It's just this little chromium switch, here... (derspatchel) wrote,
It's just this little chromium switch, here...

The John 3:16 guy

Whoa. I just wrote a comment in an earler post about how I seem to recall misfortune befalling the guy who liked to wear a rainbow wig and hold up a "JOHN 3:16" sign in front of cameras at sporting events; It's much, much, much stranger than I remembered.

Selected paragraphs from (read the whole article if you have the time, it's insane)
"Rockin'" Rollen Stewart is, in my opinion, one of the more interesting mutants on the face of the planet. After garnering his first frenetic fifteen seconds of Warholian fame at a Portland Trailblazer Basketball game in 1977, Stewart wanted more, more, more! For years he was seen making a spectacle of himself at various sporting events in a huge rainbow colored wig, smiling from ear to ear with wide beaming eyes, hoisting high in his busy hands giant placards with biblical passages writ upon them, as he gleefully bounced around, clad in fake fur loincloths. Rollen, through years of practise(and spending every last cent he had to attend these sporting events) developed an innate talent of strategically positioning himself--much to the constant chagrin of network cameramen--in such a way as to steal the limelight from the televised proceedings while spreading The Word of the Lord.


Subsisting on one meal a day, and smoking massive quantities of pot, Stewart began a blitzkrieg for the Lord, working twelve sporting events a month as he fervently flashed his JOHN 3:16 message on placards, signs and T-Shirts, spreading The Lord's Word in his own unique fashion. (The message of the Gospel according to St. John, chapter 3, verse 16, is, "For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.")


All of this strange behavior finally came to a head in late September of '92, when Rockin' Rollen was arrested after holding a maid hostage in the Hyatt Hotel next to Los Angeles International Airport. Rollen--according to the Sept 23rd LA Times article--held the police at bay with threats that he had a bomb. When the standoff continued well into the evening police officers used what they called "Flash-bang" grenades to stun a wigless Rainbow Man and storm the seventh room floor where he was holding siege. A 38 year old house keeper was found un-injured after having locked herself in the bathroom. The police officers apparently decided to make their move after Rollen threatened to fire a pistol at planes landing at the airport. A few hours after the incident, as the police were driving Rollen away, reporters asked him why he had done it.

"To get the word out," he shouted back at them flashing his famous whacky smile.

The incident began at 9:15 AM on Sept. 22 when Rollen walked unnoticed into a vacant room at the Hyatt, taking the cleaning lady, Paula Madera, by surprise. Madera immediately ran into the bathroom and wisely locked herself in, figuring rightly that Rollen was some kind of crazy. It was at this point in the proceedings The Rainbow Man for some reason decided to light two small fires that attracted attention to himself.

In short order, LAPD had ordered up the SWAT Team, bomb squad and several fire trucks to deal with the situation. While all this commotion was going on outside, Rollen was posting biblical placards in his hotel room window, so they could be read from the ground below. One was an apocalyptic verse from the New Testament referring to the passage: "The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat..."

At 5:45 PM--when Stewart threatened to harm his hostage and start taking pot shots at jetliners as they passed near the hotel--the police decided to act. Shortly after, the SWAT team stormed the room, using the aforementioned flash-bang grenades to disorient Rockin' Rollen. At the scene police found Rollen's infamous blue, red, yellow, green, purple and pink Afro wig, along with a high caliber pistol, various incendiary devices, three days of food and Bibles, religious tracts and poetry.


On July 13, 1993, Rockin' Rollen Stewart was found guilty for the Sept '92 "hostage drama" and sentenced to three life prison terms. This might seem extreme when one takes into account that Rollen Stewart never hurt a flea, though many saw him as "a David Koresh waiting to happen. He has the same beliefs and he stands by them so strongly he's willing to die or kill for them," said deputy district attorney Sally Lipscomb.

Others disagreed. An LA Times letter to the editor--written shortly after Rockin' Rollen's conviction--called rightly into question the inequality of the American justice system in regards to The Rainbow Man. The text read: "Tell me how this adds up right? A drunk driver in Ventura, after four years in the courts, gets less than two years for killing three young men, while Rollen Stewart, the Rainbow Man, gets three life sentences for holding someone hostage and displaying religious placards. Does more money for more lawyers equal more justice? Seems so, but I never got past quantum mechanics." -Paul Garson

During sentencing in the L.A. Superior Courtroom, pandemonium erupted, as Rockin' Rollen began a rambling end o' the world rant, screaming at the top of his immensely quotable lungs. Upon being wrestled to the floor by deputies, he shouted: "Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they're doing!" While all this commotion was going on, the maid who had been trapped in the hotel room by Rockin' Rollen, wept in the rear of the courtroom.


The L.A. Times from Sept 25 '92 stated that Rockin' Rollen had contemplated killing President Bush and took steps toward assassinating then Presidential candidate Bill Clinton. According to District Attorney David Conn, Rollen purchased a .45 caliber handgun at the same time of Clinton's campaign visit to L.A. Rollen went to the Boneventure where Clinton was staying with plans to shoot him, but did not carry them out because of the heavy security surrounding Slick WIllie. At around the same time he was also spotted at a speech given by the Arkansas governer.

The scary part of it is that Rollen's ministry is not a one man crazy person campaign, but has attracted over the years a small group of fickle faithful who have followed his Koreshian-like footsteps to sporting events across the country, waving biblical placards, and finagling their way in front of TV cameras. In fact, during his investigation of Rockin' Rollen--when the Rainbow wigged one was still at large for the Orange County stink bomb incidents--Officer Ferrel Buckles said that he had obtained, "...information that he(Rockin' Rollen)is currently supported by an underground network and may have a new ministry." If this is the case, then in essence this new ministry--whose exact location was never determined--was, in part, responsible in some way for the hostage siege as well as the alleged assassinations plots on the lives of Bush and Clinton, in that they provided the funding which enabled Rollen to travel about the country stalking his adversaries.


Whether the number of copycat followers of Rockin' Rollen is actually two, seven, or a hundred, it gives one cause to ponder the effect of charismatic characters such as "The Rainbow Man", and their ability to attract followers together in a common cause; a cause that at it's root is suffering perhaps from a deep psychosis, fueled by an intense belief that Armageddon is on the horizon, and that drastic action must be taken to spread word of The End Times.

In the final analysis, I believe Rollen Stewart became disillusioned with not only his fading fame in the late eighties, as more and more TV directors became wise to his ploys and were able to limit his on-screen antics; but also with the growing realization that his message was not being taken very seriously. Perhaps this is why he decided to up the ante and secure his rightful place in martyrdom with the likes Jim Jones and Dave Koresh, albeit on a much smaller and less grander, less bloodier scale, than his two charismatic counterparts.

- Adam Gorightly


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