Controversial designer Doron Braunshtein, aka Apollo Braun, finally got slapped for putting out a T-shirt that read, “Obama is my Slave.” OK, maybe he didn’t get slapped, but he did file a police report for harassment on Wednesday, which coincides with a press release he sent out yesterday. According to the statement, two black men grabbed him and kicked him in the balls after shouting, “Who do you call a slave, you fucking Jew?!”
This isn’t Braunshtein’s first time in the limelight after the Obama shirt. We first wrote about his "Who Killed Obama" shirt in March. When that didn’t work, he decided to go further. In July he made his way to the cover of the free daily paper Metro after he issued a press release about a girl getting attacked for wearing the shirt. It was never confirmed if the incident really happened or was just part of a publicity stunt. The Metro article cited Braunshtein as their only source and claimed attempts to reach the victim were futile (and the editor was later fired).
Braun is clearly race baiting and attempting to be a provocateur in the name of free speech and artist entitlement. And it was probably only a matter of time before things got violent. In the press release he said, “I don’t want to be killed for my T-shirts. I am still shocked about what happened yesterday but there is a big chance that I will stop selling my anti-Obama merchandise.” What Braunshtein really thinks about Obama and race are not clear, and he could not be reached today after messages were left at his store and with his publicist. At this point it seems clear he’s more interested in getting a reaction than actually moving any merchandise.
While the Obama-slave slogan hits closer to home, it isn’t the only controversial shirt Braunshtein has made. His past shirts have read, “Madonna is My Mother,” “Mel Gibson is impotent,” and “Bloomberg=Hitler.” The attention-seeking Israeli designer in the Lower East Side is starting to get a little too obnoxious to even defend.
Update: Apollo Braun called me back. After speaking to him, it is readily apparent that his passionate dislike for Obama might just get him killed. But at least he has a genuine dislike for the subject of his tees. "I am not at all a racist," he said, "But I think Obama is a phoney." Due to Wednesday’s incident, Braunshtein said he has not kept normal business hours and has opted to hire a sales girl because he is too afraid to be in the store. Yet, this will not stop the political and public-eye minded Braunshtein from creating a new shirt.
"In the next week or two I will create the most extreme T-shirt ever," he said. "You can’t imagaine the power of four words, everyone will hate me."
Why does he keep doing this against the advice of friends, family and his lawyer. Braunshtein explained it simply: He loves to be hated.