Search

The Man Who Sold The World - My Times With Adam Parfrey


It was 1987 and I was nine years old. The media frenzy sweeping the nation now collectively referred to as “the satanic panic” was in full swing. Nick Bougas, Boyd Rice & Adam Parfrey, all long time fans and newfound friends of my grandfather Anton were on one of there many pilgrimages visiting “the doctor” as Anton was referred to in polite company. It was on one such occasion shortly after Zeena had finally had her fill of seeing me violently abused by her first husband and broke things off with him, that she took me out for drinks with this band of oddball outsiders that fondly recalled in later years being sort of a satanic rat pack with Anton, the Sinatra of the bunch. Zeena and I met up with Nick, Boyd & Adam at the Tonga Room in San Francisco. The scene was dream like. We were sitting fountain-side in the expansive ornate restaurant. Unlike the bustling atmosphere nearly three decades later when I invited my now deceased friend Hollie Stevens to dine there with me while she was battling what ended up being terminal cancer, the place was empty except for the five of us. Zeena was about 22 at the time and Adam was just shy of 30 years old. In retrospect I guess it was kind of like an episode of The Satanic Dating Game.

My next memory of Adam was from the sound of him and Zeena fucking on the other side of the wall in our small LaBrea Avenue flat shortly after Zeena and I relocated to LA in 1988. I was up late that night with the volume on my tv turned up as loud as it could go to drown out the sounds of moaning and creaking from the box spring against my bedroom wall. Apparently Zeena thought it necessary to fuck Adam in exchange for letting her write the introduction to the reissue of my grandfather’s third book originally titled “The Compleat Witch - Or What To Do When Virtue Fails”. Adam renamed it “The Satanic Witch” in keeping with the title theme of Anton’s first two books and changed the cover to match those of The Satanic Bible & Rituals. This was a shrewd business move on the part of Adam who landed the contract to republish the book under his new Amok Press publishing house which he later renamed Feral House. Perhaps Zeena placed too much stock in the philosophy that “The Satanic Witch” espoused. After Adam had his fun with Zeena, it was Uncle Boyd’s turn. Boyd Rice, the experimental noise music pioneer and counterculture iconoclast came by to fuck my mom on several occasions. Wanting more out of a relationship than just casual sex, but unable to find the intellectual stimulation he longed for, he quickly gave up on “dating” Zeena shortly thereafter. It wasn’t long after this Nikolas Schreck materialized. An awkward one eared trust fund fan boy who was all too eager to bed Zeena down. He made a brief attempt to win my favor, not yet realizing that Zeena, a casebook study narcissist, couldn’t care less about my opinion on the matter of whom she courted. Nikolas turned out to be a calculating opportunist who manipulated Zeena into making some of the worst decisions of her life. Before meeting my now estranged mother Zeena, Nikolas Schreck (real name; Barry Dubin) had, for a time in the mid 1980’s, a “band” called Radio Werewolf. A failed pet project financed by Nikolas’ parents featuring hokey Halloween decorations, truly atrocious “musical” accompaniment and a talentless Nikolas as frontman. Unable to be taken seriously when compared to acts that he attempted to emulate like Christian Death, he set his sights on Zeena. I suppose he fancied himself the future High Priest of Satan if he feigned being in love with Zeena long enough. That plan didn’t work out very well. Radio Werewolf did open for Guns n’ Roses, but that was long before GnR was signed to a label. The band also made a brief but entertaining cameo performance in the campy 80’s teen date night horror movie “Mortuary Academy,” which to this day stands as the “best” performance Radio Werewolf ever did. In 1988 Adam participated in the 8/8/88 satanic/nazi themed rally at The Strand Theater in San Francisco along with Zeena, Boyd, Nick and Nikolas.

Zeena and Nikolas eventually burned bridges with Adam, as well as pretty much everyone else that they knew. In Adam’s case it had to do with “The Manson File” book. On more than one occasion Adam brought it up in conversation with me. He never forgave himself for handing over all of his Charles Manson research materials to Nikolas Schreck. The book was essentially completed before Nikolas had anything to do with the project. The only reason Adam granted Nikolas title credit for the book in the first place was because he (Parfrey) feared that his fledgling Amok Press would quickly begin to look like a vanity operation if he once again took title credit. At the time Charlie Manson was just about as unpopular as satanism was, so finding someone willing to tie themself to the project for the purpose of promoting it, if you can even call it that, was not as easy a task as one may think it would be by today’s broad spectrum standards and interests. Little remained to do to complete the book but Nikolas insisted on reviewing the source materials anyway “if he was to put his name on it” - Adam reluctantly agreed. That was the last time Adam saw what amounted to a lifetime of hard research and obsessive collecting he had done on the subject and symbolized a permanent end to the relationship Adam had with Zeena and Nikolas.

