It was a clever set-up for a negative ad from Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign – one that took aim at rival Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: Seven people sitting in a circle, group-therapy style, talking about their past ballot box regrets.
“Has anyone else here struggled with being lied to?” the group’s leader asks.
“Well, I voted for a guy who was a tea party hero on the campaign trail,” a man in the circle of trust replies. “Then he went to D.C. and played patty-cake with Chuck Schumer and cut a deal on amnesty.”
“Maybe you should vote for more than just a pretty face next time,” a woman advises.
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Cruz puts in an appearance at the end, offering the usual disclaimer: “I’m Ted Cruz, and I approved this message.”
But Cruz soon decided that he definitely did not approve this message, and the ad was pulled – because Amy Lindsay, the actress warning about voting for a “pretty face,” wasn’t exactly what she seemed to some viewers.
In fact, she is perhaps best known for her roles in softcore pornography films.
In a telephone interview with The Washington Post, Lindsay said she understood.
“I didn’t want to hurt the Ted Cruz campaign,” she said. “. . . Everyone is trying to tear down Ted Cruz.”
On Twitter, she appeared more frustrated, declaring that she was “Extremely disappointed” the ad was pulled.
The Cruz campaign, however, was not looking back.
“The actress responded to an open casting call,” Cruz spokesman Catherine Frazier told the New York Times.
“She passed her audition and got the job. Unfortunately, she was not vetted by the casting company. Had the campaign known of her full filmography, we obviously would not have let her appear in the ad. The campaign is taking the ad down and will replace it with a different commercial.”
Lindsay, it should be noted, doesn’t just appear in softcore projects with titles like “Beverly Hills Bordello” and “MILF.” She appeared in an episode of “Star Trek: Voyager,” for example, and will be traveling the world for the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek” later this year.
“I’m just an actress in Los Angeles doing what I’m doing,” she said. “Going up against 400 actresses to do a job.” She added: “You guys have all painted me as this big porn star, which I am not.”
Lindsay stressed that she has never had sex on camera, and appeared only in R-rated films – not X-rated films. Though she said she was once known as “the poor man’s Shannon Tweed” – perhaps the best-known softcore actress of the 20th century – she said she hasn’t done softcore in seven years.
“I didn’t cross a certain line,” she said. “Porn to me is penetration – having sex. It’s something entering you on camera.”
Whatever does or doesn’t enter whomever, the GOP and porn are not strangers. The industry has a libertarian streak.
“I think that my work and being in the porn industry definitely hits on so many libertarian themes like free speech, and censorship, and, you know, choice and autonomy over our bodies,” Miriam Weeks, a Duke University sophomore who was outed as a porn star in 2014, said last year. “So I think that I’ve really become passionate about libertarian issues because of the intersection.”
Indeed, Jenna Jameson, among the industry’s most successful performers, backed Mitt Romney in 2012, and is for Rubio this time around.
“I’m very looking forward to a Republican being back in office,” Jameson said in 2012. “When you’re rich, you want a Republican in office.”
And Cruz, it turns out, is no stranger to pornography. He had to watch some while clerking for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist as the bench contemplated a law regulating porn online.
“A slew of hard-core, explicit images showed up onscreen,” he wrote in a memoir. “As we watched these graphic pictures fill our screens, wide-eyed, no one said a word. Except for Justice O’Connor, who lowered her head, squinted slightly, and muttered, ‘Oh, my.’”
And Lindsay, it turns out, is no stranger to Ted Cruz.
The spot for the Texas senator wasn’t just another gig, she said – she is a Cruz supporter, though some might find her politics unusual. She contains multitudes. She is pro-gay marriage, she said. She is pro-gun. She is pro-life. She voted for Ross Perot in 1992. She appears with hardcore king Ron Jeremy in a photo on her Twitter feed. And late Thursday, she was laughing about the ad imbroglio, drinking wine with her father, an open-carry advocate.
“What it comes down to is I don’t want a [expletive deleted] Clinton or Sanders in the White House,” she said. “Even though I’m a softcore actress, I’m voting conservative and Republican . . . I couldn’t do a Hillary Clinton commercial for all the money in the world.”
Lindsay, who had spoken to Buzzfeed and other outlets earlier in the day, said some liberal publications were trying to shame her – to use her past to take down Cruz in a way inconsistent with the values they purport to stand for.
“It’s a very interesting attack and a different kind of war on women from the left,” she said, comparing her plight to that of Donald Trump’s wife, former model Melania Trump. “. . . You’re the first folks to condemn me because I showed my boob on the Internet. Are you flipping kidding me?”
Her politics may not make sense to some – but, despite her past, they are hers.
”It’s a dichotomy a lot of people don’t understand,” Lindsay said. “ . . . I’m a single woman living in Los Angeles doing what I can to get by.”