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The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey

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Anton Szandor LaVey has been called "the most dangerous man in the world," a "charlatan," an "evil genius." What secrets lurk within the man who shaved his head on Walpurgisnacht, 1966, and declared the foundation of the Church of Satan? For many years, Anton LaVey has directed his mysterious organization in seclusion, declining all public appearances, and refusing most int Anton Szandor LaVey has been called "the most dangerous man in the world," a "charlatan," an "evil genius." What secrets lurk within the man who shaved his head on Walpurgisnacht, 1966, and declared the foundation of the Church of Satan? For many years, Anton LaVey has directed his mysterious organization in seclusion, declining all public appearances, and refusing most interviews. Having gained admittance into LaVey's inner circle as his assistant and confidante, Blanche Barton knows the "Black Pope" as well as anyone on earth. Written with the full cooperation of her enigmatic subject, Miss Barton's biography reveals what has previously been hidden from public view. In "Secret Life of a Satanist" we are treated to the full and unexpurgated stories behind: * LaVey's erotic involvement with Marilyn Monroe during her "lost years" as a stripper, and Jayne Mansfield's fatal infatuation with the Devil. * The dark origins of Satanic ritual, including ties to Sir Basil Zaharoff and the mysterious "Black Order" in Nazi Germany. * LaVey's early career as a hoodlum, carny, burlesque house organist, Zionist operative, lion tamer, and ghost hunter for the San Francisco Police Department. * LaVeyan philosophy and aims, combining misanthropy, eco-terrorism and nostalgia to forge the future Satanic Empire. * How the strange powers attributed to LaVey have affected his enemies, and friends. "The Secret Life of a Satanist" is augmented by 24 pages of photographs, many never before seen, from LaVey's personal collection. An appendix includes several documents and essays by Anton LaVey, including instructions on lycanthropic transformation previously rejected by publishers for fear of provoking a "bloodbath." Here is, finally, an uninterrupted and unexpurgated visit with the author of The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Witch, and The Satanic Rituals, a man who has devoted his life to the overthrow of Judeo-Christian ideals.


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Anton Szandor LaVey has been called "the most dangerous man in the world," a "charlatan," an "evil genius." What secrets lurk within the man who shaved his head on Walpurgisnacht, 1966, and declared the foundation of the Church of Satan? For many years, Anton LaVey has directed his mysterious organization in seclusion, declining all public appearances, and refusing most int Anton Szandor LaVey has been called "the most dangerous man in the world," a "charlatan," an "evil genius." What secrets lurk within the man who shaved his head on Walpurgisnacht, 1966, and declared the foundation of the Church of Satan? For many years, Anton LaVey has directed his mysterious organization in seclusion, declining all public appearances, and refusing most interviews. Having gained admittance into LaVey's inner circle as his assistant and confidante, Blanche Barton knows the "Black Pope" as well as anyone on earth. Written with the full cooperation of her enigmatic subject, Miss Barton's biography reveals what has previously been hidden from public view. In "Secret Life of a Satanist" we are treated to the full and unexpurgated stories behind: * LaVey's erotic involvement with Marilyn Monroe during her "lost years" as a stripper, and Jayne Mansfield's fatal infatuation with the Devil. * The dark origins of Satanic ritual, including ties to Sir Basil Zaharoff and the mysterious "Black Order" in Nazi Germany. * LaVey's early career as a hoodlum, carny, burlesque house organist, Zionist operative, lion tamer, and ghost hunter for the San Francisco Police Department. * LaVeyan philosophy and aims, combining misanthropy, eco-terrorism and nostalgia to forge the future Satanic Empire. * How the strange powers attributed to LaVey have affected his enemies, and friends. "The Secret Life of a Satanist" is augmented by 24 pages of photographs, many never before seen, from LaVey's personal collection. An appendix includes several documents and essays by Anton LaVey, including instructions on lycanthropic transformation previously rejected by publishers for fear of provoking a "bloodbath." Here is, finally, an uninterrupted and unexpurgated visit with the author of The Satanic Bible, The Satanic Witch, and The Satanic Rituals, a man who has devoted his life to the overthrow of Judeo-Christian ideals.

30 review for The Secret Life of a Satanist: The Authorized Biography of Anton LaVey

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bobbi Heck

    This was a terrible book. Anton LaVey is a self important nit wit.

