By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
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His current wife, Jamie, raises many an eyebrow, of course, because she is 23 and he is 64. When a television reporter pressed the question, you know, if their age difference didn't pose some problem in the bedroom, Jamie looked the reporter straight in the eye and quipped, "Actually, we like it, because it's so much like incest."
Speculation flies as to the nature of their relationship. Though they own a house the size of an armory, Geordie and Jamie live in a three-room apartment near the back of the building that was once the servants' quarters. Rumors also abound as to their income and spending habits, that Geordie received $25 million this year from his trust fund and he was so foolish with money that he had blown it all by November. The fact is that he has made much of his own money, notably through the Los Angeles recording studio he built, the Village Recorder, whose clients have included the Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Robbie Robertson and countless other acts. Furthermore, Geordie has lost his fortune more than once and been able to retreat to his considerable creative talents as a musician and a businessman. And though he is a millionaire, he does not make as much as the rumors would suggest.
Standing at the back of his sitting room is a soft sculpture of Geordie, a three-quarter-scale rendition in Cabbage Patch style. It smiles good-naturedly, though the fingers of its left hand have been folded back so it appears to be flicking the bird.
At this point on the road less traveled, Geordie Hormel doesn't much care what you think.
In December, Mayor Herb Drinkwater offered Geordie the key to the city of Scottsdale, in deference to his money, one supposes, and because among his other projects, he had leased a vacant restaurant in Scottsdale. Drinkwater asked for a r‚sum‚ so he could better introduce the esteemed guest. The r‚sum‚ presented to the mayor looked normal on its first page, detailing Geordie's grants to ASU, his renovation of the Wrigley Mansion and other good deeds. But at the top of the second page, Hormel had penned this entry: "Has leased the property on SW corner of Scottsdale and Camelback, including the former Ten Downing Street, with the intent of opening a reasonably priced whorehouse and a center for child pornography with a low-priced crack house for teenagers in the next building."
Drinkwater gave him the key, anyway.
@body:It's lunchtime at the Mansion Club, the private club and restaurant in the Wrigley Mansion, which Geordie Hormel bought to rescue from developers' wrecking balls. Piano music tinkles like silver spoons on crystal goblets. Smiling servers in pleated white shirts and bow ties slip graciously from table to table, inquiring ever so nicely about the diners' welfare.
All is in consummate good taste, as well-ordered as the McCune mansion is disordered. Women in elegant dresses chat with men in pricey business suits. Geordie sits at a table near the wall, his long hair fanned across the shoulders of his suit coat, patiently waiting for his waitress to bring him the proper spoon with which to eat his soup. Geordie, the iconoclast, is the product of a proper upbringing.
He grew up in Austin, Minnesota, where his grandfather, the original George A. Hormel, founded the Hormel meat-packing company. Geordie's father, Jay Hormel, was the company CEO, and the family set a proper example from an elegant, though not opulent, Tudor mansion. As Geordie put it in a song he recorded:
We had a perfect, most respected, regal, first-class American life.
Perfect mama, perfect daddy, who were the perfect husband and wife.
Perfect family, perfect servants, perfect order, perfect space,
And everything we had, all we said, all we did,
Of course was always in the very best taste.
With all these perfections, it was plain to see
I'd better hide the imperfections in me.
His brother Thomas says that Geordie has always been incongruous: "Don't ask me to explain it," he begs. Thomas is a philanthropist in Ketchum, Idaho, and runs a foundation that sponsors environmental research and education. Their younger brother, James, whom Thomas describes as "the adult supervisor of the family," is a lawyer in San Francisco, and runs a human-rights PAC. Geordie has strong political concerns. During the last presidential election, he realized he was not yet registered to vote in Arizona, so he hopped in his custom bus, took two drivers and drove nonstop to Los Angeles so he could pull the curtain and push the levers. Then he turned around and drove straight back.
He can rail about health and environment and about those industries that threaten those things--oil, dairy, tobacco and especially auto. "Look at General Motors," he starts. "I can't conceive of a company losing billions of dollars and then paying someone millions of dollars to run it. What is the guy getting millions for?" But he avoids organized charities, because he feels much of the money donated slips through bureaucratic cracks, goes to marketers and staffers instead of the intended recipients. Instead, he is listed in the telephone book, and so his telephone rings incessantly with people who want jobs, charities who want money, real estate agents on the make, people with sob stories, real or contrived. He tells of one such story, a man out of work who sold everything he owned to pay bills, and thought Geordie might help him, because his father used to work for the Hormel Company. "I sent him $3,000," Geordie says with hushed embarrassment.