Wow – you think YOU had a busy Fall. Check out occultural maven Carl Abrahamsson’s latest newsletter!
“THE LARVAL STAGE OF A BOOKWORM” RELEASED ON JANUARY 18, 2018
My new solo album The larval stage of a bookworm will be released on Highbrow Lowlife on January 18, 2018. Please scroll down to find a link with the first available track/video. The album will be available on all major online record stores and streaming services.
BLOG POST RETRO ROUND-UP: NOVEMBER 2017
(Originally posted November 29th)I’m currently finishing up my new solo album, called THE LARVAL STAGE OF A BOOKWORM. The album will be released by Highbrow Lowlife on January 18, 2018. This is the first little offering from the album: INSIDE YOU IS OUTSIDE ME. I hope you enjoy it.NOVEMBER 25th: HAPPY DEATH DAY, YUKIO MISHIMA!
(Originally posted November 26th)
”Mishima battles with the enigmatic force field between words as conveyors of morals and spiritual values and their equally seductive power to entertain. This process being very much extended to and in the public persona of Mishima himself. In this strange mix between aspiration, body building, and a romanticized death wish, Sun & Steel is like an intellectual tornado of both a highly refined (wish for) control and a desperation to overcome weakness in order to meet the inevitable on one’s own terms. It is a way of cheating death, yes, but only by tricking it ahead of time through one’s own design.”
From the chapter ”Tangible Evanescence” in my forthcoming book Occulture – The unseen forces that drive culture forward (Inner Traditions , March 2018, available on pre-order HERE!
OCCULTURE: AN ANTON LAVEY WEBINAR/LECTURE COMING UP
(Originally posted November 21st)
Already in The Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey had shown considerable creativity. Concepts like ”Psychic Vampire” and ”The Balance Factor” soon became household terms in America and the rest of the world. His description of the ritual space as an ”Intellectual Decompression Chamber” also hit home outside the strictly Satanic perimeters. As did the slightly later term ”Occultnik”, signifying a person who is lost within old structures of occultism without being able to see what’s really of use on a practical, material level. LaVey’s initial key works, The Satanic Bible and The Satanic Rituals, are great examples of creative appropriation and reformulation. But the two volumes of essays and maxims that followed much later, ie The Devil’s Notebook and Satan Speaks, genuinely contain the essence of LaVey’s wit and creativity. In these books, we find many fascinating topics: the integration of emotionally resonant music, stressing the ego, encouraging a sense of humour, artificial human companions, the total environment, a re-evaluation of slavery, the archetype of the villain, the third side of truth and much more. Join me for a darkside trip into the Satanic mind of Anton LaVey – magical innovator!
When? Sunday, December 10, at 20-22 GMT+1 / 11am-1pm PST / 2-4pm EST / 19-21 GMT
After the lecture there will be an opportunity for a Q&A/discussion.
To take part of this lecture/webinar, please send $18 via PayPal to: carl AT carlabrahamsson DOT com After you have paid, I will send you all the relevant information/links. The number of attendee “seats” is limited, so please act fast.
THE TOPY LECTURE/WEBINAR IS NOW ONLINE
(Originally posted November 20th)
Art, magic, and the occult have been intimately linked since our prehistoric ancestors created the first cave paintings some 50,000 years ago. As civilizations developed, these esoteric forces continued to drive culture forward, both visibly and behind the scenes, from the Hermetic ideas of the Renaissance, to the ethereal worlds of 19th century Symbolism, to the occult interests of the Surrealists. In this lecture/webinar series exploring “occulture” – the liminal space where art and magic meet – I reveal the integral role played by magic and occultism in the development of culture throughout history as well as their relevance to the continuing survival of art and creativity. Blending magical history and esoteric philosophy, I look at the phenomena and people who have been seminal in modern esoteric developments.
