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* Litvinoff eventually fell afoul of the Kray brothers and was the recipient of “the Chelsea grin”: “the shocking sword punishment meted out to [him] whereby Ronnie pushed a sword into his mouth virtually splitting his face in two from ear to ear.” http://film.thedigitalfix.com/content/id/4856/the-krays-the-final-word.html The Chelsea grin (worn by Heath Ledger’s joker in The Dark Knight) is said to have originated in the Glasgow underworld, yet it was named after the district of London where Litvinoff lived, and where the Pheasantry is located. In another strange personal overlap, Jimmy Boyle, who was among the most notorious Glaswegian criminals of the 1960s, was my late brother’s business associate and lover in the 80s. My brother lived in Chelsea at the time he met Boyle (he later moved to Edinburgh and opened a charity workshop with him).
For all his outré encounters and unconventional perspectives, Strieber comes across as a very proper, Texas-born-and-raised, red-blooded Catholic American—a square. What happened to that secret life?
Did he forget it along with so much of the other strangeness in his past? Or did he deliberately sweep it under the rug, for reasons as yet unclear? Or, as seems to be more and more evidently the case with Strieber, was it a little of both, and a little of neither? The only mention he does make of this period in his life in Communion is suitably scrambled and bizarre (and oddly reminiscent of a scene out of The
Godfather Part Two):
Then, in July (of 1968), there was another incident. I cannot recall what happened with any clarity. It was simply too confusing, too jumbled. I was at a friend’s flat in the King’s Road, Chelsea. For years I have described it as a “raid” from which I escaped by “crossing the roofs.” What I actually remember is a period of complete perceptual chaos, followed by the confusing sensation of looking down into the chimney pots of the buildings. Then there was blackness (p.
Once again blackness. So what was behind it? A little digging uncovered the fact that there was a massive series of police raids in early May of 1968 (directed by one John du Rose) targeting the Krays’ London operations.9 The Krays were the first to be arrested but many other homes were targeted.
Litvinoff, who lived at the Pheasantry, was allegedly running a gambling joint for the Krays at that time on the King’s Road.10 Strieber recounts that he woke up the next morning in his apartment with no idea of how he got there.
Whatever had happened in the flat (whether it was the Pheasantry, the Process’ Mayfair apartment, or somewhere else) was never referred to by anybody there (“with one exception,” Strieber adds, cryptically). The next day, he says, he decided to leave London for the Continent.
I couldn’t stand England for another week, not another hour. One of the people who had been present in the flat warned me against going, saying that I would “never come back.” I scoffed. It was to be a two-week vacation. He said that he would get a witch to cast a spell to bring me back.
I thought, What superstitious nonsense. Recently I looked him up and asked him about this incident. He couldn’t think why he had acted as he did, although he remembered a feeling of dread being associated with my journey (Communion p. 137).
It was about then that another piece of the puzzle fell into my lap. In a 2006 interview with Peter Levenda, the author of Sinister Forces, Strieber mentioned having had “a certain involvement” with the Process Church. He described being a film student in London in 1968 when he and his partner, “Mike Smith,” “happened upon the existence of this mysterious organization.” Strieber doesn’t seem sure how he heard about it but suggests it was via “a strange ad... while reading the back pages of some local equivalent of Time Out.” Considering that he was hanging out with Martin Sharp at the Pheasantry, it seems more likely he heard about the Process via that connection (or read the article in Oz magazine).
Strieber recalls going to a meeting “in a fancy house in Mayfair... run by a beautiful woman.” A few young men were around all looking longingly at her, as we were. She tried to induce us to join and then, we decided... because we were in film school and we had a documentary to make, that this would be our subject. And we began making our documentary. Soon we were called, or more accurately I was called, by a gentleman in the British foreign office, to come and meet with him. It was rather surprising because how they found me and, etc., etc., I never found out. In any case, we met with him and he told us this: he said that in their opinion the Process Church of the Final Judgment was seducing young people and taking them to Mexico, wealthy young people on a yacht that they had access to, and in Mexico, they were sacrificing these young people in pyramids in the Mayan country. And a number of young people had disappeared as a result of this. We finished our documentary and I ended up—Mike got away Scott free but I ended up being chased. They unleashed dogs on me in their building in Mayfair and I ended up having to escape across roofs. It was really pretty dramatic.
