Do You Think He’s What They Say He Is? SATAN SUPERSTAR Reviewed

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Edited by David Flint. The Reprobate. A5, P/B. 240 Pages. ISBN 978-0-9955719-2-1

From the first tentative samizdat steps of Sheer Filth in the late ’80s, there doesn’t seem to have been a moment when David Flint hasn’t been agitating furiously for  freedom of expression, subsequently via such increasingly sophisticated publications as Headpress, Divinity, Sexadelic and – most recently – The Reprobate (debut issue reviewed), not to mention numerous book projects and his web incarnations Strange Things Are Happening and latterly, https://reprobatemagazine.uk. Flint’s transgressive tiltings at perceived propriety have not been conducted without personal cost but this angry, now not-quite-so-young man shows no sign of slowing down or mellowing… he will not serve.

In other words, one accusation that could never reasonably be levelled at Flint is that of possessing idle hands… yet still The Devil has found work for him to do.

In the introduction to Satan Superstar (into which The Reprobate seems, for the time being, to have mutated)  its editor remembers growing up in a vaguely restrictive C of E milieu (I’d wager that my own Catholic upbringing was a more pernicious formative environment), prior to being bombarded by pop culture representations of Satan and Satanists who, forever surrounded by naked nubiles, seemed to be having all the fun.

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It’s this life-affirming, pleasure-embracing aspect of The Left Hand Path that Flint and his contributors stress here, rather than any propensity to do Evil. Styling itself as “a handbook of the infernal and the immaculate in pop occulture”, Satan Superstar pretty much does what it says on the tin.

Is Satan a pagan deity in his own right? The bad guy in the Christian dramatis personae? A symbol of self realisation through enlightened self-will? These and other standpoints are discussed by such practitioners and advocates as the Church Of Rational Satanism’s John Wait (interviewed by Sarah Appleton), Nikolas Schreck (formerly of Radio Werewolf, now a teacher of tantric buddhism) and the Church Of Satan’s Reverend Raul Antony (interviewed by the editor). Logospilgrim and Jason Atomic of Satanic Mojo Comix provide further personal testaments and Billy Chainsaw quizzes Shaun Partridge, Whale Song Partridge and Boyd Rice on the philosophy of the Partridge Family Temple. Sammm Agnew (complimented by the photography of Ilya Falchevsky) discusses entry points into the occult.

As well as his own take on the public image of Satanism since the ’60s, Nigel Wingrove details his involvement in the Satanic Sluts saga, which ignited the red tops in unanimous sound and fury after Manuel from Fawlty Towers received a rather puerile phone call.

David McGillivray chips in with a portrait of Gerald Gardner, who anticipated Alex Sanders in being recognised as “Britain’s first celebrity witch”, coming out as one in 1951 after the long overdue repeal of the Witchcraft Act of 1753 (under which Victoria Helen McCrae Duncan aka “Hellish Nell” had been imprisoned as recently as 1944… as though the British government had nothing more pressing to worry about in those days!)

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Elsewhere Flint himself reflects on the legacy of Dennis Wheatley, champions the occult photography of William Mortensen and celebrates (with Darius Drewe) “the strange world of the occultist instructional LP” and the witch-hunting pulp fiction atrocities of “James Darke”, also identifying Doreen Irvine’s rather less-than-reliable memoir From Witchcraft To Christ as the starting point for Satanic panic in the UK… a subject further explored in Bruce Barnard’s account of two true crime stories that were given the full, lip-smacking tabloid treatment.

Presumably figuring that Zeppelin and Bowie’s Crowley connections have been amply debated elsewhere, Drewe’s Satanic Rock Top 10 spans Graham Bond, Comus and Venom (Jeremy Paxman’s interview with Abbadon from the latter combo remains one of the most mind-boggling things I ever saw on Newsnight, right up there with Paxo’s interrogation of Hayden Hewitt). Still on a music tip, C.J. Lines interviews Christian Falch, co-director of 2017 black metal documentary Blackhearts and Sina, one of the musicians featured in it.

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Proving conclusively that the Devil doesn’t have all the best tunes, Daz Lawrence investigates the oft-touted connections between country & western and Satanism, with a particular focus on the extraordinary Louvin Brothers. As things get weirder still, Daz also details the case of a certain canine saint.

While Ben Spurling surveys Satanism in ’70s TV movies, Keri O’Shea does the same for depictions of the witches’ sabbat in Western Art and delves into the background to Husymans’ scandalous occult novel Là-Bas. K.K. Eye suggests that the introduction of sigils to your next act of self love could make it a truly magickal experience and Lucien Greaves recounts the pink mass he conducted to counter the notoriously homophobic Westboro Baptist Church. Meanwhile Gipsie Castiglione interviews the man behind Divine Interventions, purveyors of satanic sex aids.

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A running thread throughout the book, curated by Billy Chainsaw, consists of personal takes on Satan from such counter-cultural luminaries as A.D. Hitchin, Lydia Lunch, Groovie Mann of Thrill Kill Kult, Carl Abrahamsson, Boyd Rice, Tom Six and Mr Chainsaw himself.

Plenty there to keep you out of mischief… or possibly in it. As an introduction to the ideas of those who sympathise with the Devil, this volume serves admirably. Grab ’em while they’re hot but don’t hang around… the physical print run of Satan Superstar is limited to (you guessed) 666 copies.

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