Category Archives: The Manson File

Farewell To The Nicest Terrorist I’ve Ever Known: Bommi Baumann 1947-2016

 By Nikolas Schreck

bommi-baumann-einstein-berlin_a
Bommi Baumann on the night I first met him in Berlin, February 2010.

In February 2010, when I was completing The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman, I attended the book launch in Berlin for Die Zwillinge by my friends Jutta Winkelmann and Gisela Getty, the twins who became infamous in the Sixties and early 70s as the photogenic faces of the German counterculture. This event was populated by a veritable love-in of prominent survivors from the rapidly thinning Teutonic communard contingent of the ageing acid and revolution generation.

A gaunt grizzled gentleman with the bearing and look of a battle-worn pirate captain came up to me. He told me, with a snaggle toothed grin, that he was an admirer of the Radio Werewolf album The Fiery Summons. As we conversed, it turned out that this was none other than the notorious terrorist activist and author “Bommi” Baumann. A legendary and controversially contrarian figure in the radical insurgency that rose in West Germany in 1968, Bommi was revered and reviled for his founding of the self-described terrorist unit the June 2 Movement, and though he eventually renounced his violent actions as counter-productive, his dramatic fugitive years on the run as a wanted man and eventual imprisonment had made him a divisive and polarizing force.

I had quoted Bommi’s positive reflections on Manson in the original 1988 edition of The Manson File, a work he was also familiar with. When I told him that I was in the process of finishing a greatly expanded and updated version of my book, he graciously invited me to his home to interview him in depth about the relatively forgotten influence of Manson on the German radical left. Although already suffering from the liver disease which eventually killed him on July 16th, 2016, Bommi took time to share his memories of that volatile period with me. After our formal interview, to the soundtrack of old Nepali and Afghanistani music cassettes he’d purchased as a fugitive in the hippie meccas of Katmandu and Kabul in the mid-70s, he regaled me with anecdotes from his colorful criminal escapades, including his extremely eye-opening encounters with German and U.S. Intelligence operatives. As a tribute to one of the last of the free thinkers, here below is an excerpted section from The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman which includes the information gleaned from my interview with Bommi. Om Dewa Ami Hri!

Manson Über Alles: Comrade Charlie and the German Radical Left

 

Der als Terrorist gesuchte Michael Baumann, genannt "Bommi", auf einem Plakat, aufgenommen am 1.12.1975. | Verwendung weltweit
Bommi’s wanted poster subverted into “Free Bommi!” propaganda, 1975.

“That much-spoken of but so vaguely defined Revolution remained something of a middle-class student fantasy in the USA and Britain, nations with no domestic model of serious armed uprising against their ruling elites to draw on.

German hippies, known as Gammler, were far more inclined toward violent revolution than their pacifist flower children cousins in America. Imminent social upheaval was simply a more realistic prospect in West Germany. Working class street-fighting against capitalism was no pot-induced pipe-dream in the homeland of Karl Marx but an everyday historical reality.

Especially in the country’s former capitol and Cold War hotspot, that walled island of ideological ferment stranded between the Superpowers which had long been known as “Red Berlin.” It was there that the police shooting of young student protestor Benno Ohnesorg during a peaceful demonstration against the Shah of Iran on June 2, 1967 split the first fissures in the then-new Federal Republic’s staid social structure.

The Ohnesorg murder abruptly radicalized the formerly sedate post-war German left, giving birth to a movement recalled today as the “68ers”. The heavy-handed brutality with which German police and intelligence agencies, often at the behest of the omnipresent CIA, infiltrated and repressed the far left only served to push anti-establishment street fighters to ever more desperate and violent countermeasures. From the other side of the Iron Curtain, the East German Stasi manipulated and secretly funded many of these often hapless amateur Western revolutionaries in order to fulfill their owncynical Realpolitik agenda.

By December of 1969, the atmosphere was so tense that several German leftist factions could even interpret the Manson commune’s then inexplicable deeds in far off California as revolutionary acts of war. Naturally, once the German media got hold of the already grossly misreported and sensationalized story much was lost in translation. Nevertheless, the rudiments of Manson’s larger-than-life outlaw mystique struck a particular chord in West Berlin’s radical underground. Long-haired stoned orgiasts offing rich pigs? Groovy!

At the forefront of West German leftist pro-Mansonism in the early Seventies was young Michael “Bommi” Baumann, charismatic co-founder of the Central Council of Wandering Hashish Rebels. Even the name of Baumann’s loose-linked anarchic network was anathema to the more orthodox oldschool of West German Marxist-Leninists, who cleaved closely to the Bolshevik party line from whence sprang the now overused phrase “politically correct”.

Baumann’s Hash Rebels took off from where RainerLanghans’s then much publicized Kommune 1 left off. The Hash Rebels enlivened their anarchist socialist political platform with an aggressive and provocative sex, drugs, guns, and rock and roll attitude that polarized the puritanical German left, which favored bookish hyper-rational intellectualismrather than bohemian countercultural extremes. Affinities between Baumann’s Hash Rebels and Manson’s Slippies on the Spahn Ranch were obvious.

Like his confreres in the Weather Underground in the\ U.S.A., Baumann had lost faith in the potential of peaceful protest to bring any substantive change to the war-mongering pro-U.S. German establishment. By 1968, he already extolled armed revolution. However, his plans for the radical reform of society extended beyond the usual limits of leftist political platform. Even before the Hash Rebels embraced sooutre an outlaw as Manson, they supported Valerie Solanis, the eccentric ultrafeminist and failed assassin of Andy Warhol whose SCUM Manifesto is one of the more bizarre screeds produced in a period marked by incendiary rhetoric.

When I spoke with Baumann about the early days of the Hash Rebel Movement, he told me that he believed then and now that a truly transformative revolution must “reach out to all factions” including the forces of spiritual liberation. This vision included the consciousness-raising properties of psychedelic drugs, which the law-abiding “uptight” West German left largely disdained as counter-revolutionary escapism.

In this eclectic spirit, Baumann’s Hash Rebels joined forces with several disparate metaphysical streams. Along with the usual yogic acid-heads drawn to the counterculture world-wide, the Hash Rebels’ iconoclast allies ranged from a prominent Sufi translator of Islamic mystical texts to a psychedelic Satanic coven in the Berlin district of Moabit centered around an esoteric bookstore operated by an initiate of the German sex-magical order, the Fraternitas Saturni. According to Baumann, these socialist Satanists celebrated rituals on certain nights on the Teufelsburg, an artificial mountain made ofWorld War II rubble which served as one of the CIA’s most important listening posts.

In 1968, influenced by the international Satanomania craze unwittingly unleashed by Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, the Hash Rebels had already adopted some Satanic elements into their revolutionary position. The Hash Rebels’ then unheard of penchant for dressing in black at political demonstrations defied the norms of counterculture conformism and made them antinomians among the antinomians. Baumann, like Manson, didn’t consider himself a hippie and generally considered the romantic utopianism of the flower children to be naive and self-destructive.

Manson’s image as a creature of the Teufel was particularly pronounced in Germany, whose long history of xenophobic witch-hunting goes back to the sadistic Kramer and Sprenger of Malleus Maleficarum infamy. This prevalent notion of Manson as seditionary Satanist which prevailed in the German media inspired the Baumann group’s activism in its early days of street-fighting. In his once banned autobiography Terror or Love? – a title which echoes LIFE magazine’s description of the Manson circle as “The Love and Terror Cult” – Baumann wrote:

The whole action was a little crazy, and of course everyone shouted, ‘Say hello to Charles Manson’. When the bulls came in we put on the record Sympathy for the Devil and yelled ‘Hail Satan!’ Sure, Charles Manson, we wrote that on the wall with red paint. And we were on that trip of signaling with two fingers: ‘Hail Satan’ was actually our internal greeting. Unconsciously we had touched one of those borderline places- we didn’t think Charles Manson so bad. We found him quite funny.

We still had a guy among us who celebrated Black Masses in a torn-down house on the Kreuzberg. He turned us on to this. In that film, Rosemary’s Baby, that’s where the ‘Hail Satan!’ is from, at the end, where they’re all standing around the crib, screaming.

People like Proudhon, the old anarchists, often were also Satanists at the same time; Bakunin too. God and the State is actually in some ways a Gnostic piece. It has religious content when he says that once we take the Bible seriously, we can only say at the end, ‘Hail Satan’. That story fascinated us.”

When I asked Baumann if this was pro-Manson grafitti he explained that, “We went into the apartments of guys we had some trouble with or we with them, and we painted ‘Greetings from Charles Manson’ on the wall. It was an image you can travel on, that frightened, and it was directed against certain people.”

Naturally, Baumann told me, a magical-Gnostic approach to revolution aroused the disdain of the traditional West German Left, including his erstwhile friends in the Baader-Meinhof gang, or Red Army Faction, which followed the Marxist-Leninist and Maoist hatred of anything that smacked of the supernatural or mysticism. Like Manson, Baumann’s vision of revolution broke with the old Communist model of a repressive and purely materialistic dictatorship of the proletariat. In many respects, Baumann’s anarchic approach to societal transformation has more in common with the Digger ideals of a total freedom transcending ideology than the blind Ho Chi Minh and Mao worship indulged in by so many of his supposedly “anti-authoritarian” revolutionary peers.

