You might not think you know the band The B-52s, but that'll change as soon as somebody puts "Love Shack" on the jukebox. The '70s and '80s new-wave band is in the limelight again today for a very different reason: telling a Florida circus to stop using their music while they continue abusing elephants.
This is far from the band's first time stepping into the activist arena. After their lead guitarist died from AIDS, the band went into seclusion and when they came out, they started a charge to educate a largely misinformed public about the epidemic and worked with amFAR to raise funds to do something about it.
You can read their amazing letter to the Circus in full below. Now if you'll excuse us, we've got some music to listen to.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Poema,
We were alarmed when we learned from our friends at PETA that the Royal Hanneford Circus has been using our songs “(Meet) The Flintstones” and “The Bedrock Twitch” during an act featuring three elephants from the Carson & Barnes Circus, including at the Bahia Shrine Circus in Kissimmee, Florida.
We’ve seen the footage of Carson & Barnes’ “animal care” director, Tim Frisco, cursing at elephants, shocking them with electric prods, and telling his trainers to drive bullhooks—heavy weapons with sharp steel tips—into their bodies and twist them until the animals scream in pain. We’re also aware of Carson & Barnes’ multiple violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act for failing to provide animals with minimum space, protection from the weather, and necessities such as clean water and adequate veterinary care—and that Carson & Barnes and your circus were both fined after elephants who’d been frightened by audience noise were injured while attempting to escape from their handlers.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus closed down because it wouldn’t change with the times, Cole Bros. Circus—where Frisco was a trainer—stopped touring, and Stardust Circus recently dropped a Carson & Barnes elephant act. Even Shrine circus producer James Hamid said, “As we look into the future, we see all circuses moving to non-animal productions.” Royal Hanneford should follow the lead of Circus Vargas, Cirque Italia, and all the other circuses that are thriving because they feature only willing human performers.
This letter shall serve as our demand that Royal Hanneford immediately cease and desist from any and all further use of any B-52s music in connection with any circus act or performance. Should you ignore this demand, we reserve the right to pursue all applicable legal remedies available to us.
We and our songs are all about freedom and fun—things that animals in the circus sadly never experience.
Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and Keith Strickland