Here we go again, dear readers, I bring you another Larry "White Rabbit" Melton item to read. In this interview, he calls himself "Ari." He is clearly delusional, but it is an interesting read. Enjoy:
Is Helter Skelter Really, Finally Over? Checking In With The Manson Family:
From Swank Magazine (December, 1976) Interview with Larry “White Rabbit” Melton
Interview By: Ben Pesta:
Interview By: Ben Pesta:
What is Manson’s family up to today? To answer that question, SWANK editor Ben Pesta sought out a former Family member, one who’d been with Manson since the early days in
San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Though this Family drop out was never personally involved in any of the murders, he kept (and still keeps) in touch with some of the Mansonoid regulars, both in, and out of prison. For obvious reasons, he has asked that SWANK keep his name anonymous. He prefers to use the alias “Ari Ben Canaari”-the name of a character in Leon Uris’ novel, Exodus.
SWANK: When did you first join the family?
ARI: 1967, when I got to the Haight. I was living in a commune,
532 Clayton Street. At the time, Charlie had got out of prison. He was around then, and it was him, and a few girls that had more sense. They were living at Cole Street, and they had come by our house, and they did a stand there for about two weeks. They lived with us, and we were good friends, and I hung, and that was it. Then one day they came into the house, and said, “Anyone wanna go? Come on, let’s go. The bus is leaving.” And they got in their black bus and split. And that was the last I saw of them.
SWANK: Until when?
ARI: About a year later, not a whole year, but in 1968, I was in
with my girlfriend Shannon, and we were on Sunset, and I ran into Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel. They were giving away doughnuts, and we started talking, and they invited me up to their ranch, and that was it. I stayed. I liked it. It was a friendly group of people. They were interested in balling, and having fun, sex. L.A.
SWANK: What did you think of Charlie when you first met him?
ARI: Really nice guy.
ARI: He was just a really friendly guy. Of course, you could tell he was old….and he kind of used the guys.
SWANK: After his arrest, there were some allegations about Charlie’s hypnotic eyes and the weird power he was supposed to have over the other people in the Family. Did you notice any of that?
ARI: Debatable. I mean, his eyes were kinda magnetic, I have to agree to that. He was really far out. His eyes were just kinda, like, spacey-like. If you’d look into his eyes, he’d just kinda get to you. But if you knew what his game was, it never bothered you. It didn’t bother most of the guys at all. It was only the girls that went on trips about it.
SWANK: Were you with the Family when the Tate-LaBianca killings occurred?
ARI: No, the Tate-LaBianca thing happened on August 8th or 9th, 1969, and I had left the Family in June of 1969. I just wanted to go back to
for a few weeks to get things together, and visit my friends, and I told Charlie I’d be back, and I never did come back until after he was arrested. But they had already committed about four murders by then. Berkeley
SWANK: Were you around for any of those?
ARI: Yeah, the first one. The first one was Clida Delaney and Nancy Warren. This was when Charlie sent the girls up north, up to Ukiah, and some Family members killed those two girls.
SWANK: Why were they killed?
ARI: Basically, lots of reasons. They were killed ‘cause they knew the Family, both of them. See, the girls used to be known as the Witches of Ukiah, and they had a house up there, and Sadie had a kid up there, and…..
SWANK: “The Witches Of Ukiah”-that was Charlie’s girls?
ARI: Yeah, cause when they were up there…..they were there for the trial, that was the main reason. And the Family in those days, and up until the end were doing all kinds of credit-card ripoffs. And the two girls, Warren and Delaney were wise to it, and they killed them.
(Editor’s Note: Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter says that on October 13th, 1968, Clida Delaney, and Nancy Warren were first beaten, then strangled to death with leather thongs, south of
. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at one time suspected that the murders might be linked to Manson, since several Mansonoids were in the area at the time, and since two days later, the Family abruptly moved from the Spahn movie ranch near Chatsworth, a Los Angeles suburb, to the Barker ranch, south of Death Valley. No link was ever proved.) Ukiah, California
ARI: (Continued from above) And the second murder was in December of 1968, and that was a girl named Marina Habe. She was killed for the reason that she had known Family members. She got killed because she was with someone that pulled a credit-card heist, and they wanted to kill her to back it up.
(Editor’s Note: Bugliosi reports that on December 30th, 1968, 17-year-old Marina Habe was kidnapped from her mother’s house in
West Hollywood. She was found on January 1st, 1969-dead of multiple stab wounds in the head and neck. She was rumored to have known some Family members, though these rumors were never confirmed. To date, her murder remains unsolved. To date, her murder remains unsolved.)
ARI: (continued from above) That was the last Family murder until they killed Gary Hinman.
