To say that the previous week spent in The City of (Lost) Angels was a good time would be a vast understatement. From attending both the Radio Free Satan and Church of Satan events, to meeting up with a slew of old friends, to all of the tourist stuff, to just enjoying the time, made for a vacation I’ll never forget. Typically, I’m not a fan of Southern California, finding much of the vibe there (as well as the hot weather) not to my liking. In many respects, I really hate L.A. (and not an unpopular sentiment amongst many of my co-vacationers), but so much fun was had that I didn’t let my anti-L.A. attitude bring me down.
A thing about airports these days: The prices of food have gone through the roof! Since the airlines are fairly broke and not providing meals on most flights, it looks like the eateries in airports (especially, JFK) have found their opportunity to bilk passengers on their food purchases. I actually paid $10 for a small wrap-style sandwich and $5 for a small bottle of juice. At least the WiFi at JFK was free, provided the dregs and smelly hippies who are hogging the WiFi-ranged seats (and NOT using the Internet) get off their butts and go sleep somewhere else — like the 200+ seats no more than 10 feet away? Isn’t there a protest or a coffeehouse they can go to?
Anyhoo… my JetBlue flights to Los Angeles were pretty great. I actually enjoy flying, and JetBlue really knows how to treat its passengers: leather seats and 36 channels of DirecTV, not to mention all of that leg room. Sadly, there was no free WiFi on either flight, despite what some misinformed pal of mine said. Though, while watching CNN on one of the flights, they coincidentally had a story on JetBlue planning to add free WiFi to their flights in the future. Very much looking forward to that as I plan on flying this airline whenever possible.
And does anyone remember when stewardesses (and, no, I will not say “flight attendant” so deal with it) were actually pleasant to look at? What happened? I think out of the four flights I had, only one stewardess was vaguely attractive, and certainly not getting any younger. Something needs to be done about that, as well as all of this gender neutrality propagated by our not-so-advanced culture. I mean, next thing you know, you’ll no longer be able to smack the hostess on the ass and say, “get me another drink, cupcake.” Perish the thought!
I arrived at the rather quaint Burbank airport (also known as Bob Hope Airport) and was hit with the heat the second I walked outside. But, what was really odd was the placement of the baggage claim area… it was outside! I’d never seen the usual ramp and carousel set-up anywhere but indoors. Very strange, but a minor inconvenience to avoid flying into and trudging through the chaos that is LAX. After a little confusion on the cell phone over where to meet up with my ride, Heather luckily spotted me and grabbed me before the 90+ degree weather could truly get to me. Ich bin ein Vermonter!
One by one, I met up with old friends, a good many of whom were staying at Bryan and Heather’s place along with me. It was a full house, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. When I add in the company, the charming abode, the Lovecraft movies, and the sheer hospitality I was shown throughout, no hotel could have matched up to it. Beverly Hills, be damned! And which of any of those swanky resort lodges in the Hollywood Hills could possibly boast the sausage-legged charm of a royally-named Dachshund, or even the medical wonder that is The Boneless Cat? A gigantic amount of thanks to B&H for putting me up and showing me a great time in L.A.
After getting settled in (and barely coasting on a skipped day of sleep), we went to Bryan’s place of business, known as Arkham Studios. There, I met up with more friends, including the inimitable Diabolus Rex, got to see Bryan’s Aleister Crowley statue in the works, and managed to get interviewed by the BBC, who were there (and elsewhere) to shoot a documentary on the Church of Satan. Unlike some American media outlets, the Brits have generally been pretty fair with their portrayals of us in their works, so it’s likely this upcoming release won’t be disappointing. We’ll see. We’ll also see how I appear on no sleep in front of a camera, framed as a close-up, and beaming out to all of Europe.
Much of the afternoon was spent by many loading up the truck with all of the props for the Satanic High Mass, taking place two days later at the Steve Allen Theater. The set pieces were amazing. Large, brushed metal-painted props, including the altar and a number of tall, flanking structures very much reminiscent of dark, 1920s art films: lot of sharp angles.
Later that night, a number of us, including Colonel Akula and Bill M., had a decent if not small-portioned meal at Cobras and Matadors. It was a decent Mexican restaurant (with very cute waitresses), though I’m not a fan of tapas, and the non-tapas portions were tiny, much like a lot of “nice” Los Angeles restaurants. Luckily, I did manage to find places with bigger portions and better prices during the trip. After dinner, we strolled by an indie media store called Wacko and spotted a pile of the Radio Free Satan newspaper (“The Adversary”) that Shane put out to promote the RFS event. I hadn’t even seen it before that night, so we had some fun with hammed-up “reaction” pictures of us and the paper. Friends who come over this week can check those and the 120+ other pics I took.
