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May 24 2023
Kenneth Anger, First Queer Filmmaker & Author Of HOLLYWOOD BABYLON Books, Dies @ 96 Comments (0)

Kenneth-anger-boyculture-gayLook back at Anger (Images via video stills)

Kenneth Anger, the legendary iconoclastic queer filmmaker whose visionary shorts — made from the '40s through the '70s — were highly influential and controversial, has died at 96.


Born into a well-to-do Santa Monica family on February 3, 1927, Kenneth Wilbur Anglemyer was an early devotée of all things occult. He became fascinated by films and Hollywood artifice as a child, allegedly appearing as the Changeling Prince in the 1935 film A Midsummer Night's Dream, and making his first film in 1937.

He was 10.

A sampler of his work:


LOOK BACK IN ANGER: The Work of Queer Filmmaker Kenneth Anger, 96, Will Blow Your Mind

♬ original sound - Matthew Rettenmund/BoyCulture

The 16mm short — Ferdinand the Bull — was fashioned from leftover film after a family vacation. The film exists, but has never been shown. The film the self-named Anger considered his debut work, Who Has Been Rocking My Dreamboat (1941), was his first to include a pop soundtrack — namely, he stole some music by the Ink Spots and other hit acts of the day. He also created the sci-fi flick Prisoner of Mars (1942), but these two films are thought to have been destroyed by Anger when he got older and took a stronger hand in his legacy.

Anger was a gay teenager and knew it, and was even arrested.

In 1947, Anger shot one of his most famous works, the unflinchingly homoerotic Fireworks. Shown in 1948, it is shocking today to think of the risks he took in making this 14-minute mini-masterpiece. 

He went on to create the female-absorbed Puce Moment (1949) and The Love That Whirls (1949), the latter of which was destroyed as pornography by the lab to which Anger sent it for processing.

Rabbit's Moon (1950-1971; Anger was big on tinkering with his films seemingly forever) is one of his most beguiling works, one that winks at the Silent Era. Eaux d'Artifice (1953), like Puce Moment a one-scene film that was supposed to have been longer, is truly a beautiful and suggestive achievement.

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) was his longest work to that point, a 38-minute surrealist trip, and became a film fest award winner.

Hollywood-babylon-kenneth-anger-boycultureHe raised a couple of good points. (Image via Phoenix)

Broke, Anger and Elliott Stein (1928-2012) wrote the incendiary Hollywood Babylon (1959, first European publication), which was a nasty, compulsively readable effort to blow the lid off Hollywood phoniness by reporting lurid details of stars' love lives and ignominious deaths. Filled with outright lies and hard-to-forget photos, the book was published many times, inspired a 1984 sequel, and sold and sold — including, the following decades, millions in the

Scorpio Rising (1963), drenched in biker iconography and set to a copyright-defying '60s soundtrack, could be Anger's best-known, most influential work, along with Fireworks, and he followed it up with another screamingly gay film, Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), which — incredibly — was bankrolled by Ford.

By the '60s, Anger was into hallucinogenics and a full-on student of the work of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), the influence of which was seen in both Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969) and another masterpiece, Lucifer Rising (1970-1980).

Though Anger made other shorts and fragments, Lucifer Rising was his last famous piece. He spent most of the rest of his life being celebrated for his earlier work, leading him to declare:

I was a child prodigy who never got smarter.

RIP to a fascinating character.