Hollywood Jesus has ascended from Earth, and while it’s safe to say there probably won’t be a resurrection, his spirit will live on in Los Angeles street lore, and hopefully for eternity. How could any Angeleno who knew Kevin Lee Light (whose given name was Kevin Short) or simply saw him roaming the city, ever forget him?
The man who sought to embody Jesus Christ in L.A. (physically, if not spiritually) was quite the scenester: always at the biggest outdoor festivals and indoor hot spots around town, hobnobbing with celebrities and posing with fans on the street, so much so that TMZ covered him frequently.
But it sounds a lot more obnoxious than it was, though.
Kevin never had an agenda. He wasn’t religious, he never asked for money to appear anywhere, and he was equally friendly with everyone — known or unknown — who came upon him. He simply chose to look like God’s Son, and that allowed him to get in anywhere and meet interesting people. He was a happy man, who loved to talk, dance and yes, get attention. Mostly he loved to make people happy, a selfless soul and giver of good energy. Not unlike the guy he sought to personify, come to think of it.
He was always quite a sight — a vision, if you will.
From covering him over the years, I had his email and would sometimes communicate via direct message from his Twitter or Instagram accounts. Just before Christmas this year, I tried to get a hold of him so that he might be a guest on my Luxuria Music radio show for the holiday. But he did not reply. I also noticed his social media had not been updated for some time and I hadn’t seen him out either. It was unlike him, and I was a bit worried.
Turns out his neighbor, Brian Hamilton was also concerned when he hadn’t heard from him after trying the same modes of communication. According to a Facebook post by Hamilton, he contacted another neighbor who lived in the same building, who then confirmed the death. Hamilton also called Cedars-Sinai, which told him that Short’s remains had been claimed by a family member.
Wehoville reported that the cause of death has not yet been made public, but that Short died on Dec. 13, and that his family, who are in Pasadena, received his ashes this week. Kevin Short was 57 years old.
Encounter on Melrose
Like many L.A. residents, I always looked forward to seeing this “Jesus” fellow while out and about in Los Angeles. With his long sandy brown hair, scruffy beard, and statuesque frame draped in a white robe, he was always quite a sight — a vision, if you will — walking alone in Hollywood and West Hollywood.
I took many pictures of him over the years, but it was on a fateful late afternoon about six years ago that he went from being another wonderful weirdo in the city to being a friend.
I was driving down Melrose Avenue, and I saw him standing in front of the iconic gates of Paramount Studios, just as the sun was setting, the sky framing him and the famed entryway like a watercolor painting in hues of pink and lilac. I was with my new assistant at the time, who happened to be a photography student. As we inched along in traffic, and eyed this moment in time, we each had the exact same reaction: “Oh my god, that is a great photo!”
We drove right into the Paramount gates, just before the security booth, jumped out of the car and did a lil impromptu photo shoot right there. (Sadly, I can’t find the images now, but I would go on to shoot many more great ones of him, some seen here).
That day on Melrose was also special to me because it was the first time I really chatted with this Jesus, and he revealed that he was an avid reader of the LA Weekly, where I had been a columnist for several years.
He was familiar with my work, which blew my mind and always kinda does whoever might be saying it. But wow, man, Jesus was a fan! After that, whenever I’d run into him, he made sure to mention the last thing he read by me, and compliment it. I got the feeling he kept himself very informed media-wise and that the attention he got meant a lot to him. He was always very appreciative whenever I covered him, that’s for sure.
I know the fond memories in response to his passing would mean a lot, too. But like I said, he’ll live on. In videos of Lana Del Rey and LMFAO, in clips on Youtube and TMZ, and on social media (where those of us who were lucky enough to meet and know him have posted hundreds of pics under the hashtags #WEHOJesus and #HollywoodJesus, and shared them via the Twitter feed @IsawJesusinLA).
WeHo Jesus’s own Instagram and Twitter accounts captured his strange yet blessed existence, and chronicled his notoriety as it grew and he became part of the landscape, especially in West Hollywood, where he donned a vibrant new rainbow robe during a recent Gay Pride and earned a new name: “Rainbow Jesus.”
His socials still list this along with his many other monikers: “LA’s Jesus,” “TMZ’s Hollywood Jesus,” “Aerosmith’s Street Jesus,” “Snoop’s Sunset Jesus,” and ”LMFAO’s Party Rock Jesus.” He never referenced Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” in any self-promo, but for him, Jesus wasn’t “personal” (his private life was a mystery), it was simply a public persona.
We often talked of doing an in-depth story about why he dressed up as he did. I’m sad to say the idea kind of fell through the cracks, and I never got around to it. I really don’t know why, either. Covering L.A.’s best known eccentrics has in fact, been my thing for some time. From Angelyne to “Lava Lady” to “The Silver Lake Walking Man” to “WeHo’s Pink Lady,” I have always sought to celebrate the citizens of L.A. who walk (or in Ang’s case, drive) the streets to the beat of their own oddball rhythms.
I will say that when I asked Kevin about his motivations, which I did a couple times in the beginning, he’d usually say something non-committal yet upbeat like, “I’m here to have fun!” or “Just enjoying life!” I don’t know if delving deeper would have revealed something profound or surprising about him, but I never doubted his sincerity about bringing joy to the world — and I don’t think anyone ever touched by his presence did either.