I was impressed as fuck by Noel Fielding’s clever “dog whistle” homage to Kenneth Anger (and Roy Wood) in the opening credits to his Luxury Comedy TV series (see below), but just imagine seeing someone walking down the street wearing one of these limited edition embroidered “Lucifer Rising” jackets from La Boca:
We’re very excited to have a very limited re-release of our ‘Lucifer’ jacket for Sixpack France. Designed as a tribute to the jacket worn in Kenneth Anger’s 1972 masterpiece Lucifer Rising, the original release sold out long ago, and has since become one or our most requested pieces. This new release is limited to less than 100 worldwide, and we have a few available in our shop now.
Also available in-store exclusively at Citadium Paris.
I think it’s safe to say that the music composed (and performed alone) by Jimmy Page and intended for Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, but not used, was/is among the very most sought after Led Zeppelin, or in this case Zep-related, bootleg recordings.
The story has long been a foundation of the Led Zeppelin mythos: Page and the mercurial Magus of Cinema had a falling out, then Anger did his patented “curse” routine very publicly going so far as accusing Page of being a mere “dabbler” in the occult and a rich, lazy junkie. Rock journalists began to wonder if Anger’s curse had worked when a succession of tragic events saw Robert Plant badly injured in a 1975 car accident, Plant’s five-year-old son Karac dying suddenly in 1977 and the death of John Bonham in 1980 that instantly ended Led Zeppelin’s reign as the world’s biggest rock group.
There are always two sides to every story and Page maintains that he had given the project financial support, put Ken up in one of his homes (Aleister Crowley’s Boleskine House in Scotland, no less) and lent him film editing equipment. Moreover, he’d given Anger 23 minutes of amazing music. Anger needed an additional five minutes from Page to complete Lucifer Rising, but it was slow arriving and after a shouting match with Page’s wife, he threw a major hissy, “firing” Page and viciously denouncing him—for years—in the media:
“He’s a multi-millionaire miser. He and Charlotte, that horrible vampire girl – the druggie that got him on heroin – they’re both junkies. They had so many servants, yet they would never offer me a cup of tea or a sandwich. Which is such a mistake on their part because I put the curse of king Midas on them. If you’re greedy and just amass gold you’ll get an illness. So I did turn her and Jimmy Page into statues of gold because they’ve both lost their minds. He can’t write songs anymore.”
It’s not like Jimmy Page wasn’t busy back then (the time period in question roughly corresponds to the time Led Zeppelin IV was being recorded), plus Uncle Ken can go from sweet and utterly charming to homicidal in like two seconds flat. (I’ve met Jimmy Page, as well. He was super-friendly, easygoing. An old school gentleman, informing me as he shook my hand that he had been gifted with not one, but two copies of my Book of Lies occult anthology. I know which side of this tale I come down on: Jimmy’s! Look, I admire and revere the films of Kenneth Anger. I think he’s a truly great artist, touched by genius, even, but he’s fucking nuts...)
Eventually Page’s music escaped in 1981—probably sourced from the magnetic track from an early 23-minute-long “to be continued” print of Lucifer Rising that Anger showed potential investors (I’ve seen this, it’s pretty incredible)—when it hit the bootleg market as “Solo Performances by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant,” a limited edition LP with a green wax seal (I have one of these, it sounds like frying dogshit). Another blue vinyl version was released in a “Kabbalistically numbered limited edition.” Better quality digital versions started making the rounds on torrent trackers around 2005 and last year Jimmy Page released the music he’d composed for Anger’s film via his website on very limited edition red vinyl that sold out instantly.
The music itself is wonderfully perverse: a languid but steadily building Middle Eastern-sounding drone, festooned with evil chanting, tabla, screaming mellotron, a sonically shifting low frequency foreboding ambiance and shimmering 12-string guitar work. It’s a mad, diabolical symphony of beautiful evil; a fascinating piece of unconventional aggressively avant garde music from one of the rock era’s most mysterious living legends.
