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Stunning fluorescent stills from Dario Argento’s horror masterpiece ‘Suspiria’
03.07.2016
08:06 am

Topics:
Movies
Occult

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A stunning still from the 1977 film, Suspiria
A stunning still from the 1977 film, ‘Suspiria’
 
This past week, the strongest rumors yet of a Hollywood remake of one of the most influential Italian films ever made, Dario Argento’s 1977 masterpiece Suspiria, came from a Tweet by writer Alex Heller-Nicholas, the author of the 2015 book, Suspiria: Devil’s Advocates.

According to Nicholas, director Luca Guadagnino has taken over the helm for the remake of Suspiria that will be set in the same year as the release of the original film (1977) but with the location shifted to Berlin. Nicholas’ Tweet also noted that the remake will include actress Tilda Swinton (and perhaps the rest of the cast of Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash—Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson). Squeee! While I generally shudder at the mere mention of the word “remake” (especially when it comes to horror films), it’s promising that this genre defining film would be reinterpreted by a director who doesn’t rub shoulders with Hollywood elite. The film is set for a tentative release in 2017, which will mark Suspiria’s 40th anniversary. But let’s get back to the eye-popping point of this post.

If you’ve never seen Suspiria (which, if you consider yourself a fan of horror films, I find hard to believe), I hope that the day-glow stills from this groundbreaking film I’ve put together for this post change that. Every camera set-up was a work of art. Argento himself has said that he was attempting to “reproduce the color” from Walt Disney’s animated technicolor film from 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs . The prime colors were enhanced by the use of “imbibition” Technicolor prints. This process—also used for The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind—makes for much more vivid color reproduction. Historically, Suspiria was one of the last films to be processed in Technicolor.

Even if you have seen Dario Argento’s Suspiria I suggest that you put on some sunglasses, turn off the lights, and enjoy the following neon-colored, nightmarish stills from the film. If you need me, I’ll be under the bed (and as far away from barbed-wire as possible).
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
Suspiria movie poster by James Rheem Davis of Giant Sumo
“Suspiria” movie poster by James Rheem Davis of Giant Sumo
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
A still from Dario Argento's Suspiria
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Meet the wild child ‘Tiger Woman’ who tried to kill Aleister Crowley
03.04.2016
12:52 pm

Topics:
Books
Crime
Dance
Drugs
History
Occult

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01wildtigerbetty.jpg
 
The other morning here at Dangerous Minds Towers (Scotland), while I sat sifting through the mailbag looking for presents and antique snuff boxes, m’colleague Tara McGinley popped a fascinating article in front of me about a wild “Tiger Woman.”

At first I thought this tabloid tale was perhaps about the woman who had inspired Roy Wood to write his rather wonderful and grimy little number “Wild Tiger Woman” for The Move. As I read on, I realized this story of a rebellious singer, dancer and artist’s model was unlikely to have been the woman Wood had in mind when he wrote his famous song.

No, this particular “Tiger Woman” was one Betty May Golding—a drug addict, a boozer, and a dabbler in the occult. She had a string of lovers, worked as a prostitute, had been a member of a notorious criminal gang, an alleged Satanist, and had once even tried to murder Aleister Crowley. This was the kind of impressive resumé one would expect from the original “wild child.” Not that Ms. Golding would have given two hoots for any of that:

I have not cared what the world thought of me and as a result what it thought has often not been very kind… I have often lived only for pleasure and excitement.

You go girl!

Betty May was born Elizabeth Marlow Golding into a world of poverty and deprivation in Canning Town, London in 1895. The neighborhood was situated at the heart of the city’s docks—an area described by Charles Dickens as:

...already debased below the point of enmity to filth; poorer labourers live there, because they cannot afford to go farther, and there become debased.

To get an idea how deprived and “debased” this district was—Canning Town even today “remains among the 5% [of the] most deprived areas in the UK.”  Plus ca change…
 
01slumlon.jpg
A typical London slum 1909.
 
When Betty was just an infant, her father left the family home, leaving her mother to support four children on a pittance of 10/- a week—roughly the equivalent of $1.50. The family home was a hovel with no furniture and no beds. The family slept on bundles of rags, cuddling together to keep warm.

