The Schlong Goodbye

Extract from an unwritten novel ~

“Say, what is this Golden Lingam anyway?” asked Sam Spayed.

“It’s an artifact of supreme occult power. Both the Temple of Satan Arisen and the Order of Lucifer want it for their rites,” said Gluttman.

“What is it with LA and these crazy sects? I thought this was about Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan? The guy’s a devil worshipper, AND movie crazy. Played his Satanic Highness in that Polanski flick, didn’t he?”

“These parties aren’t official Church of Satan. Too crazy for that. Splinter groups, and they’re both gunning for the Linga. If you’ve got your hands on it, you can name your own price.”

“How would I know it if I saw it?”

The fat man rolled his cigar and began to expand — on his subject, that is. “The Golden Lingam started as a golden statuette cast from the erect penis of Rudolph Valentino. The actor’s early death and the resultant mass hysteria charged the item with power.”

“You don’t say.”

“But I do say!” Gluttman puffed a blue plume of smoke across the room. “Purchased by another Latin lover, Ramon Novarro, the item acquired further energy when Novarro was murdered by rough trade, who either bludgeoned him with its onyx base, or choked him to death with the shaft — accounts vary. Sex and death and public adulation make for powerful voodoo, Mr. Spayed. The year was 1968. Polanski was making Rosemary’s Baby, and LaVey told him about the Lingam. The director purchased the item, intending it to go towards LaVey’s fee, but the men quarreled and LaVey is rumoured to have cursed the filmmaker — a serious matter, since an earlier curse had resulted in the death of Jayne Mansfield. Within a year, Polanski wife and several friends were dead, slain by a gang that included one former disciple of LaVey’s church, and one star of magician Kenneth Anger’s film Lucifer Rising, Bobby Beausoleil. It was sheer chance that Polanski had delayed his return from Europe and wasn’t at home, but still official accounts discount the significance of satanism and cinema (though the Manson family lived in a ranch formerly used as a movie studio) and claim that Polanski was not an intended target.”

“Holy smokes,” remarked Spayed.

“Very UNholy smokes, dear boy. The original five-foot Pole must have figured something out, because he offloaded the Lingam on a business partner, Victor Lownes, smuggling it through customs in his pants. But Lownes got wise to the very unheimlich aura around the thing, and mailed it back, writing, ‘I am returning this life-sized statue of yourself. No doubt you can find some other “friend” to shove it up.’ When Polanski returned to LA to shoot Chinatown, he offloaded the cock on Donald Cammell, a Kenneth Anger crony, just to spite LaVey. Cammell tried to tame the dark forces around the penis, and he was the right guy to do it: sex and magic and cinema combined. Born under a camera obscura. But he wound up blowing his brains out, reenacting a scene from his own movie, PERFORMANCE.

“The gold prick dropped from view. Some say LaVey had it, some say Forrest J Ackermann. Either way, both are dead now and the Lingam is back in circulation. Sometime in the last few years it acquired a coating of black lacquer, and was being passed off as a likeness of an erect Jimi Hendrix.”

“And this is the reason three people are dead? The movie exec, the Hollywood madam and the body double?”

“Why certainly! Power like this accrues in very few objects. Valentino’s manhood was worshipped by millions, and the statuette is a real totem of that. Then blood was spilled, legends gathered — all anyone wants in this town is power, fame, the love of beautiful men and women. The Lingam promises all that. Sex magic is the ladder to the top. The stuff wet dreams are made of.”

To read more of Camera Obscena, simply pass into the next parallel universe and order a copy from Amazon.

29 Responses to “The Schlong Goodbye”

  1. Wow, I hadn’t seen or heard about Bobby Beausoleil in years. Nor did I expect ot see the wordunheimlich from you (last time I saw it was in an Umberto Eco novel). It’s an interesting bit of speculative fiction.

    As an aside, I did see Charlie’s nonpublic criminal disposition file back in the mid-’90s (it may have been a firing offense to read it [or any celebrity’s crim file] where I worked, but it still was the most badly kept secret in the joint – people took it down so often to read for entertainment that the manila folder it was in was nearly in tatters). Let’s say that Bugliosi was obsessive about gathering any and every scrap of information on Manson. The file contained even banal news clippings of the Family. His dossier bulged like no one else’s.

    Next time, I’ll tell you about a college student I dated who lived in an apartment once tenanted by members of the SLA. She wasn’t happy with me when I told her, though it was a known bit of city folklore.

  2. As I understand it, they were afraid Manson would hypnotize any jury if they got to see him. Still, I find that kind of panic understandable, given the horror of the crimes.

