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Anton LaVey: Legend and Reality

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  • Dr. Daniel Nephilim
    Anton LaVey: Legend and Reality compiled by his daughter Zeena and Nikolas Schreck February 2, 1998 Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997), along with Charles Manson,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2005
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      Anton LaVey: Legend and Reality
      compiled by his daughter Zeena and Nikolas Schreck
      February 2, 1998
      Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997), along with Charles
      Manson, Timothy Leary, and other messianic pop gurus,
      was a notorious figure of the 1960s' subculture of
      social experiment. As the flamboyant High Priest of
      the Church of Satan and the author of the Satanic
      Bible, he served as an ideal bogeyman for the
      sensation-seeking American media of that tumultuous
      period.

      His curious celebrity was based largely on a
      self-created legend. This carefully-orchestrated
      legend may, in the final analysis, be LaVey's most
      enduring legacy. LaVey disseminated his legend through
      interviews with journalists, personal discussion with
      his disciples, and two LaVey-approved
      [auto]biographies (apparently ghostwritten by LaVey
      himself). The first of these, 1974's The Devil's
      Avenger (credited to LaVey associate Burton Wolfe),
      embellished on the fabrications Wolfe had already
      sketched in his introduction to the Satanic Bible. The
      second, 1990's Secret Life of a Satanist (credited to
      Blanche Barton, LaVey's live-in secretary and mother
      of his son), contradicted many of LaVey's own claims
      in the earlier volume, while putting forth new legends
      for public consumption. As social historians and
      scholars of occult movements begin to study LaVey's
      life and times in an objective historical context, a
      wealth of information concerning the man beneath the
      Devil horns has come to light. This brief checklist is
      a concise guide to separating the deliberate
      prevarications from the human, all-too-human facts.
      For brevity's sake, only the most well-known aspects
      of the legend will be clarified here.

      LEGEND: Claimed that "Anton Szandor LaVey" was his
      genuine birth name.

      REALITY: Born "Howard Stanton Levey".

      SOURCES: Birth certificate 4/11/1930, Cook County,
      Illinois. Confirmed by relatives.



      LEGEND: Claimed his parents were Joseph and Augusta
      LaVey.

      REALITY: Parents were Michael and Gertrude Levey.

      SOURCES: Birth certificate 4/11/1930, Cook County,
      Illinois. Confirmed by ASL's daughter Zeena and
      daughter Karla according to her entry on ASL's death
      certificate.



      LEGEND: Claimed he was introduced to the Dark Side by
      his Transylvanian Gypsy grandmother, who regaled him
      as a child with supernatural folklore and tales of
      vampires and werewolves.

      REALITY: ASL's grandmother was not Transylvanian nor
      of Gypsy stock. She was a Ukrainian named Cecile Luba
      Primokov-Coulton ("Coulton" was Anglicized from
      "Koltonoff"). Despite his frequent claims, ASL had no
      Gypsy ancestry.

      SOURCES: Relatives, including ASL's parents.



      LEGEND: In 1945 the 15-year-old ASL was brought to the
      ruins of postwar Germany by his uncle, a U.S. Coast
      Guard officer. There the teenaged ASL was shown
      top-secret films inspired by Satanic cult lodges and
      their rituals. ASL claimed that the "German" rituals
      in his 1972 book The Satanic Rituals were actual
      transcripts of the filmed rituals he saw as a youth.

      REALITY: Young Howard spent the entirety of 1945 in
      suburban northern California, and never visited
      Germany at any time in his life. The uncle who he
      claimed brought him to Germany was incarcerated at
      McNeill Island Penitentiary for involvement with Al
      Capone-related criminal activity during 1945, and was
      never in the armed forces. Allied martial law forbade
      U.S. citizens from visiting postwar Germany. The
      "German" rituals in the Satanic Rituals are written in
      extremely poor, Anglicized German. They are clearly
      uncredited adaptations of the short story The Hounds
      of Tindalos by Frank Belknap Long and H.G. Wells'
      famous novel The Island of Dr. Moreau.

      SOURCES: ASL relatives, former wife Diane LaVey, The
      Hounds of Tindalos, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The
      Satanic Rituals, Church of Satan member Rosalind
      Herkommer (who translated ASL's rituals into German).