  2. 5 out of 5

    L.V. Sage

    This was a fascinating look into the life of a mysterious figure. What an amazing life LaVey led!! Whenever I read about people like him, who accomplished so much during their time here on Earth, I feel inspired that you can do whatever the hell you want and make a living from it! You can actually be happy and productive. LaVey was an extremely intelligent man who developed a belief system based on logic and rationality instead of fear and guilt.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jazmin

    Here's the nice thing I have to say about the book: it was short. That's the end of the nice things I have to say. It's poorly organised, makes numerous assertions without comprehensive or even cursory supporting evidence and it's explanation of what Satanism is as a belief system is never clearly and comprehensively explained. I understand this isn't a Satanic text, but if you're writing an autobiography of a guy who invented a religion, you should explain what that religion is in a way that mak Here's the nice thing I have to say about the book: it was short. That's the end of the nice things I have to say. It's poorly organised, makes numerous assertions without comprehensive or even cursory supporting evidence and it's explanation of what Satanism is as a belief system is never clearly and comprehensively explained. I understand this isn't a Satanic text, but if you're writing an autobiography of a guy who invented a religion, you should explain what that religion is in a way that makes it familiar and comprehensible to the uninitiated. First off, Anton LaVey is a charlatan and a pedophile. His first two wives were underage when he married them, he's claimed he slept with Marilyn Monroe before she got famous (she's dead, so no way of knowing that's true, but I'm willing to bet just about straight guy living in Los Angeles around that time probably also "slept" with her), claimed he worked for quite some time at a circus where magically became a large animal tamer within a couple of years (debunked by Rolling Stone in 1992), claims to be an autodidact with regard to philosophy, religion and other social theories (yet he never once explains what facets of philosophy he incorporated into Satanism, he just name checks and moves on) and claims not to be a eugenicist, but buddy, if you think we should kill homeless people and stupid people to make a better, less dependent civilisation, you're a eugenicist. Quite frankly, he's also just an edge lord. He likes to listen to music no one listens to, he thinks TV is brainwashing us all, he prefers to be alone cause people just can't handle his honesty (sigh you're just a dick Anny) and he likes to watch rare and obscure movies. He sounds like a fucking nightmare. There are numerous claims never backed up: that the Church of Satanism has experienced a level of persecution to such a degree that the constabulary deliberately targeted them all, that Anton LaVey basically invented everything gothic, from paintings, to music, to academic Satanism (wtf), living on a commune and practicing polygamy (it's the 60s sweetie, you didn't invent that, everybody was doing it), street photography, (yeah this dickhead claims he invented street photography) and any critical account of Satanism is denounced as flawed and biased. As much as I can surmise, Satanism is just individualism and social evolutionary theory repackaged. Stupid people, homelessness and equality are all bad for society because it drags the rest of us down. And feminism is also bad for reasons that are baffling like men and women just have different body temperatures so...theories of immutable sex differences should never have been contested by feminism. Quite frankly, Satanism also just sounds like the Secret but with demons: he alleges he's managed to accrue finances, followers and fortune with the power of his thoughts, and conversely, the downfall and death of his detractors, including accidentally killing Jayne Mansfield by accidentally cutting through her neck on a newspaper article that had a picture of her on the back. I laughed out loud at this, cause seriously? I read this book purely because it seemed like the last thing I would ever read. This book really squanders a lost opportunity to examine the morality of the Satanic Panic, the ideology and social thought behind Satanism, and quite frankly, glosses over Anton LaVey's dangerous opinions as if they're justified. His daughters and ex-wife (who he married when she was 15 and he was a grown arse fucking man) alleging abuse are all dismissed as jealousy and petty conspiracy. The writer was in a romantic relationship with LaVey for thirteen years until he died, and that bias is evident through out the entire text. Since it's an authorised biography, I wasn't expecting a critical reading of Satanism and LaVey's belief. By the end of the book, I just kept thinking how insufferable he was and how mortified I would be if someone I knew was taken in by this edge lord nonsense. He isn't saying anything new, he's just deluded himself and others into believing he has. He's a scammer.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Most “authorized” biographies of controversial figures of celebrities suffer from a degree of bias – the author is obliged to keep the subject happy, and thus must avoid topics that will be uncomfortable for them or at least give their side of the story as if it were somehow more “true” than that of their critics. In this case, that bias reaches its extreme form: the book may as well have been “ghost written” by LaVey himself for all the research Barton did. She simply took his words as holy gos Most “authorized” biographies of controversial figures of celebrities suffer from a degree of bias – the author is obliged to keep the subject happy, and thus must avoid topics that will be uncomfortable for them or at least give their side of the story as if it were somehow more “true” than that of their critics. In this case, that bias reaches its extreme form: the book may as well have been “ghost written” by LaVey himself for all the research Barton did. She simply took his words as holy gospel and set them down on paper, never questioning or checking any facts, probably not even organizing the chapters without LaVey’s advice. Given that LaVey was an outspoken and flagrant liar, that make for a rather odd sort of “biography.” Still, the old carny and High Priest of the original Church of Satan could spin a good story, you have to say that for him, and he is especially interesting when he discusses the Church during its brief heyday from 1966 to 1975, as well as the few places where he talks honestly about the “Magic Circle” that preceded it. He really did keep a live lion in his house, so that “outrageous” part of the biography is true, and the life of Togare is another element worth looking at. Finally, his descent into misanthropy and isolated cynicism serves as a kind of warning to people with comparable interests and lifestyles. Barton does everything possible to make it seem positive, of course, portraying LaVey’s decision to live among mindliess mannequins and sex dolls appear “innovative” and ahead-of-its-time, but of course it is ultimately pathetic. Many of the critiques he makes of people in general are truly critiques of himself, if you listen closely. Among all of this, however, are occasional pearls of wisdom or insight. One that stood out to me was a quote from the seventies when LaVey predicted that long after everyone had forgotten the names of the central figures of Watergate, people would still be talking about the Church of Satan. Even I, who can recall the names of H.R. Haldeman and John Erlichman, would still rather read about someone like Anton LaVey, so he might have been right, although so much of his life seems to be a portrait of wasted potential.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Plaid

