CINCINNATI — Frequent visitors to Tokyo Kitty will notice significant change the next time they visit the Downtown Japanese-inspired karaoke bar.
On Wednesday, the owners of the bar located at 575 Race St. announced on Facebook they decided to replace an original mural on Tokyo Kitty's main dance floor after multiple women accused the Atlanta-based artist who created it of sexual harassment on social media.
"The allegations were strong enough against him that we had to do something," said Jacob Trevino, founder of Gorilla Cinema Presents, the company that owns Tokyo Kitty.
As reported on Jan. 18 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitutional, the mural artist in question has not been charged with any crime. It was through the article that Trevino said he and his staff first learned about the allegations.
Trevino said after reading the article and discussing the concerns raised surrounding the artist, he and his team met to discuss their best course of action.
"Our gut reaction was just to cover it up — paint the wall black," Trevino said. "Then somebody on our team said, 'I think there is more power in covering it up with something that reflects our values.'"
The staff then turned to Cincinnati artist Jenny Ustick to craft a new mural that conveyed the right message. Ustick is behind such murals as "Mr. Dynamite" depicting James Brown, "Walnut Hills 5 Points Alley" and the Duke Energy Convention Center’s "The Hands That Built Our City."
For Tokyo Kitty, Ustick decided to paint a depiction of actress Eartha Kitt's portrayal of Catwoman from the 1960s "Batman" television series.
“Not only was she a pop culture icon, but she built her career as a singer, dancer, and fiercely independent feminist activist who advocated for LGBTQ rights and inclusion,” Ustick said in a statement announcing the mural.
Trevino said the new mural isn't the first time the karaoke bar has sent a message of support for women.
"We took R. Kelly out of our books," he said, referring to the backlash the R&B artist received after the release of the documentary "Surviving R Kelly." "For us it is more of an artistic statement than a political statement. We want to use our platform for positive change. We can use our platform to highlight artists that bring positivity."