You Are What You Eat was a documentary style film made in the mid-1960s before, during and after the Summer of Love. Peter Yarrow, a member of the popular folk singing group Peter, Paul and Mary, was one of the producers, partnering with Michael Butler, the producer of HAIR the American anti-war tribal love-rock musical on Broadway. Barry Feinstein, the photographer and former husband of Mary Travers, has a producer credit, as well as director and cinematographer.
The title of the film derives from a quote by the health/nutritionist guru of the times Gayelord Hauser. Originally it was going to be called "Love Is the Answer...What Was The Question?" YAWYE broke the record set by the film Bonnie and Clyde during its run at the Carnegie Theater on the upper west side of Manhatten, just around the corner from the Russian Tea Room and Carnegie Hall.
You Are What You Eat, billed as an "anti-documentary", was an experimental film about an experimental way of life. It featured an all star cast of American youth, before many of them became famous as music and celebrity icons of their day. The filming moves from New York's Greenwich Village, to Woodstock, from the Haight-Ashbury, down the California coast, to the Sunset Strip. The movie's style is a series of montages and totally disconnected segments of the flower children of the 60s going about their daily lives, living, laughing, loving, dancing, freaking out on drugs, attending Love-Ins, protesting the war and the establishment, the police, the generation gap and rules set down by their parents. YAWYE made no attempt at having anything to do with traditional film making.
The cast included such luminaries as Paul Butterfield and his Blues Band, Mike Bloomfield and the Electric Flag, having just come from a sensational debut at the Monterey Pop Festival, who play a part of the soundtrack. Barry Mcguire, fresh from a stint on Broadway as Claude, one of the leads in HAIR, is seen out in the desert, ripping off his clothes and executing a half naked psychedelic dance, just because he was outside. Frank Zappa filmed during a psychedelic light show with someone else's music under his laid back guitar strumming. Tiny Tim, who later sued the producers, because he had not signed a release, and wanted to be paid after the fact. The Countess St. John, as the nun "Sister Immaculata, Baby," a character she had created for a stand up comedy routine, juxtaposed with 2 acne ridden teenagers smoking a joint while she waits impatiently for them and Peter Yarrow, croons the song Don't Remind Me Now of Time under this segment. David Crosby already famous as a Byrd adds his persona, (don't blink, you'll miss him.) Tom Law, who can be remembered as that gorgeous guy who lead the early morning yoga at the Woodstock Festival. Father Malcolm Boyd running down a San Francisco beach with the New Children of Jesus, during a sunrise service. Woodstock denizen, the reclusive Clarence, spouting words of wisdom as he hammers away on a house he has been building for 30 or 40 years, telling us the emperor has no clothes. John Sebastian's future wife Catherine (Cecci) one of the girls having her bare breasts painted. Rosko (nee Michael Pasternak), son of producer Joseph Pasternak in a Teen Fair helmet commercial. Then there's Super Spade, an Antioch College drop out who migrated with the drift of his young times to become a San Francisco drug dealer, selling LSDand handing out marijuana free on the streets. He was later murdered and thrown over San Francisco's Bay Bridge in a sleeping bag. Carol Wayne, another baby boomer who met a sad ending will be remembered mostly as the "Matinee Tea Lady" on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show and the "Easter Bunny" on the TV show Bewitched. Carol adds to the soundtrack by accidentally honking the horn on Barry Feinstein's Harley motorcycle during the filming of Super Spade on the phone trying to get laid. The motorcycle was propped up on its kickstand in the middle of their living room on Hillside Drive where this segment was shot. Rotund Dave Dixon, who collaborated with Noel Paul Stookey as a song writer is also in the film.
Highlights of the film would have to include Tiny Tim singing Sonny and Cher's I Got You Babe with Eleanor Barooshian/Baruchian, later a member of a short lived female band called The Cake. Mr. Tim singing the falsetto and Eleanor in her rich deep alto tones taking Sonny's part. Music officionados will recognise Robbie Robertson and a group of other musicians who later became The Band playing behind them as cuts of the orgasmic teenage girls at the Shea Stadium Beatles Concert is intercut into this melange. Tom Law in a scene with his tongue wagging poolie, Goo, riding down the Coast Highway, on the handle bars of his motorcycle, while the song The Family Dog, sung by John Herald of The Green Briar Boys is played on the wind.
Probably the most memorable parts of the film were shot at the Greta Garbo Home for Wayward Girls and Boys, which was the former Kirkland Hotel. It is shot on the steps and rooftop with John Simon's wonderful My Name Is Jack as the soundtrack under the camera following the impish antics of blonde haired toddler Godot as he visits with the runaways and hippies, Super Spade and other inhabitants of the Hotel. Little Godot was later killed when he fell through a skylight ostensibly while his parents were tripping on acid.
One should not try to understand this movie. There is nothing to understand. To label it would be meaningless, to explain it unnecessary. It portrayed the moment of an experience. The psychedelic experience.