From Kenneth Anger to Bobby Beausoleil to The Wizard of Oz

In the sixties Kenneth Anger, who's often called the "Godfather of experimental cinema", lived in San Francisco in a house referred to as the Russian Embassy, probably because it was the ex-embassy of Tzarist Russia. Bobby Beausoleil... you know the guy who Love named their band after... who then went on to murder people for Charles Manson, and then wrote the music to Anger's Lucifer Rising while in prison after Jimmy Page failed to turn in the score on time... well...he lived in that house too. Below is a picture of him in front of the house.

I'm sure you can imagine the type of wierd shit that went on in this house. One of the things I find most interesting about it is the library, which was stocked with hundreds of books on magick and volumes and volumes of fascinating stuff including the collected works of L. Frank Baum's Oz books.  This collection would later inspire Beausoleil to start the band, The Magick Powerhouse of Oz, which would set the foundation for the tunes he would later re-work in prison for the film. The record is a fucking amazing psych album that appears regularly on "Best of" lists. Below is the album cover and two songs from the recordings, all of which can be downloaded here.

 

 

To read more about this project, the Embassy and Beausoleil's account of his time spent with Manson you should read this interview with Beausoleil here.

 

  

Above are recent photographs of Anger, taken nearly 40 years after the Embassy episodes described. The photographs were taken in and around Hollywood by journalist and photographer, Mark Barry, who met up with Anger for a story that appeared in Bizarre Magazine. The story reads a little bit like Interview with a Vampire.

“Don’t disobey me. Do as I say and don’t talk back!” waspishly screamed the author, artist and filmmaker,
waving his fist and practically foaming at the mouth. This was not really an interview; this was more like a strange brief encounter with Kenneth Anger. “I can be charming,” he explained staring straight into my eyes, “but I’m not going to be!” This is a man whose volatile temperament is renowned and recently due to a rare medical condition hadn’t slept for six months. I had been warned though…

“He is Mr. Anger,” cautioned a neighbour of the cantankerous director while I awaited his arrival in the lobby of his apartment block. Actually, the author of the Hollywood Babylon books – insightful, salacious and scandalous tales behind the real film industry – and experimental filmmaker described by the American Film Institute as “the magus of cinema”, should be addressed fully as Dr. Kenneth Anger, since he was recently bestowed an honourary doctorate in humanities. Those that do not observe his wishes are risking the very nature of their existence – he is renowned for placing hexes and curses upon those that cross his path, his own beliefs surrounded by the Thelema religion and the black magick rites of Aleister Crowley.

My questions were pitched during car journeys, a trip to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, a tour of his youthful haunts in Hollywood – populated by many black magicians it seems - and a light lunch off Sunset Boulevard. All were interlaced with wonderfully detailed tales of old Hollywood, incredibly elaborate factoids, stories about his long list of celebrity friends and a politically incorrect stance on California’s black and Mexican communities.

The rest of the story and more images can be found here.

Categories: Music, Movies, Books