    Lavayan Satanism was more interesting to me when I was younger. I still appreciate the sentiment of Satan as a symbol of the great adversary and the rejection of herd mentality. I still think the imagery is cool. However, Lavay's brand of cynicism and misanthropy wears thin. It reminds me too much of too many whiny complainers with over-developed senses of entitlement. I don't like hearing it at family gatherings and workplace break rooms, it's not so amusing to read any more. Lavayan Satanism was more interesting to me when I was younger. I still appreciate the sentiment of Satan as a symbol of the great adversary and the rejection of herd mentality. I still think the imagery is cool. However, Lavay's brand of cynicism and misanthropy wears thin. It reminds me too much of too many whiny complainers with over-developed senses of entitlement. I don't like hearing it at family gatherings and workplace break rooms, it's not so amusing to read any more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    One of the best and most entertaining biographies I've ever read of one of the greatest men who ever lived. To those that insist most of it is made up or exaggerated: you weren't paying close enough attention. Maybe you should rent a copy of "Big Fish" and then you'll understand. One of the best and most entertaining biographies I've ever read of one of the greatest men who ever lived. To those that insist most of it is made up or exaggerated: you weren't paying close enough attention. Maybe you should rent a copy of "Big Fish" and then you'll understand.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Evan Norton

    It was an interesting read, but it really cemented the fact that Anton was a cringy emo kid who lied a lot to seem cool.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    Okay, several admissions. One, this review is based largely on memory and it's not due to my having just finished it. I just came across mention of some people I read in college and beyond and thought it might be fun to reread or possibly simply write a brief review on some books by or about him, among some others. Two, and this is very important -- it is an "authorized" biography. Naturally that's treated as a good thing by the author(s) as the author(s) had "inside" access to LaVey and his rit Okay, several admissions. One, this review is based largely on memory and it's not due to my having just finished it. I just came across mention of some people I read in college and beyond and thought it might be fun to reread or possibly simply write a brief review on some books by or about him, among some others. Two, and this is very important -- it is an "authorized" biography. Naturally that's treated as a good thing by the author(s) as the author(s) had "inside" access to LaVey and his rituals that few others possessed and thus was the most qualified person to write this. Never mind the fact that they had had a very longterm relationship before he died, so obviously there is no bias in this book. Hah! OF COURSE there's bias in this book! Virtually every single "authorized" biographies of anyone, whether a celebrity, rock band, athelete, entertainer, etc., are written by someone who "knows" the subject and therefore can relate things to the reader that others can't. And these writers are almost never professional writers -- which tends to be obvious -- so not only is the subject matter very questionable but virtually all show evidence of lack of proofing, editing, and so forth, making them appear even more unqualified for something to be taken very seriously. Which brings me to Three -- every "authorized" biography involves intentional input from the subjects (which is why you'll never read an "authorized" biography of Joan of Arc or other such more interesting and legitimate subjects), and that can really vary from book to book, subject to subject. Some like to have virtual complete control and often the author will write pretty much any crap dictated or otherwise given them and never bothers to fact check, and sometimes quotes them ver batum and treat those passages as the truth, no matter how insane they will seem to most readers, particularly objective readers rather than acolytes. As a result of this, as well as the fact that the author and subject had a serious relationship that laster over 10 years, I have always viewed this as one of the books that are almost word for word "written" (as in dictated or something similar) directly out of the brain and mouth of LaVey. I mean, some of the claims and assertions in this book are so damn ridiculous as to be repeatedly laughed at whenever one thinks of him, and some other assertions have long been disproven by various legitimate media sources, among others. And there's no way to back up many of his assertions, because A) many people he mentions as relevant to him and this book are conveniently dead, so no chance to hear their side and no evidence to back up his assertions, followed by the fact that many claims NOT involving specific celebrities, such as his past, are ALSO unconfirmable for the most part, which makes nearly all of the claims in this book completely subjective and provided as truth by LaVey, knowing virtually none of this could ever be proven -- or disproven. But the fact that so much of this seems laughably implausible alone makes one wonder as to the authenticity of most, if not all, of the book. So...among the things I always have viewed as potentially problematic for various reasons, and especially when they're largely impossible to fact