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Longshot Nadler challenger releases porn video — of himself

Protecting sex workers is one of his campaign’s three pillars. Apparently, he had to prove it.

Once upon a time, politicians could be ruined by a leaked sex tape. Remember Eliot Spitzer? Now they’re publishing their own porn videos.

Mike Itkis, an independent candidate running for a New York Congressional seat, released a video on Pornhub titled “Bucket List Bonanza” featuring him having sex with Nicole Sage, an adult actress and model. 

Itkis, an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, is the longest of longshots against U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat and dean of the Congressional Jewish Caucus, who has served in the House for three decades. 

Itkis, 53, said he published the 13-minute video as an act of support for legal sex work, which is one of the three issues that make up his campaign platform; the other two are cybersecurity and ending the war in Ukraine, from which Itkis emigrated in 1979 at age 11. 

If I would just talk about it, it wouldn’t demonstrate my commitment to the issue,” he said.

The release is perhaps a sign of changing times in the Manhattan district, whose denizens are more closely associated with Zabar’s — Nadler canvassed outside the historic Jewish deli — than with strip clubs. 

The congressional district was recently redrawn to encompass both the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side, pitting Nadler in a primary battle against another longtime Democrat House member, Carolyn Maloney. A major theme of his successful primary campaign was his belief that New York needs to retain at least one Jewish member in its House delegation.

Itkis told me in an email that his Soviet-era documents listed him as Jewish. But he clarified that he does not consider himself Jewish; his campaign website declares his atheism in bold type, alongside a proclamation that he is “Not married. No kids. Not celibate.” An amateur viewing of the video suggested he is circumcised, but his campaign clarified that he is not; his foreskin was just not, apparently, visible.

There’s little evidence that the legal status of sex work is a pressing issue to the area’s residents. The culture of the Manhattan neighborhoods it encompasses is known more for run-ins with your grandma’s friend at a bagel shop or synagogue — and, of course, the sort of stuffy, old-money wealth that defined shows such as “Gossip Girl.” It seems more likely that bubbe and zayde would be horrified by the sex video, not compelled.

But District 12 also now includes now areas of Manhattan whose residents tend to be younger and less affluent, more likely to work in nightclubs, and perhaps more concerned about protections for sex workers. 

Itkis said in a statement that making the video was “one of the most meaningful experiences” of his life, and so central to his campaign that he did not register to run until after it was completed. In the process, he said, he learned about consent and safety in the adult industry.

At multiple points in the video, Sage — who Itkis said is an experienced adult industry performer, and directed the video  — faces the camera, fully clad in a professional blazer (Itkis is in a suit) to announce a safeword and affirm that she was not coerced into sex. She adds that she has reviewed the results of Itkis’ tests for sexually transmitted diseases and knows the video will be publicly released. 

On Itkis’ website, the policies listed as part of his “sex positive approach” are muddled. One advocates redefining the abortion debate “as a right to unplanned sex” and another says that “men should not be required to support biological children without prior agreement,” appearing to deny an automatic responsibility for child support.

I will admit that I skimmed the video, so I may have missed any deeply meaningful policy points Itkis might have expounded upon between sex positions. But the rest of it seems to be pretty basic, straight sex — nothing rough, nothing kinky. 

The video is clearly, at least in part, a publicity stunt; “you gotta do what you gotta do,” ​​Mike Zumbluskas, the Republican in the race, told the digital news outlet City and State. “The media ignores everybody that’s not a Democrat in the city.”

It’s certainly drawing attention, with articles in outlets including Newsweek, Jezebel and The Daily Beast, and 20,600 views on the video itself (though it received only 63 thumbs-up ratings). But as for Itkis’ electoral prospects as a candidate, it’s not very enlightening. “Having watched the video, I now know your ‘positions,'” wrote one commenter on PornHub. “Where do you stand on monetary policy?”

It’s worth noting that Nadler also supports abortion and LGBTQ rights, despite not — yet! — including porn in his campaign.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Itkis is circumcised, and that the district he seeks to represent includes parts of Queens and Brooklyn. It also mistakenly referred to him as a former officer in the U.S. military; he remains a major in the U.S. Army Reserve, according to his campaign.

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