A Virginia state senator running for re-election in November once attended a Halloween fundraiser for a youth charity dressed as a genie in a lamp, with a large, protruding spout from his crotch like an erect penis. The lamp read, “Rub Me!”

At the time of the 2008 function, William R. DeSteph Jr. — then serving as a Virginia Beach city councilman — defended wearing the costume, even while acknowledging a woman in attendance told him it was inappropriate.

Then-Virginia Beach City Councilman Bill DeSteph attended a Halloween fundraiser in 2008 wearing a sexually suggestive costume. (WAVY-TV via Internet Archive)

“I dressed up as a genie, and I don’t have any problem with that,” DeSteph told WAVY-TV. “If they took it the wrong way I apologize, but it was meant to be a genie in a lamp. Nothing provocative or nothing otherwise.”

DeSteph, a Republican, was elected to the state House in 2013 and the state Senate in 2015.

A photo from the party published by WAVY showed DeSteph posing with two women with their hands on the lamp.

DeSteph told the station a woman said afterward that the costume was suggestive and inappropriate.

The fundraiser benefited Seton Youth Shelters, which counsels young people in crisis in the Hampton Roads area, but it did not appear that any minors attended the event.“I had a young lady call me after the party. She thought the costume could be construed in a different way,” he said. “I told her that was not the intent of the costume or anything like that. It was a genie in a lamp.”


Still, Paul Saley, who was then the executive director Seton Youth Shelters, told WAVY that DeSteph shouldn’t have worn the costume.

“As executive director of the Seton House, I would not wear that costume as a role model,” Saley said. “It’s poor judgment.”

In 2010, one of DeSteph’s opponents for his City Council seat aired an attack ad showing DeSteph in the costume, with the lamp blurred out, 13 News Now (WVEC-TV) reported. The ad directed viewers to a website to see an uncensored version.

“That to me just reflects poor judgment on his part and I think Virginia Beach deserves better,” the opponent, Dave Redmond, said.

Contact Cole Driver at cdriver@american-ledger.org