Nikolas Schreck on Radio Werewolf, The Manson Mystique, and the Satanic Panic of the 1980s: Interview by Christophe Lorenz, 2008 Included in Le Gourou du rock
When and how exactly did you create Radio Werewolf?
Nikolas Schreck: I didn’t ”create it”. It possessed me. It was something in the Zeitgeist, an invisible intelligence that took a hold of me and the musicians and magicians I worked with at that time. Radio Werewolf is a sound, a vibration, a certain frequency from another world. I just transmitted it. The bodies and minds of all the people who tuned into that frequency were the mediums that broadcast came through on. I only get credit for ”creating” it because I have a big mouth, I was in the front of the stage, and I was the one the media paid the most attention to.
But Radio Werewolf always was a completely collaborative ritual. In that sense, it was continually in the process of being created by those who participated in the Working. Actually, from 1988-1993 it was artistically, aesthetically, musically and philosophically as much Zeena’s creation as it was mine. That last point isn’t generally recognized due to the essentially sexist, adolescent macho perspective of the stupid-ass genre of music our efforts tend to get pigeonholed in.
And if you want to understand it at all, you need to understand that it was primarily a long-term magical ritual, thinly disguised as an artistic endeavor. At the beginning, I was the benevolent dictator in the center of the circle who made sure the trains ran on time. But it always fused the mutual visions of everyone involved with it at the moment, whether that was an old beatnik bongo player, a Siberian viola player, or a flautist from San Jose. And true to the shapeshifting nature of a werewolf, its energy and form kept changing too quickly for me to really control it.
If you’re asking me how it began on a human level, though, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment. For instance, I’d already written many of the lyrics for Radio Werewolf songs like Dark Ages, Triumph of the Will and Pogo the Clown as early as the late seventies. Some of my earliest bands, such as Fifth Column, Meldegänger The Creeping Unknown, Artifax, and Death Radio were prototypes for what eventually coalesced into Radio Werewolf.
Even though it didn’t have a name yet, you could say Radio Werewolf began the day after John Lennon was shot in December 1980. That was the day I first met and made music with Kirby, a musician and artist from Texas. Years later, he ended up recording the videos of our early shows, filmed the Death Valley portions of Charles Manson Superstar, and contributed music and lyrics to two of the later albums. Among the songs that eventually ended up in the RW repertoire that Kirby and I recorded versions of in 1980 for our project Skull Culture were Sister Lucretia and Dark Ages, which was finally preserved in a slightly different version on Songs for the End of the World.
Shortly after working with Kirby, in 1981, I met a musically gifted maniac named Nathan Pino, who was the archetype of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera come to life. He became Radio Werewolf’s first keyboard player. We shared a love of classical and religious organ music, 1960s Monstermania, a fascination with the spiritual side of the Third Reich, and a mutual passion for the female of the species. We began to collaborate on classically influenced songs that were originally just vocal and piano. Our first review came from one of Pino’s neighbors, who complained that he couldn’t sleep with ”Vincent Price’s Theatre of Mental Illness” going on next door. Pino introduced me to the notorious Republican drummer Evil Wilhelm, and then we were three. Originally, we were called Conqueror Worm and for a while, The Unholy Three.
This early collaboration was interrupted in 1983, when I moved from Los Angeles to London. During a pilgrimage to Egypt, I underwent a profound religious experience that set me on the life’s mission I’ve been fulfilling ever since.
I returned, transformed and touched by divine inspiration, to the USA in 1984. Pino, Wilhelm and I took off from where we had left off. It wasn’t until the name Radio Werewolf came to me as the perfect expression of what we were doing that the beast started to come to life and take on its fatal momentum.
Once the music got into the heads of our fans and followers, and into the heads of our enemies and detractors, it was out of our control completely. As far as I’m concerned, Radio Werewolf didn’t reach its full strength of expression until Zeena brought the much-needed left-hand path feminine energy into the cauldron.
What was your aim with this band at this time? Because it seems that there was a strong concept from the very beginning.
Nikolas Schreck: Radio Werewolf was motivated by the same impulse that drives all of my work, namely to orchestrate an aesthetic and spiritual crisis sufficiently unexpected to lead to the enlightenment and liberation of those prepared to awaken. This was made explicit in the Radio Werewolf Indoctrination statement, in which Evil Wilhelm and I wrote: ”Fear is the key to enlightenment and only by befriending it, can the mind be totally free. Terror. Dread. Horror: these are the magical tools of the initiate in the process of attaining the mastery of the soul.”
On the other hand, Radio Werewolf is just a name for a nameless and timeless rite of sorcery that operated on a impromptu level, drawing directly from and reacting to whatever unconscious powers were moving through and around us. There was never any ”aim” in any formal sense, since it was an evocation of certain forces. We performed the magical task of calling forth those forces through sound and word and we got out of their way and let them manifest as they wished, just to see what would happen. We were also using music as a method of conducting an anthropological experiment allowing us to study the effect of certain stimuli, symbols and sounds on the minds of our audience and ourselves. I think it’s only in retrospect that it looks like a ”strong concept.”
At the time, it was simply a playful and spontaneous eruption taking shape within the magic circle and group mind we formed. Honestly, it was often whatever stuck our sense of humor as amusing or what we thought would entertain ourselves that dictated what we would do. One of the few things I can say we were conscious of was that that we were deliberately working against the mainstream of popular music by infiltrating its form and structure so as to subvert it. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, if you will. At the same time, we were also parodying all the conventional cliches of a pop band and the then-current fears of malevolent influence from music although we (mostly) kept a straight face throughout. As Evil Wilhelm and I also wrote in the Radio Werewolf Indoctrination in 1986, ”Radio Werewolf is utilizing the powerful tool of ‘pop’ culture, in which the impressionable youth of the world are so intertwined. Music, the lowest denominator of the media’s cynical manipulation of youth, must be used for more than the purveyance of mindless escapism.” And the further we pushed the boundaries of that credo, the more we learned about the true nature of the societally brainwashed human mind and the more we learned about ourselves.