Although Page’s music was not used, the guitarist does make a cameo appearance in Lucifer Rising bearded and staring at a wreathed portrait of Aleister Crowley while holding an Egyptian stele.
Page does not often talk to journalists about his interest in the occult, but in a 2008 Guitar World interview, he did reveal a few fascinating tidbits about his creative process:
Guitar World: There was always a certain amount of speculation about your occult studies. It may have been subtle, but you weren’t really hiding it.
Page: I was living it. That’s all there is to it. It was my life – that fusion of magick and music.
Guitar World: Your use of symbols was very advanced. The sigil on Led Zeppelin IV and the embroidery on your stage clothes from that time period are good examples on how you left your mark on popular culture. It’s something that major corporations are aggressively pursuing these days: using symbols as a form of branding.
Page: You mean talismanic magick? Yes, I knew what I was doing. There’s no point in saying much about it, because the more you discuss it, the more eccentric you appear to be. But the fact is – as far as I was concerned – it was working, so I used it. But it’s really no different than people who wear ribbons around their wrists: it’s a talismanic approach to something.
Well let me amend that: it’s not exactly the same thing, but it is in the same realm. I’ll leave this subject by saying the four musical elements of Led Zeppelin making a fifth is magick into itself. That’s the alchemical process.
In Rolling Stone’s December 2012 cover story “Jimmy Page Looks Back,” Page said “...there was a request, suggesting that Lucifer Rising should come out again with my music on. I ignored it.”
Below, the unused Jimmy Page score for Lucifer Rising:
Manson murderer Bobby Beausoleil, it’s probably fair to say, is an entirely star-crossed asshole.
Take, for example, the anecdote Kenneth Anger has been wheeling around town for a good few decades regarding how the two of them came to part company, in which a nineteen-year-old Beausoleil, who was Anger’s intended protagonist in Lucifer Rising and also living rent free in the filmmaker’s Haight-Ashbury home, purportedly spent money given him for film equipment on dope, leading Anger to send him packing.
In revenge, Beausoleil supposedly stole Anger’s van, as well as the footage for the unfinished film. As followers of his biography will know, Anger habitually relays, usually with a certain laconic relish, how the van, which Beausoleil piloted from San Francisco to LA, broke down right outside Spahn Ranch, resulting in Beausoleil’s fateful encounter with Charles Manson.
Anger’s conspicuous delight at this turn of events could be explained by the infamous locket he reportedly kept dangling from his neck for many years: Beausoleil’s image on the one side, a frog’s on the other, and the self-explanatory inscription—“Bobby Beausoleil turned into a frog by Kenneth Anger.”
This frequently recounted anecdote, however, is perhaps starting to wear thin—so thin it’s beginning to fray. It just doesn’t quite ring true, and not exactly due to the large circumstantial infernal/coincidental overlap element, either, but rather because the real connections of all the main players in this mythology almost always appear (upon closer inspection) much less happenstance than they would have us believe.
So, Beausoleil’s van probably didn’t just break down as recounted (Beausoleil tells a different story himself, anyway). Similarly, Dennis Wilson probably didn’t meet Manson due to his picking up those Family hitchhikers (an equally questionable tale of motorway madness).
Which is not to say that, when you peel off the top layer of seeming psychedelic randomness, the whole scene still doesn’t bristle with synchronicities. Au contraire….
Take, for example, Beausoleil’s role as rhythm guitarist in an early incarnation of Arthur Lee’s Love, The Grass Roots. Eventually replaced by Bryan MacLean, Beausoleil would go on to claim that his nickname at that time, “Cupid,” in part by inspired the band’s ultimate change of name.
Arguably, the hot-headed Beausoleil was probably not the kind of guy it was wise to usurp, and MaClean certainly experienced a very narrow escape.
According to Manson murderer Susan Atkins, it was actually Beausoleil’s arrest for the torture-murder of Gary Hinman that instigated the Manson Family’s ensuing murder spree—enacted, she would claim, in order to convince police that the killer(s) of Gary Hinman were in fact still at large.
