Bucket List Bonanza: Mike Itkis
Manhattan congressional candidate Mike Itkis captured public attention with a sex tape earlier this month, but the video wasn’t leaked. Itkis himself released it, along with professional porn star — and, in this case, director — Nicole Sage, as part of his campaign.
”Bucket List Bonanza” first appeared on Pornhub four months ago, but it didn’t receive attention until much more recently. At the time of writing, it has been viewed about 962 thousand times.
The video opens with Sage in an anonymous white room reading a series of disclaimers. She’s short-ish and bubbly. She provides the results of both participants’ STI tests and acknowledges mutual consent to participate in a “non-condom boy-girl scene.” They’ve gone over their do’s and don’ts and established a safe word. Sage beckons Itkis over and he appears behind her shoulder, grinning and nodding. His thick eyebrows punctuate an otherwise continuous shiny head. He’s wearing a black polo shirt. She’s wearing a necklace emblazoned with her own name.
The two kiss deeply for about 15 seconds, still dressed. It’s a long 15. The camera cuts to Itkis with his head between Sage’s legs. His back is broad and pale and freckled. Next we see his ass thrusting in the missionary position. Nicole is mostly hidden; we can see her legs in the air.
The video has a second section, filmed on a different day in a less white but still sterile room. Things begin with Itkis and Sage both in office attire, but the trajectory is more or less the same.
I don’t know if it’s the single-camera format, or all of the disclaimers, but there’s something uncanny about Bucket List Bonanza. The camera angles are less than flattering and there’s more silence than a Tarkovsky film. As a sex tape, it lacks passion and mystery. As pornography, it lacks moaning, and momentum.
A friend and connoisseur reassures me, “I’ve seen worse.”
Either way, it’s an interesting political chess move in a post-Trump era when distinctions between politics and culture, politician and celebrity, are exceedingly gray. Add the recent Dobbs v. Jackson court decision and unprecedented social and sexual alienation to the mix, and things become even more muddy.
In Philadelphia, a former stripper is running for congress on a puzzling “right to sex” platform. Last year, a BDSM video was leaked depicting a young Manhattan candidate for city council being dominated. A subsequent statement the candidate made in June began, “Whoops. I didn’t want anyone to see that, but here we are.” People seemed more or less understanding.
Depending on who you ask, Bucket List Bonanza could be a sign of society’s descent into decadence, a deluded man co-opting women’s issues, market neoliberalism’s continued expansion into private life, a lazy gimmick, pure narcissism, a bold and courageous statement, or the logical endpoint of a politics-as-entertainment.
Itkis, a Ukranian-born veteran, hopes his video will bring attention to his “sex-positive” campaign platform while running in New York’s 12 District this November. Disarmingly soft spoken and patient, he isn’t the kind of guy one might expect to raise questions about child support, or to broadcast his own penis as a political stunt.
We spoke on Zoom and over the phone earlier this week.
Discussed: Bucket List Bonanza, sex work, obscenity, big government, Eliot Spitzer, cyber security, free speech, the money shot, the Soviet Union, bureaucracy, corruption, social media, marriage, etc.