(Editor’s Note: Nothing unsolved about that one. Susan Atkins pleaded guilty, and received a life sentence. In separate trials for Charlie, Bruce Davis, and Steve “Clem” Grogan on the combined Hinman-Shorty Shea murder charges, all three men were found guilty and sentenced to life.)
SWANK: How many were there in all, before the second trial-the one for the murder of Shorty Shea, whose corpse they never found?
ARI: Well, Shorty was about the twelfth murder. After Gary Hinman, you’ve got Tate-LaBianca, which brings it to eleven right there. Shorty made it twelve. Then, of course, the lie that the Family tells that Zero committed suicide.
ARI: John Philip Haught. There’s all kinds of rumors about that. The Family says the way it goes is that they were sitting around in the bedroom, and he had a gun, and he was going to play Russian roulette. Only it couldn’t of been Russian roulette, because all the chambers were full. He was killed by the Family. Hard to prove that one; they didn’t find any fingerprints ‘cause the guy who did it was wearing gloves.
SWANK: Yeah. They never indicted anyone for that.
ARI: Right. That was the one that they got away with completely clean and free.
SWANK: Probably the most celebrated Manson connection was his friendship with the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, yet not many of the details have appeared in the press. Were you around at the time?
ARI: On and off. I’d come up from
a few times to go to the house. Dennis Wilson was really into it in those days. The rest of the Beach Boys couldn’t stand Charlie. Berkeley
SWANK: But Dennis got on with the Family?
ARI: Yeah, all the way. He really loved them.
SWANK: The commonly-told story is that Charlie had rock ‘n’ roll ambitions, and that Dennis was going to produce his records.
ARI: Yeah, he recorded Charlie. And he was going to do an album. He mentioned some stuff about it, but he really couldn’t get anyone to buy it, and that was when the Beach Boys were fighting. And Charlie wrote a song for the Beach Boys. He sold it to Dennis Wilson for a motorcycle.
SWANK: Which song?
ARI: The song was “Cease To Exist.” And what happened to the song was that Dennis Wilson changed the title and changed a few words.
SWANK: What did he change it to?
ARI: From “Cease to Exist” to “Cease to Resist,” and he changed that title to “Never Learn Not to Love.” It’s on an album called 20/20.
SWANK: I have that one. I’ll have to check the liner notes to see if Charlie gets a credit.
ARI: He doesn’t. It’s in Dennis Wilson’s name. Charlie sold the song outright.
SWANK: What caused the falling-out between Dennis and the Family? Was it pressure from the other
ARI: Pretty much. ‘Cause that’s the way the
brothers were. They didn’t like Charlie at all. Just couldn’t stand him. You know how Dennis met the Family in the first place? Wilson
ARI: He’d picked up two of the girls hitchhiking. And he went on a tour, and the Family was in there.
SWANK: In his house?
SWANK: Surprise, Dennis?
ARI: And Dennis kinda like said later it cost him something like $100,000.
SWANK: Ari, the usual explanation of the Manson murders, the explanation the prosecutor Bugliosi used to convince the jury, goes something like this: Charlie had listened to the Beatles’ White Album, and had picked up the idea that the song “Helter Skelter” was actually a secret message from John, Paul, George and Ringo to him. The message was that Charlie should go out and kill some people, murder them in such a way that the public would blame it all on the blacks. This would touch off an apocalyptic race war, which the blacks would win. After a while, the blacks would realize that they were incapable of running the world, and would turn for assistance to Charlie, who had wisely been sitting out the war in a hole out in
Death Valley. Then Charlie would come in and take over as king of the world. My question is, where do you think Charlie came up with such an absolutely bozo idea?
ARI: Well, he’d been in prison all his life. He’d had all kinds of problems with that. He came out, and people didn’t……..He had finally found this guy that was friendly, and it really turned him on that someone was friendly to him. He had gone through shit all his life and here was some guy being friendly. He got his family together, and when Dennis Wilson tried to peddle his tapes, nobody would take them. Terry Melcher promised Charlie that he would record him and put out an album, and Melcher reneged on him. Just a lot of things came up, and he was thinking of Helter Skelter, and then, of course, the big dope burn, and that was the whole deal.
SWANK: Which dope burn?
ARI: Like, the whole thing, he got ripped off for a lot of money on a dope deal. That’s what started the Tate murders. I got that from the girls. They were dealing. At that time,
was like, the big……like the communes, they were really heavy. They were, like, the holding grounds for all the big dope. And the Family bought some…..were supposed to buy some from the Tate people. Abigail Folger and Victor…. L.A.
SWANK: Voytek Frykowski?