The occultural methods and mutations of Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth (TOPY) have left a legacy that continues to inspire. In this talk, I look back at my time working (1986-1991) with TOPYSCAN and TOPY Europe in collaboration with TOPYUK and TOPYUS. It was a magical, ultra-creative time that taught me many things as well as allowed me to share my own findings with others. TOPY was a unique experiment in occulture, and one that still resonates today. Join me for an illuminating ride through sigil magic, roto-rites, underground publishing, and much more.
THE ORIGINS OF THE “AN ART APART” BOOK
(Originally posted November 16th)
The following text constitutes the foreword to my upcoming book An Art Apart. It’s been a long and winding road through different media but now it’s all on course and quite soon docking in the harbour of your mind (I hope).
An Art Apart
In early 2013, I was sitting in a hotel room in Tallinn, Estonia, staring at an insanely ugly orange coloured wall. I was there to supervise the printing of an art book, feeling quite miserable. The book didn’t interest me at all and yet I had promised to deal with it. The printing, of course, did not go well. What to do? Dive into escapism, of course! Any excuse I could find to distract myself was more than welcome. The closest thing at hand was a small point and shoot camera that I’d borrowed from my daughter. Ugly wallpaper, ugly fridge, ugly bed, snap, snap, snap… After that, I was so bored I decided to try and shoot some video of myself. Boredom-infused narcissism! After a moment of hesitation and embarrassing silence I started talking straight into the camera, as if it were a very small TV crew. The words that suddenly came out of me were those of a host or reporter talking about art. Not any kind of postmodern bullshit, like the images of the book I was there to supervise. But rather soulful, intelligent art created by exciting, radical and groundbreaking people. I stopped and played it back, realising I sounded like some kind of enthusiastic Richard Attenborough of the underground. I genuinely hated my voice but started loving the concept.
That moment became an epiphany that immediately got hold of me on deep levels. I’d previously written so much for magazines, papers and books but the print market seemed ever dwindling by the day. So why not use a video camera instead and go for it again? That is, just meeting interesting people, letting them tell their own story on their own terms and see what comes out of it. I realised I was on to a new obsession and immediately started making notes about whom to contact.
My best friend Henrik Møll was as enthusiastic as me about it, and luckily he worked as an editor for television and film. Supported by his technical expertise, I ventured into a frenzied state of mind and just shot, shot, and shot material in Sweden, Norway, the US and the UK. After dealing with close artist friends first, I drifted into unknown territories with new acquaintances. Suddenly I was up to ten shot films, and tried to define the project as such:
“Some artists create groundbreaking, radical, provoking, transcending, transgressing, mutating works of art that continuously change the culture we live in. What goes on in their minds? What motivates them? And why do they create in the first place? An Art Apart is a series of documentary portraits of artists whose creations and concepts have inspired thousands of people worldwide – who in turn take the ideas further and into new environments. An Art Apart examines these artists’ creative processes, emotions and stories in intimate and revealing conversations. From the most esoteric underground expressions to the mainstream culture we all share, An Art Apart shines the light on what art really is – or can be.”
As we were about to start editing the first film, Henrik died. That was a big blow. Not only because of the fact that he was my best friend, but also because he had all the knowledge I lacked as a pathological technophobe. I was very close to abandoning the entire project when mutual friends talked me into continuing. One of them being the very first interviewee in the series, British artist Andrew McKenzie. At Henrik’s funeral in Copenhagen in August of 2014 I promised the assembled folks that each film would be dedicated to his loving memory.
Andrew has skills. A lot of them. Thank God. So we just daringly jumped into editing and trying to figure out how to actually go about making documentaries. And then, one by one, the films started appearing. During 2015 I was Sweden’s most productive filmmaker, with five documentaries, one art film (a tribute to experimental British filmmaker Derek Jarman) and one feature length psychological thriller under the belt. Some extra manic energy, support from the film gods and a devoted team of two can definitely get you a long way.
