Satanic history comes alive in one of the most recent books published on Satanism, with a focus on LaVey and the early Church of Satan. This review is for the California Infernal photo book, put together by the Church of Satan, Carl Abrahamsson, Alf Whalgren, and the works of the paparazzi photographer, Walter Fischer.
California Infernal: Anton LaVey & Jayne Mansfield is a collection of photographs of LaVey and his early church of Satan, and his time spent with the sensational actress Jayne Mansfield.
Anton LaVey created the Church of Satan in the late 1960’s and co-wrote it’s supplemental book, the Satanic Bible along with his wife, Diane LaVey. California Infernal was re-released in this second-edition book in September 2017, with additional color photographs of Mansfield towards the end of the book.
This book contains photos taken by Walter Fischer who served as a photographer for the LaVeys for their private and public functions for many years. He captured many of their important moments with candid photos. The photos in California Infernal, taken from the 1966-68 era, show the early Church of Satan and their public gatherings.
Many of these photos have never been published before, so it was fun to see a bit of Satanic history from the past.
The Anton Lavey: Disobey Art Exhibit
On October 2017, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passing of Anton LaVey, a special art display was made at the Black Rabbit Rose Gallery in Los Angeles. The event was attended by many fans of LaVey’s works.
The gallery titled the exhibit ‘Disobey: Anton LaVey‘, and they had special guest speakers conduct ceremonies for it’s opening. Kenneth Anger gave a Satanic lecture, and Church of Satan member and Satanic artist, Johnson Leyba had his artworks on display as well. Mr Leyba did an opening Satanic ceremony for the participants.
California Infernal was an enjoyable book, and it recounted the moments between LaVey and Jane Mansfield, supposedly a month before she died. Of course, LaVey had an obsession with beauty queens and Hollywood movie stars, so California Infernal shows pictures of LaVey posing at Marylin Monroe’s grave as well.
Personally, I thought that LaVey posing beside Monroe’s grave was kind of odd, but then again, I’ve been known to hang around a few graveyards myself once in a while, just for fun.
The book is very well made with a hot pink hardcover (in the color and style of the Satanic Witch Book), and a dust jacket filled with pictures and newspaper clippings of stories about LaVey. You get to read the story of how this book came to be in the introduction as well. Kenneth Anger’s foreward recalls his fond memories of his friendship with Anton throughout the years; and an introduction by Alf Whalgren who describes how he obtained the photo collection from Walter Fischer.
Most of the photos are black and white but some are in color, made in the style of 1960’s photographic quality. California Infernal does contain nudity but it is artfully done, showing some nude ritual scenes from the Satanic chambers of the Black House in San Fransisco.
I enjoyed looking through he photos of his rituals and meeting chambers where he held the first ‘Magical Circle’ lectures that someday became what we know as the Church of Satan.
Unpublished Photos of Anton & Diane
There are lovely, previously unpublished photos of Diane LaVey as well from church meetings and ritual chamber work. Also, there is a section on the Zeena LaVey Satanic baptism, showing previously unpublished photos captured on that memorable day. At the end of the book is a guide to the images recalling when and where the pictures were taken and who could possibly be in the photos.
This book is meant for those who are collectors of LaVey’s works and for those who are interested in filling out their historical collection on Satanism. As a photography book, California Infernal is an excellent coffee table book for conversation; that’s where I’ve been keeping mine!
Overall this book would also make a nice holiday gift for the LaVey or Church of Satan fan in your life. I enjoyed this book and I’m glad that I added it to my Satanic collection!
- Hardcover: 152 pages
- Publisher: Trapart Books (September 26, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9198324314 / ISBN-13: 978-9198324310
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.8 x 10.5 inches
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