When and how did you create the Werewolf Order?
Nikolas Schreck: When Radio Werewolf first began holding its public rallies in the mid-Eighties, the circle of supporters that formed around us was known as the Radio Werewolf Youth Party. As our work evolved, it gradually developed into something that reached a much wider and more diverse audience than the youth it was originally aimed at. The Radio Werewolf Youth Party evolved into the more esoteric and secretive Werewolf Order when I moved to San Francisco in late ’87. It took on its final shape when Zeena and I began working together in 1988, and she became the Alpha Female of the initiatory school for which Radio Werewolf was the public outer face.
What was the aim of the Werewolf Order?
Nikolas Schreck: Well, our aim must have been pretty good since we hit every target we aimed at. There’s no better way to answer your question than to quote from the final paragraph of our informational letter Are You A Werewolf?: ”The work of the WO will not be fully realized in the present day, considering homo sapien’s currently limited capacity for complex information. The forces being transmitted in our laboratories can now be compared to the early application of electricity and radioactivity in that they may be only completely understood in the future.” That still holds true.
When, and how, did you hear about Charles Manson for the first time?
Nikolas Schreck: I’ve got to go back earlier than that. In 1967, my father, who was a Napoleonic military history buff, took me to Paris. One night, we went to see Roman Polanski’s Dance of the Vampires. I still can’t really explain why, but something about that film, especially Krysztof Komeda’s soundtrack, captivated me. So when the murders happened two years later, I was already very aware of who Polanski and Tate were.
As far as I can recall, the first time Manson himself entered my awareness in any significant way was in 1970, when I happened to read an account of his trial. I don’t remember the details except that someone asked Manson if he didn’t think something was a paradox. To which he replied, ”Yeah, it’s a pair of ducks.” Which I thought was a pretty funny bit of word play and absurdism for a guy who was facing a death sentence. After that, like everyone else in America at the time, I followed the media circus around the trial and the more that came through of what Manson actually expressed as his philosophy, as opposed to the distorted nonsense the media and prosecution presented, the more I felt an affinity to his thought. At that time, I was in New England, not far from Avon, Massachusetts, where the so-called Salem Witch Trials took place. And I recall being keenly aware of the similarity between that procedure and the modern witch trial taking place in Los Angeles.
What were your thoughts about him and about what he did at that time?
Nikolas Schreck: To understand my early interest in Manson, and my favorable reaction to him, you’d have to understand something about my background. The hippie movement was all around me as a child, so I was influenced by the generally pro-Manson feeling that ran through the counterculture in the early stages of the trial. I assumed, like many other young people during those early days of the Nixon administration’s war on hippies, that Manson was being set up as a scapegoat to discredit use of LSD, communes, free sex, the anti-war movement, etc. Obviously, now I know it wasn’t quite that simple, but that was how I saw it back then. I never took much interest in the Hollywood soap opera aspect of the crimes themselves, since I didn’t have the same fascination for movie stars and Hollywood that attracted many people to the case. Also, unlike many people who support Manson, I was never in a position where I had to rebel against my parents. My parents were rebels themselves. So I never viewed Manson as some kind of substitute parental figure as I have seen occur so often with those drawn to him. I was brought up in an extremely permissive Bohemian environment. Among other things they did to make a living in the Sixties and early Seventies, my parents managed jazz musicians, so drugs and eccentric alternate lifestyles were nothing new to me even as a child.
My early interest in ceremonial magic, pagan mythology, and witchcraft was never discouraged by my parents and they never forbade me from pursuing these subjects. When I was six years old, I considered myself a warlock. I had a babysitter who considered herself a witch, so this was a perfectly logical progression.
My father experimented seriously with LSD and other psychedelics as a means of expanding consciousness and attaining mystical experience, and later in life, I took psychedelics with him a few times. My parents also made no secret of having an open marriage and were very supportive of sexual freedom. So a commune like Manson’s circle, dedicated to psychedelics and group sex, was nothing shocking or abnormal to me, which is surely one reason that the massive media conditioning aimed at making Manson into a monster didn’t work on me. My father also reared me to have a deep mistrust of the government, the media, and those who represent themselves as the ”good guys”. For instance, my father told me when he was a child in the 1930s, his heroes were John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde, while the other kids in his class all wanted to grow up to be J. Edgar Hoover’s G-Men. Similarly, like millions of other American boys in the Sixties, my role models were the villains of the horror films, not the boring heroes. So, for better or worse, the environment I came out of had a lot to do with the ease with which I accepted Manson as an outlaw anti-hero rather than a psycho killer.
What were the aspects of Manson’s personality and ideology that attracted you?
Nikolas Schreck: His sense of humor in the face of adversity was the first thing that appealed to me. That and his general stance of dissidence and uncompromising defiance against straight society and what was then called ”the establishment.” In the utopian circles I grew up in in the Sixties and early Seventies, you have to understand, it was really believed that a worldwide spiritual and political revolution was about to take place. Manson just seemed like an inevitable step along that road. What really attracted me the most, however was his music. Sometime in 1971, shortly after the Beatles broke up, a friend of mine a little older than me who was a huge Beatles fan, ordered Manson’s album Lie from an underground newspaper. After all the Helter Skelter nonsense the media pushed, he hoped Manson’s music would be just like the Beatles, only more so. He was horribly disappointed by what he heard when he finally got the album in the mail. I, on the other hand, detested the Beatles with a passion. I was moved by Manson’s music as soon as I heard it, and that was ultimately the main reason I contacted him so many years later. Manson himself would probably explain it in a more direct and to the point manner. According to him, those who find a resonance with him and his thought are ”alikens”, one of the key concepts in the Mansonian twilight language. .
What exactly can you tell me about how the original Radio Werewolf concerts from 1985-1988 dealt with the Manson phenomenon?
