Students of Internet culture know all about “Rule 34.” Rule 34 is an adage which asserts that “if something exists, there is porn of it.”
We can now add Charles Manson and his “family” to the list of things we didn’t expect to see given the porn treatment, but HERE WE ARE.
Adult Video News recently reported on the release of Manson Family XXX, an adult film directed by Will Ryder.
A TMZ report from last year reveals that Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra Tate, called Manson Family XXX “the lowest of lows” and vowed to sue the producers if they dared use Sharon’s name or likeness. As the film falls under the umbrella of “parody,” it is protected speech. Tasteless, but nevertheless protected.
Director Will Ryder stated, “The timing couldn’t be more perfect and we’ve had to put the brakes on this release for a while now due to certain legal challenges that I don’t want to talk about, but NBC is paving the way for us to have a summer blockbuster,” referring to NBC’s recently-premiered Aquarius, a “historical fiction” program based on the events surrounding the Manson Family.
Director, Ryder, claims his film explores “hippie love and intense sexual acts that took place at the Spahn Ranch near Los Angeles back in the late 1960s.”
“We actually shot much of our movie on that very land,” Ryder said.
Ryder added that his movie is a parody and “not sponsored, endorsed or affiliated with Charles Manson or any members of the Manson Family, the victims, the LAPD, Vincent Bugliosi or the Los Angeles district attorney’s office, NBC Universal or any distributors, actors, producers, writers, publishers, their estates or assignees.”
Best to cover your bases.
We have to admit, the scenes in the trailer seem like they could kinda be historically accurate. Group sex and heavy drug use were undoubtedly facts of “family life” on the Spahn Ranch.
Ryder seems to have at least convinced himself that his parody porn is a tasteful historical document of the Family:
I have to make myself clear that I am in no way glorifying murder and neither is NBC Television or any of the other mainstream production companies that are in production on Manson related projects.
We are telling parts of the Manson Family folklore just like the writers and producers of dozens of books, movies and television documentaries have told over the years. We’re just going to see them completely naked participating in all kinds of sexual exploration including wild animalistic group sex.
Here’s the pretty-much-safe-for-work trailer for “Manson Family XXX”:
A curious artifact recently turned up on ioffer.com. Listed for sale is a copy of The BeatlesWhite Album, allegedly autographed by Charles Manson, and members of his “family”: Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel. If this thing is real, it’s one of the most intense pieces of music/murder memorabilia we’ve ever seen. And it can be YOURS for the low, low price of only $49,005.00
The significance of the item won’t be lost on anyone with cursory knowledge of the “cult” of Charles Manson and the murders associated with the “Manson Family.” It was argued by Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi in court and in his book, Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, that several of the songs on The White Album were interpreted by Manson as signs to a coming racial revolution that would lead to Manson emerging as a Christ-figure.
According to this UMKC site which also details Manson’s specific interpretations of White Album songs (at least according to Bugliosi):
Manson believed that the Beatles spoke to him through their lyrics, especially those included in the White Album, released in December 1968. Several songs from the White Album crystalized Manson’s thinking about a coming revolt by blacks against the white Establishment. He interpreted many of the songs idiosyncratically, believing, for example, that “Rocky Raccoon” meant black people and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” was a song about getting firearms to carry on the revolution rather than—more obviously—a song about sex.
The White Album played a key role in forging Manson’s warped ideology.
According to Family member Paul Watkins, “Before Helter Skelter came along, all Charlie cared about was orgies.”
The White Album of course contains the song “Helter Skelter”, very significant to the whole Manson saga.
All are signed in blue ballpoint or biro pen except Leslie Van Houten, who is signed in black. Manson added the inscription: “Can you live in sin or in it LAST WORD-NO easy, Charles Manson” and added a swastika through his signature.
The signatures were obtained by a gentleman who was at one time associated with the Manson family at the Spahn Ranch, I choose not to post his name here. He acquired them at the respective prisons where they are incarcerated in California, including Corcoran State Prison, and the California Correctional Institution for women.
The top and bottom seams are cut through with a knife, as the album was checked for possible contraband as it was brought into the prison. Because the seams were cut, the cover is now separate from the inner gatefold… The album cover shows other signs of wear, including a water stain in the lower left corner, the result of a fire in the previous owner’s home. Both vinyl records are included. There are a number of scratches on both which I expect would affect play.