Her mother was half-French with beautiful olive complexion and almond eyes. The struggle proved too much for her and Betty was sent off to live with her father who was then residing in a brothel. Her father was an engineer by trade but he preferred to spend his time drinking, fighting and thieving. He was eventually arrested and sent to jail.

In her autobiography Tiger Woman, published in 1929, Betty described herself as a “little brown-faced marmoset ... and the only quick thing in this very slow world.” She earned pennies by dancing and singing on the street.  After her father’s arrest, she was passed from relative to relative eventually staying with an aunt who described her as “a regular little savage.”

One of her earliest memories was finding the body of a pregnant neighbor hanging from a hook. The woman had caught her husband having sex with her sister.

Her face was purple and her eyes bulged like a fish’s. It was rather awful.

Eventually Betty was sent to another aunt who stayed out in the country in Somerset. Here she attended school but soon the teenager was in trouble after having an affair with one of her teachers.

I can hardly say, in the light of what I have learnt since, that we were in love. At least perhaps he was. Certainly I was fond of him.

When their illicit relationship was discovered, Betty was given an ultimatum.

There was a great deal of fuss and it was made clear to me that unless the ­friendship came to an end it would be the schoolmaster who would be made to suffer.

After a rather tearful scene with my aunt I was packed off with a few pounds.

 
01gybetps.jpg
Betty in her gypsy dress.
 
Arriving in London in 1910 Betty could only afford one outfit:

...but every item of it was a different colour. Neither red nor green nor blue nor yellow nor purple was forgotten, for I loved them all equally, and if I was not rich enough to wear them separately ... I would wear them, like Joseph in the Bible, all at once! Colours to me are like children to a loving mother.

With her exotic looks and green eyes, Betty looked every part the gypsy and was later known for her song “The Raggle Taggle Gypsy.” The novelist Anthony Powell described her as looking like a seaside fortune teller. Betty also delighted in her costermonger background:

I am a true coster in my flamboyance and my love of colour, in my violence of feeling and its immediate response in speech and action. Even now I am often caught with a sudden longing regret for the streets of Limehouse as I knew them, for the girls with their gaudy shawls and heads of ostrich feathers, like clouds in a wind, and the men in their caps, silk neckerchiefs and bright yellow pointed boots in which they took such pride. I adored the swagger and the showiness of it all.

 
001cafer.jpg
The Café Royal in 1912 as painted by artist William Orpen.
 
At first, Betty worked as a prostitute before becoming a model, dancer and entertainer at the hip Café Royal.

The lights, the mirrors, the red plush seats, the eccentrically dressed people, the coffee served in glasses, the pale cloudy absinthe ... I felt as if I had strayed by accident into some miraculous Arabian palace… No duck ever took to water, no man to drink, as I to the Café Royal.

The venue was the haunt of Bohemians and artists—Augustus John, Jacob Epstein, the “Queen of Bohemia” Nina Hamnett, heiress Nancy Cunard, William Orpen, Anna Wickham, Iris Tree and Ezra Pound.

Betty’s flamboyance and gypsy attire attracted their interest and she had affairs with many of the regulars. She modelled for Augustus John and Jacob Epstein. Being an artist’s model was a grey area that often crossed into prostitution. Many of May’s contemporaries in “modelling” died in tragic circumstances—either by their own hand or at the hands of a jealous lover.
 
01augjoboat.jpg
The artist Augustus John looking rather pleased with himself.
 
Betty’s life then took the first a many surprising turns when she became involved with a notorious criminal gang.

In 1914, she met a man she nicknamed “Cherub” at a bar who took her to France. Their relationship was platonic but after a night of drinking absinthe Cherub attacked her:

He clasped me round the waist, pinning my arms… I struggled with all the strength fear and hate could give me.

With a supreme effort I succeeded in half-freeing my right arm so that I was enabled to dig my scissors into the fleshy part of his neck.

Betty escaped to Paris where she met up with a man known as the “White Panther” who introduced her into the one of the ciy’s L’Apache gangs. She later claimed it was this gang who nicknamed her “Tiger Woman” after she became involved in a fight with one of the gangster’s girlfriends. When separated by the gang leader she bit into his wrist like a wild animal.

Now part of gang, Betty became involved in various robberies and acts of violence—in one occasion branding a possible informer with a red hot knife. This experience led her to quit Paris.
 
