Jim Morrison Declares That “Fat is Beautiful” .… And Means It

There’s a bit of cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance in a young rock god giv­ing voice to the fat pride move­ment some four decades after his death.

Years before social media ampli­fied celebri­ty weight gain cov­er­age to the realm of nation­al news, The Doors’ lead singer, Lizard King Jim Mor­ri­son, was the sub­ject of intense bod­i­ly scruti­ny.

The musician’s drug of choice—alcohol—swiftly added some extra cush­ion­ing to the sexy, shirt­less young lion image pho­tog­ra­ph­er Joel Brod­sky man­aged to cap­ture in 1967.

That lean, leather-pant­ed ver­sion is the one the Mor­ri­son direc­tor Patrick Smith went with for the Blank on Blank ani­ma­tion above, using audio from a 1969 inter­view with the Vil­lage Voice’s Howard Smith (no rela­tion).

Occa­sion­al­ly ani­ma­tor Smith bal­loons the 2‑D Morrison’s bel­ly for humor­ous effect, but let’s be frank. By today’s stan­dards, the 5’11 Mor­ri­son, who by his own esti­mate tipped the scales at 185lb, was hard­ly “fat.”

Pleas­ing­ly plump per­haps…

Fill­ing out…

Eat­ing (and drink­ing) like some­one whose bank account did­n’t require belt tight­en­ing.

His com­pas­sion toward gen­er­ous­ly pro­por­tioned bod­ies like­ly sprang from ear­ly expe­ri­ence.

As pho­tog­ra­ph­er Lin­da McCart­ney recalled in Lin­da McCartney’s The Sixties—Portrait Of An Era:

He … told me that he’d grown up as a fat kid that no one want­ed to know and that this had caused him a lot of emo­tion­al pain.

Then he explained what had brought it all to the sur­face. Appar­ent­ly he had been walk­ing around Green­wich Vil­lage that morn­ing and a girl who he knew as a child had spot­ted him and start­ed going crazy over him. That both­ered him because he sensed the hypocrisy of it all. When he was a fat mil­i­tary brat these peo­ple had reject­ed and ignored him but now, because of his new pub­lic image, they were fawn­ing over him.

That “new pub­lic image” is the one most of us think of first when think­ing of Jim Mor­ri­son, but as a flesh and blood exem­plar, it was unsus­tain­able. Pho­tog­ra­ph­er Brod­sky reflects:

The shot on the inner sleeve of the Great­est Hits album was pret­ty near the end, I think. By that time, he was so drunk he was stum­bling into the lights and we had to stop the ses­sion. Mor­ri­son nev­er real­ly looked that way again, and those pic­tures have become a big part of The Doors’ leg­end. I think I got him at his peak.

Mor­ri­son didn’t dwell on child­hood mis­eries in his Vil­lage Voice inter­view, nor did he show any self-loathing or regret for physiques past.

Rather, he gave voice to the pos­i­tive effects of his increased size. He felt like a tank, a beast—a body of con­se­quence.

(To con­sid­er the impli­ca­tions of bod­i­ly size for a female in Morrison’s world, have a look at car­toon­ist Péné­lope Bagieu’s Cal­i­for­nia Dreamin’: Cass Elliot before the Mamas and The Papas.)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

“The Lost Paris Tapes” Pre­serves Jim Morrison’s Final Poet­ry Record­ings from 1971

The Last Known Pho­tos of Jim Mor­ri­son, Tak­en Days Before His Death in Paris (June 1971)

The Doors Play Live in Den­mark & LA in 1968: See Jim Mor­ri­son Near His Charis­mat­ic Peak

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Join her in New York City March 11 for the next install­ment of her book-based vari­ety show, Necro­mancers of the Pub­lic Domain. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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