Then came that dreaded moment in time and space that most creative people don’t really like to think about: selling the product. I have always evaded and avoided this and did so again with these films. So much incredibly boring work to deal with. Not for me, no thanks. Although some of the films probably have real potential, I instead retracted to the safe haven of pen and paper (costs nothing, great joy, solitude, no technical gobbledegook). After a full circle jam-packed with cinematic hubris and many adventures in art-land I was back at square one: poor and in debt, slightly disgruntled but basically quite happy that I had at least tried it.
That was the short story of why this book exists. The films I actually finished have had very little outreach, and yet the minds and material of all these people I’ve met are so inspiring I feel they just have to be out there in tangible form. Now they are, and the concoctions are still dedicated to the loving memory of Henrik Møll.
Carl Abrahamsson, Stockholm, 2017
Featured artists: Andrew McKenzie/The Hafler Trio, Vicki Bennett/People Like Us, Charles Gatewood, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Gustaf Broms, Michael Gira, Kenneth Anger, Angela Edwards, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, John Duncan, MV Carbon, Mark McCloud, Val Denham, Joe Coleman, Stelarc, Alison Blickle and Gea Philes. This book is due out in the spring of 2018.
LUNACY IS RELEASED ON VOD
(Originally posted November 4th)Trapart Film’s Lunacy is released on Vimeo On Demand November 4th 2017.
Director Carl Abrahamsson writes about the film:
“Lunacy isn’t “about” the moon per se but could perhaps be seen as being permeated by lunar energies. Where my film Sub Umbra Alarum Luna (2016) was a very conscious tribute to Derek Jarman and his work, Lunacy is a free-floating onwards rumination about the moon’s constant (and necessary) presence.
The project began with me writing a text about the moon for the wonderful Danish art magazine Plethora. This text was later cut up by my wife, Vanessa Sinclair, and then randomly re-assembled and recorded by her. I put these four vocal recordings to music, which created a sonorous cycle of sorts: a lunar reflection, a dark brooding on the human need for sexualizing the planets.
We both quite quickly realized that this was good fodder for a film. So instead of making a spoken word soundtrack for an existing film, we made a film for an existing spoken word soundtrack.
After a successful ”Kickstarter” crowdfunding campaign for the project, I could buy a super-8 film scanner. As soon as that was in place, I started scanning material from my film archive, predominantly from the early 1990s (when super-8 filming was still a financially viable alternative!).
Gradually the film grew around the four quite distinct musical/reading pieces. Odd bits appeared/surfaced from my archive. An unmarked roll beckoned my attention. I decided on a whim to include sections from it, no matter what it was. This turned out to be an auspicious fluke. The film in question was one of those strange 15 minute condensed super-8 versions of feature films that were quite common in the 1960s and 1970s (pre-VHS). This film was Michael Reeve’s 1968 horror gem Witchfinder General (aka Conqueror Worm), in which Vincent Price ruthlessly hunts down alleged witches. A perfect inclusion, given witches’ association with lunar and magical forces. The film changed from a cosmic meditation on the concept level to a tangible tribute to Hecate and all the witches who ever suffered injustice at the hands of intolerant lower beings over the times and spaces.”
LUNACY (Sweden, 2017, 44 min)
Praising lunar forces and witches from all times and spaces, LUNACY acts as a conductor to emotional transcendence and illumination rather than to scientific analysis. The Moon is always there in various degrees of visibility to the human eye, but the power of Hecate and other lunar celebrities remains constant. It’s the only fact that’s relevant in the greater human scheme of things.
Words by Vanessa Sinclair.
Music & Film by Carl Abrahamsson.
