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Posted: 10/5/2004 12:34:18 PM EDT
Strippers for Kerry
reg'd req'd

October 5, 2004
Strip Club's Cover Charge Is Voter Registration Card

AUSTIN, Tex., Oct. 4 -Emo's, a downtown club, throbbed with the pounding sound of techno bass and drums on Sunday night. On a small stage a woman in pasties and fishnet stockings swung her body around a pole and then crawled across the floor as the crowd hollered.

Away from the stage, a less titillating scene was playing out. As customers walked into the club, they were asked to show a voter registration card. The unregistered were sat down and signed up.

The Austin event, Burlesque the Vote, was the brainchild of Audrey Maker, a local burlesque artist and activist, who brought together 14 strip acts, both amateurs and professionals, for an evening of erotica. By 10 p.m. 300 people packed the club.

Ms. Maker had completed the coursework to become a Texas deputy registrar, and after the event ended, she rushed a box of new registrations to the local tax assessor's office, ahead of the Monday deadline in Texas to register for the November election.

Over the last six months a range of adult performers - from performance art-oriented burlesque dancers at Emo's to harder-core strip clubs to online pornographers - have conducted voter-registration drives.

"I took the idea of national voter registration to our board meeting this summer, and they put it into place," says Angelina Spencer, executive director of ACE National, the trade organization of adult club owners and a former exotic dancer herself who also owns clubs in Ohio. Ms. Spencer estimated that since May, 800 of the roughly 4,000 adult clubs in America have launched voter registration efforts, registering an average of 200 voters per club. Few adult clubs have engaged in voter drives in previous elections.

The registration efforts have taken many forms. Jim Halbach, owner of seven clubs in Wisconsin and Illinois, personally approaches customers as they come through his clubs' doors and asks them to sign voter registration documents.

Mr. Halbach also has special voter drive nights, at which he waives normal door charges. "These nights, the dancers come down off the stage and tell the customers about why it's important for them to register to vote," said Mr. Halbach, who claims to have registered 4,700 people.

At Ms. Spencer's clubs, the D.J. takes breaks from narrating stripteases twice an hour to announce that voter registration is necessary and to tell customers how they can register. Other clubs have sent their dancers out into local communities on door-to-door registration drives.

The New York area has been a target, though less so than swing states like Ohio. Larry Flynt's Hustler Club, on West 51st Street in Manhattan, has handed out voter education information to customers and plans a get-out-the-vote night later in October. New York is one of the states in which voter registration will continue through October; like Texas, about half the states in the nation have registration deadlines this week.

Other parts of the $15 billion adult entertainment industry have followed suit. Several adult film actors have made a DVD, for sale on the Internet, entitled "Porn for Kerry." In the film, which features porn stars, "Jorge Bush" canoodles in a hot tub with the king of an imaginary Middle Eastern oil state. The filmmakers say they will donate the proceeds to Senator John Kerry's campaign.

Vivid Video, which makes adult films, has created a Web site, Vote2K4.net, aimed at getting adult entertainment industry workers to register. The page includes information on voter registration and voter drive organizations like America Coming Together, as well as links to Vivid.com, a site plastered with nude women that promises "100 Percent More Hard-Core Than Ever Before."

Similarly, the Internet Media Protective Association, a trade organization of adult Webmasters, has asked its members to post links to the voter registration organization Rock the Vote on their sites. And sex shops in Austin and other cities have been displaying voter registration information at counters, alongside vibrators and other toys.

Many adult entertainment purveyors explain their political activism as a response to Bush administration policies that they say threaten their industry. Under Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Justice Department has stepped up prosecutions of the sex industry. In Las Vegas, the government has relied on provisions of the Patriot Act to gain access to financial records in an investigation of an adult club owner, Michael Galardi, who has pleaded guilty to racketeering charges.

"The Patriot Act is a big deal to us," Ms. Spencer said. "We're all for combating terrorism, but we do have some huge concerns about how the act lets federal agents demand your client lists." After November, she said, her trade group will shift its focus to educating customers about the Patriot Act.

