prohibiting any "obscene content" on signs, Development Review Planner Kurt Knutsen said.

Gary has a separate sexually oriented business ordinance that prohibits the exhibition of specific body parts, in addition to a review process for all signs and billboards, said Zoning Director James Craig.

Lamar Outdoor Advertising, which is among the companies hosting the adult-oriented signs on I-94, supports First Amendment rights, yet prohibits offensive messages and images and places greater limits on advertising near schools and churches, General Manager Jon Terpstra said.

Speros Batistatos, CEO and president of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, said the adult-oriented billboards are not uncommon for metropolitan areas and have far less of a negative impact than the presence of discarded trash along the roadside.

Lorelei Weimer, executive director of the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission, is more concerned about the impact on passing motorists.

"That may be their only impression, and that's not the impression we want to leave them," she said.

Weimer said she would like to see her bureau help place more positive billboards along the highway by providing graphic and funding assistance.

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