r o s e m a r yframes off
- the connection between mia farrow, sharon tate, charlie manson and the beatles
[Printable version of this text]
Dark Side Of The 60s
[...] as it has been observed by probability theorists, the largest proportion of the truth arrives as a faculty of coincidence. [...]
[...] To fully appreciate the law of synchronity -- the meaning that can be revealed by an inadvertent encounter, or a chance event -- it is necessary to put aside all rational logic of reasoning to concentrate instead on the accidents and chances that provide new ways of understanding. The hazards and casualties that happen to us are intelligible only within a system of meaning, and meaning is the products not of individual minds, but of relationships. It is this pattern of relationships that both defines the individual and is defined by him, and it is this complex of affinities that perishes with death. The law of synchronity is grounded in this dark arrangement of contingencies. As Confucian scholar Wang Fu-Chih puts it, "only a man of highest integrity can understand this law; basing itself on its revelation he can grasp the symbols, and observing its small expressions, he can understand the auguries".
In other words, the devil is in the details.
- Brottman, pp. 33-34
1969 is remembered, not only for being the year of the first Moon flight, but also for the gruesome murders committed in California by Charles Manson and his bunch of crazed disciples, called the Manson Family. For many observers this marked the end of the 60s 'Flower Power' and the hippie culture of peace and love, and also the entering into the grimmer era of the 70s, 80s and 90s. The Manson murders also whetted the morbid public appetite, indicating the dark side of the 60s, which remained there under the decade's sunny and carefree outlook. It is also a story of strange coincidences and synchronities; with occult connections and rumours of conspiracy abounding.
'The Age of Aquarius' was the utopian project prevailing in the minds of the youth of the 1960s. No more society's 'games', no more 'hang-ups', no more 'Man', no more repression, no more war. Mind-altering substances, occultism, free love and rock music would pave the way for the new Aquarian society, out of the grimness and darkness of the Age of Pisces, the sinister Kali Yuga period of the Hindus, Philip K. Dick's 'Black Iron Prison'. The hippies would embrace both J.R.R. Tolkien's Luddite pastoralism (where magic was ever-present, and not yet suffocated by the 'satanic mills' as described by William Blake and the crude machinery of Industrial era), and Marshall McLuhan's techno-utopian 'Global Village' with its trans-continental electronic neuro-circuitry. The time was right for the sages, visionaries, revolutionaries, idealists and dreamers but also for the snake-oil merchants, sideshow hucksters, rip-off merchants, opportunists and false prophets.
Charlie Don't Surf
Born in 1934, Charles Manson spent his first term in reformatory school at the age of nine. By the time he drifted to San Francisco in 1967, Manson had spent most of his adult life in jail, mostly for such offences as car theft and credit-card fraud. He also worked some time as a pimp. He found himself in the midst of the new 'psychedelic' culture. The hippies of the Haight-Asbury district took LSD, smoked pot, and called themselves 'flower children'. No one cared that Manson had been a jailbird; on the contrary, it was regarded as being greatly to his credit. Manson was older than most of the 'drop-outs', and girls seemed inclined to regard him as a father-substitute figure. Runaways began to gather round him, and soon the Manson menage in the Haight district seemed to be full of emotionally deprived girls and admiring youths (Manson seems to have been bisexual). If they had never read the 60s counter-culture philosopher Herbert Marcuse, they nevertheless practised his idea that sex could be used a a form of 'unrepressive sublimation' to unfold our higher possibilities.
By 1968, Manson was trying hard to move into the pop music business; Manson's 'Family' even moved for a time into the luxury home of a member, Dennis Wilson, of a successful group called The Beach Boys, best known for their odes to California beach life and surfing (later on, Wilson claimed that he had inadvertently "founded" the Family with Manson). Manson lived with Dennis before the murders for about six months. He saw himself as a would-be singer-songwriter. He recorded several songs in Brian's home studio, and one of them, 'Never Learn Not To Love' (originally titled: 'Cease To Exist') was even released as the B-side of a Beach Boys single and on their album 20/20. Manson's lack of success, though, seems to have made him increasingly embittered. The 'family', now numbering about thirty (and including children) moved out to a ranch owned by an old man named George Spahn, and lived there in exchange for cleaning out the stables.
With so much drug-taking, violence was inevitable. In July 1969, Manson shot a black dope-dealer named Bernard Crowe in the chest; in fact, Crowe recovered and decided not to go to the police. Later that month, Manson and his friend Bobby Beausoleil tried to persuade another drug-dealer, Gary Hinman, to finance a move to Death Valley; when Hinman refused, he was tortured, then stabbed to chest and left to die. On the wall above his body, Beausoleil wrote 'Political piggy' in blood -- intended to lead the police to the belief that the Black Panther movement was responsible. Manson's plan was to cause a revolution by setting whites against blacks (whom he detested).
