Last modified at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Au naturel look earns protest notice
If you want to attract attention, getting naked at noon in downtown Jacksonville works.
At least it worked yesterday for Nuria Querol.
Actually Querol wasn't completely naked. She had on a pair of black bikini bottoms and held a strategically placed sign. Also, she was covered in yellow and black body paint. And she was kneeling in a small cage. She looked nakedly vulnerable and uncomfortable. Which apparently was the point.
She was there -- in a cage at the corner of Hogan and Water streets, across from The Jacksonville Landing -- to draw attention to a protest that would otherwise have been easy to ignore. "It's definitely an eye-opener, definitely catching a lot of men's eyes," commented one man as he stood and stared.
Querol, who is Spanish, and Holly Fraser, who is Canadian, have been traveling Florida this week on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an organization that, according to its Web site, "operates under the simple principle that animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment."
That's a broad mission statement that encompasses some causes with which virtually everyone can agree and some causes that most of us would consider beyond bizarre. The specific mission of Fraser and Querol is to serve as an unwanted advance party for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which they say mistreats animals. The circus is due to tour Florida next month. Thus, Fraser and Querol travel the state, taking turns getting naked and painted like tigers in the name of the cause.
Nudity as a form of protest is very big with PETA. The PETA Web site offers a 2003 pinup calendar. Many of the images come from its Fur Is Dead campaign, for which Pamela Anderson, Kim Basinger, Sheryl Lee, Christy Turlington, Dominique Swain and, most recently, NYPD Blue's Charlotte Ross have posed nude.
John Wayne McLain was both impressed and unimpressed. "You can't not look," he said. "She's a pretty lady. But it's a shame she is degrading herself. If there was anything to their cause, they wouldn't have to go to that level of immorality."
Immorality seemed an unfair word to describe what Querol was doing. Throughout the hourlong protest, she kept her sign in place, careful not to reveal forbidden flesh. At one point, security guards from a nearby building did demand the protesters move the cage. But Fraser ignored them and the protest ended as scheduled, without further incident.
Querol was clearly relieved to be able to move again after an hour of kneeling in a tiny cage. But that, Querol said, was the point. "It was horrible. But it was nothing compared to what animals have to endure."
Charlie Patton's column appears on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Contact him at cpattonjacksonville.com or (904) 359-4413.