May 31st, 2006


Beast of the Bay

Beast of the Bay
What better song to toast 6/6/06 than Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast"?
By Devin Hoff, a.k.a. Devil Hoof

"Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the Beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short.... Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast for it is a human number, its number is six hundred and sixty six. — Revelation 13:18"

This week marks an unusual holiday — or unholy day — that only comes along once every 100 years: the Day of the Beast, 6/6/06. For some it is a day to fear, when the Antichrist of Christian mythology will finally be revealed. For others it is a time of hope and celebration for precisely the same reason. For me, it is a time to rock. The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden's third studio album, was released in 1982. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson had just joined the band, and Maiden was at the height of its powers. My best friend Mike and I listened to the entire record every day after school for months. We would sit on the edge of my bed and stare at the record cover, trying to decipher its hidden meanings and getting off on the comic book/metal imagery. As true fans and converts, we felt compelled to spread the word, or at least show how cool we thought we were.

So one morning before school, we took a black Magic Marker to a couple of white T-shirts, writing three big 6s on the fronts and "The Number of the Beast" on the backs. We were so proud of ourselves walking to school, but our bubble was burst as soon as we got there: The teacher sent us straight back home to change, telling us, "Some of the other children might find it offensive." Mike and I both played it off like we were innocent little rock fans, with no intentions of offending or converting anyone to Satanism. We were just celebrating our favorite band — and song.

The title song in question is, to my mind, one of the most rocking ever recorded. Maiden bassist Steve Harris wrote it, and it is a true metal classic: heavy riffs, strong, catchy hooks, and vaguely sinister metal lyrics. The words put the listener straight into the narrator's mind, witnessing the dawn of Hell on Earth: "Torches blazed and sacred chants were praised/ As they start to cry, hands held to the sky/ In the night, the fires burning bright/ The ritual has begun, Satan's work is done."

Dickinson invokes dark, paranoid imagery as if channeling Poe or Lovecraft, and when he spits out the chorus of "6-6-6/ The Number of the Beast," he conjures up all that is implied in the evil numerology: the tension between the narrator's juvenile fascination with evil — much like our own — and the higher impulse to overcome and reject it.

"But I feel drawn to the chanting hordes / They seem to mesmerize, can't avoid their eyes."

In the end, the narrator appears to be swayed, or possessed, by the dark forces, and joins them. But don't worry, for we are shown the way to salvation by the album's cover art: Amid a field of flames and an ominous night sky, a small man, representing humanity, dances on puppet strings held by a horned, red devil, who is himself attached to strings wielded by Eddie, Maiden's ubiquitous undead mascot. The message is clear: While humankind may be weak and easily led astray by the Hoofed One, it is the power of rock — or more specifically, metal, as represented by Eddie — that can save us and help us to conquer our fears. The words of the song tell one story, but the sheer visceral power of the music itself transforms and redeems the lyrical narrative. Evil may exist — in ourselves, on Earth, and in the universe — but by the empowering grace of metal, we can exorcise our demons and tame the beast within. Metal becomes the negation of the negation.

Theologically, of course, before the devil became the grotesque and irredeemable character of novels and horror movies, he was the Adversary, the Fallen Angel, the Forsaken One of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions. Remember his friendly wager with God over Job's soul, or his cordial philosophical debates with the Nazarene, long before Faust's wager or Linda Blair's projectile vomiting. It was he who questioned and encouraged others to do the same, the one who opposed and dared to think for himself. He was the rebel, the gadfly, the thorn in the side. The subsequent notion that questioning authority and tradition is the devil's work, though intended to scare us straight, gives rise to a certain curiosity — and yes, sympathy — toward Lucifer, in some who cherish freedom of thought and expression. No doubt some of the titillation we feel watching Rosemary's Baby or listening to the "The Number of the Beast" comes from such an impulse to defy a hallowed authority, from the safety of our imaginations.

Twenty-four years after it was released, the Iron Maiden album retains its power and vitality. It continues to be a benchmark for good, honest heavy metal now obscured by retro-fixated irony, emo-inspired whininess, embarrassing misappropriations of hip-hop, and false metal generally. The fact that Maiden has stuck to its guns through the waxing and waning of true metal's popularity and has continued to record and tour on its own terms to this day somehow adds to the record's staying power. The music is not tainted by revisionist questions about the band's motives or integrity. In this, as well as the music, Maiden continues to be an inspiration to generations of musicians and fans.

