03/13/2000 at 01:00 AM EST
Although New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and First Lady Hillary Clinton, likely opponents in New York State's U.S. Senate race, are virtually tied in the polls, Hillary is coming on strong in one important indicator of public feeling—artist David Freeman's hot-selling line of voodoo dolls.
While 2,000 Voodoo-Rudys have been sold, the mayoral doll had a two-month head start, and more than 1,000 Voodoo-Hillarys have been grabbed up in just a month. Freeman's fetishes, costing about $15, come with five pins and a label egging the buyer on to "Stick It to Him" or "Her." There are faces front and back. "Politicians are generally two-faced," says Freeman, 35, "so the dolls are, as well." Adds Jayne, 37, the artist's wife and press agent: "You can get several hundred pins in one doll. It's a great way for people to get out their aggression."
Freeman, who lives in Manhattan's SoHo area, started out caricaturing only Giuliani, whom he dislikes. Some combination of free-market pressures and voodoo economics led him to bipartisanship, hence Voodoo-Hillary. "I realized," he says, "that a great many people dislike her." Still, Voodoo-Rudy, complete with bad comb-over and dour expression, is far less flattering than Voodoo-Hillary. "I still get criticism that her calves are too shapely," Freeman says.
Freeman, whose rag-stuffed dolls sell in Manhattan novelty stores and on his Web site, enlists friends to help produce them; it takes four people about five hours to make 100. Also in the works—Kathie Lee Gifford and Bill Gates editions.
Despite his antipathy toward Giuliani, Freeman isn't endorsing anyone. "For me," he says, "whoever sells more dolls wins."