01whitepant.jpg
Apache gang members or hooligans fighting the police in 1904.
 
To be honest, Betty’s autobiography reads at times like a thrilling pulp novel and without corroborative evidence seems more like fiction than fact.

Returning to London, Betty resumed work as a singer and dancer. She sought a husband and found two suitors: the first died after a mysterious boating accident; the second blew his brains out one fine summer’s day. Betty eventually married a trainee doctor Miles L. Atkinson, who introduced her to the joys of cocaine.

I learnt one thing on my ­honeymoon—to take drugs.

Atkinson had an unlimited supply of cocaine via his work with the hospital. The couple embarked on a mad drug frenzy. They fell in with a den of opium smokers. May’s drug intake escalated to 150 grains of cocaine a day plus several pipes of opium. She became paranoid—on one occasion believing the world was against her after ordering a coffee at a cafe and the waiter served it black. She decided to divorce Atkinson, but he was killed in action in 1917 while serving as a soldier in the First World War.

Betty then met and married an Australian called “Roy”—not believed to be his real name—who weaned her off drugs by threatening to beat her if ever he caught her taking any. However, she divorced Roy after catching him having an affair.

Continuing with her career as an artist’s model, Betty sat for Jacob Epstein and Jacob Kramer, who she claimed painted her as the Sphinx.
 
01betsphin.jpg
Jacob Kramer’s painting ‘The Sphinx’ (1918).
 
Her notoriety grew after the publication of a book Dope Darling by David “Bunny” Garnett, which was based on Betty’s life as a coke addict. The book told the story of a man called Roy who falls in love with a dancer Claire at a bohemian cafe. Claire is a drug addict and prostitute. Roy believes he can save Claire by marrying her. Once married, Roy gradually becomes a drug addict too.

In the book, Garnett described Claire as being :

...always asked to all the parties given in the flashy Bohemian world in which she moved. No dance, gambling party, or secret doping orgy was complete without her. Under the effect of cocaine which she took more and more recklessly, she became inspired by a wild frenzy, and danced like a Bacchante, drank off a bottle of champagne, and played a thousand wild antics

But all of this was by way of a warm-up to her meeting the Great Beast.
 
01dopedbet.jpg
‘Dope Darling’ by David Garnett.
 
In 1922, Betty met and married the poet Frederick Charles Loveday (aka Raoul Loveday). This dear boy (aged about twenty or twenty-one) was an acolyte of Aleister Crowley. With a first class degree from Oxford University and a book of published poems to his name, Loveday was utterly dedicated to Crowley and to his study of the occult.

Crowley first met Loveday at a dive in London called the Harlequin. He liked Loveday—saw his potential and claimed he was his heir apparent—but he said this about many other young man that took his fancy. He was however reticent in his praise for May—describing her as a “charming child, tender and simple of soul” but impaired by an alleged childhood accident he believed had “damaged her brain permanently so that its functions were discontinuous.” This condition was exacerbated by her drug addiction—though he was complimentary in her strength of will in curing herself.

Crowley believed he could save Loveday from the “vagabonds, squalid and obscene, who constituted the court of Queen Betty.”

In his Confessions, Crowley recounted a typical scene of Betty “at work” in the Harlequin:

In a corner was his wife, three parts drunk, on the knees of a dirty-faced loafer, pawed by a swarm of lewd hogs, breathless with lust. She gave herself greedily to their gross and bestial fingerings and was singing in an exquisite voice ... an interminable smutty song, with a ribald chorus in which they all joined.

 
02crowleyshadowpuppet.jpg
Aleister Crowley
 
Crowley moved to Sicily where he established his Abbey of Thelema at Cefalu. He wanted Loveday—and to a lesser extent May—to join him there. However, Loveday had been ill after an operation and several friends including Nina Hamnett warned him off going. But Loveday was determined and the couple traveled to the Abbey.

Arriving there in the fall of 1922, Betty and Loveday were soon party to various sex magic rituals under Crowley’s direction. On one occasion, Betty chanced upon a box filled with blood soaked neckties. When she asked Crowley what these were, he replied that they had belonged to Jack the Ripper and were stained with the blood of his victims.

