Sunday, June 30, 2002

Porn on candidate's resume

        As we chatted on the phone last week, Republican gubernatorial candidate Sonny Landham — who played alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eddie Murphy in some '80s action movies — said he is a straight shooter who deals in the “bare facts.” Bare what? Oh, facts. I wanted to make sure I understood Sonny. Because in the past, when Sonny bared it all, he bared it all.

        A day after Mr. Landham announced his campaign for governor, I went to, or Internet Movie Database.

        I found Sonny's filmography, listing nearly 40 films, including 48 Hours (1982), Predator (1987), Maximum Force (1992), and Fatal Choice (1995).

Full disclosure

        But early in his career, Sonny was making some films that gave him, um, more exposure. As in porno, X-rated, adult films.

        There was Slippery When Wet (1976), billed as a movie with “hard driving women and rough riding men!”; Naked Came the Stranger (1975); The Switch (1974), in which “a shy, withdrawn female scientist invents a formula that turns her into a horny, oversexed nymphomaniac”;and Big Abner (1975), one of those movies where the title sort of says it all.

        Sonny didn't actually bring up his early hits, but once I broached the subject, he didn't back down, either.

        “I made those movies, and did I make the wrong choice,” he said over the phone from Louisville. “Yeah, I did. But at the time I was trying to make it as an actor, and I needed the money, and those movies paid well.

        “It was Hollywood, man, where you want to dream big, but you have to survive. And I'm a survivor,” he said. “Porno did teach me to act. Those movies made me a better actor.”

        Wait until the morality police in the GOP get a rundown on Sonny's past. They'll be all over him. But I get the impression Sonny isn't going away anytime soon, despite no political experience in Kentucky and a resume that would make Dirk Diggler blush.

        “I'm going to cut taxes. I'm not going to take a salary as governor,” Sonny said. “My celebrity will bring attention to Kentucky and my race ... and I'm going to spend all my time traveling this state and getting to know the voters.”

Local running mate

        Mr. Landham's lieutenant governor running mate, Highland Heights Republican Roger Thoney, is sticking by Sonny, though he was surprised by Sonny's early work in film.

        “I just found out about it,” said Mr. Thoney, who ran twice unsuccessfully congress. “It was 25 or 30 years ago. He's a reformed Christian now. But what is more important is the present and the future.

        “Sonny and I want to make significant changes to make life better for all Kentuckians, and that's more important than anything that happened in the past,” he said.

        Sonny likens himself to Jesse Ventura, the maverick pol who not only won the Minnesota governor's race but also appeared in Predator along with Sonny. And Mr. Schwarzenegger, the film's star, may eventually run for California governor.

        “That's three of us from one movie all in politics,” Sonny said.

        Still, any way you look at it, the Landham/Thoney ticket is a long shot. But if the campaign doesn't work out, maybe there is a film in the experience — Sonny does Frankfort.

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