2016 is a special time for the Church of Satan, and not because this is the year when Mephistopheles finally leads his army of fanged demons out of infernal hellfire to begin Armageddon.
They’re celebrating 50 years of being the only religion that encourages naked lady boobs. Founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, author of The Satanic Bible and master of the creepy stare, the Church has enjoyed good times —high-profile members like Jayne Mansfield, Liberace, and Sammy Davis Jr. (yes, they were all card-carrying Satanists)—and not so good, most notably the “satanic panic” of the 1980s, when most of the world was pretty convinced they were diddling babies.
To commemorate 50 years of inverted pentagrams and goat heads, the church is publishing The Satanic Warlock, written by Robert Johnson, a “Magister” (or Reverend) in the Church and author of other spooky-sounding books like Corporate Magick: Mystical Tools for Business Success. The Satanic Warlock promises to explain “how to walk in the world as a male Satanist and seduce our chosen mates.”
The advice isn’t as ghoulish or demonic as you might expect from a Satanist dating guide. There’s nothing involving black magic or eating the heart of your victims. It’s harmless and even occasionally sweet. “Portly Warlocks shouldn’t wear tight T-shirts or horizontal stripes,” Johnson writes in one chapter. How do you read that and not feel a little less freaked out by Satanism? They’ve got man boob insecurity too!
We called Johnson to talk about his “666 pack,” among other topics.
Eric Spitznagel: You have the same name as the blues legend who purportedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads. Do you have any legally binding contract with Satan, as far as you know?
Robert Johnson: There is no Satan.
There’s . . . wait, what?
No Satan? But you’re . . .?
We don’t believe in any kind of anthropomorphic devil. There’s none of that black magic nonsense in Satanism.
But if you don’t believe in Satan, why call it Satanism? He’s literally in the name. That’s like Christians saying Jesus Christ never existed.
When Anton LaVey founded the church back in the 60s, he wanted to point out the innate carnality of man. And what better way to do that than with Satan? It evokes all of those titillating ideas of the rebel in the human spirit.
So Satan is just a metaphor?
But it’s still a biblical metaphor. You’re connecting yourself with biblical belief. You’re making yourself the evil Yin to their pious Yang.
Well of course. That’s why most people aren’t comfortable with it. They call it the S-word. They’re afraid of it, because it’s so equated with evil. But if you look at the Church of Satan’s doctrine and our philosophy, it has nothing to do with evil. It’s based on real humanity. It’s what most people are thinking anyway but won’t admit.
We’re all closet Satanists?
I think we are, yeah. Most people align themselves with what Satanists believe. But they’re not going to adopt the name, because they’re deathly afraid of it.
Satanists—and correct us if we’re getting this wrong—worship themselves as the one true god?
So, they’re megalomaniacs?
Well . . .
They hold themselves in high regard.
As the High Priest Magus Gilmore has said, “We are I-thiests.” We don’t believe in any kind of gods. We believe in ourselves. Our highest holy day is our birthday. It’s very much an egocentric based religion.
Some of the tenets of the Church of Satan are easy to get behind, like discouraging pretentiousness and hard conformity. But then it argues for vengeance, and you lose us.
Vengeance to those who deserve it.
Yeah, but even then . . .
People will stab you in the back. Do you sit back and take it or do you stand up for yourself?
We assume by “standing up for yourself,” you don’t mean a strongly worded Facebook comment.
No, that’s cowardice in our mind. That doesn’t work. It’s not that you go out of your way to harm someone. But if someone deserves a swift kick, they’re going to get a swift kick.
Here’s one of the church’s Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth: “When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.”
Don’t you jump to “destroy him” a little fast?
I wouldn’t take that literally.
Maybe you try “change your phone number” or “get a restraining order” before you destroy someone?
That’s just a way of saying, don’t bother me if I don’t want to be bothered.
Or I’ll obliterate you.
You can’t take every single word that’s in The Satanic Bible literally. It is basically describing certain actions and feelings.
Your new book, The Satanic Warlock, is a dating guide for the modern Satanist man. Is that fair?
Is it just for Satanists, or can non-Satanist men learn something from it?
Anyone can read it and benefit from it. It’s a manual for men who shun political correctness—what I call the over-feminization of society now. It’s for men who see themselves as being unique and distinct from what we call the herd.
One of the big arguments in the book is that it doesn’t matter what you look like. You write, and I’m quoting here, “Trade the six-pack for a 666-pack.”
First of all, please tell is you’ve copyrighted “666-Pack.”
Are you kidding? It should be the title of an Ozzy Osbourne song!
I appreciate that.
But this is Men’s Health, so it’s going to be a hard sell. Explain to our readers why they should stop with the ab exercises and focus on the Number of the Beast.
Women are a lot smarter than men are, we all know that. Their whole mode of attracting and bedding a mate is much different than men. As LaVey pointed out in The Satanic Witch, women use their beauty and their wiles, because most men will bend to that like nobody’s business. But men can’t rely on their good looks.
A pretty face on a guy won’t get you anywhere?
It may attract a woman initially. But ultimately, if a guy doesn’t have some chops beyond that, they’re not going to get very far.
Here’s a question I’ve always wanted to ask a card-carrying Satanist. Do you even lift, bro?
I lift free weights. I have for many years.
I really do. And I also run 15 to 20 miles a week. Part of that is vanity, and part of it is not wanting to get a heart attack.
How’d you get involved in Satanism?
It’s a long story, but the short version is, I was a teenager when I discovered The Satanic Bible. Satanists are born, they’re not made. Everyone will tell you that. You read The Satanic Bible and you say, “Yes, that’s who I am. Finally I understand who I am.” It’s a sane philosophy and way of living. And it’s fun, because it’s got the occult trappings and spookiness. The dark side is mysterious and appealing and sexy.
Oh, we get you. We’ve seen the pictures on the Church of Satan website. The rituals seem to involve a lot of naked women and guys dressed in goat masks.
Well yeah. But we see a guy in a goat mask standing over a pentagram, our first thought is, “A college student is about to wish she hadn’t been hitchhiking.”
No, no, no. It’s nothing like that. It’s done to evoke emotions.
You’ve never Rosemary’s Baby’d somebody?
[Laughs.] That’s fiction. There are not any nefarious plans behind any of this. It’s all just window dressing. It’s spooky window dressing for titillation and to get you in the mood.
So the goat masks and pentagrams, they’re like lingerie for Satanists?
It’s date night, and Satanists need to get their spooky on, so they’re like, “Hey sweetie, I picked out a nice goat mask from Victoria’s Demonic Secret?”
That’s just ritual. Humans need ritual. Ritual is what makes life more exciting.
The Catholic Church has rituals.
Well, yeah. But you know . . . [Laughs.]
If the Catholic Church had rituals involving naked boobs, we’d go to church a lot more often.
Wouldn’t we all.
(This story originally appeared, in a slightly different form, in the June 2016 issue of Men’s Health.)