Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Manson follower Leslie Van Houten should be paroled, California appeals court rules

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California appeals court said Tuesday that Leslie Van Houten, who participated in two killings at the direction of cult leader Charles Manson in 1969, should be released from prison on parole.

The appellate court's ruling reverses an earlier decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who rejected parole for Van Houten in 2020. She has been recommended for parole five times since 2016. All of those recommendations were rejected by either Newsom or former Gov. Jerry Brown.

Newsom could request that California Attorney General Rob Bonta petition the state Supreme Court to stop her release. Bonta's office referred questions to Newsom's office, which didn't respond to queries about possible next steps.

Van Houten, now in her 70s, is serving a life sentence for helping Manson and other followers kill Leno LaBianca, a grocer in Los Angeles, and his wife, Rosemary.

Newsom has said that Van Houten still poses a danger to society. In rejecting her parole, he said she offered an inconsistent and inadequate explanation for her involvement with Manson at the time of the killings.

The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ruled 2-1 to reverse Newsom's decision, writing there is "no evidence to support the Governor's conclusions" about Van Houten's fitness for parole.

The judges took issue with Newsom's claim that Van Houten did not adequately explain how she fell under Manson's influence. At her parole hearings, she discussed at length how her parents' divorce, her drug and alcohol abuse, and a forced illegal abortion led her down a path that left her vulnerable to him.

They also argued against Newsom's suggestion that her past violent acts were a cause for future concern were she to be released.

"Van Houten has shown extraordinary rehabilitative efforts, insight, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from family and friends, favorable institutional reports, and, at the time of the Governor's decision, had received four successive grants of parole," the judges wrote. "Although the Governor states Van Houten's historical factors ‘remain salient,' he identifies nothing in the record indicating Van Houten has not successfully addressed those factors through many years of therapy, substance abuse programming, and other efforts."

Friday, May 26, 2023

Legendary Stuntman Gary Kent Has Passed Away

 This is an article from October 2022. Thanks Donna!

Legendary stuntman Gary Kent's strange encounter with Charles Manson

Ros Tibbs

Gary Kent is an American actor, director and stunt person who is most known for his work in independent grindhouse films. Having made his movie debut in 1956 in R.G Springsteen’s Battle Flame, a war film about a marine who tries to free his girlfriend from the North Korean army, the actor went on to make other notable appearances in movies such as The Black Klansman, The Savage Seven, and more.

Famously, Kent worked as a double for actor Jack Nicholson in Hell’s Angels on Wheels and Psych-Out, both directed by Richard Rush. Later, in 2009, Kent published a memoir titled Shadows and Light. In the book, he discusses an “outlaw” cinema aimed at breaking film taboos and barriers.

Kent and his experiences as a stuntman served as inspiration for Cliff Booth, the character portrayed by Brad Pitt in Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 alternative historical film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. As depicted in Tarantino’s movie, Kent crossed paths with the notorious cult leader Charles Manson and some of his deranged followers.

Charles Manson and his cult committed a series of nine murders during the summer of 1969. After being apprehended by the authorities, in 1971, Manson was convicted of first-degree murder and the attempt to murder seven people. Notoriously, one of his victims was the film actress Sharon Tate, who was heavily pregnant at the time. The prosecution concluded that while Manson was not directly responsible for the murders, it was his ideology and leadership that manipulated his cult to commit the crimes.

So how did a meeting between one of America’s top stunt men and one of America’s most dangerous criminals unfold?

Kent details how the incident took place in June 1969, during the shooting of Lash of Lust. The filming took place at The Spahn Ranch, a location that was built from three ranches where filmmakers could shoot Western films due to the lack of any electrical appliances. When they were shooting at the Ranch, Kent noticed there were “a bunch of hippies” who were “staying in these shacks” close by.

“The girls would come down to where we were shooting and beg for our lunches from us,” Kent claims. He also explained how he shrugged the incidents off: “We just thought they were strange little hippies that lived there,” Kent commented.