check, include his descriptions of his early jobs/careers before he "saw the light," became a Satanist and established the Church of Satan. Some of these include being a carny professional at a younger age, and one so good that he was "promoted" to lion trainer based on his kick ass-edness and not because he knew one damn thing about lions or other such animals. The fact that apparently he was never ripped to shreds by one seems a little miraculous. And then another is his claim that he was a burlesque show organ player. To be candid, I actually think this could have been true. In this, and the carny, he would have been able to learn and hone the various entertainment, PR, charlton and other such skills he would successfully employ later in his "true" calling. There are others, but I don't want to waste too much time on this. I have poor health and it takes much longer for me to write anything, including these, than it once did and it can then screw up my schedule. So among some other claims that probably go past bordering on ridiculous are the assertion that he and Marilyn Monroe had a romantic fling -- before she became a famous star. Now one would think this easy to debunk and simply because it DOES sound so ridiculous, but then again one can't interview Monroe for confirmation and apparently there were no eye witnesses to this allegation, so those are out. Additionally, I have read many, many books on Monroe (and others have read far more), and I have yet to personally come across any mention of this, whether through my own readings, or those of others) and while some of any celebrity's life is never known, the fact that not one of these dozens of books and hundreds of articles would bother mentioning the claim that she dated the founder of the Church of Satan would indicate to me that it's pure bullshit, because otherwise SOME writer would think it so interesting or amazing or ridiculous or whatever that they would have felt compelled to write about it. But apparently none did. Then there's his assertion that in some weird way, he was accidentally responsible for the death of Jane Mansfield (as well as possibly having had a fling with her too? -- can't remember, sorry). You'll have to see this section to wonder at it yourself because I don't have the time to go into the sheer bullshittery of this. Frankly, I would like to go on and on but unfortunately I've already spent too much time on this, so I'll cut it short by saying that anyone remotely interested in LaVey might want to read this -- knowing it's "authorized" and thus guilty of his assertions and thoughts and only his -- but for those who aren't devoted followers or researchers, etc., who just want a good bio to read? Save your time and money because this has to be one of the worst ever written and I've seen some pathetically bad ones over the years. Not remotely recommended. LaVey's erotic involvement with Marilyn Monroe during her "lost years" as a stripper, and Jayne Mansfield's fatal infatuation with the Devil.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This is the problem with authorised biographies - it's 'written' by a third party, but it smacks of LaVey. For the self proclaimed founder of the Church of Satan - he really didn't have a very interesting life. This book doesn't total much, just a couple of antidotes about two women that were dead upon writing this book so they could neither confirm or deny the details. I think LeVay spent most of his time thinking and writing down his thoughts alone. He jumped onto the hedonistic social movemen This is the problem with authorised biographies - it's 'written' by a third party, but it smacks of LaVey. For the self proclaimed founder of the Church of Satan - he really didn't have a very interesting life. This book doesn't total much, just a couple of antidotes about two women that were dead upon writing this book so they could neither confirm or deny the details. I think LeVay spent most of his time thinking and writing down his thoughts alone. He jumped onto the hedonistic social movement of the 60's (which ironically he loathed, possibly because the hep cats lost interest in him after 1969) got some attention and from the 1970's onwards wrote calliope electronica? I'm not gonna lie, I wouldn't mind hearing some of those tracks, so if his Estate drops an album, let me know. I do agree with some of his ideas (he was delusional, but intelligent - probably why he hated people so much) He mentions the growing of the 'equality' movement - he thought it was out of control then, he'd be spinning in his trapezoidal coffin now. Equality is idealistic but logically flawed. To gives right to one group, you have to take rights away from another - so how is this equal and who decides who should have prevailing rights. And as much as we wish it to be true, not everyone is equal - equal in strength, intelligence, abilities etc - we just have to accept our flaws, strengths, weaknesses and live our lives accordingly. We live in an era where people are given praise and rewards for just being alive - you get things if you complain enough and can prove the otherside has more perceived 'privilege' than you. I agree with LaVey - you get what you achieve and it should be based on merit. All in all, I can't say i'd be joining the Church of Satan. He wasn't as influential or as powerful as he hoped to be, but he was a smart guy and who am I to judge - I ain't got no authorised biography that people are picking apart on the interwebs.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pint-Sized Vehemence

