L.A. artist explains why he defaced Tarantino billboard with Epstein cutout

A billboard for "Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood" altered by street artist Sabo.
A “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” movie billboard on the south side of Pico at Alfred Street, one block east of La Cienega, is altered to show Jeffrey Epstein’s and director Roman Polanski’s face over actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.
(Jen Yamato / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles street artist Sabo has done it again, making over a billboard for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” as yet another critique of rampant sex abuse in Hollywood and beyond.

In one instance, the political guerrilla artist superimposed the faces of wealthy tycoon Jeffrey Epstein and fugitive filmmaker Roman Polanski on a billboard featuring the film’s stars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Sabo retitled his faux flick starring the disgraced Epstein and Polanski “Once Upon a Time in ... Pedowood” — a not-so-subtle dig at the men’s histories with underage girls.

“I’ve never prayed before a project, but I prayed before this one, in the names of all those children harmed by these monsters. I hope they all get caught and put behind bars,” Sabo wrote on the Unsavory Agents website, which took credit for the works and is selling prints of the posters. Sabo has previously run campaigns against short-lived Oscars host Kevin Hart, actress Meryl Streep and the Oscars for what he sees as promoting pedophilia.


The unflattering and potentially libelous modifications are some of many, and highlight the artist’s take on widespread predatory behavior in the entertainment industry.

The Epstein-Polanski edition appeared Friday in Los Angeles on a massive Outfront billboard on the south side of Pico at Alfred Street, one block east of La Cienega. It had been rented by Sony to promote the film and now explicitly slams Polanski’s decades-old statutory rape conviction and Epstein’s recent sex trafficking charges.

“Basically, I just wanted to bring that time together with today,” Sabo, 52, told The Times on Friday, speaking about the Polanski-Epstein billboard. “I put two people who are fairly well known and wanted them to share the billboard — one from the past, one from the present — and I wanted to highlight how [child sex abuse] is such a problem in Hollywood, particularly with the child casting couch.”

The artist, who modified the ads with the help of drones and two assistants late Thursday night and early Friday morning, said he has not yet seen Tarantino’s celebrated film but plans to this weekend. It should also be noted that the movie, set in Manson-era Hollywood, touches on the murder of Polanski’s pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie). Tate is a supporting character pivotal to the movie, and she and Polanski (portrayed by Rafal Zawierucha) are already married and living together in the film.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, along with Margot Robbie, star in writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s fable set in tumultuous 1969 Tinsel Town.

July 24, 2019

The artist said he doesn’t believe Polanski was sufficiently taken down during his trial nor during the #MeToo movement given that he still has a film showing at the upcoming Venice Film Festival. (Polanski fled to Europe while awaiting sentencing in the late 1970s and has managed to avoid extradition to the U.S. since).


“Movies should be entertaining,” Sabo added. “I would hate to think of Tarantino as a political director, rather than one who tells stories. And as soon as they start shoving their politics down my throat, I’m not interested. That’s for me to do as a political guerrilla artist. He should write a story that’s entertaining [and] leave the political horror to me.”

Elsewhere in Los Angeles, a bench ad for “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” features director Woody Allen’s face on that of Pitt’s character. Allen has also been dogged by misconduct allegations, namely sexually assaulting his adoptive daughter with Mia Farrow in the 1990s (an allegation that he has repeatedly denied).

Here’s where to find the Los Angeles attractions saluted in Quentin Tarantino’s new “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood,” from Musso & Frank’s to Spahn Ranch.

July 26, 2019

Another bus stop poster features Epstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, who was baselessly accused of being a pedophile this year by conservative commentator Chris McDonald, and name-checks disgraced mogul Harvey Weinsein, the NXIVM sex cult and “X-Men” filmmaker Bryan Singer, all of whom have had career-tanking scandals during the #MeToo movement.

Representatives for Outfront billboard company and the Los Angeles Police Dept. did not immediately respond to The Times’ requests for comment Friday.