Lendon Sadler: A tribute to a South Side raconteur

Lendon Sadler’s life is full of art, music, storytelling and honesty. He is beholden only to seeing the world as it is and being as true to oneself as his mind and body allow.

While his physical form has passed, his spirit, counsel and lessons are still with us. And so, I write this in the present tense or, as Lendon lived, in the present progressive.

Though this post is written on the occasion of his death – he passed away yesterday afternoon “at home surrounded by friends as we held him,” according to his close friend and companion David Greene – it would run counter to how he lived if I began with this fact. (Friends have been leaving tributes to him on his Facebook page.)

There is no one so able to tell his story as he. Here is how Lendon described himself for his reading at The Frunchroom’s 2nd anniversary show (he appeared during the second of our two nights):

Lendon has been – in his own words – a peace activist & actor, artistic and cosmetic model, street transvestite and guerrilla theater performer, fast food worker & dumpster diver, domestic & factory employee & construction laborer, winner of multiple Boy Scout merit badges & sex educator for the Girl Scouts of America, Mother Superior of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence & co-conspirator for the Cockettes, a rhetorician of the obscure Gay Left, a raconteur of American musics; an ecstatic student and enraptured confidant. But of notable consequence, an unabashed lover.

The below clip finds Lendon telling the tale of his journey to Chicago, his life in Beverly and his observations on life itself.

When asked to describe the story he read that night, Lendon said it was “life sketches by a homo hippie Negro in Beverly.” While it will be included in the full show podcast at a future date, it felt right to release his portion now.  It remains one of the high points in the show’s history, especially for his lessons on building community and compassion:

Buy goods and services locally, wherever you can. Food, flowers, clothes, whatever it may be. Give that toothless junkie begging on the expressway on-ramp an extra dollar.

Kiss your lover, when your inclination is to kick them.

Love your children hard when they are most annoying.

When your instinct is to make harsh judgements about things that you don’t really understand, just relax. Tell your mind to shut the fuck up.

Be kind to strangers. For one day, it may be me.

Good night, Lendon.

A few notes about this clip: This is a rough edit in the interest of speed.  We used an improvised audio setup during the show as Lendon sat a short distance away from the recorder and spoke in his trademark gentle tenor. My intent is to have a more fully produced version of Lendon’s essay for the final podcast, but it felt right to provide this to you as soon as possible.

Main photo: Holly Evanchik Donovan
Inset photo: Diego Ivan Martirena

About Scott Smith

Chicagoan, husband, father, writer.
This entry was posted in Essays and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lendon Sadler: A tribute to a South Side raconteur

  1. Denise Carroll says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece. Lendon’s joyful spirit will love on in each of us who knew and loved him

    Liked by 1 person

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