Wavy Gravy

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Wavy Gravy
ACC The Accent Wavy Gravy passing out free ice cream (3377996458) (cropped).jpg
Wavy Gravy in 2009
Hugh Nanton Romney

(1936-05-15) May 15, 1936 (age 83) [1] [2]
Bonnie Beecher (m. 1965)
Website www.wavygravy.net

Hugh Nanton Romney (born May 15, 1936) — known as Wavy Gravy — is an American entertainer and activist for peace best known for his role at Woodstock, as well as for his hippie persona and countercultural beliefs. He has reported that his moniker was given to him by B.B. King at the Texas International Pop Festival in 1969. [3]

Activism efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, religious, economic, or environmental change, or stasis

Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, direct, or intervene in social, political, economic, or environmental reform with the desire to make changes in society. Forms of activism range from mandate building in the community, petitioning elected officials, running or contributing to a political campaign, preferential patronage of businesses, and demonstrative forms of activism like rallies, street marches, strikes, sit-ins, or hunger strikes.

Woodstock 1969 music festival in New York, United States

Woodstock was a music festival held August 15–18, 1969, at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Woodstock. Billed as "an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music", it attracted an audience of more than 400,000. It was alternatively referred to as the Bethel Rock Festival or the Aquarian Music Festival. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain.

Hippie diminutive pejorative of hipster: 1960s counterculture participant

A Hippie is a member of the counterculture of the 1960s, originally a youth movement that began in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The word hippie came from hipster and was used to describe beatniks who moved into New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The term hippie first found popularity in San Francisco with Herb Caen, who was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle.


Romney has founded or co-founded several organizations, including the activist commune, the Hog Farm, and later, as Wavy Gravy, Camp Winnarainbow and the Seva Foundation. As well, he founded the Phurst Church of Phun,[ when? ] a secret society of comics and clowns that aimed to support ending of the Vietnam War through political theater, and has adopted a clown persona in support of his political activism, and more generally as a form of entertainment work,[ not verified in body ] including as the official clown of the Grateful Dead.

Commune Community of people living together, sharing common interests

A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, often having common values and beliefs, as well as shared property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work, income or assets.

The Hog Farm is an organization considered America's longest running hippie commune. Beginning as a collective in North Hollywood, California, during the 1960s, a later move to an actual hog farm in Tujunga, California gave the group its name. Founded by peace activist and clown Wavy Gravy and his actress wife Jahanara Romney, the Hog Farm evolved into a "mobile, hallucination-extended family", active internationally in both music and politics. A documentary short The Hog Farm Movie, filmed in 1967/68, was digitally restored in July 2019.

Camp Winnarainbow Performing arts in California, United States

Camp Winnarainbow is a circus and performing arts camp for all ages, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded and originally run by American entertainer and peace activist Wavy Gravy. The camp adjoins the Hog Farm commune near Laytonville, California.

As Wavy Gravy, he has had two radio shows on Sirius Satellite Radio's Jam On station. A documentary film based on his life, Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie , was released in late 2010 to generally positive reviews.

Sirius Satellite Radio Satellite radio service owned by Sirius XM

Sirius Satellite Radio was a satellite radio (SDARS) and online radio service operating in North America, owned by Sirius XM Holdings.

<i>Jam On</i>

Jam On is a jam band radio station on Sirius XM Radio channel 29 and Dish Network channel 6081. It has featured basketball player Bill Walton hosting a Grateful Dead show, hippie icon Wavy Gravy, and pedal steel player Buddy Cage as a DJ. It was formed in 2003 by Sirius VP Joel Salkowitz and programmer Lenny Bloch. The original DJ's were Jonathan Schwartz, Stef Scamardo, and Adam Foley.

Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie is a 2009 documentary about hippie icon and entertainer Wavy Gravy.

