Kenneth Anger

Rabbit’s Moon- a tattoo by Erl.

Not content to just do kickass Jodorowsky and Wicker Man tattoos, tattooer Simon Erl has started incorporating the works of Occult Cinema wunderkind Kenneth Anger into his tattooing. This tattoo is from Anger’s Rabbit’s Moon, which was shot in 1950, released in 1972 and rereleased with a new soundtrack in 1979. I was lucky enough to see a restored print of Rabbit’s Moon along with a Q&A with Anger several years ago. While not as overtly occult as his Magic Lantern films, it’s beautiful none the less. Shot in cool blues and featuring the ironic Pierrot, Harlequin and Columbina, it holds up as a classic in indie/ avant-garde cinema.

If you feel like learning more about Anger’s work-
To follow Simon Erl on Tumblr-

And finally, to watch Rabbit’s Moon:

Hellfire NYC 1980

Several years ago I got to meet Charles Gatewood, and for the first time in a long time I was a little in awe. His contributions to modern anthropology through photography cover almost every radical subculture of the last forty years. Before the rest of the world caught on and capitalized, Charles was there with his camera. Mardi Gras, Biker, Rock and Roll, Tattooing (he did several books with Spider Webb) Body Modification, William Burroughs, Sexual Fetishes… His photos from all of these scenes have become iconic- A time and place documentarian who also happens to be one of the friendliest folks you could imagine.

This photo popped up on his Facebook feed today, and with his permission I’m including it here on OV. Slightly NSFW, but what the heck. We’re all adults here.

Left: Kenneth Anger.
Middle: Annie Sprinkle.
Right: Spider Webb.

This photo was taken by Mr. Gatewood at NYC’s infamous Hellfire Club, 1980. The bandage on Anger’s nose was from a “rough trade boyfriend” who punched him in the nose!

I’ve posted before about Anger’s occult tattoos, but I’m not sure if Spider did any of them. His LUCIFER tattoo was done by Phil Sparrow in Oakland, but the rest… maybe it’s time to research!


Kenneth Anger’s LUCIFER RISING lacks any of the cheeky irony presented in his earlier films; gone are the pop songs (replaced by a Beausoleil score, composed from Bobby’s prison cell) and homoeroticism that made him famous- Rising is a symbolic analogy of the Age of Horus and while dated belongs in the movie collection of anyone interested in Esoteric Cinema.

I was pleased to find this photo in my inbox this morning; a tribute to Mr. Anger’s Thelemic vision, tattooed on the fingers of one of the UK’s more impressive tattooers Simon Erl.
Daniel Abrigo did the tops of his hands, with the LCFR RISE lettering by Rich Hardy.

I recommend checking out the high def transfers of Lucifer Rising, but if you just want a quick fix:

The Lightbearer

Another update from musician Bobby Beausoliel on his Lucifer tattoo. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the soundtrack for Anger’s LUCIFER RISING, swing by White Dog Music for the download. (OR the LP!)

From Bobby:

“Hey Shawn,

Yes, I tattooed LUCIFER on myself while at San Quentin, back in ’73. I had been caught up in a serious fracas on the SQ yard, and was in the infirmary mending a broken jaw and broken left hand. A friend smuggled some ink and guitar string into me, and I did several tattoos on myself in the weeks I was in the infirmary with my jaw wired shut and my hand in a cast. The Lucifer tattoo is below an eagle that had been done earlier. It represents a personal vow I made then to dedicate my life to creativity, renouncing violence and destructiveness, to live and express as an artist (i.e. “lightbearer”) for all of my life thereafter. I have stuck to that vow.


PS: Hardy’s description of meeting me and what my apartment was like was the only accurate section on that page from Spring’s book you sent me.”

Lucifer Update via Bobby Beausoleil

UNI by Bobby Beausoliel.

I received word from Lucifer Rising’s Bobby Beausoleil that my recent post about his LUCIFER tattoo, as reported by Justin Spring’s ‘Secret Historian- the life and times of Sam Steward’ isn’t quite correct. Bobby, who appeared in Invocation of my Demon Brother and scored and appeared in Lucifer Rising had this to say:

“Kenneth Anger may have been tattooed by Phil Sparrow, but I wasn’t a participant in that. All of my tattoos were done while I’ve been in prison, all designed by me, many tattooed by me. Other jailhouse tattoo artists did the work in the places where I couldn’t reach with my right hand or see with a mirror.”

This proves it’s always best to go to the source when available and I’m glad Bobby was able to set the record straight for us.

Phil Sparrow & Kenneth Anger

Phil Sparrow tattooing a Sailor

Sometimes things tie together so nicely; a few weeks ago I posted a photo of Occult filmmaker Kenneth Anger’s iconic LUCIFER tattoo; earlier tonight while reading the amazing biography of tattooist Phil Sparrow (aka Samuel Steward) I came across this passage:

“Shortly after being introduced, Anger came to the Anchor to have Steward tattoo the word Lucifer across his chest in large Old English letters, and to have a similar Lucifer emblazoned across the chest of his young companion, a musician named Bobby. Because Ed Hardy was at that point keen to meet Anger, Steward arranged an evening with him in the Haight, during which Hardy lit up a “couple of high-powered joints” and the three men got high.”

Bobby, of course, was Bobby Beausoleil- the on again/off again star and music composer of Anger’s Lucifer Rising.

Bobby Beausoleil with LUCIFER tattoo

Steward’s biography (Secret Historian) has been a revelation so far; aside from starting the careers of both Ed Hardy and Cliff Raven, ‘Sparrow’ was one of the largest single contributors to the Kinsey Institute and lived a life that would make the most adventurous blush. While tattooing only plays a small part in the book (written by Justin Spring) it’s been an incredibly captivating read so far.

Lucifer Rising

Several years ago I was lucky enough to attend a screening of several films by legendary occult filmmaker  Kenneth Anger. Up until that night I had only seen his films on copy-of-a-copy VHS dubs, circulated amongst likeminded friends. Seeing the restored versions of the films, probably better prints than had ever been available, was amazing. Especially since a highly animated Anger was in attendance, telling the audience anecdotes about the making of his films.

Lucifer Rising wasn’t on the program that night.

Last night, I hosted a public screening of a few of his films, including Lucifer Rising, with mixed success. Several of the folks watching had seen some of his homoerotic work but had never seen the Occult films. Most liked them, but a few didn’t like the droning soundtracks. You can’t win them all I guess, but it was great to expose his works to such a diverse audience.

If you’ve never seen any of Anger’s films- he has two volumes out on DVD with the majority of his iconic films collected. Some of the films are quite short, but there’s a lot of great content on the discs.

Anger is seen above with LUCIFER tattooed on his chest.