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People Party In Political Panties

This story was written by Jessel Costa, The Pitt News

The scene in a Lawrenceville lounge last week was an interesting one - like a laundromat-themed nightclub - and there were panties everywhere.

Panty-Palooza 2008: Boudoir Bazaar, this year held at Your Inner Vagabond coffee shop and lounge, is an annual event organized by Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania Action Fund, the political arm of Planned Parenthood.

The event sought to raise money and encourage attendees to get intimate with issues concerning women's reproductive rights.

How exactly? With panties.

Hanging above the heads of the attendees were criss-crossing clotheslines full of different types of underwear, all emblazoned with political slogans. The slogans were mostly left-leaning and varied in their degrees of raunchiness.

The evening's music - supplied by a DJ dressed for the occasion in his underwear and socks - was a mix of popular music and some more theme-appropriate selections.

Dancing kept the crowd entertained, whether they were participating or watching a pair of belly-dancers shimmy through the lounge.

There were also Chinese and silent auctions with everything from Pirates and Steelers tickets to gift baskets and lingerie and a room for guests to take sexy boudoir photographs.

The event's major attractions, however, were the art submissions and political panty contest.

Some of the most popular sayings among the guests were "McCain't touch this," "Barack the vote," "for those about to Barack, we salute you," and a pair with a picture of Barack Obama, painted in full K.I.S.S. makeup, that read: "Barack 'n' roll all night, and party every day."

Guests were encouraged to purchase ballots (for a $1 donation) and vote for their favorite political slogan, the winner of which would later be printed and sold in mass quantities, as well as their favorite piece of art.

Among the art submissions was a piece of lingerie with the visage of birth-control pioneer, Margaret Sanger, hand-sewn by Ellen James. James said she chose Sanger "because of her contributions to birth control legislation" and the public opinions thereabout.

But there was more on the agenda for the evening than witty undergarments. As contributing artist Zach Schweitzer - who designed and submitted the "Barack 'n' roll all night," panties - explains, "[It is important to bring] awareness of women's rights to the forefront of politics.

"It's not something that a lot of men generally know a lot about or talk about, this is a way to get people talking."

With all of the votes tallied, this year's winner from the panty-pundits' submissions was the suggestive slogan, "lick my Clinton."

Equally important, however, is the fact that the event raised $11, 307 (with the possibility that late-coming donations will add to this total) for women's reproductive rights and associated issues.

Erica Fricke, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood, said that's exactly what the group hopes for. She said the Action Fund does most of its work in education, both on the public and legislative level.

The Fund is "[known to] support legislators that support women's reproductive health," said Fricke, while also targeting those legislators that are "particularly egregious" in their actions regarding the same issue.

Lauren Catalano, an intern for the Action Fund, said she hopes that some of the talk generated by Panty Palooza will eventually turn into support for the group's next big event, 1,000,000 strong to the polls (against John McCain).

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