PETA stages Strip protest minus the fake blood or nude models

PETA protesters line the Strip on Monday, January 26 for a boycott of Armani’s new fur-heavy collection.
Photo: Jennifer Grafiada

For nearly 30 years PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been getting attention for animal rights, often for its building-sized posters of naked celebrity flesh with the tagline “I’d rather go naked than wear fur.”

The animal rights organization is also notorious for its attention-getting antics, which include stunts like having Pamela Anderson stand naked in a shop window, dropping a dead raccoon on Vogue editor Anna Wintour’s table at the Four Seasons or sending girls wearing nothing but little lettuce leaves to hand out free Tofurky sandwiches to strangers with the goal of converting everyone to vegetarianism.

Known for its controversial tactics, PETA's January 26 demonstration in Las Vegas relied on signs and pamphlets rather than nudity or dramatic props.

Unfortunately, the people stuck in traffic on the Strip or walking up and down the sidewalk in front of the Bellagio on Monday were not treated to one of PETA’s more creative demonstrations.

Perhaps the dropping temperatures proved unbearable (Vegas’ eternal summer, you have failed us), or maybe the PETA powers-that-be realized that on the already sexed-up Strip live naked girls could cause a massive public disturbance or, even stranger, none at all.

Instead of women wearing nothing but a sign or anything involving fake blood, a long line of bundled-up animal rights activists stood in front of the beautiful Bellagio fountains and calmly protested.

They weren’t boycotting the water display, which to our knowledge was created without animal testing, but rather what lay just behind it: the Giorgio Armani boutique.

PETA is campaigning against fashion designer Giorgio Armani after he reneged on a promise to stop using fur in his collections.

Large signs (big enough to adequately cover a naked body, but alas) bore a scary picture of a white-haired, leathery Armani glaring like the Grinch or Jigsaw from Saw with an elongated Pinocchio nose.

Armani’s nasal extension and the PETA demonstration in front of his Bellagio shop are PETA’s angry response to Armani’s broken promise to stop using fur in his fashion designs.

Armani’s latest collections include jackets trimmed with rabbit fur, fur-hemmed skirts, floral-printed fur coats and rabbit-trimmed snowsuits for toddlers. PETA claims that the fur farms in China and France where Armani gets his pelts subject the innocent rabbits to unnatural living conditions and brutal deaths.


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“We want [Armani] to make good on his word to stop using real fur,” said Jenna Hunt, a PETA campaigner. “Animals who are raised on fur farms, such as the one that supplies Armani, spend their entire lives crammed into tiny, filthy wire cages deprived of everything natural to them before they are gassed, beaten to death, vaginally or anally electrocuted or even skinned alive for their fur.”

Jenna Hunt, a campaign organizer, official spokesperson and photogenic face of PETA.

Hunt, from San Francisco, organized the campaign and works full-time as a PETA representative. Along with three other PETA staffers, she has hit L.A., Reno, Salt Lake City and, most recently, the Sundance Festival in Park City, Utah. Everywhere she goes local members of animal rights groups and concerned citizens join her for peaceful street corner protests while Hunt and her co-workers hand out informational pamphlets to passersby.

“It does my heart good to see them all out here today,” said Hunt, referring to the amalgam of activists gathered for the midday protest on the Strip. “This is actually the most people that we’ve seen come out to a demonstration on this particular tour, so Las Vegas is representing.”

As the PETA crew handed out their informational pamphlets, some pedestrians offered a brusque “no thanks,” as if the girls were the orange-vested sex-hawkers that usually monopolize the Strip. Others stopped to learn more, and one man even tried to recruit the PETA girls to hit a club that night.

At least one of the sightseeing wayfarers, Elizabeth Smith of Houston, Texas, decided to stop and spontaneously join the group.

“I just happened to be walking by, and, okay!” She said cheerily. “I am very much against the wearing of fur. The practices they use to kill the animals to get the fur are incredibly cruel and needless. When was the last time you had a mink? You don’t know, do you?”

Um, no.

“Exactly. So it’s not like we’re already killing them to eat them. We’re killing them just to be cruel.”

Near Smith were Nick Sheldon, a skinny, pale young man clad in black, and his girlfriend.

“I hear a lot of stuff that goes on in the fur industry, and I take it really offensive in that Giorgio Armani lied to us about stopping animal abuse and testing and all that. It just really offended me, and that’s why I’m out here,” said Sheldon.

Ever the impassioned spokeswoman, Hunt put Sheldon’s frustration into articulate words: “By and large, young people and tastemakers are against fur. They recognize the cruelty behind it and realize that wearing the skin of dead animals on your body is just not attractive, and with so many wonderful synthetics out there and with top designers such as Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren gone fur-free, there is just no excuse for Armani not to step into the 21st century with them.”

Then, as if the fashion argument, the outdated argument and the cruelty argument weren’t enough, Hunt pulled out her trump card.

“There is no reason to wear fur. It’s completely impractical and in these times of economic crisis, it’s completely overpriced. Synthetics are much more environmentally friendly they take about 15 times less energy to make than a real fur coat does.”


Jennifer Grafiada

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