By Lauren Kearney
Lead guitarist for Jane’s Addiction, former member of Red Hot Chili Peppers and host of Ink Master: it’s pretty safe to say that Dave Navarro has now become a rock icon. His unique guitar playing, which merges heavy metal, psychedelic and modern rock styles, and his somewhat devilish personal style have made him stand out from thousands of his peers.
Apart from playing with two of the biggest alternative rock bands in history, Navarro has released one solo album Trust No One, and has played in other bands like Deconstruction and The Panic Channel. He’s put out a book, called Don’t Try This At Home, which focused on a time in his life when he overcame heroin addiction and married Carmen Electra, and even made a film: Mourning Son, which dealt with the biggest event in his life: the murder of his mother when he was only 15.
Although he may look like a dark, nasty badass, what with his kohl eyeliner, jet black hair and heavy tattoos, deep down inside, Navarro is a sensitive, gentle man. Despite the turbulence in his life, one thing he could always rely on was the loyalty of animals, and caring for all things soft and fluffy is very dear to him. In fact, he’s such an animal lover that the American guitarist and singer-songwriter is now using his fame to speak out against animal testing in a new Be Cruelty Free campaign with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
I was lucky enough to speak to Dave Navarro about this campaign and what sparked his interest in it, as well as to learn about favourite cruelty free products, and how a dog named Dusty changed his life.
When did you first learn about the horrors of cosmetic animal testing?
Years ago, when I was researching the fur industry. Brutal and inhumane. It was then that I found information on testing for cosmetics. It turned my stomach to see how so many beautiful lives were made to suffer only so humans could “feel better about themselves.’’ Feeling better about one’s self is an inside job. We have plenty of cruelty free options out there. Slapping a coat of animal tested paint on your face only highlights the self-centered ugliness.
What exactly made you decide to be part of The Humane Society of the United States’ Be Cruelty Free campaign?
As a member of the entertainment industry I am in makeup trailers and back stages constantly. Every time I step into one I notice the sea of makeup spread out on the counter tops. I am always saddened to know that most of these products have come to be through the most cruel and inhumane testing on helpless animals. The spread could almost be a “celebration of cruelty”. I know that many people aren’t even aware of the fact that they are supporting these companies and what they do by purchasing these products. I wanted to speak up and at least help create some awareness both socially and politically.
How does it make you feel to know that many other nations have banned cosmetic animal testing, yet the U.S. is so far behind?
It’s infuriating to know that the US has yet to ban cosmetic animal testing as so many other nations have. As the nation most known for our contributions to entertainment we have a duty to take this stand. We use more makeup in the name of “glamour” than anyone else. We beg for and crave attention. If we are so desperate to have all the world’s eyes upon us, let’s do it with compassion and set an example in the process. What are we saying as a society when we see our favorite actress on the red carpet and say, “Wow, she looks gorgeous. Too bad so many defenseless animals suffered and were ultimately destroyed so she can look that way.”
I believe that once you’ve truly connected with an animal, there’s no going back. You look at cosmetics a different way. Have you ever experienced a particularly powerful connection with an animal?
When I was a child I had a dog named Dusty. He got loose and ran away one day. While he was running around the neighborhood he was hit by a car, not fatally but he was badly injured. We found him, took him to the vet and he underwent a series of skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries. My heart ached for him as this was my first introduction to suffering on any level. To this day, the thought of a suffering animal takes me back to that vulnerable 6 year old kid, traumatized by the fear of his beloved pet’s pain.
How has speaking up for animals changed your life?
My intention is to help save the lives of so many animals but a strange bi-product of my efforts has had an unusual side effect. I have found myself more compassionate towards humans as well. I think there is validity in the thinking that our “compassion” lives within us as a muscle and the more we use it the stronger and more effective it becomes.
Have you ever considered combining your passion for music with your passion for speaking up for animals?
There are many like-minded artists in the music industry, I would love to one day collaborate with them or hold an event to raise awareness and even get the attention of Washington.
If you could name 5 of your favourite cruelty free products, what would they be?
- LUSH – Breath of God Perfume
- Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap – Lavender
- Urban Decay – UD XX Vintage Nail Color
- Smashbox – Studio Skin 15 hour Hydrating Foundation
- Paul Mitchell – PET Tearless Shampoo
Why do you think it’s taking so long to get a ban on animal testing in the USA?
The sad thing is this: we can create all the awareness in the world but the bottom line is that there are people out there who simply don’t care. Some people are just awful and they will go on using what they want to use despite the consequences, end of story. That’s why we need to pass a ban on animal testing and take the choice out of their hands.
That’s pretty bleak! Are you at all hopeful for the future?
I’m excited about The Humane Cosmetics Act which – if passed – would ban cosmetic animal testing in the U.S. I look forward to working alongside HSUS and encourage lawmakers to co-sponsor this important federal bill.
All images: Wikicommons unless otherwise specified. Main image: Andy Kellan