Kenneth Anger

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Kenneth Anger (1927), born and raised near Los Angeles (he attended Beverly Hills High School) was the first openly gay filmmaker of the USA. He debuted with Fireworks (1947), a 14-minute masochist fantasy, and the six-minute pornographic video Puce Moment (1949). In 1950 he moved to France, where he befriended Jean Cocteau, wrote in "Cahiers du Cinema" and made the 16-minute Rabbit's Moon (1950), released only in 1971.

His 38-minute surrealist short Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), made in the abandoned Los Angeles house of a famous occultist of the 1950s, was based on magical (Crowleyan and Thelemite) themes and its colorful kaleidoscope is psychedelic ante-litteram. An avowed "Thelemic" (a faithful of the Ordo Templi Orientis), in 1955 he visited the abandoned Abbey of Thelema in Sicily, used by Aleister Crowley's commune during the 1920s. In France he published an obscene gossip book, Hollywood Babylon (1959), in which he claimed to reveal sexual secrets of the stars of Hollywood, the sordid underbelly (real or imagined) of the movie scene. In 1961 he returned to the USA and set out to make a film about bikers. That was his masterpiece, Scorpio Rising (1964), a delirious reportage of 28 minutes on the violent, fetishist and sadomaso culture of "bikers" (the American equivalent of the British "teddy-boys"). The film, which represented the moral and artistic opposite of the Hollywood stereotype, predated "punk" by ten years. It also predated the mythology of the rock biker.

While living in San Francisco, he made the three-minute Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965) and frequented the rock scene. In 1967 he published an advert in the "Village Voice" about his own death. He then moved to London where he stayed in Mick Jagger's house and made the 11-minute short Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), with a soundtrack composed by Jagger on a Moog synthesizer, and featuring members of the Hells Angels like Bill Fritsch. In 1972 he was invited by Jimmy Page to spend some time at his new home, which was Crowley's former home on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland. He had already shot in London the 29-minute Lucifer Rising (completed in 1972 but released only in 1981), that featured Marianne Faithfull. Jimmy Page had recorded a soundtrack for it but he destroyed it, and Anger, back in California, asked his former San Francisco housemate and convicted murderer Bobby Beausoleil, a member of Charles Manson's satanic cult "Family", to produce one, which he did from his prison cell.

Surprisingly for somebody who had failed in just about everything he had tried, Anger had become famous in the counterculture underground and was invited to lecture both in Europe and in Australia. He had become the ultimate cult figure. After all he had invented gay cinema and to some extent even the music video.

He didn't produce any more films until 2000. Then, based again in Los Angeles, he produced too many, always centered upon sex and magic.

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