Mathews, Dan 1964–

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Mathews, Dan 1964–

PERSONAL:

Born 1964, in CA; son of Ray (a restaurateur) and Perry (a bookkeeper) Mathews.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Portsmouth, VA. Office—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510.

CAREER:

Worked as a model; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Washington, DC (now Norfolk, VA), 1985—, became senior vice president for campaigns.

WRITINGS:

Committed: A Rabble-Rouser's Memoir, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Advocate, Out, Details, TV Guide, Genre and the London Guardian.

SIDELIGHTS:

Dan Mathews has been an animal activist since childhood, and as an adult he has raised awareness of animal rights and funds for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), often with celebrity supporters who notably include Pamela Anderson. An openly gay man, Mathews told an interviewer for the Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide: "I think the connection is very clear in the way that many gays are sensitized to animal rights far more than most people…. People who have a cavalier attitude about cruelty to animals tend to have a similar attitude toward gay people and other minorities. So I think philosophically and emotionally gays should see the nasty attitudes towards animals and sympathize with them because they have been at the receiving end of that same attitude." Many gay celebrities, including Boy George, k.d. lang, Melissa Etheridge, and Julie Cypher have acted as spokespersons for PETA.

In Committed: A Rabble-Rouser's Memoir, Mathews writes of his more than two decades with PETA, where he changed the tone of campaigns, replacing posters showing the skinning and killing of animals with others that were easier to view, many of which featured celebrities. As a result of Mathews's creative activism, fashion designer Calvin Klein dropped fur from his collection, as did Ralph Lauren, Georgio Armani, and Tommy Hilfiger. Female celebrities appeared nearly nude in the "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign posters, including Christy Turlington and Anderson, the latter wearing a bikini of lettuce leaves.

Mathews himself has dressed in a carrot costume and appeared in public in his shorts to promote vegetarianism and animal rights, and he has been arrested more than twenty times. Mathews convinced Al Sharpton to narrate a video targeting Kentucky Fried Chicken, which is a popular food item in the black community, and Sharpton agreed. Martha Stewart reversed her position on wearing fur and narrated an antifur video. Under Mathews's leadership PETA membership has grown from sixty thousand to nearly two million. In reviewing the book, Booklist reviewer Donna Seaman wrote: "The force of his convictions and his love of life electrify every page."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Mathews, Dan, Committed: A Rabble-Rouser's Memoir, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 2007, Donna Seaman, review of Committed, p. 43.

Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, July 1, 2007, "Dan Mathews: Connecting Animal and Gay Rights," p. 34.

Houston Chronicle, September 9, 2007, Clifford Pugh, "Stop! In the Name Animal Rights: Socially Active."

Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2007, review of Committed, p. 113.

Library Journal, April 15, 2007, Alicia Graybill, review of Committed, p. 98.

OnEarth, summer, 2007, Elizabeth Royte, review of Committed.

People, February 13, 1995, Peter Catro and John Hannah, "For PETA's Sake; Dan Mathews Has Turned His Antifur Fervor into a Cause Celeb," p. 157.

Publishers Weekly, January 22, 2007, review of Committed, p. 176; February 19, 2007, "PW Talks with Dan Mathews: He'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur: As Someone Who's Been Jailed Wearing a Carrot Suit and While Protesting in the Nude, Dan Mathews Tells What It's Like to Crusade for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals in Committed: a Rabble Rouser's Memoir," p. 158.

USA Today, April 12, 2007, Craig Wilson, "Crusader's Committed Is a Monument to PETA Power," p. 8.

ONLINE

Conversations with Famous Writers,http://www.conversationsfamouswriters.blogspot.com/ (April 26, 2007), "Dan Mathews: Committed: A Rabble Rouser's Memoir," interview.

Dan Mathews MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/ (October 1, 2007).

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Web site,http://www.peta.org/ (October 1, 2007), brief biography.