Whether or not this was true motivation for the Tate/LaBianca killings, Beausoleil’s connection to them—as progenitor, inspiration, or both—is indisputable, which is why it’s really just super strange that (and feel free to here start whistling “The Red Telephone”) Beausoleil’s replacement in Love, Bryan MaClean, a close friend of Sharon Tate’s, was invited over to Cieolo Drive on the night of the killings, having a change of heart at the last minute.
Below, rarely heard recordings of Beausoleil’s San Francisco group, The Orkustra. Another player in the group was David LaFlamme, who later founded It’s a Beautiful Day who had the eternal FM radio hit, “White Bird.”
On May 17th and 18th, Cinefamily in Los Angeles will be presenting a 35mm screening of the rarely seen Oscar-nominated 1973 documentary Manson. DirectorRobert Hendrickson—who shot some disturbing footage of Family members at the Spahn Ranch—will be there in-person for a Q&A after the May 17th and 18th screenings.
A brief interview with the legendary film-maker Kenneth Anger, in which he discusses Magick, the O.T.O., Bobby Beausoleil, and Henri Langlois, with interviewer Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe. Recorded at the Galerie du Jour Agnès B., in Paris, November 2012, for Standard magazine.
People love to love James Franco and they seem to love to hate him, too. I think it must be because he does absolutely everything. The prolific multi-hyphenate’s latest project is a music video for a song titled “Love in the Old Days” by Daddy, his musical enterprise with artist/musician Tim O’Keefe.
When producer Ted James remixed one of Daddy’s songs, “Love in the Old Days,” Franco cast Kenneth Anger in the music video, presiding over a masked bacchanal based on Anton LaVey’s lycanthropic “Das Tierdrama” ritual (which was, in turn, based on The Island of Doctor Moreau by HG Wells).
Alexandria Symonds: How did Kenneth Anger react when you approached him with this concept? Or was it more collaborative—did you come up with the idea together?
James Franco: This is the first time I’ve worked with Kenneth. But I’ve been very influenced by his work before this. I met one of his close collaborators, a guy named Brian Butler, and Brian and I have been talking about various projects for a while, and we just haven’t been able to do any of them yet. Brian has a movie that he wants to direct, and he wants me to be a little part in. And then when I learned that he did a lot of stuff with Kenneth, I couldn’t have been more excited.
So Brian set up the meeting, and Kenneth is a—[laughs]. He’s a nice guy, but I think he’ll admit, he’s a very strange guy. So the conversation was very weird. We met at the Chateau Marmont, Brian was there. I’d have this whole conversation with Brian, because Kenneth was really quiet, and I’d ask Kenneth something, and it was like he wasn’t even listening—but then, he’d kind of become aware. And he’s very smart, he’s been through so many different kinds of experiences, and was a part of so many different things, traveling with the Rolling Stones at the end of the ‘60s. So at times, if you can get him to talk, he’s very knowledgeable and informative. But at other times, it feels like he’s just thinking about other things.
Alexandria Symonds: What about on the set? What was it like to direct him? Did you basically just let him do his thing?
James Franco: Right. So, I read this book called Sway, that’s a fictional novel, but it uses Kenneth and the Rolling Stones, and this guy, Bobby Beausoleil, who was part of Manson’s group, as characters. I don’t know how true any of it is, but I’m sure the writer did research to make a lot of it at least based on fact. In that book, he has the character of Kenneth Anger making the films—the films that Kenneth actually made. And there were certain approaches that he had to these films, where he would shoot a lot of things kind of documentary-style, just people doing their regular routines. Or sometimes, he would stage these basic rituals, but in the editing, turn them into something much more energetic and artistic than they were when they were just filmed.
I guess I used whatever was in that book as kind of a guide about how to work with him. All I really needed was this basic ritual of, I guess you would call it, “The Marriage of Hell.” And we had imagery that was people in animal masks, that was based on certain images that Kenneth’s friend Brian had shown me. I always saw Kenneth as the Priest of Darkness; his films have strangely fused art and weird, kind of religious rituals. And I knew in one of his performances he plays that weird instrument called the theremin. So, if I just had him kind of preside over the wedding and play the theremin, I knew I could shoot it similarly to the way he shot his movies, and then edit it, and make it into something even more.
