Satanic Priest Anton LaVey

Anton LaVey

Anton LaVey

JoAnne and I had many great adventures while we were running The Movie together. Once we screened an exploitation film titled Two Thousand Maniacs, a well-made low budget drive-in theatre horror flick we were thinking about trying to slip in under the radar as an art film. Kenneth Anger came to our press screening and immediately wanted to show all these maniacs to his friend, Anton LaVey. We told him that would be fine, we had heard of Mr. LaVey, who sounded like an interesting guy. Two Thousand Maniacs ought to be right up his alley. However, I suspect Anton probably loved any kind of maniacs. As a result of having shown him this movie, he in turn invited us to dinner at his jet-black house out on California Street. Anton LaVey had already achieved notoriety as the High Priest of the Church of Satan, having turned his house into his church, a large imposing Victorian he had painted solid black, and which was reminiscent of the haunted houses in the Charles Adams cartoons that were so popular back in the 1960s. Anton’s house was the stereotype a haunted house, complete with a rotating book case leading into to a secret passage that went down into the basement, which Anton had decorated up so as to make it look like a church, but which sometimes also served as a torture chamber. “Do all Ken’s friends have torture chambers in their basements,” I asked? Anton said he was really not into that sort of thing, but that he had a lot of very strange people coming to his church, people who needed to be satisfied as to their religious beliefs. Years ago, Anton had realized there was lots of demand in San Francisco for services such as only a satanic priest could inflict.

On the wall of Anton’s living room, were some conspicuous small pipes which he explained were part of his calliope. He told us that he had played the organ as part of his job when he had been working in a circus. Then, as if on cue, he batted out several measures of The March of the Circus Animals, at which point we realized that he really could play the calliope. I asked him to play a little flamenco for me, because the original circus performers were gypsies. He just laughed.

In short order, Anton took us into the kitchen and introduced us to his lovely wife Diane, who was getting dinner ready. Diane had long blond hair contrasting with Anton’s jet black goatee, black pants, black turtleneck sweater and shaved head. She Diane was as sweet as could be. Soon it was time for Anton to introduce us to Togare, who was generally kept out of the kitchen, except on his way to and from their bedroom, where the three of them slept at night. We had heard of Togare, the full-grown five-hundred pound male Nubian Lion who was languishing sleepily on his bed out on the porch. Anton tapped on the windowpane and the lion turned his head, showing us his beautiful blond mane in all its African glory. Anton and Diana were both proud of Togare, to the point where they brought him into their bedroom each night, so he could sleep on the floor at the foot of their bed. There, they had imbedded a brass ring in the floor, which Togare’s chain was hooked to at night. “In San Francisco you can’t have a lonely male lion wandering around the neighborhood at night,” sayeth LaVey, High Priest and Lion Tamer. 

Togare and Anton LaVey

Togare and Anton LaVey

The LaVeys were having a problem with their neighbors over Togare. From time to time, he had a bad habit of roaring at night and putting the neighbors on edge. We ate dinner in the kitchen with Togare visible through the glass windows looking out into the rear porch, all of which made for no lack of dinner conversation. Eventually, Anton explained that when he was a young man he had gotten a job in Clyde Beatty’s Circus, and that that was where he had learned to work with wild animals.

In the course of our evening together, Diana informed Anton that Jane had called again, referring to Jane Mansfield who at that time was probably Anton’s most well-known not to mention most profitable client. Diane soon began venting, telling us how sick and tired she was of being awakened in the middle of the night by phone calls from Jane asking if she could please talk to “my priest, my beast,” Diane cooed, imitating Jane. At this point Anton cautioned her not to kill the goose that might someday lay their golden egg. That particular phone call had come from Italy, where Jane Mansfield was making a movie. Bitchily, Diane explained that Jane was a dingbat who could not make decisions without the help of her church. So whenever she got into a jam on the set, and couldn’t make up her mind what to do, she would call Anton from anywhere in the world where she happened to be making a movie, in order to have an astrological conference with “my priest, my beast.”

Anton had all kinds of weird people coming to his church, but he was the only one who could deliver exquisite punishment from a priest. So you could say he had a “lock on the market,” were you to use motion picture company jargon. Like JoAnne and I, the LaVeys were engaged in show business, and everybody knows there is no business like show business. Overall, it had been a fascinating evening.

 

On the drive home, JoAnne and I decided to write a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, trying to counter some of the bad publicity the LaVeys had been receiving because of unhappy complaints from their neighbors. But we agreed that the LaVeys were better showmen than we were. They were a class act.

Learn more about The Church of Satan at:

http://www.adriana@churchofsatan.com

www.churchofsatan.com

In 1967, JoAnne and I got into a beef with the San Francisco Chronicle, the only newspaper we could afford to advertise in. Although The Movie was what was then termed “an art house,” back in those days art movies were oftentimes confused with pornography, which was both a blessing and a curse in that in many people’s minds art movies and nudie movies were one and the same. This unwelcome conflation had come about because most “art films” were foreign films from Europe, where there was never such a bugaboo about sex. Once, even the generally liberal San Francisco Chronicle decided we must be a porno movie theatre, and pulled our ads out of the paper at the last minute, in retaliation for which JoAnne and I decided to get all dressed up and go picket the Chronicle. Here we are, protesting away.

Bill & JoAnne & Tarzan, Digging Dirt

Bill & JoAnne & Tarzan, Digging Dirt


Anton LaVey’s News Obit

Anton Lavey

Speak of the Devil