Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The 50th Anniversary of the Church of Satan

An article from the San Francisco Chronicle's website on the 50th anniversary of Anton La Vey's  Church of Satan.  The text of the article has been copied and pasted but go to the site and scroll through the images.  There are a few of La Vey that have rarely been seen, with hair!!!


When The Devil Lived in the Richmond
By Mike Moffitt

Witches, warlocks, devil worshippers and underworld spawn, raise your goblets, for today, April 30, 2016, marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Church of Satan in San Francisco.

Anton Szandor LaVey, a Marin County high school dropout turned carny turned spiritual leader, would not have characterized his flock as Hell's minions, of course. His religion was a rejection of all religions, a celebration of Man as "a carnal beast living in a cosmos that is indifferent to our existence."

For a short while in San Francisco in the late 1960s, LaVey's self-promoting
meld of pagan hedonism and hucksterism made him a nationally known cult figure.
At 16, Howard Stanton Levey — the name he was given at birth — dropped out of Tamalpais High to join the circus. He purportedly was hired by the Clyde Beatty Circus as a cage boy, feeding the big cats and then graduating to performing magic and hypnosis tricks, and playing the calliope. The tutelage under the big top served him well.

The source of his cynicism

As LaVey's musical skills improved, he began playing piano for the Saturday night burlesque sideshows and, to make some extra cash, Sunday morning tent-revival services. He would later say that seeing the same men at both events fueled his cynicism for organized religion.

James Lewis' reference work
"Satanism Today" notes that LaVey "became well-versed in the many rackets to separate the rubes from their money," a talent shared by many Bible thumpers and TV evangelists.
Most Christian denominations did not possess LaVey's gift for showmanship, however, nor did they use bare-breasted "witches" to fill the pews, a strategy that helped LaVey establish his church in its early days.

LaVey supposedly gave up a brief career in the '50s as a forensic photographer with the San Francisco police although there are no records of his employment with the SFPD. He claimed to have studied criminology at San Francisco City College in order to avoid the draft during the Korean War — but there are no records verifying that either.
What is not disputed is his interest in the supernatural. He began holding Friday night lectures on occult practices and gained a modest following.

The story goes that on Walpurgisnacht (Walpurgis Night), April 30, 1966, he shaved his head (keeping his signature goatee) "in the tradition of the ancient executioners," and founded his church. Walpurgisnacht dates back to a 17th-century German tradition in which sorcerers and witches would gather on the eve of May Day.

However, the site
Satanism Central, says the church was actually founded in the summer of 1966 as a "business and publicity vehicle" and that LaVey actually shaved his head on a lighthearted dare by his wife.

LaVey's headquarters were his small Victorian house in the Richmond District. He painted it entirely black, which must have overjoyed the neighbors.

Black was also the preferred color of his wardrobe. He wore black ropes with pointed collars and a black cape, an outfit he often accessorized with a kitschy devil's horns headdress and medallions.

The bizarre baptism of his daughter

Inside the sinister house at 6114 California St., LaVey presided over his Black Mass rituals with nude women liberally sprawled over the fixtures. One such naked acolyte — an attractive 30-year-old priestess breathing heavily — draped herself over the altar at highly publicized 1967 baptism of LaVey's 4-year-old daughter, Zeena, while the proud papa intoned, "Hail Satan!"

Baptisms have rarely caused such a fuss. The unholy sacrament triggered a media uproar reaching as far as Europe. Allegations of child abuse followed.

The late '60s was a time of upheaval in America. Young Americans were rebelling against the Vietnam War and the military industrial complex, organized religion and the puritanical sexual mores of the '50s. Only weeks earlier a Time magazine cover piece had asked, "Is God Dead?" Conditions were perfect for an alternative church embracing free sex and self-indulgence sanctioned as supernatural worship.

Former members said the church hosted orgies, but, as Helen O'Hara writes in the Telegraph, "It wasn't just the nudity that attracted newcomers.

"As with many religions the congregants would plead for intercession, wishing calamity on an enemy or rival, or attempting to invoke financial or sexual success. The crowd tended to be young, well-heeled and curious, as with other new religions growing at the time."

Sammy Davis Jr. goes to an orgy

LaVey's unholy house of worship was also drawing Hollywood's attention. Sammy Davis Jr. was introduced to the Church of Satan at an orgy party, which he later described as "dungeons and dragons and debauchery." After Davis starred in an ill-fated sitcom called "Poor Devil" — a sort of "It's a Wonderful Life" in reverse, the church awarded him the title of Warlock II, which may be akin to Angel Second Class.

