Windi Earthworm was an institution of the radical anglo left in 1980s Montreal. A crossdressing openly gay street musician who took it upon himself to educate the public about the Vancouver 5, the genocide of Indigenous peoples, the destruction of nature, and the miseries of life under capitalism, Windi was a frequent performer at benefits put on by the scene. Indeed, generally he was by far the most popular act.
Windi was diagnosed HIV+ in the mid-eighties, and had moved to the countryside by 1986 – and when his health started to noticeably deteriorate, he left Quebec for the West Coast, settling in Victoria, B.C. He died in 1993.
A few years ago i put up a webpage on the Kersplebedeb site – Windi Earthworm Remembered – , which contains Windi’s music in mp3 format, some photos of Windi, and some memories about Windi by his friend Michael Ryan. Until recently, it was the only place on the web with information about Windi, or where you could hear his words, in his voice.
Thankfully, and thanks to Claude Ouellette, there is now a second place, where you can also see Windi actually performing – the documentary film Ragged Clown – as Ouellette explains:
Filmed in 1984-1986 as a year-end film school project. I first met Windi in 1976, in Calgary on the 8th avenue mall. My friend D. and I wanted to hitchhike to Vancouver but ended up in Calgary. That first night, when we arrived there with no where to go and no one to contact Windi took us in for the night, at his pad he shared with a visual artist/bus driver lover. I had never met a gay person before. I later found out that this is what Windi would do, bring in wayward youth for the night, feed them and send them on their way. I stayed in Calgary for a few months and would see Windi performing every once in a while, in a skirt but not as a woman, in Calgary, in 1976…I didn’t know or realize what he was singing about at the time but I sure thought he was courageous. I then met him again a few years later in Montreal. A few more years later, needing a year-end film school project, I decided to do a portrait of this man who, more than most, lived his life according to his principles. Windi was, of course, full of contradictions, like us all, but somehow that didn’t matter with him.
Up on youtube here (or just click on the photo above). A treasure from the history of radical Montreal, of the history of queer Montreal, and great music to boot – really, check it out!