Thirty-two years of Satan in popular culture

On April 30 — the occult holiday of Walpurgisnacht — the Church of Satan is formally organized at Anton LaVey's home in San Francisco's Richmond District.

The world's press descends upon: 1) a satanic wedding at the LaVey home, uniting journalist John Raymond and New York socialite Judith Case; 2) a satanic funeral of Navy machinist-repairman third class Edward Olsen at Treasure Island; LaVey recites the eulogy, a Navy musician plays Taps; 3) a satanic baptism for LaVey's 3-year-old daughter Zeena, who chewed gum throughout.

Hollywood bombshell and Church of Satan Priestess Jayne Mansfield (above) dies in a car accident along with boyfriend Sam Brody, with Mansfield almost completely decapitated. Anton LaVey feels guilty; he had put a curse on Brody.

Release of Satanis, a documentary on Church of Satan directed by Ray Laurent. Nudity. Light S/M flogging. Interminable sequences of satanic ritual.

Release of Rosemary's Baby by Roman Polanski, starring Ruth Gordon, John Cassavetes, and Mia Farrow, who gets impregnated by, and delivers a child of, Satan. LaVey claims he plays the devil (available evidence suggests he had no role in the film) and says it is “the best paid commercial for Satanism since the Inquisition.” At the S.F. premiere, LaVey, witches, and warlocks arrive in a late-model black hearse.

Hippie girl Susan Atkins performs in a Witches' Workshop in North Beach, conducted by Anton LaVey. Tripping heavily on LSD, she can't emerge from her coffin (right); opening curtain is delayed 15 minutes. (Atkins eventually joins the Manson Family, is convicted of stabbing actress Sharon Tate and her unborn baby to death, and later publishes a confessional, Child of Satan, Child of God.)

Alleged beginnings of the heavy me-tal devil hand sign, with extended pinkie and index finger. Claimed Spinal Tap member Nigel Tufnel: “It didn't mean anything then. It was just like a little pantomime show. Like working with a hand puppet and it falls off — that's what you've got, two little fingers sticking up in the air, right? Then other people started making it into the devil.”

With friend in tow, socialite and S.F. Examiner columnist Pat Montandon knocks on the door of LaVey's house, asking for an aphrodisiac love potion. According to Montandon's book The Intruders, LaVey provides a recipe for “Lovey Sauce,” a combination of instant coffee, vodka, vanilla bean, and mandrake root. He shows the women a human skeleton. Spooked, they leave.

The Satanic Bible is published; it includes the legendary “Nine Satanic Statements,” which LaVey later says he wrote out in 20 minutes while listening to Chopin. Best-selling blueprint for most modern satanic philosophy. Cryptic final words in the book — “Yankee Rose” — refer to either a lounge song or a sailing ship that disappeared mysteriously, or perhaps predict a 1986 song by David Lee Roth.

Release of Invocation of My Demon Brother, an 11-minute art-house bore by Kenneth Anger. Features future Manson Family member Bobby Beausoleil as Lucifer and Anton LaVey as Satan; annoying Moog soundtrack contributed by Mick Jagger.

During a Rolling Stones performance of “Sympathy for the Devil” at a concert in Altamont, Calif., a Hell's Angels biker stabs an audience member to death, and the murder is captured on camera. Freaked-out Mick Jagger takes to wearing a crucifix around his neck.

Anton LaVey appears on Johnny Carson's seventh-anniversary Tonight Show. Performs satanic ritual to summon success for coming year.

British heavy metal band Black Sabbath releases first two albums, with frequent mentions of Lucifer and other unholy topics. The first song on the first album opens with rainstorm and church bell sounds, setting the standard for all future pseudo-evil headbangers.

Release of fourth album by Led Zeppelin; originally untitled, later called IV. When “Stairway to Heaven” is played backward, Robert Plant's voice supposedly says, “It's my sweet Satan … Oh I will sing because I live with Satan.”

After years of marginal success making albums with overt references to Satan and Black Mass, the band Coven scores a Top 40 hit with the song “One Tin Soldier” from the soundtrack to the film Billy Jack.