Crowley may have tut-tutted about Betty’s sexual hi-jinks with other men in the club, but he didn’t seem to mind all the fucking and sucking that went on at the Abbey. Betty was unsure about Crowley. She was intrigued by the occult and her superstition kept her belief from wavering. But she never fully trusted him.

Everything came to a head after a black mass where Crowley commanded Loveday to kill a cat and drink its blood. Crowley claimed the cat was possessed by an evil spirit. Loveday beheaded the cat and greedily drank its blood. Within hours he fell ill and died, on February 16th, 1923.

Betty blamed Crowley for her husband’s death and swore revenge—deciding to kill him.
 
More on Betty May and her life of sex and drugs and the occult, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Vintage Occult: This amazing Tumblr will satisfy ALL of your kitschy, witchy needs
03.01.2016
12:02 pm

Topics:
Media
Occult

Tags:


 
If the amazing Tumblr Vintage Occult is any indication, Satanists really need better tailors—so many of the people interested in the dark arts are young women who have inordinate trouble keeping their torsos covered. Then again, where there’s Satanism, there’s gonna be dozens of flickering candles, so I’m not too worried about them catching cold or anything.

Vintage Occult is the best thing I’ve seen on the Internet all day and I’m betting that’s true for you too. A voluminous gallery of images from old, tattered paperback books, schlocky magazines, and straight-to-video movies, midnight classics with titles like Blood Sucking Nazi Zombies or Queen of the Vampires (“La Regina Dei Vampiri”) or my favorite, Satan in High Heels, there’s just no end to the Vampira knockoffs out there.

In case you need the warning, this is probably not something you want to be checking out in your cubicle.
 

 

 
Much more from Vintage Occult, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Simpsons tarot cards
02.22.2016
02:49 pm

Topics:
Occult
Television

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It’s been ten years since Matt Groening told The A.V. Club that “I honestly don’t see any end in sight” for The Simpsons because “the show is creatively, I think, as good or better than it’s ever been,” therefore “creatively there’s no reason to quit.”

It’s unclear whether the Simpsons faithful would wholly agree with that assessment, but it does seem difficult to imagine an end to the series, which will release episode number 600 (!) early next season.

User dustbean11 at Deviant Art provides an amusing take on a tarot deck featuring Simpsons characters. The set contains a dozen cards, which barely clears half of the 22 cards from the full Major Arcana. Many of the classic tarot tropes are represented, including The Hierophant (Ned Flanders), The Fool (Homer), the Empress (Marge), and the Sun (Maggie).

On the Hermit card, Grandpa Simpson assumes the well-known Hermit pose from the classic Rider-Waite deck.

Now if someone would just make me Temperance card featuring Moe, then I’ll really be satisfied!
 

The Hierophant and The Devil
 

The Chariot and The Tower
 

The Stars and The Hanged Boy
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The psychedelic occult music of Master Wilburn Burchette
02.19.2016
08:30 am

Topics:
Music
Occult

Tags:


 
If you have any interest in the overlapping categories of psych, new age and private press LPs, you’ve probably noticed the mindbending artwork and extraordinary claims printed on Master Wilburn Burchette’s record jackets. Playing a homemade guitar built of six different types of wood, Burchette proselytized a new-but-ancient type of music he claimed to have discovered called Impro. “IMPRO’S TRANSCENDENTAL TONE SCALE TAKES YOU INTO THE FRONTIERS OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE,” the cover of Occult Concert, Burchette’s debut, promised. “EXPLORE THE UNKNOWN BEHIND YOUR CONSCIOUS MIND WITH THE IMPRO GUITAR OF WILBURN BURCHETTE.”
 

“Now YOU can experience transcendental consciousness without spending 10 years in a Tibetan monastery.”
 
Though Numero Group recently reissued Burchette’s last release to date, 1977’s Mind Storm, for members of their record club, and the song “Witch’s Will” appeared on Light in the Attic’s new age compilation I Am The Center, Burchette remains a mysterious figure. The little I know about him comes from Brad Steiger’s 1973 book Revelation: The Divine Fire, which devotes a few pages to the man and his musical theories. A taste:

For the past two years I have valued a friendship with a fascinating young occultist-musician named Wilburn Burchette. By the time he was twelve, Wil was deep into his unorthodox experiments with music. It occurred to him that since everything in our universe is composed of vibratory atoms, then vibration is movement, movement is time, and that, to achieve any creativespiritual [sic] breakthrough, man must rise above time.