Nikolas Schreck: Nothing that isn’t already on the public record, since we clearly wore our heart on our sleeve in regard to that cause. Manson the myth and Manson the person were a huge influence on Radio Werewolf, but because of the controversy that part of our public persona engendered, many of the other, more obscure aspects of what we were doing was overlooked. The fact that we didn’t hide that influence made us many foes in the Los Angeles music biz, which even twenty years after the murders was still in the grip of an irrational hysteria about that subject since it had hit so close to home. Evil Wilhelm and I always included direct references to Mansonian thought in our interviews, and we credited a certain No Name Maddox as our ”guru” on the programs distributed at our Youth Rallies. We often played the music of Manson and Beausoleil, which, you need to remember, was then almost completely unknown, on the sound system before we appeared at our Rallies, to set the mood.
Really, it would take more time than I have right now to describe every one of the Manson connections that flowed around the Radio Werewolf phenomenon. Let’s just say it was an omnipresent thing, a deep karmic bond. I’ll just give you a rough idea by mentioning some of the most prominent.
Anne Marie Bates, the sinister circus fat lady and poetess who introduced Radio Werewolf Rallies with her bloodcurdling laugh had met Manson and Squeaky Fromme, who she and a friend had picked up as hitch-hikers during her acid days as a hippie. After many of these Rallies, which were physically and spiritually exhausting, Radio Werewolf’s bassist and I would head off for Barker Ranch in Death Valley to commune with nature, practice our shooting, and unwind from ”civilization.” A lot of our energy came from the same power source in Death Valley that inspired Manson’s best music.
One of our most popular songs when we played live was Charlie’s Girl, which was a kind of psychedelic cartoon stylizing the Manson myth. Bongo Wolf, a local Hollywood character who had known Bobby Beausoleil and his dog Snowflake in the 1960s played bongos onstage for this number. I would usually introduce Charlie’s Girl to the audience by saying that all of the proceeds of that night’s concert would be donated to the Free Charles Manson Fund. I think the first time I did this, appropriately enough, was when we first played the Whisky A Go Go, which is where Jay Sebring and Sharon Tate had their first date back in the 1960s. Of course, there was no such thing as the Free Charles Manson Fund at the time, but I’ve found that humor often reveals hidden truths of things to come.
One of my girlfriends at that time, possibly Radio Werewolf’s most fanatical fan, had just come out of Frontera Woman’s Prison, where she had done time with Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten. When Squeaky Fromme escaped from prison, this girl put up a huge sign in the store she managed that read ”Run, Squeaky, Run!” Another of my girlfriends from that period used to wear one of Sharon Tate’s yellow suits to our concerts. Her older sister, who was Sharon Tate’s clothing designer, gave it to her. And the older sister had met Manson too, when they were both on the Hollywood party scene in the Sixties.
After reading the full proceedings of his trial from the seventies, and studying the various outrageous prejudicial circumstances that surrounded that media circus, I was confirmed in my intuition that Manson had not received a fair trail. I began to correspond with Manson in late ‘85, mostly concerning matters of mutual interest musically, mystically, and our shared concern for ecology and animal liberation. Eventually, Radio Werewolf decided that we would mount a benefit concert to raise money for a new trial for Manson, thus turning what began as a facetious remark I made on stage into a reality. I located a Beverly Hills lawyer who was willing to review the case and determine if there was legal precedent to allow for a retrial, considering the many illegal procedures that marred the first trial. That was the first step.
Radio Werewolf expressed our open support for Manson on several Los Angeles television and radio programs, and that led to the kind of predictable controversy you might expect, but also a surprising amount of support from unexpected quarters. Starting in December of 1986, I started to actively contact other musicians and performers who Manson and others recommended as being supporters of his who might be willing to appear at this event.
By March of 1987, this had taken on enough steam that it became an international cause, with concerts being planned simultaneously in London, New York and L.A on March 21, 1987, the Vernal Equinox. After most of the usual mainstream concert venues Radio Werewolf usually played at balked, we booked the club where the L.A. benefit concert would have been held. After the advertisements for the Manson concert appeared in the press, there was a huge wave of public protest. This persuaded the club owner to renege on his agreement, thus forcing us to cancel the planned rally at the last minute.
Another factor that brought the Manson phenomenon into the mix that went into the early Radio Werewolf Rallies was that I was working intensively on the research that eventually mutated into my book The Manson File and my film Charles Manson Superstar from 1985 to 1988, the same time span in which Radio Werewolf’s first ever-changing formations most frequently performed. I should mention, too, that Radio Werewolf used the same Hollywood rehearsal studio as Guns N’ Roses, another band just starting out then. Guns N’ Roses were very much aware of our connection to Manson, although it would take them a few years before Radio Werewolf’s evil hypnotic influence caused them to record the cover version of Manson’s Look At Your Game Girl, which they were later forced to recant to prove that they were obedient servants of the record industry.
The first incarnation of Radio Werewolf never recorded any album, only one or two songs for compilations (if I’m not mistaken.) What were the reasons for that?
Nikolas Schreck: Actually, you are mistaken. But it’s hard to avoid being mistaken if you do your research on the Internet which is notoriously riddled with errors placed there by unqualified ”experts” who usually have no idea what they’re talking about. In fact, for the past twenty years, many record companies have approached us seeking to release the ”lost” Radio Werewolf album, which has now gained a legendary reputation by its conspicuous absence from the marketplace. Evil Wilhelm and I are planning on releasing it ourselves soon, as one of the prophesied signs portending the impending Apocalypse. Also, it wasn’t the first incarnation of RW but the second incarnation, featuring Paul Antonelli on keyboards and James Collord on bass, that recorded the ten-song album which was due for release in 87/88. It was from those sessions that the song Buried Alive found its way to the 1988 compilation American Gothic.
At that time, you were apparently part of the Abraxas Foundation with Boyd Rice and Adam Parfrey. What was the aim of this foundation?
