A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from September 17, 2015
Kiss Cam (camera showing fans kissing)

A “kiss cam” at sporting events is a camera that captures two fans (almost always a male and a female couple), who then kiss for the camera. The kiss is usually shown over a large stadium screen.

The “kiss cam” supposedly began at the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games in the 1980s and at the Florida Marlins baseball games in the 1990s. The term “kiss cam” has been cited in print since at least 2001.

New York Mets fan Etan Bednarsh complained in April 2015 that the Mets often showed two opposing players on the kiss cam, in what he (and others) perceived to be a homophobic joke. In September 2015, the Mets agreed that they would no longer show opposing players on the kiss cam. The kiss cam almost always shows heterosexual couples, and some have claimed that the kiss cam itself is homophobic.


Wikipedia: Kiss cam
The kiss cam is a social game that takes place during arena, stadium and court sporting events in the US and Canada. It is intended as a light-hearted diversion to the main event during a timeout, television timeout, or similar downtime. A ‘kiss cam’ camera scans the crowd, and selects a couple, their images being shown on the giant Jumbotron screens in the arena. The couple are then invited to kiss one another, encouraged by the rest of the audience. A kiss is traditionally rewarded by cheers and whistles, whilst a refusal to kiss is booed.

When the kiss cam is in action, the audience may be alerted by a known ‘kiss-related’ song being played, and/or an announcer warning the crowd. The crowd attending then pay attention to the marked ‘kiss cam’ video screen. Normally several consecutive couples are selected, and appear on the screen. As each pair appear onscreen, they are then expected to kiss. Also, sporting event staff would appear as couples who rejects kisses or proposals to entertain or surprise the attending audience.

Origins
The kiss cam tradition originated in California in the early 1980s, as a way to fill in the gaps in play in professional baseball games, taking advantage of the possibilities of the then-new giant video screens.

5 December 2001, Altoona (PA) Mirror, “NHL” (AP), pg. B2, col. 3:
Pittsburgh’s Darius Kasparaitis kissed teammate Josef Melichar on the helmet after he appeared on the “Kiss Cam” on the videoboard. Most players ignore the “Kiss Cam,” which usually encourages couples to kiss. “He got mad,” Kasparaitis said of Melichar. “he was like, ‘what are you doing?’ I’m like ‘Don’t worry, let’s have fun.’”

WND
HOMOSEXUALITY CONFUSES LIBERALS
Published: 09/03/2002 at 1:00 AM
DENNIS PRAGER
(...)
But the Twins feature that most intrigued me was the “kiss cam.”

A couple of times between innings, a stadium camera focused on couples, who, when they saw themselves on the large stadium monitor inside a big red heart, gave each other a kiss. It was all quite innocent. I know, because I did not feel at all uncomfortable with my 9-year-old son, and I am zealous about guarding his innocence in the jaded culture America gives its children. Indeed, as often as not, the couples were in their later years, and when they kissed each other, we all felt good. Who isn’t happy to see romance flourish in older couples?

And then a thought occurred to me: Wasn’t the Metrodome engaging in discrimination? Surely, there were some same-sex couples at he ball game. Why weren’t any of them shown kissing on th “kiss cam”? How could it be that in the state of libertarian Gov. Jesse Ventura and Sen. Paul Wellstone, perhaps the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate, such discrimination could take place?

Google Books
Cheering for Self:
An Ethnography of the Basketball Event

By James Vass Jr.
Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc.
2003
Pg. 22:
Kiss cam (a camera providing live video for the Jumbotron) scans the crowd.

Google Groups: alt.sports.baseball.cinci-reds
Kiss Cam
CatThief
5/30/03
I thought the Kiss Cam was exclusive to Hockey games. I think that guy had his last kiss in about 20 years, unless you count his cell mate Bubba.

Google Books
8 July 2003, Weekly World News, “Dopes of the Week,” pg. 20, col. 3:
He did show up at a Cincinnati Reds gome where the ballpark’s new Kiss Cam caught him smooching with his girlfriend.

Google Books
Kiss Cam Connection
Kaitlin Maitland
Loose Id, Apr 8, 2014 - Fiction
After years of living together, Micah and Brody are almost ready to call it quits. Brody wants love and family, but Micah refuses to say the L word. When the guys try to reconnect at a baseball game Micah is mistakenly singled out by the Kiss Cam. He finds himself in a passionate lip lock with the gorgeous redhead sitting beside him and instantly knows things will never be the same. If Nena can be the one to bridge the gap between Micah and Brody, they have a chance at forever.

Nena cannot believe her life has gone from stale to spectacular in one amazing kiss. Suddenly the girl with the extra curves has the attention of not one, but two, totally hot men. Micah and Brody don’t just rock her world. They change the way Nena views the woman in the mirror. If only she could convince her overprotective brothers that unconventional or not, this is the life she wants more than anything else.

Deadspin
The Kiss Cam And American Sports Fans: The History Of A Romance
Alan Siegel
2/14/14 4:31pm
(...)
By the early ‘90s, seemingly every arena in the nation had its own video board. Technological advances, like wireless cameras and cheaper, stronger lenses, “made the Kiss Cam (and other fan shot interactive features) proliferate as low-hanging entertainment fruit,” according to Franzone.