With no one left to collaborate with, the only means by which the pair were ever able to get anything accomplished, Zeena and Nikolas picked up shop and hastily moved the three of us along with our three cats to Vienna Austria with me defiantly in tow. The would be Goth “supergroup” fell on deaf ears with their neo-nazi themed album “Songs For The End Of The World”. Their attempted early 90’s reboot of Radio Werewolf with the addition of a shrill voiced Zeena in Austria - the birthplace of “Der Fuhrer” Adolf Hitler, a country proud of it’s associations with classical composers the likes of Mozart, did not go according to plan. Entertaining immature delusions of grandeur and presuming that their obsession with the Third Reich and the occult would somehow supernaturally overpower post-war era anti-hitlerism, was a total failure.

My godfather is Richard Lamparski, the legendary writer who invented the “who they were then and where they are now” brand of journalism. His eleven book series “Whatever Became Of..” can be found in every film historian’s library. Richard owned a portrait of Shirley Temple dressed in full Nazi regalia holding a riding crop held up between her thighs pressed firmly into her crotch. With the big famous smile of hers, curly locks, in black leather boots with a swastika armband on her sleeve, the piece was inarguably fetishistic and shocking to behold. Richard had it hung in one of his guest bedrooms at his Hollywood hills home which I spent some of the happiest weekends at as a child. He gave the room the name “Shirley’s Temple” because of the 6x4 foot framed artwork on display front and center when he’d open the door to the shrine. The kinky portrait became something bordering on urban legend. Having caught wind of Richard’s plans to move to Santa Barbara, where he still currently resides, Adam who was always on the lookout for deals on all things bizarre, contacted Richard inquiring about the famous “Shirley’s Temple” art piece. Richard informed Adam that he was in fact moving and planning on selling the “Shirley’s Temple” centerpiece. Without hesitation Adam rushed over to Richard’s house and the two quickly negotiated the sale and Adam brought it back to his downtown LA office. The quirky and eccentric character actor Crispin Glover most remembered as “McFly” in the 1980’s movie “Back To The Future” was a long time friend of Adam’s. While Crispin was making his independent short film “What Is It?” which Adam, myself and other’s nicknamed the “Retard Movie” due mostly to the film’s featuring various special needs type people with handicaps like down syndrome, Crispin was introduced to the “Shirley’s Temple” artwork. Crispin cast Adam who appeared in blackface in the Kenneth Angeresque “What Is It?”. During the lengthy film production Crispin also purchased the “Shirley’s Temple” artwork from Adam after deciding to use it as promotional art for the film’s release.

