BYRON WHITING (aka “Be” and “Bundle Be”) was born on this date (d: 2019); Be was a beloved actor, director and puppeteer. From 1964 to 1974 he was a member of the famous Bil Baird Marionette Theater, based in New York City. He performed with the Bairds in their huge show in the Chrysler Pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair, and toured with them for ten years and joined them frequently on their television appearances, including a Muppet Christmas special and the Bairds puppets reenactment of the moon landing.
Be loved to regale friends with his fabulous memory of the opening night of the Baird’s Wizard of Oz puppet show. Be had been chosen to play the Wicked Witch and, as it happened, Margaret Hamilton herself was in the audience that night. She sought him out after the show to tell him, “Your witch was just marvelous. The torch is passed!” In telling the story, Be said, “I’ve lived on that, as almost all my friends can tell you, for the rest of my life. Actors don’t get that kind of accolade all that often!”
Be was one of several hundred people whose lives were changed by attending the Second Annual Spiritual Gathering of Radical Faeries in 1980. He brought his infections enthusiasm to the first Beltaine Gathering of Short Mountain in 1981, and from then on was an unmissable presence among the Faeries, and an inspiration to many. Be was known for his sunny personality, his charismatic style, his knowledge of Radical Faerie culture, his erudite and wild sense of humor, as well as his freely-shared wisdom accumulated over 90 years of life. He was admired for his unique outfits and over-the-top fabulosity.
Shortly after discovering the Faeries — and realizing he was one — Byron became known as B. Years later he changed the spelling to “Be”. He was named the bundle-keeper for the Tennessee Naraya/Dance for all Peoples in 2005. He was very serious about his ceremonial role of keeping people’s prayers alive and vibrant. He became known as “Bundle Be”.
For years, until his health began to decline in 2018, he drove across the country, annually, to attend Naraya ceremonies in Utah, Montana, Oregon, and elsewhere. To enjoy his long-distance driving safely, he praised the combination of “weak coffee and marijuana.”