Risque apron gets man banned from Central Florida farmers market

Tom Levine wears apron while selling books

LAKE MARY, Fla. - A Central Florida man's risque apron caused him to get banned from a local farmers market, and he thinks the organizers went too far.

[BOTTOM OF STORY:  See apron photos (Warning: May be considered graphic)]

Lake Mary city leaders said they consider the apron offensive and obscene, and told Tom Levine to take it off when he showed up to sell his books May 31. The part-time vendor was told to take his shirt off, which he did, but days later was told he could no longer attend the weekly farmers market.

The apron is made of a see-through material and is painted in the shape of a woman's naked body, complete with bare breasts and a flower covering her genitals.

It's an apron Levine said he has worn for years at various arts and crafts fairs and farmers markets throughout Florida, and he wears it in hopes that he will get a lot of attention. He said his signature look catch eyes and helps him sell his books.

But his apron catches more than eyes, it also gets glares.

Local 6 found mixed opinions from parents at the New Smyrna Beach Seaside Fiesta, where Levine wore his apron at his stand Thursday evening.

"I understand, but I'm surprised how few people do," said Levine when asked if he agreed that some may see the apron as inappropriate.

Even so, Levine admits his apron has caused controversy before. He said he was told to take it off while at a show in Venice, Florida, but he has never been told he could not return as a vendor, until now.

He called his apron art and said it's tasteful. But the Lake Mary Mayor's office told Local 6 that guests at their farmers market told staff "they were offended by the graphic nature of the apron" and it's not good for the family-friendly atmosphere. City rules state they can kick out anyone with obscene material.

"It's never obscene. This is a hand-painted apron that I purchased at a family-friendly show in Cocoa Village by a couple of women that made them and were selling them. It's a hand-painted piece of art," said Levine. "I say it's Lake Mary's loss as much as it is mine."

For now, Levine said he will take his books -- and look -- elsewhere.

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