Jack Coe hitchhiked across the country to San Francisco, where he found Hibiscus being crucified on the beach. Hibiscus had just broken away from the Cockettes to form the Angels of Light, and Jack became his disciple. The Angels of Light were committed to performing for free and feeding their audience. One performance included a meal of bananas and red wine, a kind of sacrament of phallic worship. Hibiscus, born George Edgerly Harris III, began his adult life as a peace activist. It is he who was shown putting a flower in the gun of a National Guardsman at a peace rally in a famous photograph from 1967. After his time as a Cockette and an Angel, Hibiscus allegedly appeared on a television soap opera (under another name, obviously) and finally became what one friend described as a “label obsessed Manhattan queen.” But during a few incandescent years, Hibiscus transformed himself and his fellows into something truly extraordinary.
This piece was written and read aloud for X-Tra magazine’s “One Image One Minute” benefit in January 2010.