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#39107 - 06/06/10 01:29 PM Of the accuracy of Barton's biography
Phobos Offline
pledge


Registered: 05/04/10
Posts: 50
Loc: France
I've justed started to read Barton's Secret life of a Satanist and I wonder if what she writes about LaVey is accurate or even relevant. The internets keep telling me that most of the things we learn about LaVey's actual life is often inaccurate or false.

I am feeling a bit confused. Should I keep reading this book or is it a waste of time? I mean, when I need fiction, I read novels, not "biographies".
_________________________
La République ne reconnaît, ne salarie ni ne subventionne aucun culte.

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#39110 - 06/06/10 03:38 PM Re: Of the accuracy of Barton's biography [Re: Phobos]
Michael A.Aquino Offline
stalker


Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 2512
Loc: San Francisco, CA, USA
Well, you asked ...

BOOK REVIEW: SECRET LIFE OF A SATANIST
- reviewed by Michael A. Aquino VI°, The Scroll of Set, October 1990

Now available for US$19.95 from Amok Press is The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey by Blanche Barton.

Or is it indeed by Blanche Barton, or is it rather a ghost-written autobiography by Anton himself, in the way that the 1974 Devil’s Avenger “by Burton Wolfe” may have been? Anton’s habit of hiding behind pseudonyms and pen-names, including those of living associates (such as John M. Kincaid during the days of the Church of Satan) is well-known, and once again - as in The Devil’s Avenger - the writing style is virtually identical to Anton’s own. I again suspect we are looking at an autobiography released under Barton’s name to avoid an image of conspicuous narcissism - or at least a Barton manuscript so dictated/edited by Anton as to make the difference negligible.

Once again echoing TDA, SLOAS is simply a gush of fawn-&-trembling adoration of Anton from cover to cover. Reading this book is rather like drinking an entire bottle of pancake syrup straight - O.K. if you have a compulsive sweet tooth, but a bit much otherwise.

Somewhere underneath the goo the portrait of a very talented and eccentric individual can be uncovered. Whatever else one may say about him, no one can accuse Anton Szandor LaVey of being uninteresting. He set out early in life to construct his personality and lifestyle as a kind of Marvel Comics magazine come to life, and has successfully convinced at least part of society that even his most absurd claims are all quite true.

Well, why not? Life would be duller without an occasional Zsa Zsa Gabor to tweak polite society’s nose. And as long as Anton LaVey harmed no one - and indeed enchanted onlookers with his mixture of stylish theatre and shudderingly noir ideology - one could applaud him. Underneath the Mardi Gras mask, moreover, as I have detailed in The Church of Satan, was a brilliant mind at odds with a society whose moral hypocrisy it could not accept. If he could not change that society, it was Anton’s particular genius to create an artificial, Howard Hughes-like cocoon around himself so that he could at least endure it - and occasionally give it a swift kick in the derriere.

Anton LaVey succeeded a bit too well, as by the early 1970s he found himself the head of a nationwide church whose members expected him to lead, teach, and represent them as a religious institution dedicated to the Satan he had so fervently invoked first in hundreds of personal ceremonies and then in his Satanic Bible. For a time he rose to this responsibility, and thereby attained his greatest dignity.

In 1975, however, under the impression that the reverence in which he was held was merely admiration for his own personality, he tried to prostitute the Church of Satan into a mere carnival scam by selling the Satanic Priesthood and all higher degrees for cash.

When the national membership indignantly rejected such corruption of the Satanic religion, Anton responded by denying Satan and his own High Priesthood except as figures of speech for his own convenience - whereupon the Church of Satan disintegrated as an organization overnight, and re-formed, a short time later, as the Temple of Set.

Since then we have been treated to the grotesque, pathetic, and contemptible spectacle of an Anton LaVey trying vaguely and vainly to use the old spells to recreate the magic he lost, yet failing again and again. First he promoted a handful of sycophants remaining wistfully at his feet to “priests” and “magisters”. Then he bombarded anyone who would listen with claims that the Church of Satan still existed, and indeed was larger and more awesome than ever. SLOAS shovels similar manure concerning a C/S “Council of Nine” and “Order of the Trapezoid”, which Anton claims are as functional today as in 1966.

