Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dead Preacher

Oral Roberts has died at 91 years of age. Most people don't realize that he had lived for the last 15 years or so in a little condo at an exclusive country club adjacent to the ritzy Newport Center/Fashion Island complex, just up the hill from Balboa Island, on the Orange County, California coast. It's very nice there. To be fair, it was a modest two bedroom condo, sparsely furnished and not at all pretentious. I was there, and met Oral and Miss Evelyn a few times, in an occupational capacity. Miss Evelyn was an intelligent and admirable woman. Oral was nothing special. I guess he was able to take direction well.

Oral was the most successful of the multimedia evangelists of the last half of the twentieth century. If you were not familiar with the breed, he was pretty entertaining but compared with some of the others he was positively bland. My favorite was based right here in Los Angeles. Dr O L Jaggers and his wife, the eternally young and beautiful Miss Velma, founded the World Universal Church, downtown on the Nickle after the end of World War II. If you needed a fix of Pure Dee Okie stump stomping, you couldn't do any better than to tune O L and Velma in on the TV at 6 AM, Sunday mornings. You could only get the true effect of it, if you had been drinking for the last 18 hours or so. Psychedelic drugs also really enhanced the experience. O L believed in aliens, demons, angels, and that he could deliver eternal youth, vigor and beauty to any denizen that wandered in with some loose change. The shows were worth the price. O L slicked back his long, greasy hair, dressed up in silk robes with glittery badges like Fu Manchu, played the piano and sang between sermons and Miss Velma sang, danced, flew through the air in a wire harness and would end up with a sharpshooting exhibition. They did all of this in front of the World famous seven million dollar altar. The alter looked like it was built by a team of hyperactive seven year olds out of left over Christmas decorations, covered in tinsel and glitter, then electrified. O L strongly suggested that they actually held Jesus captive inside the alter and squeezed oil out of him that would cure all ills, rejuvenate you and make your pecker stiff and he would sell you the oil.

O L and Miss Velma disappeared several years ago. Some people think he and Miss Velma went to Hawaii for a well deserved retirement. Some people think he and Miss Velma ascended bodily to Heaven, in Miss Velma's custom built motor coach. I miss them. The least they could do is play the old shows over again on Sunday mornings. There's forty or fifty years worth, somewhere.

1 comment:

Steve Harkonnen said...

You actually met him - that's cool.

If I ever met him I'd have brought up Russel's teapot as a topic.