As further provenance, I have two additional items from the same source: a bible from the prison chapel signed by the same five individuals, and a Life Magazine signed by Charles, see other photos. I am currently offering the bible here also. An iconic image of the sixties, and perhaps the ultimate signed Manson relic. I will also issue a certificate of authenticity with a photo of the item, the signing details, and will have it notarized as I sign it.
The price seems a bit STEEP to us—but it does include shipping, which is very generous of the seller. For spending nearly $50k, we’d hope, at least, for a Squeaky Fromme hand-delivery.
I was looking through a stack of Fate magazines from the late 60’s and early 70’s that were collecting dust on a built-in bookshelf in my living room the other day when I came across a rather bizarre article about Sharon Tate and a dream she had. The strange anecdote came from Hollywood “man around town” celebrity columnist, Dick Kleiner. According to Kleiner, Sharon Tate had a prophetic dream of her brutal murder by members of the Manson Family at least two years before the tragic incident actually took place.
Now keep in mind if you’re not familiar with Fate that it’s the kind of publication that presents paranormal phenomena, alternative medicine, mental telepathy and the like. Other articles in the same issue are titled “Spirit ‘Possession,’ – Fact or Fallacy?” and “The Prophetic Day the Mirror Fell.” There are classified ads for a “UFO Diet” and a “Teenage Astrologer.” It’s not necessarily the resource you grab when you’re looking do research for your doctoral thesis, but nonetheless, the older copies are odd enough that my wife and I like having some around to pick up from time to time. Fun at parties and all that.
The May, 1970 issue of Fate
So you can make what you will of the story to come considering the source, but if it’s true it’s pretty creepy, and at the very least, a kitschy example of the kind of writing for which Fate is famous.
In the article, called “Sharon Tate’s Preview of Murder,” Kleiner, speaking in the first person, explains that he had interviewed Tate in the past and he planned on doing so again when he showed up on the set of a film (almost certainly The Wrecking Crew) where she was working on August 1, 1968, almost exactly a year before the Manson Family killings on August 9, 1969. Tate recognized Kleiner and invited him into her trailer for the interview. Among the other questions Kleiner asked that day was “Have you ever had psychic experiences?” apparently something that he brought up routinely with every celebrity with whom he spoke as these types of phenomena were of personal interest. Tate’s response, according to Kleiner, was as follows:
Yes, I have had a psychic experience- at least I guess that’s what it was- and it was a terribly frightening and disturbing thing for me. It happened a year or so ago. Maybe you can explain it.
At the time of the August interview in 1968, Tate had been married to Roman Polanski for several months, the two having tied the knot in January of that year. But in order to understand the context of the supposedly prophetic dream, we need to think briefly about Tate’s life at the time of the “mysterious vision.” It would have been sometime around the summer of 1967. At that point, Tate was in a relationship with famous Hollywood hairstylist, Jay Sebring who, not so incidentally, would also be killed in the Manson slaughter. When Tate had the dream, she was sleeping in Sebring’s house while he was away on business in New York. The house, located “right on Benedict Canyon, the street that parallels the canyon itself” (the street is actually called Easton Drive) had previously belonged to Hollywood agent, Paul Bern who was married in the 30’s to Jean Harlow. According to Kleiner, Bern had committed suicide in the house after Harlow left him in 1932, but the facts surrounding Bern’s death are cloudy and there is some debate about the real cause of his demise. Either way, the fact that Bern had died in the house would have been common knowledge in Hollywood circles in 1967.
So Tate, alone in the house and turning in for bed starts experiencing a “funny feeling” that is keeping her from sleeping, all the small noises in the dwelling startling her. She turns on the light in the bedroom and sees “a small man” moving clumsily around the room. She describes the man as looking like every description she had ever heard of Paul Bern. The unexplainable figure is not threatening to Tate, but its mere presence is terrifying to her. (Keep in mind that according to the article, Tate still feels like she’s awake at this point). Tate runs from the room and starts heading down the stairs, and this is where the supposed premonition takes place. From the Kleiner article:
“I saw something or someone tied to the staircase,” she said. “Whoever it was- and I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman but knew somehow that it was either Jay Sebring or me-he or she was cut open at the throat.”