Fifties blond bombshell Jayne Mansfield, who supposedly shared an interest in the supernatural, met LaVey at his home while attending the San Francisco Film Festival in 1966. He was immediately smitten. He showed her some of his black magic trinkets and invited the actress to be his high priestess.

LaVey traveled to Hollywood in 1967 for a photo shoot with Mansfield during which he hung her certificate of church membership in her bedroom. Whether she was an eager recruit or just desperately seeking publicity to jump-start her career, which was in free-fall by the mid-'60s, is not clear. The latter seems more likely.

His small role in 'Rosemary's Baby'

LaVey claimed that Roman Polanski cast him to play Satan himself in the rape scene of the 1968 film "Rosemary's Baby," Polanski's version of Ira Levin's book. The role was not credited but it fueled curiosity in the Church of Satan. The Catholic Decency League condemned the film, which no doubt helped it become a box-office hit.

Buoyed by the success of the film, LaVey suddenly found himself in great demand. Everyone from reporters to occultists wanted to interview "Black Pope," as the Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times called him. But his big moment in the limelight was short-lived.
A year later, Manson Family members murdered Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring.

Sebring had been a member of the church roughly at the same time as Davis and was the singer's stylist. And one of the Manson murderers, Sharon Atkins, had performed as a "blood-swilling vampire" in the LaVey show "Witches' Sabbath" prior to joining Charles Manson's cult.

While people could accept or even embrace LaVey portraying a rapist Beelzebub in a movie, his ties to the Manson murders were disturbing, if not revolting. Suddenly his brand of libertine fun was tainted by one of the most horrific crimes of the century. It was an association he could never live down.

LaVey's dark star began a long, slow decline that occasional talk show gigs couldn't reverse. Even welcoming rock star Marilyn Manson into the fold in the early '90s didn't help much.

Besides, he despised rock 'n' roll — even satanic metal he found distasteful. Instead, he favored romantic tunes of the 1940s.
San Francisco's "Father of Satanism" died of pulmonary edema on Oct. 29, 1997, ironically in St. Mary's Medical Center, which was the closest hospital.

The Church of Satan lives on. It's now headquartered in New York's Hell's Kitchen, led by High Priest Peter H. Gilmore, who has wisely downplayed the Lucifer horns, forked tails and other campy paraphernalia of his predecessor.

The fate of the Black House

As for the Dark Lord's den of iniquity in the Richmond? It fell on hard times.

Chronicle reporter Don Lattin visited the neglected house 15 months after LaVey's death. He wrote:
"Today, the property at 6114 California St. looks like the Addams Family home after a Saturday night frat party. Smashed furniture and a soiled mattress lay amid a mountain of garbage in the small front yard, behind a tall chain-link fence topped with barbed wire.

"Adding insult to injury, some blasphemous graffiti artist has scrawled the words "Jesus Rulz" on the mail slot."
Eventually the property was sold, and LaVey's Victorian temple of sin bulldozed. Today, a bland apartment building painted avocado and trimmed in white stands at the site.

You'd never know that it was once the Devil's address.

FWIW I do not believe that Jay Sebring was ever a member of the Church of Satan.


snowdensofyesteryear said...

There's a really cool documentary from the late 60s shot on I think on an early version of super 8 film, called Satanis: the Devil's Mass. Something Weird Video put it out on a double feature dvd and it's worth checking out if you're interested in getting an inside look at LaVey's inner circle. It's been a couple years since I saw it, but I remember the interview with his daughter being the best part.

orwhut said...

I often get Anton LeVey confused with Robert DeGrimston.

starship said...

Last I knew, Mr. DeGrimston was still alive and living on Staten Island, not too far from another one of our favorite posters...

Robert Hendrickson said...

I know how it feels ORWHUT, every time I see the image of SATAN, I think of LBJ

Matt said...

Just don't say his name, Starship.

Mr. Humphrat said...

I can't believe the photo of his SF house-I pictured it being large and opulent, instead of a little dump sandwiched between two larger buildings.

grimtraveller said...

Sharon Atkins ! Now there's a Freudian slip for the ages.....
Or did the Devil make Mike do it ?

orwhut said...

Robert Hendrickson said... I know how it feels ORWHUT, every time I see the image of SATAN, I think of LBJ
That was funny whether you ment it to be or not.

Patty is Dead said...

Stanton is selling off a lot of Anton's artwork lately Patty has noticed. He has also offered to bite you and leave a mark for a nominal fee. Any takers?

Hippiedoll said...

I wonder how much for an inner-thigh bite mark?

Patty is Dead said...

Lol yikes haha

Hippiedoll said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
candy and nuts said...