Nikolas Schreck: There you go with your ”aims” again! I was actually a little more than ”apparently a part” of the Abraxas Foundation. It sounds like you’re getting your information from those pro-Church of Satan sources which routinely seek to write Zeena and myself out of their Satanically correct approved version of history. As a matter of fact, as has been fairly well documented in several easily accessible books and media sources from the time, I co-founded the Abraxas Foundation in 1988 with the first individual you mention. Also, Zeena was an early member of the Abraxas Foundation, too, which has been conveniently forgotten in the LaVeyan version of events. As for its ”aims” during the period in which I co-founded it, and its first public manifestation, which was the now notorious 8-8-88 Rally in San Francisco, I can only speak for myself. I envisioned it as a serious initiatory body dedicated to the revival of the Gnostic deity Abraxas, and a means of transmitting the non-dual wisdom associated with that god to the public through various means.
This has been lost in the barrage of bullshit disseminated on this part of my life, but at that time, we focused on Abraxas, who is both the father of Christ and Christ’s adversary at the same time, because we were trying to create an initiatory body that was free of the simplistic and dualistic ”evil” image that kept contemporary Satanism locked in such a rut. If you want to get a picture of my understanding of the Abraxas Foundation at that time, I’d recommend taking a look at the 1988 interview Tom Metzger conducted with me, in which I discussed plans to develop it into an esoteric think tank.
On August 10, 1989, the night of Charles Manson Superstar’s premiere, Zeena and I finally celebrated our ritual dissolution from any further contact with the two persons you name in your question. From then on we had nothing whatsoever to do with the Abraxas Foundation. However, Zeena and I continued our initiatory investigation of the Abraxan mysteries without interruption. And in the sense that we are clergy of the god Seth, another name given to the supreme sevenfold Gnostic Archon Abraxas, our devotion to that deity is much deeper and more intense today than it was during our brief involvement with the now defunct Abraxas Foundation two decades ago.
After that, were you also connected to the Universal Order, the think tank created by James Mason under Manson’s influence?
Nikolas Schreck: No. Zeena and I had pleasant and cordial relations with James Mason during the time we were preparing Charles Manson Superstar, in which he appeared. But we were never involved with his organization and we haven’t had any contact with him since 1990, when we moved to Austria. From my own personal understanding, ”Universal Order” is a phrase Manson has always used to describe a general spiritual law, and I know that he has been at least tangentially critical of any attempt to regulate a metaphysical force into anything so limited as a political organization.
It seems that you appeared on Tom Metzger’s TV show Race and Reason in 1987, with another member of Radio Werewolf? What were the reasons for your appearance on that show?
Nikolas Schreck: Actually, for completion’s sake, I should mention that the 1987 appearance with Wilhelm was followed by another by myself in 1988. Our policy at that point of our media blitzkrieg was to up the confusion factor by appearing in a bewildering variety of different media forums. (Later, as a mirroring contrast, Zeena and myself just as vigorously denied granting any normal interviews to all media forums.) Also, we fully supported Tom’s efforts to see that free speech was a reality and not just a platitude in the supposedly free USA. The way it came about was that as Radio Werewolf Rallies became more dangerous and controversial, we actually needed a security force. An old biker friend of mine put me in touch with one of Tom’s lieutenants, an affable and generous fellow who later ended up going to federal prison for his part in one of the biggest scams in US history. Through him, we secured some volunteer security muscle from W.A.R. to preserve a semblance of order at our Rallies. They became the Hell’s Angels of Radio Werewolf’s ongoing Altamont Festival and clash of subcultures.
When, and how, did you join the Church of Satan in the first place?
Nikolas Schreck: I never joined the Church of Satan.
I’ve explained this many times before, but maybe news travels slow to France. I’ve never been an atheist, nor a materialist, nor a Social Darwinist, nor an exponent of the kind of secular humanist rationality LaVeyan Satanism expounded. My understanding and practice of magic was then and remains now theistic and supernatural, while La Vey’s, such as it was, was strictly symbolic, anthropocentric, and psychological. That important theological difference, by the way, is why the seven year curse Zeena placed upon LaVey’s business masquerading as a religion, his fake legend, his house, his followers and ultimately his life, succeeded in its goals of gradually destroying all of these targets, whereas his own feeble magical efforts directed against us consistently backfired.
If you take the time to view the many interviews I gave during the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, you’ll see that I was very careful to make it clear that I represented the Werewolf Order, not the Church of Satan. As for the relatively brief period of my secular friendship with Anton La Vey, it was centered primarily on our mutual interest in organ music, vintage cinema, strippers, and military history, not on Satanism, which he almost never discussed during these social occasions.
Kenneth Anger, who was then living in Hollywood, had sent clippings of some of Radio Werewolf’s activities to La Vey in San Francisco, so he was aware of my work before I met him.
When I moved to San Francisco, Research Publications were planning a book of interviews with La Vey, who I must remind you was an almost completely forgotten figure at that time. It was through the circle of artsy-fartsy performance artists and parasites Research tended to pad their books of interviews with their friends with that I was introduced to LaVey, who Research was hoping to turn into the next rediscovered darling of their little art world.
I was then working on a book I ultimately decided not to publish, entitled The Demonic Revolution. This was an overview of the contemporary magical and pagan subculture. During the research phase of this book, I had already interviewed Kenneth Grant of the Typhonian OTO, Edred Thorsson of the Rune Gild, Michael Bertiaux of Zos Kia Cultus, the leaders of several Astaru organizations, and most of the other major magical/occult figures active in that period and earlier.
La Vey visited my apartment in San Francisco in February 1988, and I began a series of interviews with him for my book. So he was just one of the subjects interviewed, who later, with Zeena’s assistance, included Robert De Grimston of the Process, and Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. In the process of conducting these interviews, my then-girlfriend and I befriended La Vey. One night he presented us both with honorary membership cards. This was no big deal, since he passed out these honorary membership cards to anyone with a media presence who even showed a slight interest in him at that time. Later, he made Genesis P. Orridge, Marilyn Manson, and countless others honorary members too. He probably gave an honorary Church of Satan membership card to his postman for all I know.