      LEGEND: The 15-year-old ASL played second oboe with
      the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, making him the
      youngest musician ever to play with that prestigious
      institution.

      REALITY: There was no "San Francisco Ballet Orchestra"
      in 1945. The San Francisco Ballet was accompanied by a
      local orchestra, whose records show that none of its
      three oboists was named "Levey" or "LaVey".

      SOURCES: San Francisco Performing Arts Library &
      Museum, San Francisco, California.



      LEGEND: In 1947 ASL ran away from home and joined the
      Clyde Beatty Circus. The Circus employed the
      17-year-old as a lion tamer. He then replaced the
      Circus calliope player, accompanying such famous
      Beatty acts as the Concellos, Harold Alanza, and the
      Cristianis.

      REALITY: The voluminous Beatty archives show no record
      of a "Levey" or "LaVey" as lion tamer or musician. The
      Concellos, Alanza, and Cristianis were never Beatty
      performers; they worked exclusively for the Ringling
      Brothers Circus.

      SOURCES: Beatty 1947 Route Books, Circus World Museum,
      Baraboo, Wisconsin (Wright, "SD", page 67); ASL
      relatives.



      LEGEND: In 1948 the 18-year-old ASL was engaged to
      play organ at the Mayan burlesque theater in Los
      Angeles. There he met a young stripper named Marilyn
      Monroe, with whom he had a passionate love affair in
      the period before her rise to film stardom. According
      to ASL, Monroe had resorted to stripping to pay her
      rent. As proof of his relationship with Monroe, ASL
      later showed visitors a copy of Monroe's famous nude
      calendar inscribed "Dear Tony, How many times have you
      seen this! Love, Marilyn".

      REALITY: ASL never knew Monroe. Monroe intimate Robert
      Slatzer and Harry Lipton, Monroe's agent in 1948, have
      exposed and discredited this tale. Lipton paid
      Monroe's expenses, including her rent. Paul Valentine,
      director of the Mayan Theater, has stated that the
      Mayan was never a burlesque theater, and that neither
      Monroe nor ASL ever worked for the Mayan in any
      capacity. Diane LaVey, ASL's former wife, has admitted
      that she forged the "Monroe" inscription on the
      calendar. ASL's former publicist Edward Webber claims
      ASL admitted he never knew Monroe.

      SOURCES: Diane LaVey, Paul Valentine (Wright, "SD",
      page #68), Harry Lipton (Aquino-Lipton conversation
      12/1/82), Robert Slatzer (letter to Aquino 11/27/82),
      Edward Webber (interview by Aquino 6/2/91).



      LEGEND: ASL was exposed to the savagery of human
      nature during his stint as a San Francisco Police
      photographer in the early 1950s.

      REALITY: San Francisco Police Department past
      employment records include no "Howard Levey" nor
      "Anton LaVey". Frank Moser, who was a SFPD
      photographer in the early 1950s, said that ASL never
      worked for the Department.

      SOURCES: SFPD records, Frank Moser (Wright, "SD", page
      68).



      LEGEND: ASL studied criminology at San Francisco City
      College during the Korean War.

      REALITY: SFCC has no record of ASL's enrollment at any
      time.

      SOURCES: SFCC records (Wright, "SD", page 68).



      LEGEND: ASL purchased the house at 6114 California
      Street (which would later become the headquarters of
      the Church of Satan - the infamous "Black House")
      because he discovered on first inspection that it was
      the former brothel of Barbary Coast madam Mammy
      Pleasant. The house was honeycombed with trapdoors and
      secret passageways, built by Pleasant to elude police
      raids.

      REALITY: 6114 was ASL's parents' home. It was never a
      brothel, nor did Mammy Pleasant ever live or work
      there. ASL's parents first allowed ASL and his first
      wife Carole to live in the house, then transferred
      ownership of it to ASL and his second wife Diane in
      1971. Such secret passages and hidden rooms that exist
      were constructed by ASL.

      SOURCES: Relatives, San Francisco property records
      (Michael & Gertrude Levey, Joint Tenancy Grant Deed,
      July 9, 1971).



