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Ann Simonton, Renegade Model

Ann Simonton, Renegade Model


Ann Simonton made her debut as an activist in 1980, when she and a friend erected a giant flag-waving ceramic penis outside the Hustler offices in Los Angeles, accompanied by blaring audio about how pornography exploits women.
Since then, Simonton hasn’t slowed down or toned down a bit. She’s been arrested 11 times for her nonviolent and flamboyant protests. She captured national attention in 1982 when she wore a dress made of meat to denounce the Miss California Pageant, which used to be held in Santa Cruz. In one of the most effective statements known to feminism, Simonton and her cold-cuts sheath eventually sent the pageant packing.
A former pageant contestant herself, and a top model who appeared on the covers of Sports Illustrated and Seventeen and in dozens of national television commercials, Simonton turned her back on her lucrative career to dedicate her life to exposing the bias of mainstream media.
She started Media Watch ( in 1984 to raise awareness about the media’s blatant propaganda, and to teach people to become more critical consumers of the media. She tours and lectures around the country exposing how media imagery and popular entertainment glorify fear and violence. She has also produced award-winning educational videos on the subject.
Simonton speaks about how the lack of diverse voices in the media is threatening democracy because the mainstream media are owned by a handful of mega-corporations who have a profit-driven agenda and close ties with politicians. She speaks out about the violence and oppression created by our government and informs people about the Bush administration’s policies that are compromising civil liberties.
Simonton is also very active with Women in Black, an international movement of women who wear black and stand in protest against war. The movement started in Argentina, where women were not allowed to speak, so they dressed in all black as a form of protest. The local Women in Black meet at Ocean and Water streets every Friday. Simonton has been known to enhance the spectacle by painting her hands with blood.
“Drama and theater are important to speak with the emotion of what is happening,” she says.
Simonton also manages to find the time to be passionately involved with teaching spoken word poetry at the Santa Cruz Teen Center and helping the students participate in poetry slam competitions.
“It’s one of the most powerful ways to get our youth away from the television and help articulate our next leaders,” she says.

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