Baumann was amused to note that his unrepentant advocacy of Manson later led Professor K.H Frick, an academic historian of Western Occultism, to float the absurd rumor that Baumann was personally chosen by Manson to be the “head of the Satanists in Germany”. Which only goes to show that the Ed Sanders “ooo-eee-ooo” school of gullible occult fantasy so associated with Manson in Satanic Panic-prone Anglo-Saxon culture also infected Europe.

After a brief spell in West German prison which granted him his own local reputation as an outlaw hero to the subversive young, Baumann formed the clandestine terror group, the June 2 Movement, whose Mansonesque motto was “A Pig is a Pig … The Pig Must Be Offed!”

Under the aegis of the June 2 Movement, Baumann went underground, wanted by the German state as a Terrorist, arsonist and bank robber. He later served time for these crimes after a long adventurous period on the lam that brought him as far afield as India, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan. There he became involved in the highest levels of the shadowy global narcotics trade, with its murky connections to intelligence agencies. Baumann’s book Terror und Rausch, informed by that experience, sheds light on the same hidden connections between narcotics traffic and the governmental power structure which Manson so often refers to.

Even forty years later, Baumann still retains a fellow convict’s collegial pirate respect for Manson and has continued to follow the case.

When I asked him what attracted him to the Charlie mystique in his youth, he said,

“It was a big thing here in the newspapers as well when they got arrested. We had a certain sympathy because it ended all this naive hippie ‘have a nice day’ way of thinking. That love, peace and brown rice bullshit which doesn’t correspond with reality, let’s face it. So, we saw it as something that goes our way, so we supported Manson, based on what information we had. Yes, it was a bit gruesome but it stops all that idiotic bullshit. The whole idea that it went our way in that sense it was militant, it was clandestine. More extreme. We corresponded somehow … Here in Berlin he had many followers, several fans, the girls liked him, his clothes, his looks, a lot came together to create that image, of course. The real Marxist-Leninist and Maoist left-wing was appalled, of course, goes without saying, but to the counterculture, he was a hero, and somehow accepted. You could get his record, posters from America, and pictures of Manson were pasted up everywhere. He had a certain influence in 1969 and 1970.”

Baumann claims that the iconic German left-wing rock group Ton, Steine, Scherben were also Manson admirers, as were several prominent left-wing activists who eventually sold out to the establishment by becoming involved in mainstream political parties. Baumann suspected these reformed revolutionaies would no longer admit the Manson influence of their youth.

Most of Baumann’s surviving fellow revolutionaries fro the ‘68 generation have either compromised their insurrectionary ideals or continue to trade on a nostalgic romantic myth bearing little relation to reality. Baumann renounced terrorism after the police killed one of his fellow guerillas in 1972 but remains an outspoken critic of the system. He has recently made himself a controversial and uncomfortable figure in radical circles by breaking the taboo of critiquing his former comrades’ misguided but still glorified revolutionary actions, including the exploits of the fabled RAF, which he claims were largely inspired by West German intelligence operatives an police agent provocateurs.”

“the most evil man in the world?”

“What was it like to during the Cold War and the Satanic Panic in the US to knowingly wear the stigma of “the most evil man in the world”? asks SANCTUARY webzine’s article about NIKOLAS. Partially a translation from Christopher Bickel’s excellent interview with NS in Dangerous Visions, even if you can’t read Czech or use Google Translate, you can enjoy the photos and music links. http://www.sanctuary.cz/12773-chuze-po-ostri-nikolase-schrecka 

ns czech article

MANSON FILINGS UPDATE FROM NIKOLAS: HELTER SKELTER HALLOWEEN PRESS PARTY MOCKS JUSTICE

“If ever a picture spoke a thousand words, then this telling shot from the Los Angeles Press Corps 1970 Halloween party held during the Tate-LaBianca trial is it. Here we see Vincent Bugliosi posing with his supposed adversary, Leslie Van Houten’s bearded and doomed attorney Ronald Hughes along with three of the most prominent reporters to cover the Manson trial, Linda Deutsch, Mary Neiswender (one of the first journalists to interview Manson and still in touch with him recently), and Sandi Mettetal, dressed as black-clad X-headed, leather thong-adorned defendants Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten. That the prosecuting attorney and a defense attorney would celebrate in a fashion which seems to mock the murders with supposedly objective journalists at a party decorated with a paraphrase of Tex Watson’s supposed statement “I’m the devil here to do the devil’s business” and a dangling noose reminiscent of the Cielo Drive crime scene could have easily led to dismissal due to clear conflict of interests. If it was any other trial, this picture alone, had it been circulated to the public at the time, would have been damning to the careers of all concerned and could have even jeopardized the trial. But of course this was not any other trial! NS”

Photo from the blog of photographer Chuck Boyd – Bugliosi and his mouthpieces in the press celebrate their collaboration in the devil’s business, Halloween 1970.

Nikolas Schreck (Official)'s photo.

New on The Nikolas Schreck Channel: NS Interviewed on TLB Radio

If you missed NIKOLAS SCHRECK’s recent surprise appearance discussing his coming down fast MANSON FILE updated edition on The Tate LaBianca Radio Program we’ve uploaded it for your listening pleasure at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nt15zGCEi-M

Nikolas Schreck (Official)'s photo.

New Nikolas Schreck Interview on Tate LaBianca Radio

AN INTERVIEW TO DIE FOR? ANOTHER OOO-EEE-OOO! MANSON FILE SYNCHRONICITY FOR THE RECORD

On Sunday, June 7, NIKOLAS SCHRECK was BRIAN DAVIS’s special surprise guest on the Tate LaBianca Radio Show 4 year anniversary season finale broadcast. Many mysterious Mansonian matters were discussed. You can listen to the full program here: https://archive.org/download/TheTateLabiancaRadioProgramPodcastPage/061TLBRadioProgramSchreckJune072015.mp3 Due to the time zone gap, the interview was pre-recorded on Saturday night, June 6 – at approximately the same time a certain Vincent T. Bugliosi was making his exit from this world. As Brian wrote to Nikolas after their conversation: “Bugs actually passed away on Saturday night which means you are giving a rare interview about TLB at the same time Bugs is actually departing this life. Somewhere during the time we were talking in that realm he was in transition. That is so weird … Also, for some reason that night I chose to end the show by going back to what caused all this real confusion…I started at the beginning and read from HELTER SKELTER until the music bed faded out….then Bugs dies.”tlb interview 2015

Bye Bye Bug: Nikolas Schreck Says a Fond Farewell to Vincent Bugliosi

Vincent Bugliosi demonstrates evidence at the Tate-LaBianca Murder Trial

As an antidote to the mainstream media’s inaccurate eulogies, here is the real Vincent Bugliosi, as revealed in a chapter excerpted from Nikolas Schreck’s 2011 book The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman:

The Bug Cashes In: You Saw the Trial! Now Read the Book! And See the TV Movie!

                                        By Nikolas Schreck

Who we gonna blame it on? Let’s blame it on somebody we can get away with blaming it on. Let’s blame it on some convict that ain’t got no money, let’s blame it on somebody that got no education… When Bugliosi seen me, I was custom made for his ambitions.”   – Manson

When it comes to naming and shaming the creators of the false Manson myth that’s been marketed to the public for four decades, the name Vincent Bugliosi stands at the top of the list in a class of its own.

Perhaps the day will come when research into the Manson phenomenon can proceed in its own right without having to constantly differentiate the facts from the tales told by theDistrict Attorney. But as of this writing, Bugliosi’s influenceon the way Manson is perceived far outweighs any other fac-tor. This can be illustrated by the fact that I’ve already been forced to mention Bugliosi 170 times in the course of our inquiry thus far. This present study has attempted to clear away the thick impasto of obscurations that begrimes the Manson mirror. Most of the gunk that needed to be scrubbed away derives from Bugliosi’s courtroom theatrics and his heroic portrait of them in his most famous work.

I would wager that if a survey was held to ask the proverbial man on the street what they know about Charles Manson, the answers would all be based on the Bugliosi-created myth rather than anything remotely like the truth. And I suspect that this would be so even if our theoretical man on the street never read a word of Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter or saw either of the two Made-for-TV docu-dramas based on that questionable source. Since the media made the mistake of turning to Bugliosi so often as the undisputed Manson expert, the attorney’s skewed opinions of Manson have soaked into the mass mind’s conception bysheer osmosis. If we are to understand how and why the Manson myth and the Helter Skelter horror story it’s based on was created, we need to understand something of the enigmatic attorney whose calculating imagination created it.

Helter Skelter (1974), the best-selling true crime book in publishing history, is the veritable Bible of the orthodox Manson myth. We’ve already seen that the story it presents isvery far from being “The True Story of the Manson Murders” the book’s subtitle claims it to be. And yet it has become the standard source of information on Manson.

