Who was Anton Szandor LaVey?
(This is an excerpt from Blanche Barton's book, The Church of Satan. For an even more detailed and fascinating LaVey biography, read The Secret Life of A Satanist, also by Blanche Barton.)
Anton Szandor LaVey was born in gangland-era Chicago on April 11, 1930; but his parents moved to California soon after his birth. After a restless youth, he dropped out of high school at the age of 16, deciding to become second oboist for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. Later, he decided the circus was a good place for an energetic young man with his talents, and so he signed on with the Clyde Beatty Circus.
At 17, LaVey was taming eight Nubian Lions and four Bengal tigers alone in the big cage and developed a close relation with—and an affection—for the big cats. But his musical talents were not wasted, either, and he played the calliope regularly, accompanying circus greats from the Flying Wallendas to Hugo Zachinni. LaVey extended his knowledge of the outdoor entertainment industry by joining the carnival and amusement park circuit, working some of the biggest traveling shows on the Pacific Coast. Playing calliope, Wurlitzer band organ, or Hammond along every midway, LaVey also worked with famed freaks in the “Ten-in-One.” He was in his element among the loners, drifters and marginal types who have always been attracted to the cynical carnival atmosphere. It was here LaVey learned how much people will pay to be fooled—how desperately they want to escape their own dull lives.
After a short career as a photographer for the SFPD and an investigator in occult affairs, LaVey completely devoted himself to exploring the occult and magic. He founded a magic circle, “The Order of the Trapezoid,” and presented lectures on various subjects. Finally, on Walpurgisnacht 1966, his life work came to an unmatched culmination when he founded the Church of Satan, proclaiming 1966 as the Satanic Year I. He ran this organization until his death on October 29, 1997.
Why is he sometimes called “Dr. LaVey”?
Anton LaVey did not hold a Ph.D. or anything similar from an accredited university. He himself had never said that he did. LaVey was given a doctorate in Satanic Theology by the Council of Nine of the Church of Satan (who else would have the authority to issue such a document?). One could consider The Satanic Bible as his dissertation.
He did not ask or expect people to refer to himself in this manner, preferring the usual “Mr. LaVey” from those who were not close to him. His friends called him “Doctor” or “Doc” as an affectionate moniker (see The Secret Life of A Satanist, p.223). This is much in the way people call master musicians “Maestro” or “Professor”—and he was a master musician.
His earliest friends called him “Tony” and people who wanted familiarity, but usually didn’t earn it, called him “Anton.”
How did Anton LaVey die?
Having a long-standing valvular problem which is associated with rheumatic heart disease, Anton LaVey had a kind of massive cardiac arrhythmia after several events of internal bleeding had been treated in hospital during late summer of 1997. He died on October the 29th, in St. Mary’s Hospital, a Catholic hospital associated with the University of San Francisco. He was brought to St. Mary’s because it was the closest hospital to his residence; he had never been treated there before. Although there has been some confusion with his funeral records (some listed Halloween as his death date), rumors that his death had been caused deliberately by a Christian nurse are grossly false. He was given a Satanic funeral, attended only by his closest relatives and was cremated afterwards. His long-time companion, Blanche Barton, succeeded him as High Priestess of the Church of Satan. She appointed Peter H. Gilmore to be High Priest on April 30th, 2001.
Didn’t Anton LaVey lie about his life experiences?
After the death of Anton LaVey, and thus beyond lawsuits by him, some documents have been circulated purporting that most everything about him was a fabrication. The people who authored these in every case have strong anti-LaVey agendas, regardless of their pretense to “scholarly correction of facts,” or they base their research on biased anti-LaVey articles without fact-checking.
Some of these authors count on the fact that the reader will not make certain that their claims are distortions or outright falsehoods, and often cloak them in “appeals to authority” without providing documentary proof.
