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Anton Lavey Legend and reality

To: alt.satanism
From: noone 
Subject: Anton Lavey Legend and reality
Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000 23:30:20 GMT

Anton Lavey : Legend And Reality

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

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,

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,

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

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

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

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

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 theChurch
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

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

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

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

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.

So keep being a Satanist, and maybe you too can be a lying,wife beating
asshole pimp who lives on welfare in a broken down house you don't even
own! (i.e., it doesn't work. Get a life and do something else.)

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