Kenneth Anger born 3 February 1927
Kenneth Anger is an American underground avant-garde film-maker and author.
Born in Santa Monica, California as Kenneth Wilbur Anglemyer, as a child he played the child prince in the 1935 version of A Midsummer Night's Dream and attended dancing school with Shirley Temple.
He gained fame and notoriety from the publication of the French version of Hollywood Babylon in Paris in 1958, a tell-all book of the scandals of Hollywood's rich and famous. (The US version wasn't published until 1974.)
He became fascinated with the supernatural and Aleister Crowley (as well as becoming an adherent of Crowley's religion of Thelema) sometime in his late teens and many of his films reflect occult themes. He began making films around age 11, but his early films were mostly destroyed. His first film to see distribution was Fireworks, filmed in Los Angeles in 1947, which gained the attention of Jean Cocteau, who then invited him to go to Paris. While most of his films are short subject (ranging from 3.5 minutes to 30 minutes) mood pieces, in 1955 he made a documentary film of the ruins of Crowley's Thelema abbey in Cefalù, Sicily, which has since been lost.
Anger was one of America's first openly gay filmmakers, and certainly the first whose work addressed homosexuality in an undisguised, self-implicating manner. He developed a close friendship with Dr Alfred Kinsey of the Institute for Sex Research. Anger would later recall that Kinsey was his first customer after Kinsey purchased a copy of Fireworks when they first met in 1947. Anger eventually helped Kinsey build his film archive. The Anger Collection includes correspondence between the two men, as well as letters to and from former Institute director John Bancroft. Anger would later speak openly of his participation in Kinsey's research, including being filmed masturbating.
During the late 1960s he associated with The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger and convicted first degree murderer Bobby Beausoleil of the Charles Manson family, who starred in Anger's 1969 film Invocation of My Demon Brother.
Kenneth Anger had a widely publicised spat with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page over the Lucifer Rising soundtrack. Anger claimed Page took three years to deliver the music, and the final product was only 25 minutes of droning and was useless. Anger also accused Page of 'having an affair with the White Lady' and being too strung out on drugs to complete the project. Page countered claiming he had fulfilled all his obligations, even going so far as to lend Anger his own film editing equipment to help him finish the project. Page's music was dumped eventually and replaced by music written by Beausoleil, completed in 1980 from prison.
For 20 years from the early eighties, Anger released no new material. In the new millennium he has since returned to filmmaking. He also performs as Technicolor Skull with Brian Butler.
In a scene in John Waters's 2000 movie Cecil B. Demented, the characters are introducing themselves and each one shows the name of an independent director tattooed on his/her arm. One of the characters has Kenneth Anger.
Anger makes an appearance in the 2008 feature documentary by Nik Sheehan about Brion Gysin and the Dreamachine entitled FLicKeR.
In 2009 his work was featured in a retrospective exhibition at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York
Anger has finished writing Hollywood Babylon III, but has not yet published it, fearing severe legal repercussions if he did so.
Popular Themes and Searches
Academics Activists Actors Architects Aristocrats Artists Ballet Beat Generation Bisexuals Broadcasters Broadway Businessmen Choreographers Classical Music Comedians Composers Critics Dancers Death by suicide Death from HIV/Aids DJs Drag Fashion Designers Female Impersonators Film Film Directors Hollywood Illustrators Journalists Leftfield/Avant-Garde Military Men Musical Theatre Musicians Novelists Olympic Medalists Oscar Wilde Painters Photographers Playwrights Poets Politicians Popular Music Porn Stars Radio Screenwriters Singers Songwriters Sportsmen Television Theatre Theatre Directors Tony Award winners Victorians World War 2 World War I Writers