“I considered music to be an art form of time, through time, and in time. I assumed that everything was time. However, that which conceives time doesn’t necessarily have to be in it,” Wil told me. “The breakthrough to Higher Reality is outside of time. When you break through time, that is revelation, that is breaking through to the Godhead.”

 

 
Steiger continues:

Wilburn Burchette’s personal revelation was given a marvelously translatable expression through a music which he calls Impro. It is Wil’s belief that he has cracked music’s emotional code, thus becoming able to trigger in his audiences the emotions that he, as performer, wishes to communicate. Wil further believes that he has rediscovered the occult music of the ancient mysteries. In his performances, he does not seek to play music but emotions. He has discovered that certain frequencies control certain moods, and he is able to directly involve the listener in his occult concerts.

The farther Wil was able to move his consciousness back in time, the more difficult he found it became to separate the concepts of music and altered states of consciousness. “I believe that in the early days of the Earth, communication was a thought-inference system,” Burchette says. “Under such a system any audible sound would have been communication of some sort. Consequently there would have been no differentiation between language and music.

“But I think that music became separated along the way, because of its special properties. It was more sophisticated. The division, then, between language and music would have come about as these special properties became more pronounced. Thus language became a lower means of communication. It was more precise and was used to carry out the affairs of material existence. It was more functional in a day-to-day situation.

“Music, on the other hand, would have been taken over by the priestcraft and made their special domain. For music is, and has been since its beginnings, the method of communication with the gods.”

 

 
After the jump, take the shortcut to enlightenment by listening to all of ‘Wilburn Burchette Opens The Seven Gates of Transcendental Consciousness’ with the aid of the text and illustrations from the “full color instruction book” included with the album…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
HATE! KILL! REVENGE! ‘Josie and the Pussycats’ meet Satan, 1973
02.15.2016
11:31 am

Topics:
Amusing
Occult

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Josie and the Pussycats
A panel from Josie and the Pussycats “Vengeance From The Crypt” comic, October, 1973, #72

In 1954, The Comics Code Authority was formed by the Comics Magazine Association of America in order to allow publishers to regulate comic book content in the U.S. themselves, without input or governance the government. In 1971, The Authority lightened up a little and allowed comic book writers to include some new angles into their storylines, such as the use of vampires, werewolves and ghouls. This decision may have perhaps paved the way for issue #72 of Josie and the Pussycats, “Vengeance From The Crypt” published in October of 1973. In it, the sweet ginger-haired Josie gets possessed by a satanic spirit. Dear Hollywood, please adapt this storyline into a major motion picture immediately.
 
Josie and the Pussycats, Vengeance From the Crypt, October 1973
Josie and the Pussycats, “Vengeance From the Crypt”, October 1973
 
In the weirdness that is issue #72, The Pussycats (along with mean-o-nasty non-Pussycat member, Alexandra) ditch their guitars and amps, and head off to pay their respects to Alexandra’s recently departed grandfather at the local mausoleum. For some reason Josie wanders off to some bizarre lower chamber of the mausoleum and is enveloped by an “invisible malignant presence.” After that, Josie goes on a punk-rock style rampage smashing stuff up. When Josie has a psychotic reaction after coming in contact with a copy of the Bible that the clean-cut gang just happened to have lying around, things get really fucking weird (if they weren’t weird enough already).
 
Josie and the Pussycats, Vengeance From The Crypt, October 1973
 
The entire story—and zowie, it’s a doozy—after the jump…

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Black Sabbath in 1970: ‘Black magic is not our scene’
02.09.2016
08:46 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Occult

Tags:

Black Sabbath, 1970s
The nice, church-going boys from Black Sabbath, early 70s

Back in 1970 when Black Sabbath was just starting to explode (the band had recently broken an attendance record set at the popular Birmingham venue Henry’s Blues House by Tony Iommi’s former band of about five seconds, Jethro Tull), they were also trying to shake the misconception that they were dabbling in “black magic” after changing their name from Earth.

In an interview with Melody Maker in July of 1970 with Sabbath drummer Bill Ward, journalist Mark Plummer inquired if the band was into the occult. To which Ward replied that not only had Black Sabbath never “practiced black magic” on stage, they were actually “anti-black magic.” In fact, according to Ward, the lyrics to the song “Black Sabbath” specifically denounce the infernal arts and “all its implications.”
 
