Champions of Synthetic Fiber, Angry Human Stars Make the Fur Fly at a Benefit for Animal Rights

updated 03/06/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/06/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

The last time rock and fur came together, people lived in caves. Back then it was okay to bash a mammoth with a boulder; for the effort, you got a winter coat and a nice flank steak to boot. But in these days of central heating and synthetic fibers, wrapping up in animal skins has become distinctly unhip. At least that was the message at Manhattan's Palladium dance club, where People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently threw a celebrity Rock Against Fur fund-raiser to help protect furbearers from potential fur wearers.

A young crowd of about 3,500 packed the cavernous club, paying up to $20 a ticket. They heard former Go-Go Jane Wiedlin kick off the evening with six songs, some from her latest album, Fur, on which she pleads for animal rights. Her set ended with the B-52's, Oscar-nominee (for Running on Empty) River Phoenix and his girlfriend, actress Martha Plimpton, plus rocker Lene Lovich, all singing Wiedlin's "(I Don't Wear) Fur." Next up was a fur-free fashion show featuring two nature-loving young men wearing jockstraps, who unfurled a banner reading FUR ISN'T CHIC. Later most of the performers came back onstage for a mock fur-burning, dropping fake furs in a vat of dry ice.

Plimpton and Phoenix are so committed to animal rights that they won't even eat honey, and they're certain they've tapped into the next big social issue. "The nation—especially the youth of this nation—is getting really tired of this vain, self-involved attitude that everything belongs to us on the earth and everything is there for our taking," said Plimpton. "It's not. We really have to use this planet wisely and realize that animals are not our playthings." Not everyone on the Palladium stage saw things in quite such lofty terms. "I stopped wearing fur 15 years ago after I got a pet," said actress Mink Stole, who appeared in the John Waters films Polyester and Hairspray. "I can't look at a fur coat now without seeing eyes."

From Our Partners