I like to think of "The Number of the Beast" as a kind of "White Christmas" for the day of the beast. (Too bad it's a holiday that only happens once a century — it could mean a gold mine in royalties for Harris and co.) Never mind that the nice chaps in Maiden are not actually Satanists at all — Irving Berlin was Jewish, and we all know you don't have to be a Christian to have a tree. It's the spirit of the day that counts. So on 6/6/06, do yourself a favor and crank up some Maiden. If you listen carefully, you might almost hear the children's voices caroling:

"666 — The number of the beast/ 666 — The one for you and me." SFBG


Cinema symbologists ready for 'Omen' 6+6+06


Cinema symbologists ready for 'Omen' 6+6+06
By Martin A. Grove

"Omen" opening: On the heels of "The Da Vinci Code," moviegoers who'd like to continue their big-screen religious studies can do so with 20th Century Fox's remake of its 1976 thriller "The Omen" about the long-prophesized Anti-Christ child Damien.

While "Omen's" core audience is likely to be the large fan base that turns out for scary thrillers and horror movies, it could also benefit from the fact that religious symbolism is very much on moviegoers' minds these days thanks to the $145 million-plus they've already spent domestically to see "Da Vinci."

Cinema symbologists can study in "Omen" the birthmark on Damien's skull with the numbers 666. These, according to the Book of Revelation, are the symbol of the Devil: "This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man's number. His number is 666." In "Omen," of course, young Damien is Satan's reincarnation and, needless to say, that's bad news for the rest of us since what it points to is Armageddon.

It's fitting, therefore, that Fox chose June 6 as the opening date for the remake at about 2,500 theaters. Expressed numerically, the film's launch date is 6/6/06 -- or, as Fox's marketing puts it, "6+6+06." The fact that June 6 happens to be a Tuesday, a day of the week that typically doesn't bring movie openings, is posing some additional challenges for Fox's marketing team.

Directed by John Moore ("Behind Enemy Lines," "Flight of the Phoenix") and written by David Seltzer (who wrote the original "Omen"), "Omen" stars Julia Stiles, Live Schreiber, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Gambon and introduces Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Damien. It was produced by Glenn Williamson and Moore and executive produced by Jeffrey Stott.

The original "Omen," by the way, was directed by Richard Donner and starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick. After opening June 25, 1976, to $4.3 million at 515 theaters ($8,298 per theater), it went on to gross about $61 million domestically, which was terrific business 30 years ago.

While talking Monday morning to an understandably very happy Fox domestic distribution president Bruce Snyder ning about the studio's record setting $122.8 million Memorial Day weekend launch of "X-Men: The Last Stand," I asked if arranging for "Omen" to kick off on a Tuesday had been difficult to work out with exhibitors. "Not with exhibitors," Snyder replied. "They're fine with it. I'm afraid that with the public we have to let them know it's opening on Tuesday -- not that it's 'Omen 666' and (we) assume they're going to know that (refers to its opening date). We have to drive home the fact that 666 starts Tuesday because it is so unusual.

"If it was a Wednesday it wouldn't be quite as difficult, but that's the reason you make the movie (so you can launch it) when 666 rolls around again. So we had to go out on that Tuesday. Now we have to educate the public that not only is it opening on 6/6, which people may think is a Friday, we have to tell them that it's 666 (and it's a) Tuesday. That'll be the thrust of part of this campaign to let people know it's there."

As for how the remake came about, I spoke recently to Moore, who told me, "It really sort of started as a rumor. I've done all my movies with Fox so I know that gang pretty well. I heard a buzz around the studio that they were thinking of doing this (remake) and I was a big fan of the original. So I was naturally very interested. The executive on the project, Peter Kang, called me and said, 'Yeah, we're doing it. Are you interested?' I said, 'Absolutely. Without condition. Yes. Committed.' in the first 10 seconds. And then he said, 'Well, we're aiming for this release date on the 6th of June.'

"This was late June last year so we were looking at having maybe only 10 months from first phone call to completed product. So that was a little daunting, but exciting at the same time because, believe me, a director likes nothing better than to know what the release date of the movie's going to be. It can be hellish waiting around and having your date moved. So that made it all the sweeter. I hung up and was like, 'Oh, my God. We have to start right now.'"