Brian Butler—who recently moved into the former Hollywood Hills home of Donald Cammell, he tells me, “for inspiration”—was the creative director for the piece. Butler will soon commence production on a feature film called King Death (this is the project Franco alludes to in the Interview interview). He’ll be appearing in Berlin on Saturday night at the Mindpirates space showing some of his short films with a musical performance.
Read the rest of the James Franco interview at Interview
Below, Daddy’s “Love In The Old Days” (Ted James 1999 Remix):
Kenneth Anger didn’t like Nigel Finch’s documentary on Hollywood Babylon. He thought Finch’s film ended up more about Finch than it did about Anger. It was like a test run for making a movie, which of course Finch went on to make. Anger told me this while we waited in my room, at the Standard Hotel, West Hollywood, Fall 2004. I was about to interview Kenneth for a documentary, and while we chatted, waiting for the crew to set-up, he tore stories out of tabloid newspapers to send to the Kinsey Institute, and I smoked on the balcony, watching the shimmer of eucalyptus trees in the late morning breeze.
When it was time for the interview, we walked along the orange-carpeted corridor only to be stopped by another film crew who were making a movie. At a half-corridor stood George Clooney and Brad Pitt, filming a scene for Ocean’s Twelve. Both looked smaller, their heads somehow bigger. They must have kept their magic for the camera, for it seemed that neither had the presence or, looked as grand a star as Kenneth Anger, who stood half in shadow, quietly waiting by the AD.
Nigel Finch’s ambitious documentary uses Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon as its keystone to build a film about Anger’s life, his movies, his interest in Hollywood and its stars’ scandalous lives. But what is evident amongst all this is that Anger is too big a genius, too complex a character to be fitted in between dramatic reconstructions of Fatty Arbuckle, and tales of Hollywood death and disaster. Though there are some excellent moments, the documentary teases the viewer, leaving an unfulfilled desire to know more about the great Magus of Cinema. Still, it’s worth the price of admission, if only to catch Kenneth Anger on film.
Three magi: Kenneth Anger, James Franco and Brian Butler
Occult artist / musician / filmmaker Brian Butler will be performing Aleister Crowley’s “Bartzabel Working” tomorrow night, Tuesday, December 4, at the L&M Arts gallery space in Venice Beach, CA. This occult ceremony is part of the gallery’s current “Martian Chronicles” theme exhibit and will employ custom robes made in the original A∴A∴ (Crowley’s magical order) designs and a circle, altar and triangle fabricated in vivid colors. Actor James Franco and Noot Seear from Twilight: New Moon will also participate in the ritual.
In conjunction with the current exhibition For the Martian Chronicles, L&M Arts is pleased to present The Bartzabel Working, a performance by filmmaker and artist Brian Butler. Based on a ceremonial evocation of the spirit of Mars, first written and performed in London in 1910 by the famed British occultist Aleister Crowley, the ritual later became part of Los Angeles history in 1946 when Jet Propulsion Laboratory rocket scientist and Crowley protégé Jack Parsons conducted his own version of this rite, with the intention of placing a martial curse on a pre-Scientology L. Ron Hubbard.
For his reinterpretation of this historical performance, Butler will conjure Bartzabel, the spirit of Mars, evoking the site that was once home to the late sci-fi author Ray Bradbury and currently comprises L&M Arts. The ritual will have Butler as Chief Magus, leading a cast drawn from his upcoming feature film King Death and featuring Henry Hopper as Assistant Magus, Noot Seear as Magus Adjuvant, and James Franco as Material Basis, the vessel though which the spirit of Mars manifests.
The performance will take place on Tuesday, December 4th at 8:30pm, followed by a reception with tunes courtesy of DJ & artist Eddie Ruscha.