On 9 August 1969, four Manson followers -- three girls and a man -- drove out to a house in Benedict Canyon which had been earlier rented by Terry Melcher, the son of Doris Day and a man in the pop music business (he had produced among all bands like The Byrds) against whom Manson had a grudge. Melcher was an independent producer working with the Beatles' Apple Records label, and the Beatle-obsessed Manson thought he would get a recording contract through him. When Melcher didn't sign Manson, he became an object of Manson's wrath and probably Melcher was supposed to be one of the victims, but Manson didn't know that Terry had split from that house three months before. Anyway, that Hollywood mansion at 10050 Cielo Drive, Los Angeles, was assaulted by Manson's disciples, who brutally butchered a group of people, who were spending some time there; among them the current resident Sharon Tate, a film actress and the wife of Polish film director Roman Polanski; Tate being at the time pregnant with Polanski's child.
At the time Polanski was in London, but Sharon Tate had three guests to supper, two men and a woman. Afterwards they took MDA, a psychedelic drug, and went into various states of dissociation (Tate was not under influence because of her pregnancy). As the Manson Family members entered the drive, they encountered a youth who had been visiting the houseboy; he was shot in the head. Then they went into the house and killed Sharon Tate and her three guests. The men were shot, the women stabbed to death. The next morning, a maid ran screaming into the street after finding the actress and four others slaughtered in a grotesque scene. The word 'Pig', written with Tate's blood, was found from the murder scene.
Bodies were scattered about the lush green estate. Sharon Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, had been stabbed to death, then hung from a rafter in the living room. Also slain were Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger coffee fortune; Wojciech (Voytek) Frykowski, a Polish friend of Polanski's; Jay Sebring, hairdresser to the stars; and Steven Parent, a young man shot while leaving the cottage of his friend, the caretaker.
The murders created the sensation Manson had hoped for; the following day, the 'family' watched the television news-casts with satisfaction. By that evening, every gun and guard dog in the Los Angeles area had been bought by frantic householders. Manson decided to strike again while the iron was hot. That evening, after taking LSD, he led six followers to a house in the affluent Los Feliz district of Los Angeles, the home of a supermarket owner, Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary. Manson walked into their bedroom with a gun and tied them up, then sent in three followers, who stabbed the LaBiancas to death. They wrote 'Death to pigs' in blood on a door, and 'Helter Skelter', Manson's code word for the revolt that would occur when the alarmed whites rose up against the blacks.
But the rising failed to occur; Los Angeles was too accustomed to mass murder to over-react. In the following month, the 'family' moved out to the remote Death Valley. When Manson set on fire a bulldozer belonging to the State rangers, the police raided the ranch and arrested all the hippies. And after more than a month in jail, a family member named Susan Atkins, who had taken part in both sets of murders, told her cell-mate about the killings, and word leaked back to the police.
Charlie Guenther was the man who really broke the Manson case. He worked the Gary Hinman job for Los Angeles Sheriff's Homicide and busted Manson acolytes Mary Brunner and Bobby Beausoleil, who had written 'Pig' and 'Political Piggy' on Hinman's walls after they killed him; similar slogans were scrawled at the Tate-LaBianca crime scenes. Guenther went to LAPD and laid out the Hinman murder. Brunner and Beausoleil were in custody during the Tate-LaBianca time frame. Guenther told the LAPD to check out their friends at the Spahn Movie Ranch. The LAPD ignored Guenther's advice. They solved Tate-LaBianca by fluke luck several months later.
The trial that followed was one of the longest and most expensive in Los Angeles history. Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor -- who later wrote the book Helter Skelter -- called the killings "probably the most bizarre mass murder case we've ever had in America." Charles Manson did his best to turn it into an indictment of society and his judges, explaining that the murders had been committed out of love. Asked if she thought the killing of eight people was unimportant, Susan Atkins retorted by asking whether the killing of thousands with napalm was important. In her memoir, "Headline Justice," reporter Theo Wilson recalled a 10-month trial with "testimony that went from horrifying to ludicrous ... witnesses with names like 'Lotsapoppa, Snake and Ouisch' ... threats of self-immolation and other destruction ... a defense attorney disappearing, his drowned undiscovered until many months later on the very day that the defendants received death sentences from the jury."
Manson's three women co-defendants, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, were convicted with him after taking the stand and attempting to absolve him by admitting their own deadly deeds. Another defendant, Charles "Tex" Watson, was found guilty in a separate trial. Their death sentences were commuted to life when the death penalty was briefly outlawed in America in 1972.
President Nixon had denounced Manson even before he and his five co-defendants had been found guilty, and predictably, Manson became a hero of the West Coast 'underground' network. But the trial had the effect of convincing the rest of the world that the whole movement of social revolt was a form of mindless emotionalism whose arguments defied logic; it produced, in fact, precisely the kind of revulsion against the left that the McCarthy witch hunts had created against the right in the 50s. A suitable scapegoat is always needed, and in America, at least, the Manson family had discredited 'revolution', as the writer Colin Wilson concludes.
Web of Coincidences
One aspect of Manson's philosophy especially puzzled me: his strange attitude toward fear. He not only preached that fear was beautiful, he often told the Family that they should live in a constant state of fear. What did he mean by that? [ ... ]
To Charlie fear was the same thing as awareness [ ... ] The more fear you have, the more awareness, hence the more love. When you're really afraid, you come to "Now". And when you are at Now, you are totally conscious.
