Election night in Canada is also party night—it's a tradition. But no matter how lit you think your election gathering was, unless you had whips, dildos, and stuffed animals on hand, your soiree didn't hold a candle to Sluts Against Harper's.
Sluts Against Harper is a group of young Canadian men and women, who, over the past few weeks, have run a get-out-the-vote campaign with a twist: they send personalized nude photos to anyone who messages their Instagram account with proof that they voted (voters don't have to say for which candidate).
The votes for nudes campaign went viral before advanced polling even began, and Jessica Simps, the pseudonymous Montreal artist leading the group, told me at the time that things were already crazy. They had amassed thousands of followers and survived a short-lived and unceremonious banning by Instagram. But it was nothing compared to election night.
Sluts Against Harper's Instagram account received thousands of requests for nudes last night, Simps told me when I called her today, and campaign volunteers were still in bed this morning working hard to meet the backlogged demand for nude photos.
"There was four of us, and we had a girlfriend come over and cook for us," Simps said of the scene last night. "We got a bunch of wine, a bunch of beer, and got into our lingerie and busted out all the props and did a photoshoot all together."
The photo shoot lasted until two in the morning, Simps said, and featured some of the raciest material the group's produced to date—mostly due to the amount of alcohol that fueled the late-night campaigning. I'm talking ass-whipping, teddy bear-grinding videos. The women-led team had also been building a bank of nudes (including men, queer, and trans folk) since the campaign started, which helped them keep up with the requests.
Of course, it's illegal in Canada to show send a photo of your completed ballot to someone else in order to receive a reward, or, as Elections Canada calls it, a bribe. While Sluts Against Harper never asked for that sort of proof, people hoping for nude photos went ahead and broke the law anyway.
"i know it's illegal, and we didn't ask for them, but a lot of people did it," Simps said. "I got hundreds of pictures of ballots saying people voted Liberal, and I was, like, fuck, this is real proof that maybe we'll win."
The Sluts Against Harper account received photos from all kinds of people, including whole families saying that they'd voted—well, everyone of age, anyway. They all got nudes, too, Simps said. The influx of interest was enough to spark the hope that maybe, just maybe, the Sluts would get their wish after all: that Stephen Harper would lose the election, and step down as Prime Minister. And they did get their wish. The Liberal party won by a decisive margin.
"We were so excited," Simps said. "We were just jumping up and down in bed and playing Nicki Minaj and Beyonce and freaking out. It was totally surreal. We couldn't believe it had happened."
As for what comes next, Simps said it's back to business as usual—sort of. She told me that people now recognize her on the street as the person behind Sluts Against Harper. She's tried to keep her face and identity out of it, she said, but Facebook as well as rumours in the city made it difficult to stay totally anonymous.
"Am I forever going to be nudes girl?" Simps pondered, rhetorically. "I mean, I kind of was already, since my artistic practice evolved around documenting my body. It wasn't a stretch, and it happened naturally, but I don't know… I don't know how it's going to be to be in the world as J. Simps forever instead of just a couple weeks."
But does Simps regret any of it, I wondered?
"I believe in what we did," she answered, without a hint of the giggle that punctuated much our conversation, "and it worked."