It wasn’t until around 2000/2001 that I reconnected with Adam Parfrey while I was performing with the band “Beyond Joy And Evil” and then setting up shop myself, in a slightly more rational minded manner than my mondo-bizarro predecessors who briefly operated a store called “Hell House of Hollywood.” In their store they sold mostly items that they had stolen, including itemized pieces from the aforementioned “Manson File”. Zeena and Nikolas’ Hell House charged it’s patrons one dollar entrance fee as a means to more effectively prevent people like Adam from gaining entrance and baring witness to things that had been stolen from them being on display with price tags attached. Of course charging the general public to merely enter a store had a damaging effect to Zeena and Nikolas’ already bad reputation, leading to the store closing down pretty quickly. I opened ODIUM on the Sunset strip within a block of Guitar Center and around the corner from “Gardner Street Elementary School” where I graduated from 6th grade. As a child I witnessed the dedication of my school’s “Michael Jackson Auditorium,” a facade that had long since been boarded over following the aging pop stars notorious out of court settlements to the parents of some Jackson’s alleged underage molestation victims. In 2001 Los Angeles was a wasteland. Hollywood, along with the entertainment industry it houses, was aching for inspiration. There was little to offer in the likes of anywhere unusual to send it’s stranger resident celebrities and movie industry executives. I forged a friendly alliance with Panpipes Magical Marketplace and The Museum of Death, when the now ever expanding Museum, thanks to the hard work and dedication of murderers everywhere, was merely a small hole-in-the-wall side street showcase. The scene as it exists today could not have been imagined then. While building ODIUM, single handedly I might add, I approached my old friend Adam Parfrey to see if he would help me out by supplying me with some Feral House books to add to my inventory. He was thrilled to hear from me after so many years away and agreed without hesitation to provide me with what turned out to be bookstore “send backs” which had slight imperfections or that were damaged in some way during the shipping. We reached a gentlemen’s agreement that he would give me boxes of these otherwise unsellable books with the promise that I would pay him monthly 50% of whatever I made from selling them. After spending every last dollar I had saved up from my previous jobs working in silicon valley as well as maxing out all of my credit cards in order to self-fund ODIUM, I was literally surviving sale to sale. I remember vividly the first time I brought Adam his cut from the sales of Feral House books, making the trip to his downtown office on fumes without money for gas and stomach growing without money for food. I wanted to prove Adam right for trusting me, plus I needed to restock my spinning Feral House book rack. I went to deliver Adam the $500 cash I owed him. He was surprised and pleased when he greeted me at the door and I followed him past the small stockroom that doubled as a secretarial space, into his even smaller personal office. It was a dreary winter night, the cars looked like hot wheels from the window of his 20th story office. Adam slumped into his chair and asked me how sales had been and I told him that I was nearly sold out of Feral House books, my #1 best selling item! I pulled out the five one hundred dollar bills and passed them to him his eyes beaming, a wicked smile stretching across his face. While casually tossing the money into the drawer of his desk he exclaimed, “great! money for crack!” At the time it felt like a low blow but I didn’t complain. Instead I left with several more boxes of books following a friendly exchange about underground art and other topics of mutual interest. On my way back to ODIUM, where I also lived because I couldn’t afford a store and a separate dwelling, I tried hard to believe that he must have been joking with me about the “money for crack” bit, even though I was pretty sure he was serious.

Not long after I dropped off that first payment to Adam, I received a call from him asking me when I would be available to meet him at ODIUM because he wanted to check out the store and check up on me. I got the feeling he might have felt bad after the “money for crack” remark probably due at least in part to the uncontrollable change that occurred when the expression on my face went from proud to aghast in about as long as it takes to say the word “crack.” Perhaps it was also due to the fact that at the time I was making more money for him personally selling damaged books than any other single retail outlet was making for him selling perfectly good copies. Being the grandson of one of his personal hero’s as well as the estranged son of that hero’s daughter who he had slept with, and then later became an enemy to, might have also had a little something to do with it. Friends of Adam’s had come to my shop and literally every single one of them drew the comparison of my shop with the by then extinct “KOMA” bookstore which was originally co-owned by Adam until he decided to branch off into publishing. After selling his share of the store he created AMOK (KOMA backwards) publishing house. I was informed countless times that my store was “just like KOMA but way better, cleaner, more well put together, having more variety, in a much more desirable location and most of all beautiful to behold and experience in it’s appearance” compared to the dingy little overpacked downtown LA KOMA bookstore that carried almost exclusively books. ODIUM was arguably the first ever “oddities” shop, inspiring a slew of imitations across the nation and eventually a TV show “ODDITIES” which first aired about a decade after ODIUM closed it’s doors permanently. Evidently word had gotten back to Adam that I had created something truly special and singularly unique in ODIUM and he wanted to see what all the hype was about. It was at that point that I confessed to Adam that I was living at ODIUM and explained that I was having a hard time sustaining the high overhead even with stars like Marilyn Manson, Glen Danzig, Rick Rueben, and Don Murphy the producer of Natural Born Killers, shopping there regularly. I told him he could come by anytime and that I would be there since I couldn’t afford to pay a cashier to work for me and he invited me out to lunch. It made my heart soar to see an even happier expression on his face than the one he had when I gave him the first $500 and he reinforced the claims of those who visited before him when he admitted that ODIUM was everything he had originally wanted KOMA to be. This sentiment more than made up for the gut punched feeling I left his office with the previous time I had seen him. Adam’s praise led to the validation needed for none other than Ron Athey to write a full page STYLE section article about ODIUM for the LA WEEKLY. We laughed while trading ideas and experiences of prank based publicity stunts, something Adam secretly loved doing. Before opening ODIUM, and in the wake of 9-11, only one month after the World Trade Center buildings came crashing down, I performed in costume live as Osama Bin Laden. Before the government put it’s “anti-terrorism” laws into global effect, I took to the stage complete with beard, black and white houndstooth print sheet wrapped around me and dowsing the audience with noxious smelling 99 cent store perfume that happened to be green and conveniently packaged in a clear glass bottle. Shouting anti-American hate slurs at the appalled onlookers whom I had convinced that the cheap perfume was actually “anthrax” along with the Goddess Bunny making her best attempt to deliver musical chords from an antique harmonium, the show was a blast. I had passed out fliers all over LA announcing “OSAMA BIN LADEN LIVE!” with a picture of the infamous terrorist as the vehicle to promote this audacious performance art spectacle. It was upon learning of this daring feat that we hatched the idea to hold a book release and slide show presentation of Adam’s middle eastern counter-propaganda, some of which was featured his book “Extreme Islam.” My suggestion to hire an armed off duty Los Angeles Police Officer as a security measure for the event was not for shock value, although it certainly had a desirable effect. I genuinely feared that Adam, myself or worse yet the entire store might get riddled with bullets, or even bombed, considering the over the top subject matter being displayed within. I needed to hold regular events in order to get free ad space in the LA WEEKLY calendar section in my efforts to drum up business because I couldn’t possibly afford actual advertising. This was not the only time Adam read to an eager audience at ODIUM, but it was the first and certainly the most memorable one. No one was hurt during the event, thankfully, but my reputation for having the most extreme book store and gallery on earth was firmly established as the result. In a matter of days I was being sent articles from around the world informing people everywhere that “the most shocking shop ever” has been established. By the time the LA WEEKLY feature about ODIUM hit newsstands I had already long grown accustomed to telling people that it was an “art installation” rather than a store or gallery because I wasn’t able to afford to keep it open - having to choose between remaining open for business or feeding myself, I was left with the ultimate satanic dilemma and, much like the “Little Shop Of Horrors” I felt as though it was eat or be eaten and not wanting to end up like Seymour I chose to close the doors after only eight short months. The saddest part was that by the time the LA WEEKLY article came out I was already in the beginning stages of packing up. Having to turn away droves of eager would be customers was heartbreaking. I left my heart in San Francisco, but I put my soul into ODIUM.