And the absurd Marilyn Monroe-affair story is trotted out again, despite its exposure and discrediting years ago by MM confidante Robert Slatzer and MM agent Harry Lipton. Just the other evening a reporter mentioned to me that he had located and interviewed the manager of the Mayan Theater at the alleged time, who also confirmed that MM had never had anything to do with it, as a stripper or otherwise, as Anton alleges.

Indeed not only is Anton’s attempted prostitution of the Church of Satan in 1975 missing from SLOAS, but so is the entire history of that organization from the moment that it expanded past the original small San Francisco group. And make no mistake about it: Anton LaVey became a person of consequence not because he was a Mardi Gras clown in San Francisco, but because he was High Priest of an active and influential nationwide church - the Church of Satan - and because he had the pride and the courage to claim authority as Satan’s personal Exarch on Earth.

If the Church of Satan is missing from SLOAS, so is the Devil himself. Satan is not even mentioned at all - which is not surprising, since Anton renounced him in 1975 and since then has merely bandied the terms “Satan” “Satanic”, and “Satanism” about as though, like Humpty-Dumpty, they endorse whatever kinky fetish he has embraced at the moment. Is the Prince of Darkness of Milton, Dante, and Blake now merely a trademark for blow-up sex dolls, underwear collections, and girlie hot-water bottles (one of which is tucked under Anton’s arm on the cover of SLOAS)? I doubt it. The hundreds of Satanists who built, operated, and defended the Church of Satan throughout the decade of its existence - often at great risk and sacrifice to themselves, must shudder with disgust at such degradation of all that was so sacred to them. None of the Church’s Grotto Leaders, Regional Agents, and Priesthood across the country are even mentioned by name in SLOAS, which effectively illustrates Anton’s appreciation for their dedication.

Equally offensive is SLOAS’ treatment of Diane LaVey, Anton’s once-acknowledged wife, who was at least as responsible for the creation and furtherance of the Church of Satan as he was - and, on a day-to-day basis, was its chief administrator for the entire ten years. After the disaster of 1975 she remained loyally at her husband’s side, doing whatever she could to shelter him and to salvage something from the wreckage he had brought down around them. She raised their daughters Karla and Zeena conscientiously and lovingly, and she adored him so transparently as to touch everyone who saw them together.

As far as SLOAS is concerned, Diane might scarcely have existed at all save as a slightly more animate decoration than the sex-mannikins in the 6114 California Street basement. In the book’s photo section are 21 clear, crisp, and ego-flattering photos of Anton himself - and only one of Diane: by herself, faded, fuzzy, and the least flattering I have ever seen [although it is hard for Diane not to look pretty]. Hundreds of gorgeous, studio-quality photos of Diane exist, such as those taken by Time photographers Jack & Betty Cheetham for their Occult Beauties portfolio. And not only is Diane not given the courtesy of a joint photo with Anton, but even the caption merely identifies her as “Diane, LaVey’s companion of 24 years”.

In one small paragraph SLOAS whines that on July 18, 1984 Anton was summoned to court and served a restraining order brought against him by Diane. Indignantly he complained to Karla, saying that he “wasn’t going to stand for it, that he had performed his magic”, etc. SLOAS readers might feel sorry for poor Anton unless they happened to read the Sacramento Bee of 9/22/88:

 Originally Posted By: Sacramento Bee
All hell broke loose between the couple in 1984, when Diane moved out of LaVey’s California Street house, claiming LaVey had beaten her. Hegarty alleged in her lawsuit that LaVey applied a hammerlock to her neck, lifted her off the ground, and rendered her unconscious ...

After Diane and Anton formally began the Church of Satan, Anton became the high priest of the order and Diane the office manager. Although never married to Anton, Diane used the name “LaVey”. Her suit contends that they acted as husband and wife for over two decades.

But the relationship soured after two decades. In 1985 LaVey agreed to have separate entrances and facilities built in the couple’s house so he and Diane wouldn’t have to see each other. Diane charged that those modifications were never added to the house, and consequently she never returned.