NO black magic for us! Black Sabbath, 1970s
Black magic? Never heard of it!
 
Ward’s sentiments were echoed by an (allegedly) stone-cold sober Ozzy Osbourne in an interview he gave later that same month to NME journalist Roy Carr. According to Ozz, not only were the occult rumors not true, Sabbath actually wanted to help “stamp out” black magic. The belief that the band was aligned with the dark forces was creating huge headaches for them. Especially, in of all places, Germany:

It’s got so bad that recently a German promoter who had booked us sent along return airfares for the group—and if need be a one-way ticket if we decided on using a sacrificial victim (on stage). The press has blown everything out of proportion. With our name Black Sabbath, people therefore assumed that this (black magic) was our scene. For some unknown reason, people seem to expect something out of the ordinary when we appear. We don’t need to have naked birds leaping all over the stage or try to conjure up the devil.

 
Black Sabbath looking kind of evil, 1970
Nothing evil to see here, move along
 
Tony Iommi even went so far to speculate that the band might have to “change up some of their lyrics” to avoid “trouble” especially while they were in the U.S., where rumors of their alleged love of evil were running wild. Thankfully, that never happened and despite Ozzy’s concerns about naked birds and having no plans to conduct a Satanic sacrificial ritual on stage, Sabbath got to keep making records homaging sex, drugs and the supernatural. While Satan sits and smiles of course. Nice.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Martin Sharp’s psychedelic tarot cards from 1967
02.04.2016
02:43 pm

Topics:
Art
Occult

Tags:


 

Martin Sharp was an incredibly important figure in the development of the psychedelic aesthetic in the 1960s. He was an artist from Australia and from 1963 to 1965 he was the art director for Richard Neville’s influential underground newspaper, which was called OZ Magazine. In 1966 Sharp moved to London and a year later began working for the London version of OZ, which lasted until 1973.

In addition to his many, many artworks that appeared in OZ, Sharp pursued his own art, and he also designed two extremely influential album covers for Cream (Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire) as well as the first Ginger Baker’s Air Force album. He also co-wrote the Cream song “Tales of Brave Ulysses.”

Issue #4 of the London incarnation of OZ came out in June 1967, and it featured a large spread containing a full tarot deck by Martin Sharp. The spread looked like this (click the picture for a larger view):
 

 
Here are all of the cards followed by the text that goes along with the set, in case you should find the text hard to read.
 

1. The Magician (or Juggler)
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Kenneth Anger unveils unseen occult art masterpieces by Marjorie Cameron and Aleister Crowley
01.28.2016
12:38 pm

Topics:
Art
Occult

Tags:


 
Underground film legend Kenneth Anger has seen a huge wave of interest in his work since his acclaimed “ Magick Lantern Cycle” films became widely available to a new generation on DVD over a decade ago. The now 88-year-old director and author has made several new films in recent years, venturing into music with the Technicolor Skull project, and even the world of fashion, shooting a campaign for Italian fashion house Missoni and producing a limited edition reproduction of the iconic rainbow “Lucifer” baseball jacket from his film Lucifer Rising. Archival prints made from high resolution frame scans from his movies sell for top dollar in art galleries in New York, Paris and Tokyo.
 

 
And now, Anger is branching out into the world of retail, debuting a hybrid pop-up art gallery/store at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary art fair. Produced in collaboration with Anger’s longtime associate Brian Butler, the Lucifer Brothers pop-up shop will be selling original art, as well as some reasonably-priced signed limited edition prints, Kenneth Anger tee-shirts and the above pictured Lucifer Rising baseball jacket.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOS ANGELES, CA 1/28/2016

The Lucifer Brothers pop-up art gallery and store is the culmination of Kenneth Anger’s lifelong obsession with the occult. In 1955 Anger was the first to revisit Aleister Crowley’s former temple in Cefalù, Sicily. With the help of Alfred C. Kinsey, Anger painstakingly restored Crowley’s otherworldly murals which spilled across the inside walls of the villa, removing layers of whitewash to reveal the nightmares underneath. Prior to this Anger connected with Marjorie Cameron, the widow of famed JPL rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons, casting her in his classic film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome in 1956. Recently the art world has taken great interest of Cameron’s body of work, with her esoteric art—or what remains of it—included in the popular museum exhibit “Semina Culture: Wallace Berman & His Circle” and in recent solo career retrospectives of her work in Los Angeles and Manhattan.