Whether Bugliosi’s antics in court – the heart of the cover-up – were performed at the behest of the Mob, the Hollywoodmovie industry, the FBI, or all three, cannot be proven with absolute certainty. That the concealment of the truth which Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” scenario accomplished during the trial primarily served the interest of those parties is incontestable. As previously mentioned, Manson’s informed opinion is that his prosecutor’s main taskmaster was the same branch of the Mafia which Leno LaBianca worked for: the Genovese Family.

But whatever orders from above drove Bugliosi to perform the courtroom cover-up he carried out with such efficiency, his continuing capitalization on the crimes after he won the case had only one beneficiary. Not truth. Certainly not justice.Only the insatiable political ambitions of Vincent T. Bugliosi himself.

As Susan Atkins, who was also manipulated and discarded as a pawn in Bugliosi’s career-making machinations wrote, in her unpublished and unfinished document The Myth of HelterSkelter: “It may be cynical but it has to be pointed out Mr.Bugliosi’s book about the crime was published just before heran for Attorney General of California.”

Far from being cynical, that’s just the plain truth of it. Every copy of Helter Skelter should have come with a VINCENT BUGLIOSI FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL bumper sticker.

Even before the media circus of the Tate/LaBianca trial actually began, it’s clear that Bugliosi already planned to commandeer the Manson case as his personal vehicle to political superstardom. Helter Skelter was the first phase of his cam- paign; anyone who could defeat an evil criminal mastermind like Manson could certainly be trusted to fight crime as Attorney General. As we will see, only Bugliosi’s own self-destructive arrogance and a few glimpses of his paranoid personal behavior which were revealed to the public prevented him from attaining his goal.

Even some of Bugliosi’s own legal associates were astounded and repelled at the shameless way Bugliosi grand-standed for the cameras during the trial. They saw only seven squalid murders which would never even have aroused public attention had not a semi-famous minor actress of Sharon Tate’s caliber been among the victims. But Bugliosi, from the beginning, hyped what he called “the crime of the century” as an event unprecedented in the history of murder. He portrayed the messy but by no means uncommon killings of some drug dealers into a phenomenon of great moral weight andeven metaphysical significance. By so doing, Bugliosi created a stage grand enough for him to play the part of Super-Prosecutor he cast himself in.

Integral to the stark drama of Good vs. Evil Bugliosi intended to enact was a foe fiendish enough to serve as a worthy adversary. One sufficiently loathsome to allow Bugliosi tocome off as the brave dragon-slaying knight he saw himself as.

The real instigator of the crimes, and the man who had done most of the killing, was unavailable since he was still locked upin a Texas jail. And besides, Watson, the bland and clean-cutcollege athlete would never do as the Satanic megavillain that Bugliosi needed as a foil.

This Manson kook, on the other hand, looked and acted the part. But Manson as an accessory to a series of drug rob- beries which he was dragged into once half of the Cielo Drive murders had already happened also didn’t fit Bugliosi’s bill. By inventing a narrative of supernatural evil which featured Manson as a cult leader who cast a spell on his followers to kill in the name of an esoteric race war, Bugliosi had created amonstrosity formidable enough to allow his own ascent to fame and fortune.

But in his blind ambition, Bugliosi didn’t only engineer his own rise to celebrity and political eligibility. By convincing the jury and the watching world of the lie that Manson – who ordered nobody to kill or be killed over the weekend of 8-9 August 1969 – had actually commanded the murders, Bugliosi almost single-handedly created the basis for a Charles Mansoncult that had never existed before.

But that was a very risky game.

Because as Bugliosi’s keenly aware, not only is he largely responsible for his adversary’s legendary celebrity, but Manson’s own stubborn refusal to talk about the actual natureof the crimes is what has kept Bugliosi’s reputation intact all these years. While Manson has lambasted the D.A. as a liar, a Mob stooge, a self-publicist and an opportunist, he has neverreally revealed in clear and unimpeachable terms preciselyhow wrong the case Bugliosi presented in court and in hisbook really was. And to date, of the other defendants, only Susan Atkins finally spoke out and clearly stated that theHelter Skelter” motive was a lie with no bearing on the crimesshe was convicted for. However, for whatever personal rea-sons, she didn’t take that extra step of revealing her first-handknowledge of what Tex was really up to on that long-ago week- end.

However, Bugliosi’s undeserved reputation as a great legal mind and hero to true-crime fans doesn’t only depend on the silence of criminals. It also relied to a great extent on the passive cooperation of those LAPD homicide detectives who watched Bugliosi pull off his great deception in court. Even though they knew how much evidence had been suppressed and how much false testimony had been uttered to do so. One of the mysteries of the case I have not been able to penetrate is why so many cops kept their mouths shut about what they knew – even after Bugliosi accused them of incompetence in Helter Skelter.

The planning that went into Bugliosi’s scheme to use the Manson trial as his stepping stone to political power was almost military in its efficiency. Bugliosi’s ghost-writer Curt Gentry, who did most of the work of weaving Helter Skelter’s narrative together, was installed in a small room behind thecourtroom throughout the trial. There, he was fed a steadysupply of facts, near-facts and utter fantasies that were ultimately melded into the Helter Skelter product. Bugliosi’s behavior at the trial must be seen with this in mind: he was consciously performing the part he wanted his hired writer to depict. In this sense, from Bugliosi’s self-aggrandizing perspective, you could say that the trial was conducted the way it was largely to assure that it would make for a dramatic and saleable book.

When one interviewer asked Manson what he thought of Helter Skelter, he wrote of how mercenary Bugliosi’s motives were, and how significant the book was as the foundation stone for the profitable Manson industry to come:

Helter Skelter was written well, names and dates were right – The D.A. won Helter Skelter reality for the People Vs. Manson and made $15.50 a copy 25 million times world wide and 295 17 million and movies = a lot of money – 50 books written and people don’t realize the LA Times sold papers all over the world = 100’s of millions of dollars made in the U.S and the world and the movies and TVs been playing Charlie’s Angels, Charlie’s this and that – It would take you 5 years to think through how much was made from one asshole and only money I got was 40 or 50 dollars – no lawyer no rights and 19 years in the hole … people been misleading each other for years and years – the biggest part of what you believe is unreal.”

When the trial was over, Bugliosi took possession of the rough draft manuscript Curt Gentry had been preparing behind the courtroom and gave it its final shape. At one point in Helter Skelter’s composition, Bugliosi’s friend Hugh Hefner let the lawyer hole up in a comfortable Bunny hutch at the Playboy Mansion West. As a guest of Hef’s hospitality, Bugliosi carried out his labors on the book. The patronage of the Playboy entertainment empire in connection with the making of Helter Skelter raises other questions about whose interests Bugliosi’s magnum opus of deception was intended to serve.

Shortly after entering English exile in the mid-Sixties, Roman Polanski befriended Hugh Hefner’s rich British lieutenant and fellow womanizer Victor Lownes. Lownes, in turn, introduced the Polish director to someone who would later play an important role in the events of August 8-10, 1969: Iain Quarrier. Quarrier’s first film role had been in a Lownes pro- duction. Lownes became a powerful patron in Polanski’s career. Through this connection, Hefner invited Polanski to publicize his forthcoming Fearless Vampire Killers with a nude photo spread of Tate published in Playboy’s March 1967 issue.

The next year, on January 20, Lownes arranged for Polanski and Tate to be married at a star-studded party at London’s Playboy Club. Tate and Polanski appeared with Hefner on an episode of Playboy After Dark, a television series Hefner hosted.

Lownes was with Polanski in 1969 when he heard the news of his wife’s murder from L.A., and the British Playboy chief was also among the party that escorted the grieving Polanski from London to Los Angeles. Later, Hugh Hefner and Lownes helped the director return to his career after the trauma by producing Macbeth, Polanski’s first post-murder film, released on Playboy’s short-lived film subsidiary.

So one can only wonder if Hefner’s involvement as a guardian angel in the writing of Helter Skelter was in any way connected to Playboy’s long history of supporting Polanski’s career. Tangential to a possible Playboy-Bugliosi-Polanski con-nection and how it may figure in the mechanics of the cover-up is the fact that Hefner, from the beginning of his career,was dogged by rumors of Mafia involvement which he has, of course, angrily denied. When Hefner opened his first Playboy Club in Mobbed-up Chicago, it was no secret that the syndicate got a cut from every nightclub in that city. It’s often been speculated that Hefner couldn’t have operated his profitable club without paying off the Chicago mob, or letting them in on the action. Such rumors obviously didn’t bother Vincent Bugliosi, even when he was on the brink of running for California’s Attorney General, and, one would imagine, would have wanted to be careful about presenting a law-abiding image to the electorate.

Friendship with Hugh Hefner wasn’t the only thing Polanski and Bugliosi had in common. Polanski was born on August 18, 1933 in Paris. Vincent Torquato Bugliosi, whose fate would interweave with Polanski’s, was born exactly one year later, on August 18, 1934.

His hometown was Hibbing, Minnesota, where Bob Dylan also grew up. Like Leno LaBianca, who Manson so often links him to, Bugliosi’s parents were Italian immigrants. Also like LaBianca, Bugliosi’s father owned a successful grocery market. Bugliosi attended Catholic school. Excelling at tennis, the competitive young man became Minnesota’s state high school champion. His athletic skill won him a tennis scholarship to the University of Miami. There, he met Gail, his future wife.