At this point, according to Kleiner, Tate heads into “the playroom” looking for a much needed drink. She felt certain that Sebring would have kept liquor in the room but she didn’t know where. Tate senses something (she doesn’t hear a voice) telling her to open a shelf on a bookcase. Inside, she finds a button which she pushes revealing a liquor cabinet. She has a drink, tries to calm down and pinches herself. Upon feeling nothing, Tate, according to the account, is relieved to find that the whole awful experience must just be a dream.
Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring just before their shocking demise
In Kleiner’s retelling, Tate then experiences another sensation compelling her to pull away a strip of wallpaper at the bottom of the bar. Feeling silly, she does so, revealing a brass base. She pinches herself a second time, and she still feels nothing.
Tate, now a little more settled, decides to head back upstairs thinking that she could probably go to sleep. Again, this is supposed to be dream, so the whole thing is a little confusing. Regardless, she heads back upstairs, apparently past the apparition still “gushing blood” AND past the odd little man. Despite all of this, according to the account, she climbs into bed and falls fast asleep.
Cut to the morning when Tate is awakened by Sebring returning from New York. The two nervously laugh about the odd dream and then they have the kind of head-scratcher common to these stories of the “supernatural” when they walk back to the playroom to find the liquor cabinet open and “scraps of wallpaper on the floor.”
I typically don’t put a lot of stock into this kind of thing, but again, one has to admit that if the story of the dream is true it’s pretty strange to say the least. I had honestly never heard this story before, but it turns out that many have made a very big deal of it.
Sebring remained friends with Tate after their breakup and as I mentioned before, he was one of the five people killed by the Manson Family at Tate and Polanski’s rented home on Cielo Drive in 1969. Sebring was still living in the house where Tate’s dream took place at the time of his murder.
I’m not sure where the clip below is from, and the quality is not the best, but it discusses Sebring’s house and Sharon Tate’s dream. At around 3:23 you can hear Dick Kleiner recalling Tate’s recollection of what turned out in retrospect to be a rather chilling vision. After watching the clip, it appears that the Kleiner article had shown up in perhaps a different format in a different publication.
During the mid-1970s David Bowie entered his “Thin White Duke” phase, and this period has uniquely added to the Bowie mystique as well as become an object of special fascination to Bowie fans. (Among other things it produced my own favorite Bowie album, Station to Station.) It’s especially fascinating to us, I think, because Bowie seems to have lost track of himself a little bit in a way that was never true in any other period, in his phantastical ruminations about Nazis, Manson, cocaine, and his own bodily essences. Just a couple of weeks ago, DM featured a comic book about this period called “The Side Effects of the Cocaine,” the title of which comes from a line in Bowie’s song “Station to Station.”
When he arrived in 1975, Bowie was staying at the Los Feliz house of Glenn Hughes, bassist for Deep Purple, who lived just down the road from “the LaBianca house,” as Hughes recalls, being the site of one of the Manson murders in 1969, specifically the killing of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca two days after the murder of Sharon Tate and several other people in Benedict Canyon. As 1975 progressed and faded into 1976, Bowie would suffer from powerful forebodings right out of another connection to Roman Polanski, Rosemary’s Baby.
Bowie in his “Thin White Duke” phase, here during a 1976 concert in Toronto
The artistic and sensitive Bowie clearly perceived a malign influence from the Manson connection to Hughes’ home. He was using huge amounts of cocaine. According to Marc Spitz’s 2010 Bowie: A Biography, Bowie was “obsessed with using occult magic to attain success and protect himself from demonic forces.”
(A brief note on Spitz. Spitz is not a careful writer, and his book is riddled with annoying typos and mistaken facts. However, on the general subject of whether he is a reliable source, he does appear to have gotten his interviewees on the record. Peter Bebergal, author of the recent Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll, appears to regard him as a reliable source.)
According to Hughes, “David had a fear of heights and wouldn’t go into an elevator. ... He never used to go above the third floor. Ever. If I got him into an elevator, it was frightening. He was paranoid and so I became paranoid. We partied in private.” Bowie himself has stated the effect that the cocaine was having on his paranoia: “Cocaine severs any link you have with another human being. … Around late 1975 everything was starting to break up.”
Quoting Spitz again: “Bowie would sit in the house with a pile of high-quality cocaine atop the glass coffee table.” Bowie became obsessed with the book Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune (Bebergal confirms this bit), which describes itself as a “safeguard for protecting yourself against paranormal malevolence.” Among other things, “Bowie began drawing protective pentagrams on every surface.”