After attending the Cameron exhibit at MOCA and a follow up showing at Jeffrey Deitch’s gallery in New York, Anger lamented that Cameron’s most powerful occult works remained unseen. Through his web of arcane connection’s Anger now unveils Cameron’s monumental life-sized portrait of a demon entitled “Blue Prophet” which was inspired by visions Cameron experienced during her marriage to Jack Parsons and her part in the infamous Babalon Working ritual that included Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Other works by Australian artist Rosaleen Norton (aka “The Witch of Kings Cross) whose powerful paintings are seldom encountered in the US, British occultist Aleister Crowley and Anger himself will be made available to the public for the first time.

Kenneth Anger is lauded as an influential experimental filmmaker, actor, and author of the infamous Hollywood Babylon gossip books. His films, which include Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1964) and Lucifer Rising (1980) have inspired filmmakers as disparate as Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and John Waters.

The Art Los Angeles Contemporary event—and the Lucifer Brothers pop-up gallery—opens this evening. On Saturday January 30th at 3:30pm Anger will make a special appearance onstage at the ALAC Theatre, which will be set up at the Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, where the fair is being held.

I saw Kenneth at the opening of the Marjorie Cameron retrospective at MOCA in the museum’s annex at the Pacific Design Center in 2014. Ken’s normally quite gracious and a lovely guy to converse with, but that night he was PISSED OFF, alleging that the museum was exhibiting something that was stolen from him in the early 1960s, a rare first edition of Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth, which is worth several thousand dollars today. All 200 original copies of that lavishly published Moroccan leather-bound edition of The Book of Thoth were signed and numbered by Crowley’s hand, and although the book was being displayed locked under glass, Anger was positive that he knew exactly what number this particular book was and demanding that the case be unlocked to prove that it was his stolen property. He even brought along an FBI officer as his guest to the event! I don’t know what ultimately became of the situation, but it was an interesting evening to be sure. I’ve always wanted to see Anger get, er, Anger-y and even at his age, his performance didn’t disappoint.

The press release makes mention of “what remains of it” regarding Cameron’s art. Cameron herself destroyed nearly ALL of her paintings and sketchbooks, burning them in an act of “ritualized suicide.” What you can see below, in Curtis Harrington’s extraordinary portrait of the artist, Wormwood Star, is perhaps the sole surviving documentation of that work (outside of the astral plane…). I don’t think more than two of the pieces seen onscreen below still exist. Maybe only one of them.

So very few pieces by Marjorie Cameron have survived—some smaller watercolor paintings and some pencil sketches, one large oil painting that the late Curtis Harrington had owned—and so the one that Anger is unveiling at his Lucifer Brothers pop-up gallery, titled “Blue Prophet” (see above) is a real coup for the Art Los Angeles Contemporary fair. I’ve seen this large watercolor in person, twice, and it’s a truly weird and mind-bending thing to behold. Most of her work is on the small side, but this one is about the size of a door and at least 2x to 3x larger than most of Cameron’s extant work that I’ve ever seen. To my mind, it’s one of the very best ones.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Charles Dickens & The Train of Death: The rail crash behind the classic ghost story ‘The Signal-Man’
01.15.2016
10:33 am

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In his later years, Charles Dickens often suffered from siderodromophobia—a fear of train travel—caused by his involvement in a railway crash in 1865. If you suffer from say, a fear of flying, then you will appreciate the dread Dickens sometimes endured when he traveled by train thereafter—panic, foreboding, white knuckle terror. His son later claimed that Dickens never fully recovered from the experience and he died exactly five years to the day of the accident.

The Staplehurst rail crash occurred at a viaduct on the South Eastern Railway linking London to the coastal town of Folkestone, at 3:13pm on June 9th, 1865. A section of rail track had been removed. The foreman in charge of replacing the track misread the train timetable—believing his crew had sufficient time to finish the job before the arrival of the next train. His mistake had tragic consequences.
 
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Illustration of the Staplehurst train wreck.
 
