- Turner's Sum Poosie car. (Photo: TBD Staff)
I've been intrigued with the concept behind the "Sum Poosie" brand since TBD's Maura Judkis spotted the "Sum Poosie" promotional vehicle parked in Chinatown last month. Revealed: Sum Poosie is a vagina-themed cherry-flavored energy drink that will fight HIV while maintaining your erection.
In a conversation with D.C. Sum Poosie distributor Levar Turner, I learned that Sum Poosie is many things: Energy drink; alleged erection aid; modeling agency; mobile Hooters; even subliminal safe sex campaign.
“Basically, it’s an energy drink, but It’s like the Girls Gone Wild of energy drinks,” Turner explains. "There are a million and one energy drinks. We needed to stand out. What better way than with Sum Poosie?"
Indeed. In fact, the Sum Poosie brand has proved too salient to limit its aspirations to just the Red Bull market. In addition to the drinks and Turner's car, you can find the Sum Poosie logo attached to lollipops, Jello wrestling parties, the company's pink bikini-clad "Bottle Models," and Turner's rap career (the Laurel resident is known as "The Poosie Man").
But Turner, 31, says that the drink has been unfairly characterized by its promiscuity. “The Poosie thing is just a conversation piece,” Turner says. “Before they understand what the product is, a lot of people assume that it’s bad. But it’s just a way to get people talk about safe sex! We sell sex, so we might as well sell safe sex, you know what I'm saying?" Turner says that "Sum Poosie" is actually an acronym for "Subliminal Urgent Message: Positive Outlook On Sex Ignorance and Education."
For the most part, Sum Poosie's safe sex message remains subliminal. “I was pushing the Sum Poosie condoms at first, but we wanted to get people focused more on the drink,” Turner says. “When we come in and do the parties, we definitely talk about it. But I’m not going to spoil a whole party talking about sex." Turner says that Sum Poosie does provide non-Poosie brand condoms at its events.
As for the drink: “It gives you energy, you know what I mean? It acts also as a sex enhancement product,” Turner says. “For a woman, it definitely keeps a woman going. And it helps a guy keep an erection.” Turner says it tastes a lot like Cherry 7-Up.
The Sum Poosie drink—each bottle emblazoned with a photograph of a half-naked woman—is the brainchild of Drayton Nay, a beverage retailer who claims to have invented Sum Poosie after turning down an early position with Red Bull. Turner is the District distributor of the drink, which he sells on his website, at Sum Poosie parties ("it's basically like bringing Hooters to your party," he says), and out of his Sum Poosie vehicle. "A lot of time I just have motorists flag me down and get it from me," Turner says.
Who's buying? "It’s mostly a female clientele. I’m loved by a lot of the lesbians. I get a lot of love from them," Turner says. "I really don’t have too much negative response, except from some of the older females."
The one thing Sum Poosie isn't selling: male sexuality. “It wouldn’t be a good look with some guys on the bottle saying ‘Sum Poosie.’ It’s less attractive,” Turner explains. “The general public, whether it’s male or female, they kind of love it. The men like it, the women like it, and gay guys just get a kick out of it because it’s the opposite of what they want. It’s more a funny thing to them. It’s more like comedy. It’s like a joke to them. Sum Poosie don’t discriminate against anybody.”