Where is Stanton selling this? Wanna check the site

beauders said...

Grim, Atkins used the name Sharon Atkins as her stage name while working for LaVey. As a Christian Grim do you believe in a literal Devil and Hell?

grimtraveller said...

beauders said...

Atkins used the name Sharon Atkins as her stage name while working for LaVey

Here's a creepy one. I just opened Atkins' "Child of Satan, Child of God" randomly and it was the page where she mentions that her alias was Sharon King !
Actually, it's not really creepy. Notable coincidence.

As a Christian Grim do you believe in a literal Devil and Hell?

In a literal devil, yes. In a literal hell, I neither believe nor disbelieve. What we have on this are writings of people that had some kind of experiences with God {which one either believes or not ~ I do} and their writings happened to survive and are contained in that library of documents that we know as the bible. Their combined writings, be they teachings, be they poems, be they narratives, be they offhand comments do not present a definitive and clear picture. There is so much nuance when it comes to Hell that I don't see how anyone can teach it categorically one way or the other. I do believe that there will a day of reckoning for us all and that one of the purposes of Christ and what he did was to prevent us from being on that wrong side of God when it's too late. Whether it's hell or not, I can't say, but whatever the ultimate end that Christ died to stop us getting to, it scares me more than anything I've ever heard about Hell.
As for the devil, the name 'Satan' is often biblically applied which means the adversary or the enemy. I personally think that this applies to a singular 'person'/entity as well as a group, but that's another story for another day.

snowdensofyesteryear said...

Gurdjieff said we make our own heaven and hell right here beside us on earth. Father Zosimos speculated that hell was the inability to love. Analogous to that notion is the medieval concept of the dark night of the soul, the despair caused by separation from God. To the Gnostics and Manichaeans of ancient times, this was the condition of life, the physical prison from which the spiritual self longed to ascend.

grimtraveller said...

snowdensofyesteryear said...

Gurdjieff said we make our own heaven and hell right here beside us on earth

The Undisputed Truth {one of the most underrated soul bands ever and criminally ignored by Motown} did an album called "Face to face with the truth" with some really great songs on it, one of which is "You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here on Earth."
I understand the concept of the song and in a sense it's true but that view doesn't really appreciate the depth and finality of the heaven and hell concepts. It's using the terms heaven and hell metaphorically.

Father Zosimos speculated that hell was the inability to love

Given the pain and heartache that loving can lead to, an inability to do so might be considered as positively heavenly by some !

grimtraveller said...

snowdensofyesteryear said...

the despair caused by separation from God

I remember when my eldest son was a baby, he went through this period of what I later learned was termed separation anxiety. If you left the room, he would get really agitated and upset. It occurred to me that God would understand that intimately because Christ had a serious bout of it on the cross. It's not so much physical pain that was getting to him {after all, crucifixion was not some unusual thing reserved for the holy few. It was a common way of executing criminals and undesirables} as much as being separated from God. It's hard to grasp why that should be so tortuous but we don't see it from the point of view of one that claimed to be the son of God and who had never been separate from him.
One of the ways that people think of hell is separation from God without end. Many would say well, what's the difference between that and not believing in God or not ascribing to particular interpretations of God in this life and the answer they'd be given would be that in the afterlife it would be without all of God's current protection and care, even if one isn't conscious of it or acknowledges it. As Christ once put it, God brings good and lousy things to those that love him and to those that don't.
I think Charles Manson was aware of separation anxiety which accounted for his insistence on an umbrella defence. It wasn't lost on him that once separate from him, all the women that were part of the Tate/LaBianca murders told other people, outsiders, that he was the main wheel around which the murders revolved. It still strikes me as fascinating that once separate from him the 4 women fingered him as being the one that spearheaded the killings and I'm talking about before 1969 was out, not once the convictions had happened.

snowdensofyesteryear said...

Just to put the heaven and hell on earth statement in context, Gurdjieff also believed in a very real afterlife, but his conception was of a gradual purification which culminated in a return to the unity of god, which has some similarity to the catholic doctrine of purgatory, with the afterlife condition of "hell" being more similar to the Hebrew sheol, or a state of nonbeing, the so- called eternal slumber. For what its worth. And the love that Zosimos speaks of is the agape/caritas of St Paul, not eros. But perhaps I digress too far...

Anonymous said...

grimtraveller said...
The Undisputed Truth {one of the most underrated soul bands ever and criminally ignored by Motown}

SMiLing Faces.....they LIE

grimtraveller said...

chatsworth charlie said...

SMiLing Faces.....they LIE

They certainly did.....during the penalty phase !