As I researched his life for my book, and tried, in all naivete and sincerity, to get him to verify the many gaps concerning some of the claims he made about himself, I discovered that almost all of his supposed adventures and achievements were invented, and that many of his writings were plagiarized. When I met Zeena a few months after meeting LaVey, she began to confirm to me her own gradually dawning realizations as to her father’s true character, which she herself was only slowly waking up to, after being lied to since birth.
Furthermore, since you brought this topic up, let me clear up another groundless misconception that’s been circulated by La Vey lackies. Not only did I never join the Church of Satan, I also never had any desire to be a ”priest” in the organization I never joined. That’s a fantasy people who never knew me have concocted long after I had washed my hands of La Vey and his cohorts, and it says more about their own limited ambitions than it does about me. Here are the facts they must have forgotten: I only knew La Vey from February 1988 to April 1990. By then, La Vey had done away with the Church of Satan degree system, as long ago as 1975, when his number one fan Michael Aquino abandoned him and took the degree system with him to form the Temple of Set. So there was no such title as ”priest” to be had when I knew La Vey. He only returned to the idea of calling his most gullible sycophants ”priests” after Zeena and I had severed relations with him altogether.
When, and how did you meet Zeena LaVey for the first time?
Nikolas Schreck: We’ve known each other since the beginning of beginningless time in life after life. But during this current incarnation, I first saw an electronic image of her on a sensationalistic TV news report in 1985, and immediately fell in lust with her, as any of my girlfriends from that time can testify. She saw me for the first time on TV too, when I was appearing on Current Affair to promote The Manson File. So we met on the airwaves. The first time we actually communicated was when Zeena happened to call her father on a night I was visiting him. He mentioned to her that I’d be appearing in a concert in Berkeley with my friend Gisela Getty and NON, and she asked him to ask me if she could attend. In my usual smart ass way, I told him to tell her, ”No, absolutely not”. And she’s been getting back at me for that ever since. We met in the flesh in May of 1988 at said Berkeley concert, I visited her in L.A. in June, and we consummated our union in San Francisco five days after the 8-8-88 Rally, and the rest is history.
How do you explain that most of the artists that are members of the CoS such as Thomas Thorn, Boyd Rice, Marilyn Manson, Michael Moynihan, always expressed a deep interest in Charles Manson although there were never any real connections between the Manson Family and the Church of Satan?
Nikolas Schreck: You’d have to ask them. I haven’t had any contact whatsoever with those people or the circles they travel in since 1989, so I have nothing to say about them. Also, I would never dream of speaking for anybody else, just as I can’t abide others speaking for me. All I can say in a general way is that it’s important for readers of this book to understand what a vast universe of difference there really is between the Mansonian and the La Veyan worldviews. The only two things that they really have in common is that they happened to come to media notoriety at the same time in American history, and they both picked up some money on the side as pimps.
La Vey was all about materialism, atheism, selfishness, glorifying the ego, and kissing up to the established powers of show business, the police, politicians, and society and striving to show an ”above board” respectable image. Manson, by way of contrast, is a deeply religious person who rejects the material, practiced what he preached about sharing with others unconditionally, and transcending the ego.
In 1967, when Manson was living in Haight Ashbury, La Vey was cooperating with the San Francisco police to harass hippies, even, according to La Vey, resorting to using his pet lion to scare them into obedience during a riot at San Francisco State College. La Vey feared the psychedelic experience, and made sacramental drug use a taboo among his followers. Manson utilized psychedelics as a shamanic tool. There simply is no logical way to reconcile Manson’s thought with La Veyan Satanism. That was just one of the many cognitive dissonances that led me to break with La Vey. But don’t take my word for this. Bobby Beausoleil met La Vey in 1967 when they both appeared in Anger’s Invocation of My Demon Brother, and he’s dismissed La Vey as ”the plastic devil” ever since. As for Charlie himself, he recently wrote to us that ”I always thought Zeena’s dad was a media freak who would do anything for attention ... he never knew anything about the devil.”
And, if I may be allowed to introduce an inconvenient bit of historical fact into the long-standing fantasy surrounding this subject, La Vey himself never expressed anything but contempt for Manson until 1988. That’s when he changed his tune after finding - to his dismay - that if he wanted to retain his status as a cool icon to the hip industrial and black metal music crowd he ended up with as his last paying audience, he would have to swallow his pride and pay lip service to the Mansonmania fad that was going on in the late 80s and early 90s.
But despite that commercially motivated hypocrisy of LaVey’s eventually tolerating the very same character he so vehemently denounced for twenty years, let me repeat, La Veyan atheistic materialism and Manson’s spiritual values are the complete opposite of each other. Both the LaVey fans who perpetuate a non-existent connection with Manson and the advocates of occult conspiracy and Christian paranoids who ignorantly lump every esoteric phenomenon of the Sixties into one muddled stew are barking up the wrong tree. Zeena and I have often wondered ourselves what schizophrenic rationalizations the people you mentioned in your question must make to themselves to make sense of that dichotomy in their own minds.
When and how did you first start working on the book The Manson File?
Nikolas Schreck: After I began corresponding with Charlie, I compiled some of his quotations from letters, interviews, and testimony into a brief pamphlet called The Philosophy of Charles Manson. This included a letter he wrote to me about his own shamanic connections to one of his power animals, the wolf. This pamphlet was only made available to the Radio Werewolf Youth Party, but it later became the seed from which The Manson File grew. Around the time I was organizing the benefit concert for Manson, a brain-damaged bootlegger who made a living selling stolen and poorly copied counterculture material at swap meets told me that EXIT magazine in New York seemed to have a pro-Manson slant, and might be interested in supporting the concert. From that connection, I learned that the independent New York publisher Amok Books, which was mostly financed by the brothers and former punk rock concert promoters Ken and Stuart Swezey, were planning to release a vaguely conceived book tentatively titled The Manson Apocrypha. I contributed my collection of Mansonian philosophy and the wolf fable to this work in progress, and after the media ruckus about the Manson benefit fell in my lap, I was enlisted as the editor of the book. Manson gave his blessing and cooperation to the project, although he was understandably wary after having his years of collaboration with Nuell Emmons turn into the book called Manson In His own Words, which was anything but. I retitled the work in progress The Manson File, a pun surprisingly few people ever seem to catch on to. The book was timed to come out before the twentieth anniversary of the murders, and as of this writing, twenty years later, I am preparing the new and revised Manson File for the fortieth anniversary. The New Testament will be much more comprehensive than the first version was.