As Hughes says, “He felt inclined to go on very bizarre tangents about Aleister Crowley or the Nazis or numerals a lot. … He was completely wired. Maniacally wired. I could not keep up with him. He was on the edge all the time of paranoia, and also going on about things I had no friggin’ idea of what he was talking about. He’d go into a rap on it and I wouldn’t know what he was talking about.” As Bowie himself remembered, “My other fascination was with the Nazis and their search for the Holy Grail. ... I paid with the worst manic depression of my life. … My psyche went through the roof, it just fractured into pieces. I was hallucinating twenty- four hours a day. ... I felt like I’d fallen into the bowels of the earth.”
At his wit’s end, Bowie reached out to Cherry Vanilla, a former employee of Bowie’s management company MainMan, who witnessed much of this paranoid, debauched phase. Cherry Vanilla verified the connection between Bowie and a “white witch”—racial connotations aside, and those are by no means absent from this story either, but the term is intended to distinguish witches whose effects are “good” and “evil”—who would purify his living premises. “He had this whole thing about these black girls who were trying to get him to impregnate them to make a devil baby,” says Vanilla. “He asked me to get him a white witch to take this curse off of him. He was serious, you know. And I actually knew somebody in New York who claimed she was a white witch. She was the only white witch I ever met. So I put him in touch with her. I don’t know what ever happened to her. And I don’t know if she removed the curse. I guess she did.”
This comic by Vaughn Bodē from July 1973 is one of the few surviving visual depictions of the self-professed “white witch” Walli Elmlark.
That “white witch” was one Walli Elmlark, who had taught some classes in magic at the New York School of Occult Arts and Sciences on Fourteenth Street in New York. She wrote a gossip column in the rock magazine Circus and had known Jimi Hendrix and was also friendly with Marc Bolan. A couple years earlier, Elmlark had recorded a spoken-word album with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp named The Cosmic Children; it has never been released. According to Sid Smith’s book In The Court Of King Crimson,
In June 1972, Fripp finished recording an album with a Wiccan journalist, called Walli Elmlark. The album was called The Cosmic Children. Side one consists of Fripp and Elmlark in conversation where she outlines her experiences and commitment to Wicca. On side two, she talks to DJ Jeff Dexter about cosmic children—spirits from other places who take physical forms such as Hendrix, Bolan, Bowie and Mike Gibbons, drummer with Badfinger. Talking to NME’s Simon Stable, Fripp stated: “The function of the album is to reach out to the children like the drummer from Badfinger, I want to say; ‘You’re not nutty, you’re not a freak because you can’t relate to what’s around you.’”
Elmlark had also published (per Spitz) “a cosmic paperback full of collages, poetry, personal confessions and observations,” which bore the title Rock Raps of the 70’s. It was co-written with occultist Timothy Green Beckley. According to that book, Elmlark was fond of wearing a “floor length clingy high necked long sleeved black jersey, and a floor length chiffon over dress that floats around me like a mysterious mist of motion.”
Summoned to Bowie’s residence, she quickly and apparently successfully exorcised the pool. This next bit is confirmed in Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie the memoir by Angie Bowie, David’s wife during this period who was also living there at the time: “At a certain point in the ritual, the pool began to bubble. It bubbled vigorously—perhaps ‘thrashed’ is a better term—in a manner inconsistent with any explanation involving filters and the like.” As Spitz wrote: “Elmlark wrote a series of spells and incantations out for Bowie, in case the demons return for a dip, and remained on call for Bowie as he continued to wrestle with the forces of darkness.”
Of all the people in this narrative, the one who knew Elmlark the best was Beckley, by far. Beckley was the director of the New York School of Occult Arts and Sciences where Elmlark taught and also co-wrote the Rock Raps book with her. In the Conspiracy Journal, issue #549, Beckley describes her as follows:
Wallie was known widely as the White Witch Of New York. Because of her contacts in the music industry, she had established quite an eclectic clientele for whom she would offer spiritual guidance, and occasional good luck or love spells, but always of a positive nature. She didn’t dabble in black magick or even gris gris (a New Orleans form of “gray magick” that incorporates poppets and the use of talismans kept in a personal mojo bag). Walli was lively, imaginative, energetic, well spoken, and quite attractive in her flowing white garments complete with fashionable silver moon adornments. Oh did I forget to mention long black hair, complete with dyed green streak highlights? Indeed, Walli made a very bold fashion and occult statement wherever she went.
