Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dead Man's Cell Phone as cinema verite

Turns out blogs are good for more than displaying one's own megalomania. Never again can shoestring relations or peripatetic pals claim they had no way of reaching you and touching you. The mother and child reunion is only a Google away.

To wit. Not long ago I was contacted via email from a man who had a friend who had tripped over my blog (figuratlively and psychoactively) and wondered if I could possibly be the same Mead Hunter he had known in his wild youth. The friend had studied Gwenn Seemel's portrait of me, but was unable to see any vestige of the skinny feckling he had known back in the 20th Century.

Still, the alleged friend had his representative reach me, via the contact link on this very blog. The fact that the rep had an attorney's signature block didn't exactly assuage my concerns, but I said sure, put us in touch. And lo, the mystery man turned out to be a major Portland board-trotter from days of yore. Does anyone reading this blog hail from those halcyon, Halcyoned days, and did you know the fabulous Sunny Sorrells?

Among many other things, Sunny was famous for his glorious mane of honey-colored hair. The teeny pictures I dug out of the basement tonight don't do him justice. In the first one you can guess at his mane's fullness and length; in the second one he's just been shorn. Back then I think that style was actually called a SHAG, can you believe it??

The occasion for the drastic cut was that back in 1978 (79?), Sunny and I were blowing this popsicle stand and moving lock, stock and crockpot to the BIG CITY: San Francisco (!). New Wave was the big vogue at the time, and I loved the fauvist shenanigans of it all. Sunny, however, thought it was a horror show, and moved on to Hawaii. We lost touch.

Flashback to Portlandia: Sunny was legendary in his own time here, so it's a testament to the evanescence of theater that he and most of the others from his era are not really remembered anymore. Well, a few are: Peter Fornara; Ric Young; Luna Pettebone. All now dead, alas.

And this is what made Sunny's recent resurrection so gobsmacking. When I returned to Portland to work at PCS in 2002, I tried to track Sunny down, only to hit an immediate dead end. I was informed -- with the greatest gravity and with absolute authority -- that Sunny had died of AIDS in the early 90s. His sister Cindy had been at his side. It was beautiful passing, straight out of La Dame aux Camelias, just as Sunny would have wanted it.

I always doubted the "wanting it" part -- Sunny was as histrionic as the next thespian, but few actually want an early check-out, beautiful or not. But apparently he was gone.

Not! The experience of conversing with someone you believed to be dead for the past 15 years is thunderously quotidian. Maybe this comes from years of watching Six Feet Under; visitations from Valhalla just come with the territory. Fortunately, Sunny was amused to hear of his untimely demise. He's a writer now, and I'm encouraging him to memorialize Portland theater of back in the day. Maybe he'll visit, to jog his memory.

Meanwhile, rest assured that Sunny Sorrells is not dead, just living in Sacramento.


Mary Meese said...

I was a friend of Sunny's in Hawaii in the 90's and have been looking for him recently. Someone told me they thought he lived on the Big Island so I'm absolutely thrilled he lives in Sacramento. I live in Vacaville, CA so I can't wait to renew our friendship. Thank you so much for the great blog. Now I'll have to try and locate him.
Mary Meese

Mead said...

Wow, you're practically neighbors, that's great. Mary, if you'd like to leave me an email address or a phone number, I'll be happy to give it to Sunny. My address is under my profile, and I'm on Twitter and Facebook, too. A virtual character, you might say...

Sunny, alas, is a self-described Luddite and so is slightly harder to reach.

Anonymous said...

sunny,s sister in named Mary i remember him fom portland-im his first cousin nice to know hes still alive=tell him my brother george cied in 2001. same thing that killed his rother Mike and his dad