Wavy Gravy will be raising money for SEVA (the anti-poverty foundation Wavy Co-founded) and hopefully hosting a big dance at the Craneway.
We ask Wavy Gravy about being the subject of a documentary
By Richard Scheinin, Mercury News
Posted: 11/27/2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Born Hugh Romney, he grew up to be Wavy Gravy -- clown, poet and peace activist, a voice of Woodstock, Merry Prankster and pop culture icon. These days, his name even graces cartons of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. And he's about to turn 75.
From Dec. 3-9, "Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie" plays in theaters in San Francisco (Red Vic Movie House) and Berkeley (Landmark Shattuck Cinemas). The documentary, directed by Michelle Esrick, goes back to Wavy's Greenwich Village beatnik days, when he roomed with Bob Dylan, palled around with Lenny Bruce and did stand-up monologues as opening act for Thelonious Monk.
How does it feel, we asked Wavy, to be in his own movie?
Q: In a sentence, what's your life about?
A: Trying to do as much good as possible in the limited time I have on the planet.
Q: What did you learn from Lenny Bruce? Dylan?
A: Lenny: The only justice in the halls of justice is in the halls and you can't get snot off suede.
Dylan: Your guess is as good as mine.
Q: Did you teach them something?
A: Maybe. Only they can answer that question.
Q: Ever have a sit-down conversation with Thelonious Monk?
A: I was standing up. One time when I was working at Cafe Renaissance on Sunset Boulevard, I wrote a series of instructions on the stairs heading down to the dressing room. Things like: "go back 3 steps" and "turn around two times," etc etc. Then I hid in a closet and waited for Monk. Monk followed my instructions implicitly. It blew my mind. He told me, "Everyone is a genius just being themselves."
Q: What's the most fun you've ever had?
A: Watching Monk go down those stairs!
Q: What's the lesson of Woodstock?
A: Sharin' and carin' and feedin' each-other. We must be in heaven, man.
Q: What's your message to young people today?
A: We can change the world and have fun doing it.
Q: You've had so many back/spinal surgeries. How do you deal with the pain?
A: One breath at a time. It only hurts when I don't laugh, yet there is nothing about pain that intrigues me.
Q: Are you still a poet? A freak? A jester? A clown? Who and what are you?
A: Circle three of the above and join hands.
Q: What do you hope will be your legacy?
A: The children from camp Winnarainbow (Wavy's circus and performing arts camp in Mendocino County) and their future accomplishments.
Q: Who lives at the Hog Farm these days? Is it as fun or "weird" as it used to be?
A: Hog farmers live there. We have about 50 land owners with a hippie Hyanisport in Berkeley and a 700-acre ranch up north where my wife Jahanara and myself direct Camp Winnarainbow, Evan Engber has a bio-engineering business, Bob Barsotti runs our concert facility, Irene Engber tends the organic farm and Dorje has a tent, tipi and awning manufacturing business. I named it, "In Tents".
Q: Pre-comedy days in New York City, what was your first job?
A: I worked in a resort in Lenox, Massachusetts, where I was a swan wrangler and received the nasty scar on my right thumb. Swans are snakes with feathers.
Q: Fill in the blank: The thing that most surprises people about me is _______.
A: I'm the hippie that's always ten minutes early.
Q: If starting over today, what profession would you choose?
A: You got me there. Whatever comes along, I guess. One breath at a time and take it as it comes.
Q: What will you do on your 75th birthday?
A: I will be raising money for Seva (the anti-poverty foundation Wavy co-founded). I will do two shows; one in the Bay Area, a big dance, hopefully at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond and a sit down show in the Cement Apple, hopefully at the Beacon Theatre.
Q: How do you feel about being a bonafide historical figure, the subject of a documentary film?
A: To be on my own like a rolling stone, like a complete unknown? How does it feeel?!!