      LEGEND: In the 1950s ASL traveled to Nice, France,
      where he recorded an album of organ music under the
      pseudonym of "Georges Montalba".

      REALITY: ASL's first and only trip to France was in
      the mid-1970s, when his Dutch disciple Maarten Lamers,
      Amsterdam sex club owner, financed his voyage. The
      "ASL=Montalba" story appeared in 1989, when a gullible
      Church of Satan member found a Montalba album and
      suggested that it was similar to ASL's own music. ASL,
      never pleased by competition, responded with the
      preposterous "pseudonym" claim - which is still
      ardently supported by his posthumous followers.

      SOURCES: Diane LaVey, Zeena LaVey.



      LEGEND: ASL was the official city organist for San
      Francisco until 1966, playing for gala events such as
      government banquets and political meetings.

      REALITY: San Francisco has never had an "official city
      organist". According to ASL's first wife Carole, his
      only income of $29.91/week was generated by his
      regular engagement at the "Lost Weekend" nightclub,
      where he was the house Wurlitzer organist.

      SOURCE: Julie Burford, Civic Auditorium, San
      Francisco, California (Wright, "SD", page 68). Carole
      LaVey's divorce proceeding records (Wright, "SD", page
      68).



      LEGEND: On the night of April 30, 1966 (the German
      Satanic festival of Walpurgisnacht), ASL in a
      "blinding flash" declared himself the High Priest of
      Satan, proclaimed that the Age of Satan had begun, and
      founded the Church of Satan as a religious
      institution.

      REALITY: In 1966 ASL supplemented his income by
      presenting weekend lectures on exotic and occult
      topics, and by conducting "Witches' Workshops". He
      charged $2 a head, filling his living room with the
      curious and establishing a local reputation as an
      eccentric. Professional publicist Edward Webber
      suggested to ASL that he "would never make any money
      by lecturing on Friday nights for donations ... it
      would be better to form some sort of church and get a
      charter from the State of California ... I told Anton
      at the time that the press was going to flip out over
      all this and that we would get a lot of notoriety". In
      the summer of 1966, long after the fictional
      founding-date invented later, a newspaper article
      about ASL's lectures offhandedly referred to him as
      "priest of the Devil's church". This mixture of
      Webber's idea and the newspaper's characterization
      resulted in the creation of the Church of Satan as a
      business and publicity vehicle. Jack Webb, a San
      Francisco Police investigator who knew ASL from the
      "Lost Weekend" nightclub, also suggested that he
      should form a church of some kind to exploit his
      recondite knowledge.

      SOURCES: Edward Webber (interview by Aquino 6/2/91),
      Jack Webb, Diane LaVey.



      LEGEND: ASL's trademark shaved head was the result of
      a ceremonial head-shaving on April 30, 1966, to
      formalize his role as High Priest of Satan. This
      ritual was performed in the tradition of the Yezidi
      devil-worshipping tribes of Iraq, who were said to
      have carried out a similar ceremony.

      REALITY: ASL shaved his head in the summer of 1966 due
      to a light-hearted dare from his wife. The "LaVey
      look" had nothing to do with the Church of Satan
      founding nor any mystical meaning attached to it
      later. Nor do Yezidi qawwals (religious teachers)
      shave their heads.

      SOURCES: Diane LaVey; Ethel S. Drower, Peacock Angel,
      1941; C.J. Edmonds, A Pilgrimage to Lalish, Royal
      Asiatic Society, 1967.



      LEGEND: In 1966 ASL personally designed the Baphomet
      emblem of the Church of Satan. He owns the right to
      this design, claiming it cannot be reproduced without
      obtaining licensing rights from the Church of Satan.

      REALITY: The Baphomet emblem used by the Church of
      Satan was neither original to it nor created by ASL,
      hence cannot be trademarked. The original Baphomet
      dates at least as far back as the medieval Knights
      Templar. The artwork for the current emblem's
      goat/pentagram first appears in a 1931 book by Oswald
      Wirth. The complete emblem with the added circles and
      "LVYThN" Hebrew letters appears on the cover of a book
      by Maurice Bessy two years before the creation of the
      Church of Satan. Early photos of Church activities
      often show ASL or his disciples using the Bessy book
      as a photo-prop because of its prominent
      cover-Baphomet, and he included that book in his
      Compleat Witch bibliography. The Baphomet, including
      this rendition of it, is clearly in the public domain.