Early life and education

Romney was born in East Greenbush, New York on May 15, 1936. [1] [2] He attended William Hall High School in West Hartford, Connecticut.[ citation needed ] In 1954, Romney volunteered for the military and was honorably discharged after 22 months in the United States Army.[ citation needed ] Romney entered Boston University Theater Department in 1957 under the G.I. Bill,[ citation needed ] and then attended the Neighborhood Playhouse for the Theater in New York City.[ citation needed ]

East Greenbush, New York Town in New York, United States

East Greenbush is a town in Rensselaer County, New York, United States. It is a suburb of Albany, New York. The population was 16,473 at the 2010 census. The word Greenbush is derived from the Dutch het groen bosch, referring to the pine woods that originally covered the land. The first settlement of the land now known as East Greenbush was made by tenants under patroon Kiliaen van Rensselaer circa 1630. The town was established in 1855 as Clinton, and was renamed in 1858. It is mostly suburban along its major highways and rural in the southwestern and northeastern corners.

William H. Hall High School, also known as Hall High, is a four-year public high school located in West Hartford, in the U.S. state of Connecticut. Opened in 1924, it was named after William Henry Hall, who was a teacher, principal, and superintendent of schools in West Hartford. The school colors are blue and white, and the mascot is the "Warrior". It is one of two public high schools in the West Hartford Public Schools, the other being Conard High School. Enrollment in grades 9–12 for the 2014–2015 school year was 1,437 students.

West Hartford, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

West Hartford is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States, 5 miles (8.0 km) west of downtown Hartford. The population was 63,268 at the 2010 census.

In 1958, he began reading poetry regularly at The Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village in New York City, where he eventually became the cafe's entertainment director, befriending musicians such as Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, and Dave Van Ronk. [4] Early on,[ when? ] Romney shared an apartment with Paxton, in Greenwich Village.[ citation needed ]

The Gaslight Cafe was a coffeehouse in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York. Also known as The Village Gaslight, it opened in 1958 and became notable as a venue for folk music and other musical acts. It closed in 1971.

Greenwich Village Neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City

Greenwich Village often referred to by locals as simply "the Village", is a neighborhood on the west side of Manhattan, New York City, within Lower Manhattan. Broadly, Greenwich Village is bounded by 14th Street to the north, Broadway to the east, Houston Street to the south, and the Hudson River to the west. Greenwich Village also contains several subsections, including the West Village west of Seventh Avenue and the Meatpacking District in the northwest corner of Greenwich Village.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


His early career was managed by Lenny Bruce who brought Romney to California in 1962 where Romney did a live recording of Hugh Romney, Third Stream Humor as the opening act for Thelonious Monk at Club Renaissance in Los Angeles. [5]

Lenny Bruce American comedian, activist and social critic

Leonard Alfred Schneider, better known by his stage name Lenny Bruce, was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, and satirist. He was renowned for his open, free-style and critical form of comedy which integrated satire, politics, religion, sex, and vulgarity. His 1964 conviction in an obscenity trial was followed by a posthumous pardon, the first in the history of New York state, by then-Governor George Pataki in 2003.

Thelonious Monk American jazz pianist and composer

Thelonious Sphere Monk was an American jazz pianist and composer. He had a unique improvisational style and made numerous contributions to the standard jazz repertoire, including "'Round Midnight", "Blue Monk", "Straight, No Chaser", "Ruby, My Dear", "In Walked Bud", and "Well, You Needn't". Monk is the second-most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington, which is particularly remarkable as Ellington composed more than a thousand pieces, whereas Monk wrote about 70.

The Hog Farm

The Hog Farm collective was established through a chain of events beginning with Ken Babbs hijacking the Merry Pranksters' bus, Further , to Mexico, which stranded the Merry Pranksters in Los Angeles.[ citation needed ] First Romney assembled a collective in North Hollywood, visited by musicians such as Ravi Shankar and Tiny Tim (whom he managed).[ citation needed ] After moving to Sunland, a suburb north of Los Angeles, Romney was evicted from his one-bedroom cabin when the landlord found out that a large group of assorted pranksters and musicians were staying there; two hours later, a neighbor informed Romney that a nearby hog farm, owned by Claude Doty, needed caretakers, and Romney accepted an offer to work at the farm in exchange for rent. [6] [ verification needed ] Local people, musicians, artists, and folks from other communes began staying at the mountain-top farm.[ citation needed ] In his book Something Good for a Change, Gravy described this early period as a "bizarre communal experiment" where the "people began to outnumber the pigs". [7] Throughout this time,[ when? ] both Romney and his wife, Bonnie Beecher, had jobs in Los Angeles—he worked for Columbia Pictures teaching improvisation skills to actors,[ citation needed ] and Bonnie was a successful television actress, appearing in episodes of The Twilight Zone , Gunsmoke , Star Trek , and The Fugitive .[ citation needed ]