Copyright © 2017 Carl Abrahamsson
For more information about the film, interviews, screenings, festival appearances etc, please contact: carl AT carlabrahamsson DOT com
THE BEST REVIEW (SO FAR) OF MY FIRST NOVEL
(Originally posted November 3rd)
When my debut novel, Mother, Have a Safe Trip, was published late 2013 it was a great step for me. And a slightly nervous one. Being highly partial, I of course loved the book. But would anyone else? I didn’t have to wait very long though for a reassuring review to show up. The Swedish writer and psychedelic historian Henrik Dahl reviewed the book for UK magazine Psychedelic Press already on October 29th, 2013. This has been my favourite review so far. Not only is it a favourable one, but it’s also multifaceted and intelligent. A rare thing!
PSYCHEDELIC PRESS, October 29, 2013.
Literary Review: ‘Mother, Have a Safe Trip’ by Carl Abrahamsson
Published in the autumn of 2013, ‘Mother, Have a Safe Trip’ is a novel written by Stockholm based writer, photographer and musician Carl Abrahamsson. Although described as an “occult sex thriller”, its acid-soaked story is a perfect example of fictional psychedelic literature. At less than 200 pages, Abrahamsson’s book – his fiction début – is written in a straightforward and accessible prose, packed with references to key figures and events in psychedelic culture, beat literature and the occult.
For those not familiar with the Swedish author, Abrahamsson runs Edda Publishing together with visual artist Fredrik Söderberg. Apart from Mother, Have a Safe Trip, the Edda catalogue includes titles by Aleister Crowley and the anthology series The Fenris Wolf. The latter brings together a plethora of underground writers and themes. For instance, the latest issue deals with German writer and psychonaut Ernst Jünger’s “psychedelic approaches”. Furthermore, Abrahamsson has collaborated with musician and artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, and at the end of the eighties the Swede paid a visit to Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey in San Francisco, subsequently making a Swedish translation of LaVey’s The Satanic Bible.
As usual when it comes to titles published by Edda, Mother, Have a Safe Trip is a beautifully designed book in hardcover format with a ribbon bookmark. Captivating from the start, the novel begins with 60-year-old Mary Ritterstadt going through an old journal of notes from her time spent in Nepal in 1970. While in the country she gets to know the members of a band called the Fateful Head and samples the product of the “infamous LSD-wizard” Mosely-Manly: “We learned he was wanted by the FBI back home. We soon realized why. He wasn’t only wanted by the ‘feds’ but also by the ‘heads’: millions of kids worldwide” (Abrahamsson 8).
During Mary’s stay in Nepal she unintentionally gets pregnant. Her pregnancy is mysteriously revealed to her by an old Baba, who she follows to a yoga commune called PSYNC, short for “the Patanjali Society for Yoga and Neophile Culture”, in the Nepalese mountains. There, Mary gives birth to a son named Victor, the protagonist of the story, who is revered as a holy figure by the members of the commune. Not ready for parenthood and not knowing who is the father Mary decides to leave Victor at the commune and return to America, severing the ties with her son. It’s only after her parents are dead that she decides to get in touch with Victor, now 40 years old.
After getting in touch through telepathy, Mary and Victor decide to meet in real life. What follows is a fast-paced, heady mix including (in no particular order) secret agents, a UFO sighting, a telepathic dog, a Dionysian LSD-fuelled party, and the discovery of a document originating from Serbian inventor Nicola Tesla that may solve the world’s energy problems.
Just like Abrahamsson, Victor Ritterstadt is a writer, photographer and musician and judging by his visual appearance the protagonist even looks like the Swedish author. Still, it’s unclear to what extent Victor is based on Abrahamsson. Although leading a seemingly interesting life, the protagonist turns out to be a rather self-centred character whose goal is to make lots of money. His materialistic side is noticed by his mother, who realises that Victor is “very much also a narcissistic egotist” (Abrahamsson 119). Interestingly, at the same time he is uniformly celebrated at the yoga commune, where no one seems to question his actions and persona.