It was interacting with these very “strange little hippies” that led to Kent meeting Manson.

During shooting, the dune buggy that was used as a camera car suddenly broke down, disrupting the filming process. Kent then went over to the girls and asked: “Do you know of a mechanic around here?”. The girls eagerly replied, “We’ve got a great mechanic right here”. Kent agreed to see him, even though “we didn’t know him from Adam”.

When describing the mechanic who came to help, Kent states he was “this little guy… maybe five four by five” who was “barefoot bare-chested” and was wearing an “old pair of raggedy jeans”. He also remembers how he “had this long scraggly hair and he introduced himself, Charles Manson”. This is the same Charles Manson who would then lead his cult to tragically murder Sharon Tate.

Kent also shared details of how Manson carried himself: “Charles Manson’s handshake felt like a dead trout and he wouldn’t look me in the eye,” he explained, also labelling the hippies as “his creepy-crawlies”. Kent further stated: “To me, Manson was as shifty and full of hot air as a corn-eating cow”.

Once the buggy was fixed, Manson left the location and “next thing we knew, they had arrested this guy called Charles Manson”. Kent immediately thought back to the mechanic incident: “We thought…that was the guy at George’s ranch and that was my big meeting with Charlie”.

Manson would then serve life in California State prison, where he died in November 2017 at the age of 83.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Kenneth Anger, Experimental Filmmaker and ‘Hollywood Babylon’ Author, Dies at 96

By Ethan Shanfeld

Experimental filmmaker, artist and author Kenneth Anger has died. He was 96.

His gallery, operated by Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers, confirmed the news on their website, writing, "Kenneth was a trailblazer. His cinematic genius and influence will live on and continue to transform all those who encounter his films, words and vision."

Born in 1927 in Santa Monica, Calif., Anger produced over 30 short films from 1937 to 2013, having made his first movie at 10 years old. Known as "one of America's first openly gay filmmakers," he gained a reputation for exploring themes of erotica and homosexuality decades before gay sex was legalized in America. Anger received recognition for his homoerotic 1947 film "Fireworks," which landed him in court on obscenity charges. Filmed in his childhood home in Beverly Hills while his parents were away for the weekend, "Fireworks" is known as the first gay narrative film produced in the U.S.

Afterward, Anger moved to France and immersed himself in the avant-garde film scene, which inspired Anger's own works "Eaux d'Artifice" and "Rabbit's Moon." After moving back to the states in 1953, he produced the 38-minute "Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome" and the 29-minute "Scorpio Rising," starring Bruce Byron.

In 1959, Anger published the gossip book "Hollywood Babylon," which detailed alleged scandals of Hollywood stars from Marilyn Monroe to Judy Garland to Charlie Chaplin. The book has been widely discredited and was banned in the U.S. shortly after its publication. He released a sequel to the book in 1984 after announcing his retirement from filmmaking, a result of his inability to produce a sequel to his 1972 film "Lucifer Rising." (He would return to the medium at the turn of the century, directing over a dozen short films from 2000 to 2013.)

Karina Longworth's 2019 season of her "You Must Remember This Podcast" was devoted to examining the stories told in "Hollywood Babylon" and researching other sources to get more accurate accounts.

Anger said in a 2010 interview with The Guardian that he had finished writing a third installment to "Hollywood Babylon," but was holding off on publishing it due to fear of repercussions. "The main reason I didn't bring it out was that I had a whole section on Tom Cruise and the Scientologists," he said. "I'm not a friend of the Scientologists."

An outspoken Satanist, Anger was a controversial figure who became close friends with other countercultural figures at the, including the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, and Marianne Faithfull, who starred in "Lucifer Rising."

Anger captured his life's work in a surrealist anthology film titled "Magick Lantern Cycle, which stitches together nine of his short films including "Fireworks" and "Invocation of My Demon Brother."

