Shock the Vote

By Tk Published on .

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Steve Grasse, head honcho at Philadelphia hot shop Gyro, has gotten into politics. Republican politics. Fringe Republican politics. He's formed an organization called Shift, which is designed to be, as the promotional brochure puts it, a "mechanism to give young adults a presence in American politics . . . register them to vote. Turn out that vote." Sort of like MTV's Rock the Vote? Nah. "I hate Rock the Vote," Grasse says. "Fucking bleeding heart liberals. Fuck them." Shift aims to be the libertarian wing of the GOP; "As a young entrepreneur, I want the government off my back," Grasse says. The brochure protests excessive liquor, tobacco and business taxes, as well as TV and music rating systems. But why align with the hopelessly stodgy Republicans at all? Isn't Grasse concerned about his hipness quotient? "More shock value," he figures. "We're the anti-Christian Coalition, mocking politics. We're gonna fuck with the party from the inside."

In keeping with that bold philosophy, Shift threw a big fundraiser in February -- at a Philly "gentleman's club" called Delilah's. "I got all the Republicans in this town to go to a tittie bar," Grasse boasts. "It was the most shocking thing we could do." And how did they respond? "They're still buying it." Grasse's ad clients are, thankfully, not involved. "This is not about marketing or promotion. This is performance art."

That's why Shifty the Clown, played by his brother Peter, AE on the Puma account, "is a key icon," Grasse says. But what exactly are Grasse's politics, assuming he has any? He does. He's big on libertarian issues like the right to smoke in a bar, and he's against moves to lower DWI levels. He'll vote for George W., he says, though Grasse claims to be pro choice and far more green than the Republicans, and he believes in the NRA anathema of "common sense" on guns -- sounds kind of like Bill Clinton's stance, but Grasse insists he and Clinton "agree on nothing."

At any rate, the fun is just beginning. During the GOP convention in Philly this summer, Shift will be throwing a wingding at a club in town. Shifty the Clown will be there, and those crazily costumed raunch rockers called Gwar are headlining. "It'll be a freakshow," Grasse exults.

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