ARI: Frykowski, right. He was dealing a new drug from
called MDA, and they had burned Manson and all on the same dope deal. They took the Family for something like $50,000. Canada
SWANK: So the selection of victims in the Tate case wasn’t as arbitrary as is generally supposed?
ARI: No. And the same thing with the next night’s. It was all connected. See, Leno LaBianca was a bookie. He owed some money to pay off a bet, and he hadn’t paid off yet, and the Family wanted to get the money from LaBianca. That was the reason they picked LaBianca.
SWANK: On whose authority is all this information?
ARI: Squeaky’s. Squeaky and Country Sue. (Editor’s Note: Family member Susan Bartell.)
SWANK: Earlier you mentioned you’d separated from the Family a couple months previously to the Tate-LaBianca murders. When you heard about all of it, were you a little surprised?
ARI: No. ‘Cause there was just too much stuff going down with the Family. They were getting shit on, you know, and things were getting heavy. Charlie even kicked Susan Atkins off the place. It was just something else. He let her back in, and she was the happiest girl in the world.
SWANK: After Charlie went to jail, how did the Family hold itself together?
ARI: It didn’t. It kind of drifted apart. ‘Cause I remember I was in
at the time the case broke. I was in New York New York City, up in the trying to get a hold of Abbie Hoffman, and some other people, trying to make some Weather Connections, and I read about it in the Daily News. And as soon as I saw the pictures in there, I knew what was going on, and I left East Village that night. I flew back to New York . I was in California . The Family all started kinda merging back together at the Spahn Ranch after it was all over. People got out of jail up north, and people got out of jail from the prison where they were holding Charlie after they busted him at Death Valley, and brought him back to Berkeley The Family that got free suddenly started coming back together, and I came on back down-for a while anyway-and spent weekends down there. The Family was getting together to have a united defense. The girls and me were talking about putting on a couple of rock concerts. We were going to get the Grateful Dead, and the Jefferson Airplane as a bail benefit. But both bands wanted too much money. We couldn’t afford it. And that kinda died. Then we came up with the ideas, which we later did, of selling t-shirts and Charlie Manson pictures, and posters, and albums to raise money. L.A.
SWANK: Were you able to raise much?
ARI: I was helping, but there was all kinds of things coming down. See, the girls were pulling all these numbers down there.
SWANK: Such as?
ARI: They would lie to the defense attorneys. Like, especially Fitzgerald (Editor’s Note: Paul Fitzgerald, Manson’s first, court-appointed defense counsel), they’d tell Fitzgerald that they needed this many dollars to survive this week, and he was literally supporting them. Oh, they had money of their own, but they would tell him they were broke.
SWANK: How soon after the trial did the Family start to drift back together again?
ARI: About a month before the trial started, everyone started getting back together. Like, the day I came back they called me up, and said it was very important to come down.
SWANK: Had Squeaky Fromme already emerged as the new boss?
ARI: Yeah. Well, her and Country Sue. She was Charlie’s lieutenant.
SWANK: How did Charlie send instructions to Squeaky from prison?
ARI: Through different people. There was always guys getting out of jail, and he always passed notes. There’s all kinds of prison things about passing notes. He would give a message to Kanarek (Editor’s Note: Irving Kanarek, another Manson defense counsel) or whatever, and they would pass it on to the Family. There’s just all kinds of ways they could do it.
SWANK: The one name I often hear in connection with Charlie nowadays is that of the Aryan Brotherhood. I understand that it’s an organization of white prisoners in California, a couple hundred strong, that banded together more or less in response to all the black prisoners who were joining the Panthers and the Muslims. And I also understand that they don’t have much use for blacks.
ARI: I don’t know much about them other than they’re a prison group of neo-Nazis, and they have this big philosophy. I don’t exactly even know the philosophy, but it’s sort of like the Family’s. The Aryan Brotherhood had a deal with Charlie: If he got convicted, he could do sort of easy time if he joins them. So in return for Charlie joining up, they get to borrow any of the Family girls anytime they want to when they get out. So Charlie could pass the message through the Brotherhood to the girls, and the girls would tell the guys what to do, and if they wanted someone killed, they would kill them.
SWANK: What happened with the Family right after Charlie was arrested? What was the general reactions?
ARI: Well, we were sitting around the Spahn Ranch, keeping, like, a lookout. And one night the girls told everyone I was leaving. They took me into the side room, and talked to me and said they talked to Charlie, and if I really loved Charlie they wanted me to…..they would give me a couple members of the Manson Family, some girls, and some guys, and they would send me to San Francisco, and they wanted me to duplicate the Tate murders.
SWANK: On whom?