Apart from the trauma, the accident had serious implications for Dickens as he was accompanying his mistress Ellen Ternan and her mother to Folkestone where they were to catch a boat back to France.

Long before the 50-Mile Rule—which suggests one should never an affair with someone within a 50 mile radius of home—Dickens had been careful to keep the 27-year-old Ellen out of the public eye in France to avoid any possibility of discovery by his wife or by a prying press. The three were sitting in the first carriage when the train jumped the tracks and crashed over the side of a viaduct. Ten passengers were killed, 40 more were injured.
 
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Photograph of the accident.
 
Ensuring Ellen and her mother were safe, Dickens busied himself aiding the injured and the dying. He described the accident in a letter to his old schoolfriend Thomas Mitton on June 13th, 1865:

My dear Mitton,

I should have written to you yesterday or the day before, if I had been quite up to writing. I am a little shaken, not by the beating and dragging of the carriage in which I was, but by the hard work afterwards in getting out the dying and dead, which was most horrible.

I was in the only carriage that did not go over into the stream. It was caught upon the turn by some of the ruin of the bridge, and hung suspended and balanced in an apparently impossible manner. Two ladies were my fellow passengers; an old one, and a young one. This is exactly what passed: you may judge from it the precise length of the suspense. Suddenly we were off the rail and beating the ground as the car of a half emptied balloon might. The old lady cried out “My God!” and the young one screamed.

I caught hold of them both (the old lady sat opposite, and the young one on my left) and said: “We can’t help ourselves, but we can be quiet and composed. Pray don’t cry out.” The old lady immediately answered, “Thank you. Rely upon me. Upon my soul, I will be quiet.” The young lady said in a frantic way, “Let us join hands and die friends.” We were then all tilted down together in a corner of the carriage, and stopped. I said to them thereupon: “You may be sure nothing worse can happen. Our danger must be over. Will you remain here without stirring, while I get out of the window?” They both answered quite collectedly, “Yes,” and I got out without the least notion of what had happened.

Fortunately, I got out with great caution and stood upon the step. Looking down, I saw the bridge gone and nothing below me but the line of the rail. Some people in the two other compartments were madly trying to plunge out of the window, and had no idea there was an open swampy field 15 feet down below them and nothing else! The two guards (one with his face cut) were running up and down on the down side of the bridge (which was not torn up) quite wildly. I called out to them “Look at me. Do stop an instant and look at me, and tell me whether you don’t know me.” One of them answered, “We know you very well, Mr Dickens.” “Then,” I said, “my good fellow for God’s sake give me your key, and send one of those labourers here, and I’ll empty this carriage.”

We did it quite safely, by means of a plank or two and when it was done I saw all the rest of the train except the two baggage cars down in the stream. I got into the carriage again for my brandy flask, took off my travelling hat for a basin, climbed down the brickwork, and filled my hat with water. Suddenly I came upon a staggering man covered with blood (I think he must have been flung clean out of his carriage) with such a frightful cut across the skull that I couldn’t bear to look at him. I poured some water over his face, and gave him some to drink, and gave him some brandy, and laid him down on the grass, and he said, “I am gone”, and died afterwards.

Then I stumbled over a lady lying on her back against a little pollard tree, with the blood streaming over her face (which was lead colour) in a number of distinct little streams from the head. I asked her if she could swallow a little brandy, and she just nodded, and I gave her some and left her for somebody else. The next time I passed her, she was dead.

 
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Front cover of ‘London Illustrated’ showing Dickens tending to the injured.
 
The accident caused Dickens to lose his voice for two weeks, and he was often visibly panicked on train journeys after that—on one occasion hurling himself to the floor of the carriage convinced another crash was about to take place. However, he was not a man to waste his own experience—no matter how painful—and he used the events in his ghost story The Signal-Man—one of literature’s most famous supernatural tales.

The Signal-Man tells the story of an encounter with a signalman who tells the unnamed narrator of his haunting by ghostly premonitions prior to a series of train accidents. The story formed part of Dickens’ Mugby Junction series of stories. It is a subtle and beautifully told tale, and was adapted by the BBC in 1976 for Ghost Story, starring Denholm Elliott and Bernard Lloyd. Elliott is perfect as the man haunted by a ghostly visitor, whose message he tries to understand.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
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