About seven years after closing ODIUM, a stretch of time in my life filled with adventure, excitement and so much tomfoolery, I found myself at the center of an ever swirling vortex of business and fun with many of the more celebrated patrons I had originally met at ODIUM. I had maintained my friendship with Adam throughout those wild years, working and playing along side each other along the way. One night in particular stands out in my memory as a kind of capstone in 30 years of friendship. I was at my studio apartment that was directly beneath the HOLLYWOOD sign on Beachwood Drive that I used as a sort of burrow to my nightlife escapades. Late one Saturday night I got a phone call from Boyd Rice notifying me that he was in town visiting and that him and Adam were out with a couple of mutual friends of ours and wanted to see what I was “up” to, implying that they wanted to score some coke. I had gained yet another nefarious reputation that preceded me as a drug dealer to the stars (rock and porn mostly) as well as for being an industrial grade pussy magnet. I told the “boys” that I was busy entertaining female company and getting high with them, but that I would put my trousers back on and make a special exception for my longtime friends. In a matter of minutes I could hear the drunken yelling and cheering of the rascals outside in the street. Knowing very well the sort of womanizing louts I was dealing with and wanting to spare my lady friends from being molested, or worse, I decided to go downstairs to meet them. I’m not sure if Boyd and Adam were trying to look cool to each other or both to me but while rushing across the street to greet me Boyd realized that he had left his money in the car and turned to Adam, who was so drunk he was having a hard enough time making it down the curb on the opposite side of the narrow street from us, when Boyd casually and without warning tossed the set of keys across the street with the idea that Adam, who wasn’t the athletic type, would catch them. The keys landed a few feet shy of Adam and slid straight between his legs right down into the gutter and fell six feet or more down into the sewer. I stood there laughing at the spectacle and watched as the two men hatched a scheme to retrieve the lost keys. After several failed attempts to retrieve them in a number of conventional manners by reaching down into the gutter and even trying to lower each other head first into it with no success. Adam was too robust to fit into the curb high slot and although Boyd was just barely slender enough to fit into it, neither Adam or myself wanted to be held accountable for accidentally dropping Uncle Boyd on his head if we should lose our grip on his ankles. It became clear that short of calling the fire department, an idea I wasn’t keen on considering at this point I was the only guy “holding” and didn’t want to go to jail, Boyd suggested the three of us lift the lid of the closest manhole in the center of the street and “give it a shot” which we did. Boyd, ever the gentleman that he is volunteered to climb down into the manhole and search out the keys, blaming himself for the bad throw. A minute or two later Adam and I heard the echoing voice of Boyd beneath the street yelling “I GOT ‘EM!” followed by a long wet pale arm with a rolled up black sleeve reaching out from inside the gutter like the “thing” in the Addams Family, jangling the keys for Adam to grab. It was side-splittingly hilarious and a perfect anecdote for the kind of silliness that was a running theme in the life of Adam Parfrey.