ARI: One whom? Whoever I picked.
SWANK: Oh, just at random.
ARI: They would give me the rope, the whole works. And after I did it, when I got arrested I was supposed to tell them I did the Tate-LaBianca murders. And then Charlie would go free. And they told me that in six months, I would be free, ‘cause there was no proof that I did anything. And by then Charlie would be back in Devil’s Hole in Death Valle, and they would never find him. Then they would release me.
SWANK: What was your reaction to this little scheme?
ARI: Shock. I said I would think about it. “Sure, I’ll do it. Le me think about it for awhile.”
SWANK: That sounds sort of like the time Nixon sent Haldeman out to tell Mitchell that Mitchell ought to take the rap for Watergate.
ARI: So I said, “Okay, I’m going to go to
, and get things set up, and then I’ll come back tomorrow, and pick up the stuff.” Well, I split. It scared the shit out of me. San Francisco
SWANK: What do you think about all the books, movies, and whatnot that were inspired by the Tate-LaBianca killings? Did you read Ed Sanders book, The Family?
ARI: Yeah. I was in it. It was really good. It was the most realistic book about the Family ever written.
SWANK: What about Helter Skelter, the book that Vinnie Bugliosi, the prosecutor wrote with Curt Gentry?
ARI: There’s facts in there. But his is a different angle on it. It doesn’t really come out with what the Family is about. You have to read them both together.
SWANK: But is Helter Skelter mostly true, in your opinion?
ARI: Well, you look at Shorty Shea, and how they killed him. It’s something else from what Bugliosi wrote.
SWANK: How did they kill him then?
ARI: I got this from Country Sue, and Sandra Good. And what they did with Shorty was…….well, you know, he had snitched on them, and Charlie has a prison saying about what you do with snitches.
SWANK: I believe I’ve heard that saying.
ARI: And so they got Shorty out there, and they had tied him up, and all that so he couldn’t move, and the girls started giving him head. And just before he came-just as he came-they chopped his head off. The girls said he had reached Now. He reached the highest he could get, and all the girls took turns in giving him head, and they gave him Now. And when he came, they chopped his head off, and they chopped him into about a thousand pieces. They’ll never find him.
SWANK: Let’s talk about the Family’s more recent adventures. Do you know anything about Squeaky’s attempt to kill President Ford?
ARI: I was in
last December, just about the time that it happened. Sandy Good called me. ‘Cause she was in jail. They called me, and they wanted to get the Family back together for a united defense for Squeaky. So I said, “Okay, I’ll come down, and see what I can do.” I felt sorry for them. Tennessee had me kiss both their feet to apologize. So I did, it didn’t bother me much. And I went back with them, and that was pretty much it. And the girls told me that she was pissed off that she missed. Sandy
SWANK: Squeaky, you mean?
ARI: Yeah. She was pissed off ‘cause of the
papers. The Family had stopped being in the news, and they got tired of it. They wouldn’t give them and publicity, so she got pissed off, and wanted to do something that would get the Family back in the world press. Sacramento
SWANK: She did.
ARI: Sure did. Well, I was in court with Squeaky, and Sandra for a couple of days, and they got really pissed off at me.
ARI: ‘Cause I made a couple of cracks about the girls. I told them how I really still loved Susan Atkins, and Squeaky said, “Forget about her. Sadie’s in jail. We’re going to bust them out” and all that crap. She was telling me all about the International People’s Court of Retribution, which in reality was Squeaky, Sandy, this other woman that was staying at the house, and about ten members of the Aryan Brotherhood, and that’s it. There was no real organization.
SWANK: So the whole genesis of the Ford plot wasn’t any kind of secret instruction from Charlie….it was just Squeaky’s insane desire for publicity?
ARI: It was to please Charlie.
SWANK: Well, it’ll certainly help Charlie when his parole hearing comes up.
SWANK: What kind of leadership qualities does Squeaky possess that allowed her to take over after Charlie went to the slammer?
ARI: Well, she gave orders. Everyone obeyed. She was kind of like a marine D.I. And people really love to ball her. So whatever she said, they did.
SWANK: Just because they liked to fuck her?
ARI: Yes. The guys did, and if they weren’t nice to her, and didn’t do what she said, she wouldn’t screw. She had the power of fuck over everybody that was living there. Basically, the way she did it was she had a fuck-list, and if you got her angry, that’s when she’d be indifferent. She’d take your name off the list, and you couldn’t fuck.
SWANK: She was that good at it?
ARI: Yeah, every girl in the Family did what she said.
SWANK: Every guy, you mean.