Asked what starting right now means, Moore replied, "Usually, having a very stiff drink and then you just sit anxiously and wait for the script. I didn't know actually how developed it was within the four walls of Fox as a project. But the script came over and (on) the cover was 'The Omen. By David Seltzer. 1975.' So it was clear that we were going to be working from the original text, which was very exciting because daunting as it is remaking anything you're usually likely to incur the wrath of some of the people all of the time. What excited me was knowing that we were going to work with the same story. To me the text was superb. It's a classically good text. It's like a piece of Shakespeare. So knowing that we had that story was actually reassuring rather than disappointing.

"Then I just set about thinking, 'Okay, what is the one thing that I can bring to this to make it worth remaking it?' It kind of hit me that it was all going to be about contextualizing the notion of the story and to make people feel that it had an immediate relevancy. That's why I added the new scene at the beginning of the movie where Cardinal Fabretti (Carlo Sabatini) basically presents his case to the Pope and demonstrates that the world is in a very dark place and that the time is ripe for the coming of the Anti-Christ."

It's a scene that clearly pertains to the times in which we now live. "Very much so," observes Moore. "Whether or not it feels relevant in 30 years is questionable, but knowing that we had this release date and knowing that this movie was going to be seen right now I felt that I had a good chance of making it relevant right now. The three sixes, as we see in the Book of Revelation, is foretold as being the mark of the beast. The Anti-Christ will be marked with three sixes and all of his followers will be marked with three sixes. So the series of numbers is hugely relevant in the film and obviously with our release date we've a great opportunity to draw awareness to that.

"I worked with screenwriter Dan McDermott, who unfortunately isn't credited due to the somewhat bizarre Byzantine WGA rules. I actually still don't fully understand how the arbitration works, but unfortunately he didn't get a credit, which is a shame because he put some nice touches on the movie. We thoroughly went through the script and tried to make it feel like it was happening today. And that ranges from everything from technological touches to just making the dialogue sound a little more like it's spoken today. But I think the most obvious change is the notion that we set the movie up (so that) the coming of the Anti-Christ is a product of the sort of domino effect of the prevalence of evil in the world today."

With Hollywood doing so many remakes these days, I mentioned to Moore that in many cases such major changes are made that filmmakers say their productions aren't really remakes so much as films that are merely inspired-by the earlier movies. "This is my second remake. I did 'Flight of the Phoenix' before," he said. "What I smile somewhat ironically (about) is that some of the harsher critics have denounced me for remaking classics. And in my view, they are the ones that should be retold. If a story is that good, like a Shakespeare play, then I see no harm in retelling the story for a new generation. Some text deserves to be told 'generationally' and I felt 'The Omen' very much was one of them.

"The other remarkable thing is that a lot of the horror remakes that have been abundant recently are, in my humble view, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. They have a self-awareness that sort of, I wouldn't go far as to say neuters them, but definitely is more of a nudge-nudge, wink-wink affair. You know, you go to the movie. You know you're going to get scared. You have a good time with your girlfriend or whatever. 'The Omen's' a very serious film. It's more terrifying in its contemplative notions than it is jump-in-the-dark scary. 'The Omen's' one of those movies, certainly for me, that stays with you a long time after you've seen the movie whereas I think a lot of the crop of recent horror remakes are all about those two hours in the dark and having a good time there."

Over the last 30 years the whole concept of what's a horror film and what's a thriller has changed significantly. In the '70s when "The Omen" first came out, films like "Rosemary's Baby" that were referred to as horror films were actually more like thrillers. And today the type of films we routinely refer to as being thrillers are really more like knife slashing horror movies. "I have a difficult time going along with the notion of 'The Omen' being a horror movie," Moore pointed out.

"It's a bit of a genre buster. It doesn't fit easily in one category. It's very much a detective story. The entire movie is about figuring out a puzzle that has horrific implications, but there's nobody jumping around in a hockey mask with a chainsaw. It's very much about putting the audience on the boil and bringing them to the ultimate conclusion that, like I say, has a horrific implication but isn't in itself of the gory horror genre."