After moving to the greener pastures of California, Bugliosi graduated from UCLA Law School in 1964. Ever the over- achiever and pillar of society, he was elected the president of his graduating class. After passing the bar, he entered the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. Even before his star-making Perry Mason performance in the Manson show trial,

Bugliosi already had a knack for mixing show biz and jurispru-dence. He served as technical advisor for Dragnet star Jack Webb’s TV series, The D.A.. Bugliosi edited the scripts of two pilot films for the series, providing him valuable experience that later paid off in his exploitation of the Manson case into entertainment. Bugliosi’s resolute crime-busting persona owes more than a little to the morally upright character the cop-loving Jack Webb played on TV.

After the Manson trial made him a nationally recognized public figure, Bugliosi prepared the release of Helter Skelter as a publicity-grabbing first step in his campaign for Attorney General. Many of the hippies who watched Bugliosi carry out character assassination on the counterculture during the Manson trial assumed the aggressively square D.A. must be a rabid Nixonite Republican. In fact, the fervent JFK apologistwas always a loyal Liberal advocate of the Democratic Party.

In keeping with the thin line between entertainment and Californian politics that Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger maneuvered so well, Bugliosi relied on his Hollywood friends as part of his crusade as Democratic aspirant to the Attorney General’s Office. The actor Robert Vaughn, best known as secret agent Napoleon Solo in the popular 60s spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E, was recruited to stump for candidate Bugliosi.

Despite the reputation as legal eagle supreme that the Manson trial earned for Bugliosi, his better-financed Republican opponent outspent him and eventually defeated him. But there was another significant factor in Bugliosi’s loss of the Attorney General post he fought so hard for. Candidate Bugliosi’s electoral performance was also badly damaged by an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on May 8, 1974, which quoted fellow attorney George V. Denny, at one time Bruce Davis’s attorney, describing Bugliosi as a “liar, a perjurer and fabricator of false evidence who [is] totally unfitfor office.” At a May 7 press conference, Denny also accused Bugliosi of “lying to police investigators, and making hush money cover-up payments.”

Denny’s allegations, although not directly connected to the prosecution of Manson, are suggestive enough of the state of Bugliosi’s moral probity and character that any serious student of the Manson phenomenon must at least consider them.

The Denny charges were originally brought to light during Bugliosi’s first grab for political power in November of 1972, only a few months after Manson’s conviction. Bugliosi, then Deputy D.A., ran to unseat the incumbent Los Angeles

District Attorney, the Chief County Prosecutor. On November 3, 1972, a press conference was held, in Denny’s words, “to bring to the public’s attention Bugliosi’s misuse of the powers and resources of the District Attorney’s Office when he was just a Deputy D.A.. The implications of yet greater misuse andabuse if he were to become THE D.A. were apparent.”

A Los Angeles couple, Rose and Herbert Weisel, issued legal declarations under penalty of perjury accusing Bugliosi of harassing them with anonymous phone calls and mail.

According to the charges made in the Weisel documents, Bugliosi, who they believed was in need of “professional help from a psychiatrist” was convinced that Herbert Weisel, a milkman by trade, had had an affair with Bugliosi’s wife and may have been the real father of his child. According to Rose Weisel’s statement, Bugliosi’s wife came by the Weisel home to apologize for the harassment. Mrs. Weisel testified that Mrs. Bugliosi said, “I know he’s sick. He’s got a mental problem.”

In pursuing this notion, the Weisels claimed, Bugliosi had misused his position as Deputy D.A. to obtain private information about the Weisels, including their personal telephone number and work address. Bugliosi became a nuisance to them, they asserted, after he’d been given this information.

Herbert Weisel stated:

It wasn’t until sometime during the Manson trial that I happened to see Mr. Bugliosi on T.V. I called in my wife to show her the guy who had been harassing us, and it was only then that we discovered that he was a Deputy District Attorney.

In June this year, after the primary elections, my wife and I discussed the fact that Mr. Bugliosi had become one of the two run-off candidates for D.A. Based on what had happened to us when he was only a Deputy and not the actual D.A. we were scared of what would happen if he got into office.”

According to George Denny, “Bugliosi had been apprised of the upcoming Weisel news conference before it occurred.

Therefore, the night before the news conference, he concocted a spurious story about a supposed $300 theft that had occurred in his home, his suspicions about Weisel as the thief, and his contact with both Weisel and his attorney regarding those suspicions.”

In his document The Vince Bugliosi Story, Denny claims that the Weisels began pursuing legal action against Bugliosi.

This was settled out of court when Bugliosi paid the couple $12,500. By then, the multi-millionaire author was not goingto be unduly troubled by the loss of such a sum.

Denny also described another case which became public knowledge due to a Herald Examiner article headlined BUGLIOSI ACCUSED OF ASSAULT. A young woman named Virginia Cardwell had allegedly been beaten and choked by the crusading D.A. during a particularly strenuous interrogation concerning an abortion Bugliosi supposedly insisted she should get. Cardwell claimed that she had been impregnated by Bugliosi during a brief affair. She said that Bugliosi had beaten her when she failed to abort the child withmoney he had provided for that purpose.

After Cardwell went public with this incident, Bugliosi was alleged by Denny to have forced her to recant the charges. Bugliosi’s deafening silence in the face of this apparent grossdefamation is remarkable; Denny remains un-sued to this day.

The Cardwell case was, Denny said, ultimately settled out of court. This was revealed in a May 9, 1974 article in the Evening Outlook which stated that Bugliosi “paid $5000 to a former girlfriend to keep her from suing for civil damages over an assault that occurred in Santa Monica, a Beverly Hills attorney has charged.

All of this negative publicity contributed to Bugliosi’s loss of the election on June 4, 1974. These fleeting glimpses of the man behind the mask of public rectitude did nothing to make the public wonder if the prosecution of Manson had been handled with similarly shady methods. But Denny revealed some details of a relatively unknown case more directly related tothe Manson trial:

The Grand Jury had indicted Bugliosi on three counts of perjury. The charges were based largely on the testimony of Bugliosi’s co-prosecutor in the Tate-LaBianca cases, Stephen R. Kay, and the limited but crucial testimony of reporter William Farr. The gravamen of the charged offenses was that Bugliosi had twice lied to [Manson trial] Judge Charles Older and had also lied to the Grand Jury itself in denying under oath that he had provided Farr with the transcript of a witness’s testimony in violation of a court order.

At Bugliosi’s perjury trial in September-October, 1974, instead of testifying as he had before the Grand Jury, Farr asserted the newsman’s privilege not to reveal his sources of information. Unable to make use of the prior testimony under the Evidence Code and, therefore, unable to establish a prima facie case, the special prosecutor moved to dismiss the case … No conviction. No acquittal. No vindication.”

I believe that a simple comparison of the original police reports in the Cielo/Waverly killings with the trial transcripts suffices to prove that the D.A. suppressed unassailable evidence which pointed away from the Helter Skelter myth.

Unfortunately, that anti-climactic procedure concerning the Farr document remains the only time the question of prosecutorial perjury at the Manson trial has actually come to court.

One of the most frequent charges leveled against Bugliosi by his detractors which has never been legally investigated wassummed up by Sandra Good:

Bugliosi used the power of the district attorney’s office, the money, the resources of investigators, he was able to coerce witnesses by making deals with them. There were people who testified for the prosecution who had pending charges against them. Bugliosi said, ‘You say what we want you to say or – and we’ll drop your charges.’ People were paid. People were intimidated. Women’s babies were taken away from them. They took my child. They tried to use my child as lever- age to get me to testify against Charlie. They took Susan Atkins’ child away from her. They took Mary Brunner’s child away from her. They used every trick in the book to get people to say what would fit with Bugliosi’s scenario.”

Another kind of trial also sheds light on Bugliosi’s willing-ness to perpetuate the Helter Skelter myth and market it as a profitable entertainment.

In 1986, a British TV network hired Bugliosi to participate in a fictional docu-drama trial of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Attorney Gerry Spence defended the fictional Oswald in this mock trail, and Bugliosi played the prosecutor. In the end, Bugliosi convinced the jury that Oswald had acted alone. The Oswald as “lone nut” theory was concocted in part to prevent the American public from learning of Mafia involve- ment with the Kennedy administration. It also was intended to divert attention from links between Jack Ruby – the man who killed the self-described “patsy” Oswald – and the Mob.

After researching the Kennedy case for this fake trial, Bugliosi became an aggressive opponent against the theory that JFK died as the result of a conspiracy. Bugliosi became devoted to the “Oswald acted alone” hypothesis. He spent over twenty years working on an exhaustive book intended to be the last word on the Kennedy assassination. Bugliosi’s latter-day literary battle in support of the Warren Commission’s no conspiracy conclusion has led many JFK assassination researchers to accuse Bugliosi of being a government disinformation agent.

In light of the Mob background to the Tate/LaBianca murders which Bugliosi’s first book Helter Skelter did so much to conceal from view, his equally adamant refusal to allow that the Mob had something to do with the Kennedy hit in Dallascan only cause us again to wonder whose interests this manhas really been arguing for since 1970. As we will see, Lawrence Schiller, another zealous defender of the Warren Commission, played a crucial part in the early stages of the Tate/LaBianca cover-up and its marketing in the form of yetanother deceitful book.