ARI: And girl. Because she got in a couple of fights, and kicked them out. Once that happened, her word was law. And when she got messages from Charlie, they would have to obey what she said. There was no doubt.
SWANK: Gee, and Squeaky always seemed so little, and mousy…..
ARI: But she’s got a punch that’ll knock you on your keister!
SWANK: Where’s the Family located today?
ARI: Some members of the Family are in
. And other parts of it are in Apple Valley, California . And some other members are in Sacramento . Stockton
SWANK: But they all keep in touch?
ARI: Yeah, right now, the leader of the Family with both Squeaky, and Sandy Good in jail is between two girls, Country Sue, and Gypsy. (Editor’s Note: Family member Catherine Share) You’ve heard about Susan Atkins, haven’t you?
SWANK: Sue supposedly has religion now, hasn’t she?
ARI: How’d you hear about it?
SWANK: Never mind.
ARI: See, I just got a letter from Susan last night, and Susan tells me that she’s completely turned to Jesus. She’s the only one I write to. The first time I wrote her, I wrote, “Dear Sexy.” You know, Sexy Sadie, her Family nickname. And she told me in her next letter, “I ain’t Sexy Sadie Mae Glutz, I’m Susan, I’ve found God.”
SWANK: Was Susan Atkins your closest friend in the Family?
ARI: Yeah. I loved her.
SWANK: What’s she like?
ARI: Very warm, very friendly, but a little schizy. Like, Charlie used to say she brought gorillas to the Family. And gorillas is Charlie’s term for guys that come back that just want to fuck.
SWANK: As opposed to joining the Family?
ARI: Right. And then he has to kick them out. And a lot of them weren’t 100% white-and that was Charlie’s Aryan thing.
SWANK: So he thought Susan wasn’t too discriminating.
ARI: Right. He got a little pissed off at her quite a few times. He kicked her out once, and let back in about a month later.
SWANK: Ari, out of all the girls in the Family, who was the best fuck?
ARI: Sexy Sadie Mae Glutz!
SWANK: Didn’t give her the nickname for nothing, then?
was so-so. So was Squeaky-that’s why they called her “Squeaky.” I got my nickname from Charlie. Sandy
SWANK: What was it?
ARI: “White Rabbit.” They said I fucked like a rabbit.
SWANK: Does Charlie still send instructions to the Family?
ARI: Yeah, through the Aryan Brotherhood. He’ll send the Aryan Brotherhood down to
to see the girls, and he’ll tell the girls what he wants, and they’ll do what they can. Apple Valley
SWANK: What’s on the Family’s agenda for the immediate future? Anything we should watch out for?
ARI: Not really. I haven’t heard anything more except the International Court of Retribution, which was a crock. Oh, they threaten to kill a bunch of people. They’ll still free, and it’s possible. That’s why I’m going underground.
SWANK: How do you feel about Charlie now?
ARI: He’s just a little guy that used all the guys ‘cause he’s too old to get girls. He got these guys to get girls for him, bring them up there. I mean, when you really think of what went down, he kinda ripped you off a real lot. You know, it kinda pisses you off that the creep could get away with it. I mean, I liked it when he had all the sex orgies going down.
SWANK: Who else in the Family are you still close to?
ARI: Just Susan. I wrote Leslie Van Houten a letter last night, and I wrote Katie a letter. I’d like to maybe talk to Leslie some time, and go up there and visit her. If I can, I want to go up to Frontera to the California Institute for Women, and see Susan, but that’s about it.
SWANK: Well, you must still feel close to the Family in some ways. After Squeaky tried to kill President Ford, you came when they called you.
ARI: Squeaky was fun, and I was horny at the time, anyhow.
SWANK: Long way to go for a piece of ass.
ARI: It was on them. They paid my fare.
SWANK: Oh, really? How did they get the money?
ARI: Different ways.
SWANK: Ari, now that the Family is fragmented, and it’s leaders are all in prison, what do you think keeps it together? Why are it’s members still happy within it?
ARI: It’s a different thing now. They probably do their credit card scams or whatever ripoffs they’re pulling, and that’s it, you know? They’re just making it, day to day.
SWANK: It doesn’t sound like as much fun as it used to be.
ARI: It ain’t. It’s a different thing now. They’re just kinda waiting it out. Some Aryan Brotherhood people might pass messages from Charlie, and tell them to do something else. And maybe six months from now someone will get busted trying to shoot somebody-you never know. But I have to say this in all honesty, the Family is not dead. That germ, that virus still exists. And they’re getting new people all the time.
ARI: yeah. They recruit. They picked up a bunch of people since the murders. They got more since the assassination attempt, too. So, I mean, that cancer is still growing. Don’t for a minute believe it’s all over!