Coming back to how he made the film, I asked what Moore did next as the clock was ticking down those quick 10 months that he had to make the movie. "The next key move was casting," he explained. "I think I've been blessed by God or the Devil, I don't know which, with the cast I ended up getting. I went about casting this in a very old fashioned way. The casting process in Hollywood is a truly sickening affair lately whereby an agent calls a manager calls an assistant calls a studio rep and it's all about, 'Well, make me an offer and then I'll read it.' It's a horribly cynical process, I think in my limited experience. So I kind of went about this the old fashioned way and picked up the phone and called some actors and sort of made a one on one dialogue with them. In Julia's case, I flew to New York to meet with her and (presented) my case.

"Apparently, with a remake a lot of actors are more wary than they would normally be about approaching a project. There's just this specter of the previous performance hanging over them. And certainly in 'The Omen's' case, the original movie had a stellar cast, as well. But I tried to use that to my advantage in my appealing to these actors that they could take this on and that they were of quality that would easily match the original. Liev Schreiber's an incredibly complex actor. I think he will be one of the truly great actors of his generation. He's just head and shoulders above anybody in his age bracket. He's also a filmmaker. He makes the film with you. He isn't the sort of actor that's (just) going to hit his mark and say his lines. It's all about working everything down to the last possible permutation, till he's sure that it's the right way to do it. And that makes for a thrilling working experience because you always know with Liev that the minute you roll it you're getting the best that it can be because he's mined it for all those nuances."

Stiles, he added, "is a wonderfully complimentary actress to (Liev). There's a sweetness and an angelic (quality) that plays so beautifully to the notion that evil prays on innocence. So once I had those two set, I think a lot of the cast saw it as a very good signal that actors of Liev and Julia's caliber would do it. And then I called David Thewlis, Michael Gambon and Pete Postlethwaite and we were set. And then, lo and behold --

"We'd fantasized about getting Mia Farrow -- and I mean fantasized, like sat around the office going, 'Boy, can you imagine if?' The way I cast is that I put people's pictures up on a card. We stuck Mia's picture up and just like I said, pathetically, fantasized about her doing this. She, at the time, coincidentally was in a stage play ('Fran's Bed') with Julia off Broadway last year. So I thought, 'Wow. I'm going to take a risk here and just drop a dime on (calling) Mia and just take a shot in the dark.' So I called her up and introduced myself and said, 'Look, I'm sure you get this all the time, but is there any way you'd consider this? And, by the way, Julia's in this movie, too.' I knew they'd had a good relationship and I thought, well, that might be attractive to her. You know, when you work with somebody and you get on well with them often times you'd like to do it again.

"And to my ongoing astonishment and gratitude she said, 'Yeah. It sounds like fun.' I promise to God, I dropped the phone! I was (like), 'Are you serious? Are you going to do this?' And she said, 'Yeah. It sounds like fun. Let's do it.' I'll never to my dying day forget that moment. I hung up and I turned to my associate Peter Veverka (the film's associate producer) and he knew just from the look on my face. He said, 'She's going to do it, isn't she?' And I said, 'Yep.'"

When it came time to shoot, most of "Omen" was filmed in Prague. "To be brutally honest, I enjoy the challenge of being on location," Moore explained. "To me, it tends to focus your mind and the mind of the cast and crew. So I knew I wanted to shoot it somewhere like that. Prague is a great double for London and Rome, where most of the action is set. And there's a good studio there -- Barandov Studios -- (with) a very good crew base. And the exchange rate is pretty friendly even though they don't have a tax break per se. When you add it all up, it made sense."

How does he work as a director? "I tend to storyboard action scenes with a lot of detail," he told me. "I'm still learning how to work with actors. Working with Liev and Julia I rehearsed a lot more than I had previously. I'm photographically minded. That's the side of the industry that I come from (having started out in his native Ireland as a news cameraman and then as an assistant cameraman on features directed by Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan) so I tend to be sticky about framing, which I had to learn to be more flexible with because sometimes an actor needs some room somewhere to make it better. I think I've learned how to work better with actors because of the quality of the talent that I had on this movie. So, yes, we did end up rehearsing more than I had done on previous movies."

In storyboarding, he acknowledged, "I can't draw for peanuts, but I'm very fortunate that I have an old, old friend who I've worked with way back for 10 years even when I was doing commercials (for advertisers like Adidas, Guinness and SEGA). He still does me a great favor by storyboarding with me."