Added the Globe:

 Originally Posted By: The Globe
“I pounded out the Satanic Bible on a $29 typewriter,” said Diane. “I edited it. I added to it. I ran the Church with Anton. Then he left me with nothing.

“Anton refused to support me. For four years I have been scrambling to survive, doing temporary office work. I could hardly put my skills at Satanic rituals on a resume.”

Diane left LaVey in 1984 to escape his alleged physical abuse. She says she fled in fear of her life after she was beaten and choked. She won a partial property settlement in 1985 but claims that LaVey reneged on it ...

Following the departure of Diane it at first seemed that daughters Karla and Zeena would take her place attempting to prop up the fake image of a flourishing Church of Satan that Anton has tried so emphatically to sell since 1975. Karla, however, has moved on to a secular professional career of her own. and Zeena, while devoted to her father, is evidently not cynical enough to convincingly perpetuate the fraud.

Enter Sharon "Blanche Barton" Densley, behind whose skirts Anton has retreated ever since. The extent to which she also controls Karla and/or Zeena by virtue of her influence over their father is not clear but will be, I expect, sooner or later.

In SLOAS Anton ridicules the occasional rumors of his illness or death. He misses the point. The High Priest of the Church of Satan died in 1975. That Anton Szandor LaVey was a hero, a genius, and a man who walked with the very Prince of Darkness himself. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to know him.

The Anton LaVey of SLOAS is someone else whom I don’t know at all. And the more I learn about him, the less I want to know him.

* * * * * * * * * *
Extract from The Black Pope: A Biography of Anton Szandor LaVey by Burton H. Wolfe, 2008

In 1990 Feral House published a biography of Anton by “Blanche Barton” (Sharon Densley) titled The Secret Life of a Satanist and, in the same year, she selfpublished The Church of Satan: A History of the World’s Most Notorious Religion under the name “Hell’s Kitchen Productions.” But those books have not provided a true story of the man who played the role of the Devil on earth or a bona fide account of the organization he called a “church.” The subtitle of The Secret Life of a Satanist is “the authorized biography of Anton LaVey”: a veritable admission that “Blanche” (Sharon) wrote whatever Anton told her to write during the time when she was his mistress and amanuensis as well as the mother of one of his children – although it is true that what she also did was repeat stories from my book and expand upon and embellish them.

* * * * * * * * * *

Extract from letter, Zeena LaVey to M. Aquino, 12/30/90:

... The most recent and blatant example of this may be found in the publication of the absurd catalogue of lies entitled Secret Life of a Satanist by (as told to) Blanche Barton. This fluffy PR release masquerading as a book included, with typical irresponsibility, a photo of my son without ever seeking his or my permission. Like all of the self-serving bullshit printed in this volume, the malignant use of an innocent child to buttress a flagging reputation and self-esteem is a new low point in a career already dotted with depths. For your information, despite Barton’s claim, Anton LaVey has never given “tutelage” of any sort to his grandson. In fact my son was shocked and angered at being hypocritically exploited by his grandfather’s pathetic effort to portray himself as a loving family man.

Furthermore, despite the fact that this biography was printed long after my resignation, Barton knowingly lied by perpetuating the idea that I have anything at all to do with CoS and its founder. If Barton chooses to spin other falsehoods about her subject’s life, that’s fine, but she has crossed the line by including my son and myself. You and I are both aware of the countless untruths contained in this book, but I felt you should be illuminated on points relating to myself (at least) ...

* * * * * * * * * *
_________________________
Michael A. Aquino

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#39121 - 06/06/10 06:59 PM Re: Of the accuracy of Barton's biography [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
Jake999 Offline
senior member


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
The early stages of the writing of Secret Life of A Satanist pretty much coincides with my departure from The Administration of The Church of Satan. I can tell you first hand that Blanche Barton spent a lot of hours hunched over a yellow pad, writing. Not well, but writing.

I can tell you that I was writing on my Mac across the room and LaVey was reading my portions of the initial draft and apparently enjoying them. He told me that he liked what I wrote because I did it in a humorous way that made him laugh. She tended to want to be overly dramatic, IMHO. He would then take her writings and mine and put them side by side and try to merge what he liked.

The last evening I was at the Black House, he and I had a converstion at the door just before I made my way down those steep steps to the hurricane fence, out onto California Street, and around the corner to where my car was parked, by Rochambeau playground. I didn't know it would be my last night there.

We talked about writing more and expanding certain things within the book and a couple of personal things. Then, for some inexplicable reason, just before I left, I looked him in the eye and said, "Watch her, Boss." We joked a bit as I was walking down those stairs and I was gone.

They never used anything of mine in The Secret Life of a Satanist... well, yes they did. The title THE DEVIL AND SAINT JAYNE was one of mine. I had my disks with my work on it, and still do, somewhere. They're done on a version of MS Word that I don't even know if I could pull up these days. I don't even have a copy of Secret Life any longer. It stunk on ice.

Did she write it? I think she TRIED, and I think it was HIGHLY, HIGHLY edited, from what I saw.

Where I went after that was a mish-mash of TDYs to places that I couldn't disclose, lasting for weeks, and some behind the scenes manipulations. Exit Jake... long live the Bitc... I mean queen.
_________________________
Bury your dead, pick up your weapon and soldier on.


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#39125 - 06/06/10 09:19 PM Jake's Memoirs [Re: Jake999]
Michael A.Aquino Offline
stalker


Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 2512
Loc: San Francisco, CA, USA
 Originally Posted By: Jake999
I had my disks with my work on it, and still do, somewhere. They're done on a version of MS Word that I don't even know if I could pull up these days.

Well, if your insights and wit here are any indication, I bet we would all love to read what you wrote, so do consider rescuing it, possibly doing it up as an ebook .pdf. Most elder MS Words can be imported into newer versions, yes?

"The Devil & St. Jayne" is a hoot. In COS there is quite a bit about Anton & Jayne, much from my interviews with Edward Webber. He went from being Anton's P/R advisor to the same gig for, of all people, the Bhagwan up in Oregon. Then back down to SF, where he and I met purely accidentally. Is this a great country or what?
_________________________
Michael A. Aquino

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#39127 - 06/06/10 09:30 PM Re: Jake's Memoirs [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
Jake999 Offline
senior member


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
I still have my ancient original Macintosh... it could probably bring them up... I think it was version 1!!! I haven't even turned on the original 128K Mac in well over a decade. I had it upgraded to a massive 256K. I'll have to go through my storage and I might post sections I had things to do with. I always liked my short section on Typhon and the Perrogi.
_________________________
Bury your dead, pick up your weapon and soldier on.


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#39129 - 06/06/10 09:47 PM Re: Jake's Memoirs [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
MatthewJ1
Unregistered



You're a mind reader Dr. Aquino.

I would be one of the first ones to buy a copy of Jake's memoirs.

Go for it Jake!

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#39157 - 06/07/10 01:08 PM Re: Jake's Memoirs [Re: ]
felixgarnet Offline
active member


Registered: 10/17/09
Posts: 688
Loc: UK
I'd LOVE to read Jake's memoirs! I bet they'll come with a PG warning on the slipcover. ;\)
_________________________
"Here's to Artifice!" - Anton Szandor LaVey.

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#39166 - 06/07/10 06:31 PM Re: Jake's Memoirs [Re: felixgarnet]
Meq Offline
Banned
active member


Registered: 08/28/07
Posts: 861
 Originally Posted By: felixgarnet
I'd LOVE to read Jake's memoirs! I bet they'll come with a PG warning on the slipcover. ;\)

Better make that XXX! ;\)

As for the MS Word issue, as someone who still runs Windows 3.11 in a virtual machine 'just in case' (albeit on Windows 7), I'm sure I'll be able to help out anyone in need of having some very old-school file formats converted (any platform), should the latest software no longer be able to read it. 'Legacy' software on modern hardware is something I have a fair amount of experience with.

Meq

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#39168 - 06/07/10 06:43 PM Re: Jake's Memoirs [Re: Meq]
Jake999 Offline
senior member


Registered: 11/02/08
Posts: 2230
LOL! My memoirs would put most people to sleep.

I was actually approached to write a book by some associates years ago, and I hold the same opinion today. I don't need the aggravation. I'm retired. The most work I want to do these days is open the door to collect checks for my rentals, produce Jake's Time Machine and run Dark Ryde Radio .
_________________________
Bury your dead, pick up your weapon and soldier on.