In the 1990s, those who have some idea of what Bugliosi really got up to at the Manson trial were astonished to see him, of all people, self-righteously preach from the pulpit paid for by the Manson trial about legal improprieties in other trials.

Bugliosi criticized Kenneth Starr’s prosecution of President Bill Clinton as unfair “demonization” – a legal method Bugliosihimself had perfected with his treatment of Manson in Helter Skelter. Bugliosi was also moved to write a book critiquing the errors the prosecution team in the O.J. Simpson trial had made. Bugliosi, who made his career by harping on the completely irrelevant “race war” aspect of his Helter Skelter motive, was especially outraged by the defense playing the famous “race card” in the O.J. Simpson case.

The full extent of the long-lasting damage Bugliosi inflicted with his promotion of Helter Skelter has not been sufficiently realized. By concealing the truth that the murders were simply the routine result of a typical rivalry between drug dealers, Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter cover story unleashed a nightmare in the national consciousness that lingers to this day. Through spreading the false idea that there were motiveless death cults lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce on random victims, Bugliosi set off a tidal wave of paranoid fear in American society that was completely groundless.

But the tangled web of deception Bugliosi wove led to consequences far more serious than inspiring false testimony, per-jury, suppression of evidence, and fear-mongering. It seems unlikely at this late date that the Teflon D.A. will ever be compelled to legally account for the mockery of justice he was responsible for in court during Manson’s trial decades ago.Even though the Helter Skelter lie at the center of Bugliosi’sManson myth has already proven to be lethal.

In Nuell Emmons’ book Manson in His Own Words, Manson is recorded as observing, “The media, film directors, and book authors took a molehill and made it into a mountain. The myth of Charles Manson has twisted more minds than I was ever accused of touching.”

How many deranged minds have been twisted to commit acts of violence and murder by the Helter Skelter cover storyBugliosi authored?

Manson has described meeting many ignorant young con-victs in prison who proudly told him that they had killed random rich victims just like he’d ordered his “Family” to do as part of his Helter Skelter plot. Manson had to disappoint thesemisguided souls. He informed them that they’d only acted outa fictional scenario that Bugliosi invented. Manson has stated that the mail he’s received over the years often includes letters from admirers who’ve volunteered to kill for him. More oftenthan not, these confused fans revealed that they got the erroneous idea that he wanted people to commit senseless slayings for him directly from Bugliosi’s book (or the TV movie based on it.)

That the destructive effect of the devious Helter Skelter myth Bugliosi crafted during the trial and popularized through his book went well beyond the courtroom is proven by at least one dramatic example: the Michael Draben case.

Draben was sentenced to a prison sentence of 75-100 years for the brutal murder of a Lincoln, Illinois family completely unknown to him. According to a Tribune Wire Service news account, Draben testified in court, “that he was following the philosophy of the Charles Manson ‘family’ as outlined in the

best-selling book ‘Helter Skelter.’ He said the Manson family killed all those rich people and I saw that if you killed them, that eases the problem.’…He said he chose … his victims simply because they seemed wealthy and lived in a remote spot. … Testimony at the trial showed that Draben continually played the record ‘Helter Skelter’ in his home.”

Here we have a clear case of an impressionable psychopathcommitting multiple murder by faithfully following the false Helter Skelter scenario Bugliosi created. Draben was, predictably, misidentified in the press as a “Manson-style slayer”.

Typical journalistic inaccuracy; even Bugliosi didn’t accuse Manson of slaying anyone.

If the truth were known, Draben is more aptly described as a “Bugliosi-style slayer.”Helter Skelter did more than earn millions. Its success also splattered the blood of innocent victims on its ambitious author’s hands.

Nikolas Schreck Interviewed by Metal Impact Magazine

Portrait of Nikolas Schreck by Zeena Schreck from Metal Impact interview
Portrait of Nikolas Schreck by Zeena Schreck from Metal Impact interview

In November 2011, shortly after French publisher Camion Noir released the French edition of Nikolas Schreck’s The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman, French music magazine Metal Impact conducted this well-informed and comprehensive interview on the book with Nikolas, discussing many other topics, including Radio Werewolf, the counterculture, his practice of Buddhism, his rejection of Satanism,  and his views on the god Seth.

English and French editions of The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman
English and French editions of The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman

Metal-Impact. Hi Nikolas and thanks for this interview. First, I’d like to congratulate you for this book, The Manson File, which really moved me (And what moved me even more, was to see that my review of your book was on your own website…). What motivated this « Apocalypse Edition » actually?
Nikolas Schreck. Thanks for your kind words. I see you’re going to soften me up with old-world Gallic flattery before going in for the kill! This Apocalypse Edition was motivated by my desire to finally clear away the smokescreen of lies obscuring the truth about Manson. Despite the huge body of mostly sensational and poorly researched hack literature on this subject since 1969, this is the first serious study of every aspect of Manson’s complicated life, thought, and criminal career. I’ve come to accept that Charles will never get the retrial he deserves, despite all the evidence disproving the Helter Skelter cover story painting him as a death cult mastermind. As a counterweight and refutation to forty years of Bugliosi bullshit, my book serves as the case for Manson’s defense that he never got in court. In the long range, as the information in my book slowly becomes common knowledge, I expect “Helter Skelter” will be remembered as the fraud of the century. Just as important to me as finally clarifying what these infamous murders were really all about was offering an equally comprehensive explanation of Manson’s mystical and religious views. In my opinion, that’s his most important legacy. As I said to him not long ago, as long as the public believes he’s a Satanic madman who ordered the killings of random strangers, nobody but a marginal lunatic fringe will ever take his philosophical, spiritual and ecological views seriously. So that was another motivation. I used the word “Apocalypse” in its literal sense of “Revelation” since so many secrets are revealed in its pages. This case provides a perfect example of how history is rewritten by the forces of social control. The irony is that the false Helter Skelter story so many socially conventional good citizens accept as the truth was actually concocted to protect a powerful Mafia drug dealing network from prosecution. I didn’t write this to provide escapist true crime entertainment or to appeal to murder memorabilia ghouls. I hope to encourage even readers who’ve never thought about this case before to ask themselves: if they’ve been lied to about one of the most widely publicized crimes in history, what cover-ups are being perpetrated on them right now?

MI. The fact that this new edition was firstly translated in French was deliberate? Do you think that our sensibility over this subject was more subtle than that of the American readers?
Nikolas. Definitely. The words “subtle” and “American” don’t belong in the same sentence. Our national bogeyman Manson stirs up so much knee-jerk hysteria in the USA it wouldn’t be the right place to begin the historical reassessment of Manson my book seeks to trigger. The French, to their credit, maintain a healthy skepticism about the proud American tradition of twisting the truth. Right after JFK’s assassination, the French media suspected a conspiracy long before Americans began to doubt the official story. More recently, the French refused to go along with the war criminal George W. Bush’s fictional reasons for invading Iraq. The Helter Skelter cover story I’ve exposed is just as explosive in what it reveals about the corruption of the American legal system and media. With all that in mind, my wife’s unerring feminine intuition determined that the truth about the Manson case was best introduced to a more impartial European readership likely to grasp the subtleties of the situation. Another factor arguing for a European release first was that the Polanski side of this sordid epic is a story of European exiles sucked into the peculiar American alliance of the Mafia and Hollywood that’s never been told before. And of course, I expect your Minister of Culture to thank me for my contribution to French literature by awarding me one of those fancy Legion of Arts and Letters medals. If Jerry Lewis can get one, it’s only fair that I get one too.

MI. Can you tell us more about your relationship with Charles Manson? What was the real starting point of this bilateral communication?
Nikolas. As far as “bilateral communication” one amusing and revealing thing Charles said to me recently was “You and me have a communication problem. You keep trying to talk!” Our rapport is deeper and weirder than an ordinary friendship, and as complicated as relatives who fight and make up with each other over decades. A relationship with Charles is like befriending a wild Bengal tiger; you never know if he’ll be a purring pussycat or a snarling beast. A mutual friend who’s heard Charles and me in conversation said that we relate to each other like an old married couple. Although I felt a connection with him as early as 1970, I contacted Charles in late 1985. This was right after Radio Werewolf’s drummer Evil Wilhelm and I became obsessed with a Manson interview on a late-night TV news program. Charles and I had an instant affinity, which was at first based on our mutual spiritual kinship with the wolf as a totem animal. Those who only know him from the crazy Charlie act he puts on for the media might find it hard to believe that he’s often been a fount of wise counsel to me. For example, when I was starting out in the 80s version of the same Hollywood sex, drugs, and rock and roll game he’d floated through in the 60s, Charles offered me practical down-to-earth advice based on his own similar experiences. He warned me that the rock industry and the clubs Radio Werewolf played at on the Sunset Strip were Mafia fronts and that if I stayed in that world I’d lose my creativity and my soul. I took his advice. Because Charles has so little privacy, and has been betrayed by so many people who he and I once trusted, I prefer to keep most of our volatile camaraderie private. Charles introduced me to some of my dearest friends and he’s also introduced me to some of my most noxious enemies. Knowing him led directly to my meeting the love of my life and also led directly to me nearly getting killed. What else can you expect from a guy who’s Jesus on Monday, the Devil on Tuesday, and Abraxas on every other day of the week? We have a powerful but not always easy karmic bond it will probably take a few more lifetimes to fully resolve.