Moore didn't have much time in which to shoot "Omen." "The shoot was in total 52 or 53 days, so it wasn't that long," he said. "Obviously, we had this post-production crunch coming because we couldn't miss that (June 6 release) date. We started in mid-October. We had a situation that got screwed up in Croatia. We were meant to shoot the last piece of the film in Croatia in December, but we lost our shooting permits because the Church kicked up a fuss. We ended up actually only shooting that vital scene -- the scene in Jerusalem and the beheading -- as late as mid-March. So you can imagine it was a little tense."

As for the biggest challenges he faced during production, Moore told me, "It got very cold in Prague a lot earlier than it had in previous years. We ended up with three feet of snow. There were occasional days where you thought, 'Ah, this is the curse of The Omen.' You know, it was a tough shoot because it's a very small amount of time really and there are some complex action sequences in it. And you're dealing with dogs, as well, (and) there's a lot of action with the dogs. So when you add it all up, it was sort of an ongoing difficult time. But then you'd have a good take with the cast and it all just melts away and you end up being happy to be there."

Not surprisingly, editing was being done while production was underway: "My editor, Danny Zimmerman ('Flight of the Phoenix') was in Prague with me. It was kind of vital that Dan be present. (Because of) the tight turnaround time, Danny was cutting as we went on. I tend not to shoot a lot of takes. Danny showed me a statistic that like 90%of the movie is made up of take 3. It seems to go like one (take) for the crew, one for the actors and then one for the movie. I think we only got into double figures a couple of times. But that's probably attributable to the rehearsal time and the fact that the actors are good. When they get it in their heads they really nail it."

Looking back, he concluded, "My most fond experience, I have to say, has been with this cast. I just truly think that if this movie's any good it's because of this cast. They were just superb and I'm happy to shout that from the tallest building!"

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Born Under A Bad Sign?


Angela DuBose-Davidson of Fort Worth is due to give birth Tuesday -- 6/6/06. She says she'd rather her daughter not have that birth date but that she'd most likely wait instead of induce early.

It's 2006. And June 6 is near.

You got it: 6/6/06 -- 666, the number that represents the mark of the beast, the Antichrist.

Are expectant parents aware of the evil implications?

Carrie McFarland of Dallas is.

"I'm going to be induced on the Fourth or Fifth," McFarland said. "If my doctor had offered to induce me on the Sixth, I wouldn't have done it."

Her trepidation over her son Samuel's birthday isn't religious.

"To avoid teasing," she says. "You'll get the question, 'You know what that means ...' My first son was born on January 1, and everybody says, 'Oh, you missed your tax deduction.' Yeah, like I haven't thought of that already."

No doubt, the 6/6/06 babies -- and their parents -- are in for some ribbing.

Hey, Junior's horns are showing in the bluebonnet photo ...

Beelzeb-- what? That a family name?

"I refuse to give birth on that date," said Bethany Morian of Weatherford. "I'll cross my legs and watch the clock."

It's nothing scary. "I just think it would be a bad thing to carry around your whole life," Morian said. She says her husband thinks it would be hilarious to have a 6/6/06 baby -- so they could name it Damien after the bad seed from the Omen movies.

A remake of The Omen, of course, comes out 6/6/06.

Angela Dubose-Davidson of Fort Worth, an English teacher, is also expecting her first child, Gabriela.

"I'm a Christian, and that number has significant occult meaning behind it of a negative nature," Dubose-Davidson said. "I really do not want that date. I would induce on June 3 if my cervix allows it, but I'm most likely going to wait. My doctor is predicting it's going to be on the Sixth."

Christian Burton of Fort Worth is awaiting his first child, a boy.

"I'm a God-fearing man, and I would prefer him not to have a 666 date," Burton said. But he will not opt for his wife to induce labor to prevent little Jacob from being born on that date.

"I'll only be concerned if he has a 666 birthmark on his head," he said.

Recently the Star-Telegram asked expectant mothers and people who knew them to discuss the 6/6/06 date. There were many responses and a wide range of feelings, from trepidation to mild nervousness to amusement.

"My daughter is about to deliver my fourth grandson," says Marsha Eissler of Burleson. Yep, could be on the Sixth.

Is she concerned about the date?

"Not in the least," she says. "I have no superstitions. He's going to be a little devil, I'm sure. I think it's a really cool, easy-to-remember day."

Eissler says she can't wait for little Joby Larsen to arrive.

"If he weighs 6 pounds and 6 ounces, that will be great, too."

