Anton Szandor LaVey

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Anton Szandor LaVey

Called “The Black Pope” by many of his followers, Anton La Vey began the road to High Priesthood of the Church of Satan when he was only 16 years old and an organ player in a carnival:

“On Saturday night I would see men lusting after halfnaked girls dancing at the carnival, and on Sunday morning when I was playing the organ for tent-show evangelists at the other end of the carnival lot, I would see these same men sitting in the pews with their wives and children, asking God to forgive them and purge them of carnal desires. And the next Saturday night they’d be back at The carnival or some other place of indulgence.

“I knew then that the Christian Church thrives on hypocrisy, and that man’s carnal nature will out!”

Books by Anton Szandor LaVey

From that time early in his life his path was clear. Finally, on the last night of April, 1966—Walpurgisnacht, the most important festival of the believers in witchcraft—LaVey shaved his head in the tradition of Ancient executioners and announced the formation of The Church Of Satan. He had seen the need for a church that would recapture man’s body and his carnal desires as objects of celebration. “Since worship of fleshly things produces pleasure,” he said, “there would then be a temple of glorious indulgence . . .”
Remembrance of a Satanic Hero: Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997)

This web page would not be complete without a short obituary on the man who created and popularized the Church of Satan. Note that much of his life is a enigma, since there have been many inconsistencies in the stories LaVey told of his own life, and many details have either been disputed or found to be impossible to verify. With that disclaimer, here is the legend of the life of the Black Pope. Anton Szandor LaVey was born on April 11, 1930 as Howard Stanton LaVey (exactly when he changed his name is unclear).

He ran away from home at age 16 and joined the Clyde Beatty Circus, where he worked with lions. There, his ease with animals led him to quickly become an assistant lion trainer. Two years later, LaVey joined a carnival where he served as a hypnotist and organ player. When the carnival closed for the winter in 1948, LaVey started to play the organ for burlesque houses in Southern California. He claims to have met a young Marilyn Monroe in the Mayan, one of these burlesque houses, and had a two week affair with her. A momento of this romance still exists: an autographed calendar featuring a nude Marilyn Monroe, signed, “Dear Tony, how many times have you seen this! Love, Marilyn.”

In 1951 LaVey married fifteen year old Carole Lansing, then started studying criminology at the San Francisco City College in order to avoid being drafted. LaVey and Lansing had a daughter, Karla, in 1952, and LaVey took a job as photographer for the San Francisco police. There LaVey saw the grislier side of human nature: murder and rape victims, as well as those mangled and destroyed in various accidents. LaVey claims that it was this period that led him to disavow God.

LaVey lived in a large black and purple house in San Francisco that became known simply as “the Black House.” He claims the house used to be a brothel run by infamous madam Mammy Pleasant. His eccentricities were showcased in this infamous mansion, which contained such pets as a pet tarantula, a boa constrictor, a black leopard, and a nubian lion named Tolgare.

It was in the Black House that he began holding weekly meetings dealing with occultic and dark topics such as vampires, werewolves, torturing, and insanity. These meetings drew much attention, and LaVey started charging $2.50 for admission to what he termed the Magic Circle. The Magic Circle once apparently engaged in an act of cannnibalism, sampling a human thigh taken from a hospital.

After LaVey founded the Church of Satan in 1966, he became a local celebrity and also garnered national fame. But the church began to lose popularity in the 1970s, and after the fissure with the Temple of Set in 1975, LaVey went into reclusion from the public. He resurfaced somewhat in the 1990s, making several albums based on his organ and keyboard music, including Satan Takes a Holiday (1995). He was working on his latest book, Satan Speaks , at the time of his death. This was published post humously in 1998 with an introduction from Church of Satan priest Marilyn Manson.

Much of LaVey’s later life was marred by controversies and legal battles. In 1990, his younger daughter Zeena Schreck publicly disowned her father, and became a priestess in the rival Temple of Set. Adding insult to injury, Schreck called her father a liar and discredited many of the legends surrounding Anton LaVey’s life. In 1991, an article published by Lawrence Wright in Rolling Stone also found much of Anton LaVey’s life to be a fabrication. That same year LaVey, after losing court battles with his second wife – Diane Hagerty – was forced to sell the Black House, which may soon be torn down.

Wright found many of the details written here to be factually inconsistent. He finds no documentation of LaVey ever working with the Clyde Beatty Circus. The owner of the Mayan claimed that it never was a burlesque house, and that he never employed LaVey. There are no records of LaVey in the archives of the San Francisco City College or the San Francisco Police Department. Zeena Screck wrote about Secret Life of a Satanist, Blanche Barton’s biography of LaVey, as being an “absurb catalogue of lies” full of “self-serving bullshit.” John Raymond, the groom in the infamous 1967 Satanic wedding, has claimed that the wedding, along with the Satanic funeral and Satanic baptism, were no more than publicity stunts. Raymond wrote, “There were, in fact, two Anton LaVeys: first was the black-robed founder of the Church of Satan; the other, in private, a joke-cracking publicity hound who had found a gig that privately amused him and gave the press the kind of copy it craves.”

What did LaVey have to say about these charges? “I don’t want the legend to disappear,” he said. “There is a danger you will disenchant a lot of young people who use me as a role model… I’d rather have my background shrouded in mystery.”

Anton LaVey is survived by Blanche Barton, his daughters Karla LaVey and Zeena Schreck, his son Xerxes (born to Barton in 1993), and his grandson Stanton (born to Zeena and Nikolas Schreck).

See also:
Anton LaVey, Satanic Hoax

Last updated: December 8, 2014 at 21:35 pm

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Occult World is online since February 23, 2003 . First as and then as Occult World is a project to collect articles about interesting topics - concerning the mysterious world we live in. Occult World is a project by Occult Media.