There is surprisingly little about Walli on the Internet, for someone who “made a very bold fashion statement,” introduced Robert Fripp to the occult, and exorcised David Bowie’s house, you would think her name would be a staple in rock and roll lore—but it doesn’t appear to be the case. I couldn’t find a picture of her, aside from the Bodē cartoon above, and the main thing she is known for on the Internet is her authorship of the Rock Raps book. I was unable to find Walli’s obituary.
Spitz says that “Elmlark departed from this plane of existence in 1991.” Based on a few ramblings I saw on a message board I don’t take too seriously, it’s possible that she overdosed on barbiturates. Beckley, overly addicted to euphemism, says, “Several years went by and Walli met an untimely passing as she could not remove the demons in her own life, even though she had a dramatic impact on almost everyone she came in contact with,” before recounting a lot of incidents from the 1970s like the Fripp album and so on. His final words on Walli are, “Somehow I can’t exclude the fact that Walli looks down from time to time and perhaps sings along with David Bowie as he performs all over the world in concert.”
I don’t know about you, but after all that, I could stand to hear “Station to Station”:
Although Charles Manson didn’t actually write “Never Learn Not To Love” for the Beach Boys, he did in fact, write a number titled “Cease to Exist” that drummer Dennis Wilson—a friend of Manson’s in the late 1960s—convinced his cleancut brethren to record for their 20/20 album
Dennis even arranged for Manson to get some studio time in Brian Wilson’s home studio and let him and his entourage crash in his mansion for a while.
Manson’s original “Cease to Exist” lyrics go like this
Pretty girl, pretty, pretty girl
Cease to Exist
Just come and say you love me
Give up your world
C’mon you can see
I’m your kind, I’m your kind
You can see
Walk on, walk on
I love you pretty girl
My life is yours and
You can have my world
Never had a lesson
I ever learned
But I know we all get our turn
I love you
Submission is a gift
Go on, give it to your brother
Love and understanding is for one another
I’m your kind, I’m your kind
I’m your mind
I’m your brother
I never had a lesson I ever learned
But I know we all get our turn
And I love you
Never learned not to love you
I never learned
“I’m your mind”>? “Submission is a gift”? Well, isn’t that special?
The Beach Boys’ version changed the key phrase to “cease to resist,” but otherwise left the lyrics and melody essentially unchanged. Dennis Wilson sings lead vocal, a rarity, and the Beach Boys supply their famous group harmonies and dense production. There’s an ominous intensity to the recording; even divorced from Manson, it conveys a vaguely sinister edge, with its tribal rhythm and hypnotic chants.
“Never Learn Not To Love” was originally released as the B-side to the “Bluebirds Over The Mountain” single in November of 1968, but was credited solely to Dennis Wilson who Manson owed money to. The story goes that when Manson heard the song, with the lyrics altered, he threw a fit and went to Wilson’s house with a loaded gun. When he found out the Wilson wasn’t there, he took a bullet from the gun and told his housekeeper to give it to Dennis with a cryptic message.
Dennis WIlson wasn’t the only one impressed with Manson. None other than Neil Young said of him:
“He had this kind of music that nobody else was doing. He would sit down with a guitar and start playing and making up stuff, different every time. It just kept comin’ out, comin’ out. Then he would stop and you would never hear that one again. Musically, I thought he was very unique. I thought he had something crazy, something great. He was like a living poet.”
Young even gave Manson a motorcycle!
Here are the Beach Boys performing the song on The Mike Douglas Show:
Henry Rollins has had one fascinating life. He was in one of the most important punk bands of all time, he played Vanilla Ice in a music video, he has been the voiceover actor for Infiniti, he had a talk show on IFC, he had a small part in Jack Frost.....
In the 1980s Rollins also produced a full album by Charles Manson for SST, which would have made the noted psychopath and cult leader, who wanted to bring about a race war, labelmates with Bad Brains. The release of the album, entitled Completion, was cancelled due to safety concerns. Only five copies of the album were ever pressed; two belong to Rollins and the other three apparently are Manson’s.