MI. According to me – please correct me if I’m wrong – this book is a demystification of the Manson myth, as a “serial killer” and even as a kind of “modern evil”, as he’s still seen in America. You turned him into a simple citizen, always on the verge of legality and on the loose. Do you think he was a kind of scapegoat for the government, and used as a symbol for the 60’s freedom repression?
Nikolas. Yes, you’re right; my book’s devoted to demystifying the myth, thus the “myth and reality” subtitle. Not only the Manson-bashing myth of the Satanic serial killer, but also the equally untrue Manson fan’s fantasy of the completely innocent political prisoner. If there’s a “modern evil” in this case, it’s not the petty crook Manson but the lawyers, mobsters and show biz sleazebags who used him as their fall guy. It’s too simple to say that Charles was specifically selected by some all-powerful “Them” as a scapegoat. It’s more that right-wing politicians ruling California and Washington shrewdly leaped on the convenient opportunity of “a hippie cult leader” to discredit the counterculture by redefining its revolutionary aspirations as criminal psychosis. With such opponents of peace, love and LSD as the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, Ronald Reagan as Governor of California, and Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon as Commander in Chief, Manson’s media coverage and trial was a tightly controlled exercise in government propaganda. And the way the Manson case was covered really did have political consequences in that it defused the counterculture by convincing the public to fear hippies and dissidents as potential murderers. However, we can’t ignore the fact that Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten cooperated with the official script by convincingly playing the parts of “brainwashed hippie cultists” for the TV cameras at their trial. As I attempt to clarify, if Charles or any of his co-defendants opened their mouths at the trial to reveal even some of the real motives of the crimes, they could’ve brought down Bugliosi’s fragile house of cards instantly. But the girls’ defense attorneys convinced them they could get off if they showed the jury they were mindless zombies under their master’s hypnotic control. And Manson’s loyalty to the underworld code of silence meant that the Establishment knew that they could get away with their “Helter Skelter” anti-hippie theater without being questioned in court. So the government’s scapegoat for the Sixties was at least partially responsible for allowing himself to be scapegoated.

MI. The real story – and I must say that my opinion is very close to yours on this matter – was actually just a struggle between two parallel worlds. Hollywood “glamour” (Dennis Wilson, Sammy Davis Junior, Kenneth Anger, Mama Cass) versus Drug dealers. In your book, the real frontdoor protagonists emerge as the true actors of the tragedy, I mean, Charles « Tex » Watson, Jay Sebring and « Voytek » Frykowski, Polanski’s “friend”. Was this version of the story too Down-to-earth for the conservatives? Did the American people really need a tragedy in flesh and blood to bury the 60’s?
Nikolas. I’m glad you came away from the book understanding that “the true actors of the tragedy” were actually the Watson-Sebring-Frykowski drug dealing network. I wanted to finally cast light on this trio usually relegated to the sidelines as “brainwashed follower” and “innocent victims”. This was never the bizarre story of a cult attacking innocent strangers for irrational reasons. It’s just a fairly typical tale of violence breaking out between two criminal factions who were working together. Actually, though, the cover-up of the drug-dealing nature of the crimes wasn’t inspired by the conservatives. A clique of hip liberal rock stars and film industry players concealed the Mafia narcotics ring being run from the home of one of Hollywood’s leading directors while he was out of town. Also, as my book makes clear, the FBI were preparing a sting operation on Jay Sebring, Leno LaBianca, and Joel Rostau (the mobster who delivered the drugs to Sebring and Frykowski the night of the murders) and others involved in a large-scale Mafia money-laundering scam whose trail they suspected led directly to Paramount Studios. To allow the true circumstances of the murders to be known to the public would have blown the FBI’s agenda. The FBI, the Mafia, and the Hollywood establishment were united in their vested interest to distract the public from the truth with the “Helter Skelter” fairy tale. The utter failure of journalists to question the huge inconsistencies in the official version of the murders is to blame for letting the powers who ruled Hollywood get away with the perfect crime in court.

MI. Your book can be seen as an objective piece of work. But what’s your intimate feelings and opinion over some of the protagonists of the Manson story, Tex Watson, Lynne Fromme, Susan Atkins, Jay Sebring or even Dennis Wilson for instance?
Nikolas. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the main players rather than judging them. You can’t write in such depth about the intimate lives and deaths of even the most flawed people without feeling empathy for them. My subjective feeling is that they were all caught up in the momentum of a needless tragedy that wouldn’t have happened if psychedelic drugs hadn’t been made illegal three years before the murders. I’ll give you my spontaneous impressions of the people you named. Tex Watson: an emotionally impoverished sociopath. His violent temper was triggered by his abuse of amphetamines and Belladonna in the weeks leading up to his rampage on Cielo Drive. He didn’t have a serial killer profile, he just freaked out in a speed-fueled rage. As I once wrote to him, if Watson was the disciple of Jesus he pretends to be, he’d practice what the Bible preaches about “the truth will set you free” and tell the truth about the crimes he instigated. Lynette Fromme: I know her to be of great integrity, intelligence and idealism. She was sincere in her revolutionary zeal to change society and the natural environment for the better. I hope she finds peace in her newly won freedom. I only spoke to Susan Atkins once. She was so guarded it was hard to see beneath her pose of Christian repentance. But she’s a tragic case too, since despite her self-destructive bragging, she didn’t participate in the murders of Gary Hinman and the Cielo Drive victims, but was just along for the ride on what she thought were going to be non-fatal settlings of her friends’ drug dealing disputes. She was promised immunity if she “confessed” to the crimes according to the fictional cover story contrived by her Mafioso lawyers. Her life can only be seen as a complete waste. Jay Sebring: a professional criminal who knew the risks of the dangerous profession he chose – and I don’t mean hairdressing. Violent death is an occupational hazard for high-stakes drug dealers. Sebring was an insecure striver concerned with putting up an impressive front who numbed his anxiety with cocaine and alcohol. Dennis Wilson: a nervous wreck haunted by the knowledge that he introduced Manson to the whole fatal cast of characters, including Tex, Tate, Terry Melcher, Rudy Altobelli, John Phillips, Mama Cass. His last years were a wasteland of remorse. And long before that he was a tortured soul due to the stress of living up to his clean-cut Beach Boys image. All of these people’s lives and the Sixties dream itself were ultimately torn apart simply because a few petty drug burn disputes got out of hand on a stoned summer night. And, as Manson’s pointed out, if a minor but newsworthy celebrity like Sharon Tate hadn’t canceled her plans for staying at a girlfriend’s house that night, the drama would never have escalated into the legendary nightmare it became.

MI. Don’t you think sometimes that Bugliosi was just a puppet whose strings were pulled by both the Nixon Administration and the Mafia? To focus the attention of the American people on a mock trial, rather than on the Vietnam crisis and the influence of the mafia over the entertainment/drug industry?
Nikolas. Not a puppet of the Nixon administration, because Bugliosi was a Democratic Party supporter, and an admirer of Nixon’s liberal arch-enemy John F. Kennedy. As for your second charge of who pulled his strings, it’s relevant to note the Mafia’s long-standing ties with the Democratic Party and the Kennedy family, a power syndicate Jay Sebring was also closely connected since he provided drugs for his most famous haircutting client JFK during his secret trysts with Marilyn Monroe. I find it interesting that like several other shady characters behind the Helter Skelter smokescreen, Bugliosi ardently argues that Lee Harvey Oswald was JFK’s lone assassin and that the Mafia had nothing to do with the Dallas hit. Manson’s told me explicitly that he believes that Bugliosi’s primary task was to conceal Leno LaBianca’s long-standing Mafia activity and “bring New York to Hollywood.” That translates from Mansonese to mean covering up the real circumstances of the crimes to allow the East Coast mob to secure their hold over the L.A. film industry. This hostile takeover was celebrated in the movie The Godfather, which was filmed while several mob figures who could have testified in the Manson trial were executed to keep them from snitching. Bugliosi wasn’t only a puppet. He had his own motives in exploiting the publicity the Manson trial received to push his own failed political ambitions to be elected as the Attorney General of California.

