This is the video circulated by conservative Mike Hein. It was altered to slow portions of a video posted by Vita Coco Coconut Water.

August 6, 2013

Speedo clip a laughing matter, says Maine candidate

Eric Brakey, a professional actor, brushes off critics of the clip posted on a conservative website.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
State House Bureau

A candidate running for a state Senate seat said video footage of him dancing in a Speedo for a drink commercial was being taken out of context -- and a little too seriously -- by political opponents.

Eric Brakey, a New Gloucester resident and Republican who recently announced his candidacy for Senate District 15, said a video circulating on the conservative website As Maine Goes and criticized by some activists was an outtake of a commercial for Vita Coco Coconut Water, a drink sold in stores across the country.

Brakey, an actor by profession, also appears in the full-length commercial dancing in a Speedo in front of a mirror. Other Speedo-clad men also appear in different scenes of the commercial dancing the samba, a Brazilian dance, in what is designed to be a comedic performance.

"It was a great, fun opportunity," he said of the video shoot. "It was a comedy piece to promote the product."

Brakey said that he appeared in the spot while acting in New York City. Both the original outtake video and the commercial were posted on YouTube by Vita Coco.

An altered outtake of the video featuring only Brakey was posted on As Maine Goes and circulated to the media and church pastors by Mike Hein, a former employee of the Christian Civic League of Maine known for strong conservative views on issues such as abortion and gay rights. Hein, in his email, wrote that Brakey looks as if he was a "demon possessed."

The video has been altered to freeze and rewind some of Brakey's dance moves, including a cartwheel, although Hein said Tuesday he did not alter the video and didn't know who had.

Hein posted a comment on Brakey's YouTube channel mocking Brakey. "Well, well, well. If it isn't Mr. 'Family Values Matter' State Senate candidate himself flamboyantly prancing around in his underwear," he wrote.

Some commenters on As Maine Goes said the commercial showed that Brakey wasn't a serious candidate. One commenter with the screen name "Fred Prince" wrote, "This weirdo has more control of the Maine Republican party than the governor does. Time for some self-reflection people."

Brakey, who turns 25 on Thursday, brushed off the criticism.

"It shows that I'm a full human being with more experience than just working in politics," Brakey said. "I think that's something that people want. It shows I'm not just a career politician. ... I'm a professional actor."

Brakey said he graduated from Ohio University with a theater degree, worked for two years in New York City and continues to pursue acting gigs.

Brakey recently appeared in a theater production of the "Odd Couple," playing the character Felix. He is scheduled to appear in the play "Spamalot" at the Great Falls Performing Arts Center in Auburn this weekend.

"If there's people offended by comedy, then I won't tell them to see Monty Python's 'Spamalot,'" Brakey said. "There's probably a lot more to be offended by in 'Spamalot' than (in) this commercial."

Brakey has been involved in Maine politics for the past couple of years as one of a group of activists supportive of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a libertarian icon. Brakey and other activists also helped forge a takeover of the 2012 Republican state convention to help elect delegates supportive of Paul, a presidential candidate at the time.

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