Bob Becker, executive vice president of Van Wagner Big Screen Network, the company in charge of scoreboard content and production at the Super Bowl, helped introduce the Kiss Cam during the Florida Marlins’ inaugural season. It took only three easy steps: Blast a Sinatra love song through the Joe Robbie Stadium speakers, point a camera at a couple, and put them on the screen accompanied by a heart wipe. It was simple, and it stuck.

Twitter
Etan Bednarsh
‏@EBednarsh
.@Mets Putting two men together on the kiss cam isn’t a punch line. I want to keep coming to games. Please stop doing this.
7:35 PM - 14 Apr 2015

Storify
Why do the New York Mets Keep Putting Two Men on the Kiss Cam for Laughs?
Throughout the 2015 baseball season, the Mets have been putting opposing players in the kiss cam as a “joke.” They have ignored calls from press and on Twitter to stop. It’s time to end this sophomoric “wouldn’t it be hilarioius if two male athletes kissed?” gag once and for all.
by Etan Bednarsh
September 15, 2015
This started happening back in April…
and May–when a Daily News reporter wrote about it…
Through June…
And continued into July…
And it has now persisted through August–when a second reporter wrote about it.
In September, I started explicitly calling for the Mets to commit to stopping this asinine homophobia.
But they just continue to do it
And of course, every time the Mets show two men in the kiss cam, a portion of the stadium howls in uproarious laughter.
(...)
Can we? Can we stop this? Can we commit to just NEVER belittling a subset of people by displaying their lifestyle on a gigantic screen for a huge crowd of people to laugh at it. New York Mets–Will you commit to stopping this?

The Huffington Post—HuffPost Live
New York Mets Announce End To Kiss Cam Joke Fans Deemed Homophobic
The New York Mets exclusively tell HuffPost Live that opposing players will no longer be included on the “Kiss Cam.”

David Flumenbaum
Managing Editor, HuffPost Live
Posted: 09/17/2015 02:48 PM EDT
Kiss that creepy custom at Citi Field goodbye!

In response to accusations of homophobia, the New York Mets announced Wednesday, in an exclusive statement to HuffPost Live, that the team would no longer include two opposing players on its “Kiss Cam.”

A spokesperson for the Mets wrote to HuffPost Live:

We have, on occasion, included players from opposing teams in our popular in-game Kiss Cam feature. While intended to be lighthearted, we unintentionally offended some. We apologize for doing so and no longer will include players in the feature. Our organization is wholly supportive of fostering an inclusive and respectful environment at games.

The longtime stadium ritual shows a series of couples in the crowd on the Jumbotron and encourages them to kiss on camera. At Citi Field, the couples, always heterosexual, are followed by a joke pairing of two male players from the visiting team, as if to say in the most sophomoric way: what if these two Major League Baseball players were to kiss?
(...)
COMMENTS
John Franson
The Kiss Cam itself is homophobic, because it never features gay couples.

Michael Azevedo
I don’t see how that’s homophobic. They’re not mocking homosexuals in any way. Its more silly than anything. People need to stop being so uptight and just enjoy the humor in it.

Sports Illustrated
Mets end Kiss Cam joke some fans deemed homophobic
BY SI WIRE
Posted: Thu Sep. 17, 2015
The New York Mets will stop showing two opposing players on their “Kiss Cam” after some fans accused the franchise of homophobia, reports The Huffington Post.

(Trademark)
Word Mark KISSCAM.COM
Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: (Based on Use in Commerce) Entertainment services, namely, providing a website featuring film clips, photographs, and other multimedia materials featuring comedy, action, adventure, love and romance; (Based on Intent to Use) Photography and photography services; videotaping services. FIRST USE: 20121126. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20121126
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 02.01.02 - Men depicted as shadows or silhouettes of men; Silhouettes of men
02.01.37 - Busts of men in profile; Heads of men in profile; Men - heads, portraiture, or busts in profile; Portraiture of men in profile
02.03.02 - Silhouettes of women; Women depicted as shadows or silhouettes of women
02.03.17 - Pigtails; Ponytails; Women with ponytails or pigtails
02.03.22 - Busts of women in profile; Heads of women in profile; Portraiture of women in profile; Women - head, portraiture or busts in profile
02.07.03 - Groups, males and females
02.11.13 - Hearts used as backgrounds or carriers
Serial Number 85814670
Filing Date January 3, 2013
Current Basis 1A;1B
Original Filing Basis 1A;1B
Published for Opposition June 11, 2013
Owner (APPLICANT) KISSCAM LLC LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY COLORADO P.O. BOX 741 MORRISON COLORADO 80465
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record Jill J. Chalmers
Prior Registrations 4207935;4207936
Disclaimer NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE “KISSCAM.COM” APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN
Description of Mark Color is not claimed as a feature of the mark. The mark consists of the stylized words “kisscam.com” with the design of a heart containing the heads of a boy and girl facing each other to the left of the stylized words.
Type of Mark SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Thursday, September 17, 2015 • Permalink