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Vermin Supreme is an American performance artist and a political activist who has run for a number of offices as an independent candidate in the United States on local, state and national levels. He often calls himself the “Emperor of the New Millennium” and is known for wearing a boot-shaped hat and carrying a large toothbrush.
Due to the fact that he is widely regarded as a fringe candidate and a “political clown,” there is scarce information about his history of candidacy or election campaigns. According to his official website and Wikipedia article on his candidate career, Supreme’s first unsuccessful bid took place during the Mayoral election of Baltimore in 1988, followed by short-lived campaigns for Mayor of Detroit and Mayor of Mercury in Nevada. Supreme’s official Facebook page has over 900 subscribers as of January 2011. A keyword search for “Supreme Vermin” on YouTube yields nearly 150 video results.
In 2000, Vermin Supreme proclaimed himself the “Emperor of the New Millennium,” a title that he has retained to this day. In 2004, Vermin Supreme also campaigned in the Democratic Party’s primary in 2004, from he received 149 votes in the Washington D.C. presidential primary. Boston Globe’s Pagan Kennedy wrote a featured profile article on Vermin Supreme, which was published via its online version Boston.com on January 11th, 2004. In 2008, Vermin Supreme campaigned in the New Hampshire Republican Party primary in 2008 and receivd 41 votes (0.02 %). According to the Federal Election Commission, he also received 43 votes nationally in the general election.
Who Is Vermin Supreme?
In May 2012, Milwaukee-based filmmaker Stephen Onderick, who had previously filmed Vermin Supreme at the NATO Protests in Chicago, Illinois, approached the candidate about making a documentary about the rest of his campaign, focused on his political history and his personal life. Supreme agreed and the two created a Facebook pagetitled “Who Is Vermin Supreme?” on June 20th and a Twitter account in the following month, as part of the Kickstarter fundraising campaign which was officially launched August 7th.
Some of the rewards offered for support include a special thanks in the film’s credits, an 8″ × 10″ glitter-encrusted photograph of Vermin Supreme, signed items from his home and a 1/2 scale resin-cast faux bronze bust of the politician. For largest reward bracket, the full $10,000, Vermin Supreme will do something the donator asks, with suggestions of lawn care and walking the donator’s dogs. Within the first three days, nearly $1500 was pledged of its $10,000 goal.
2012 Presidential Election
In October 2011, Supreme announced that he will be campaigning in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. On December 19th, 2011, Supreme received some attention from the news media after glitter-bombing Randall Terry during the Lesser-Known Democratic Candidates Presidential Forum, claiming that Jesus told him to turn Terry gay.
The video reached Reddit’s frontpage in a thread titled “This man has my vote. Vermin Supreme 2012!” on January 7th, 2012, receiving 2,152 up votes and 885 down votes in the first 56 hours. The video accumulated over 140,000 views since its upload days earlier on January 5th.
GOP Presidential Campaign Events
Gawker reported on January 6th that Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul was ambushed by Supreme with a megaphone outside a restaurant in New Hampshire:
“Ron Paul: We have you surrounded. We are the media,” sounded the voice from a megaphone as Paul staffers ushered him into a waiting SUV, just minutes after he arrived at the restaurant.
His public stunts at the Republican presidential campaign events were covered by a number of news sites and politics blogs, including Reuters, CNBC, Washington Times, as well as Huffington Post, The Daily What and io9 among others. On January 23rd, The Gregory Brothers released a new music video titled “Get Money, Turn Gay” featuring Vermin Supreme and cameo appearance by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
The Official Campaign Ad
On January 21st, 2012, Supreme uploaded the official campaign video titled “Vermin Supreme: I am a Meme.” The video begins with the candidate declaring himself as a “meme” while holding up a My Little Pony figurine and features a slideshow that consists of his photographs and clips of viral videos.
Groundhog Day Debate
On January 26th, 2012, Michael Knowles, the former youth co-chair for Jon Huntsman’s campaign, announced that a Democratic presidential debate will be held at 8:30pm (Eastern Time) on Groundhog Day between Vermin Supreme and the “Rent is Too Damn High” party founder Jimmy McMillan.
Billed by the organizer as “the showdown of the century,” the debate was streamed live via Chattrspace and moderated by Western Free Press reporter Hannah Thoreson and Michael Knowles representing the Yale College Republicans.
At the New Hampshires open primary, Supreme received a total of 831 votes and finished in third place after Barack Obama, who won the poll with 48,970 votes, and Ed Cowan, who received a total of 944 votes.
During the early days of Occupy protests in October 2011, Vermin Supreme made an appearance at the site of Occupy Boston dressed in a bikini version of Uncle Sam costume, according to Blast Magazine.
A question about his motives caused no hesitation “What’s my gripe? The system! The whole stinking ball of wax. It’s a scam!” Before another inquiry could be made, Supreme did a complete spin, smiled broadly, and shouted “Look for a new world ‘odor’ – this one doesn’t smell so good!” before bounding like a rabbit down the gravel pathway along one side of Dewey Square Park and disappearing into the hole of an unknown tent.
On February 2nd, The Village Voice published an interview with Vermin Supreme, who acknowledged the element of performance art behind his political campaigns by saying “I’m presenting a character whose name that I share.” When asked about the Groundhog Day debate and his thoughts on Jimmy McMillan, Supreme acknowledged his rival candidate as an internet meme:
“I’d say it’s a battle of the memes. He’s a meme. I’m a meme, and only one meme can really be president, I think. And my rent isn’t too high, really, and I think he might want a free pony himself. He’s got some pretty distinct facial hair, I’ve got some myself. I think we’re the two most bushy-faced presidential candidates I’ve heard of. And I think that we’re the only candidates who are memes on the Internet.”
On May 24th, 2012, the techno-culture blog Motherboard published an article titled “Now I’m a Meme: Vermin Supreme’s Glitter-Spangled Rise to Internet Fame”, in which Vermin described how he rose to fame on the Internet and thanked the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic brony community for their support.
He claims that if elected to presidency, he will pass a law requiring people to brush their teeth. For his 2012 presidential campaign, Supreme has stated that it will be centered around the platform of raising Zombie apocalypse awareness and delivering a pony for every American. He has been also described as an avid supporter of “organ donation.”
Vermin Supreme is his legal name, according to the primary ballot documents filed by his campaign committee.
According to an interview with the Village Voice in February 2012, Supreme was born in Baltimore, Maryland and current resides in Massachusetts. In 2006, Vermin Supreme underwent a kidney transplantation to save his mother. In 2011, he was quoted as saying that if he became President, he would make kidney transplantation compulsory for everyone.