      SOURCES: Oswald Wirth, La fran-maconnerie rendue
      intelligible a ces adeptes - II, "Le compagnon",
      Paris: Derry-Livres, 1931, page #60; Maurice Bessy, A
      Pictorial History of Magic and the Supernatural,
      London: Spring Books, 1964 [the original edition of
      this work - Histoire en 1000 images de la magie - was
      published in 1961 by Editions du Pont Royal]; Thomas
      H. Hilton, Sex and the Occult, Vol. I, Los Angeles:
      Centurion Press, 1974;Church of Satan members, The
      Black Flame (a 1980s Church of Satan magazine).



      LEGEND: One of ASL's most widely-accepted falsehoods
      is his claim that he served as technical advisor for
      the 1968 Roman Polanski film Rosemary's Baby. ASL also
      claimed to have played the curiously-uncredited part
      of the Devil in that film.

      REALITY: ASL had no involvement with Rosemary's Baby.
      Polanski's close friend Gene Gutowski (original
      producer of the film) stated that there was no
      technical advisor, nor did ASL ever even meet
      Polanski. Producer William Castle, who details all
      aspects of the film's production in his autobiography,
      never mentions ASL. He does describe Polanski's
      diligence in basing the film exactly on the Ira Levin
      novel from which it was adapted, eliminating any need
      for technical advice. The father of the actress who
      played Mia Farrow's body-double in the Devil scene
      recalled that a young, very slender professional
      dancer played the part, dressed in a small rubber
      suit. In 1971 this suit was acquired by Studio One
      Productions in Louisville, Kentucky, for use in a
      low-budget horror film Asylum of Satan. Michael
      Aquino, technical advisor for that film, examined the
      suit and concluded that the 200-pound, 6-foot ASL
      could not possibly have worn it. [The suit was worn by
      a girl in the Asylum film.] Not a single member of the
      cast or crew of Rosemary's Baby has ever mentioned
      ASL's involvement. In 1968 a San Francisco theater did
      ask ASL to make an appearance at the film's local
      opening as a promotional event. This appears to have
      been ASL's only connection with the film that
      engendered the 1960s' popular interest in Satanism.

      SOURCES: Gene Gutowski; William Castle, Step Right Up!
      I'm Gonna Scare the Pants off America, New York:
      Pharos Books, 1992; Diane LaVey, Michael A. Aquino
      (COS, page #17).



      LEGEND: Jayne Mansfield, Hollywood sex symbol and
      actress, was a card-carrying Satanist and had an
      affair with ASL.

      REALITY: Publicity agent Tony Kent, an associate of Ed
      Webber, arranged the meeting between Mansfield and ASL
      as a publicity stunt. ASL was smitten with the
      actress. Mansfield, who made no secret of her many
      affairs, denied knowing ASL intimately, and no
      associate of hers has ever confirmed any supposed
      romance with ASL. In a 1967 interview she said, "He
      had fallen in love with me and wanted to join my life
      with his. It was a laugh." According to ASL's
      publicist Edward Webber, Mansfield would ridicule her
      Satanic suitor by calling from her Los Angeles home
      and seductively teasing him while her friends listened
      in on the conversation. ASL's public claims that he
      had an affair with Mansfield began only after
      Mansfield's death in an automobile accident, which he
      also claimed was the result of a curse he had placed
      on her lover Sam Brody.

      SOURCES: Edward Webber (interview by Aquino 6/2/91);
      interview with Mansfield quoted in Jayne Mansfield by
      May Mann, Pocket Books, 1974.



      LEGEND: ASL wrote the Satanic Bible, his principal
      work, to fulfill his congregation's need for a
      scriptural guide.

