SXSW Video Interview: Hippie Icon Wavy Gravy Talks Peace, Love and Nonsense


Wavy Gravy is the proto-typical hippie. He was a peace-loving, humanitarian warning people about the bad acid before the term was even invented. Over the years, he has done more with his life than most could do in thirty lifetimes – living with Bob Dylan, being a focal point for the beatnik movement, helping to build the folk movement, tripping acid with Ken Kesey, setting up a traveling commune, feeding people at Woodstock for free, living with Bob Dylan, speaking out against war, traveling the globe to bring aid to disaster victims, setting up foundations to raise money and awareness about curable blindness, creating a kid’s camp, wearing a clown nose in public, and living with Bob Dylan.

Now, he’s the subject of a great documentary, Saint Misbehavin’: The Life and Time of Wavy Gravy, directed by Michelle Esrick. Both took some time out of their busy days spent saving the world to speak to us about the process of making the film, the need for compassion today, and the philosophy behind pouring gravy all over the world.

And we got most of it on video…

After I ran out of magic tapeless memory space in my super-advanced camera, we continued talking about whether it’s harder for the film to resonate with today’s sensibilities which are arguably far removed from the vibe of the 1960s.

“The situation changes so what you do has to change. If you don’t change, you’re dead, so I try to keep changing,” Wavy said. Esrick added that today’s climate is actually a very viable ground for planting the seeds of a film like this. Considering that we have a president making a call for people to do service, Esrick sees Gravy as the perfect example, a role model for the public to view, and a focal point that brings about great change and great inspiration for others to do great works.

It’s obviously a difficult task to accomplish – not all of us, very few in fact have the sort of natural inclination to help others that Wavy Gravy has, but Esrick made a good point when I asked her how she learned to share that part of her life.

“When I interviewed Bob Weir for the film, I asked, ‘what have you learned from Wavy?’ or ‘what has Wavy taught you?’ and he said, ‘It’s not what he’s taught me. He affirms what I already know.'”

For more of the best damn coverage of the 2009 SXSW Film Festival, check out our SXSW ’09 Homepage.

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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