In December 2010, Rollins participated in an event at the Echoplex in Los Angeles to benefit the Santa Monica radio station KCRW in which he played a variety of ultra-rare tracks, including a live rendition of “Pay to Cum” from the second show Bad Brains ever played, the first-ever Fugazi demo (“Waiting Room”), several Black Flag rarities, and one of the songs from the Manson album Rollins produced for SST. When he played the track—the title of which has, to my knowledge, not been made public—Rollins joked, “I can hear you all listening to your hair grow.”
In 2008 Rollins told the NME of the correspondence with Manson that led to the recordings:
“He wrote me a letter out of the blue once and he said, ‘I saw you on MTV and I thought you were pretty cool’.
“So we corresponded a few times in 1984; I’d just tell him about what we were doing with our new record and he’d send back semi-lucid responses.
“He made references to The Beach Boys stealing his ideas, which sounded like sour grapes, and told me to tell everybody else to take care of wildlife. That must have been the old hippy in him talking.”
Rollins outlined that he was very young when he started corresponding with Manson—who was sentenced to life in 1971 for the infamous Manson Family Murders which took place two years earlier.
“At the time I was very young and having him write me letters made me feel very intense and heavy,” he said. “I’d always know I’d have a letter in my PO Box from him because the woman behind the counter at the post office would give you this awful look.
“His letters would always have swastikas on them so they were easy to spot.”
According to a 2010 article in The Guardian, “A lawyer representing Manson wrote to SST, asking them to help complete and release a collection of Manson’s songs. Then as now, Manson was serving a life sentence for his role in the Tate/LaBianca murders. ... Rollins agreed to produce the songs but a string of death threats forced SST to call off the project.”
In the mind of almost everyone, Manson is first and foremost a homicidal lunatic. It’s quite clear that in his own mind, Manson is first and foremost a musician. During his detainment before his 1971 trial, Manson was “very anxious for his music to be heard” and enlisted his friend Phil Kaufman to get his music released. Indeed, an album called Lie: The Love & Terror Cult was released on March 6, 1970. As recently as 2010-11 Manson has released two albums of folk music on Magic Bullet Records called Air and Trees. Here’s “Gas Chamber,” a track from Air.
Steve McQueen was one of several Hollywood celebrities placed on a “Death List” allegedly compiled by Charles Manson. The other names were Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones.
On August 9th, 1969, members of Manson’s “Family” carried out the brutal murder of Sharon Tate and 4 of her friends.
McQueen had briefly dated Tate, and had planned to visit the actress the night of her death.
In December 1969, Manson and the killers had been arrested.
When McQueen heard he might be targeted by Manson’s followers, he started carrying a gun. In October 1970, a still cautious McQueen wrote to his lawyer to find out if any “Family” members were still active, and to have his gun license renewed.
A SOLAR PRODUCTION
October 17, 1970
Mr. Edward Rubin
Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp
6380 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90048
As you know, I have been selected by the Manson Group to be marked for death, along with Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Tom Jones. In some ways I find it humorous, and in other ways frighteningly tragic. It may be nothing, but I must consider it may be true both for the protection of myself and my family.
At the first possible time, if you could pull some strings and find out unofficially from one of the higher-ups in Police whether, again unofficially, all of the Manson Group has been rounded up and/or do they feel that we may be in some danger.
Secondly, if you would call Palm Springs and have my gun permit renewed, it was only for a year, and I should like to have it renewed for longer as it is the only sense of self-protection for my family and myself, and I certainly think I have good reason.
Please don’t let too much water go under the bridge before this is done, and I’m waiting for an immediate reply.
Save for the Kennedy assassination, coincidence has perhaps never coagulated with the same deeply improbable intensity as it did around the Manson killings.
Stranger still is the manner in which coincidence seems to knit the Tate/LaBianca murders together with both Rosemary’s Baby (a great film) and “the White Album” (a great record), as if all three were somehow of a piece—and in a sense that goes beyond the former’s being directed by Polanski, or the latter’s inspiring Manson’s derided “Helter Skelter” scenario.
Take, as a mere appetizer, the possibility that the Beatles may have stayed (and dropped acid) at 10050 Cielo Drive in the mid-sixties, something (apparently unwittingly) implied by John Lennon during a 1974 Rolling Stone interview.
And then, well, we just decided to take LSD again in California…We were on tour, in one of those houses, like Doris Day’s house or wherever it was we used to stay. And the three of us took it. Ringo, George and I… And a couple of the Byrds… Crosby and the other guy, who used to be the leader… McGuinn. I think they came round, I’m not sure, on a few trips.