A day like any other

June 6 will be the 21st 6/6/06 A.D. -- and we're still here.

More importantly for parents, many people, some famous, were born on that date and turned out just fine.

French dramatist Pierre Corneille, who wrote Le Cid, was born on 6/6/06. In 1606. There's no evidence he was the Antichrist, although his work wasn't universally loved.

Mathematician Max August Zorn was born on 6/6/06 in 1906. Thanks in part to him, we have this theorem: Every non-empty partially ordered set in which every chain (i.e. totally ordered subset) has an upper bound contains at least one maximal element.

Good thing old Zorny figured that one out.

If, however, your impending arrival still has you worried, here are words of reason from the Church of Satan's high priest, Magus Peter Gilmore: "For we Satanists, numbers are just numbers, and June 6 is just a day like any other. We are amused by Christians superstitiously being afraid of this number, as well as the date."

And Satan, according to his church, would be a metaphor and not a supernatural being?

"We are Epicurean, skeptical atheists who see Satan as a symbol of pride, individualism, and the quality of questioning all dogmas," Gilmore responds.

That's a yes.

Or, as Robert Langdon, the fictitious Harvard professor of symbology from The Da Vinci Code, griped: "We've been dragged into a world of people who think this stuff is real."

Well, not really.

There was, however, a real moment from the last century worthy of song and remembrance, readers told the Star-Telegram.

Operation Overlord began with the largest seaborne invasion in history. Bad weather had postponed the attack for a day. An early morning amphibious assault, Operation Neptune, kicked off the Battle of Normandy. It was the start of the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation. The day, June 6, 1944, is better remembered by the simple military code denoting the start of an attack or operation: D-Day.

In calls and e-mails, the date came up over and over.

Many of them were from people born on June 6.

They said they couldn't be prouder.


Numbers game

It would be easy enough to dismiss the whole 666 thing as yet another Hollywood concoction. But scholars say the number, which the Bible's Book of Revelation says is the mark of the beast, has interesting historical significance.

Revelation, written around 96 A.D., combined an apocalyptic writing style in vogue among Hebrews with code language used to hide social criticism from authorities, according to Joe Barnhart, a University of North Texas religion studies professor and specialist in first-century Christianity. Roman emperors took a dim view of social commentary.

"Sensitivity wasn't their main forte, and they crucified people," Barnhart said. "They didn't have the First Amendment in Rome."

The first use of 666 was likely code used as a sarcastic critique of an emperor or powerful man of the time, he said.

"Many scholars think it refers to Nero," Barnhart said. "Nero was already dead by the time the Book of Revelation was written, but there was a myth that he would be resurrected."

Or it could refer to Jewish historian Josephus, viewed by many of his people to be a traitor and Roman apologist, and therefore a person bearing the mark of Rome.

Or it could be a poetic way of saying any emperor who's tyrannical. The emperor at the time of Revelation's writing was Domitian, who increased persecution of Jews and Christians. And while the author, John, writes early in Revelation that the events he describes "must shortly come to pass," the 666 criticism is often applied to "anyone you don't happen to like," Barnhart said.v


Satan Inc.

Satan Inc.
Capitalism is the only evil guaranteed to rise from the abyss on 6/6/06
by Shane Johnson

In the United Kingdom, some pregnant women with due dates near June 6 have reportedly induced labor or scheduled Cesarean sections to ensure their offspring aren’t marked with the biblical number of the Beast, 666. Aside from that, and an Internet pastor who’s apparently preparing to reveal the identity of the Antichrist on 6/6/06, the hysteria appears isolated.

That hasn’t stopped the devout, the blasphemous, Hollywood or the altogether different animal Ann Coulter from trying to cash in on the novelty. Coulter’s latest smashmouth polemic Godless: The Church of Liberalism is slated for release that day by no accident. The same goes for a remake of the 1976 occult classic, The Omen, and the 15th installment in evangelical novelists Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins’ “Left Behind” series, The Rapture. And it’s only fitting that the sultans of Satan should get in on the action because, at its core, that’s what Satanism is all about.

“It’s a big day,” says Jason Harris, co-owner of The Redrum Shop in Murray with his fiance Kim Owens. “But only because Christians have made it a scary day, which ignites our fun button.”