MI. How and why do you think the Beatles got involved in all this mess? Simply because at that time they were the leaders of the counter culture? Was Charles really fascinated by their music?
Nikolas. Whoever had the bright idea of misspelling “Healter Skelter” on the LaBiancas’ refrigerator assured that the Fab Four would be smeared by association for all time. But despite that still unexplained clue, Charles himself was never particularly impressed by the Beatles. Anyone can hear that his folk/country music isn’t inspired by the lovable moptops, which it would be if he was so obsessed with them. If this Beatlemania was so central to Manson’s philosophy, why has he never spoken about it in any of the many sermons he’s given in hundreds of interviews since then? Also, Charles’s close friend and supporter Dennis Wilson knew the Beatles very well, as did the other Beach Boys. So did the actor Peter Sellers and many of the other rock and movie stars who Manson partied with and sold drugs to. If Charles wanted to contact the Beatles so badly, as was later claimed, he was always just a phone call away from his supposed heroes. It was “Little Paul” Watkins and Susan Atkins who were the real Beatle fans on Charlie’s black bus. And it was those two who most closely collaborated with Bugliosi in crafting the fictional Helter Skelter/Beatles race war motive which we now know had absolutely nothing to do with these routine drug dealing murders. Atkins finally admitted that the Helter Skelter motive was a lie in the last document she wrote before her death. There wasn’t a hippie commune in all of California that wasn’t listening to The White Album in 1969. Thousands of young people in that year sought secret messages in Beatles songs, which is what led to the “Paul is Dead” rumors. So I agree with you that the Beatles were dragged into this along with acid, free love, witchcraft, and all the rest of the counterculture cliches to defame the hippie movement as a dangerous threat to society. If the killers wrote “Mellow Yellow” in blood on that refrigerator, that would have been the name of Bugliosi’s book instead. And Donovan would be stuck with the blame for the “crime that killed the Sixties.”

MI. I guess the writing of this book was sometimes like a struggle for you. How did you find the strength to go on writing and obviously face many difficulties? Was it like a quest for the truth, or, so to say, another truth?
Nikolas. Yes, even though there were times I couldn’t bear to even think about this subject again, it really was a quest for truth that drove me to continue investigating the Manson enigma’s hidden history. As soon as I thought I’d wrapped it all up, a new surprising bit of data would emerge. Gathering accurate information about the nights of the murders and how the truth was covered up was especially tricky. It involved gaining the trust of suspicious and powerful sources who’d never broken their silence before and were guarding secrets that had led to others getting killed. Also, it isn’t only the Mafia and Hollywood figures involved in the cover-up who were hostile to my research. Plenty of Manson fans and supporters are in denial about the mundane nature of the crimes, since they prefer to believe that the Tate-LaBianca killings were some kind of revolutionary action, which is nonsense. Also, although Charles rightfully complains about the Helter Skelter cult leader caricature Bugliosi created, I don’t think he’s thrilled about the sleazy truth of his minor after-the-fact role in a drug robbery finally emerging either. Looking into this case for so many years required looking under every rock and digging up every buried skeleton, a task which is emotionally draining in the extreme. It’s overwhelming to realize the extent to which so many well-known public figures conspired to conceal the ugly truth, because it forces you to unravel the spider web of illusions we accept as “reality.” The actual writing of the book was relatively easy once I’d organized the vast amount of information I had to cover into a workable form. My struggle took place during the years of gathering the research without really knowing what the end result would be. Through this ordeal, I’ve come to view the Helter Skelter cover-up as a metaphor for the larger cosmic cover-up which prevents us from grasping the true nature of reality in general.

MI. If this whole affair had taken place nowadays, how do you think it would have ended?
Nikolas. That’s a good question. In the corruption of 1960s Los Angeles, cops and journalists were routinely paid off to prevent the public from learning inconvenient facts. In the 80s and 90s there were several Hollywood drug-dealing murders just like the Cielo Drive murders. However, times had changed and the media and legal system reported them and tried them accurately without misleading the public with fanciful nonsense about cult killings and hypnotic powers. One was the so-called “Cotton Club Murder” which involved some of the supporting cast of the Tate/LaBianca slayings. The other was the “Four on the Floor” or “Wonderland” murders, a Tex Watson-like drug dealing robbery/murder possibly committed by the coke-addicted porn star John Holmes. If some minor actress was killed last night as the result of her ex-boyfriend conducting a drug deal gone wrong, which was essentially all that happened at Roman Polanski’s house, nobody would be particularly shocked today. But in 1969, the drug and sex habits of celebrities were still kept secret. Now, it’s routine celebrity PR to confess to your latest drug addiction on a reality TV show or to “accidentally” leak private porno videos to the Internet. (I mention this because another aspect covered up in this case were the videotapes of celebrity orgies the police confiscated from the Cielo Dive crime scene.) These days, the Italian Mafia doesn’t have the clout over Hollywood and the media it had in the 60s. The movie studios are no longer powerful enough to pay off the police to protect their product as they always had in the past with messy celebrity crimes. I don’t think investigative journalists today would cooperate so willingly with the Hollywood power structure as the media did back then.

MI. Do you think that Charles Manson would ever get out of jail? Does he wish to?
Nikolas. I’d be surprised if any of the surviving “Manson Family” who were convicted for the murders are ever paroled. After all these years of the media pushing the frightening fiction of random cult killings, the public outcry would be too great. Even when Susan Atkins was dying of brain cancer after having one of her legs amputated, they wouldn’t let her out on a “compassionate release”. Regardless of Manson’s guilt or innocence, his trial was conducted illegally. That means he’s technically entitled to be released if an efficient lawyer ever petitioned for a mistrial. Charles’s constitutional right to defend himself was denied. Crucial forensic evidence was suppressed and manipulated which presented a completely inaccurate picture of the chronology and crime scene of the Cielo Drive murders. Witnesses were pressured to perjure themselves. Witnesses who could’ve told the truth about what happened were deliberately excluded from testifying. The President of the United States prejudiced the jury by publicly stating that Manson was guilty before the trial was over. Before the trial began, Susan Atkins’s scripted confessional testimony to a grand jury was illegally sold to the newspapers, which guaranteed there could never be a fair trial since millions were exposed to her declaration of Manson’s guilt. My book uncovers for the first time just how suspicious the circumstances of Atkins’s staged “confession” really were. These are all causes for a mistrial. Even though I’m making these facts public knowledge, no politician in California will risk the political fallout of freeing these notorious figures, even though none of these elderly men and women present any kind of threat today. Does Manson want to get out of prison? I still don’t know even after seriously discussing that topic with him many times in the past twenty-six years. Since 1987, I’ve been involved in several efforts to get a new trial moving. As recently as December 2010 and April 2011, I spoke with two different attorneys of varying degrees of sincerity who volunteered to help Charles attain justice. As happened many times before, once it came down to signing papers to set the legal process in motion, Charles balked. On one hand, he’s always said he wants the rights that were stolen from him in court. But then he’ll say that if he’s released, he’d have nowhere to go since the Manson myth’s made him such a hated monster he’d be even more of a target than he already is in prison. He’s made a few serious attempts to escape over the years. Maybe he’s too much of an outlaw to want to get out the legal way.

MI. Manson is known to be a huge influence – “spiritually” and musically – for various musicians, from Marilyn Manson to Blood Axis or Henry Rollins. As a musician yourself, do you think this fascination is sincere or just a promotional argument based on cheap provocation ? (What do you think of the cover of “Look At Your Game, Girl” by GUNS N’ ROSES, as an hidden track of their album The Spaghetti Incident?!?”)
Nikolas. Any judgment I make about the sincerity of other musicians could only be a subjective opinion open to debate. However, since I’ve had personal dealings with all of the distinguished colleagues you mention, I can offer partially informed answers. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Radio Werewolf shared a rehearsal studio in Hollywood with Guns N’ Roses at the height of our Free Manson crusade. They were all pleasant enough, but since they never expressed any interest in Charles then, I find it hard to believe that their later cover version was anything more than cheap provocation and negative publicity fodder. I’ve never heard it, so can’t comment on its quality. Henry Rollins sincerely wanted to produce a mainstream release of a Manson prison recording in the mid-80s. According to Charles, Rollins was scared off by all of the negative reactions and death threats that proposed album inspired and dropped out of contact decades ago. As for Blood Axis, despite his faithful devotion to the defamatory LaVeyist party line against my wife and me, I’d say he was the most sincere on your list when it came to actually supporting Manson’s ATWA cause and working to clear up some of the lies about the case. When it comes to the one who stole Manson’s name, I’ll diplomatically reserve comment. The funny thing about all those who claim to be so influenced by Manson is that none of them actually play his kind of country and western tinged Americana. So other than their fascination with the legend of the murders, it’s hard to discern any actual artistic influence.

MI. What do you think of Charles’ music?
Nikolas. One reason I got in touch with him in ’85 was my admiration for his then largely unknown music and his theories about the spiritual effect of sound on the human mind. After much paperwork and persuasion, San Quentin Prison granted me permission to film Charles giving a solo concert with his guitar. Charles Manson Unplugged, so to speak. When I showed up to film the performance we’d planned for a year and a half, the prison suddenly decided they wouldn’t let Charles play his guitar outside of his cell because “he could use it as a weapon.” That’s why in my interview with him in Charles Manson Superstar, you’ll notice he picks up a trash can and beats on it and says sarcastically, “We can’t get any music out of this.” Just like Bobby Beausoleil, Terry Melcher, Dennis Wilson and Neil Young all did, I think Charles has a great spontaneous poetic songwriting talent. It could’ve been developed with the proper producer and recording techniques into something of enduring artistic value. But as he admits, he didn’t have the patience to submit to what he saw as the restrictions of the studio recording process. Even if the Manson album Capitol Records was set to release in 1969 came out as planned, I can’t imagine Charles going along with the show biz routine of promotion, playing the same songs the same way night after night, or obeying a record company’s legal necessities. Some of the songs on Lie have become timeless classics because Charles put a lot of effort into perfecting them and practicing them going way back to 1963 when he was waiting to be released from Terminal Island Prison. The best music he’s recorded in prison was in his Vacaville period, the only time he was encouraged to develop his creativity in a fairly relaxed environment. Metal Impact readers may be interested to know that by the time this interview appears, previously unheard Manson music will be released on vinyl as Horsefly via www.atwaatwar.com. Zeena provided the album’s cover art portrait and I contributed the liner notes.