By 1966, the Hog Farm had coalesced into an entertainment organization providing light shows at the Shrine Exposition Hall in Los Angeles for music artists like the Grateful Dead, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix.[ citation needed ] Beginning in 1967, the collective began traveling across the country in converted school buses purchased with money earned as extras in Otto Preminger's feature film Skidoo (1968).[ citation needed ]

The Hog Farm relocated to Black Oak Ranch in northern California in the early 1990s. [8]

Woodstock Festival

At the first Woodstock Festival, Romney and the Hog Farm collective accepted festival executive Stan Goldstein's offer to help with preparations. [9]

Romney called his group the "Please Force," a reference to their non-intrusive tactics at keeping order, e.g., "Please don't do that, please do this instead". When asked by the press—who were the first to inform him that he and the rest of the Hog Farm were handling security—what kind of tools he intended to use to maintain order at the event, his response was "Cream pies and seltzer bottles" [9] (both being traditional clown props). In Gravy's words: "They all wrote it down and I thought, 'the power of manipulating the media', ah ha!" [10]

Romney made announcements from the concert stage throughout the festival.[ citation needed ] He later wrote in his memoir that "the reason that I got do to all those stage announcements was because of my relationship with Chip Monk [sic]. Chip built the stage at Woodstock." [11]

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's psychedelic tribute to the 1960s "I Want To Take You Higher", [12] Romney's sleeping bag and tie-dyed false teeth were displayed. He and Paul Krassner appeared there on the last day of the exhibit on February 28, 1998.[ citation needed ]

Romney, as Wavy Gravy after the first Woodstock, has been the Master of Ceremonies of, and the only person to appear on the bill of all three Woodstock Festivals.[ clarification needed ][ citation needed ] On the morning of the 20th Anniversary of the Woodstock Festival, he and author Ken Kesey were interviewed on Good Morning America , live from the Bethel concert site, where he discussed his experience as the MC of the event.[ citation needed ]

Wavy Gravy name origin

At the 1969 Texas International Pop Festival, two weeks after Woodstock, Romney was lying onstage, exhausted after spending hours trying to get festival-goers to put their clothes back on, when it was announced that B.B. King was going to play. [3] [ verification needed ] Romney began to get up, and felt a hand on his shoulder; it was B.B. King, who asked, "Are you Wavy Gravy?" to which Romney replied "Yes." "It's OK; I can work around you." [13] B.B. King and Johnny Winter then proceeded to jam for hours.[ citation needed ] Romney said he considered this a mystical event, and assumed Wavy Gravy as his legal name. [14] [ third-party source needed ] Romney has said, regarding the name, that "It's worked pretty well through my life... except with telephone operators–I have to say 'Gravy, first initial W.'"[ This quote needs a citation ]

Phurst Church of Phun and clowning

After frequent arrests at demonstrations, Wavy Gravy decided that his arrest would be less likely if he dressed as a clown.[ citation needed ] Romney therefore co-founded the Phurst Church of Phun,[ when? ] a secret society of comics and clowns dedicated to ending the Vietnam War through the use of political theater.[ citation needed ] Romney also performs more generally as a clown, including entertaining children, work that includes such traditional clown activities as joke-telling and magic tricks.[ citation needed ] As Wavy Gravy, he has served as the official clown of the Grateful Dead.[ when? ] [15]


Wavy Gravy has also been recognized for his work as a collage artist, with work presented at a solo exhibition in April 1999 at the Firehouse Gallery in New York under gallery owner Eric Gibbons. [16] He began exploring collage in the early '60s, and his first works were created in the period where he live above the Gaslight in Greenwich Village; he has stated that he was inspired by a Max Ernst collage he saw at the Bitter End, when he opened for Peter, Paul and Mary.[ when? ][ citation needed ] His collage work includes larger pieces done for celebrities in the San Francisco Bay Area.[ citation needed ]