    A shame Satanism is so misunderstood. There's a lot of rationality and compassion to it, and no actual "devil worship". It's not about pillaging, raping and killing. It's not about doing "bad things for the Devil". There's no virgin sacrifice, or blood drinking, or sex with goats. They don't push immorality and unethical behavior; in fact, those things are frowned upon. It's not about being evil and scary and spooky. Ancient religion has scammed the world into thinking perfectly normal and human A shame Satanism is so misunderstood. There's a lot of rationality and compassion to it, and no actual "devil worship". It's not about pillaging, raping and killing. It's not about doing "bad things for the Devil". There's no virgin sacrifice, or blood drinking, or sex with goats. They don't push immorality and unethical behavior; in fact, those things are frowned upon. It's not about being evil and scary and spooky. Ancient religion has scammed the world into thinking perfectly normal and human things are sins, which is a shame. Satanists have a moral code that's very reasonable and befitting decent human beings - if you were to list them without context, one would never attribute them to so-called "scary evil people"; it's the Judeo-Chrisitan sect that needs an opposition to survive that perpetuates the nonsense. Anyway, I enjoyed this read a lot. LeVey certainly had a life worth recounting and knew a lot of people top people in the book of Who's Who, in his heyday.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Klages

    Although I was familiar with Lavey's historical importance before reading this book, I knew little about his personal life. This book advanced my knowledge, but also suffers from gaping oversights that don't make much sense. For instance, almost half the book is devoted to Lavey's life before founding the Church of Satan. This is really interesting stuff that provides insights into formative experiences. The second half of the book, though, is concerned more with rehashing Lavey's philosophies d Although I was familiar with Lavey's historical importance before reading this book, I knew little about his personal life. This book advanced my knowledge, but also suffers from gaping oversights that don't make much sense. For instance, almost half the book is devoted to Lavey's life before founding the Church of Satan. This is really interesting stuff that provides insights into formative experiences. The second half of the book, though, is concerned more with rehashing Lavey's philosophies developed during the '70's and '80s. This is interesting, but is offered without any context about what was happening in Lavey's life, or the Church as an institution. The philosophy gets discussed in a vacuum, completely flipping the dynamic of the first half of the book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Holger Haase

    The first half of the book is the authorised biography of Anton LaVey; the second half an introduction into his - surprisingly sane and often common sensical - belief system. When I read LaVey's Satanic Bible I was surprised how much of it appeared to be a precursor to all those self help books that are now stocked up in every bookstore and seem to have copied abundantly from him (with the ideas of "psychic vampires", visualisation etc). This biography is quite clearly biased and at times too gu The first half of the book is the authorised biography of Anton LaVey; the second half an introduction into his - surprisingly sane and often common sensical - belief system. When I read LaVey's Satanic Bible I was surprised how much of it appeared to be a precursor to all those self help books that are now stocked up in every bookstore and seem to have copied abundantly from him (with the ideas of "psychic vampires", visualisation etc). This biography is quite clearly biased and at times too gushing but still a very interesting overview over one of the 20th century's most intriguing counter cultural characters.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Claude Nelson Lewis

    The most disgusting book I’ve ever read . I come to the conclusion , Anton LaVey , was really a lazy man who wanted attention , money and power , without going to work at a job ! He completely let’s out his total distain for The Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Bible ! Anton LaVey , in my thoughts , has left his mark on the world....A TOTAL REPROBATE !

