Back in 2014, I covered one of my favorite magazine covers of all time: an issue of PAWS Chicago, with Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan on the cover. I grew up in the era of grunge rock and proto-emo-rock, and I was never really into the Pumpkins, but seeing Corgan holding his two beautiful black kitties on the cover made me ridiculously happy. PAWS Chicago magazine is devoted to telling the stories of shelter animals and happy adoption stories and all of that. Corgan has adopted all of his cats and kittens at the shelter, and he’s been a devoted cat-daddy for many years. Now he has a growing family – he’s 51, and his girlfriend Chloe Mendel was only 22 when she gave birth to their son Augustus in 2015, which would make her either 24 or 25 right now. Billy, Chloe, Augustus and their two kitties take the new cover of PAWS Chicago.
The kitties in question are Angelface and Diamond Baby, both of whom were rescues adopted by Billy. Angelface is the calico who is like “no photos please, I want to be alone.” Billy chatted with the magazine about what it means to adopt rescue kitties in need:
Throughout much of PAWS Chicago’s 20-year history, dating back to the formative days as a volunteer-run storefront adoption center on Clark Street, William (Billy) Corgan has embraced PAWS Chicago and its No Kill mission. As the budding rescue grew, so did William’s role as an activist for animal rights and a member of the PAWS family. These days, living with his partner, fashion designer Chloe Mendel, their two-year-old son Augustus Juppiter Corgan, two dogs and two PAWS cats, William is particularly moved by PAWS’ work.
When he’s in town, William likes to stop by the PAWS adoption center in Highland Park. He goes in to thank volunteers for their work and stays to watch as adopters meet the animals they will take home, to love and care for as members of their family. William considers PAWS the “gold standard“ among charitable organizations, and a uniquely Chicago institution: “PAWS is built around the ideas that hard work and volunteers can make a difference.” He points to the number of young people drawn to volunteering for PAWS as an indicator that the organization is speaking to those who see a different future.
To William, PAWS’ philosophy and programs are “noble and honorable pursuits” that, at their foundation, are about saving lives. In particular, PAWS challenges perceptions of shelter animals as inferior or damaged and have educated the public on the importance of spay/ neuter in reducing overpopulation and homelessness.
“Animals can’t communicate intellectually,” he said. “They need people and groups to act as translators, to get their message out.” Advocates for animal rights can help to build a “bridge that can link people to a new way of seeing animals.” William is particularly moved when he sees this work pay off. “There’s nothing more special,” he says, than meeting people who’ve adopted from PAWS: “I see a lot of people at the tea house, and through wrestling and music, and then I meet a family that has rescued an animal from PAWS and there’s nothing more humbling.”
[From PAWS Chicago]
I like this kind of smaller, no-drama activism and advocacy. Some people want to save the world, and some people simply want to support their local no-kill animal shelter. Apparently, Corgan has made a point of adopting kittens with medical issues too, so he’s choosing the kittens who are more difficult to get adopted, and then he pays for their operations and they’re part of his family. Corgan may or may not be a douche – I have no idea, but I’ve heard some stories – but on this, I love what he does. Plus, I just enjoy seeing middle-aged rockers with cats.
Covers courtesy of Paws Chicago.
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