Chamblee54

Hollywood Babylon

Posted in Book Reports, GSU photo archive, History by chamblee54 on December 26, 2017






PG recently read Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood’s Darkest and Best Kept Secrets. It was the second time read the book. A yard sale last summer had a deluxe edition on sale. The man asked PG how much he thought it should cost. “If you are going by the amount of truth in it, the price should be a nickel.” In a fit of synchronicity, PG was on his way to a party, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. This is a repost.

HB is highly entertaining, despite those troubling concerns about the facts. The cover has an NSFW picture of Jayne Mansfield, where the top of her dress serves as a display case for her boobies. HB goes all TMI about the death of Miss Mansfield, but it is a model of good taste compared to Find a death. The *bottom line* is that Jayne Mansfield was not decapitated in that auto accident.

While asking Mr. Google whose jugs adorned the cover of HB, this article came up: Satan and Mummified Psychics: A Kenneth Anger Marathon at Sweat Records Tonight. Someone with too much free time was promoting an evening of the short films of Kenneth Anger. Mr. Anger, born Kenneth Wilbur Anglemyer, has the copyright credit for HB. PG suspects that other scribes helped out. In some parts, the prose is purpler than in others. Of course, when writing about Hollywood, it is fitting that a committee produced a book filled with lies.

The Miami story disputes the notion that Kenneth Anger was a child star. “Almost exactly 83 years, 7 months, and 21 days ago, a little boy named Anger was born in Santa Monica, California. (Actually, the kid’s birth name was Kenneth Wilbur Anglemyer.) He attended a school for child stars, did dance steps with Shirley Temple, and minced about as the changeling prince in the 1935 Warner Bros. movie version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But all that might be bullshit. There’s not much documentation of Anger’s alleged child star days. The one legit source that seems to corroborate the claim is Mickey Rooney. He played Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and he says Anger’s mommy dressed him up as the girl named “Sheila Brown” who officially played the Changeling Prince.”

A website called Vice.com managed to snag an interview with Kenneth Anger. The introduction has this story. “He went on to recount the time Kenneth showed up at fellow director and mutual friend Curtis Harrington’s funeral at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery wearing a black raincoat, eyeliner, and fingernail polish. His shirt was opened to his navel, revealing the giant lucifer tattoo emblazoned across his chest, and he was accompanied by a boyish photographer who took pictures as Kenneth kissed Curtis’s corpse before its cremation. Before he was ejected from the premises, Kenneth handed John a small plastic vampire figurine that contained mint candies inside, clarifying its original use by saying, “It’s actually a dispenser for tickle-ribbed rubbers.”

The interview had a few high moments. VICE But it did attract the attention of sexologist Alfred Kinsey, whom you befriended. Did he encourage your work?

KA Yes. Kinsey was doing interviews for his book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, and I don’t know… What if you are not human? The title is kind of awkward, but that was what he called his research book. He was basically a biologist, an expert on wasps, of all things. When he came to LA to do interviews, I met him. He came to see Fireworks at the Coronet Theatre at a midnight showing, and he wanted to buy a print for his collection at Indiana University. I agreed, and that was the first copy I ever sold. But I remained good friends with him until the end of his life.

VICE Do you have a favorite star from this era?

KA I love the career of Rudolph Valentino, who died at 31 and had an amazing trajectory in that short time. His life continues to fascinate me.

VICE Do you continue to find new information?

KA I have plenty of information on him. There are facts, and then there is gossip. I go for the facts, but I will listen to the gossip. [smiles]

VICE Your willingness to sift through the gossip was a point of contention with some people when Hollywood Babylon was published, especially after its second printing. Some have accused you of muckraking, and others have even gone further and claim that it contains factual inaccuracies.

KA Well, I’ve never been sued…

VICE In other words, your detractors can’t prove it.

KA No one ever came up to me and said, “Well, you made the whole thing up.” Because I didn’t.

HB is a fun book, with great pictures. The stories are mostly lies, but this is Hollywood we are talking about. With its continued popularity, there will be plenty of copies at yard sales and used book stores.
Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.
This feature presentation was written like Kurt Vonnegut.





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