Let's give credit where it's due: you can't ever accuse PETA of letting cold weather, common sense or good taste ruin the opportunity for a perfectly good publicity stunt.
As promised, the group returned to their favorite downtown street corner, Main and Akard, this morning for what their press release promised would be "display of passion" that would leave passersby "gaping." When we arrived, those passersby amounted to five cops, three of them on Segways and two more loitering by a cruiser. They watched as the happy, goose-bumped couple, a black-haired guy and his red-haired, crimson-lingeried girlfriend, made out strenuously on a bed with a pink satin cover. Volunteers on either side of them held pink signs that read "Have a Heart - Go Vegan" and "Vegans Make Better Lovers."
"We're making sure nobody bothers them," Detective Mike Mendez of the Intelligence Unit told us. In the 20 minutes or so we stood there, the number of Segway and bike cops doubled, all of them watching very, very intently to ensure the couple's right to free
Meanwhile, campaigner Tracy Patton and a couple of volunteers walked around handing out "vegan starter-kits," glossy magazine-sized booklets with pictures of celebrities and recipes for spring rolls and mango salsa.
"This is going to get me going," one guy told Patton, taking a booklet. We're 90 percent sure he meant the kit.
Patton told us that the kissing couple is in fact the same pair who have been seen faux-getting it on for PETA this week in Shreveport, Tulsa and Oklahoma City. They're actually a couple who have been together three years, they're originally from L.A. (be nice), and they were not allowed to talk to us. A camera guy from Channel 33 asked for a quick chat with the pair, and Patton told him that was verboten.
"I can feed them one soundbite to say to you," she offered sweetly.
"I'm sorry?" he replied, looking confused. "You can feed them something to say to me? Never mind."
"They're busy," Patton replied. "Their job is to be the visual." A moment later, she rounded up the three camera guys who were present and offered the soundbite herself. "The best way to spice up your love life is a vegan diet," she told them. "It gives you more energy and a sexier physique." Plus, a meat-heavy diet clogs blood flow "not only to the heart but to other vital organs. Meat eating correlates with impotence." Behind her, the guy's hands clasped around his girlfriend were starting to look a little blue.
"The response to the campaign has been so positive," Patton told us a moment later. "Lots of waves, smiles, thumbs-up and honking."
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We asked, because it's our job sometimes to pose inanely obvious questions, why PETA is so fond of using naked, mute ladies in its publicity campaigns. Patton pointed out that they use men too.
"PETA has the utmost respect for anyone, man or woman, who chooses to go naked," she said. "It's a fun, upbeat way to draw attention to a serious issue. It makes people stop and think more than something different would." Or it makes people stop, giggle and snap cell phone photos, which is what the few pedestrians trickling by were mostly doing.
"Oh mah God," declared an elderly lady with her eyebrows drawn on, hurrying by. "I think that should stay in the bedroom."
The couple and their handlers should be downtown till 1:00 or so. There was no sign of any of those Friends of Unfair Park who promised in the comments yesterday to swing by to taunt the lovebirds with some ribs or a bucket of chicken. Very disappointing.