Manson claimed that children were more aware than adults, because they were naturally afraid. But animals were even more aware than people, he said, because they always live at Now. The coyote was the most aware creature there was, Manson maintained, because he was completely paranoid. Being frightened of everything he missed nothing.
- Bugliosi: p. 320
So, if we look closely, we'll find a connection between Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls, Rosemary's Baby and Charles Manson!
Then to The Beatles: 'Helter Skelter' and 'Piggies' were some songs off The Beatles' White Album (1968), which inspired the murder spree of the Manson Family, who slaughtered Sharon Tate, who was the wife of Roman Polanski, who directed Rosemary's Baby. (Manson and his followers believed the songs held in them some hidden messages, specifically meant for the Family.) Furthermore, as peculiar coincidences go, The Beatles had Mia Farrow as one of their companions on their famous 1968 excursion to India, and John Lennon of The Beatles wrote 'Dear Prudence' (also a song on White Album) for Mia Farrow's younger sister Prudence Farrow (on a lighter note, "Prudence" was also the name of puppy Polanski gave to Sharon Tate). Sadie Mae Glutz was the alias given to the Family member Susan Atkins by Manson even before the appearance of the White Album song 'Sexy Sadie' -- which was directed toward The Beatles' one-time guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, with whom they felt disappointed. Ironically, also Sadie/Susan would let Manson down by carelessly talking about the murders to her cellmates, which was eventually used as a proof in the trial.
It is claimed that at a party in California in 1973, Lennon went berserk, hurling a chair out the window, smashing mirrors, heaving a TV against the wall, and screaming nonsense about Roman Polanski being to blame. And to give a sinister end to the story filled with synchronities (allegedly Lennon and Ono had their own interest in the occult), John Lennon was shot in 1980 in front of the Dakota Building (picture on the right) in New York -- which was used when filming Rosemary's Baby. Also, Rosemary LaBianca was another victim of Manson's murder spree, which in press would later be called the Tate-LaBianca murders. Mark Chapman was the name of Lennon's killer -- Winifred Chapman was the maid who had first found the bodies at 10050 Cielo Drive.
The Beatles members had frequented London's Indica Books and Gallery (this is where Lennon met Yoko Ono), which opened in 1966, where also Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate visited as regular guests -- the film-maker then directing in England Dance of the Vampires (a.k.a. The Fearless Vampire Killers, 1967), with his future wife starring.
Thematically, there are some similarities between Dance of the Vampires and Rosemary's Baby, which seem all the more significant in the aftermath of what happened. In the former film, the suckers of blood are triumphant in the end, spreading evil to the whole world after heroes have failed to stop them; in the latter, the ultimate purpose of all diabolic rites is achived -- the Devil is come among us. In the former film, Polanski's character Alfred is -- even more chillingly in the light of history -- late to save Sharon Tate's Sarah from the vampires; in the latter, Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes) is willing to sacrifice his wife, Mia Farrow's Rosemary, to give birth to the Devil, and in the process gain worldly success himself. In Dance of the Vampires, the community of vampires gains victory; in Rosemary's Baby, the coven of witches and Satanists celebrate their Year One by the birth of Devil's offspring.
Furthermore, it should be noted that Krzysztof
Komeda, who composed
Rosemary's Baby, died soon afterwards in
the head injuries received during a drinking binge,
adding to all
notoriety gained by Polanski's 1968 film.
1966 seems to be a crucial year in this story. In March of that year, John Lennon gave his interview to a British journalist, the Stateside results of which seemed to be somewhat unfortunate for the Beatle. When syndicated to the USA that summer, this statement given in the interview by Lennon infuriated the conservative religious right: "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right, and I will be proved right. We [The Beatles] are more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first -- rock'n'roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me." In the South, where rock'n'roll had exploded with Elvis during the previous decade, mass burnings of Beatles records ensued.
In April 8, 1966, the Time magazine had published its famous "Is God Dead?" issue, also featured in Ira Levin's original book of Rosemary's Baby and the film. The question appeared on the cover of the magazine in bold red letters on a jet black background. (In 1882 Friedrich Nietzsche in The Gay Science had a character called "the madman" running through the marketplace shouting "God is dead!", but in the book, no one took the madman seriously.) The Time magazine article reported that a group of young theologians calling themselves Christian atheists, led by Thomas J. J. Altizer at Emory University, had claimed God was dead. As was the case with US reactions to Lennon's Jesus statement, this hit a cultural nerve and in an appearance on The Merv Griffin Show Altizer was greeted by shouts of "Kill him! Kill him!" (Altizer continued to develop an increasingly apocalyptic theology but did not receive a grant or much attention since 1966.)
As is fitting, Anton Szandor LaVey, who founded
of Satan (which ideology was somehow Nietzschean with
all its elitist
"superman" overtones) in that same year 1966, appears
uncredited as an
actor and a "technical adviser"
on Rosemary's Baby -- a film which theme
connected closely with Satanism. LaVey had launched
his Church of
Satan on Walpurgisnacht, 30 April, 1966.
