In 2004, I packed up my car and headed to Hollywood with a head full of dreams and misplaced confidence. As I was often reminded, Hollywood wasn’t devoid of small cute blondes dreaming of becoming famous.
Almost immediately, I drove past WeHo Jesus. A tall thin man with beautiful flowing hair dressed in robes, he became a familiar sight as I would head to auditions and sleazy manager meetings.
He would always make me smile, as I shook my head at the crazy homeless man walking Santa Monica Blvd at all times day and night. Thrillist recognized him as one of “LA’s 12 Most Loveable Local Weirdos.”
I would later find out that I was quite wrong in my assessment; he had a name, Kevin, and a home and a Mercedes and was actually very well off.
It was not an easy time. I had moved across the country within a week of deciding to go with one goal, no job and what can only be described as absolutely zero plan. Though I came from a big city and had spent every childhood family vacation in Southern California, I would often remark to people that I think it would have been easier if I had moved to a foreign country.
When things got hard, the one constant was WeHo Jesus. He didn’t speak much but didn’t need to. Often, simply the sight of him was enough to take me out of my confusion and struggle. I know he wasn’t Jesus. As a Jew, I don’t even look to Jesus as my source of comfort and strength, but Kevin provided that.
Years later, I would move to Hollywood Blvd, one block away from the costumed characters, charging you for taking a picture with them. Iron Man lived in my building and I would see him nightly as I walked my dog, watching him awkwardly trudging home in his uncomfortable boots, carrying his “head” in his hands.
The novelty of the characters from some of my favorite films wore off almost immediately. They were a sad and often surly group. But Kevin was never a novelty.
There are numerous Captain Sparrows and aging men in Superman tights walking the Boulevard, but only one Jesus. Kevin would graciously take photos, and I don’t think there is a single friend I have in Los Angeles that doesn’t have a photo with him, either posing in some sort of prayer or excitedly smiling at being next to him.
Aerosmith wrote “Street Jesus” about him, and there’s no one I can find that has anything but fun stories and reverence when speaking about him. From all I’ve heard and personally witnessed, everyone that came into contact with WeHo Jesus (and it was hard not to) had a positive experience with him.
I have since returned to Chicago, and the last time I saw WeHo Jesus was at a party the night before I moved back.
While I return often, I haven’t seen Kevin in over 3 years, yet finding out that he died just before Christmas, and we didn’t find out until after the New Year has hit me harder than perhaps it should or than I expected it to.
In a city full of constant change and hardships, Kevin’s mere presence provided a bit of peace amongst the chaos, and I can’t imagine spending time in West Hollywood without seeing him.
Los Angeles is not an easy city. It takes time to find the true gems, people that don’t live up to its stereotypes, but there was nothing hard about Kevin and his message.
He didn’t think he was Jesus but simply embodied his ideals of love and acceptance for everyone. He brought hope to people and would take the time for a photo opp or a quick chat or cup of coffee with anyone. Love and acceptance, Christ-like ideals from a man many knew as WeHo Jesus or Kevin Lee Light (his name is actually Kevin Short).
A light has definitely gone out in Hollywood with the loss of this man.
R.I.P. WeHo Jesus, Kevin Short.