Terry Melcher, of course, was Doris Day’s son, the Byrds’ producer, Manson’s almost-producer, and Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski’s predecessor at 10050 Cielo Drive.
In normal circumstances, Mother Superior could very well be accused of having jumped the gun were we to therefore conclude that the Beatles probably had sat turning their minds inside-out within the very walls that would—a few years later—have their as-yet unwritten song-titles scrawled upon them in blood (as if the killers were tracing indentations made by psychic shrapnel). Circumstances, however, are anything but normal…
In the spring of 1968—a handful of years after those mooted sojourns at Cielo Drive—the Beatles made their pilgrimage to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Valley of the Saints in Rishikesh, part of a sparkling celebrity coterie that included Mia Farrow and Mike Love. For the next couple of months, the days were mostly spent in epic bouts of Transcendental Meditation, as the Maharishi attempted to guide the most famous men in the world—who he himself described as “angels”—towards “total consciousness.” The Beatles, though, would spend much of their spare time writing songs – particularly Lennon, who found they were veritably “pouring out.”
Many of these new tunes would find their way onto the Beatles’ next LP, “the White Album.” One such was Lennon’s “Dear Prudence,” which playfully chided Prudence Farrow, Mia Farrow’s sister, for excessive metaphysical studiousness.
Mia Farrow herself had only recently completed filming Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby. Her exquisite performance as Rosemary—a resident of New York’s Dakota building, impregnated with an anti-Christ by a coven of neighboring witches—surely meant she arrived in the Valley of the Saints carrying some very interesting inner baggage. Certainly her stay would leave its mark on history—most chroniclers ascribing some rumored sexual impropriety (or worse) on the part of the Maharishi towards Farrow as being the principal reason for Lennon and Harrison’s (the last remaining Beatles) acrimonious departure that August.
Lennon later claimed that, while packing his bags, he came up with the rudiments of another tune destined for “the White Album,” “Sexy Sadie,” four syllables that supplanted the original—and extremely libelous—“Maharishi.” The same four syllables would also find themselves supplanting the name of Manson Family Tate/LaBianca murderess Susan Atkins—known in the Family as “Sadie Mae Glutz” prior to Manson’s fateful encounter with “the White Album.” Before falling in with Manson, Atkins was an associate of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. LaVey is said to have served as an unaccredited technical adviser on Rosemary’s Baby.
Incidentally, Lennon and Harrison’s jaded view of the Maharishi was such that, when their protracted flight from Rishikesh was impeded by a series of disruptions—they were abandoned in a broken-down taxi, and Harrison soon thought he was coming down with dysentery— our ruffled angels feared they had been cursed by their unceremoniously discharged guru. (Echoes, here, of Bobby Beausoleil’s attempted escape from Kenneth Anger, legendarily curtailed by Anger’s magickal locket.)
Around the very time the Beatles were arriving in Rishikesh, meanwhile, Mike Love’s cousin and fellow Beach Boy Dennis Wilson would reportedly pick up hitchhikers (and Manson Family members) Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey in Malibu.
Whether or not this actually happened (Charles Manson, for one, would later contradict this account, saying he first met Wilson at the house of a mutual friend’s) Wilson would definitely spend the following months as a sponsor and de facto member of the Family—footing the bill for their VD treatments (and much more besides), introducing Manson to industry figures like Neil Young and Terry Melcher, and so on.
Although Death Valley—in apparent contradistinction to the Valley of the Saints—sounded like an overtly hedonistic and nihilistic environment, Manson arguably presided over a commune no less spiritually preoccupied than the Maharishi’s, and Mike Love and Dennis Wilson seemed similarly as well as simultaneously attracted to their Ying/Yang gurus. But it appears positively miraculous that Wilson would be fraternizing with Manson while his cousin, on the other side of the world, would be fraternizing with the Beatles at the very time the songs were “pouring out” for “the White Album,” some of which would find themselves daubed on the walls at Cielo Drive in Sharon Tate’s blood, and two of which concerned Prudence and Mia Farrow, the latter having only just starred in a role once earmarked for Tate herself…
And that, as aficionados know only too well, ain’t even the half of it. (A little more to come from me on the topic though, shortly.)
Real life villains get the “Legion of Doom” treatment by Brazilian designer and illustrator Butcher Billy.
Some might say all art is a reflection of the times we live in.
