Carousel Coupling at the City Fair

Anybody remember this infamous incident in the annals of Baltimore Babylon? I must have xeroxed a copy of the newspaper ad, which hangs to this day on my refrigerator…

The infamous 1987 City Fair cartoon,  click for super-sized image.

Close-up of coupling carousel couple.

Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks commented:

“In 1987, promoters of the Baltimore City Fair published in The Sun and Evening Sun an amusing advertisement that included a Where’s Waldo kind of cartoon showing the crowd at the fair, and a couple coupling on a carousel. Yeah, the last part was a little joke by the art director, whose agency apologized and reimbursed the fair for the ads.”

Ad with Suggestive Cartoon Figures Generates Interest

(Associated Press, 9/18/1987)

Two tiny cartoon figures apparently engaging in sex in an advertisement for this weekend’s Baltimore City Fair amused newspaper readers, infuriated city officials and lost an advertising agency an account.

The full-page ad, which ran Thursday in The Sun and in the early edition of The Evening Sun, depicted masses of people at the fair, including what was widely thought by readers to be a man and woman having sex on a carousel.

The newspaper said it received numerous calls before erasing what appeared to be the woman in final edition.

Baltimore’s Transportation Department, which ran the ad because the fair takes place under the Jones Falls Expressway, said Thursday it has suspended an 18-month account with the advertising agency.

The artist, Don Schnably, told The Sun that the figure thought to be a woman is actually a lion.

“I understand it’s supposed to be a suggestive picture there. It’s not,” he said.

“This is an artist’s rendering. You lust draw fast lines. I don’t want things blown out of proportion. This is ridiculous. This is my livelihood. I’m not about to jeopardize my account.”

Social Security Administration workers couldn’t photocopy the advertisement fast enough, The Sun reported. An enlargement of it spread through the State House in Annapolis. Patrons at a restaurant studied it and tittered over lunch

Leslie Marqua, a spokeswoman for the fair  the fair, said she was “embarrassed, angered, and mortified” when the drawing was brought to her attention.

“Don’t blame the city for what someone else did.” she added.

William G. Evans, president of the advertising firm Schnably, Evans. McLaughlin Inc. agreed the drawing could be interpreted as a lewd act and said the agency takes full responsibility and will pay its $22,000 cost.

The advertisement shows hundreds of people and dozens of booths and rides crammed under the expressway, the city’s north-south artery known to motorists as the JFX. The figures on the carousel are less than an inch high.

The ad read “Suddenly it’s all fun and games under the JFX.”


This entry was posted in 1980s, Baltimore Babylon, Inner City, Pranks, Sex and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Carousel Coupling at the City Fair

  1. David says:

    I just recently had framed an original full size poster of this and was looking for the history on it. Anyone have any additional information I want to record it on the back of the picture.

    • I remember this, in fact I have the an original of the paper ad , the sun early edition, plus a copy of the one that had the “lion” erased and in the later, same day edition of the paper. It was thursday, september 17, 1987. I thought there were several items (approx. 5) that were changed. Do you know of any.


  2. DRB says:

    The phones started ringing at The Sun that morning with people wanting extra copies of the paper. Street sales boomed that day. The rumor had it that the photocopy machines at the Social Security Administration complex in Woodlawn were out of paper by 10:00 a.m. The artist, Don Schnably, said the cartoon showed a man standing behind a lion…
    Here’s one news report on the story:,5545784

  3. Melanie Wilson says:

    My dad was William G Evans…Don Schnably’s partner!! It was insane the people that were calling my house to yell at my Dad!!! Sadly He passed this weekend and I stumbled upon this site while writing his Obituary…

  4. Christine says:

    I have a screen print t-shirt of the coupling cartoon. Will see if anyone wants to buy it on ebay.

  5. Donna Welford says:

    I have a framed original of the ad framed in my office. Love it

  6. Rebel Shipp says:

    I know the truth about this event. I was at his home when he drew the ad. The original idea was for a Lion. Don didn’t point it out he said look for something. He had told me about the Eiffel Tower ad with a guy peeing on the tower. He also said go to the Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He drew a penis hanging out of one of the players shorts. Great guy !

  7. I remember receiving and examining a copy of the paper with the ad, on the week that it came out. I even remember the “all fun and games under the JFX” slogan, which I thought was particularly funny considering the controversy. This was when I worked for a Federal agency on the Baltimore/Washington corridor, we had not yet fully transitioned to computers on everybody’s desk, and we government employees simply lived for stories like this. I am still a little bit sad that the official response had to have such serious consequences for the too-clever artist.

  8. Jerry Brown says:

    I was a linotype machinist working at the sunpapers when this was printed and I have an original page from that day.I also had a poster but cannot find it now.I have decided to finally frame it and hang in my clubroom. I am also going to print out the above article and include that with the page so people will know what was so special about this ad.

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