barmizvah disco at american apparelCourtesy of Gawker, we get the news that the Houston Street American Apparel store is no longer marked by scantily clad non-models in grainy Polaroid photos, but with pimply faced pubescent Jewish youth in kitchy get ups and big hair.

That’s right, Dov Charney has been using photos from the kitsch-loving book Bar Mitzvah Disco as his hysterical new marketing campaign.

Roger Bennett
, the man behind the book tells me that:

Bar Mitzvah Disco is the product of three years of collecting Bar Mitzvah photos from total strangers across the country in an effort to construct a parallel universe rife with gorgeous girls, piles of cash, and ungracious thank you notes. It is the story of our generation told in the pictures and words of those that lived it large, a coming of age story, a cultural history, and an unabashed celebration of style, or to be honest, the lack there of.

Featuring a forward from the Village People and essays on the 80’s from well known Jewish writers, the book comes out on October 31 can be purchased at and in your local neighborhood American Apparel store.

bar mitzvah disco bookRoger was kind enough to send Jewlicious a complimentary copy of the book which ck tells me is hilarious (look for his review soon!). In that spirit we also thought it might be fun to talk to Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel, about how his Bar Mitzvah went down.

Jewlicious: Did you have a Disco Bar Mitzvah/what was yours like?

Dov Charney: no, my bar mitzvah was at an arcade where everyone was playing Pac Man and Space Invaders.

Jewlicious: Do you remember your parasha?

Dov Charney:
No, I was so nervous, I started crying on the bimah, it was a mess, I couldn’t even read in English properly, it was a nightmare. I thought I was going to faint.

Jewlicious: Who did you ask to dance with you when they played Stairway to Heaven?

Dov Charney: No one. Heather Charlapp was pissed cause there was no dancing, everybody was too busy playing Space Invaders.

Jewlicious: Did you get any play?

Dov Charney: No. There were no girls in my class who would even stand near me for 10 minutes. I was not so well liked by the girls at the time.

Jewlicious: How did it feel to become a man?

Dov Charney: Heh, I didn’t perceive myself as a man, neither before nor after the ber mitzvah.

Jewlicious: The era of your Bar Mitzvah, the 70’s/80’s, seems to have had a lot of impact in the style of the clothes you design, was it a particularly good time in your life?

Dov Charney: It was a great time. The Jewish neighborhood of Montreal at that time had a big thing for modern furniture and that has influenced the design of the stores.

Jewlicious: Why do you think that Jews hung on to disco for so long?

Dov Charney:
I don’t know, did Jews hang on to it more than other groups? Maybe ’cause it’s a little more Mediterranean than rock, a little saltier, a little more glamorous. Looking back, I love the fun of dressing up for the party and the whole affair as each bourgeois family would try to outshine the other, it was fun.

About the author

Laya Millman


  • Disco is coming back in a BIG way! Between this and Madonna’s new album there will be a whole new generation learning to Hustle and BusStop. Now I have to watch out for being labeled “authentic vintage”. I read in Vogue that when a fashion makes a comeback, if you already experienced it once, you are too old to participate it’s 2nd coming. Do you guys have a way to fix me up with Charney? We’d make a cute couple, and I have no problem with any sleazy union-busting techniques he uses…I studied Labor Relations during the Reagan 80’s.

  • A few things:

    The bachur with his hands in his pockets,the Mariachi band behind him, screams ‘Miami, the Jewish guy from Scarface, puberty.’ Notice that the middle trumpet creates some size illusion, or something.

    Jumping Disco family looks like they’re levitating. And holy crap can the bar mitzvah kid jump high, and make his mother look even more awkward.

    Michael Jackson is one creepy mofo. Having him, touching your kids…not a great connotation..

    Anybody have celeb look alikes at your bashes? Keep me posted…

  • Some said I looked like a young John Travolta at my Bar Mitzvah. Does that count?

  • Everything was perfect at my bar mitzvah. I believe we danced to C.K. and the Sunshine Band. I looked handsome in my Armani suit.

  • Armani at 13? Your parents took this rite of passage thing way too seriously. Do you have any pictures?

    Mine had a beach theme, a 3 minute candle lighting ceremony, and the cousins and brothas wrote a bluesy jam entitled “Big Legged Aaron.”

    Don King and all dem Rabbis in da house tonight!