Some famous Chuch members were,
among all, Sammy Davis Jr., and there has been
some talk of Jayne
Mansfield's connection with LaVey, which has
denied by all parties concerned. There were also LaVey
the Family members, especially Susan Atkins,
worked previously as a go-go dancer at LaVey's Topless
Witches Review show
as... "Sharon King".
The first United States-grown rock group of that [psychedelic] type, the Grateful Dead, was generated as a British intelligence operation by the Occult Bureau of [Aldous] Huxley and [Gregory] Bateson out of the Palo Alto Veteran's Hospital where they were doing LSD and related experiments.
- Why would British intelligence want to put out a rock group?
This is part of the Satanism business. Call it the counterculture. Call it the Dionysius model of the counterculture. Rock [music] is essentially a revival of the ancient Dionysic, Bacchic rituals. Lots of people for long periods of time in that kind of particular rhythmic ritual which was probably struck upon empirically many thousands of years ago for this type of cult. It does have a relationship to the Alpha rhythms of the brain. It does produce these sorts of states. If combined with a little alcohol and more, shall we say, mood shaping substances, with youth, with funny sex, this does produce a profound change of a countercultural type.
Another word for it: New Age. The longer term: Age of Aquarius. People were experimenting with various utopian models, constructing small groups experimentally which were considered New Age types.
- Lyndon LaRouche on the 60's counter-culture, rock music, LSD and the occult (see also this...)
It's understandable that the whole 1960s cultural upheaval was to cause worry among the more conservative commentators, who didn't understand the new sounds, styles and ideas, and greeted them as the heralds of something more sinister than merely as some passing fashions or fads. Such conspiracy buffs as John Coleman (in his Conspirator's Hierachy - The Committee of 300) and Lyndon LaRouche, quoted above, go as far as to claim that "Beatlemania" and the subsequent rise of countercultural rock movement were in fact meticulously constructed by Tavistock Institute, a cover organisation of British intelligence service MI6, as to subvert American culture and institutions. This whole affair would be a part of the larger countercultural "Aquarian Conspiracy" instilled in Britain against America...
Coleman goes as far as to confuse music of The Beatles with the "atonal" 12-tone music of 1920s German composers like Arnold Schönberg, and claims that the acclaimed cultural critic Theodor Adorno actually wrote the lyrics for The Beatles! The next quote is probably the most telling of Coleman's attitudes towards the whole rock music culture:
Following the Beatles, who incidentally were put together by the Tavistock Institute, came other "Made in England" rock groups, who, like the Beatles, had Theo Adorno write their cult lyrics and compose all the "music." I hate to use these beautiful words in the context of "Beatlemania"; it reminds me of how wrongly the word "lover" is used when referring to the filthy interaction between two homosexuals writhing in pigswill. To call "rock" music, is an insult, likewise the language used in "rock lyrics."
- Dr. John Coleman: Conspirator's Hierachy - The Committee of 300
If you hate The Beatles, popular music and youth culture, fair enough, but at least get your facts right.
To have some counter-balance here, the writer Alex
claims in his
Covert War Against Rock that rock artists with
counterculture, such as Lennon, were systematically
persecuted by US authorities and covert operations
like COINTELPRO and
Operation CHAOS. So, both right-wing and left-wing
conspiracy fans would
indeed have a field day with this case.
Manson is known to have dabbled with Scientology, but it seems his involvement has been brief. Vincent Bugliosi claims also that his teachings had some surprising similarities to those of The Process Church of the Final Judgment, the notorious occult sect of Robert de Grimston.
In 1963, Grimston, then known as Robert Moore and Mary Ann Lean had met at the Hubbard Institute of Scientology, on Fitzroy Street, London. Both were training to be "auditors". They married soon after, and in 1964 left Scientology to set up their own system, Compulsions Analysis. They also adopted the name de Grimston. In 1966 (the same year LaVey also inaugurated his Church of Satan in San Francisco), the cult decamped to Xtul, Mexico, on the north coast of Yucatan. There they apparently discovered Satan. Returning to London in 1967 and funded by a member's inheritance, they turned their Mayfair mansion into a Satanic palace, with all-night coffee bar, movie house and book store, where they sold issues of their magazine, The Process, devoted to Hitler, Satan and gore. Processeans went around in black capes, turtlenecks and silver crosses. They held telepathy classes and preached the coming apocalypse. They approached pop musicians as possible converts. Mick Jagger's then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull posed in the infamous 'Fear' issue of The Process magazine in 1967. The legendary bandleader Graham Bond got also involved with The Process and died in mysterious circumstances under a tube at Finsbury Park station. Late '67 The Process hit the States, in LA sidling up to members of the West Coast rock establishment -- and Charlie Manson.
"Learn to love fear" was one Process teaching. "Soror
in a Process newsletter from London: "Manson was
clever in his choice of
beliefs: the whole Beatles Helter Skelter thing was,
of course, a model to
instill the PROCESS into his followers, who were more
likely to respond to
such 'turned-on' symbols than the more traditional
ones. The whole thing
was a scam; a guru trick, but Manson's intention was
to open up the occult
centres of perception by a unique pop-based outlook
by the PROCESS." Later on, it was denied, though, that
Manson would ever
have been an actual Process member, but it's possible
teachings may have influenced him. It has to be
remembered, though, that
1960s spawned various occult and "satanic" cults of
which The Process and
LaVey's Church of Satan were just some examples.
