Flower Power Man
Photo: Bernie Boston © Bernie Boston Collection, RIT Archive Collections
An Arturo Vega Project, Flower Power Man, an event celebrating theater artist George Harris III, aka Hibiscus (1949-1982). This evening will highlight an influential and flamboyant life with multimedia and live performance. Special guests will also read from his new biography Flower Power Man.
Hibiscus’ career intersects with seminal events of the 60s and 70s relating to theater, politics, gender, and the LGBTQ communities. While protesting the Vietnam War in 1967, George became the subject of photojournalist Bernie Boston’s iconic photograph “Flower Power”, while placing a flower in the barrel of a national guardman’s rifle at a peace rally in Washington D.C. En route to San Francisco, George underwent an outrageous makeover, growing a glitter-ornamented beard and changing his name to Hibiscus.
The term flower power came to epitomize a style of peaceful protest championed by Hibiscus’ friend Allen Ginsberg. They were lovers briefly but Allen fled the relationship, complaining there was “too much glitter in the bed.”
Hibiscus and his family reinvented themselves during the Off-Off-Broadway movement of the 60s. From the early ‘Let’s put on a show!’ days in Florida to the risky move of transplanting the whole tribe to New York, Flower Power Man depicts the euphoric highs and terrifying lows of an artist’s way of life.
From original musicals at La MaMa, Judson Church, and Theater for the New City; to the founding of psychedelic gay liberation theater troupes The Cockettes and Angels of Light, and the 80s powerhouse glitter-rock band Hibiscus and The Screaming Violets; Hibiscus’ courageous, outrageous artistry continues to influence contemporary theater, music, fashion, gay politics, spirituality, and urban-club life.
Two decades after his death from AIDS-related illnesses, Hibiscus continues to be recognized as a free spirit in gay liberation.