What was with your aim with this book, originally?
Nikolas Schreck: I’m a firm believer in Marshall McLuhan’s edict that the Medium is the Message. If you can’t see what the aim is from reading the book itself, no amount of explanation on my part will make it any clearer. One thing I will say is that like all of my public releases, it was assembled under ritual conditions and was intended to manifest magical results. So a rational and linear explanation of an ”aim” would defeat the purpose. The effects of that ritual, however, are still active.
How did you manage to interview Manson in prison to shoot your documentary Charles Manson Superstar?
Nikolas Schreck: I asked him and he agreed.
What was your aim with this documentary at that time?
Nikolas Schreck: I explicitly state the purpose of the film in the introductory section, so again, I can only direct those who might be interested to the work itself. This Video Werewolf release was an experiment in applying no-budget guerilla magical terrorism techniques to film in the same way I applied them to sound with Radio Werewolf. Like the original Radio Werewolf, all of our activities were designed as pirate broadcasts, an alternative media resistance movement disrupting the message of the dominant occupation culture. In the same way that Radio Werewolf Rallies and recordings deliberately captured the listener’s attention in order to decondition them and initiate by use of certain frequencies and motions that actually had little to do with the surface level of the music and lyrics, Charles Manson Superstar is also a ritual experience and mind-manifesting video hallucinogenic disguised as a documentary.
Its aim takes form not in the content of the film itself, but in the specific individual reaction the film creates in the viewer’s deepest levels of mind, whether that reaction be positive or negative. So it’s sort of like asking what is the aim of taking a sacramental and mind-expanding drug. The experience is the aim, and the experience will always be different depending on the quality of the mind absorbing the images and sounds aimed at it. Also, like all of my public releases, I’ve utilized Charles Manson Superstar as a litmus test allowing me to judge the initiatory capacity of my students in the Werewolf Order, and now, in the Sethian Liberation Movement. I can tell exactly what level someone’s mind has reached by simply observing a spectator’s reaction to the film, what they notice and what they don’t notice.
There is a rumor saying that the whole interview was filmed with a hidden camera. What can you tell me about that?
Nikolas Schreck: I usually make it my policy to let foolish rumors hang around the necks of those who concoct them. I will suggest, however, that whoever dreamed up that moronic idea should try slipping into San Quentin Prison with a hidden camera and find out what happens to their sorry ass.
In August 1988, you were part of the 8/8/88 Rally. What was the idea behind this event?
Nikolas Schreck: Was I a part of it? Let’s see. Well, I composed and recorded 90% percent of the music for it. The antique church podium that lent it most of its religious atmosphere came from my ritual chamber. I located and rented the kettle drum that Radio Werewolf’s percussionist Evil Wilhelm played that night, which gave the Rally most of its military atmosphere. My girlfriend at the time, Felina, who was a talented seamstress, crafted the two wolf angle banners held on both sides of the stage, and which lent the fascist aesthetic to the proceedings that so outraged the squeamish cry babies of political correctness. I was the one who contacted Wade Williams, director of The Other Side of Madness, the 1960s Manson film that was shown that night, and I negotiated and paid for the rental of the only copy of the film extant at that time. And the tabloid TV journalist Geraldo Rivera contacted me about coming on his show to debate America’s future Second Lady Tipper Gore, Al Gore’s wife, about the dangers of occult music, which is why Rivera sent a film crew to film the event, and which is ultimately why you even know enough about it in the first place to ask me about it.
As for the idea behind the Rally, there were seven people up on that stage that night. I suspect that all seven of us had a different idea. I could tell you what four of us who were involved, Zeena, myself, Evil Wilhelm, and Felina had in mind before it happened, and what we thought about it afterwards. But it’s probably more helpful to let the repercussions of that ritual echo as it will without retrospective commentary. These things have a life of their own.
It seems that you also appeared, along with Zeena, in a TV show called The First Family of Satan, hosted by Bob Larson. What can you tell me about that? When was it?
Nikolas Schreck: That was filmed in 1989 and released in 1990, the peak of the religious right-wing regime led by Reagan and Bush Sr., and the high point of the so-called ”Satanic Panic” that found Christian-controlled media and law enforcement whipping up mass hysteria directed against practitioners of all non-Christian religions in America. I think it would be hard for the French, who, in the 18th century, had already rejected the kind of fundamentalist Christian fanaticism that still holds such sway in the United States, to even imagine what the atmosphere was like in America for people like Zeena and myself during the time of that government sanctioned witch burning panic.
Before the neo-conservative factions of the US government invented the so-called War on Islamic Terror, it fought the War on Imaginary Satanic Crime, which was really just a part of the same paranoid crusade mentality. The USA hadn’t made it to the 18th century yet, it was still in the Middle Ages. At the time, Zeena was one of very few practicing magicians who actually had the guts to go out in public and debate the religious right face to face, rather than passively accept the insane accusations of child sacrifice and Satanic crime they were selling to the public. Bob Larson was one of the leading televangelists back then, and his specialty was educating his flock about the dangers of Satanism. The only problem was he had never actually met a real live Satanist.
He invited Zeena, who was then the highly visible High Priestess of the Church of Satan, to debate him in a special video that would be given to his parishioners in return for their ”love gifts” or donations to his ministry. She agreed to represent the Church of Satan on the program, if Larson would agree to show that there was more than just the CoS fighting as a unified front against the Christian dictatorship. She asked me if I’d be willing to appear with her as representative of the Werewolf Order, which, of course, she also led, but it would have been too complicated for her to represent two organizations at once. As a matter of fact, that was Zeena’s last public appearance before she resigned from her family and the family business.
