July 18, 2010 is Hunter’s 73rd birthday, although for many years he would not acknowledge that date whenever asked. Instead, he would say proudly, “I’m like a thoroughbred. All horses have the same birthday, January 1st.” Which is true. In the world of racing all horses are considered to have been born on the first day of the year in order to make it easier to calculate age qualifications for a race.
In Hunter’s case, his claim on New Year’s Day as his birthday was part of an interesting strategy of denial at the passage of years which he picked up from his Mother. He would often say that not only was he born on January 1st but that his Mother was as well. They were both thoroughbreds in his mind, immune to time.
So for many years we purposely ignored Hunter’s birthday until his 50th came around in 1987. We could not resist celebrating his half century and assumed he would be pleased if we had a bit of a surprise party for him. About a dozen of us gathered at the Woody Creek Tavern at the corner table by the front window under the buffalo head and waited for Sheriff Bob to deliver him with the excuse of just stopping by the tavern for a drink.
When they came through the front door, we all screamed “Happy Birthday!”
Hunter yelled “Fuck You!” turned on his heels and went back to the car, followed by the Sheriff. They sat out there talking while we waited under the buffalo head. After twenty minutes, they drove off. I always wondered what they talked about. Getting old, I imagine.
“Who do you think you are? Peter Pan?” Hunter would often exclaim. I have a feeling that he wished that he was, like we all do.
However, towards the end of his life, Hunter began to acknowledge and enjoy his birthdays. He actually encouraged Deborah and Anita to have parties for him on July 18th . They were wonderful summer time affairs with gin watermelons and fireworks. We brought him gifts without fear. He particularly liked things that exploded unexpectedly, and we all had great fun.
So I think Hunter would appreciate the present I have for him this July 18th . Animals, Whores & Dialogue is the sequel to Breakfast with Hunter and somewhere on the edge of the desert in Utah right now they are pressing the DVDs that we will begin shipping early next week to those who want to spend some more time with Hunter.
Here’s a preview:
I’m hoping more than a few will have a Gonzo birthday party and gather their friends to watch the new film and celebrate Hunter’s life and work. We will be shipping via First Class Mail on Tuesday, July 13. So, if you’re in the continental US you should receive the film in time for a screening on the 18th . We’re also offering all four of the films together at a discount with Priority Mail shipping.
“It’s not art unless it sells,” Hunter often said, so I feel little shame in pitching. His Estate also benefits directly from the DVD sales; Hunter was a shrewd business partner.
When my Producer Jennifer Erskine looked at the first cut of Animals, Whores & Dialogueshe said with a tear in her eye, “Now he’ll live for ever.”
A lot of us have a hard time watching the film with dry eyes, but there’s much fun to be found there too, not unlike those afternoons in July with watermelons filled with gin, exploding ketchup bottles, and a twinkle in Hunter’s eyes.
Happy Birthday, Hunter!