AUBURN — A state Senate candidate seeking election in 2014 said he's proud of a video clip that includes footage of him dancing in a Brazilian Speedo.
Eric Brakey of New Gloucester said Tuesday that the footage of him dancing in front of a mirror is part of a national ad campaign he worked on as a professional actor in New York more than two years ago.
"That's my background, and I'm still doing a lot of acting," Brakey said. "I'm an actor, and when I was working professionally in New York City this was a real fun, wonderful opportunity doing a commercial for a national brand."
Brakey posted in the online forum As Maine Goes, defending his work in the advertisement.
He is chairman of the Defense of Liberty PAC, a conservative political action committee formed to support conservative candidates in Maine.
The ad was meant to tout Vita Coco, a coconut drink. "The idea is . . . people drink it, they want to dance and be Brazilian, so you've got people dancing in Brazilian Speedos. It was a real fun time and I stand behind the work."
The actual rough cut of the Vita Coco ad features several men dancing in similar swimsuits.
Mike Hein, a former employee of the Christian Civic League in Maine, sent a link to the compressed version of the video to media outlets, criticizing Brakey's "family values" for dancing in a pair of underwear.
In a separate message to the Sun Journal, Hein said he did not create the compressed video but simply saw it on As Maine Goes.
In a post on the video on YouTube, Hein wrote, "Well, well, well. If it isn't Mr. "Family Values Matter" state Senate candidate himself flamboyantly prancing around in his underwear."
Hein sent a copy of an email message he sent to the pastors of Brakey's church, East Auburn Baptist. In that message, Hein describes Brakey as "dancing around in his underwear in his bedroom, as though he were demon-possessed."
Brakey is running for Maine Senate District 15. The seat is held by John Cleveland, an Auburn Democrat. The election isn't until 2014, but Brakey announced his campaign earlier this year. The district includes Poland, New Gloucester and Auburn.
Stavros Mendros, vice chairman of the Androscoggin Republican Committee on Tuesday said Hein and those who support him are part of a "far right wing" fringe and "crazy."
"Eric is a pretty conservative Republican, but unfortunately we have some in our party that are just off the deep end," Mendros said. "It's unfortunate people need to be that childish and petty. He was an actor doing a job. Is anybody going to criticize Tom Cruise for his dancing in 'Risky Business?' It's unfortunate when we have real issues facing the state."
Brakey said he continues to work as an actor and will be appearing in an upcoming production of "Spamalot" by Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre, which opens this weekend. Brakey is a member of the chorus, he said. He also recently starred in the theater's production of "The Odd Couple." Brakey played the role of Felix Unger.
Brakey will star in the lead role for the theater's upcoming production of "Arsenic and Old Lace."
Hein also criticized Brakey for supporting abortion when the mother's life is in danger, but Brakey said Tuesday he hadn't taken any formal position on abortion.
"I don't know where he is getting that from," Brakey said.
Monday was "National Underwear Day." Brakey said he was unaware of the coincidence.
He addressed the ad again Tuesday afternoon in a brief news conference in front of Lewiston-Auburn Community Little Theatre in Auburn.
"If Ronald Reagan could get away with 'Bedtime for Bonzo' and then become president of the United States, I think voters here are going to be happy seeing some of my dance moves," Brakey said.