Not everyone at Emo's was drawn by the political coloration of the night's show. "Yeah, I was going to register, but it was two birds with one stone, said Gustaf Johnson, a customer. "I'm for the whole burlesque thing."

The Democratic Party and many major promoters of voter registration drives disavow any ties to the adult entertainment industry's efforts.

Tony Welch, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said he had heard nothing about the campaign, though he laughingly suggested that Karl Rove, the president's political adviser, was behind it.

Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, worked a dig into her comment. "All Americans have a right to be involved in the political process, including John Kerry's supporters in the adult entertainment industry," she said.

Despite many adult performers' preference for Senator Kerry, the organizers point out that Burlesque the Vote, like the rest of the adult entertainers' registration efforts, is formally nonpartisan.

"I'd like to say 'We're getting naked because we hate the president,' " said Susan Wayward, an exotic dancer (also known as River City Kitty) who performed at Burlesque the Vote. "But we have to respect everyone."

Yet the dancers' efforts are having trouble winning respect themselves. "We're raising money and registering voters here," said Ms. Maker, the organizer of the event. But it is hard to get political groups to accept the support, she said, "because they don't want boobie money."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 12:42:19 PM EDT
Good for them, bad for conservatives.

I noticed when my wifes CDL renewal came in the mail the other day they included voter registration paperwork too.
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 12:44:47 PM EDT
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 12:48:16 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Hokie:

Link Posted: 10/5/2004 12:49:26 PM EDT
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 12:53:19 PM EDT

Originally Posted By fight4yourrights:

Here ya go:

Link Posted: 10/5/2004 12:54:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By fight4yourrights:

Note: Very CoC friendly, need NYT sign-on
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 1:30:35 PM EDT

Good for them, bad for conservatives.

I know, don't you just hate it when Americans register to vote?? Especially negros and liberals! We Christo-faschists have'nt done enough to supress the vote. Only people who agree with us should be allowed to vote.
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 1:44:31 PM EDT
Hum, I should visit all the local strip clubs tonight to see what they are up to...can't let those democrats get a leg up on us!
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 1:49:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/5/2004 1:50:12 PM EDT by LightningLink]

<== obligatory edit to show post 223 - woohoo!

In a way, I think this will hurt them (Democrats).

The Democrats are going on and on about how many new people they are registering. But being registered certainly doesn't mean they'll vote. It's one thing to get caught up in the moment and fill out the paperwork to become registered. It's a whole other thing to actually drive to a polling place, check in, wait in line and finally cast your vote. If there's one word I easily associate with liberals, it's apathy.

So they end up with these inflated count of registered voters, but low voter turn-out at the polls. What will this say about Democrats when their own people won't bother to vote? While this should show how the party is tearing itself apart from within, it will most likely be blamed on Bush because we all know that he alone will personally count all of the Florida votes.

Link Posted: 10/5/2004 7:18:34 PM EDT
Being registered also doesn't mean they will vote for Kerry. Saw a couple of polls this week that show Bush with a bigger lead among regisered voters than likely voters. One never sees that for Republicans.

Link Posted: 10/5/2004 8:05:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Hokie:

Link Posted: 10/5/2004 8:14:13 PM EDT

Originally Posted By GunLvrPHD:
Being registered also doesn't mean they will vote for Kerry. Saw a couple of polls this week that show Bush with a bigger lead among regisered voters than likely voters. One never sees that for Republicans.


Here's the way I take this; "regisered voters" that means they're just registered to vote, whether voted or not previously doesn't count. "likely voters" are people who are registered to vote and voted in the last election. The "most likely voter" is probably more accurate poll than just the registered voter. Remember only 50% of the registered voters actually vote.
Link Posted: 10/5/2004 8:15:16 PM EDT
That's a nice pic.

Link Posted: 10/5/2004 8:22:16 PM EDT
I'd show them my voters registration card and tell them I was there because I like BUSH!
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