What were two naked people - covered only by paper barrels - doing on Walnut Street Wednesday afternoon?

They only attracted minor attention because of the rain but two employees from the LUSH Cosmetics held a 20-minute demonstration to talk about, what they termed a "dirty little secret" - the U.S. government's subsidization of Canadian tar sands oil.

The U.S. consumes oil from the Canada's Tar Sands, a region in Alberta. Environmentalists claim that open pit mining on the tar sands leads to poisoned water and that trees are being cut down to get to the oil.

"If it weren't an important issue, I rather not have people naked and doing shock demos, but this is a critical issue for our entire world, and if we don't make a change now, we're not going to have a world left to enjoy," said Ryan Draving, president of the vegan group, "Vegvine" who just happened to be passing by the protest in the 1400 block of Walnut Street.

The two female employees were given moderate attention - with the afternoon crowd divided between the ecological message and the lack of clothing on two females.

"We're willing to take the clothes off our backs to show that if we don't do anything, we're going to lose everything, not just our clothes," said Katelaine Frandsen, one of the two women in the barrels.

Frandsen and fellow barrel wearer Olivia Kiernan were timid but firm in delivering their message. "Shut the sucker down," they chanted about the Tar Sands.

LUSH Cosmetics, which campaigns regularly on activist issues on everything from playground construction to ecological action, will run the Tar Sands campaign for six weeks.

"The chain is handing out postcards - for the public to sign - addressed to President Obama urging him to end consumption of the Tar Sands oil.

Contact Inquirer staff writer Vanessa Martinez at 215-854-2917 or vmartinez@phillynews.com