Something was obviously
in the air...
Operation CHAOS, launched in 1968, was the Central Intelligence Agency's response to civil unrest and cultural upheaval. The targets of CHAOS -- as was also the case with FBI's COINTELPRO -- were the political dissidents such as the Black Panthers, politically active hippies and public figures such as rock musicians, and the "restless" youth in general.
The use of informants and provocateurs was part of a massive sub rosa campaign to subvert the forces of dissent in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Joining in the CIA and and the FBI in this effort was an alphabet soup of federal agencies: the Internal Revenue Servive (IRS), the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HWW), the intelligence divisions of all the military services, and numerous local police forces. Over a quarter of a million Americans were under "active surveillance" during this period, and dossiers were kept on the lawful political activities and personal lives of millions more. Those affiliated with black militant, antiwar, and New Left groups were prime targets of dirty ticks and other underhanded tactics designed to stir up factionalism and "neutralize" political activists.
The CIA had studied the effects of LSD since the 1950's as means of mind control and "unconventional warfare". It was the medical tests conducted by the Agency that first launched LSD into the youth counterculture, through such enthusiastic advocates as Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey. And consequently, what could be better "human guinea pig farm" for the CIA than Haight-Ashbury, the epicentre of 60s psychedelic counterculture?
It is suggested that Manson had contacts with the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic's personnel who conducted government-backed tests on human behaviour, one of them Roger Smith, Manson's parole officer when he was released in prison March 1967. Also Dr. David Smith of the Clinic, according to Vincent Bugliosi in Helter Skelter, "got to know the [Manson] group through his work in the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic". LSD was instrumental in Manson's power trip and "guru" trip, for his followers to slavishly follow Manson's murderous instructions.
Mid-summer of 1969, one month before the Family
massacres, Operation CHAOS
went into the most tight security mode -- just another
what extent were the CIA aware of Manson's plans?
Manson had had contacts with his victims beforehand. He had met Abigail "Gibby" Folger, the wealthy coffee heiress found dead at Cielo Drive, at the home of the Mamas and Papas member Cass Elliot (who had also been approached by The Process). Folger doled out cash to Manson on occasion, then stopped; the result of which was that Manson turned against her. When Manson lived in San Francisco, Folger loaned $10,000 to the Straight Theater at Haight and Cole Streets. Manson then lived on Cole Street, on the same block as the Process Church. Folger also funded Timothy Leary, the underground film-maker Kenneth Anger, and the Process Church in the establishment of the "Himalayan Academy", not far from the Esalen Institute; Manson being a hanger-on at the Himalayan Foundation (a covert CIA lab?), where he in fact first time may have encountered The Process.
Earlier in the summer of 1969, Abigail Folger had
retreated to Big Sur, on
coast, at The Esalen Institute, a place for intense
psychotherapy for the
wealthy. She had registered as a volunteer social
worker for the Los
Angeles County Welfare Department. In 1968, Folger
fundraisers set up by her mother to aid the
Clinic around the same time many of the Manson family
being treated there. Despite all her good-doing (or
of their burden) Abigail Folger had somehow fallen
into the darker
side of the jetset
life. She was, more involved in the drug culture that
was becoming more
prevalent, undoubtedly from her association with
Wojciech Frykowski, who
was heavily into drugs at the time of murders.
she was in residence, Charles Manson was an invited
The underground film director Kenneth Anger was Anton Szandor LaVey's one-time associate and a devotee of the infamous early 20th-century occultist Aleister Crowley (whose portrait had appeared on the cover of The Beatles 1967 album, among the celebrities appearing with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band). Anger himself makes another interesting late-60's occult connection -- also with his close dealings with The Beatles' biggest "rivals", The Rolling Stones -- and would later write in his notorious Hollywood Babylon:
The '69 Tate massacre was not Old Hollywood. What befell the red house on Cielo Drive resembled the devastation caused by a jet plane crash: the Bad Ship Lollipop piloted by Uncle Sugar. Charlie Manson -- deus ex-garbage can. Wasted lives makes waste, not tragedy. This was the Benedict Canyon where [the "Golden Age" Hollywood film actor] Paul Bern shot himself; his noble shade now has mixed company.
Actually, Kenneth Anger plays a part in this story. Anger's one-time lover, musician, hippie, bisexual rogue and the future-devotee of Manson, Bobby "Cupid" Beausoleil had been a guitarist in an early line-up of Arthur Lee's Love. 1967, Anger lived with Beausoleil in San Francisco in an old house where Russian Embassy had previously resided. There they devoted themselves to some hands-on experience of Crowley's so-called "magick" -- a practice Beausoleil may have put to unsavoury use as a henchman for Manson, when he murdered Gary Hinman at the start of the Family's spree.