MI. You were yourself an active member of the 80’s counterculture, as the leader of Radio Werewolf. Do you think that counterculture still exists today? Don’t you think that this era of politically correct is just a sterile way to falsely admit what we fear or still refuse, like homosexuality, or racial equality?
Nikolas. The phrase “political correctness” comes from Marxist-Leninism, which also began as a revolutionary counterculture but turned into a tyranny once it gained power. The politically correct mindset ruling the West since the 1990s is a form of social control that sweeps all differences away to create one big bland homogenized consumer group. We learned many lessons about how countercultures function during the Radio Werewolf ritual from 1984-1993. Whatever dominant culture you “counter” strikes back hard in ways you can’t predict. When we were seen as harmless entertainment we were allowed a certain measure of freedom. Once we advocated social and spiritual change and developed a following who sought an alternative to consensus reality, the police state clamped down on us with ruthless efficiency in both the USA and Germany. Radio Werewolf faced official harassment, banning, surveillance and blacklisting. It’s amazing we accomplished as much as we did under those circumstances. Right-wing Christian law enforcement tried to frame Zeena and me for crimes in order to silence us. Leftist atheists tried to get us banned. This strategy successfully interrupted our creative work and forced us to defend ourselves in the mass media to make it clear that we weren’t going to surrender to secret police intimidation tactics. If it wasn’t for some timely last minute warning phone calls from Richard Ramirez (the Night Stalker) and a sympathetic L.A. police detective who we helped investigate occult-influenced crimes, we could’ve easily been branded with the same “dangerous cult” scare stories that were used to destroy other resistance movements before us. Does the counterculture of that time still exist today? No, not that I see. In fact, I don’t think there’s any real counterculture anymore; just niche consumer groups. Sure, the outer symbolism and aesthetic of what we did in the 80s and early 90s still influences popular and alternative culture. But it’s been defanged and neutered into such lightweight Radio Werewolf impersonators as Marilyn Manson and others of his ilk. Just as 60s counterculture imagery was absorbed into the mainstream after the revolutionary spirit was crushed. Our goal of transforming consciousness and creating a new spiritual and social order was hindered by opposition from outside and – as always happens in extremist groups – by internal feuding fanned by agents provocateur from within. That’s why we broke with the received conventions of secular music to provide deeper long-lasting one-on-one spiritual instruction to a few chosen initiates instead. Countercultures, utopias, and revolutions come and go, but human nature remains unchanged. We’ve seen that the only revolution worth fighting is the inner jihad that seeks to depose the tyranny of the ego.

MI. You said in a previous interview that ” The devil we (You and your wife) thought we were worshiping was actually God”. Can you explain us the real meaning of this? Who’s “God” according to you? A concept, an abstract entity, or just a figure created in the purpose of moral enslavement of the masses?
Nikolas. None of the above. I’ll make a very long story short, since your readers may not be familiar with the obscure world of Anglo-Saxon occultism. When I was living in London in the early 80s, I drifted into an informal sex-magical circle inspired by the goofy but interesting British occultist Kenneth Grant. The rituals we did were based on Grant’s theory that the ancient Egyptian god Seth was the prototype for the Biblical Satan. Researching actual Egyptology rather than occultism, I learned that Grant’s depiction of Seth was historically inaccurate. To trace the mysteries of Seth to their source, I went on a pilgrimage to Egypt in ‘83, where I encountered folk survivals of ancient Sethian worship and experienced my first major religious awakening. For a long time after that, my magical work was still conducted under this mistaken notion that Seth was the Devil’s true name. Only in 2001, when Zeena and I were Temple of Set clergy and we were writing our book Demons of the Flesh, did we began to uncover archaeological evidence that Seth was in fact the original prototype for the mysterious being known as God, Iao, and Allah by the three major Middle Eastern religions. Shortly before we, along with sixty other Temple of Set members, resigned from that organization to form a more authentic Sethian religion, Zeena had a vision concerning Seth’s identity and her relationship to Him. This revelation, hinted at in a document released at that time called The Four Horsemen, became the foundation of our resurrected Sethian cult first called the Storm, and later renamed the Sethian Liberation Movement, or SLM. Because Seth and Jahweh are identical with the Gnostic god Abraxas, an important figure in Manson’s theology, I explore this subject in a chapter in the Manson File entitled Le nom secret de Dieu. Anyone crazy enough to be interested in looking more deeply into this arcane matter of divine identity will find several useful sources for further research cited there.

MI. Anton LaVey has often been described as a perverse hedonist, only aiming at money and fame. He was treated as a false and grotesque satanist, but don’t you think at the contrary, that he was the only one to apply the real dogmas of satanism? Putting the Ego over everything else?
Nikolas. I always forget about the small print in my pact with the Devil obliging me to answer at least one question about Anton LaVey in every interview for all of eternity. I can see how you might come to your conclusion based on his public image. But knowing the real human being first as a friend, then as a father-in-law, and then until his demise in ’97, as a mortal enemy, I saw him a bit differently than you do. Was he a perverse hedonist? Considering my own sex life, I’m the last person to accuse anyone else of perversity. But despite all his talk of self-indulgence, LaVey was no hedonist. His sad, angry, lonely and frustrated existence was far less pleasurable than the average sane and healthy person’s. Nor was LaVey a satanist by any sensible definition of that word. Satan was just one of his publicity gimmicks. I’ve come to understand that Satan, by whatever name, is not a man-made symbol but a supernatural being, an angel whose cosmic role is to test and tempt initiates at spiritual turning points. Placing ego over everything else is a normal symptom of every unenlightened being’s selfish grasping. So it takes more than just excessive ego or a lust for money and fame to make one a Satanist. Actually, LaVey didn’t strike me as particularly interested in money either; he wasn’t a very ambitious con man. There’s an old saying that the Devil must be paid his due. LaVey ended up as he did because he made the arrogant atheist’s mistake of playing with Satanic symbolism without acknowledging the spiritual reality those symbols represent. His own daughter spelled this out quite succinctly in her 1990 open letter to Temple of Set founder Michael Aquino seven years before LaVey’s death. Unfortunately, the damaging effect he’s had on the gullible remnants of the Anton LaVey Memorial Fan Club and all of the suffering he caused for his own family and followers will assure that he’ll find out just how real Hell is for a very long time.

MI. What are your beliefs nowadays? Religious and social? Did you find peace?
Nikolas. Appropriate that you ask about peace, since it’s very relevant to my religious practice today. The abbreviation of the name of the religious body I serve as a priest are the letters SLM, which not only stand for Sethian Liberation Movement, but is also the ancient Egyptian word for “peace”, the state of mind one can attain through Sethian gnosis. And when I converted to Buddhism, the monk conducting the refuge ceremony renamed me with a Buddhist word for “peace,” the name by which my students and closest friends refer to me. As for my social beliefs, I’m convinced that as we fall ever deeper into this terminal Kali Yuga, or unlucky age, society in general is fucked beyond repair. I’ll spare you my anti-Internet lecture here, but I believe the worst social ill of our time is the mass addiction to social media and digital gadgets of every kind. Zeena and I remain ecology and animal rights activists. We’ve protested Communist China’s genocidal policy in Tibet. And as part of our left-hand path devotion to the feminine, we’ve supported the cause of women’s rights in Iran and India. As a prerequisite for being initiated into SLM, candidates are required to volunteer in some socially engaged altruistic activity of their choice in their local communities. For the most part, though, the futile game of partisan human politics is of no concern to us. We’ve discovered that lasting peace isn’t based on outer material or social circumstances. It can only be realized by diligently taming the mind’s deluded interpretation of reality through meditation.

MI. As a musician and a music listener, what’s your judgment over the whole Heavy Metal scène of the 1990’s and 2000’s years?
Nikolas. I’m far too much of an old-fashioned square in my musical tastes to be qualified to answer your question. The last time I paid attention to contemporary popular music was during my wayward youth in the late 1970s, and even then I was never a great admirer of the electric guitar. If it’s any consolation, here’s what I listened to while I answered your questions: Zero Gravity, a pioneering 1975 Moog synthesizer album, Matrix 17 by one of my all-time faves, Krysztof Penderecki, and – another French connection! – an amazing album called Musique de la Gréce Antique. If your readers want the full Sensurround interview experience, they should read this interview again with that music as a soundtrack. No guitar solos in any of them, alas.

MI. The final word for the readers of Metal Impact?
Nikolas. What more is there to say but AEMINAEBAROTHERRETHORABEANIMEA?

MI. Thank you very much Nikolas.
Nikolas. My pleasure.