Larry Moyer: The King is Dead, Long Live The King

By Steefenie Wicks

Portrait of Larry Moyer by an unknown artist
Courtesy of Bill Kirsch

Larry Moyer, in many ways, was the “King” of the Sausalito waterfront.  His passing last month will add to the void created when a valued member of not only the waterfront but also the City of Sausalito, ends his days.  Moyer spoke a lot about freedom; he believed that this was the magical thread that drew artist, writers, and other creative types to Sausalito and particularly the waterfront.  He would be the first to tell you that he was a transplant, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York in 1924. He traveled the world but it was the Sausalito waterfront that would become his home for the next 49 years. 

Moyer arrived here in 1967, during the Summer of Love.  He would tell how he came here to meet a guy at the old Mohawk gas station.  From there they went to the Becky Thatcher ark where he was handed a big joint. As he turned to look out the window he could see naked people dancing to rock and roll music; he said he sat down took a hit, decided that this is where he wanted to spend the rest of his life, and he did.   

Larry became a designated speaker for the waterfront residents during the chaotic times of the houseboat wars.  His gift of being part thespian made him a natural diplomat with waterfront residents and the powers that be.  In the 1970’s, he was able to talk Buckminster Fuller into writing a piece in favor of the freedom that the waterfront residents were fighting for.

He was known on the waterfront and on the hill.  He did a number of performances at the Sausalito Woman’s Club, where he would preform readings of works by his good friend Shel Silverstein.  In his early days on the waterfront he would take on the duties of Santa Claus at Christmas time and pass out presents to children. He became the familiar face of trust on the waterfront.  People knew if Larry Moyer was for it then it had to be good. 

In his lifetime he worked as a filmmaker, artist, photographer, union organizer and even taught dance at the Arthur Murray Studio in Los Angeles.  He would reminisce about his days of travel, the time he spent in Russia where he met Shel Silverstein.  Moyer and Silverstein would become not only friends, but also partners in business, along with collaborating on a book project for Hugh Hefner of Playboy Magazine.  Together they would take on the assignment of traveling the world with Silverstein doing the writing and cartoons for the project, while Moyer took the black and white still photos, adding film when need be.   Moyer and Silverstein worked for Playboy from 1957 to the middle of the 1970’s, when they both decided to stay in Sausalito.

Moyer compared his life here to living on a movie set, because in his Sausalito world, every day people dressed in costume. He spoke of days when he could go to a local hangout where one could purchase dope, guns and alcohol all at the same location. Residents wore cowboy boots, carried knives and everyone hung out together. He liked the fact that most of his clothes had come from things that someone had discarded but still looked good on him. 

Larry had an open door policy when it came to his home.  His door was never closed to anyone; he was always open to having someone stop by for endless amounts of conversation.

Moyer’s paintings of his waterfront environment not only grace the walls of Sausalito City Hall but have also been collected by many a hill resident.

He leaves behind a legacy of photographs and films that are examples of his talents in both fields. All will miss his philosophical views on waterfront life, politics, race, sex, and his global view of why the world is so “screwed up.”  Moyer’s view on living life, stating that whatever you want to do, it’s out there and you can, will be remembered. He was a person of passion, intellect and opinion, and he led his life with no regrets. 

The King of the Sausalito Waterfront is dead; long live our King, Larry Moyer.