LaVey's likeness is completed for an exhibit on satanic ritual at the Wax Museum on Fisherman's Wharf, where it is still on display (see photo on next page). A museum spokesperson remembers LaVey as “polite” while sitting for the sculpture.

Michael Aquino and Karla LaVey attend a Sammy Davis Jr. performance at the Circle Star Theater in San Carlos. Davis is presented with a second-degree certificate, medallion, and membership card for the Church of Satan; that night he wears his Baphomet onstage for the entire show.

Last episode of ABC's prime-time sitcom Bewitched, about a young, married witch named Samantha and a bevy of her witch and warlock relatives.

Release of The Exorcist, the X-rated, Oscar-winning adaptation of the William Peter Blatty novel. Linda Blair is possessed by the devil. Green pea soup. Three-hundred-sixty-degree head-spinning. “Your mother sucks cocks in hell.”

Sammy Davis Jr. (left) returns to the Circle Star Theater, notices Anton LaVey in the front row, and gives him the Sign of the Horns.

Release of The Devil's Rain, story of a cult of devil worshippers starring Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, Tom Skerritt, and John Travolta. Anton LaVey is on-set technical adviser.

Michael Aquino leaves Church of Satan and forms the Temple of Set. San Francisco Yellow Pages features two listings under heading of “Churches — Satanic.”

Rumors run wild that the Eagles are promoting Satanism via Hotel California. The album is supposedly so named because Church of Satan headquarters is a “hotel” on California Street. Lyrical evidence: “So I called up the Captain [Anton LaVey], and said please bring me my wine [satanic sacrament], he said we haven't had that spirit here since 1969 [the year The Satanic Bible was published].” Also: The album's photo of a hotel lobby features a bald figure on a balcony, rumored to be LaVey. [page]

Cheesy thriller film The Car. Killer car runs down hapless victims. James Brolin stars. Anton LaVey credited as creative consultant.

Department of the Army Pamphlet No. 165-13, U.S. Army Handbook for Chaplains, includes an entry for the Church of Satan: “Dietary Laws or Restrictions: None.” Church is called “essentially a human potential movement.”

Rumors circulate that the name of the band Kiss is actually an acronym for “Kids in Service to Satan.”

Charlie Daniels' country song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” about Satan playing a Faustian fiddling match with a boy named Johnny, is named the Country Music Association's Single of the Year, and appears in the film Urban Cowboy.

Rumors surface that the Procter & Gamble moon and stars logo incorporates satanic imagery. Company spends several years battling false link to devil; eventually changes its logo.

Publication of Michelle Remembers, the story of a woman who, while in psychotherapy, recalled hideous childhood memories of satanic rituals, sexual abuse, and the slaughter and eating of babies.

San Francisco DJ Ron Quintana begins playing Anton LaVey recordings on his late-night weekend radio show on KUSF, located inside a Jesuit university. When LaVey later releases organ recordings, Quintana plays them, too: “Definitely not my type of music, definitely not heavy metal, for KUSF, but they're kind of funny in their own right; they're kind of fun to play and torture people with.”

Motley Crue's album Shout at the Devil features a pentagram cover, as well as the songs “Shout at the Devil” and “God Bless the Children of the Beast.”

Charges filed against staff of the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, responding to complaints of sexual molestation. Investigation turns up stories of satanic rituals, filming of kiddie porn, and the cooking and eating of babies. The case is the longest U.S. criminal trial in history, and costs the state of California $15 million. No convictions were ever obtained.

Release of Don't Break the Oath album by Mercyful Fate, featuring vocalist and Church of Satan member King Diamond. Contains ditties “Desecration of Souls,” “Night of the Unborn,” “Welcome Princess of Hell,” and “Come to the Sabbath.”

Release of Venom's album Welcome to Hell. Includes toe-tapping tunes “Sons of Satan,” “Welcome to Hell,” “In League With Satan,” and “In Nomine Satanas.”

Name of U.S. Senate bill changed from 666 to 649, supposedly because of legislator concern.

Slayer releases Reign in Blood album, which Spin magazine calls “an Evelyn Wood speed-listening course on satanism, death and hell.”

