Anger, Kenneth (1930– )
Avant-garde filmmaker and writer with a special interest in
the occult. Born February 3, 1930, in Santa Monica, California,
he was educated at Beverly Hills High School and also attended
a school for expressive dancing. At the age of four he played
the part of the changeling prince in Max Reinhardt’s ‘‘A Midsummer
Night’s Dream’’ for Warner Brothers. It was the beginning
of Anger’s fascination with filmmaking.
He grew up in Hollywood and collected a great deal of film
memorabilia along with stories and gossip of the film industry,
which formed the basis of his book Hollywood Babylone, first
published in Paris, 1959, and reissued as Hollywood Babylon in
1965 and revised in 1975.
On graduation from high school, Anger’s grandmother,
who had happy memories of Paris, sponsored Anger’s visit to
Paris, where he met Jean Cocteau. Cocteau was impressed by
Anger’s first film, ‘‘Fireworks,’’ and introduced Anger to writer
Anaïs Nin.
In 1955 Anger paid a visit to Cefalù, Sicily, and rediscovered
the Abbey of Thelema, the occult community established by Aleister
Crowley in 1920. Anger uncovered a variety of magical
paintings, many with sexual themes, on the abbey walls and
doors, hidden by whitewash 37 years earlier by order of the Italian
police. Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, compiler of the famous report
Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948), visited Cefalù, where
Anger showed him the unique murals. The story of Anger’s discovery
was featured in a two-part article in the journal Picture
Post (November 26–December 3, 1955), illustrated with striking
photographs by Fosco Maraini.
Anger did a number of films, among which are those with
occult themes, stemming from Anger’s fascination with the
writings and philosophy of Aleister Crowley. Notable among
these are ‘‘Thelema Abbey’’ (1955); ‘‘Lord Shiva’s Dream’’
(1954), released as ‘‘Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome’’
(1958); ‘‘Scorpio Rising’’ (1963); ‘‘Invocation of My Demon
Brother’’ (1969); and ‘‘Lucifer Rising’’ (1970–80). Anaïs Nin
played the part of the goddess Astarte in ‘‘Inauguration of the
Pleasure Dome,’’ concerned with Crowley-esque rituals. Margorie
Cameron, a member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, who
was famous for her participation in some magical child rituals
with Jack Parsons, also appeared in the movie. Rock singer
Mick Jagger provided a soundtrack on Moog synthesizer for
‘‘Invocation of My Demon Brother,’’ in which Anton LaVey
played the part of Satan and hippie musician Bobby Beausoleil
played Lucifer. Beausoleil also provided music (performed by
the Freedom Orchestra of Tracy Prison) for ‘‘Lucifer Rising.’’
Beausoleil, a member of Charles Manson’s Family, had by that
time been convicted for the 1969 murder of Gary Hinman.
During the preoccupation with occultism of the 1960s,
Anger attended some of the Magic Circle discussion group
meetings organized by colorful Satanist Anton LaVey in San
Francisco. However, Anger has remained something of a loner,
following his own individual avant-garde film themes of motorcycle
gang mystique, sadomasochistic homosexual encounter,
and Crowley’s thelemic magick.
Sources
Robertson, Sandy. The Aleister Crowley Scrapbook. York
Beach, Maine Samuel Weiser, 1988.

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