ucd water polo PETA salutes celebs to celebrate its 30th birthday
Pamela Anderson posed in a lettuce bikini. Rocker Dave Navarro wore just his tattoos. Bill Maher was photographed in nothing but a baby bonnet. And countless young actresses have gone naked rather than wear fur.
Chuck Cook / AP PhotoActress Pamela Anderson holds a Chihuahua mix that she named Bardot in New Orleans as she was on hand to walk and help send off about 50 dogs that are being moved from Louisiana to Virginia who been orphaned by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Other celebrities have spoken out against factory farming, bullfighting and the use of great apes in entertainment. They talked up vegetarianism and put down circuses. They done all this and more for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The animal rights organization has long relied on newsworthy stars to help spread its message in a hip, edgy way its recent “Ink Not Mink” campaign featured nude, tattooed celebs like Dennis Rodman and Tommy Lee. And PETA is thanking the stars at its big 30th birthday party on Saturday.
PETA is throwing a party at the Hollywood Palladium hosted by Alec Baldwin and honoring a spate of animal loving stars, including Anjelica Huston, Bob Barker, Woody Harrelson, Navarro and “Glee Lea Michele.
“We a totally celebrity besotted society. Even if you don want to look, you have to see what they up to,” says PETA president and founder Ingrid Newkirk, who has enlisted celebrity ambassadors since the organization early days. “Celebrity compels us to look and listen. They enormously powerful, and for them to have a compassionate voice for animals is a godsend.”
Over the past three decades, PETA workers and volunteers, celebrity and non, have significantly reduced animal suffering in everyday business practices. Revlon, Avon and Gillette bowed to pressure from PETA and stopped testing their products on animals. Juicy Couture, Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren and other major fashion houses agreed to go fur free. Nike and H pledged never to sell any exotic skins and General Motors ceased using primates and pigs in its auto crash tests.
But there much more to be done, says rocker Chrissie Hynde, a longtime vegetarian and animal activist who was once arrested alongside other PETA volunteers in Paris for protesting outside a KFC restaurant.
“To exploit an animal at any time for any reason, it the amusement of the devil,” Hynde says. “And to make profits out of them, or certainly to torture them,
it debases the whole human condition.”
When it comes to PETA, Hynde says she “at their service always” and happy to lend her famous name to any of the group efforts.
“Celebrities have replaced God in our culture,” she says. “If they the only ones that people will look up to and listen to, then we use whatever ammo we got.”
Comedian Bill Maher, who serves on PETA board of directors, praises the group use of celebrity and comedy in spreading its message of animal kindness.
“They very clever in the way they really use humor. They are savvy with the media,” he says. “They obviously attract a lot of attention, and some of it is critical, because they take no prisoners in their approach. I glad they do it that way, because I think to defend the innocence of the animals, you really have to go the whole nine yards.”
That includes having the most recent Oscar host serve as emcee of their anniversary soiree. Baldwin has been involved with the group for two decades, after being introduced to Newkirk and other PETA leaders through his ex wife, Kim Basinger.
“I became a vegetarian to date my ex wife,” says the actor.
Baldwin and Maher are among those fighting against factory farming. Maher describes the practice as “probably the biggest single horror that goes on, because more cruelty is perpetrated on more animals in that area than almost anything else.”
“We talking about millions and millions of animals,” he says. “I think the regular citizen in America is finally becoming aware that the food they eat comes to them only at the expense of making animals lives a misery while they on Earth for such a brief time.”
Progress sometimes comes slowly, Newkirk notes, but it does come. When she first started PETA in her basement apartment in 1980, few people had considered animal rights.
“The word vegan was unheard of,” she says. “That was someone from Las Vegas.”
But with the strides PETA has made, the group two million members and many celebrity volunteers are inspired to work for more social and legislative changes. Newkirk has her eye on circuses and animal parks such as Sea World, which she calls “abusement parks.”
“The momentum is there. The public sentiment is there. We just have to push against big businesses,” she says. “The battle for hearts and minds and consideration and respect for others is where we began our base and where we continue.”
Even small daily decisions can help, she says: Order a veggie burger instead of a hamburger today. Choose animal free clothing. And give your pet at home your love and patience.