Hollywood Creepy-Crawl: A reading on the 40th Anniversary of the Manson Murders

Michael Marinacci reading the Foreword to THE SHADOW OVER SANTA SUSANA (pic by John McCann)

Michael Marinacci reading the Foreword to THE SHADOW OVER SANTA SUSANA (pic by John McCann)

Sunday night, August 9th, was the 40th anniversary of the murder of Sharon Tate and her houseguests by the Manson gang. To mark this grisly commemoration, Hollywood’s Soap Plant pop-culture-emporium/gallery hosted a book-kickoff party for THE SHADOW OVER SANTA SUSANA, “crackpot historian” Adam Gorightly’s study of the Manson case, which seems slated to become *the* definitive book on the subject.

Since I wrote the Foreword to the book, I was invited by Adam’s agent Scott to read my contribution at the event. Using this as an excuse for a long weekend getaway, I headed down to L.A. with Judith to do the gig.

Hours before the talk, I met with a gaggle of old friends at the House of Pies, just a few blocks from Soap Plant. Also in attendance were Greg Bishop, my coauthor on WEIRD CALIFORNIA, and his wife Sigrid. Although I had to leave this pre-gathering early to help out at the book event, everyone found their way to the Soap Plant, where they attended the talk and bought copies of SHADOW.

In case you were wondering, I don’t receive royalties its sales. Nor did I get paid for the talk. However, I was able to talk Scott out of one of the special limited-edition hardcover signed copies of SHADOW as compensation for my time and expenses. Only 69 numbered copies exist; mine is Lucky No. 7.

By the time the talk got underway, there were about fifty people crowded into the gallery section of the store. I noted one genuine celebrity in attendance: legendary rock musician, journalist and SF author Mick Farren, who my friend called “the Zelig of British rock — he’s been everywhere and part of everything in that scene!” As for the rest of the crowd, it seemed to be a fair cross-section of Echo Park *hipsterati*. No obvious neo-Mansonoid cult-creeps; I suppose they were all skulking around Cielo Drive that evening.

I opened the festivities by reading my Foreword verbatim, save for a couple of asides. The reaction was pretty good, due partly to the fact that about a quarter of the attendees were friends, or fans of WEIRD CALIFORNIA and MYSTERIOUS CALIFORNIA who’d shown up to meet the reclusive author of those classics in the flesh. Retiring as I can often be, I usually don’t have trouble speaking in public, especially if it involves reading my own words.

Adam Gorightly followed with the main event: a slide-show presentation about the underside of the Manson case that explored many of SHADOW’s themes. A lot of the conspiracy-theory stuff he presented seemed pretty farfetched, but it’s still hard to deny that a world of *High Strangeness* lies just beneath the story of the ex-con guru and his homicidal disciples, and Adam has produced what will probably be the exhaustive book on the case for decades to come.

We didn’t stick around for the concert/party segment of the night, as we had to get up at dawn the next day (Judy had to teach a class at 1 PM in Sunnyvale — 380 miles away from H’wood.)

On the whole, I was pleased by the evening. Once again, my meager literary talents have reached a fairly wide audience, albeit in the form of an introductory segment. And it was enjoyable to visit my old punk/boho stomping grounds in Hollywood/Los Feliz, this time as an author rather than a mere weirdness-conoisseur.

Thanks to:
*Adam, for requesting me to supplement his writings
*Scott, for putting the book and event together
*Soap Plant, for hosting us
*Judy, for being my traveling companion and source of emotional support
*Mike, Mary, Bob, Joya, Joy, John M., John T., Alex, Rin, Lenny, Greg, Sigrid, Bill and his spouse for coming to the gathering and boosting my confidence.
*Skylaire, and three guys whose names I forgot, for your nice words about my previous books during our meetings that evening.
*All the other people who showed up to the event.

Michael Marinacci

~ by gorightly on August 15, 2009.

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