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chad Montabon

    I really enjoyed it and it was a competant biography, if not a fantastic one. The subject matter is truely compelling. After the obligitory section about his parantage there is a good bit about his life of scattered experiences.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I am sure Blanche Barton assisted Anton LeVay in the writing of this book, but so much of it sounded like it came directly out of LeVay's mouth! I've always found LeVay a fascinating character, and this book was a fun read. Some of the claims are ludicrous, but you won't be sad you read them! I am sure Blanche Barton assisted Anton LeVay in the writing of this book, but so much of it sounded like it came directly out of LeVay's mouth! I've always found LeVay a fascinating character, and this book was a fun read. Some of the claims are ludicrous, but you won't be sad you read them!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Adam Bricker

    An interesting look at the life of the founder of the Church of Satan including his formative years, careers, loves and intellectual/musical influences.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Raul

    Interesting person, a lot of filler chapters sandwiched by good and short biographical chapters

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike North

    Excellent book! Not just for Satanists.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bart Everson

    Starts bad and gets worse. I have to admit there's something intriguing about the notion of an "unreliable biography," but this is not artfully done. I do believe an objective biography of Anton LaVey, written by somebody with a little distance from the subject, would make for a fascinating read. In the meantime, Vice published an interview with his daughter Zeena. Read it as an antidote to this dreck. Starts bad and gets worse. I have to admit there's something intriguing about the notion of an "unreliable biography," but this is not artfully done. I do believe an objective biography of Anton LaVey, written by somebody with a little distance from the subject, would make for a fascinating read. In the meantime, Vice published an interview with his daughter Zeena. Read it as an antidote to this dreck.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isaac Baker

    The book is written by LaVey's widow, although she was merely an admirer when she set out to write the first version of the book. This new version (updated in 2014) has some interesting insights into LaVey's final days and the family feud that came to a head after his demise. I found Barton's writing to be a bit on the weak side, often repetitive and (despite the subject manner) quite boring at times. It's clear, though, that the author is enamored with LaVey. And this “authorized” biography was The book is written by LaVey's widow, although she was merely an admirer when she set out to write the first version of the book. This new version (updated in 2014) has some interesting insights into LaVey's final days and the family feud that came to a head after his demise. I found Barton's writing to be a bit on the weak side, often repetitive and (despite the subject manner) quite boring at times. It's clear, though, that the author is enamored with LaVey. And this “authorized” biography was controlled completely by LaVey, and I get the impression he controlled the process in a very detailed manner, from the structure to the language. As such, it reads like a self-congratulatory praise book of this founder of the Church of Satan. That said, Barton seems to be an insightful and interesting person who obviously has a unique perspective on such an extreme character. I'm not at all interested in so-called magic or in any Satanic rites and rituals. What draws me in is the utilization of Satanism as a metaphorical inversion of religious belief. Occasionally, Barton includes some of LaVey's thoughts on this topic. This is where, in my opinion, LaVey shines, when expounding upon his idea of embracing the taboo in order to invert the religious power structure of the day. Quoting LaVey: “We don’t worship Satan, we worship ourselves using the metaphorical representation of the qualities of Satan. Satan is the name used by Judeo-Christians for that force of individuality and pride within us.” Summarizing this concept, Barton writes: “One of the strengths of Satanic philosophy is to take that in yourself which would be considered by most to be a liability, and invert it. Make it work for you rather than against you” Later on, LaVey continues: “We are not limited to one deity, but encompass all the expressions of the accuser or the one who advocates free thought and rational alternatives by whatever name he is called in a particular time and land. It so happens that we are living in a culture that is predominantly Judeo-Christian, so we emphasize Satan. If we were living in Roman times, the central figure, perhaps the title of our religion would be different. But the name would be expressing and communicating the same thing. It’s all context.” “Satanism is not just an atheistic stance but also an anti-theistic stance. We prefer destruction of mystically-oriented religions through active opposition rather than simple nonparticipation.” LaVey: “I have termed my though ‘Satanism’ because it is most stimulating under that name. Self-discipline and motivation are affected more easily under stimulating conditions. Satanism means ‘the opposition’ and epitomizes all symbols of nonconformity. Satanism calls forth the strong ability to turn a liability into an advantage, to turn alienation into exclusivity. In other words, the reason it’s called Satanism is because it’s fun, it’s accurate and it’s productive.” LaVey seems to have an unhealthy obsession with turning a coincidence into an event with a direct cause. For example, Barton claims he cursed several people, who then had something terrible happen to them. The chapter "Curses and Coincidences" is the lamest in the book, as Barton attempts to stroke LaVey's ego by rehashing unfounded supernatural claims. The focus on black magic and it’s mixed in all over the place, which makes it difficult to skip and boring to read. The kicker is that Barton later writes about how LaVey maintained a sense of "ruthless skepticism,” which is a laughable statement. This may be true of LaVey’s response to theistic claims, but LaVey seems to throw skepticism out of the window when it comes to magic and his personal powers. While the book wasn't exactly what I was expecting, I found a lot to like inside. And, of course, it was interesting watching people on the train stare at me with trepidation as I read this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Grigori Cross

