'Get Your Booty To The Poll' May Make You Blush, Then Vote An Atlanta director says no one is engaging with Black men about the upcoming election. Her approach took politics inside the strip club with the video "Get Your Booty To The Poll."

Stripper Polls: The Racy Voting PSA That's Actually All About The Issues

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's one way to get out the vote - have strippers tell people to cast their ballots. NPR's Juana Summers reports on a public service announcement.

JUANA SUMMERS, BYLINE: A dancer in white knee-high lace-up boots walks away from the camera and toward a silver pole. She grabs the pole with one hand. The beat drops.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MUSICAL ARTIST: (Singer) Get your booty to the poll. Get your booty to the poll. Get your booty to the poll.

SUMMERS: An assortment of dancers perform pole tricks - one after the other, sometimes together. This is a different kind of public service announcement.

(SOUNDBITE OF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #1: Did we get your attention? Good.

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #2: So you're really not going to vote?

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #3: You know it's more than just the president on the ballot, right?

SUMMERS: Those were a couple of the dancers featured in the video from Director Angela Barnes. She's from Atlanta and said that she was specifically targeting Black men there, which led her to pick this approach.

ANGELA BARNES: Atlanta has a strip club culture. People go out and go on dates at strip clubs. People get married and have funerals at strip clubs. You know, people don't go there just to see, like, naked people; you go there for the vibe.

SUMMERS: Barnes said that she and producer Paul Fox, who largely paid for the video themselves along with some crowdsourced fundraising, wanted to make this PSA to fill a gap in traditional get-out-the-vote messaging.

BARNES: We felt that Black men in general are not really, you know, paid attention to by most elected officials. Black people in general are taken for granted, I think, and ignored in politics.

SUMMERS: Black Americans are one of the Democratic Party's most loyal constituencies. But when it comes to who turns out to vote, there is a gap between Black men and Black women. The Pew Research Center estimated that in 2016, 54% of eligible Black men said they had voted. Meanwhile, 64% of eligible Black women said that they had voted. And that represents a much larger gender gap than for their white or Hispanic counterparts.

Mondale Robinson is the founder of the Black Male Voter Project, and he consulted on this video. He said that the ad is effective because it speaks to issues that Black men in the state care about, and it does so in a culturally relevant way. He also pushed back against critics who have said the video is too sexual or degrading to the Black men that it's trying to reach.

MONDALE ROBINSON: If LeBron James had on a Lakers jersey talking politics right now, no one is going to say anything. So if they have a problem with sisters, you know, dancing, talking about issues that are important, then your real problem is not with the issues or the sisters talking about the issues; it's something that's deeply embedded in you about what is considered decent work and not decent work.

SUMMERS: This video doesn't advocate for any party or any specific politician. Instead, the dancers talk about the impact of down-ballot votes. The issues mentioned in the ad draw from a series of conversations that Robinson spearheaded with Black men across the state of Georgia.

(SOUNDBITE OF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #4: Want trades and coding taught in our schools?

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #5: Then vote for the school boards that will prepare us for the job market.

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #6: Want to end cash bail?

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #7: Well, then vote for the sheriffs and county officials that feel the same way you do.

SUMMERS: Barnes describes herself as progressive but said that the video was intentionally not partisan. She said that people and particularly Black men don't like being told who or what to vote for. Instead, she wanted to keep the focus on the issues.

(SOUNDBITE OF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT)

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #8: If they matter to you...

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #9: ...Then don't let other people decide who's going to run your community.

UNIDENTIFIED DANCER #10: Get your booty to the poll.

SUMMERS: Juana Summers, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF KLIMEKS' "RINGS OF SATURN")

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