Kenneth Anger, influential avant-garde filmmaker and author, dies at 96
Kenneth Anger, the shocking and influential avant-garde artist who defied sexual and religious taboos in shorts such as “Scorpio Rising” and “Fireworks” and aired the most sinister movie star gossip in his underground classic “Hollywood Babylon”, has passed away. He was 96 years old.
Anger died of natural causes on May 11 in Yucca Valley, Calif., his liaison artist, Spencer Glesby, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Few have tapped into the forbidden depths of culture and consciousness so boldly and imaginatively as Anger, whose admirers ranged from filmmakers Martin Scorsese and David Lynch to rock stars such as the Clash and the Rolling Stones. .
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He was one of the first openly gay filmmakers and a pioneer in using soundtracks as counterpoints to moving images. Long before the rise of punk and heavy metal, Anger juxtaposed music with bikers, sadomasochism, the occult and Nazi imagery. When the Sex Pistols and the Clash appeared on the same poster at a concert in 1976, clips from Anger’s films played behind them.
Anger had his greatest commercial success and notoriety as the author of “Hollywood Babylon”. Scandal and Hollywood practically grew up together, and Anger has amassed an extraordinary and often apocryphal family scrapbook, whether it’s footage of Jayne Mansfield’s fatal car crash or allegations as widely disputed as the actor Clara Bow who had sex with the University of Southern California football team.
Completed in the late 1950s and originally published in French, “Hollywood Babylon” was banned for years in the United States and was still adult fare when it was officially released in 1975, when the New York critic Times, Peter Andrews, called it a “306-page box of bon bon” written as if a “sex maniac had taken over the Reader’s Digest Condensed Book Club”.