This year marks the first LA Pride celebration sans a WeHo Jesus sighting during the pride parade and festival in West Hollywood. Running into the man in robes and wrapping your arms around his shoulders for a quick photo made the LA Pride experience complete for most of us who grew accustomed to seeing him do his rounds at pride.
Kevin Short (aka Kevin Lee Light), The man known to most as Hollywood Jesus and loved for his likeness to the big JC, died on December 13, 2017, at 57 years old. The public didn’t learn about his death till early January of 2018. Family members confirmed Short’s passing after a brief hospitalization for pulmonary issues.
There is a first for everything, and the first time I noticed WeHo Jesus, he was standing on the corner of Fountain and La Jolla in West Hollywood, looking out into the congested traffic, back in the early 2000s. The sun was setting, so I could mostly make out the statuesque silhouette of the exact replica of what I’ve always been told was the likeness of the Son of God–he was tall and he was white with dirty blond hair. He just stood there looking at the cars pass by. I was not sober in the early 2000s. Chemicals were leaving my body when I saw the image of the Lord and Savior, so I questioned whether I was a tripping and having a psychosis of sorts. My impulse was to take his picture for photographic evidence, but I had a Motorola flip phone and the pre-Apple phone camera was total crap. Like most, I would have that impulse to take his picture again and again whenever I ran into him on the street.
I remember I saw him standing at that same corner again shortly after. I would later learn that he actually lived at an apartment on La Jolla and Fountain. Like most, I assumed he lived under the freeway bridge on Gower and Franklin. I figured the man had to be homeless or crazy walking around pretending to be Jesus. He was not. He drove a Mercedes, so people decided he was well off, but no one really knows for sure.
The way it worked with WeHo Jesus is, once you saw him, he tapped into your psyche and then you always noticed him. He’d be hanging outside of concert venues, walking randomly down Santa Monica Blvd., and if there was ever a gathering of people in West Hollywood, like the Halloween carnival, or a festival, WeHo Jesus was there.
The man was an LGBT ally, no question about it. He was right there with the most militant lesbian at a protest for marriage equality carrying a sign that read “Marry Who You Love.” He’d be seen on a pride parade float. And he sealed his alignment with the gay community when he altered his humble robe and hit the streets during last year’s #ResistMarch on LA Pride weekend all dressed in a rainbow pride robe.
The man was character. He was famous in his own right. He was elusive, yet accessible. He would float by nonchalantly and let them come to him. He was above it, yet he was in music videos. He was an overall mystery. I don’t think I ever heard him speak. Not once. It was always, “Can I take your picture…?”
The real Lord only knew that LA Pride 2017 would be his last pride event and he’d be dead around five months later. #ResistMarch would also be the last time I would see him alive. I remember I caught a glimpse of him in that rainbow robe and of course, my impulse was to take his picture. I handed him my rainbow umbrella and I snapped away.
And through every photo we ever took of him, he lives.