My un-Holy Trinity of dark influences draws me to a Christian healing service in London lead by the American televangelist Morris Cerullo. He is a Danny DeVito look-a-like, only shorter. I am one of a handful of White faces inside the cavernous convention center and, by the time I arrive, the Black congregants are already in full orgiastic swing. African women in their thousands, dressed in their Easter finery, are cumming like freight trains. Lemme tell ya, when Jesus jumps on their asses, these Afro-babes can sho’ nuff shake dat thang – “Oh yes, yes. Ohhh, Sweet Jesus. YESSSS, MY LAWD, AYYEEEE!” And, Morris hasn’t even hit the stage yet. Then he hits and the roof comes off. The women are rolling around on the floor barking like dogs and scrambling after their dislodged Easter bonnets. Hilarious and horrifying.
The Twisted Trifecta of sex, salvation and stoop traps me in a London basement where I narrowly escape being sacrificed in a Black Mass. And, as often happens with all things Satanic, it begins so innocently…
I’m browsing in an occult bookshop and fall into flirtatious conversation about Sex Magick with the shapely owner – “So, have I got this right, the High Priest penetrates the virgin anally from behind while intoning the Lord’s Prayer backward?” (I’m shameless sometimes.) Prunella, the proprietress, is an odd and oddly interesting broad – double-barrel name, double-D rack and a double degree from Oxford in Wolfsbane and the Early Films of George Zucco. Not a bad looking babe aside from classically bad English teeth. (This is actually not seen much anymore. The Brits now have very good teeth but very fat asses due to their uncanny ability to assimilate the worst of American culture.)
The Rosicrucians are those mail-order mystics who promise to teach you the “Wisdom of the Ancients” in weekly installments. (Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy’s assassin, was a Rosicrucian and look what all that ancient wisdom did for him!) I first meet The Rosicrucians in comic books. Their ads about seeing into the future are next to ads for x-ray glasses for seeing through women’s clothes. The Rosicrucians claim to go all the way back to Ancient Egypt but actually only go all the way back to San Jose.
No doubt about it – my un-Holy Trinity of stimuli makes me the man I am today – the man who voluntarily takes the Scientology Personality Test on each side of the Atlantic and thereby experiences a telling example of the vast cultural divide between Britain and America.
- In London, unattractive Scientology losers strong-arm passers-by into a grimy storefront.
- In Hollywood, attractive Scientology losers seduce passers-by into a glitzy headquarters.
Desperation vs. Décolletage
But, I’m a walk-in. No need to strong-arm or seduce me. Heck, I’d follow this aging Hollywood-blonde with ginormous silicone-wazoos anywhere. Yes, I confess that twice I take the Scientology Personality Test. I ruminate mightily over the questions and answer them honestly. Yet, twice, I fail.
Q. Are you comfortable in the presence of children?
A. Only if they are restrained, unarmed or deceased.
Q. Do you enjoy sex?
A. Not if it involves people, pelicans or potato salad.
When we climbed out of the Times Square subway station, I was mesmerized. I’d been to Coney Island plenty, but this was something else again, something electrifying. It was the lights – up and down and all around, lights neon, fluorescent and incandescent, lights all moving, all colors and all ablaze – even in daylight; lights that outshined the sun. The billboards were alive – a gigantic man blew smoke rings while Mister Peanut tipped his hat. I didn’t know it then but I had been rubbing shoulders with Diane Arbus and Bettie Page, both working in that 1956 Times Square world – a world of bustling strangers. A world of men in hats. Women with handbags. A world that smelled of Howard Johnson, Orange Julius, Nedick’s, popcorn and pussy. I was six and I could smell it; six and I could feel it; six and I could taste it. Times Square was a dirty dangerous place. And, I loved it.
Elvis blasted from the music stores and frigid winds blasted from the air-conditioned theater lobbies. I passed a newsstand and an excited man shouted “Extra!” I passed a doorway and a crazy man shouted “Cocksucker!” I heard the shuffle, scuffle and beat of the footfalls. I heard the horns, hollers and bleats of the cabbies – “Ya got wheels! Use ’em, Mac!” I saw my first “Street Corner Messiah.” He wore a sandwich board and was very worried about God. I was transfixed by him. I wanted to ask him why he was so worried but I was pulled away.
It was the bestest birthday party ever. We saw the Torture Chamber in Ripley’s Believe It or Not“ Odditorium.” Then we visited Hubert’s Museum – a freak show in a 42nd Street basement. It was even spookier and sexier than Ripley’s! We gaped at Hubert’s Cowboy Giant, midget, flea circus and Congo Witch Doctor. We gawped at Princess Sahloo and her sluggish snake. I determined that I would live in Hubert’s Museum as barker, caretaker and flea-wrangler. I would befriend the Witch Doctor, play pinochle with the midget and milk the snake.