Vermin Love Supreme (born c. 1961) is an American performance artist and activist who has run as a candidate in various local, state, and national elections in the United States. Supreme is known for wearing a boot as a hat and carrying a large toothbrush, and has said that if elected President of the United States, he will pass a law requiring people to brush their teeth. He has campaigned on a platform of zombie apocalypse awareness and time travel research, and promised a free pony for every American.
In 2011, he participated in the Occupy Boston protests.
He is the subject of the 2014 documentary, Who Is Vermin Supreme? An Outsider Odyssey, which follows his 2012 campaign and explores his life as an activist and political prankster.
Supreme grew up near Boston, Massachusetts and is said to be the oldest of three children. He graduated from Gloucester High School in the 1980s, then moved to Baltimore to attend art school, but he dropped out and began booking bands for underground clubs.
In 1986, he joined the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament in protest of nuclear weapons. In 1987, he began running for public office. He legally changed his name to Vermin Supreme in the 1990s while still in Baltimore.
In 2006, Supreme donated one of his kidneys to save his mother. He is married and has no children.
Supreme discussed his political views in a 2008 promotional video. He stated he was registered as a Republican at that time, but that he leaned toward anarchism. He asserted that libertarians "are just about abolishing the government and letting shit fall where it may," which he called a mistake; he also asserted that Republicans want to nullify the government, but "offer no alternative to helping people other than charity." Supreme's vision of anarchism holds no need for government, but depends on citizens to take responsibility for themselves and for others, citing "mutual aid and support and care to our fellow citizens" as key elements. To that end, Supreme called for a gradual dismantling of the government, while citizens take up the slack. He asserted that Americans no longer know how to be citizens, placing some of the blame on schools that teach in "very twisted and jingoistic fashion".
In the video, Supreme discussed his presidential campaign. He describes his "joke humor" campaign as a response to the lies people are fed by the media and by the government.
U.S. presidential election campaigns
Vermin Supreme working the crowds during the New Hampshire primary
Supreme campaigned in the Washington, DC Presidential primary in 2004, where he received 149 votes.
Supreme campaigned in the New Hampshire Republican primary in 2008. He received 41 votes (0.02%) in the New Hampshire primary. According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), he also received 43 votes, nationally, in the general election.
Vermin Supreme campaigned as a Democrat in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
The following are some of the milestones in this campaign:
- October 29, 2011: He participated in a satirical debate against a representative of the campaign of deceased British occultist Aleister Crowley.
Supreme in 2012
- In May 2012, he visited the second largest regional high school in Maine to give a speech about his campaign style to a government class.
- July 14, 2012: Supreme made an appearance with The Yes Men at 2600: The Hacker Quarterly's HOPE Number Nine conference during the Saturday keynote.
- August 25, 2012: Supreme announced his new political party, the Free Pony Party, and that he has chosen fellow fringe opponent Jimmy McMillan as his running mate. Conversely, McMillan stated he was still running for president on his own Rent Is Too Damn High platform, and that Supreme would be McMillan's running mate.
- October 5, 2012: He participated in a debate hosted by Peter Schiff in the Peter Schiff Radio Show, which featured a panel of overlooked presidential candidates including Jimmy McMillan on the Rent Is Too Damn High Party ticket; Santa Claus, independent write-in candidate, and Edgar Lawson, write-in Republican presidential candidate.
Supreme attempted another presidential run in 2016. He embarked on a tour of 20 cities to build support for his campaign and sought to qualify for matching funds from the Federal Election Commission (FEC). He filed as a candidate in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary on November 21, 2015, and received 259 votes in the primary on February 9, 2016, coming in fourth after Martin O'Malley. He was, however, not invited to return to the Lesser-Known Democratic Candidates Presidential Forum, due in part to him glitterbombing Randall Terry at the event in 2011. Shortly before the primary, he was observed questioning Republican candidates Chris Christie and Ted Cruz through a bullhorn. On March 4, 2016, he switched his affiliation to the Libertarian Party, claiming his rightful position as Sage and Oracle for Libertarians throughout America, and possibly Belize as well. He received the vote of a single delegate in the first round of presidential nomination voting at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention.
Right to pony during 2017 Clinton book tour
In December 2017 Hillary Clinton planned to visit Concord, New Hampshire to for a book tour promoting her new book What Happened. In advance of her presentation Supreme planned a demonstration in front of the bookstore during the event. The demonstration was to be a "pony protest" and include at least one pony. Supreme has a history of making the election promise of ponies to constituents and has asserted that Clinton does not like ponies enough. When Supreme sought a protest permit for his demonstration the police ordered the city to deny his request.
In response, Supreme asserted his "right to pony" and retained Marc Randazza, an attorney with a reputation for advocacy of First Amendment rights, to represent him in suing the city of Concord for the permit. The court found in favor of Supreme issuing an injunction that the city give him a permit, allow him to protest the event, and allow him to bring ponies. A stipulation was that Supreme had to pay for parking for ponies at the rate for cars.
When Supreme presented the pony protest there was a parade. More than 1,000 people attended the book signing and protest. Various media sources covered the pony protest and Clinton book tour together. The editors of the school newspaper of Londonderry High School used the event to endorse Supreme in the 2020 presidential election.
Other political activity
In March 2018, inspired by several high school and college students (some from out-of-state) running for Governor of Kansas in the midterm election, Supreme stated that "I certainly did not want to draw away any votes from any teenagers running in the Governor’s race," instead opting to run for Attorney General, becoming the sole challenger to incumbent Republican Derek Schmidt. The lack of requirements in order to run for office, as outlined in the state's Constitution, has been heralded by Supreme: "This is indeed a very interesting and attractive loophole,” he said. “I think that’s a very good thing for democracy." Desarae Lindsay of Texas has been named his campaign treasurer.
Supreme co-wrote and stars in the 2009 film Vote Jesus: The Chronicles of Ken Stevenson, in which he poses as a right-wing political candidate to gain access into the world of American fundamentalism.
In 2012, Supreme starred in a web series entitled Learnin' with Vermin that uses a fictional version of his presidential campaign as a platform to teach political concepts such as voting methods.
A documentary following Supreme on the 2012 campaign trail and exploring his life and work as an activist and political prankster called Who Is Vermin Supreme? An Outsider Odyssey was funded through a Kickstarter campaign and premiered at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival on April 9, 2014.
The film was directed by Minneapolis-based filmmaker Steve Onderick and features founder of the Rent is Too Damn High Party, Jimmy McMillan, and Boston-based singer-songwriter and comedian Rob Potylo. The film was released to the general public on Vimeo on Demand on January 30, 2016.
Supreme has also collaborated with performance artist, activist and musician Rob Potylo in the web series Quiet Desperation.
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