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Obituary: ‘Hollywood Babylon’ author Kenneth Anger dies at 96

Kenneth Anger, the shocking and influential avant-garde artist who defied sexual and religious taboos in short films such as “Scorpio Rising” and “Fireworks,” has died. He was 96 years old.

Wrath died of natural causes on May 11 in Yucca Valley, California, his artist contact Spencer Glasby told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Few so boldly and imaginatively mined the forbidden depths of culture and consciousness as Rage, whose fans ranged from filmmakers Martin Scorsese and David Lynch to rock stars like the Clash and the Rolling Stones.

He was among the first openly gay filmmakers and a pioneer in using soundtracks as a counterpoint to moving pictures. Before the rise of punk and heavy metal, angry bikers were juxtaposing music with sadomasochism, occultism and Nazi imagery. When the Sex Pistols and the Clash appeared on the same bill at a 1976 concert, clips from Anger’s films were shown behind them.

Anger found his greatest commercial success and notoriety as the author of “Hollywood Babylon”. Scandal and Hollywood practically grew up together, and Anger assembled an extraordinary and often apocryphal family album, whether it was photos of Jayne Mansfield’s fatal car crash or actor Clara Bow’s sex with the University of Southern California football team. Widely disputed allegations such as possessing

Completed in the late 1950s and originally published in French, “Hollywood Babylon” was banned in the US for years and was still adult fare upon formal release in 1975, when New York Times critic Peter Andrews called it a “306-page box of poison”. Bon Bons” as if “sex maniacs had taken over the Reader’s Digest Condensed Book Club.”

“If a book like this can be said to have charm, it lies in the fact that here is a book that does not have a single redeeming merit,” Andrews concluded.

As a studio head trying to create a franchise, Anger released a sequel, the less popular “Hollywood Babylon II”, in 1984. He has said that he has been working on a third book in recent years, with a chapter dedicated to Tom Cruise and Scientology. ,

A bald, black-eyed man with a frozen gaze and a “Lucifer” tattoo on his chest, Anger made films for a living and knew everyone from poet Jean Cocteau to sexologist Alfred Kinsey. He was close enough to Keith Richards that Rolling Stone would claim that Anger called him his “right hand”. Mick Jagger and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page wrote the soundtrack music for Anger, which in turn helped bring about a Rolling Stones classic by lending Marianne Faithfull a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov’s Satanic satire “The Master and Margarita.” Faithfull passed the novel along to her lover, Jagger, who cited it as the basis for “Sympathy for the Devil”.

Anger himself rejected Christianity as a child, saying that he preferred to read comics on Sundays. He later joined Thelema, an occult society that urges members to “do what you will to be the whole law. Love is law, love under desire,” and for a time he met Aleister Crowley, the founder of Thelema. Lived in the house of a friend and patron.

Born in Santa Monica, California, Enger was the son of aircraft engineer Wilbur Englemeyer and cited his grandmother, a costume designer, as an early source of major Hollywood dirt. He was a child actor who claimed to have played the Changeling Prince in the 1935 adaptation of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Wrath also began making films as a boy and was a teenager when he completed “Fireworks”, a 13-minute silent starring Wrath as a young man who fantasizes – in sexually graphic detail – that he is supposed to be a sailor. is beaten by a pack of By this time, the filmmaker had shortened his last name to Anger.

“I knew it would be like a label, a logo. It’s easy to remember,” Anger told The Guardian in 2011.

Among the film’s earliest viewers was Kinsey, who liked it enough to buy a copy for $100 and ask Anger to help him with his historical research on sexual behavior.

Anger’s best-known works include the surrealistic occult short “The Opening of the Pleasure Dome” and “Scorpio Rising”, a 28-minute production from 1963 interspersed with footage of motorcyclists performing Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” and Elvis Presley’s”. Hit movies like. (You are the) Devil in Disguise.” In a particularly provocative sequence, Crystal’s hit “She’s a Rebel” by Cecil B. DeMille’s silent epic “King of Kings” is played to images of Jesus and his disciples.

“Like many people, I was appalled when I first saw Kenneth Anger’s ‘Scorpio Rising,'” Scorsese once wrote. “Every cut, every camera movement, every color, and every texture seems, in some way, inevitable, in the same way that images of the Virgin seem inevitable in Renaissance painting.”

Scorsese emulated Anger’s style in “Mean Streets,” “Goodfellas” and other films, and Lynch parodied Vinton’s sedated ballads in the 1986 cult favorite “Blue Velvet.” John Waters would praise Anger as one of the directors who “got his mind dirty”.

Death surrounded Wrath and he was a frequent visitor to Hollywood Forever, the burial site for everyone from Judy Garland to Johnny Ramone. A friend of Anger’s, actor Vincent Gallo, told the filmmaker that he had bought a plot of land for him next to Ramón’s.

When asked about his affinity for cemeteries during a 2014 interview with Esquire, “They are peaceful.” “They’d better…”

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