We were the first magicians to actually go head to head with Bob Larson, and in a way, I think our appearance on that particular show had a lot to do with defanging the Satanic Panic, since the nonsense the right-wing Christians were spreading suddenly seemed very weak when they were forced to present their accusations to real live human beings who would talk back to them and disprove their lies and fantasies.
We agreed to appear on Larson’s program not only because it was necessary at that time to defend ourselves against the groundless charges of murder and ritual abuse we were bombarded with back then, but because we thought it was ironic and amusing that Bob Larson, who made a career out of fighting Devil Worship, was cynical enough to pay us, the alleged epitome of evil, a large sum of money to appear in his film. A deal with the Devil if ever there was one! We actually got to know Bob pretty well over the years, and I have to say of all the Christian crusaders we dealt with in those years, as a human being, off the camera and behind the scenes, he was a decent and intelligent person. To give you some idea of the deeply political nature of the religious right in the USA in 1990, I should mention that then-President George Bush (Sr.) was in the audience for The First Family of Satanism’s premiere at the National Association of Religious Broadcasters.
By the way, just to demystify anyone who thinks there’s anything glamorous about all this, every penny of our fee from that appearance, which was several thousand dollars, went towards paying the tuition for the expensive and elite private school to which Zeena sent her ungrateful juvenile delinquent son. However, despite all of Zeena’s never ending attempts and sacrifices to provide the best possible education for him, he was already well on his way to the violent psychotic break that would eventually lead to him frequently threatening his mother’s life, lying about her, and being reduced to robbing old men at gun point. So that was the disastrous and futile end result of the tainted money Bob Larson paid us in our Faustian bargain. The moral is: don’t take money from your ideological opponents and hand it over to unworthy lost causes.
It seems that the first incarnation of Radio Werewolf split in 1988. What were the reasons for the split?
Nikolas Schreck: Just to set the chronology straight on our constantly changing personnel, the first incarnation of Radio Werewolf featured me, Evil Wilhelm, Nathan Pino on organ and Adam Crocker on bass, and lasted from 1984-1985. Pino, who was Radio Werewolf’s Brian Wilson and Brian Jones rolled into one, was gifted by the same musical genius and talent as those two tortured souls, but he also suffered from the same drug-induced demons of mental illness. When his inner demons and drug abuse drove him insane, (I’m not exaggerating) we were forced to ask him to take his problems elsewhere. He was too fragile to withstand the spiritual forces Radio Werewolf’s music invoked. The last I heard of him he was a homeless derelict playing his piano for tips on the Venice boardwalk, which is a genuine tragedy because despite his mental instability he was very talented.
From those ashes rose the phoenix of Radio Werewolf’s second incarnation, with Paul Antonelli on organ and James ”Filth” Collord on bass. It was that incarnation that split in August of 1988, in the weeks immediately following the 8-8-88 Rally. At the time, Evil Wilhelm was upset by what he perceived as the political views of a small but vocal segment of the audience Radio Werewolf was attracting at that period. He also, at least at that time, expressed his withering contempt for the Church of Satan creeps I was then surrounded by in San Francisco. Which I can certainly understand since I now hold a much lower opinion of them now than he did then. As for myself, I felt that as Radio Werewolf was becoming more popular in a mainstream sense, and we were increasingly being drawn into the machinery and expectations of the commercial music and film industry we were losing the radical spiritual and artistic spirit we had originally started with, and were turning into an increasingly conventional show business phenomenon, which was never my goal.
So the split was a mutual decision, and it was decided when Wilhelm and I were using the metaphor of a car that’s going two ways at once. I also can only assume that because the media always focused all of their attention on me, Wilhelm, a talented artist in his own right, was tired of playing second fiddle to the image the media spun around my person. And I could understand that too, since it also annoyed me that the creative contributions of others to Radio Werewolf were consistently ignored. Despite petty rumors to the contrary, our split was amicable, if not without conflict, and our friendship survived despite our disagreements.
Shortly after that, I began recording The Fiery Summons, which was the third turning of the wheel of the Radio Werewolf law, and a prelude to the final incarnation, which was ushered in when Zeena entered the picture and formed Radio Werewolf’s fourth empire. Zeena, I must point out, quickly became the central driving force of Radio Werewolf circa 89–93. She contributed the lion’s share of music, lyrics, design of our albums and videos, planned our tours, utilized her years of theatrical training to craft our performances, filmed the documentary Germania: The Theory of Ruins, which was only made available to the Werewolf Order, and orchestrated most of our public propaganda. In other words, she made up one half of the longest incarnation of Radio Werewolf’s documented work. However, just as Evil Wilhelm’s contributions to the first incarnation were often ignored, the press still treats Radio Werewolf as a synonym for Nikolas Schreck. Which, again, I think reveals the sexist bias of the male-dominated music press, which consistently downplays the work of female artists. As for these idiots who erroneously call themselves ”left hand path”, if they could ever bring themselves to understand what the left-hand path actually means, in terms of its valorization of the divine female power, they would understand Radio Werewolf’s output, and Zeena’s leading role in it, much better.
In 1989, the new incarnation of RW released the album The Fiery Summons. On that album there is a track called From Hell in which you were reading letters from Jack the Ripper. It seems that people who are interested in Manson are generally interested in Jack the Ripper. How do you explain that?
Nikolas Schreck: From Hell, which came out before the graphic novel and the film of the same name, was also the result of my research for The Demonic Revolution. I was looking into clues that suggested an occult background to the Ripper crimes, particularly in relation to Oliver D’Onstyan, a Victorian ceremonial magician who was one of the suspects. However, those leads went cold over a hundred years ago, so I didn’t get very far into that investigation. As for the fascination the Manson case and the Ripper case exert on people, I think it’s because of the fact that so much about them remains mysterious and unsolved that it sparks the imagination. However, as I’ve pointed out before, the Hinman-Tate-La Bianca murders were simply ordinary drug burn killings that any criminologist would recognize as being typical of the drug dealing milieu they happened in. The Reverend Tex Watson killed the other drug dealers he killed - and some unfortunate innocent bystanders - in cold blood as an adjunct to his well-established drug dealing business, not because he was hypnotized by the Devil incarnate to act out secret messages from Beatles songs. The Ripper murders were of a wholly other nature, namely the lone serial sex killer, which is an entirely different criminal profile.