As far as I know, this is the only time Strieber has gone on record about his “involvement” with the Process Church, and typically, he just throws it out there as one more bizarre incident in a life overflowing with anomalies. Was this the event he described, as a fragmented memory, in Communion?
If so, why did he describe it as “a raid” in 1986 if he remembered the incident with the Process dogs which he described to Levenda in 2006? If he only later had a full recall of the event, why didn’t he mention having misreported it and set the record straight at his website? Were the events connected— for example, did the Process come looking for him with their dogs at his friend’s flat in King’s road? If not, and the incidents are unrelated, exactly how many rooftops did he end up escaping across during his year in London? Was there any connection between Strieber’s lack of certainty about whether or not he ever did “intelligence work” and being “contacted” by someone in the British Foreign Office? Or between his eulogizing of sacrifice in “Pain” and what he supposedly discovered about the Process Church, back in 1968?
Only in a life as fantastic and incoherent as Strieber’s could these be considered minor questions.
* “Chapel Perilous, like the mysterious entity called ‘I,’ cannot be located in the space-time continuum; it is weightless, odorless, tasteless and undetectable by ordinary instruments. Indeed, like the Ego, it is even possible to deny that it is there. And yet, even more like the Ego, once you are inside it, there doesn't seem to be any way to ever get out again, until you suddenly discover that it has been brought into existence by thought and does not exist outside thought. Everything you fear is waiting with slavering jaws in Chapel Perilous.” —Robert Anton Wilson, Cosmic Trigger While I was writing about The Key for this present piece, I’d noticed the date Strieber gave for the Master’s appearance, June 6th, and initially believed that same date (in 1966) was the birthdate of Rosemary’s baby, i.e., the antichrist, in the 1968 Roman Polanski film. I had somewhat gratuitously speculated that, since the Master of the Key was presented as an omniscient god-being, he should have been aware of the fact and that, someday, some occult-versed movie buff would find some unholy significance in it. Then I discovered that, while there was some online attribution of the antichrist’s birthday to that date, it was erroneous, because the correct date was June 25th. By that time it was too late, however; this whimsical association (though it was more than whimsical, as I will explain) had caused me to start poking away in the synchronicity pot and I soon uncovered a spaghetti junction of interlacing threads, complete with witches, warlocks, and sacrificial victims.
For one thing, I re-watched Rosemary’s Baby in the interests of research and noticed some clear parallels between Rosemary’s and Strieber’s experiences. Rosemary is drugged (with a bitter tasting liquid, a chocolate “mouse”) and then abducted from her bed. She is carried naked from her room and then led into an underground chamber where she is surrounded by shadowy figures, all the while dreaming (screen memory) of being on a yacht (ship) floating in the ocean. She is raped by a non-human, predatory entity (the devil) and inseminated with a child, a half human, half “alien” hybrid being. She remembers the experience only as a particularly vivid nightmare, though she has marks on her body when she wakes. There was even a curious correspondence with the name: Strieber’s female companion (abductor?) in Italy of 1968, whom he believed he was supposed to inseminate, was called “Róisín,” or Rose.