    This is a book written by a Satanist, about a Satanist, for Satanists. I don't mean that the subject matter or its delivery is too esoteric for non-Satanists to understand, or indeed that non-Satanists who are interested in the man who founded the Church of Satan will not be able to get a great amount of information from this volume. I claim instead that, much like Anton LaVey's "The Satanic Bible," a Satanist will get a lot more out of reading it than will a non-Satanist. For the life described This is a book written by a Satanist, about a Satanist, for Satanists. I don't mean that the subject matter or its delivery is too esoteric for non-Satanists to understand, or indeed that non-Satanists who are interested in the man who founded the Church of Satan will not be able to get a great amount of information from this volume. I claim instead that, much like Anton LaVey's "The Satanic Bible," a Satanist will get a lot more out of reading it than will a non-Satanist. For the life described in these pages, this is a very short read. The picture that is painted of LaVey's life seems almost to just skim the surface at times - a necessary move in biographies, I grant - but the reader is never left without the hint that there was something more going on. For those of us who go in with a more-than-superficial understanding of Satanism, the picture is vivid, and the hints suggest certain directions much more than others. If this is the reader's first glimpse into the world of Anton LaVey, misinterpretation probably isn't very difficult. Magic plays a significant role in LaVey's life, especially as life progresses. My guess is that the ordinary reader will take from this that LaVey had deluded himself, despite espousing that his philosophy was rational, into thinking he had tapped into some occult brand of fairy-tale wizardry, as has been done by many of his detractors. Readers who have a grasp on the Satanic philosophical religion will have a much easier time reading between the lines, and see the writing for what it is: author Blanche Barton's way of giving a wink and a nod to LaVey's principle that a certain amount of evocative fantasy (willingly and knowingly entered into) can bend situations or events in just the right direction. What can I say? I was riveted, so it worked. LaVey's life, as reported here, was large, looming, and in the shadows. Because I am a Satanist myself, I often hear that he tapped into a "dark force" in nature. I agree: he unleashed the right kinds of ideas at the right time to further all of his goals, and I will always be grateful to him for his having done so. This is nothing, if not a clarion call for the reader to do more with his/her life.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    Blanche Barton’s authorized biography of Anton LaVey is an entertaining read. In terms of biography it is much more a tribute to the man she loved and admired; perhaps, even feared, but not so much a critical analysis of the man’s life and work. The Secret Life of a Satanist tends to bolster the legend of the greatest showman of the modern occult and still manages to humanize him a little. LeVay’s contributions to modern occultism and non-theistic Satanism get lost somewhere between the sycophan Blanche Barton’s authorized biography of Anton LaVey is an entertaining read. In terms of biography it is much more a tribute to the man she loved and admired; perhaps, even feared, but not so much a critical analysis of the man’s life and work. The Secret Life of a Satanist tends to bolster the legend of the greatest showman of the modern occult and still manages to humanize him a little. LeVay’s contributions to modern occultism and non-theistic Satanism get lost somewhere between the sycophantic simpering of his admirers and those who would dismiss him as a nincompoop, which he was not. The man understood the value of symbolism and psychodrama in a direct way that very few modern occultists or psychologists do. This is no small contribution. Criticism notwithstanding the author does know her subject very well being a long time partner in the years before his death, and she provides an insight in the domestic side of the Black Pope that is touching and sad. While not as deeply critical as I would have liked to read Barton manages to give us access to the motivations of the man and how he came to create and embody his carnal philosophy of life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shea Mastison