The self-centred protagonist aside, Mother, Have a Safe Trip wins me over in its humorous, playful and witty writing style. Many of its characters evoke thinly disguised real life figures. Mosely-Manly is obviously modelled after the legendary LSD chemist Owsley Stanley, and the Fateful Head is based on – you guessed it – the Grateful Dead. Moreover, the name of the yoga commune includes the word “neophile” which is associated with Robert Anton Wilson. In addition, the number 23 appears in the novel. Both Wilson and William S. Burroughs, two likely literary sources of inspiration for the Swedish author, were interested in the number. Needless to say the reader will find many more similar references.
Even if Abrahamsson is less associated with Satanism than he was in the past, the satanic influence is nevertheless present in his novel and, to a greater extent, in his anthology. To my knowledge, few, if any, writers have put Satanism and psychedelics in the same saucepan. Admittedly, combining the two may seem like an unusual move. The appearance of LaVey’s ego-gratifying philosophy at the height of the “we decade” in late sixties San Francisco was the antithesis of many of the ideas expressed in the hippie movement. The Church of Satan founder was also strongly opposed to the use of LSD. In a 1966 article published in Alameda County Weekender LaVey said the drug “ought to be shunned like the plague” (Churchofsatan.com).
Abrahamsson’s interest in Satanism serves as a reminder that psychedelics can be placed in many different contexts. The current focus on ayahuasca may have us believe that mind-expanding drugs are primarily to be looked upon as shamanic tools for healing and spiritual development, yet history repeatedly shows us that these drugs are used for a variety of reasons.
Before reading a poem called Lucifer’s Rainbow Victor says, “I think we should pay our respects to everyone from everywhere who’s fought for freedom in life and in mind” (Abrahamsson 138). Although these are words from a fictional character, they illustrate that Abrahamsson clearly belongs to a tradition of western anti-authoritarian authors leaning towards libertarian or anarchist ideas. Whatever one may feel about the overriding sentiments of Abrahamson’s writings, Mother, Have a Safe Trip is a highly entertaining and thought-provoking novel. Chock-full of psychedelia, the book is also a much welcome addition to the far too few fictional works published dealing with psychedelic culture.
– Henrik Dahl
Mother, Have a Safe Trip is available HERE!
It’s also available as an eBook here:
Photographs and prints from the exhibition Imprisoned Sentences are available HERE. This was a show of environments/photos that inspired me when writing the book, plus a set of enlarged pages from the book proper.
A GREAT INTERVIEW IN ULTRA-SWANK
(Originally posted November 1st)
California Infernal: Anton LaVey & Jayne Mansfield as Portrayed by Walter Fischer is doing really well, and is also getting a lot of attention. The most recent interview is by Baron von Schwankenstein at Ultra Swank. To read the interview at their site, please go HERE! Or just read on below:
Thank you for taking time to talk with Ultra Swank, Carl. Tell us a bit about your background and how it relates to the production of your book California Infernal.
For me, it’s been a strange time warp that I’ve enjoyed greatly. Many of these images were so seminal to me in my teens/formatting days. So it almost feels like they are coming back to haunt me. Especially having been in that ritual chamber myself at a later date. I wouldn’t say it feels like home, but it sure adds another fascinating dimension in my mind.
So there’s a personal connection beyond your involvement as publisher. So when and where did you first encounter these images ? How did they influence you ?
I would say I saw some of these images in Swedish men’s magazines from the 1970s. After all, Walter Fischer was a well syndicated photographer. In the mid-80s I was like a funnel or a sponge for trash culture from all over the world, but mainly from the US. I also had a strong interest in all things occult. So LaVey was like the quintessential synthesis of everything I found cool. Also, being a movie buff, I loved (and still love) American B-movies, and Jayne Mansfield has sort of always been the reigning queen. So seeing those images of the two of them together was just like a meltdown. “This is TOO cool!” And it stuck. I may have changed in different directions since then but the core remains, as it does in terms of all essential imprints. That’s why California Infernal has been such a great and trippy adventure for me. Also getting Kenneth Anger involved was amazing, as I met him on the very same first trip to the US in 1989 that I met LaVey on. Full circles, over and over. It’s like my subconscious is pressing a REPEAT button. Maybe it is?
