Address Los Angeles, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, explores the lesser-to-unknown corners of LA: be it an address, an artist, or a fleeting thought.
LIFE Magazine laid them out like a high school yearbook. 242 young men, “One Week’s Dead.” “The numbers of the dead [from May 28-June 3, 1969] are average for any seven-day period during this stage of the war.”
Back home in America, a savage biker gang by the name of The Satans are busy terrorizing the deserts of California, raping and murdering, taking what and whom they want. It’s “the most vicious & violent film of the decade,” a “wild rebellion,” and “wild beyond belief.” If the cover of LIFE, the face of a single one of those 242 soldiers, is too heavy, the film Satan’s Sadists is having it’s second world-premiere in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Jet Drive-In, June 7th, 1969.
Out in California, Sidewalk Productions is on the front cover of that morning’s Billboard magazine, heralding a music production agreement with five major labels, as well as the soundtrack and scoring for a number of upcoming films. Only in passing, and incorrectly named, is their work on “The Satans” mentioned.
25 miles northwest of their offices, at 23000 Santa Susana Pass in the town of Chatsworth, on the near-derelict ranch where the film had been shot only a few months prior, a maniacal and sadistic man has transfixed a small band of people swept up in the drugs and mystical nature of 1969. They’d loitered around the set, walking around or watching the filming with a glazed stare. The father of this family fixed a couple of dune-buggies for the film. His follower’s devotion to him is absolute.
15 hours ahead, into the morning hours of Sunday, June 8th, 1969, the singer of the theme song to Satan’s Sadists is in Vietnam. He’s cut his tracks with the people at Sidewalk – his old friend Harley Hatcher and future Acting-Governor of California Mike Curb – after basic training, but before shipping off.
Two months and two days later, the film is starting to gain some momentum, playing at more and more drive-ins across the country – and Sharon Tate, along with 6 others, have been murdered in a mass killing the police are calling “ritualistic.”
LIFE Magazine lays his close-up out like the high school photo of a wild-eyed madman. “The Wreck of a Monstrous Family.” It’s December 29th, 1969, and Charles Manson, the “cult leader” behind the Tate murders, has been arrested.
Now you can “see the shocking story behind the headlines” – learn how a “Bizarre ‘bike opera’ ties to Tate terror” – because it was “actually filmed where the Tate suspects lived their wild experiences!”
The Satans are on more screens than ever, and as the film opens, after the gang has called dibs for a gang rape, and as they push a car (man bound in the trunk and all) over a cliffs edge, drums rise up rapidly, and the most swinging theme song about being the evilest person hits its groove. The car thrashes against rocks and finally comes to a stop, where it explodes – Paul Wibier’s voice cuts through the destruction and tells the story of the leader of the gang, a man named Satan himself, as the opening credits roll.
That voice, one that Danzig has all but admitted to mimicking, is something akin to a devil-worshipping Tom Jones. It’s eerie, plaintive and evil. The story is of a boy, “born mean,” from a mother not unlike the one before the opening credits. By age 2, he’s nicknamed Satan. By age 12, he’s murdering in his name.
LIFE Magazine throws a cowboy hat on his head, a football under his arm and a daffodil in his hand. “Dennis Hopper: The Easy Rider Runs Wild.” It’s June 29th, 1970. Across America, Satan’s Sadists is a hit at drive-ins, no matter what anyone says about how shitty it is. Charles Manson sits, squirms, and yells in a courtroom as his trial is beginning. Harley Hatcher has got a song in the #1 movie of the week. And Paul Wibier returns from Vietnam, slipping into the shadows of Southern California for the rest of his life. words / b kramer