Life’s twists and turns, you may have noticed, have a way of coming full circle in the most unexpected ways. When exploring that unfathomable black hole in the spacetime continuum we know as the Tate-LaBianca case, I’ve seen this pattern of synchronicities and eternal returns border on the mind-boggling.
Consider if you will, as Rod Serling might have put it when introducing an episode of The Twilight Zone, howmy interactions with the on-screen reel life and the off-screen real life of the late great actor Ferdy Mayne led to a decisive turning point in my understanding of the Tate-LaBianca murders. In honor of the karmic debt I owe to Herr Mayne for his groundbreaking assistance in my research, this, what would’ve been his 99th birthday, makes a fitting occasion to offer a few observations on the oddity of it all.
“DANGEROUS MINDS: It seems your appearance on Hot Seat is a masterful bit of what would be today called “trolling.” You never break character as you deliver patently absurd decrees with a confident, straight face. Was that difficult to maintain in front of such a hostile audience?
NIKOLAS SCHRECK: No, it wasn’t difficult, as I’d already trained myself in performance and in “real life” to keep a poker face under even more extreme situations than that. I accept your compliment in the spirit it’s offered, but a “troll”, in cyberspeak, is usually just some anonymous sadistic creep trying to provoke a reaction for the sake of it from the cowardly safety of a keyboard. I’d say there’s a big difference between that and personally confronting a hostile horde face to face. Also, there’s an implication of insincerity in “trolling” whereas those particular appearances were just slightly caricaturized exaggerations of the general beliefs I espoused at that time. In fact, what I said on Hot Seat was deliberately dumbed down and tamed for that particular crowd, who I didn’t consider capable of understanding the even more radical religio-magical views I held in 1987. As for breaking character, all of my work then and now has a certain measure of straight-faced black comedy to it, which you have to be on the same wavelength to “get.” From my current Tantric Buddhist perspective, there is no solid “character” under the shifting illusion we imagine to be a permanent self. ”