A Los Angeles woman and five friends carried out an elaborate stunt on Monday afternoon to transform the fabled sign overlooking Hollywood.
For about an hour, it said not Hollywood, but “Hollyboob.”
Julia Rose, the 27-year-old organizer, and five others were arrested after the prank, she said. In broad daylight, they had draped a blue tarp with a white letter B over the sign’s W and added a line to the middle of the D.
By the time the friends had made their way back down the steep hill in the afternoon, the police were waiting for them with handcuffs.
It was the group’s third attempt to transform the sign, Ms. Rose said on Tuesday.
One of the friends, Jack Tenney, a 26-year-old former professional surfer, said his main goal was to make people laugh.
“I’m just happy to pull off a good stunt where nobody got hurt,” he said. “Everyone thinks it’s funny and a harmless prank.”
The police, however, were less than amused. “Los Angeles landmarks are precious to those of us @LAPDHollywood and this was way uncool (not to mention the terrain is quite steep & dangerous),” Capt. Steve Lurie of the Los Angeles Police Department tweeted on Monday. “Hollywood patrol officers have arrested all six individuals.”
Ms. Rose, who runs a digital magazine that features nude photos, said she wanted publicity to draw attention to a dispute with Instagram, which she said had suspended her account for nudity.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, does not allow nudity on its platform, except in select circumstances, such as photos of paintings or sculptures, or photos of women breastfeeding. Instagram said it was looking into the case and would respond later.
It was widely reported that the group was trying to call attention to the cause of breast cancer awareness, though it was not clear where that story started. “I love that, but the whole basis of the stunt was not supposed to be around breast cancer awareness,” Ms. Rose said.
The six were charged with misdemeanor trespassing and are scheduled to appear in court in June. There was no damage, and the changes to the signs were quickly undone. They spent six hours in jail, Ms. Rose said.
Ms. Rose said the team took inspiration from previous sign pranks.
On Jan. 1, 2017, a 30-year-old artist was charged with misdemeanor trespassing after he changed the sign to read “Hollyweed.” In an interview at the time, the man, Zachary Cole Fernandez, said he considered the results more of an art installation than a prank.
That stunt was a nod to another one on Jan. 1, 1976, when Daniel N. Finegood altered the letters in the same way.
The planning took a few hundred hours, Mr. Tenney said. Using 20 bottles of spray paint, they painted blue tarp in a friend’s garage in Hollywood and were ready to go.
Why did they choose this particular alteration? “Sex sells, and it has a prominent place in Hollywood,” Ms. Rose said. “Call it what it is: Hollyboob.”
Jonah Engel Bromwich and Daniel Victor contributed reporting.