    What was weird was inventing this crackpot stuff and finding it sort of added up. Polanski really did give a gold penis to Lownes, and the date of Rosemary’s Baby synched up perfectly with the death of Novarro. And the weirdness of both a LaVey and an Anger associate being Family members hadn’t struck me before.

    But where does Dennis Wilson fit in?

  3. As a sideman, with Terry Melcher as producer? Maybe I’ll do better after some coffee.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dcairns, rodmckie. rodmckie said: RT @dcairns: Extract from an unwritten novel on black magic and Hollywood — http://bit.ly/eKHgbf […]

  5. Charlie wanted to be a Beach Boy, and to that end gave Dennis several of his girls. Dennis, however, ripped him off. He stole one of his songs, retitled it as “Never Learn Not To Love” and the Beach Boys sang on on one of their many albums. Perhpas he hoped Dennis would have been at Terry Melcher’s house. He certainly wanted to kill Terry.

    Anger’s obsession with Bobby Beausoleil is well known. He even managed to get permission to shoot sequences involving Beausoleil for Lucifer Rising (which can be seen in full on You Tube.)

    Donald Cammell’s parents were Alistair Crowley acolytes. Cammell is one of the most surpremely gifted, deeply fucked-up artists the cinema has ever known. He started out with an absolute masterpiece that he was never able to quite top. But White of the Eye and his cut of Wild Side are more than merely first rate. And Demon Seed isn’t exactly chopped liver either.

    Polanski’s forte is politics, not the occult. The L.A. “City Fathers” never forgave him for Chinatown. All of it is true. As Gore Vidal has pointed out he fell into a trap as the girl was being passed around on a plate to all and sundry in Hollywood by her pimp of a mother. He sprang for the bait, and because he wasn’t forthcoming with a contract got arrested for waht should have been statutory rape. Needless to say the press and the DA’s office turned it into something quite different. Roman skipped out and his career continued. All for the best on that score, for had he stayed in Hollywood it wouldn’t have been possible to make his sort of film anymore.

    When an ambitious, bottom-feeding D.A. named Steve Cooley sought re-election he built his entire campaign on bringing Roman back to town and tossing him in the slammer. While the Swiss authorities gave him minimal aide — putting Roman under house arrest and briefly prison incarceration — he wasn’t able to get what he wanted. Roman made another masterpiece, The Ghost Writer, which is a FUCKING DOCUMENTARY about the Blairs (Cherie is a CIA agent. Tony her hand puppet) and Dick Cheney.

    Steve Cooley was voted out of office.

    Thus endeth the lesson

  6. Arthur S. Says:

    Polanski said that he deliberately made the Satanists in ROSEMARY’s BABY look ridiculous, very middle-class and the rituals are a deliberate parody of Catholicism. As such it picks up where THE SEVENTH VICTIM left off and with its focus on marriage and social climbing in New York, it paved the way for Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT which is the third in this informal NY-Satanism trilogy.

  7. Again in The Ninth Gate, the Satanists are ridiculous (best gag being Langella’s security code to his occult library: 666). I think Rosemary’s Baby might be Polanski’s most successful comedy because nobody realised it was meant to be funny. When people get Polanski’s jokes, they don’t tend to like them. My other favourite funny one is Bitter Moon, which is just SO black. It’s the abyss!

    The Ninth Gate and The Ghost Writer are both about secret books which bring doom on all who possess them. Needless to say, the more recent film is the scarier.

  8. Arthur S. Says:

    The cult people in Rosemary’s Baby are more irritating and annoying than frightening, the horror is not them but the fact that they are your neighbours, and of course its possible to see it as a fantasy of Rosemary. The film is scary because we are entirely on her side, her subjectivity(and Polanski is a total master of evoking that quality in film after film).

    The ending of the film though is deeply moving, a quality lacking in horror movies, which is what Polanski regretted when discussing the genre’s deist quality since the last bit is riddled with Catholic angst about a mother loving her child out of pure love, the only sign left of a fashionably absent God.

    That said THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS is completely free of that, fairly secular, especially the bit with the Jewish vampire(named after the painter Marc Chagall) and its a completely unique blend of comedy and horror, the frightening moments are funny and the funny moments are scary.

    That said I like it when Polanski gets serious, as in his adaptation of Hardy’s TESS, the author of which was born without a single funny bone in his body.

  9. The critics have generally only responded to what they see as serious in Polanski, as if it’s unseemly for a holocaust survivor to have a sense of humour. One review of Pirates said “maybe now Polanski can get back to being unpleasant about SERIOUS subjects.”

    Chagall seems like a strong visual reference for Vampire Killers too…

  10. My favourite Polanski joke is in CHINATOWN, when Faye Dunaway despairingly rests her head on the steering wheel of her car and accidentally parps the horn. It happens twice but it’s not so funny the second time.

