From BAY AREA MUSIC MAGAZINE, March 6, 1993
M. SOHCOT Award
26, 1993 / BAM
from 197~1987 as the Board of Directors Award, the Arthur M Sohcot Award
presentation salutes a group or Individual who, through excellence in
performance and/or professional activity, or through dedicated public
service, has contributed to the betterment of the local community.
is a man who inspires glowing praise. "He's a very pure, kind, gentle
spirit," explains San Francisco publicist Cynthia Bowman, who has worked
with the counterculture clown on numerous benefit concerts over the
years. fit really goes beyond words. You start talking about him, and
it starts to sound disgusting too good to be true. But I've never
met anyone else like him. "
McNally, who's handled the Grateful Dead's publicity for years, concurs:
let's been said that he's rehearsing to be a saint. "
(born Hugh Romney) has lived a life filled with excitement, adventure,
and philanthropy. He was a part of the Beat movement in the late 1950s,
hanging out in Greenwich Village with hipsters and folk singers like
Paul Krassner, Lenny Bruce, and Bob Dylan. He was a comedian and a comic
actor, working for a time at the Committee (San Francisco's equivalent
to Chicago's famed Second City troupe). By 1966, he was one of Ken Kesey's
Merry Pranksters and living on a mountain top commune near LA called
the Hog Farm. After a time, the Hog Farm took to the road with its members
living in a fleet of converted school buses and traveling the country
protesting the Vietnam War. Wavy Gravy achieved his first 15 minutes
of fame when he declared from the stage at Woodstock, "What we have
in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000."
the Hog Farm collective journeyed to Europe and eventually ended up
in Nepal, distributing medical supplies to Pakistani flood victims.
Disturbed by the countless numbers of people suffering from unnecessary
blindness (due to easily operable cataracts or severe vitamin deficiencies),
Gravy and his fellow Farmers joined forces with the World Health Organization
to form Seva, an international medical aid organization.
after a Sanskrit word meaning service) has since expanded its base of
service to include many Projects where compassionate action can make
a difference, including supporting refugees of violence in Guatemala,
Native Americans caught in an ongoing health crises, and America's homeless
more recent Hog Farm project is Camp Winnarainbow, a performing arts
summer camp located near Laytonville, California. Run by Wavy and his
wife, Jahanara, Camp Winnarainbow teaches performance and circus skills
to kids of all ages and from all economic backgrounds in an easygoing,
everyone-has-a-talent atmosphere. We're just trying to have these kids'
creativity validated, get them out of shyness and fears Wavy told the
San Francisco Examiner in 1988. Everyone can shine here."
to his Hog Farm undertakings, Wavy has filled his days (and months.
and years) with an endless list: of benefits and worthy causes. There
was Home Aid (for the homeless), Cowboys for Indians (for Native Americans),
Blues Against Blindness (for SEVA), countless hours spent in children's
hospital wards, and much, much more. "He's addicted to helping
people, and his enthusiasm is contagious. The can talk you into anything,
and you never resent it," laughs McNally. He's a painless dentist.
his early days of protesting and activism, Wavy suffered a serious spinal
injury. It was during a lengthy recovery from resulting surgery that
he first donned his now-trademark clown outfit.
years ago I battled my way out of a severe post-surgical depression
by serving as a clown at the local children's hospital," he wrote
in Whole Earth Review last fall. When it became apparent that
the costume worked as a shield ("One day I had to go to a political
demonstration at People's Park and I didn't have time to change my clothes
or take my makeup off. I just shot down there and discovered that the
police did not want to hit me anymore. Clowns are safe," he reminisces
in his autobiography, Something Good for a Change), he adopted
it permanently. Over the years, he's also tried Santa suits and Easter
Bunny outfits, but the clown suit fits the best.