Neo-pagan appearances

Wavy Gravy's first appearance at an event in the Neo-Pagan community was at the WinterStar Symposium in 1998 with Paul Krassner. [17] [ failed verification ] He appeared there again in 2000 with Phyllis Curott, where he joined Rev. Ivan Stang in a joint ritual of the Church of the SubGenius and his Church of the Cosmic Giggle.[ citation needed ]


Seva Foundation

Wavy Gravy began Seva Foundation along with spiritual leader Ram Dass and public health expert Dr. Larry Brilliant.[ when? ][ citation needed ] Based in Berkeley, California, Seva is an international health organization working to build sustainable health projects in many of the globe's most under-served communities. Gravy is famous for throwing all-star benefit concerts regularly featuring members of the Grateful Dead, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Ani DiFranco, Ben Harper, Elvis Costello and many other musicians. He serves on Seva's board of directors. [18] [ third-party source needed ]

Camp Winnarainbow

Gravy is also the co-founder, with his wife, of the circus and performing arts camp Camp Winnarainbow, in Laytonville, California, near the Hog Farm.[ when? ] [19] [ third-party source needed ] Until 2003, Ben & Jerry's produced an ice cream named "Wavy Gravy" (caramel-cashew-Brazil nut base with a chocolate hazelnut fudge swirl and roasted almonds) which helped drive a scholarship fund for underprivileged kids to attend Camp Winnarainbow. [20]

"Tornado of Talent"

In September 1981 there was an anti-nuclear protest, trespass/occupation and civil disobedience action at Diablo Canyon Power Plant, organized by Abalone Alliance. Hundreds of protesters were arrested. Arrested men and women were held separately, and the men were detained at the gymnasium at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, California, which some nicknamed the "Hotel Diablo". Gravy organized and acted as MC for a variety show there that he called the "Tornado of Talent" which featured, among other performers (and after the guards had allowed an acoustic guitar to be brought in), Jackson Browne. Wavy arrived at the holding facility dressed in a pair of bright green coveralls. After settling into his "bunk" (a thin mattress on the gym floor) he removed the coveralls to reveal a Santa Claus suit.

Nobody for President and Nobody's Business

Wavy Gravy ran a "Nobody for President" campaign that held a rally across from the White House on November 4, 1980, which included Yippies and a few anarchists to promote the option of "none of the above" choice on the ballot—as in, "Nobody's Perfect", "Nobody Keeps All Promises", "Nobody Should Have That Much Power", and "Who's in Washington right now working to make the world a safer place? Nobody!". [21] [22] [ third-party source needed ] After criticizing Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and John B. Anderson, the committee offered the "perfect" candidate: Nobody. "Nobody makes apple pie better than Mom. And Nobody will love you when you're down and out," Gravy told a crowd of 50 onlookers at the rally. [23] [24] The allusion had been used previously, in the 1932 short film Betty Boop for President .[ citation needed ]

Gravy established the store Nobody's Business across the road from the Hog Farm.[ when? ] [25] reminiscent of his "Nobody for President" campaign.

Radio programs

As Wavy Gravy, he has had two radio shows on Sirius Satellite Radio's Jam On station. [26]


A documentary film directed by Michelle Esrick, based on Wavy Gravy's life, Saint Misbehavin': The Wavy Gravy Movie , was released in late 2010 by Ripple Effect Films to generally positive reviews.[ verification needed ] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31]

Personal life

Wavy Gravy and his wife, Jahanara Romney (July 2013) Wavy Gravy and Jahanara Romney.jpg
Wavy Gravy and his wife, Jahanara Romney (July 2013)

Wavy Gravy, yet known by his birth name, married the actress Bonnie Beecher, who adopted the name "Jahanara", on May 22, 1967. [32] [ non-primary source needed ] They have a son, born in 1971 as Howdy Do-Good Gravy Tomahawk Truckstop Romney,[ citation needed ] who has since become known as Jordan Romney.[ citation needed ]

Romney has stated publicly[ where? ] that he is not related to the Romney family of American politics.[ citation needed ]






As himself


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