USPS Says No Ifs, Ands or Butts to BAM

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A film series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music got more free publicity than its sponsors could ever have dreamed of after the U.S. Postal Service staged a cover-up of sorts.


Thousands of postcards promoting the series -- that began yesterday -- were printed last month featuring the bare behinds of nine men, wearing only shoes and socks.


But a Staten Island post office near BAM's printer refused to mail them, saying they were too sexually oriented.


"As part of our promotion for a two-day series of short films, we prepared an advertising postcard. Specifically, we chose an image from a short film called 'A Heap of Trouble,' and it seems to have done just that," said Jeff Levine, vice president for marketing at BAM.


"A Heap of Trouble" is a four-minute short and is one of 10 shorts from South America and Europe featured at this year's film festival, titled "The World According to Shorts." The film, by Welsh director Steve Sullivan, depicts the chaos that ensues when the nine naked men march through a neighborhood singing, "Nine naked men walking down the road would cause a heap of trouble."


More than 40,000 cards were printed, and most were intended to be placed in racks in restaurants and other public areas. About 5,000 of the cards, however, were intended for mailing to BAM members.


Suspecting trouble with the postal service, BAM checked and was told the cards could not be mailed.


"The postal code provides that the public should be protected from receiving unsolicited, sexually oriented advertisements," USPS spokesman Tom Gaynor said.


In the end, the film series' curator sent the cards clad in envelopes.


"The whole scandal has drawn more attention to the film series than if it had gone through the mail," Levine said. "They're neither sexual nor lewd."


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