An Ohio evangelist proclaims that the “A Horse Is a Horse” theme from the Mister Ed TV series, when played backward, becomes “Someone sung this song for Satan.” Seventy-five teen-agers stage a burning of Mister Ed records.

Tipper Gore, congressional wife and author of Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society, gets tough on the satanic heavy metal bands: “This childhood fascination with the occult has led to one of the most sickening marketing gimmicks in history.”

Formation of Florida black metal band Acheron, which would feature the Rev. Vincent Crowley and other members of the Church of Satan.

Publication of The Church of Satan (Hell's Kitchen) and LaVey's authorized biography Secret Life of a Satanist (Feral House), both written by LaVey's companion and Church administrator Blanche Barton.

San Francisco Chronicle sportswriter Lowell Cohn speculates that the Giants are playing poorly because of Satan's influence.

Chicago Tribune reports that a woman in Villa Park, Ill., is campaigning against Halloween, insisting the holiday leads children into Satanism. (According to reporter Eric Zorn, the woman is “considered an idiot by many of her neighbors.”)

Release of Speak of the Devil video documentary about Anton LaVey, produced by Nick Bougas, a Los Angeles artist and filmmaker. Contains bizarre early '60s footage of KTVU children's program The Brother Buzz Show, with Anton LaVey and his pet lion Togare visiting a supermarket.

Publication of LaVey's book The Devil's Notebook, his first new writings in over 20 years. Publisher Feral House reports a significant increase in mail from people in the military.

Beginning of arson attacks on Norwegian churches; according to the 1998 book Lords of Chaos, at least 45 attacks occurred. Roughly a third are connected to the black metal satanic music scene.

Anton LaVey signs with Sacramento's Amarillo Records to release his organ music. All material recorded in LaVey's kitchen. Answer Me/Honolulu Baby (7-inch) is followed by the 10-inch Strange Music album and the CD Satan Takes a Holiday. Amarillo also reissues a CD version of The Satanic Mass LP, recorded during an actual Church of Satan ritual in 1968.

Publication of Selling Satan, written by two Christian journalists, exposing fraudulent claims of seminar leader Mike Warnke, “America's Number One Christian Comedian.” Instrumental in creating the nation's “Satanic Panic,” Warnke had often appeared on talk shows professing his previous life as satanic high priest with 6-inch fingernails.

Norwegian black metal musician/label owner ¯ystein Aarseth (aka “Euronymous”) found brutally stabbed to death in a stairwell, knife blade embedded in skull. Aarseth's one-time friend Varg Vikernes (aka “Count Grishnacht”), a musician suspected in many church burnings, is convicted of murder and sent to prison at age 21.

Debut album by the Electric Hellfire Club, Burn, Baby, Burn!, features cover of a burning church. Singer and lyricist Thomas Thorn, a member of the Church of Satan, later tells the Church publication The Black Flame: “I'll probably catch a lot of flak for this, but the vast majority of people that come up to us and flash Church of Satan membership cards are some of the biggest dolts.”

While on tour in S.F., shock-rocker Marilyn Manson gets an invitation to meet with Anton LaVey at his home. At end of visit, Manson is made a priest in the Church of Satan; he poses for a photo with LaVey in front of a large Baphomet. (Photo is later reprinted in Manson's 1998 autobiography The Long Hard Road Out of Hell; the New York Times best seller is dedicated to the memory of Anton LaVey.) [page]

Time magazine reports a computer program named SATAN is connected to a virus circulating on the Internet.

HBO documentary Paradise Lost examines the 1993 case of three 8-year-old boys abused, mutilated, and murdered in Arkansas. Three teens are tried and convicted on largely circumstantial evidence. One suspect's father describes his son: “So what if he wore black T-shirts, black pants? Johnny Cash wears black, doesn't he?” Metallica soundtrack.

At a birthday party thrown for San Francisco politico Jack Davis, Church of Satan priest Steven Johnson Leyba is sodomized with a whiskey bottle in a satanic ritual performance; the only-in-San-Francisco story makes world headlines.

Publication of posthumous LaVey essay collection, Satan Speaks! Introduction by Marilyn Manson.

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