Returning to the date: Robert Kennedy was assassinated sometime after midnight on June 6th, 1968 (thirty years before the Master of the Key came knocking on Whitley’s door). The evening previous, Kennedy (as reported by Peter Levenda’s Sinister Forces, for one) had dinner with Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate at the home of John Frankenheimer, the director of The Manchurian Candidate. Kennedy’s alleged killer (evidence suggests another shooter was involved) was Sirhan Sirhan. I already knew that Sirhan had been connected, somewhat tenuously, to the Process Church. A chapter of the 1971 edition of Ed Sander’s The Family, omitted after the Process Church took legal action, stated that Sirhan was known, “in the spring of ‘68, to have frequented clubs in Hollywood in the same turf as the Process was proselytizing. Sirhan was very involved in occult pursuits,” Sanders wrote, and had “talked several times subsequent to Robert Kennedy’s death about an occult group from London which he knew about and which he really wanted to go to London to see.” In the 2002 edition of The Family (following a cue from author Adam Gorightly), I found still more clues linking the Manson murders to Sirhan and (maybe) the Process Church, as well as to the group Strieber had discussed in Solving the Communion Enigma, the Finders. In 1974, Sanders learned about an investigation being conducted by one Richard Smith, of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into a “satanic group of English origin that had oozed to America in 1967, 1968, and 1969.” According to Sanders, Smith wanted to launch a “full-scale investigation” from Germany to London, with an office in Mexico City to investigate the Mexican operations of the group. When one of Smith’s superiors saw the name of a US congressman included in the investigation, however, Smith was told to cease and desist.
Sanders’ inside source had gotten a look at Smith’s report before the investigation was shut down.
The report stated that English satanist cult members invited Sirhan Sirhan to a number of parties that were sponsored by television people in LA area, and that one of these parties took place at Sharon Tate’s residence. At these parties, it was averred, sexual and ritualistic activities were reported to have occurred. These assertions were apparently based on an FBI report done during the initial investigation of the RFK assassination.... Smith’s report stated that a Los Angeles lawenforcement agency had an informant who averred that the English Satanist group had commissioned Manson to kill Sharon Tate... The reason for the contract.... was “something that she unfortunately overheard that she was not supposed to overhear in regards to Sirhan Sirhan” (p. 483-4, Avalon 2002).
Smith could not provide any more details, Sander’s source said, citing it as “a matter of national security.” In 2012, Sirhan Sirhan was diagnosed by Dr. Daniel Brown* as acting under hypnotic suggestion the night he shot (at) Kennedy. Dr. Brown described Sirhan as “uniquely suited to mind control, one of the very small minority of the public deeply susceptible to programming.”12 [H]is firing of the gun was neither under his voluntary control, nor done with conscious knowledge, but is likely a product of automatic hypnotic behavior and coercive control. I am convinced that Mr. Sirhan legitimately recalled a flashback to shoot at target circles at a firing range in response to the post-hypnotic touch cue and did not have the knowledge, or intention, to shoot a human being, let alone Senator Kennedy. Even after 40 years Mr. Sirhan still is confused when told by others that he shot Senator Kennedy.
In the process of taking a more nuanced and depth-psychological look at Strieber’s alien contact experiences, I had somehow wound up mapping the underground nexus of mind-controlled assassins, child-sex rings, satanic cults, and celebrity murder. How had that happened? It was a neighborhood I had frequented in the past and it was not one I’d planned to return to again. Had I been sidetracked or was it a necessary detour? Apparently there was no way to avoid it—it was like trying to pass nonchalantly by a black hole.
The funny thing was that, in a sense, I had been frequenting this neighborhood for my whole life. My troubled adolescence, fraught with fever nightmares, had been leavened by a penchant for Hammer horror films and James Herbert novels, an infatuation with David Bowie (especially his “occult” period from 1968-75, roughly), and a full-blown obsession with Clint Eastwood. At first, I was only interested in movie stars, but I soon developed a more serious interest in the filmmaking process; the first movie director I was seriously drawn to was—you got it—Roman Polanski. Now here I was, in my mid-forties, going over exactly the same ground having arrived at it from a completely different departure point (or so I fancied). Like attracted like, and birds of a feather hunted (or huddled) together.