Butler’s work has been shown at LAXART, in Portugal, Greece and in China. He recently performed with Kenneth Anger at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles as Technicolor Skull. www.brianbutler.com
“The Martian Chronicles” exhibit, honoring the work of sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, runs through January 5, 2013
L&M Arts, Los Angeles, 660 South Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA, 90291, 8:30 - 11:30 PM
In 1978, Anger re-cut his landmark 1954 film, Inauguration Of The Pleasure Dome by several minutes as well as changing the score of the film he had previous selected, “Glagolitic Mass” by the Czech composer Leoš Janáček. This re-constructed version, offered here today features Anger’s choice of the 1974 Electric Light Orchestra album, ‘Eldorado’ as score. This edition of the film would be labeled by Anger as his “Sacred Mushroom Edition.” Anger successfully screened this E.L.O. version of the film at the 1978 Boston Film Festival. This festival exhibition would be the only time in history this version of Anger’s film had been seen, until now.
ELO’s Eldorado concept album about the fantasy life of a “Walter Mitty”-esque character seems an old choice for a soundtrack to such a beautifully evil film, I must say. Interesting, to be sure, but I can see why Anger orphaned this in favor of the classic version of the film.
This feels a bit like the Giorgio Moroder scored and colorized version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to me. Maybe I’ve just seen the classic Pleasure Dome too many times.
With Alan McGee it’s difficult not to be inspired to go out and do something great, something daring, like he did with Creation Records and Poptones and all the bands whose music defines the past 3 decades. His infectious energy glows and inspires, it fills you with his rich enthusiasms for life.
Just now McGee seems to be everywhere: he is making a film called Kubricks with the artist Dean Cavanagh; he’s writing his memoirs; he’s curating a music festival in Japan for 2013; he’s working on an art exhibition with musician Alex Lowe of Gun Club Cemetery; he’s thinking about returning to making records because most of today’s music is “awful”; and he’s also studying Aleister Crowley and Magick.
‘For the last 5 years, I have been studying Crowley / Osman Spare and the Chaos Magickians. I got into Crowley because everybody told me not to go there so, of course, I did and ended up at Chaos Magick.
‘I 100% love Aleister Crowley. The Book of the Law is my Bible. I love him. Anybody that is still demonised by the media seventy years later had to be on it and he was. He was the ultimate libertarian.
‘I believe in the power of will. If I want something to happen it does. It always has and that was before I read Pete J Carroll. I really wanted Creation Records to become massive and to get the biggest band in the world and I did.
‘I wanted to become rich and I did, which sounds crass but I come from Glasgow we had fuck all, so having money interested me and still does.
‘If I really want something it comes to me. That was before I learned you can do it with technique, we all can read the right books and be very accurate in what I want to achieve.
This might sound like arrogance, but it’s not. It’s just said in a matter-of-fact way, without any sense of ego.
‘I am almost a hermit in Wales, then I go and DJ or give a talk or work with Takashi, my Japanese friend on Tokyo Rocks and I become the old Alan/Rock ‘n’ Roll Alan, which I also enjoy.’
Most recently he bought a church.
‘I bought this chapel in Wales, as all the pubs and churches are for sale, so I bought it for 33K, has its own graveyard, it’s pretty posh, so that should be fun. I live on a ley line in Hay-on-Wye, everything that happens here is charged. The chapel is more for doing stuff that local people can interact with long term. I know Primal Scream want to do playbacks there etc. so, it’s going to be fun.’
Last month he was producing his first feature film Kubricks, written and directed by Dean Cavanagh, starring Joanna Pickering, Matt Berry, Gavin Bain, Anton Newcombe and, of course, McGee.
Dean and Alan became friends around 2008, after working on the hit on-line comedy series Svengali, which has now been made into a movie.
‘We formed Escalier 39 as a film company to shoot some DIY films. We talk a lot on the phone and have a lot of the same political and spiritual views on things so the film company seemed obvious to us. It’s an experiment really, to see if we can make films together.’
He pauses when asked what his role is in Kubricks.
‘Good question. Maybe as agent provacateur.’
