Wavy Gravy is not your ordinary clown. Born Hugh Nanton Romney in 1936 and christened Wavy Gravy by B.B. King in 1969, he’s had a long run since his earlier days as a poet and stand-up comic, improvisational theater artist, psychedelic bus caravan luminary, and rock concert MC, and often jokes: “if you don’t have a sense of humor, it just isn’t funny any more.”
Wavy started dressing as a clown in the ‘60s when he was asked to cheer up the children in a cancer unit at Oakland Children’s Hospital. Someone handed him a red rubber nose, which was a big hit with the kids. He expanded his outfit from there and continued to visit several days a week for the next seven years. One day he was heading to a political rally at People’s Park and didn’t have time to take off his make-up. He discovered that the police did not want to hit him anymore. “Clowns are safe—the cops don’t want to be photographed clubbing a clown!”
Yet Wavy’s reach extends far beyond the comic. He is devoted to “do something good for a change,” and his creative activism on behalf of peace, justice, and good humor is legendary. Along with Jahanara, his wife of over fifty years, he has brought joy and helped to relieve suffering for countless people around the globe, largely through his favorite projects, the Seva Foundation and Camp Winnarainbow. Wavy has been called “clown prince of the counter-culture” by Entertainment Weekly, “a saint in a clown suit” by Bob Weir, and “the illegitimate son of Harpo Marx and Mother Teresa” by Paul Krassner. Now in his 80s, this iconic figure from the 60s refers to himself as a “temple of accumulated error,” yet he’s always ready with a twinkling insight, a fantastic story and a helping hand. About those stories, Ram Dass said, “everything Wavy says is true, although it’s all unbelievable.”
We are fortunate to be able to experience Wavy in situ at Camp Winnarainbow in Laytonville, Mendocino, California. There is nobody else like him… truly a saint for our times. You can learn more on his website and at his Wikipedia page.
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