Name That Trauma:: Stephen P. on a Skeletal Prostitute PSA

Hi, longtime listener, first time caller. Love, love, LOVE this site! But to save time, I’m gonna cut to the chase (sort of).

I was rarely bothered by scary movies as a lad, but some commercials and PSA’s haunt me to this day. I remember when the National Enquirer used to run TV ads with their tagline, “Enquiring minds wanna know!” One of those had a photo of Marilyn Monroe that the special effects folks animated, so she said, “Murder.” Still gives me the creeps.

Anyway, I’m writing about a PSA from the 80’s. I lived in Florida, so I don’t know if it was a local or nationwide ad, but I remember it clearly…

A man picks up a lady in his car. I do not know for sure, but I believe she was supposed to be a prostitute. In any case, after some banter, she gets in the car and, as it pulls away, we see that the lady/possible prostitute is now a rotting, skeletal corpse that shouts one word: “AIDS!”

Well, I don’t know if that helped discourage prostitution or encourage abstinence or safe sex practices at all, but I DO know it gave me nightmares. I didn’t really understand what AIDS was, exactly, but I doubt ads like this generated much sympathy for the unfortunate victims of that condition. I actively avoided that commercial from then on. And prostitutes.

I have looked online for this PSA, because I think seeing it now, as a middle aged man, would lessen its impact and render it harmless.

Can anyone else find this trauma?

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