      REALITY: The Satanic Bible was conceived as a
      commercial vehicle by paperback publisher Avon Books.
      Avon approached ASL for some kind of Satanic work to
      cash in on the Satanism & witchcraft fad of the late
      1960s. Pressed for material to meet Avon's deadline,
      ASL resorted to plagiarism, assembling extracts from
      an obscure 1896 tract - Might is Right by Ragnar
      Redbeard into a "Book of Satan" for the SB, and
      claiming its authorship by himself. [Ironically these
      MiR passages are the ones most frequently quoted by
      ASL disciples.] Another third of the SB consists of
      John Dee's "Enochian Keys", taken directly but again
      without attribution from Aleister Crowley's Equinox.
      The SB's "Nine Satanic Statements", one of the Church
      of Satan's central doctrines, is a paraphrase, again
      unacknowledged, of passages from Ayn Rand's Atlas
      Shrugged. The last words in the SB - "Yankee Rose" -
      have been puzzled over for years by readers. "YR" is
      actually the name of an old popular tune in ASL's
      nightclub repertoire.

      SOURCES: ASL, The Satanic Bible; Ragnar Redbeard,
      Might is Right, Port Townsend: Loompanics (reprint),
      1896; Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (Galt's speech, ca.
      pages #936-993); "Yankee Rose" by Sidney Holden & Abe
      Frankl (Irving Berlin Music, 1926).



      LEGEND: ASL claimed that at the height of the Church
      of Satan's popularity there were hundreds of thousands
      of formal members.

      REALITY: Diane LaVey (who administered the Church as
      High Priestess 1966-1984), Michael A. Aquino (senior
      Magister of the Church and Editor of its Cloven Hoof
      newsletter 1971-1975), and Zeena LaVey (High Priestess
      of the Church 1985-1990) have all affirmed that the
      figures claimed by ASL were grossly exaggerated. The
      membership of the Church of Satan never exceeded 300
      individuals, several of whom were nonmember
      subscribers to the newsletter or ASL friends receiving
      complimentary mailings.

      SOURCES: Diane LaVey, Michael A. Aquino, Zeena LaVey.



      LEGEND: ASL claimed to be a multimillionaire, owning
      three homes in northern California, a convent in
      Italy, a chateau in France, a fleet of luxury
      automobiles, a 185-foot yacht, three salvage ships,
      and other property.

      REALITY: During Diane [LaVey] Hegarty's 1988-91
      lawsuit against ASL, and ASL's subsequent 1991 filing
      for bankruptcy, ASL stipulated under oath that he
      owned nothing more than 50% of the house his parents
      had given jointly to him and Diane, along with the
      personal items he kept therein. ASL's final years were
      subsidized by California state aid. Assessors declared
      the house to be in such poor repair as to be nearly
      worthless on the real estate market. Family members
      have attested to the fact that by the mid-1970s the
      LaVeys lived in near-poverty, frequently having to
      rely upon ASL's father's generosity. According to
      other LaVey relatives, ASL continued to rely on
      handouts from friends and relatives until the end of
      his life.

      SOURCES: Hegarty v. LaVey (San Francisco Superior
      Court Case #891863), Anton LaVey Bankruptcy, Chapter 7
      (U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern California, Case
      #91-34251), Zeena LaVey, other relatives.



      LEGEND: ASL was a close friend of Sammy Davis, Jr. and
      inducted him into the Church of Satan.

      REALITY: Sammy Davis, Jr. was invited to accept an
      honorary membership in the Church of Satan by Michael
      Aquino. After Davis sent Aquino his acceptance on
      March 17, 1973, he was presented with the honorary
      membership on April 13, 1973 by Aquino and Karla LaVey
      alone. ASL did not meet Davis until August 1973.

      SOURCES: Davis letter to Aquino 3/17/73; Church of
      Satan Priesthood Bulletin 4/30/73; Aquino, COS,
      Chapter 23; Sammy Davis, Hollywood in a Suitcase
      (pre-publication text, printed in Daily News, New
      York, 9/11/80), Karla LaVey.



      LEGEND: ASL presented himself as a loving family man.

