DVD review: “Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie’”
As a clown prince of the hippie movement in the 1960s, Wavy Gravy is probably most recognizable as the loosey-goosey, snaggle-toothed master of ceremonies at the Woodstock Music Festival. (“What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000,” he announced over the P.A. system to the soggy masses.)
It was at that iconic 1969 counterculture happening that Hugh Nanton Romney – famously nicknamed Wavy Gravy by bluesman B.B. King – burst onto the national scene as the colorful embodiment of the groovy peace-and-love movement and as America’s reigning hippie jester.
“Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie” is director Michelle Esrick’s funky, funny valentine to the man many considered the counterculture’s holy fool.
While the hippie movement long ago faded, Wavy (as his friends call him) keeps the faith to this day. Now 74 and still ensconced in the rural California commune known as the Hog Farm, this toothless, pot-bellied old activist in cowboy hat has spent more than 50 years living a life dedicated to spirited rebellion, humanitarian works and mirthful laughter.
In a fairly standard blending of talking-head reflections by an assortment of cultural peers, intimate contemporary footage, loads of ’60s music and never-before-seen archival film clips, Esrick’s documentary tells the engaging biography of this larger-than-life man who’s been poet, activist, stand-up comic, philanthropist, American original and even inspiration for a Ben & Jerry ice cream flavor.
A beat poet who shared a room in 1950s Greenwich Village with Bob Dylan and opened shows for Lenny Bruce, John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk, Wavy has been surfing on the cusp of pop culture his whole life.
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