In the statement announcing his death, Sprüth and Magers wrote, "Anger considered cinematographic projection a psychosocial ritual capable of unleashing physical and emotional energies. The artist saw film as nothing less than a spiritual medium, a conveyer of spectacular alchemy that transforms the viewer."

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Remembering Linda Kasabian

Linda Kasabian was born June 21, 1949 and passed away on January 21, 2023. Although she only spent approximately a month with the Manson Family in the summer of '69, she would become an extremely important witness for the prosecution to convict several members of the Family of murder. She will forever be remembered for her 18 days of testimony on the stand that helped write the fascinating story of the Tate-La Bianca murders.

Please click on the video below to remember Linda through photos. 

Music: "Arizona," by Mark Lindsay, Columbia Records, 1969.


Friday, May 12, 2023

William Marshall

 Hi Everyone,

Longtime reader & contributor William Marshall (ajerseydevil) is in the final stages of cancer. For anyone that would like to reach out to him, his IG is:

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Roman Polanski, 1977 rape victim Samantha Geimer smile for social media snap

 'Chinatown' director Roman Polanski pleaded guilty to rape for unlawful sex with a minor, but fled the US for France and has remained a fugitive

By Tracy Wright | Fox News

Controversial director Roman Polanski reunited with Samantha Geimer, the woman he pled guilty to having unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor more than 40 years ago.

Geimer was 13 years old at the time Polanski – who was in his 40s – was arrested and charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, providing controlled substances to a minor, and lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14. 

Following his guilty plea in 1977, Polanski fled the country and became a fugitive, first finding refuge in London and then settling in France.

While Polanski has never stepped foot on U.S. soil or any country that would extradite him to the United States, he has still created films and won the Academy Award for best director in 2002 for "The Pianist."

In the Instagram photo shared from Geimer's private account to Polanski's wife Emmanuelle Seigner's profile, both Roman and Samantha smiled for the camera.

"Thank you Samantha," Emmanuelle captioned the shot with a few heart emojis. 

She added David Geimer for the photo credit and tagged the magazine that published a recent chat between Geimer and Seigner.

"Let me be very clear: what happened with Polanski was never a big problem for me," Geimer told Seigner in the French publication per IndieWire. "I didn’t even know it was illegal, that someone could be arrested for it. I was fine, I’m still fine."

She added, "The fact that we’ve made this [a big deal] weighs on me terribly. To have to constantly repeat that it wasn’t a big deal, it’s a terrible burden."

"Everyone should know by now that Roman has served his sentence. From my side, nobody wanted him to go to jail, but he did and it was enough. He paid his debt to society. There, end of story."

"Anyone who thinks that he deserves to be in prison is wrong. It isn’t the case today, and it wasn’t the case yesterday."

In August 1977, Polanski pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor as part of a plea bargain dismissing five other charges. Geimer had testified that Polanski gave her champagne and a sedative during a photoshoot and proceeded to have sex with her despite her objections. 

The sexual assault happened at Jack Nicholson's mansion. He was not home when the encounter occurred. 

Forty years later, Geimer appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom pleading for a judge to officially dismiss the case so that her family could move on. The judge denied the request months later.

A California appeals court in July ordered the unsealing of a conditional deposition transcript from former prosecutor Roger Gunson to be opened in the criminal case against director Polanski. Gunson retired in 2002.

"This case has been described by the courts as ‘one of the longest-running sagas in California criminal justice history,’" Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón said in a press release. "For years, this office has fought the release of information that the victim and public have a right to know."

In 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to kick Polanski out and subsequently defended its decision by saying he was given a fair opportunity to challenge the Academy's ruling.

Polanski sued the Academy the following year on the grounds that the group had failed to follow its own procedures when it voted to kick him out. He was expelled alongside Bill Cosby for violating the organization’s standards of conduct.

In its response, the Academy said the board considered voluminous materials submitted by Polanski on appeal, including more than 400 pages of exhibits and a detailed memo from his attorney. Polanski also recorded a videotaped statement directly addressing the board of governors.