  11. David,
    Yes, when I watched Rosemary’s Baby years ago, I was laughing but I also wondered if I was a bad person for doing so.

  12. Polanski wouldn’t think you were.

    Why else would he cast Ruth Gordon if not for the laughs?

  13. Alex, yes! The movie is full of foreshadowing, like the flaw in the iris of Dunaway’s eye (something similar occurs with a scar and a bullet wound in The Conformist), and the way Dunaway can’t say the word “father” without stuttering…

  14. Christopher Says:

    the William Castle connection to Rosemary’s Baby confirms we are being had by a silly movie..Casting the satanic cult must have been a dream job..if only Thelma Todd,Stan Laurel and Alfalfa Switzer were still alive!.

  15. I like Roman Castevet’s lurid costumes! And I like how his name must have existed before a director called Roman and an actor called Cassevetes were associated with the project.

    Let us not forget that the first victim of the Tate-LoBianco killings was Dr Saperstein, the faithful dog, named after Ralph Bellamy’s character in Rosemary’s Baby.

    Polanski loves casting veterans. Cast-a-vet might be his motto.

  16. Indeed! He had Eli Wallach flown over to shoot one scene for The Ghost Wirter — and he was perfect in it.

  17. Eli Wallach is doing terrific work these days as a character actor. He was much the best performer in WALL STREET 2(also a NY-Satanism movie).

  18. Wallach is great, he really gives The Ghost Writer a lift at that point.

    In Oliver Twist, one of the workhouse directors was Peter Copley, then 90 years old — Polanski must have remembered him from 60s stuff like The Knack and Help!

    Ferdy Mayne, in Fearless Vampire Killers and then Pirates, was a British B-movie scoundrel for years. And RP’s continually plundered the cast of Hammer films, first for Jon Finch from The Vampire Lovers, then Barbara Jefford (in The Ninth Gate) from Lust for a Vampire. Melvyn Douglas in The Tenant is another great old-timer.

  19. Arthur S. Says:

    Just saw THE GHOST WRITER on DVD! Man that is a brilliant film, so terrifying(especially the very last shot).

  20. Has anyone tried to adapt Gombrowicz for film. Or a biography of him. I could only fantasize what Polanski would do.

  21. Arthur S. Says:

    Polanski’s one-time collaborator Jerzy Skolimowski in fact adapted Ferdyduke or a part of it in the 90s.

  22. Christopher Says:

    come back to america Roman..make a picture..PLEASE!

  23. He’s already at work on something else. Interesting cast… although Matt Dillon just did a Travolta and walked out…

    I’d kind of like to see Polanski adapt Kosinski… his old jet-setter buddy wrote Being There, which made a good movie. If anybody could make The Painted Bird as a film, it’d be RP, but I presume he’s ruled that out — The Pianist being his direct statement on the Holocaust (which informs the rest of his work in odd ways — the scene where Macduff’s family are killed in Macbeth stems from the behaviour of SS men carrying out searches in the Krakow ghetto).

  24. Roman’s better staying right where he is.

    The finale of The Ghost Writer, BTW , was something he thought up at the last moment. THAT’S a great director for you boys and girls.

  25. And like a lot of Polanski’s work, it straddles the thin line between horror and joke.

  26. Arthur S. Says:

    It’s unlikely Polanski can get a film as politically direct as this film off the ground in Hollywood without compromises. For one thing this is a movie where the Americans are seen entirely from the viewpoint of non-Americans, very hard to pull of with Hollywood money. Besides lack of Hollywood money doesn’t mean Polanski has any difficulty attracting big names as The Ghost Writer makes clear.

    Polanski of course also devised the end of Chinatown but this one is way more bold and its the image that makes the film for me, especially the papers of the manuscript fluttering over the crowd.

    What’s so fascinating is how politically direct this film is, its something that Polanski never directly portrayed except by way of genre like in Chinatown, here we see people who were once big players and they had vast power and committed horrible actions which everyone has to pay for.

  27. Arthur S. Says:

    Well “thin line between horror and joke” is a pretty exact categorization of 21st Century Anglo-American politics.

    The film is a lot like Welles’ MR. ARKADIN, the search for truth in fact erases the truth only Ewan MacGregor is a lot nicer than Guy van Stratten and a hack politician like Adam Lang is no Arkadin.

  28. All the political stuff in Chinatown is true too, albeit updated from the 20s, when it happened, to the 30s, for a more classic detective ambience.

  29. Christopher Says:

    oh I agree..Roman is fine where he is…Its Hollywood I’m always worried about.

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