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MOCA's 'Kenneth Anger: ICONS' Opening: Avant-Garde Filmmaker Parties with Dave Navarro, Porn Star April Flores and More

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Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 3:26 PM
click to enlarge Kenneth Anger at the opening for MOCA's "Kenneth Anger: ICONS" - BRENDAN A. MURRAY
  • Brendan A. Murray
  • Kenneth Anger at the opening for MOCA's "Kenneth Anger: ICONS"

If experimental filmmaker Kenneth Anger had written Hollywood Babylon today (instead of during the 1950s), his subjects would have been among Saturday night's turnout at the MOCA members' opening for Kenneth Anger: ICONS.

Just substitute guitarist Dave Navarro for Rudolph Valentino, plus-size porn star April Flores for Jayne Mansfield and Kenneth Anger himself as a living, breathing narrator of the Hollywood milieu.

click to enlarge Still from Anger's Scorpio Rising (1964) - © KENNETH ANGER
  • © Kenneth Anger
  • Still from Anger's Scorpio Rising (1964)

While he's had gallery shows in London and Berlin, Kenneth Anger has never been the subject of an exhibition in his hometown of L.A. -- until now. When asked about his thoughts on his long-overdue retrospective here in Los Angeles, Anger told LA Weekly, "It's absolutely great." Yes, that's all we could get -- he's famously terse with the press.

click to enlarge Anger and Brian Butler performing as Technicolor Skull - BRENDAN A. MURRAY
  • Brendan A. Murray
  • Anger and Brian Butler performing as Technicolor Skull

Kicking off the evening was a courtyard performance by Technicolor Skull -- a multimedia art collaboration featuring Kenneth Anger on Theramin and Brian Butler on everything else. Distorted, cacophonous tones accompanied a backdrop of clips from the Magick Lantern Cycle, a series of Anger's short films screening on a pentagram-shaped installation inside the museum.

click to enlarge Installation of Anger's films at MOCA - TANJA M. LADEN
  • Tanja M. Laden
  • Installation of Anger's films at MOCA

In addition to his films, ICONS features more than a hundred pieces of memorabilia from Anger's personal collection, from old-timey articles on Aleister Crowley and Rudolph Valentino to vintage lobby cards, signed publicity photos and original work by Anger and others.

click to enlarge Marjorie Cameron in a still from Anger's Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954) - © KENNETH ANGER
  • © Kenneth Anger
  • Marjorie Cameron in a still from Anger's Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)

Anger, who hates discussing his age, was born in Santa Monica in 1927. (Sorry, Kenneth.) His films are among the first to openly deal with homosexuality, and his relationship to the occult is just one of the reasons why he's never become part of the world of mainstream cinema. But it hasn't prevented that world from acknowledging his contributions to the film industry.

click to enlarge Still from Anger's "Invocation of My Demon Brother" (1969) - © KENNETH ANGER
  • © Kenneth Anger
  • Still from Anger's "Invocation of My Demon Brother" (1969)

In the DVD booklet for The Films of Kenneth Anger, director Gus Van Sant writes, "Predating anything that I know as gay cinema, Anger is the original." Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese remarks in his introduction to the same DVDs, "Now, you hear the word 'visionary' a lot, but in this case, it fits."

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