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Mimi Miyagi’s Karaoke Fundraiser

Las Vegas- Republican gubernatorial candidate Melody Damayo couldn’t decide what karaoke song to sing.

“Oh, I know — ‘She Bangs! She Bangs!’ ” the former adult film star said, laughing. “Just kidding.”

Damayo, also known by her stage name, Mimi Miyagi, says her run for Nevada’s top office is not a stunt or a joke, but the consequence of a passion for politics.

On Friday, a fundraiser for Damayo’s campaign proved to be far from your average political event. The candidate wore heaps of silver jewelry, six-inch black high heels, a men’s-style shirt unbuttoned to reveal her capacious bosom, and a headband to hold back her waist-length black hair.

It was one of the more demure outfits for a candidate whose campaign signs show her lying on her back, feet in the air, breasts barely covered by a flag-motif top — and who can be seen in much more revealing detail in an extensive catalog that includes “Deep Throat 6,”www.arrowfreedom.com; “She’s the Boss” and “Oriental Lust.”

Friday night’s fundraiser was a never-before-seen mix of local Republican Party stalwarts, Damayo’s adult industry pals and several bargoers just there for the regular karaoke at Barbeque Masters Tavern, on Sahara Avenue and Decatur Boulevard.

Damayo worked the room like a veteran politician, handing out campaign stickers. She also offered lap dances with a wide, pink-lipsticked smile.

“I’m here to witness history,” said John Hambrick, chair of the Clark County Republican Party, who brought his wife as a “chaperone” to the event. “No gubernatorial candidate has ever done this before.” He was referring to karaoke.

Hambrick said the party has received complaints about Damayo’s candidacy, especially since she appeared in the Boulder City Damboree parade on July 4. There was nothing the party could do about that, he noted. Similarly, the party couldn’t refuse to link to Damayo’s campaign Web site from the party’s site, just like any other Republican candidate.

“We went over it real good,” Hambrick said of Damayo’s site. “There was nothing we could ban her for.”

The night began with a limbo contest. The DJ, T.J. Hampton, gave an introduction.

“Before we get started on limbo, I wanted to introduce the sexiest candidate for governor, with an even sexier brain,” Hampton said. “The next governor of Nevada: Melody Damayo!”

Damayo’s short speech would be the evening’s only political stumping.

“I want everyone to know that I’m here to bring back the roots of the Republican party: freedom, freedom of speech, freedom to party, free enterprise,” Damayo said. “Now it’s time to limbo!”

Damayo, 33, is a native of the Philippines who calls herself a pioneer for Asians in the adult film industry. She quit porn with the 2003 film “Happy Ending” and now is taking acting roles in independent films. She also continues to support herself as an exotic dancer.

“I’m a girl from a small village in a Third World country who came here to realize a dream,” said Damayo, who has lived in Nevada for 13 years.

Her first involvement in politics came in 2004, when she was a volunteer on the re-election campaign of President Bush, she said. “That’s when I realized that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

According to county election records, the 2004 general election was the first time Damayo voted in Nevada.

Damayo recognizes that many may be interested in her primarily for reasons other than politics, but hopes she can win them over with her ideas.

“I’m kind of like the spokesmodel for politics right now,” she said. “That’s fine. Anything to get people to hear the message.”

Damayo and two friends got up to sing. Not “She Bangs,” after all, but Madonna’s “Material Girl.” It was a typically garbled, out-of-tune bar karaoke performance — except, perhaps, for the amount of writhing.

Kevin Child, a Republican candidate for county recorder, was also trying to drum up votes at the event. Damayo’s was among the votes he hoped to earn, Child said: “She’s a Republican and she lives in Clark County. As long as she doesn’t make me take my clothes off, I’ll be fine.”

It wasn’t clear whether there were many votes besides Damayo’s to be gained at Friday’s event.

Aside from a few county Republican officials, including the bar’s owner, party Financial Director Jim Pressler, most of the 50 or so attendees said they weren’t registered with a political party or were Democrats, making them ineligible to vote in Damayo’s primary.

Local attorney Christopher Carr had come to see Damayo but said he wasn’t registered with a political party.

“I’m waiting to hear what she has to say,” he said. “I don’t have very strong feelings for Gov. Guinn.”

Informed that Guinn won’t be on the ballot, Carr said, “Oh, then that’s easy. She’s the only candidate I know.”

Pharmacist Dan Brooks had come to karaoke with his friends but was enjoying the political show. Also not registered with a political party, he said he appreciated the injection of fun into a political process that is too often dismal.

“Mimi’s a very likeable person,” Brooks said. “She’s maybe not the most eloquent (speaker), but she seems like a sweetheart.” Then, grinning at his own cleverness, he added, “She’s abreast of all the issues.”

Brooks and his friends exchanged high-fives for that quip.

The winner of the evening’s limbo contest, 27-year-old bartender Julie Ann Suarez, was more skeptical. Suarez, too, had come to see friends, not to engage in politicking.

“Her main claim to fame is being a porn star,” Suarez said. “It’s partly the media’s fault, but I don’t think she’s doing much about it.”

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