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Politically Erect

Look who entered this year's condom package design contest

If you've been dying to see George W. Bush, House Speaker Dennis Hastert or even Jimmy Carter pictured wearing a condom hat -- or the members of the Bush cabinet dressed as the Village Idiot People -- entrants in Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania's sixth annual condom package design contest were more than happy to oblige.


The theme for this year's "Stiff Competition" -- "When Politics Makes for Strange Bedfellows" -- attracted designs that gave fresh meaning to Bush-era slogans and programs, including "Shock and Awe" and "No Child Left Behind." "Keep your commander-in-chief well protected," was the motto of one condom package proposal. Said another: "Before You Commit a Patriot Act, Guard Yourself Against a Dirty Bush."


Winners will be announced June 2, when all the entrants -- including a condom-festooned baby doll -- will be on display at The Andy Warhol Museum.


Local cartoonist (and City Paper contributor) Gary Huck's design featured a diaper-clad Baby Bush stuck inside a condom tied at the bottom. "Practice safe head of state," reads the motto, "... because you know where he's been."


The Bush administration proved an almost irresistible foil for contest hopefuls, whose designs will be produced and sold as actual condom packages as a fund-raiser for the local Planned Parenthood group's Action Fund, the group's lobbying and political education arm. Amy Soich of Latrobe put Bush and Dick Cheney in condom caps on her acrylic painting labeled "WMD Condoms: For when you need a cover up." Tom Svetlak of the South Side proposed a series of color-coded rubber wrappers from the "Department of Bedland Security." And John Riegert dresses Bush and four cabinet members in Village People gear. Bush is the cowboy -- natch -- but best is Donald Rumsfeld, promoting the Jackhammer condom with the motto, "Wear one and screw everybody."


Wesley B. Scott of Shadyside, chair of the Action Fund, says he's pleased with the number of first-time entrants. That doesn't include Patricia Tsagaris of Wilkinsburg, a contest veteran who this year entered "The Ladies Come First Condom," a variety pack featuring photos of Laura Bush offering "The Bushwhacker," Jacqueline Kennedy ("The O Jackie"), and another '60s-era presidential wife, the former Ms. Claudia Taylor ("Ladybird's Johnson"), plus a "special bonus condom" inspired by a New York State's First Spouse, Happy Rockefeller.


"I just wanted to get away from the male political figure," says Tsagaris, who runs Pinkhaus Design Communications in Regent Square. "I just figured there'd be a lot of Tricky Dickies and a lot of Slick Willies."


Surprisingly, there were none at all. The Clinton administration barely rated a mention, save for "The Ironclad Lockbox Condom" from Maya Haptas of Shadyside, featuring a smiling Al Gore over the motto, "I invented condoms too."


How would these First Ladies react to being used to promote safe sex?


"I think they'd be proud to see their legacy being told on a condom wrapper," says Tsagaris. Then she adds: "Or they'd be pleasantly insulted."

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