Beausoleil was supposed to perform at San Francisco's Straight as lead guitarist in the September 21, 1967 celebration of "The Equinox of the Gods" with his band, the Magick Powerhouse of Oz. The 11-piece rock ensemble (11 is a powerful number in Crowley's cabalistic system, symbolising the double phallus of homoerotic sex magic) was formed by Kenneth Anger to create the soundtrack for his forthcoming occult film: Anger planned to film the event as the focal set piece of his Lucifer Rising, where Beausoleil was going to play the lead. Lucifer Rising was supposed to depict the downfall, in Crowleyan terms, of the oppressive Aeon of Osiris (or Christian era), and the movement into the Aeon of Horus (or Lucifer) -- the Crowley-Anger version of the Age of Aquarius, supposedly.
However, Bobby Beausoleil vanished before the evening was through, stealing Anger's van and several cans of film containing practically the entire master rushes of the film, 1600 feet of footage. Furious, the occultist Anger was promptly hexing Beausoleil with the deadly "curse of the toad". Oblivious, Beausoleil sped off towards LA, but his car broke down just outside an isolated ranch in the middle of the Californian desert. There, Bobby was met by a bevy of spaced-out hippie chicks who invited him to stay. He willingly accepted their hospitality and that of the ranch's owner -- Charlie Manson. The rest is, as they say, history.
Anger would create out of the material he had remaining from Lucifer Rising another short of his, Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), where also Anger's friend Anton Szandor LaVey appeared. For Invocation Mick Jagger created some eerie drony sounds with a Moog synthesizer. In the film Anger uses superimposed footage such as magical symbols and talismans projected onto actors, spliced and repeated footage of soldiers leaping out helicopters in Vietnam to create a backdrop of violence and chaos, and the shots of the Rolling Stones performing in London's Hyde Park. Towards the end of the film Mick Jagger is seen holding a child. Bobby Beausoleil's eyes are superimposed on its face, then on the faces of Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg, thus forming a kind of rock'n'roll pentagram. In a final puff of smoke a voodoo doll appears holding a sign that reads: "ZAP YOU'RE PREGNANT -- THAT'S WITCHCRAFT".
Invocation of My Demon Brother: Kenneth Anger as The Magus, Anton Szandor LaVey as Satan. From the same film: Bobby Beausoleil as Lucifer.
Kenneth Anger and the Stones members had met in London 1967. Author Tony Sanchez, one of the group's friends, describes that Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (who attended Polanski's and Tate's wedding in 1967), and their girlfriends Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg, "listened spellbound as Anger turned them on to Aleister Crowley's powers and ideas". Anger had wanted to cast for Lucifer Rising Mick Jagger as Lucifer and Keith Richards as Beelzebub, but the Stones weren't keen on the idea. Anger claims Jagger agreed at first, then changed his mind.
Anita Pallenberg had met the Rolling Stones in 1965. She immediately began sexual relations with three out of the five members of the group. Anger, commenting on Anita, said, "I believe that Anita is, for want of a better word, a witch.... The occult unit within the Stones was Keith and Anita.... and Brian Jones. You see, Brian was a witch too." Anger says Jones had a third nipple, on his inner thigh; the extra nipple traditionally considered a certain sign of being a witch.
Sanchez writes of Anita Pallenberg in his book, Up And Down With The Rolling Stones,' "She was obsessed with black magic and began to carry a string of garlic with her everywhere -- even to be -- to ward off vampires. She also had a strange mysterious old shaker for holy water which she used for some of her rituals. Her ceremonies became increasingly secret, and she warned me never to interrupt her when she was working on a spell." He continues, "In her bedroom she kept a huge, ornate carved chest, which she guarded so jealously that I assumed it was her drug stash. The house was empty one day, and I decided to take a peep inside. The drawers were filled with scraps of bone, wrinkled skin and fur from some strange animals."
In 1967, the Rolling Stones released an album titled Their Satanic Majesties Request. The next year they would follow with 'Sympathy For The Devil', a key track on their Let It Bleed album, inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov's novel The Master and Margarita, and probably by their deals with Kenneth Anger.
Later on, the Stones members' relations with Anger turned sore. Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg were due to be wed by Kenneth Anger in a dawn ceremony on Hampstead Heath, until one morning when Richards came downstairs to find that the front doors of his house had been taken off their hinges, painted gold and then replaced. Convinced there was no way Anger could have got into the house to do this, Richards called off the ceremony, though Anger later claimed that Richards knew all along and had even given him keys. Jagger also became reticient, burning all his occult books.
Ironically, it was Bobby Beausoleil who would
music for the later version of Lucifer Rising
not earlier than 1980, starring Marianne Faithfull),
while in prison for
murders, after Kenneth Anger had fallen off with Led
who was supposed to score the film. Talk about the
power of forgiveness on
the part of Anger...
The supernatural trappings of this story certainly don't stop here.
Kenneth Anger tells in his Hollywood Babylon about the 1932 suicide of movie agent Paul Bern, Hollywood's "Father Confessor". Bern's compassionate nature had earned him this title, and may have well been one of era's famous film star Jean Harlow's reasons for marrying this physically unprepossessing intellectual, twenty-two years her senior. Bern was studio boss Irving Thalberg's assistant at MGM and had been instrumental in bringing Harlow to the Culver City factory.