And you knew LaVey personally. How often did you interact? What remains most in your mind about him ?
I went on three trips to San Francisco and on those trips visited the Black House several times, had dinners, et cetera. When I was in Sweden we communicated via fax or letter, specifically when I was preparing for the Swedish translation of the Satanic Bible, which was published in 1996. The last time we met physically was in 1993. He was very supportive of my antics in writing and publishing. So he was an initial distanced source of inspiration that turned into a tangible friend and teacher in a way. He had ways of transmitting things between the lines that were very helpful in my own magical process. To him it must have been weird and also hopefully helpful to have this Swedish brat coming over, eager to listen and learn but also to manifest things and create philosophical tangibility for the future.
Obviously, you didn’t know Mansfield. Does your fascination with Mansfield come from the same place as your initial fascination with LaVey? What remains most in your mind about her and her public legacy ?
Yes and no. LaVey fascinated as an actual inspiration, as someone who led a very interesting life and came up with new things within a sphere that was and is genuinely interesting to me. Jayne is fascinating more as someone who worked hard to achieve what she wanted in a very fickle world/sphere. Her story is more tragic in many ways. She wasn’t always on top. But I still like most of her movies a lot.
Though I disagree with his philosophy, I find LaVey a fascinating individual, a larger-than-life carnival showman. No other publicly engaged Satanist has captured the public imagination the way LaVey did in the late 60s. Why do you think that is ? Was it a matter of times of cultural upheaval being more receptive to LaVey’s permissive ideas presented in a flashy new way ? Or is it something else ?
I think the main impact was that it was a double whammy at the time – not only hitting Christianity as such but also the allegedly more open-minded hippie communities. LaVey at this time was both super-radical and traditional-conservative, depending on which camp was looking or being looked at. Although individual liberty was supported and encouraged, LaVey didn’t want that to end up in wishy-washy drug philosophies. And that’s basically what happened. Although many great upheavals and changes came out of the late 60s, there was also an all-too-human backlash where most people gradually espoused normality on one hand and heavier drug use on the other. LaVey was for indulgence, and neither abstinence nor compulsion. He was the man in the controversial middle in extreme times, just as he would have been extreme in lukewarm, safe times – the perspective of the Third Side, the Adversary etc. He was that. he used it. And he enjoyed it. That together with a surface that very well reflected the humorous as well as the terrifying (to many, I’m sure) made him a great public Satanist.
Yet LaVey’s Satanism borrows largely from the ideas of others — Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, Ragnar Redbeard. All of these can be studied and used independently of Satanism. So, is theatricality, glamour, and psychodrama the fundamental transformative elements that makes LaVey’s Satanism more than the sum of its parts ?
Yes. I think all of those things. And later on he was very active in concocting his own concepts, which I guess is what happens. First you make a splash with a synthesis that has made you tick. And then you evolve and crystallise your own gems. The same was true for Crowley pre-sex magic insight, which was Golden Dawn-infused, and post-sex magic insight, which was decidedly more Taoist and cosmic. I would say yes to LaVey’s overall concoction being the “glue”: a noir kind of libertarian occultism with decidedly hedonistic streaks. But the fundamental transformative element in his system, according to me, doesn’t lie there; it lies in the realisation of “Satan” as a symbol – an adversarial principle that evokes manipulatory powers and a very sincere kind of honesty. Eventually, all magical systems boil down to an empowerment of the individual. If they don’t they’re just another cult where smart people make use of not so smart people.