    This was a great biographical account of Anton LaVey, written by his long-time confidant, Magistra Blanche Barton. Not only does the book cover standard biographical information; but it really provides a useful peek into LaVey's mind in many of the ways that the Doktor never conveyed in his own writing. Needless to say, Anton LaVey lived a singular life. A man of many passions; he pursued his ends with a unique sort of determination, and accomplished more than what anyone else may have predicted This was a great biographical account of Anton LaVey, written by his long-time confidant, Magistra Blanche Barton. Not only does the book cover standard biographical information; but it really provides a useful peek into LaVey's mind in many of the ways that the Doktor never conveyed in his own writing. Needless to say, Anton LaVey lived a singular life. A man of many passions; he pursued his ends with a unique sort of determination, and accomplished more than what anyone else may have predicted possible. If you're into biographies, Satanism, or just want to learn more about the Black Pope--this is for you.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tasha Thibodeau

    What I love about Anton LaVey is that there is truly know way to really know when he was lying about his life or when he was telling the truth, he truly was a man who kept the spirit of Old Nick within him. This book is written by his second wife, Blanche Barton. I really enjoyed this book and I thought the stories were entertaining and he truly did live an interesting life, whether or not all of it was real or not. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to take a peek into the secret l What I love about Anton LaVey is that there is truly know way to really know when he was lying about his life or when he was telling the truth, he truly was a man who kept the spirit of Old Nick within him. This book is written by his second wife, Blanche Barton. I really enjoyed this book and I thought the stories were entertaining and he truly did live an interesting life, whether or not all of it was real or not. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to take a peek into the secret life of a Satanist. This book is like a trip to the circus and one you will not soon forget!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Secret Life of a Satanist is a book that makes you wonder about this character called Anton Szandor Lavey. Was he a man or a show... a charlatan. It's a good read his partner Blanche Barton wrote this book. The book is in such detail and it crosses your mind when you're reading it if any of it is true or if he just made the majority of it up. Either way give it a read and judge it not by the character but his words and what he says. Hail Satan. Secret Life of a Satanist is a book that makes you wonder about this character called Anton Szandor Lavey. Was he a man or a show... a charlatan. It's a good read his partner Blanche Barton wrote this book. The book is in such detail and it crosses your mind when you're reading it if any of it is true or if he just made the majority of it up. Either way give it a read and judge it not by the character but his words and what he says. Hail Satan.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    The writing is so childish it makes the text hard to read for such a long story. Also the style is weird. This bio was written as a novel. The speaker writes in the third person, but presents the facts from a god perspective -- like a live witness that can see inside the mind of the participants. If it is an exceptional life, than why make it appear like fiction?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Lynn

    Incredibly enlightening. Much information on the man behind The Satanic Bible and the Church Of Satan, his roots, ground breaking ideas and development of but also the roots of the church, its philosophies and stories. Common sense is your friend.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dearwassily

    Decently-written, uses a lot of quotes from LaVey himself to tell the story of his life, mixed in with a little bit of the Satanic philosophy, about which I knew very little. Given the subject matter, you'd think this would be more gripping than it was, but it wasn't a slog either. Decently-written, uses a lot of quotes from LaVey himself to tell the story of his life, mixed in with a little bit of the Satanic philosophy, about which I knew very little. Given the subject matter, you'd think this would be more gripping than it was, but it wasn't a slog either.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    Rather boring. Had to force myself to finish. Blanche reminds me of a groupie that schemed her way to get close to LaVey. Also, in my opinion a biography should be written by someone without biases.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Äsruþr Cyneaþsson

    A fascinating biography. LaVey lived an extraordinary life, regardless of embellishment. For those interested in understanding the psychology of LaVey, or gaining an insight in order to read between the lines of what LaVey wrote, then this book is a great key.

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