The odd couple was married on July 2, 1932. Two months later, on September 5, 1932, the butler found Bern's body in his wife's all-white bedroom in their benedict Canyon Mansion. He had shot himself. He was nude, sprawled in front of a full-length mirror, drenched in Jean's favourite perfume, Mitsuoko, shot through the head by a .38 pistol which lay by his side. Jean Harlow was visiting her mother at a time.
The butler did not notify the police but phoned MGM instead. Soon Louis B. Mayer and Thalberg were on the scene. Mayer found a suicide note on top of Harlow's vanity table. It seems Bern had a sexual problem and that he had tried to effect intercourse by artifical means, with a realistic phony phallus. Despite Mayer's initial attempts to hide Bern's note, he turned it over to the police by the insistence of his studio publicist. The next day Bern's first wife, a blonde would-be starlet Dorothy Millette drowned herself in the Sacramento River. Later on, there was some speculation that Paul Bern's death might have been a murder.
By 1966, Bern and Harlow's Benedict Canyon mansion at Easton Drive had ended up to Jay Sebring, the "hairstylist to stars", who was an ex-boyfriend of Sharon Tate's and one of Cielo Drive's 1969 fellow murder victims. Tate was house-sitting this same residence one night while Sebring was away for business. She was awakened by an intruder in the bedroom.
Tate later told columnist Dick Kleiner, "I saw this creepy little man. He looked like all the descriptions I have ever read of Paul Bern." The ghost began to run around the room haphazardly, clumsily bumping into furniture and cursing loudly, while blood spurted from the hole in his head. Frightened, Tate hurried downstairs only to be confronted by the horrifying apparition of someone bound to the newel post, with his throat slashed. Tate later said that she somehow knew that the mutilated figure was Sebring. Then, the apparition vanished.
In 1969, when they were found, Tate and Sebring's
bodies were bound by a
nylon rope hanging from a roof beam. Sharon Tate had
unknowingly seen a
vision of her fate in 1966.
As for Roman Polanski, Mikita Brottman's Hollywood Hex accounts how less than a year after his eight-months pregnant wife was knifed to death by the Manson Family, Polanski commenced filming William Shakespeare’s bloodiest play, Macbeth (1971). Notoriously, there's been talk of the "Macbeth's curse", misfortunes that have reportedly happened during the theatrical productions of this play. (The theory goes that Shakespeare included actual black magic spells in the incantations of the play's weird sisters. Those who appear in the play or those who mention the play's name within the confines of a theater, other than on the stage, risk having these evils brought down on them.) While the filming proceeded smoothly for the most part, eerie parallels between the screenplay and the Manson murders first raised eyebrows among the crew and, later, among critics. We are reminded how Sharon Tate, was hanged before being stabbed to death, and how that image (a body thrashing at the end of a rope) became a dominant visual motif in the movie. The famous "out damn’d spots" scene in which Lady Macbeth tries to expunge the blood on her hands also takes on double-meaning when we read that Manson’s followers tried to wash their own blood-stained hands at a near-by garden hose minutes after murdering Polanski’s wife. There are countless other parallels: the notion of a fetus being "untimely ripped from his mother’s womb"; the description of small children being massacred (which Polanski visualizes with copious blood); and ultimately, Shakespeare’s description of Scotland as a lacerated woman and "each day a gash / Is added to her wounds."
Brottman claims that Polanski’s macabre vision of
Macbeth owes its
existence to Charlie Manson. One is the product of the
other. Or perhaps,
and this is the heart of the argument, they are both
products of each
other. They both come from some strange well of
supernaturalism. And, as
Brottman suggests, their ultra-violent images
intertwine until we can’t
tell them apart. When actor Terence Baylor as
MacDuff was supposed
describe the death of his wife and child, Polanski
instructed him, "You’ll
do it this way. I know."
Anton Szandor LaVey claimed to have cast a venomous curse on the hippie culture he loathed. This happened in a ceremony entitled 'The Rising Forth', which took place on that same fateful night of 8 August 1969. A black-clad group gathered in a candle-lit chamber to launch this hex with the words: "Beware, you psychedelic vermin! Your smug pomposity with its thin disguise of tolerance will serve you no longer! We know your mark and recognise it well. We walk the night as the villains no longer! Our steeds await and their eyes are ablaze with the fires of Hell!" Woodstock in August 1969 had almost coincided with Manson murders that LaVey claimed this magical working had triggered.
Also the arrest of Family
members in late took
place about the same time with the disastrous Rolling
concert of Altamont in 6 December 1969, which, with
the death toll of
three and over a hundred injured, marked for many the
end of the era of
peace and love. The Hell's Angels were hired to act as
finally it was the audience who needed security from
the rampaging Angels,
who kept assaulting crowd members. As the Stones
launched into their
song, 'Under My Thumb, audience member Meredith
Hunter pulled a gun;
the Angels claim he aimed it at Jagger, wearing
sorcerer's robes with the
Greek letter Omega (the last letter in Greek alphabet,
meaning also "the
end") adorned over it; others claimed Hunter was
defending himself from
the Angels. Within moments Hunter was swamped by
Angels, who stabbed and
kicked him to death. The Stones stopped playing,
Jagger -- unaware of
what had just happened -- remarking: "‘Something very
funny always happens
when we start that number".
