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Cherie DeVille Will Stop at Nothing to Stimulate Your Election

But is using her platform to get out the vote nothing but a wet dream?

Every day until the election, we’re introducing you to one character or issue whose fate centers around the political state of sex and gender. We’ll discover which freedoms are at stake, what battles are being fought and what sex in a free country really looks like, all in honor of unfucking a system that seems increasingly hellbent on fucking up fucking. Welcome, everybody, to UnFuck America.

In August 2017, porn star Cherie DeVille held a press conference to announce her 2020 presidential bid. Dressed in a modest high-neck dress, with her bleached hair in a low-slung ponytail, she stood proudly at the podium and recited her political vision. Her goal, she told the gathered reporters, was to make America “fucking awesome again.” She was joined on stage by Coolio — the 1990s rapper — who was slouched next to her wearing shades. He would be running as her vice president. 

The shock announcement — which was sponsored by FuckingAwesome.com — was ridiculed at the time, with many brushing it off as a publicity stunt. DeVille, however, still maintains that the campaign was serious. Her policies make this claim seem plausible: She was calling for renewable energy reforms, marijuana legalization, universal health care (rebranded as “Coolio Care”), new gun control legislation and government-mandated net neutrality. “I am tired of being misrepresented, and I am tired of being lied to by political leaders,” DeVille told the press passionately. “I am fed up of the circus that is the White House today.”

The campaign wasn’t a success. After weathering months of abuse and mockery, DeVille decided to shelve her political ambitions. “People got crazy, mean, violent,” she told the Washington Examiner at the time. Instead, she gave her endorsement to Bernie Sanders and returned to her day job. 

Now, however, she’s back. Earlier this month, the 42-year-old returned to politics to launch a new campaign. The project, titled “Erection Season,” is a playful, politically impartial voter drive, with DeVille urging as many people as possible to head to the polls (or, as she puts it, to “get erect, think hard and vote”). “It’s super tongue-in-cheek,” she tells me with a loud infectious laugh. She is speaking to me over the phone from her home in L.A., and is in characteristically high spirits. “I’m pushing sex work into the campaign because it sells — it gets attention, it gets eyeballs. Lure them in with the boobage! Make them click!”

The Erection Season page contains links to every state’s voting website, as well as the number for the voter-protection hotline (should someone try to “cockblock” you at the polls). There is also a short video of DeVille emphasizing the importance of this year’s election — although she purposefully doesn’t offer any reasons why, or share her views on who you should be voting for. (Given the harsh reception of her last political outing, she has decided to keep her opinions to herself this time around.)

The big question is, can a campaign like this ever really be effective? After absorbing all the bawdy jokes and penis puns, you could easily dismiss Erection Season as an elaborate publicity stunt. It’s not a wild leap of logic: The porn industry has tried before to tackle on-trend social issues, with painfully inauthentic results. But DeVille seems to genuinely care. For her, Erection Season is a lighthearted way to encourage disenfranchised voters — and with 2.4 million Instagram followers, she believes she could really make a difference. 

She also knows that, this year of all years, a mood lift is needed. “I’ve been through a lot of elections in my life and they’ve all been contentious,” DeVille says, seriously. “But I feel like in every other election, people were at least talking to each other or up for a discussion. Now people just don’t want to engage. They’re angry with the opposite side. The polarization is far worse than I’ve ever seen it.”

A North Carolina native, DeVille got into pornography slightly later in life. She booked her first job when she was in her mid-30s, which meant — according to the porn rules of aging — she was immediately branded a MILF. Since then, she has collected over 340 credits in eight years, starring in films with titles like Cougar Crush, Assablanca and Elegant Anal. Her work ethic is something to be marveled at: Before COVID hit, she casually admits to spending years working consistent “six- or seven-day weeks.”

Porn still isn’t her sole focus, though. DeVille has a doctorate and has been a licensed physical therapist for two decades. She is also — as you may have already guessed — actively political; a self-described “left-leaning libertarian” who has written op-eds on public health policy in the Daily Beast. Even today, DeVille stands by her presidential campaign, saying it was a genuine attempt to move into politics. Although the initial press conference was surreal, she later tried to make the bid more credible, dropping Coolio, her porn star shadow cabinet and the sponsor FuckingAwesome.com. For 17 months, DeVille doubled down, and tried to craft her own “honest, successful and progressive political campaign.”

Unfortunately, the country wasn’t as progressive. Voters are happy to give time to a reality star who shouts about the best way to flush a turd on his campaign rallies, but a sex worker’s opinions proved to be too much. DeVille’s policies were barely listened to: Instead, she was flooded with slut-shaming abuse and threats. The fury even poured onto her family members, who were tracked down and doxxed. “Oh girl!” DeVille yells, audibly wincing at the memory. “People were so vocal about how ridiculous and stupid they thought I was. They said no one would ever vote for a sex worker.

That said, this kind of abuse isn’t uncommon for DeVille, and she was expecting some blowback: “I knew that there was a stigma, but I didn’t understand how angry strangers would be. That was surprising. I knew there were bad people out there, but I’d underestimated the amount of them.”

Does she regret any part of it? “I don’t,” she says, firmly. “If my presence in the political field helped people open their eyes to the fact that a pornographer could have value outside of sex work — even if I could convince some people of that — then my political run was worth it.”

It’s this idea that underpins Erection Season. DeVille knows that she is prone to objectification, but if she shares more of herself online — by drip-feeding her followers with regular, fun, everyday content that isn’t related to her sex work — then it may help “humanize” her. It shouldn’t be necessary, but there are still many of her followers who need it clearly spelled out. “I’m a very small representation of the sex work community, but I believe that if we can show the world that we’re actually regular human beings, it’s extremely beneficial. It sounds simplistic, but if you look at [the violence that sex workers face], it can be very valuable to open someone’s eyes in that way.”

Of course, Erection Season is also just a straight-up voter drive. While DeVille acknowledges that many of her followers — who are split relatively evenly across the political spectrum — will already have plans to vote, she knows too that disenfranchisement levels are high. She hopes that the campaign appeals to anyone who feels “overlooked” by the government and its political processes.

“I truly want everyone to vote,” DeVille stresses. She even, apparently, means Trump voters (she emphasizes that she wants the campaign to be as impartial as possible). “My honest purpose is to let everybody know that their voice is genuinely important — just as important as the people who you believe to be more powerful than you.” Coming from a sex worker, she hopes this message is particularly potent. “It feels sometimes, to me and to a lot of my community, that oftentimes political powers are pushing against us, trying to pass legislation that will make our job less safe and more challenging. But it’s these minority populations who need to remember that this country is a democracy. You need to use your voice to help whatever cause that you’re for. Because if you don’t, then who will?”

And so far, it seems like it’s doing the job. DeVille says the reception to the campaign has been great and that it’s generated a lot of “excitement” (fans have called her “brilliant” and “impressive.”) That said, even a quick look at Twitter shows that she’s still attracting abuse, with some brushing her off as “desperate,” insulting her looks or calling her a “prostitute” who doesn’t matter.

Either way, DeVille’s not letting it get her down. She claims to have had more than 100,000 views on the Erection Season website, and hopes for more in the lead-up to election day. “I’m super happy,” she says. “Even if this only convinces 200 people to vote, even if I make the tiniest ripple, that could honestly be the difference in some of these elections. What if even 10 percent of those viewers were people who weren’t going to vote, but now are?” 

She lets out another warm laugh. “I don’t know, that would just put a smile on my face.”

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