Alabama’s Senate race is making for strange bedfellows, and Congressman Mo Brooks may have to answer to “The Thong.”
Brooks, locked in a contentious midsummer U.S. Senate primary, has taken to the airwaves to distinguish himself in a crowded 10-person field, which includes incumbent Sen. Luther Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. All three are wrestling to carry the “cultural conservative” banner.
Most notably, the Huntsville Republican released a new campaign ad last week that used audio clips from the shooting at a charity baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. It did not go well, as Brooks’ ad immediately hit the wrong note with many, particularly Rep. Steve Scalise, whose office quickly condemned the spot. Seriously injured in the June shooting, Scalise left the hospital only days ago.
“I guess some people have their own ideas about what’s appropriate,” Scalise representative Chris Bond told NBC News.
While the ad was outrageous, what may be even more shocking is who is behind Brooks’ advertising.
Federal documents list Brooks’ ad vendor as Steinborn Films, the Nashville-based production company headed by director and cinematographer Jeff Steinborn. On his July Quarterly Report, Brooks paid Steinborn Films $10,400 for ad production in May 2017.
A slightly deeper dive reveals Steinborn, the guy paid to make Mo Brooks’ ads, was part of the crew behind such low-budget “classics” such as “Thong Girl 3: Revenge of the Dark Widow,” a 2007 video notorious for partially filming (with permission) in the office of Mayor Don Wright, the actual mayor of Gallatin, Tennessee.
What makes this connection between Congressman Brooks and Steinborn even more startling is Brooks had made his name in the 1990s by arresting video store owners for renting “obscene” videos.
As the Anniston Star reported Aug. 28, 1991: “A Huntsville video store owner is free on bond after being charged with six counts of violating the state’s obscenity law by renting sexually explicit movies … Robert R. Smith, 46, of Huntsville, was arrested Friday after agents from the Madison County district attorney’s office rented six movies, including ‘Boys on Fire’ and “America’s Dirtiest Home Videos 13′ from Rocket City Video.”
“District Attorney Mo Brooks said his office learned of the tapes from ‘concerned citizens, one of whom operates a video store,’” the Star wrote.
In 1991, Brooks had sued Alabama Movie Rental, Rocket City Video, Total Video, Video World and Video Village, seeking them to stop distributing certain specific films: “Devil in Mr. Holmes,” “Little Oral Annie Takes Manhattan,” “Never Enough,” “Inside Little Oral Annie” and “The Brat.”
As Madison County district attorney, Brooks settled a lawsuit — which The Associated Press described at the time as a “clear-cut victory” — with video stores that agreed to remove tapes that prosecutors found obscene. However, the out-of-court settlement seemingly did little, since it did not close any of the five stores or affect their ability to offer other videos.
“The video stores went belly-up,” Brooks proclaimed.
Flash forward to 2017; Brooks — now seeking the staunch conservative lane in Alabama’s Senate primary – is hiring the guy who helped make “Thong Girl 3” as his ad person. How times have changed.
Compare those 1990s films to Thong Girl, made by Brooks’ ad guy; it is not too far a stretch.
Thonggirlfilms.net describes the plot: “While shopping at a lingerie store one day, Lana Layonme, an assistant district attorney(!), discovered a very special thong with magical powers. She found that by donning this unique red thong, she had the ability to fly. She also possessed superhuman strength and, much to her surprise (and initial shock) discovered that she was able to fire laser beams from her ass!”
While there is certainly no accounting for taste — and freedom of expression guarantees a market for such films — what does raise eyebrows is a that a former district attorney known for battling “questionable” films is now working with a filmmaker — to the tune of $10K — who Brooks would have tried to go “belly up” only two decades earlier.
Nevertheless, “Thong Girl” is not the only film in Steinborn’s oeuvre; other works include gruesome slasher movies like “Blood Cult” (1985) and, most recently, as cinematographer on “Talon Falls” (2017).
“Blood Cult,” which lists Steinborn as part of the crew, is described by Horrorsociety.com (spoiler alert): “It begins with a soapy sorority babe as she is cut down by a maniac with a meat cleaver. The local sheriff responds to the murder where he discovers a small gold coin with a dog’s head on it. The sheriff turns to his daughter and her husband who work at the local college library. The couple do some digging and discover that the coin belongs to an ancient blood cult.”
Of course, Steinborn’s website doesn’t shy away from this earlier work, which is available for anyone (including Brooks’ campaign) to see; a feature reel includes clips of “Chasing Ghost,” “Cyclone,” and “Talon Falls,” all listed with Thong Girls on his IMDB page. Steinborn is also still Facebook friends with “Thong Girl” producer, writer and director Glen Weiss.
Which all leads to a final question — how soon will one of Brooks’ Senate campaign ads be highlighted on the Steinborn feature reel?