David Dalton wrote on Manson:
When you need a monster one will appear. The one thing that most determines the way we think about Manson was his timing. He is a demon of the Zeitgeist, immaculate in his terror and confusion. Appearing with almost supernatural precision in the last months of the '60s, he seemed to call into question everything about the counterculture. His malign arrival synchronised so perfectly with America's nervous breakdown that is hard not to bestow occult meanings on him.
The idea was that he was merely a projection of our darkest thoughts is a card he played ruthlessly. He endlessly toyed with the idea that he was just a mirror, a materialisation. Manson's cobbling together of hippy philosophy -- apocalyptic prophecy, Zen paradox, radical politics, pop occultism, acid logic, hipster jargon -- was seamless and so mesmerising that any challenge would ricochet back on you.
Vincent Bugliosi goes as far as to compare
Charlie Manson to Adolf
Hitler (known also for his occult interests); it
is known that
Manson himself was fascinated with Hitler and the
both Hitler and Manson (morbidly) intriguing was the
hypnotic -- if not downright demonic -- charisma, and
the influence they
exerted over their followers. In a typical twist,
his position to that of the
US President, who
sent young Americans to be killed in Vietnam. Unlike
in other known case
killers, who mostly were loners acting individually,
Manson knew how to
There are also some bizarre afterwords to this story, as the popular culture's infatuation with Manson still goes on.
Trent Reznor, the main man of the industrial dance act Nine Inch Nails, claimed that he had -- totally without his knowing, he insisted -- rented the same Cielo Drive mansion (which address had now, for understandable reasons, been changed) to record NIN's 1994 album Downward Spiral, whose many songs, such as Piggies and March of the Pigs, were closely entangled around Manson mythology.
Furthermore, Reznor claimed, many freak occurrences happened during the recording of album, such as various electric devices turning on and off without any visible reason; strange dark figures seen on the surveillance monitors, and other classic haunted house phenomena detected. Was this just a sick publicity stunt from Reznor, trying to milk on Manson's popular counter-culture status, or was there actually some truth behind these claims; this probably can't be said for sure.
Later, Reznor produced in the very same Hollywood Hills house another shock-horror rock band, which called themselves Marilyn Manson -- that was also the artist name of their flamboyant leader, one Brian Warner, who, suitably, had once been Anton Szandor LaVey's pupil...
Nowadays the ex-Cielo Drive 10050 mansion has been totally demolished, with a new construction all over the site. The address is now 10066.
As for Charles Manson, now in California's Corcoran
State Prison, he
is still said to get four fan letters a day; more mail
than any prisoner
in the United States.
"Democracy's Baby", an essay by Jason Wynd (sadly offline now) tells one version of what might have happened: was the Manson case just an intricate Manchurian Candidate or even a Kennedy assassination-type of plot to put an end to the 60's counter-culture by demonising hippy? Or was even more involved there?
Conspiracy theories abound: it was just too convenient for the Nixon regime -- let's get a gang of crazed hippies on LSD to murder a bunch of Hollywood celebrities, add some Beatles quotes in the whole messy soup (remember Lennon's anti-establishment stance), and voilá: you have successfully discredited the whole 1960s counterculture.
And to think of all supernatural and occult
connections of this story --
really some of kind of curse or just
bad karma? There are just too many strange
One thing that is
sure is that the investigations will
go on at the pHinnWeb Bunker...
Kenneth Anger: Hollywood Babylon. (New York: Dell, 1975)
Gavin Baddeley: Lucifer Rising. Sin, Devil Worship & Rock'n'Roll. (London: Plexus Books, 1999)
Mikita Brottman: Hollywood Hex - An Illustrated History of Cursed Movies. Creation Cinema Collection #13. (London: Creation Books, 1999)
Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry: Helter Skelter. The True Story of the Manson Murders. (New York: WW Norton & Co, 1974/1994)
Ivan Butler: The Cinema of Roman Polanski. (London/New York: Zwemmer-Barnes, 1969)
Alex Constantine: The Covert War Against Rock: What You Don't Know About the Deaths of Jim Morrison, Tupac Shakur, Michael Hutchence, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Phil Ochs, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, John Lennon, The Notorious B.I.G. (Venice, CA: Feral House, 2000). David Dalton: Pleased To Meet You... Mojo, September 1999, p. 76. Erik Davis: TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information. (San Francisco: Harmony Books, 1998) James Ellroy: My Dark Places (London: Century Books/Random House, 1996) Mia Farrow: What Falls Away: A Memoir (New York: Bantam, 1997) Simon Goddard: Luck of the Devil -- Kenneth Anger. Uncut, January 2002, p. 108. Gary Valentine (a.k.a. Lachman): Season of the Witch. Mojo, September 1999, pp. 78-89. Gary Valentine Lachman: Turn Off Your Mind. The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius. (London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 2001; ISBN: 0283063661.) Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain: Acid Dreams. The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties and Beyond. (New York: Grove Press, 1985 & 1992). Edwin Pouncey: Industrial Light and Magick. The Wire, September 2004, p. 34. Colin Wilson: A Criminal History of Mankind (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1984/1990), pp. 625-630