On the same record, there is a song called ”Hymn to the Fifth Angel” which seems to related to Charles Manson. What is exactly this song about? What is the meaning of its lyrics?
Nikolas Schreck: It’s exactly what the lyrics say it is, a sincerely religious prayer and invocation to Abraxas, which is one of the secret names of the Archon of this Aion most people call ”God”. Abraxas is the deity that informs Manson’s spiritual practice, so He holds the key to the mysteries of the Manson phenomenon, which is much more than it appears to be. I performed it in the middle of the night while in a trance, the words coming to me spontaneously. Its magical intention is encoded in the repeated appeal ”Tell us why?” which I make to Abraxas in the song. And Abraxas answered my question.
In 1990, Radio Werewolf made the EP called Bring Me the Head of Geraldo Rivera. What was the idea behind this recording?
Nikolas Schreck: Zeena was the prime mover of that release. It developed from a blueprint Zeena made for an art piece several years before I knew her. Her blueprint showed Geraldo Rivera’s head in a box, and she later adapted that image into the cover of the album, a collage she constructed. I don’t think the French are lucky enough to know who Geraldo Rivera is. He was a sensationalistic Tabloid TV ”investigative journalist” who made a career out of creating a hysteria about ”Satanic crime” in the 1980s and 1990s, and was responsible for promulgating many of the lies about a wholly imaginary occult crime wave that terrified Reagan’s America. He was a particular thorn in the side of Manson, Zeena, and myself. The three of us appeared on Geraldo’s two-hour TV special Exposing Satan’s Underground, which broke all viewership ratings records at that time. After Zeena saw Geraldo’s earlier interview with Manson, in which Manson tells Geraldo ”I could send for your head in a box,” she was inspired to artistic expression of what she viewed as the epitome of the malignant forces of the media along with a magical revenge upon those forces. She deliberately chose a play on words on the gory Sam Peckinpah film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia for personal reasons which brought elements of Manson’s words, certain details of the Peckinpah film, and her involvement in the mass media in general together to form a carefully crafted malediction. The German titles of the four parts of that composition, which Zeena discovered at random being broadcast on a TV in a Viennese subway station, should make it pretty clear what the idea animating that piece was, but there was also a hidden subtle purpose which is best left unmentioned. The flip side was an improvisational piece Zeena and I recorded in the spirit of Otto Rahn and the Grail Quest.
In 1991, you released the album Songs for the End of the World which starts with a famous Mel Lyman speech. What was the idea behind the use of these words?
Nikolas Schreck: That album is a ritual focused on the Gotterdammerung or Ragnarok of ancient Norse religion, the time of destruction which we are living through now. In fact, the world had already ended by then, we’re just living through its ghostly afterlife. Mel Lyman’s poem captured the Kali Yugic essence of the album, so it seemed like an appropriate prologue.
In 1991, you also released the single Boots/Witchcraft A Tribute to the Sin-Atras. What was the concept of this recording?
Nikolas Schreck: In 1984, I met Frank Sinatra at a Ronald Reagan election rally. I realized by just looking in his eyes that he was by far the most malevolent and influential force informing the organized crime and worldwide narcotics distribution network doing business as the United States government. It was obvious that Nancy and Ronald Reagan and all the other politicians there were completely in thrall to him, and that they were just the puppets of the power that owned him. Thus the ”tribute”, in the sense that word infers in the Mafia.
Secondarily, Zeena and I were so bored by the moronic and predictable reaction of the music press to our activities, and the over-seriousness of some of our fans, that we wanted to see what would happen if we recorded a comedic novelty record. As we should have known, only the more alert of our listeners got the joke. By the way, Zeena’s cover version of These Boots Were Made For Walking, and the Helmut Wolech photograph of her as a dominatrix on the album cover, recently inspired a celebrity sex scandal, another example of Radio Werewolf’s continuing wholesome influence on world events.
Radio Werewolf’s last album was Love Conquers All in 1992. What was the concept musically and lyrically speaking of that album?
Nikolas Schreck: It was accompanied by an explanation of its purpose which Zeena and I wrote after we stopped giving interviews to the music press. So rather than be redundant I enclose it here and you can quote from it as you see fit. (insert.)
Why did you stop making music in 1993?
Nikolas Schreck: We didn’t stop making music, we just stopped performing and releasing our music publicly. Again, you have to keep in mind that Radio Werewolf wasn’t a ”band”. It wasn’t intended as ”entertainment” for commerce. It was a nine-year magical ritual which was held partly in public. When a ritual has come to an end, and the effects are released into the world to reverberate, you don’t keep repeating it endlessly. You have to formally bring it to an end, and let the magic unleashed do its work. At the time of the Zurich Experiment, we had taken Radio Werewolf as far as it could go under the very limited and restrictive conditions that rule the commercial music world.
After that very public phase of our ritual activities, we dedicated our energies to developing our own personal spiritual initiation, which had become somewhat derailed by the mechanical nature of the music milieu, and we directed our attention to those select students of ours who actually seemed seriously committed to learning what we teach and to taking up the hard work of spiritual liberation, rather than those dilettantes who weren’t karmically ripe enough to ”get” the spiritual transmission we were sending.
By 1993, we were casting pearls before swine, as Jesus said, and although it was a necessary learning process, we needed to focus our time and energy into more fruitful, and therefore far less public, avenues. Also, by 1993, when we concluded the Radio Werewolf ritual, there were already so many others imitating what we were doing - a side-effect of the ritual that still continues to this day - it was obvious that the time had come to transform yet again, as we will continue to do.
Today, in retrospect, what do you think of all that you’ve accomplished with Radio Werewolf?
Nikolas Schreck: I’ll let the goddess of history be the judge of that. I don’t think in rewind or fast forward mode, I only think about now.