It couldn’t have been more than a year after this encounter that I received a personal invitation to Adam’s farewell party. A far cry from the tiny skid row office that he occupied ten years earlier, Adam was married to a beautiful woman living in a beautiful house and he seemed on top of the world. I was confused by his pending departure from LA and asked him why he was moving. He told me he was tired of the fast life. He wanted something more serene, some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. Somewhere that he and his then wife Jodi could share special time in seclusion together and he divulged to me that he had his sights set on a bigger home in a picturesque coastal town in the pacific northwest someplace near Seattle. I felt deeply honored to have been invited to such a private and personal soiree of some thirty or so close friends and associates. I felt sad though too at the idea that this brother in arms, my comrade from childhood, who took me under his wing when I moved back to LA, who without which I simply couldn’t have opened ODIUM was, in a way, leaving me behind. Being sensitive to the metaphysical aspects of things I did not feel as though I was alone in my sentiment. I got the impression most everyone there felt similarly. Of course I didn’t fault him for it - I was happy for him - but I had a sense that it might be the last time I would see him. I was right, it was.

It wasn’t the last time I talked to him though. Over the years we communicated by way of telephone and email and he always seemed happy to hear from me. We had a lot of fun exchanges online and when he released his book “Ritual America” he reached out to me to get my mailing address to send me an inscribed copy. The inscription, which I won’t repeat, was short but special. Ever mindful of words and their power, Adam chose a closing to the inscription that conveyed very clearly how much I meant to him personally. I can’t help but getting choked up now thinking about it. I haven’t pulled the book from the shelf in years and haven’t yet because I’m not prepared to cry as much as I know it will make me.

On the night of May 10th 2018 I was up late working with my wife, Sharon, who never got the chance to meet Adam, but did answer the phone once or twice to the sound of his voice on the other end greeting her politely with a little bit of small talk before asking if I was available. We didn’t realize why we were both so possessed to get that old LA WEEKLY article up onto my site until I flopped into bed to wrap up the days work with a few emails. I touched base with my French publisher and a long time mutual friend of mine and Adam’s, Nico Claux, who gave me the terrible news that Adam was gone. It was only a little over a week ago that I finally had the 3/4 inch film tape masters from the making of “Speak of the Devil” that Adam gave me so many years ago, transferred to digital format. Timing being just one of the many “tricks of the trade” that I picked up from Adam’s mentoring, I opted to wait until I felt the publics interest reached an ideal level before having this material that Adam bestowed upon me digitized. Over the week leading up to his death I reviewed many hours of footage of Adam interviewing and documenting my grandfather, his home and his musical talents. I was poised to send Adam a message to tell him about the transfers and how they turned out, never thinking that I wouldn’t get the chance to. A firm believer in the unbelievable I am positive that Adam did get my last ‘message’ to him. Knowing how hard working of a writer Adam was, I stayed up all night writing this, my tribute to him.

Adam, thank you for everything.

With undying admiration & eternal love - you’re friend to the end…

Beast,

Stanton LaVey

#AdamParfrey #SatanicPanic #NickBougas #BoydRice #SanFrancisco #ZeenaLaVey #RatPack #FrankSinatra #TongaRoom #HollieStevens #DatingGame #TheCompleatWitch #TheSatanicWitch #TheSatanicRituals #Counterculture #iconoclast #FeralHouse #NikolasSchreck #RadioWerewolf #Halloween #ChristianDeath #GunsnRoses #MortuaryAcademy #TheMansonFile #AdolfHitler #Mozart #ViennaAustria

0 views