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#39179 - 06/07/10 11:38 PM Re: Jake's Memoirs [Re: Jake999]
Michael A.Aquino Offline
stalker


Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 2512
Loc: San Francisco, CA, USA
 Originally Posted By: Jake999
LOL! My memoirs would put most people to sleep.

Ah, but Satanists aren't "most people".

 Quote:
I was actually approached to write a book by some associates years ago, and I hold the same opinion today. I don't need the aggravation.

Well, you don't have to think in terms of "writing a book". Just take the stuff you wrote that interests you, cut/paste it together in a bunch, then kick it around a bit until you like it. Then .pdf it, let others read & comment about it, and consider those comments when refining/polishing. That's how COS came together over a couple of decades, and how TOS is coming together now. It should be a pleasant, reflective labor of love - definitely not an aggravation. So blow the dust off that toaster-Mac!
_________________________
Michael A. Aquino

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#39185 - 06/08/10 11:47 AM Re: Of the accuracy of Barton's biography [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
Phobos Offline
pledge


Registered: 05/04/10
Posts: 50
Loc: France
Well, first of all, thank you all for your interesting replies \:\)

Still, I'm so ignorant that I have one more question. Dr. Aquino, when I read the following lines:

 Originally Posted By: Michael A.Aquino
In 1975, however, under the impression that the reverence in which he was held was merely admiration for his own personality, he tried to prostitute the Church of Satan into a mere carnival scam by selling the Satanic Priesthood and all higher degrees for cash.

When the national membership indignantly rejected such corruption of the Satanic religion, Anton responded by denying Satan and his own High Priesthood except as figures of speech for his own convenience - whereupon the Church of Satan disintegrated as an organization overnight, and re-formed, a short time later, as the Temple of Set.

Since then we have been treated to the grotesque, pathetic, and contemptible spectacle of an Anton LaVey trying vaguely and vainly to use the old spells to recreate the magic he lost, yet failing again and again. First he promoted a handful of sycophants remaining wistfully at his feet to “priests” and “magisters”. Then he bombarded anyone who would listen with claims that the Church of Satan still existed, and indeed was larger and more awesome than ever. SLOAS shovels similar manure concerning a C/S “Council of Nine” and “Order of the Trapezoid”, which Anton claims are as functional today as in 1966.


I cannot help but wonder whether the First Satanic Church is a joke or not. This might sound somewhat pretentious and brutal but when I link the official presentation of the Church to what you wrote above, I find the whole thing puzzling. The FSC presents itself as an offspring of the original attempt of institutionalized Satanism; but is it the offspring of a pure philosophy or a mere duplication of a carnival?

(I know absolutely nothing about the FSC; I have just a read a few online pages and am curious about how it works and about what it actually is.)

Anyway, thanks again for your time!
_________________________
La République ne reconnaît, ne salarie ni ne subventionne aucun culte.

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#39188 - 06/08/10 01:42 PM The First Satanic Church [Re: Phobos]
Michael A.Aquino Offline
stalker


Registered: 09/28/08
Posts: 2512
Loc: San Francisco, CA, USA
 Originally Posted By: Phobos
I cannot help but wonder whether the First Satanic Church is a joke or not.

I am not familiar with it beyond its website and the conversations here, nor have Karla and I been in contact since 1975.
_________________________
Michael A. Aquino

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#39190 - 06/08/10 02:05 PM Re: The First Satanic Church [Re: Michael A.Aquino]
Phobos Offline
pledge


Registered: 05/04/10
Posts: 50
Loc: France
Yes, I read this thread a while ago and just re-read it but this is all too abstract for me. As CanisMajor put it:

 Originally Posted By: CanisMajor
It is not my intention to besmirch Miss Karla or her church. However,it's not clear to me as to how the FSC differs from the CoS fan site. CoS 2.0? Cashing in? Different idea altogether?


I guess forums aren't enough to learn anything about such groups. Probably time to move on :]
_________________________
La République ne reconnaît, ne salarie ni ne subventionne aucun culte.

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