While living in Tallahassee, Florida I met King Love. I used to see him on street corners holding up signs and props which declared that Love was the answer. King Love would perform political parodies and theatre making fun of Lawton Chiles, the presiding goverenor of Florida.
I initially met King Love through a lengthy interview I did for my fanzine. It was through the interview that I first heard King Love’s desire for people to be “Free HB’s” : free human beings. King Love lived in the local homeless shelter and in a car that was jam packed with props. He would often call me at 7am from Burger King.
Whenever someone would offer their home for King Love to sleep in, he would never leave. Since they had given him verbal consent to stay there, the police couldn’t force him to leave. He bummed a lot of people out that way. As a result, I never let him crash on our couch. But he slept on our porch frequently.
We had a minor falling out over him peeping in my windows. As a result I called his answering machine and left an angry message. He called me back saying fuck you and laughing uncontrollably for minutes. At the time I lived next to a Hare Krishna temple. During this period of ill will between King Love and I, he would wake me up every morning by screaming at me through a megaphone while sitting in his car. He would first verbally attack the Krishna’s for being full of shit. Then he would drive his car up a few feet and announce what a phony I was.
We became friends again and recorded some songs on my porch. Our best recording was a free jam where KL sang and I played accordion. We recorded over 30 minutes of free jams and soliloquies. I lent him the tapes for a radio interview and they were subsequently lost. I had a few songs saved from putting them on a mix tape for someone.
I would talk to King Love over the phone when I moved to San Francisco. He mentioned a major campaign he wanted to start called a return to Camelot. He wanted to organize a Love march that would start in San Francisco and end in Washington D.C. He wanted to come visit me. I knew if he came to visit me, he would never leave. I couldn’t do that to my roommates.
I came home one night and received a message from King Love. He told Reuben that he needed to come out and stay with me in San Francisco or he would die of depression. This was heavy. It got heavier when he died a month later.
King Love, born Kamal Youssef in Cairo, had worked successfully in the medical profession for years. He had a son and a wife in South Florida. He suffered from severe depression. The depression led him to be estranged from his family and work. Somewhere along the line Kamal Youssef moved to Tallahassee, lost his possessions, and became King Love.
As King Love he would stand on the busiest Tallahassee intersection with signs and props declaring Love is the Answer. He would also perform demonstrations at strip malls. As a result of making his love declarations at local strip malls he was charged with trespassing and often jailed.
King Love created a large number of props and flyers. I have a large file of these works. Some of them were letters sent to me while he was incarcerated for trespassing. He also made collages that presented himself in combat with the pervading oppressive conservative voices in the local and federal government.
King Love was a human being that was trying to follow his bliss and spread some joy in his life. He was a total human being and a person like no other I’ve experienced. His laughter sprang from an inexhaustible source. King Love followed his own ascetic trip. He abandoned everything to preach Love his own way. I miss you King Love.
I just digitized the few recordings I have left. I am not sure how to post MP3’s, so I made a video which contain a photo montage and the recordings we did together. I have started out the video with a quicktime movie I found online. As I delve deeper into my paper files I will post more of King Love’s collages.
PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEO HERE