If back in the day comics and movies were pretty naive and faced only as pure escapism, today’s fiction has to evoke reality to create something truly meaningful… and frightening.
This series is an experiment where a dictator, a psycho, a murderer (sometimes they are the whole package) or even a suspicious figure from real life is mashed with a comics bad guy - strangely related some way or the other with his counterpart.
The depressing thing? Realising that if the comic book supervillains were actually the ones threatening real life, the world wouldn’t be such a bad place.
A postcard written last month from Charles Manson to Marilyn Manson:
To Marilyn Manson –
It’s taken me a long time to get there from where I could touch M. Manson. Now I got a card to play – you may look into my non-profit, ATWA, and give Manson what you think he’s got coming for Air, Trees, Water, and you. Or I will pay Manson what you think Manson got coming – the music has make Manson into Abraxas Devil, and I’m SURE you would want some of what I got from what I got. It’s a far out balance. Beyond good and bad, right, wrong. What you don’t do is what I will do – what you did a sing-along, and let it roll and said how you saved me a lot of steps – I don’t need, it’s not a need or a want. Couped – coup. Ghost dancers slay together and you’re just in my grave Sunstroker Corona-coronas-coronae – you seen me from under with it all standing on me. That’s 2 dump trucks – doing the same as CMF 000007
I can’t comment because I have no fucking clue what this means…
Charles Manson, the right man for the right time. If he hadn’t existed, society damn well would have created him - a nail in the coffin of the counterculture, the peace movement and the Aquarian Age. Jim Thompson meets “Be Here Now.” When Rolling Stone goes so far as to call him “the most dangerous man alive” you know the hype machine is in overdrive. I can think of dozens of men who were alive in the the 1960s and 70s who were far more dangerous than Manson…starting with Richard Nixon, William Calley and the CEOs of Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical, the creators of Agent Orange and napalm.
Think what you will, Charley occasionally makes some good points…in those moments of clarity when he’s not a raving lunatic.
Charlie Rose is unusually tightlipped in this interview, thank goodness.
Charles “Tex” Watson, 65, the Manson Family murderer who once described himself as Charles Manson’s “right hand man,” was denied parole again today for the 14th time at Mule Creek State Prison, Sacramento. Watson is serving life in prison for his role in the slaying of pregnant film actress Sharon Tate and four others, in Beverly Hills on August 9, 1969 and the deaths of grocery store owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, the following night.
Watson was originally sentenced to death, a fate, like Manson’s own sentence, that was later overturned. He has spent over four decades in California prisons, marrying, divorcing and fathering four children. He is now an ordained Christian minister and has written a book. From LA Now:
On Watson’s ministry website, he says, he believed Manson “offered utopia, but in reality, he had a destructive world view, which Charles ended up believing in and acting upon. His participation in the 1969 Manson murders is a part of history that [Watson] deeply regrets.” He notes that he confessed to his crimes but it took him time to admit the horrible acts to himself. Watson argues he is a changed man and model prisoner who is seeking to better society.
On his website, Watson explains his feelings toward the victims at the time. “The night of the murders, I tried to medicate my pain with methamphetamines, but actually, it made it easier to turn my rebellion, fear and anger loose on my victims. Anyone outside the family had become the establishment, pigs—it was us and them. My life had come to mean nothing, so everyone’s life meant nothing. Death lost its meaning since the end of the world was near,” he wrote.
“I had no emotional attachments with my victims, whom I had never met. Yet, during the murders, I remember conflicting feelings would arise in a flash, but were overcome because Manson’s law was greater than my conscience. He promised us a life free of fear and judgment.”
Manson follower Charles ‘Tex’ Watson denied parole (LA Times)
Manson (1972) is the razorblade in your Halloween candy bar. Chock full of footage of Manson and his freaky followers, this competently-made and unsettling documentary is a horror show made that much more horrifying by the fact that these folks aren’t acting, they’re real. With subject matter this dark and disturbing, the film makers didn’t have to embellish the story in order to gut punch the audience. All they had to do was point the camera in the right direction and let the film roll. Some of the interviewees have the long-distance stare of the truly mad.
Had the US government wanted to put a stake in the heart of the hippie movement, Manson’s gang of demonic flower children and the mayhem at Altamont provided the perfect opportunities to discredit an entire movement. Along with the death of Sharon Tate and Meredith Hunter, 1969 saw the death of the Aquarian Age.