A Style article yesterday incorrectly reported the ticket price for Saturday's Humanitarian Awards Gala at the Willard Hotel. The price is $250, but the event's organizers, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, say it is sold out. (Published 9/13/90)
Ten years ago, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was organized in a Takoma Park apartment; originally, it was really two people for the ethical treatment of animals -- Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pachecho. These days, PETA is not only significantly larger -- 350,000 members -- but its influence is considerably wider as the largest animal rights organization in the world. On Saturday, PETA will present its 10th Anniversary Humanitarian Awards Gala at the Willard Hotel, honoring folks -- mostly musicians -- who have brought animal rights issues before the public.
Among those attending: the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, once and future Go-Go Jane Weidlein, Boston's Tom Scholtz, actor-singer River Phoenix and beef industry gadfly k.d. lang. Ironically, lang's most recent album, "absolute torch and twang," had run its course after 13 months on the charts, only to get an unlikely boost in August when the Alberta native was banned from cattle-country radio stations after doing a hard-hitting anti-meat public service announcement for PETA. The boycott backfired: lang's album has sold another 100,000 copies over the last two months.
lang and the other acts have done public service announcements, performed at Rock Against Fur concerts and on occasion funded PETA investigations into animal research. Another honoree Saturday is John Paul Jones DeJoria, CEO of Paul Mitchell hair-care company, the first major line of salon products that never resorted to testing on animals. Also on hand: actors Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder.
In January, PETA and Rhino New artists will release an album titled "Tame Yourself" (Capitol), featuring all original tracks dealing with animal rights issues. They will include "Skin Thieves" by Hynde and guitarist Jeff Beck, "I'll Give You My Skin" by the Indigo Girls and R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe, "Don't Be Part of It" by Howard Jones, "Animal Rage" by Erasure and Lena Lovich, and cuts by the B-52s, Exene Cervanka and Phoenix's band, Aleka's Attic.
The first PETA album sold 50,000 on an independent label; the move to Capitol is "a consolidation of the exciting things that have happened in recent years," says PETA spokesman Dan Matthews. "Five years ago when we began the music projects, we had to bang doors down," Matthews recalls. "Now there's a wealth of artists coming to us with good ideas." Sometimes, the interaction has been fruitful: The group singing the album's title cut, Raw Youth, was discovered at a Rock Against Fur benefit and signed to Irving Azoff's new label, Giant.
When "Tame Yourself" comes out, there will be some interesting promotions, including autograph sessions by stars in their underwear. This builds on the PETA motto, "We'd rather go naked than wear fur." (When the Go-Gos start their reunion tour in November, they'll be selling an underwear-only poster to benefit PETA.) And Paul Mitchell, which spends $5 million a year on print advertising, will feature the PETA album in its ads and will distribute it in many of the 35,000 salons that carry Mitchell products. Also on the marketing tip: wallet-size guides listing cruelty-free products and PETA's first mail-order catalogue, full of veggie cookbooks, mugs, non-leather wallets, shirts, buttons and the like. It's free from PETA, P.O. Box 42516, Washington, D.C. 20015-0516. Tickets for Saturday's gala are $15 (call 770-7444). Incidentally, the tickets includes a veggie meal created by chef Peter Schaffrath: tortellini tofu, babaganoush in roasted zucchini, melon soup, carrot and asparagus mousse.
John Densmore, drummer for the Doors, has written his -- and therefore the group's -- first insider autobiography, "Riders on the Storm: My Life With Jim Morrison and the Doors" (Delacorte). He'll be here tonight to talk on "The Larry King Show," and tomorrow afternoon he'll be signing his book at Olsson's in Georgetown from 5:30 to 6:30, before hosting a reception at the Hard Rock Cafe. The book, Densmore says, grew out of journals he kept while trying, through friends and therapists, to exorcise the demons of tumultuous relationships with Morrison and fame, and the guilt and confusion following Morrison's death in 1973. "The Doors are etched on my forehead and always will be," he says, "but that was then and this is the '90s -- forward! Somehow it feels like a cloud has been lifted."
At once insightful and funny -- Densmore seems to have had the corner on self-deprecating humor in the Doors -- "Riders on the Storm" is a major source for the upcoming Oliver Stone film, along with "No One Here Gets Out Alive," the 2-million-selling 1980 book that helped put the Doors back in the spotlight (in fact, the Doors get more radio play and sell more records now than they did in the late '60s).
"It's all true," Densmore says of the sensationalistic Jerry Hopkins biography. "It's just the crazy guy in that book is on one binge after another. So how did Jim manage to be sensitive and write all this other stuff? I hope I'm filling that out." Densmore says he's seen "powerful" raw footage from Stone's film but not a rough cut and so hasn't been able to get a sense of the film's tone. "I'm nervous but hopeful and excited," he says. Densmore, incidentally, will be played by Kevin Dillon, Matt's brother.