Thelemites are well acquainted with the important part Soror Virakam aka Mary D’Esti nee Dempsey played in The Prophet of the Lovely Star’s life during her stint as his Scarlet Woman and the writing of Book 4, for which he gave her a co-author credit (along with Leilah Waddell). Most are also aware that she was the mother of the prominent Hollywood director Preston Sturgess – whose dislike for Crowley was, er mutual. From a recent review of a book on Sturgess’ films, Crooked, but Never Common by Stuart Klawans, it would appear that profane society (at least not the author or the reviewer) might not put the same emphasis on her time with A.C. as us. To wit:
‘Preston Sturges was born in Chicago in 1898, to a travelling-salesman father and a mother named Mary Dempsey. Dempsey was a creative type, the sort of searcher who, in the Gilded Age, was known as an adventuress. When Sturges was a toddler, Dempsey tried to become a singer in France, but her career fizzled, her marriage ended, and she returned to the U.S. to wed Solomon Sturges, a buttoned-up financier who treated Preston as his own child. Dempsey refused to stop wandering, however. She went back to Europe, changed her name to Mary d’Esti took an interest in witchcraft, [italics are mine] and began palling around with the modern dancer Isadora Duncan. She went by many names and told many fabulous lies. She said that she had been fifteen when Sturges was born, that she had attended medical school, that she was descended from Italian royalty. Sturges later wrote, “My mother was in no sense a liar, nor even intentionally unacquainted with the truth. . . . She was, however, endowed with such a rich and powerful imagination that anything she had said three times, she believed fervently. Often, twice was enough.”’
“interest in witchcraft”? Whoa boy! That ain’t the half of it!
Read the whole review: