Volume 74, Number 23 | Octuber 6 - 12 , 2004

Trying to right the wrongs of ‘Animal Rights!’ woman

By Wilson

She’s loud and she’s scary and you usually hear her before you see her. She’s the “Animal Rights!” loudmouth and she wants you to “Sign the Petition!”

This angry-sounding with short blond, over-processed hair (God knows what she’s done to herself) is usually located at Astor Pl. or Cooper Sq. (although she’s been seen at other heavily touristed locations throughout the city). I forget her actual name, but “Animal Rights!” also has another criminal identity/alias, “Women’s Rights!” For this particular sideline scam, she barks out her trademark “Sign the Petition!” and displays a placard of an infamous an infamous Hustler magazine photo where an upside-down, naked woman is being fed into a meat grinder. I don’t know what she’s on, but his hustler always pretends to be some sort of radical activist. You think you’re just going to sign something in support of animal rights, but then she tells you that the “sign-up” fee to join her organization is $7 (which is enough to cover a pack of cigarettes, which she then promptly purchases at St. Mark’s and Third once she’s suckered her first victim of the day).

Several years ago, a confusing and ignorant turtle owner I once knew (the entire turtle trade is yet another form of animal abuse) actually tried to have a conversation with this maniac, naively thinking said “nonprofit” was legit, suggesting that her cause might better be served is she didn’t behave in such an angry/psychotic manner.

I’ve recently been staging a one-person “demonstration” whenever I see her in effort to “out” her. But since she’s scary and dangerous acting, and has upper arms like Linda Hamilton in “Terminator,” I have developed a safe and unique strategy for dealing with this hustler.

“First rule of Fight Club is….” First, I make sure there’s sufficient foot traffic and pedestrian activity outside. I’ve found this technique is best carried out while she’s either ensnared a “customer” or is yelling “Sign the Petition!” Next, I get thoroughly “mixed in” with a forward-moving crowd, wait until I get at least 15 feet past her and finally yell out “Con Artist! Thief! Con Artist!” which has elicited similar exclamations from nearby vendors, street people and/or other neighborhood residents who are “on” to her antics. I discreetly move on. O.K., I know it’s extreme, but I believe she’s using innocent animals as pawns, and I hate that.

“Animal Rights!” is not the only “wrong” I’ve tried to “right.” Once, I even made a somewhat loud announcement regarding a pickpocket on a crowded bus. And just the other day, the very last one of summer, I ended up getting laryngitis from yelling at the top of my lungs about another crime. A friend and I went to Brighton Beach by subway. It’s all the time/money we could afford. It was a perfect day, we had a nice sandwich/picnic and I got to go swimming three times. Due to various medical disabilities, I had been unable to go anywhere for quite some time. Then, at around 3:35 p.m., while chatting with my friend, I looked up and saw that some creature sitting approximately 25 feet directly in front of us was masturbating (ferociously). At first I thought he was retarded/he didn’t look right — but it dawned on met that this was his creepy “orgasmatic” face. And I’m telling you, seriously, when he became aware that I was aware, he had no intention of stopping. So I got up and yelled out, “Everyone, call 911!” Louder still, as was still going at it, I repeatedly yelled out, at the top of my lungs, “Police! Pervert! Police!” while making vastly animated pointing-at-the-criminal motions.

I’m sure all of Brighton Beach must have heard me. People got up and started looking/taking out their cell phones. Then, these two guys farther down the beach that my friend and I had earlier noticed/discussed, started running toward us to see what the problem was. Finally, this disgusting pig, starting to go, picked up his pace when he saw the two guys coming, and that the entire beach/boardwalk was watching. (I don’t think he “finished,” however, my friend, who thinks he parked in front of us for some pathetic lesbian fantasy, thinks he did; but we’ll never know for sure/the blue dress evidence ran too fast). Two decent men, one of whom had a fake/bionic leg, chased him all the way to Coney Island, yet this late-20s pervert wearing a black-and-red baseball cap and carrying a backpack eluded them.

There were no cops anywhere, not on the beach, or at the adjacent subway. God forbid I lit a cigarette on an open/outdoor subway platform, which is what happened last summer when I went and got “busted” by the cops. I know damn well they would have given me some kind of ticket had I not had ID, which completely floored them. I said, “Hello?! There’s pickpockets and the Russian mob out on that beach. I purposely didn’t bring my wallet.” Fortunately, I was let go. But for Christ’s sake!

To make matters worse, when I later called the precinct that handles Brighton Beach, I was told that at the time of the incident there were no officers on duty anywhere because it was their shift change. And furthermore, the cops never patrol the beach; that’s the Parks Department’s job. I thought, maybe I should turn to a life of crime and rob/steal/pillage from certain stores during their shift change. I mean, hello, there was this one really excellent-looking place that sold top-of-the-line caviar, but it was just so expensive….

So/but, where are all the other conscientious objectors? Why do I have to do everything? I can’t even speak anymore. (The last time I had laryngitis was on 9/11/01.) I’ve already experienced more than a decade of agonizing legal hell/supported many decent organizations/causes all my life. And boo hoo, I couldn’t go to even one damn protest during the R.N.C. because there is no way could I ever deal with another lawyer, judge, civil servant and/or hostile clerk again. (And between not going to the Poor People’s March and the simultaneous women’s issues march, boy was I splintered/torn.)

I’m positive they’d have locked me up and confiscated my bike, megaphone, whistle, Swiss Army knife key chain and the really cool sign I made for a small, extremely freezing pro-choice rally last winter in Union Sq. (NY1 used it in a close-up of the event!) It was a white, wire hanger twisted into the shape of a crucifix, held together with band-aids and a red ribbon, with the “Mommie Dearest” line (“No wire hangers ever!”) written in (I so very much hate that incomprehensible, menstrual-blood pink David Foster Wallace) deep-red, blood-spattered nail polish.

And I just know that today’s police force would never have put up with my Abner Louima protest sign, which was a highly opinionated, black, magic marker drawing of the psychological workings of a pig’s brain (on neon-orange paperstock), attached to a (now-illegal) wooden stick that was at least 15-ft. tall (that’s all I had handy). “We don’t need no stinkin’ cardboard tubes!” is what I say….

Can “Animal Rights!” lady be stopped? And to all naïve college freshmen from out of town wearing wool, velvet, fur, suede (yes, this means “Uggs”) and/or other inappropriate fall clothing during Indian summer temperatures — don’t forget to beware of the “Mean People Sucks” guy!

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