Monday night was the RFS event at Zen Sushi, known as “Satan’s Rockin’ 666 Eve.” Before that, some of us went down Hollywood Boulevard and checked out some of the tourist attractions. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum was fun and more or less worth the $12 to get in. People watching was even more amusing as poorly-dressed people of all stripes mindlessly shamble down the boulevard in search of even the most z-list celebs, or just a shop that sells really adorable thimbles with Brad Pitt emblazoned across the front. You could definitely buy actual t-shirts that read “Hollywood crack whore” on them, in case you wanted to appear “edgy.” Or stand on the sidewalk and scratch your head — like I did — over why it is that the Olsen Twins and Kermit the Frog BOTH have stars on the Walk of Fame.
The minute we walked into Zen Sushi, the place was completely packed. Attendance for the RFS event was huge, easily 400+ people showed, with some estimates putting it closer to 500. And although I didn’t try the sushi (since I hate seafood), their beef teriyaki was amazing and quite a value for what you get with it. The VIP room had quite the entertainment: strippers, porn stars, fake blood, live sex acts, midgets, and more. Admittedly, most of my time was spent either running into numerous fans of my work (total strangers who were very generous with their praise, and I do thank them for it) and hanging out in the outdoor “smoking patio” catching up with 30+ people I knew. The only downside was that I missed a number of acts in the second floor area, chiefly because it was unbearably hot up there. I don’t mean a little warm, but the kind of heat that brings forth tons of sweat within 60 seconds of being hit with it. So, if you wanted to run into me and didn’t get the chance, I wasn’t up there much and was probably “hiding” in the smoking section with friends. It was outdoors and very cool out, so I took advantage of that.
The Satanic High Mass was beyond incredible. Exceeded all of my expectations, which were already pretty high. When we got to the theater, we had to wait for about an hour in the parking lot before we could all get in. Early on, local and international news crews lined the streets outside of the property (a limitation enforced by hired and very armed security officers), trying to get footage for their broadcasts. Some CoS members were interviewed on the sidewalk, which is as far as the news crews were allowed — excluding the BBC, who were granted permission to shoot additional interview footage in the lot. Quite the media attention, I must say.
Those who missed the event (that is, aside from the protesters who couldn’t even find the place and were blocks away somewhere else with their displayed dissent) will be happy to know that it will be released as a stand-alone presentation on DVD in the future. Quite a few people asked me if Purging Talon was responsible for the shooting as well as future editing and release. The answer is no, but I sure wish I was.
For the video geeks: Not only was the actual performance shot, but a number of rehearsals as well, so the edit will contain a lot of b-roll, multiple angles, and pick ups. I can’t imagine any missed shots for this one.
The ritual performance, to the best of my time-guessing abilities, was anywhere from 60-90 minutes, though it certainly seemed to go a bit quicker than that. Although I’m not going to go into too many details for my general reading audience, the energy during the performance was extremely high and with a powerful degree of participation. (Move over, Nuremberg.) I can only imagine the shock and fear that would have hit outsiders had they been there. You could have cut the energy of that evening with a knife; the air was thick with it. Of special note was the “destruction” segment of the ritual, led by Diabolus Rex. His performance was forceful, dynamic and engaging — truly, the man for the job. All were impressed, with him and with the entire ritual. Props, lighting, sound, and performance — all were top notch and professional, and that’s coming from someone who knows the difference. Hats off to all who put it on, especially Bryan and Heather. Hard work that truly paid off.
The weather radically changed the next day to cloudy skies and cool breezes. Finally! Once that happened, I enjoyed my outings all the more. Though, the moment we dropped Rex off at Union Station a few days later, the sun came out in full force, followed by a fast rise in heat and humidity. Not that I’m blaming the guy for leaving us with all of that, of course.
And poor John got his parking space at the El Compadre literally stolen by Christina Aguilera. The heartless wench. I hope the really great food we all had there made up for it. Damn, I want to eat there again. Living in the Northeast, I often forget what real Mexican food tastes like.
The remainder of the week was spent doing more tourist stuff, taking more pictures, more social gatherings, lots of great restaurants, and a great deal of fun. I left on Saturday afternoon a little sad, not wanting it to end, but that’s common on a lot of these event trips. I know I missed dozens of people who wanted to meet me or spend time with me but didn’t have the chance. Even with six days, there is never enough time for everything and everyone, so I do apologize if applicable.
Stuff I got this trip, be it free or paid for: books (“Making Friday The 13th” and “SuicideGirls”), Coop playing cards, hilarious Extreme Associates porn DVD from SR666E (check out the “hearse” chapter for proof of the funny), Omen movie poster, copy of Old Nick magazine, RFS CDs, 6/6/6 Commemorative Pendant, Bryan’s “Cool Air” movie on DVD, and other goodies.
Some other small details:
— The song young Xerxes made up about me (and haunted me with later on my cell phone)
— Xerxes also singing “Springtime For Hitler.”
— How oddly fascinated a number of the ladies were with my pajamas
— Coop telling me I looked exactly like a young version of his father
— One word: Casanova!
— The 80+ toasts Bryan made at eating establishments across the greater L.A. area
— Those “Mad Arabs” who intruded upon Bill’s photo shoot
— Riding around in Bryan’s hearse (and Heather’s, too)
Now, back to work.