      REALITY: ASL violently beat his wife Diane throughout
      their marriage. In 1984 a police report was made
      describing Diane being strangled into unconsciousness
      by ASL, who was in such a murderous rage that his
      daughter Karla had to pull him off Diane and drag her
      outside the house to save her life. ASL routinely
      physically beat and abused those of his female
      disciples with whom he had sex, forcing them into
      prostitution as part of his "Satanic counseling" and
      collecting their earnings. In 1986 ASL was a passive
      witness to the sexual molestation of his own grandson
      by a longtime friend who was later convicted of sex
      crimes with minors. In 1990 ASL informed a
      mentally-ill stalker of his daughter Zeena of her
      whereabouts and the time & location of a public
      appearance she was scheduled to make, deliberately
      endangering her life.

      SOURCES: San Francisco Police records of ASL attack on
      Diane LaVey, Zeena LaVey, Diane LaVey, Stanton LaVey.



      LEGEND: ASL had a deeply affectionate relationship
      with Togare, his pet lion.

      REALITY: While ASL was always careful to portray
      himself to the public as an animal lover, in private
      he was cruel to and neglectful of his pets. When he
      was given Togare as a cub in 1964, he was ill-equipped
      to deal with such an exotic, wild animal despite his
      pretensions as a circus lion-tamer. As Togare became
      larger and more unruly, ASL frequently used an
      electric cattle prod to hurt and frighten him into
      submission. Many animal-rights proponents, including
      Togare's final owner Tippi Hedren, agree that it is
      detrimental to a wild animal's development to be
      raised in a domestic environment. ASL was arrested due
      to Togare's unruly behavior, and ASL was ordered to
      donate him to the San Francisco Zoo. After complying,
      ASL made only two visits to Togare. Due to the trauma
      of his early life, Togare needed special care at the
      Zoo and at every animal-care facility in which he
      subsequently lived.

      SOURCES: Jack Castor (Lion Keeper, San Francisco Zoo),
      Diane LaVey, Zeena LaVey, Tippi Hedren (The Cats of
      Shamballa, McGraw-Hill, 1985).



      LEGEND: ASL had a deeply affectionate relationship
      with his other pets.

      REALITY: In the late 1960s ASL acquired a Doberman
      Pinscher (Loki) as an accent to his "sinister" image.
      ASL never took the time to housebreak or train Loki,
      and relegated him to the overgrown and unkempt
      backyard of the house, regardless of weather. If Loki
      ever tried to slip into the house for shelter, ASL
      routinely used Togare's cattle-prod on him to terrify
      him back outside. In his old age Loki developed such
      severe arthritis that he could not climb the stairs to
      the back door to eat, and began wasting away from
      malnutrition. ASL then gave him to one of his
      prostitute "students", who at least saw that Loki had
      a warm, inside home until he died a few months later.
      During her young childhood ASL's daughter Zeena once
      awoke late at night to hear slamming sounds and the
      shrieking of her German Shepherd puppy. Running
      downstairs, she saw ASL savagely beating the cowering,
      cornered dog with a wooden plank. When Zeena begged
      ASL to stop and asked him what the dog had done to
      deserve such treatment, ASL screamed, "She won't
      listen to me! I'm going to force her to obey me!" ASL
      continued beating the dog until her face was covered
      with her blood, then dropped the plank and left the
      dog quivering in the hallway, so injured and
      frightened that she wouldn't let even Zeena come near
      her. This incident left the dog traumatized for a long
      time afterwards.

      SOURCES: Diane LaVey, Zeena LaVey.



      LEGEND: On ASL's original death certificate the date
      of his demise was recorded as October 31, 1997
      (Halloween).

      REALITY: An official investigation by the City of San
      Francisco determined that ASL's actual date of death
      was October 29, 1997 and that the "Halloween" date had
      been illegally written on the document.

      SOURCES: Death Certificate #380278667, San Francisco
      Department of Public Health; Dr. Giles Miller
      (attending physician at ASL's death), Physician's
      Amendment to Death Certificate, 11/26/97.
      ____________________

      RESEARCH REFERENCES: Wright, Lawrence, "Sympathy for
      the Devil", Rolling Stone #612, September 5, 1991,
      Saints and Sinners. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.
      Aquino, Michael A., The Church of Satan. San
      Francisco: Temple of Set, 1983. We extend our thanks
      to ASL's relatives and associates who contributed
      their memories.

      Nephilim's Paranormal Investigations - http://paranorm.cjb.net



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