Oh, for PETA's sake

“Dude, today in downtown Royal Oak, there was, like, this totally naked chick standing on the corner of Fourth and Main. Well, almost naked. But, I could still see her boobs and stuff. It was, like, cool.”

Although I’m sure PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) members were trying very genuinely to raise awareness of their cause with the naked protest staged a week ago Tuesday, I suspect the general response elicited was much more similar to the above imagined musings of a hormone-charged, high-school boy.

As part of a nationwide anti-leather campaign, “I’d rather bare skin than wear skin,” PETA convinced some poor partisan to stand in high-traffic pedestrian areas clad in only a banner, with flesh-colored panties and Band-Aids on her nipular region to avoid violating any nudity ordinances.

When asked if she was a little chilly, as it was about 50 degrees that fine Michigan spring afternoon, Cynthia Lieberman of Denver replied, through chattering teeth, “It’s nothing compared to what the animals go through.” Her whole body shook like a jalopy doing 90 down the pothole-laden I-75, although she did have a guy dressed in a plush cow suit standing behind her, making a vain attempt to warm up the nippy young lass.

“The response has been very positive,” chirped campaign coordinator Rae Leann Smith, as a truck full of guys driving by rolled down their window and barked, “Put on some freaking clothes!” Smith was quick to point out PETA wasn’t targeting Incognito (although they set up camp right outside the boutique) or any other stores specifically; they just chose that particular spot for high visibility. “We’re glad that 98 percent of what Incognito sells is synthetic fur and leather,” said Smith. Incognito staff member Shawn Angus reported that sales hadn’t been any slower than normal, and he generally got a kick out of watching the whole shebang from inside.

Down the street at Noir Leather, Dan Halen of 12 Angry Steps (who is, incidentally, sporting a new guitarist, Sir Alan Valentine) had prepared a sign in case PETA tromped down to the leather-filled fetish boutique. It read: “Plants have feelings too. So put on some damn pants.”

Bra-free and Girlee

On Friday, the Girlee Collective held the closing party for its latest show, HERstory, at the Maniscalco Gallery on Mack. The gig featured acoustic performances from Audra Kubat and others, and the artists were on hand to rub elbows and discuss their works.

The highly social Vicki Burlington of Accounting Aids introduced me to gallery owner Robert Maniscalco, who plans to wed his fiancee, Amanda Poland, in June, and hold a show titled “Love” in honor of the blessed event. Awww. I also spoke with artist Michael Dion, who was first inspired to start creating art by a Metro Times cover by Detroit artist Maugré.

While Girlees Lisa Whiting, Julie Fournier, Angela Crouch and Phaedra Robinson — the associate director of detroit contemporary, where I headed later — were doing that estrogen bonding thing, I mulled over Rachel Reynolds’ 3-D piece with the artist herself. Artists Elke Ullmer and lawyer-by-day Kuljit “Ko” Bhamia of Windsor were also more than happy to meet and greet and discuss their works. The Girlees remain, as always, refreshingly creative, inspiring and free of any catty bitchiness. And in addition to baby Ts, they’re now selling pastel-colored panties emblazoned with the Girlee logo.

Jennifer Mercedes Boyak created a piece dedicated to the controversial notion that wearing a bra contributes to cancer when it compresses the lymph nodes of the breast. Adjacent to the painting, there was a stack of stickers reading “Bra Free and Happy” that patrons were encouraged to take. I merrily slapped one on my Wonderbra and bid the Girlees farewell, as I trekked on to my next adventure.

Paging Dr. Funkenstein

Next up on the evening’s agenda was detroit contemporary, that charming little gallery in the heart of a not-so-great neighborhood. On the last Friday of every month, DJs Scott Craig and Brad Hales bust out the funk and testify, with “Motor City Funk” a night of groove-a-licious bass lines and James Brown’s reverberating wailings. And the best part? It’s free! Can I get an amen!

The night kicked off with live music from Sweeder and the Americans. Earlier, band members from Sweeder reported spotting a wild pheasant lurking amid the urban flora and fauna behind the gallery, which is apparently a sign of good luck. Yes, pheasants actually live in Detroit. Now we know where the Whitney gets them from. Just kidding.

I spent most of the evening outside, since naturally you’re not supposed to smoke in the gallery, where I chatted with Emily the Canadian Destroyer, John Holiday, Emil and cutie Justin Clark. Also spotted, begging for spare beer, were Eric Outlaw of Negative Conductor and Gram Larceny of the Drag Strippers.

To further emphasize the old-school theme, Dan Augustine toted along and set up his vintage video games, a Commodore 64 and Atari, which he played gleefully with Jason Piekacz. Long live Q-bert.

Apparently record label owner Matt Halpin thinks biting someone’s ass is an appropriate method of first introduction, as I had never met the young man before he came over and sank his pearly whites into my pleather hip-huggers. However, he only did it on a dare, so I graciously forgave him.

As the night stretched on, the masses congregated on the dance floor and collectively busted their moves. The vibe for the whole night was intensely positive and friendly — everyone was just there to have fun and get down and funky. Definitely make a note to yourself to check it out next month.

Sarah Klein isn’t currently bra-free, but is still happy. Send hot gossip, desperate pleas for attention or party invites to [email protected], or call the tip line at 313-962-5281. Press * then dial
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