Kubricks was shot over an ‘exhausting’ 5 days and is currently being edited. It’s tag-line is ‘Everything Is Synchronicity…Even Chaos!’ and is a new map to the world Kenneth Anger once filmed (‘I love Kenneth Anger…he’s an amazing dude’) of Magick and Art. Though McGee puts it more bluntly:
‘I could say meta-physics, but the truth is we don’t really know, which is why we did it.’
Kubricks will released next year, which brings us to McGee’s next project, his return to music after his “retirement” five years ago, which led him to believe he had given muisc up completely. But the cancer of mediocrity spread by Simon Cowell and the piss-poor quality of current chart music has led McGee to rethink things, especially after an offer to organize music festivals in Japan.
‘Recently I have been helping curate stadium festivals in Tokyo for 2013, and I am enjoying it. So maybe I am moving back towards music. I don’t know, to be honest.
‘I do like films and books more than working with music but I find music easy to do, I sort of understand the music process and always have done.
‘I think music is awful at this point and it’s deliberate. Music is such a strong thing, with the message and the vibration and they want it now to be shit so it loses its impact on people. They are great bands around but they just are basically marginalised till they give in.’
Next up, is an exhibition with Alex Lowe, and another film with Cavanagh set in the recently acquired church..
‘Dean is already writing a script about the chapel, but to be honest we both have too many ideas.’
VICE: Looking back at the films of the silent era, the way they were shot and cut make it seem like everyone was snorting massive lines right up until the director yelled, “Action!”
I find film style reflects it, particularly the Mack Sennett [the director largely responsible for the popularity of slapstick] comedies. And my research proves that they were taking cocaine. You can see a sort of hyper-influence there.
VICE: There are lots of tales that make reference to “joy powder” in Hollywood Babylon, which makes it seem as innocent as taking one of those 5-hour Energy shots. Another phrase you use in the book, in the first few pages, is the “Purple Epoch.” What is that? It sounds nice.
That was when there were very talented people who also had extravagant tastes and money. It was the 1920s, a reflection of the Jazz Age. And the Hollywood version of that was pretty wild.
VICE: Another topic you cover early on in the book is the circumstances surrounding the death of Olive Thomas, which is perhaps the first instance of “Hollywood scandal” as we know it. You write, and it’s long been rumored, that she was very fond of cocaine, which was apparently a fatal flaw when combined with alcohol and ingesting her husband Jack Pickford’s topical syphilis medication.
She was one of the earliest beautiful stars to die in grim circumstances. And so her name became associated with lurid [behavior]. Things going on in Hollywood.
VICE: Her death also seemed to pull the wool from everyone’s eyes. Olive Thomas’s image was so sweet and pure. It caused Hollywood’s reputation to snowball into something far darker than how it was previously perceived. People must have thought, “If Olive’s doing it, everyone else must be too.”
There were other ones too, like Mary Miles Minter [who was accused of murdering her lover, director William Desmond Taylor, at the height of her success]. She was a kind of version of Mary Pickford [Jack Pickford’s sister], but the great stars like Pickford were never touched. These scandals swirled around, but there were certain stars that weren’t implicated in any way by this sort of thing.
Bilingual? No problems if you’re not, the important sections here are Kenneth Anger’s, where the Magus of American Cinema tells his story from Fireworks to Lucifer Rising, via Bobby Beausoleil, Mick Jagger and Aleister Crowley, in this rare interview with French television from 2003.
As you all know, Page was originally asked to write the music for the film by Kenneth Anger, but various difficulties saw their collaboration fall apart. Anger later claimed he could turn the guitarist into a toad or a statue of gold.
While Page’s soundtrack has been available as a bootleg for some years, this is its first official release, which you can purchase via Jimmy Page’s website
This is what the bootleg version sounds like:
And what Kenneth Anger said after being asked just one more question about Jimmy Page.
This is a fantastic, trippy, and mind-blowing version, one which captures a dark hallucinogenic world of sixties’ psychedelia. The clip made me think of Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising, in particular Bobby Beausoleil’s soundtrack (which came later, much later), where this track could easily sit. Turn down the lights. Play Loud.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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