Currently making the festival and arthouse theater rounds is the film Mansfield 66/67. Ostensibly, it’s about Mansfield’s and LaVey’s relationship. But the makers tout the film as “a true story based on rumor and hearsay.” In other words, it’s more about the urban folklore of the relationship than the actual facts of it. Prior to that, Kenneth Anger’s oft-debunked book Hollywood Babylon was similar. The public is clearly more interested in the legend than the actual truth. What’s your perspective on that ? Is it just because it’s more fun ? Or is there something else going on in the folklore?
When it comes to a sphere where previously “normal” humans are catapulted into a “demigod” status (as in “Hollywood”, for instance) people’s projections (usually based on their own disgruntled emotions) take off and leave rationality, logic, decency etc behind. It’s as if that’s the real price you pay when you’re a celebrity. You’re open to be used and abused in the public sphere as it sees fit. So perhaps that term – “larger than life” – simply means that there are other rules at play for those so successful (most often unsuccessfully or unhappily so). I think this has been a constant in the human mind/need. Ventilation for the disgruntled. The figure of the jester comes to mind. Anger used a language directly inherited from Louella Parsons and similar women at the time: snide and cynical gossiping. And it works as long as the readers somehow feel that the victims deserve it… (“They shouldn’t complain because they have everything as celebrities… Look at them failing…”). The film about Jayne is an attempt at doing that. But it’s not a mean film. It’s just camp — perhaps actually doing Jayne justice that way? In the sphere of celebrities, whether something is true or not is besides the point. This is extremely evident in today’s culture, in which there are celebrities that haven’t actually done anything to merit their status. Any references made to them in the public sphere is not to them as real individuals because in a sense they aren’t real individuals. They are just targets for projection.
The lore says that Mansfield was a card-carrying Satanist. You made a point of shattering that illusion in California Infernal by requoting Mansfield’s own assertion that she wasn’t. Why do that when the legend is more useful to Satanists and the public is more interested in the legend ?
I can’t see how it would be more useful to Satanists if we knew for a fact that Jayne was a member (or not). It’s the same thing with that interesting photo with LaVey and Sammy Davis Jr. Was he a member? Was he not a member? As you say, the legend can be intriguing but the Church of Satan wouldn’t really be interested in members chasing romantic legends. They are interested in individuals who are interested in themselves.
Let’s go back to your book. I understand why you needed to make California Infernal for yourself but why does the public need this book ?
It pops up out of an in-between area which is fascinating. Is it occultism? Is it PR and pop? Or is it just California Infernal, which could mean all of those things. I’m happy to say that my initial desire to make the book turned into a publisher’s intuition that it would also interest others. I’m not sure anyone “needs” the book at all. But I’m happy to say there are many who find it entertaining. It’s a nice slice of weird Americana pie.
Most of the Fischer photos are typical photojournalism of the day. Why present them as art in an art book when most of the images don’t impact as art ?
For me, the mere phenomenon of both these proto-American individuals and the relationship between them is mind-boggling and transcending. That is art. They were also consciously aestheticised by their own design and by other people’s projections. Walter Fischer simply facilitated a documentation of the phenomenon and the people involved. The art in question is the actual sum of LaVey and Mansfield together.
How difficult was it to edit down the Fischer-Wahlgren collection to a publishable form ? Is there anything that wasn’t included that you wish you did ?
The book contains pretty much everything we wanted. Fischer, as most photographers, shot multiple images of the same scene, happening, or moment. We just picked the best of the best.
Currently, California Infernal is in a second edition with a pink “Mansfield Edition” cloth cover. Why a second edition ? Is it to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mansfield’s death ?
No, it was simply because Alf had more images of Mansfield in color. We changed our mind after the first edition and just wanted to include another eight pages. And so we did.
Was there anything you accomplished with the second edition that you thought you didn’t with the first ?
Honoring Jayne a tad bit more.
Of all you’ve seen of the collection, what’s your favorite image ?
I’d say the cover image: Jayne and Anton together, and him holding her Chihuahua. It’s an incredible image.
Thanks, Carl, for your time and insight. And thanks for a great book.