To that end, Harris and Owens are set to tie the knot June 6, with a creepy reception to follow that evening at Rocky Point Haunted House. Though Harris isn’t a Satanist, per se, the former Mormon definitely tends toward the “Left-Hand Path,” signified by self-indulgence and the rejection of religious morality and literal deities.

Serial-killer trading cards and T-shirts, horror-movie posters and even some old Ed Gein Fan Club merchandise make up the stock and trade at Harris’ Redrum Shop.

“A lot of serial killers have a God complex and so do too many super-devout Christians,” Harris says. At that, he supposes there’s not much practical difference between launching pious wars and slicing up damsels to be buried in the backyard.

Explaining the fascination with serial killers, if not the lure of Satanism, “A lot of people have had the thought of, maybe not killing someone, but doing what you want to do with no regard,” Harris says, “for example, punching someone in the face or peeing on your neighbor’s lawn.”

But for his nuptials, Harris would likely be cashing in on Devil’s Day alongside Shane Bugbee, who’s set to exploit the occasion for all it’s worth. When the multifaceted Minnesota Satanist isn’t spinning death metal on Radio Free Satan, his Internet station, he’s hawking Ely Elixir, a decidedly un-sinister blueberry soda recipe. Anything for a buck.

En route to Los Angeles for Satan’s Rockin’ 666 Eve—which backer Bugbee bills as a celebration of the carnal and cerebral sides of darkness—he and wife Amy Bugbee will drop by The Redrum Shop on Thursday, June 1, to pimp his book True Crime Warped Minds and the first issue of her periodical Hellraiser Homemaker.

Bugbee’s been a self-employed dabbler in underground culture for about 20 years, publishing ’zines, dark comics and true crime books. His political “fetish”—Satanists embrace rather than repress theirs—was aroused when the Parents Music Resource Center launched a campaign to regulate explicit music lyrics, and he joined the grass-roots counteroffensive. But when George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, he says he cried and resigned himself to political impotency.

On that note, “Bush is a very Satanic individual, as the definition goes,” says Bugbee. “‘I’m with the haves and the have mores?’ At least he’s honest in what an a—hole he is. My hat’s off to him.”

Bugbee subscribes to the satanic philosophies espoused by Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey, author of The Satanic Bible. Shortly before LaVey’s death in 1997, Bugbee won an audience with the so-called “Dark Pope,” and flew out to his home in San Francisco to pitch a business deal. Bugbee was set to re-release Might is Right, a 19th century primer on Social Darwinism which LaVey borrowed from liberally for his Satanic Bible, and he wanted LaVey to write the forward. They hashed out an agreement over Double Stuf Oreos in LaVey’s kitchen, whereupon Bugbee was made a priest in the Church of Satan.

“I went in looking at him as a pop-culture icon, and I left there with the realization that the guy really had his hustle on,” says Bugbee, adding, “The last time I met someone so true, so honest and so nice … was when I met Dead Heads,” following Jerry Garcia and the gang.

Bugbee notes that he’s yet to sell out the 666 Eve event. But not to worry, even if he does, “I’ll be out front scalping tickets for double.”

To the LaVey Satanists, there is no Satan, no God, no Jesus and, most importantly, no afterlife. All of the above appealed to Storm, a Montana-born Catholic turned unapologetic hedonist, artist and manager of Attatude Tattoo in Salt Lake City.

“I think [LaVey] named it Satanism as a way to be shocking,” says Storm, who can reel off the Church of Satan’s Nine Statements, Nine Sins and 11 Rules of the Earth, but isn’t a member. He sees Satan as the literary and folkloric representation of the darker side of human nature, not an evil deity driving estranged teenagers into the woods to sacrifice house pets. That’s a figment of popular culture, he says, and among other attributes, the Church of Satan preaches individual responsibility and kindness—to those who deserve it.

“You look at classic cinema and you’re going to have blood sacrifice, replete with nudity and all sorts of orgiastic activities, and you’re going to be gutting an animal and drinking its blood in the name of an actual physical deity named Satan,” Storm says, adding, “I think that’s great in a movie … but absurd in the real world.”

In keeping with the debauchery, Storm’s Art on You Studio, his wife Renee’s Dark Queen Apparel, Attatude Tattoo and Radio Free Satan are sponsoring Salt Lake City’s own 666 Eve celebration at the Cell Block private club. The June 5 event promises freaks, fetishists and a sexiest devil-girl pageant.

Carpe Noctum!

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