LaVey’s biographer, Blanche Barton, answers some of these issues in this article: The Georges Montalba Mystery
It is best to keep in mind that LaVey never said he was anything more than just a “regular guy...an old cornball,” and had no pretensions toward elevating himself. Some people decided—against his advice—to idolize him, and then when they realized he was just a fallible human being, they often turned on him with great hostility. That is an old story, and every leader deals with it as best he can.
So, examine claims about LaVey’s past with care, and do primary research yourself if his biography matters to you. LaVey himself always admitted to being a showman and thus “stretching” some stories for effect, but hard evidence shows that more fascinating things happened in his life than in ten of most people’s.
And his philosophy and church continue to thrive, being recognized worldwide as the useful tools they are for carnal people who wish to enhance their lives.
Who is Zeena LaVey?
She is the younger daughter of Anton LaVey, born of Diane Hegarty (who had not married him). Zeena chose to disown her father in 1989 and had no more contact with him afterward. Following his death, she has been recorded on TV shows claiming that she has proven herself to be the most competent Satanic witch since her father died because she cursed him to a painful death. She contacted reporters to say her father was a wife-beater, and that he never had a relationship with Jayne Mansfield (despite the fact that several photos prove the contrary, see The Secret Life of A Satanist by Blanche Barton). Zeena and her partner “Nikolas Schreck” joined Michael Aquino’s Temple of Set wherein Zeena rose to be its High Priestess. She and “Schreck” then resigned, taking a part of the temple’s membership with them to found a more orthodox Setian group called The Storm. It has since turned into some other form of movement. She is not considered to be a Satanist, nor a spokesperson for Satanism. She is also the mother of Stanton Z. LaVey, having given birth to him at age 13. Mother and son are currently estranged, and her offspring has nothing to do with the Church of Satan nor is he considered by this organization to represent the philosophy of his grandfather
Who is Karla LaVey?
She is Anton LaVey’s oldest daughter whose mother was Carole Lansing, the only woman who had legally married him. Karla withdrew from her father when his only son, Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey, was born. After Anton LaVey’s death, High Priestess Blanche Barton offered to allow Karla to share this office with her. However, Karla showed no interest in helping Barton run the organization and appeared to only want to collect a salary. Barton thus withdrew her offer. It should be noted that Karla made no efforts to stand up for her father during her half-sister’s various public statements meant to denigrate him, neither before nor after his death.
Miss LaVey claims to have her own “church” but she has produced no literature and we’ve not encountered anyone who claims to be a member. We do not consider her a worthy spokesperson on the subject of Satanism.
Who is Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey?
He is the only son of Anton Szandor LaVey, and his mother is Blanche Barton. He is currently leading a private life while growing into a fine young man.
Who is Blanche Barton?
She was the final female companion of Anton LaVey, having been appointed High Priestess of the Church of Satan by him during his final years. She bore LaVey his only son, Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey, and was with LaVey from 1984 until his death in 1997. Currently Magistra Barton holds the office of Magistra Templi Rex which is the chairperson of the Council of Nine. She is the author of The Secret Life of A Satanist, The Church of Satan, and is the editor of The Cloven Hoof.
Did Anton LaVey have more than three children?
No. He had two daughters, Karla Maritza LaVey and Zeena Galatea LaVey, and one son, Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey. You will find Christian evangelists on line fraudulently claiming to be sons or daughters of Anton LaVey.
Do not e-mail us with questions before you have spent time reading through this FAQ as we will direct you to go back and read it.
- INTERNET PRESENCE
- RESEARCH: PRESS AND STUDENT
- FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS
- ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
- SYMBOLS AND SYMBOLISM
- RITUAL AND CEREMONY (BAPTISM/WEDDING/FUNERAL)
- SEXUALITY & Gender
- ANTON LAVEY AND HIS FAMILY
- SELLING SOULS
- DEMONIC POSSESSION, STRANGE DREAMS, DIABOLICAL DESTINY
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- YOUNG PEOPLE AND SATANISM
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