When Stanton LaVey (the only grandson of Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey) met Satanic fetish model Szandora, it was demonic love at first sight. The evil duo say they are ready to begin where Stanton's infamous ancestors left off.
Anton LaVey and his beautiful young wife Diane (Stanton's grandmother) founded the Church of Satan in 1966, which Anton dubbed Year One, Anno Satanas - the first year of the Age of Satan. Anton purchased a three-storey Victorian house in San Francisco's fog-covered Richmond District. The High Priest of Satan painted the house black, and it served as both his private residence and Church of Satan HQ until his death in 1997.
The media went crazy for this "Black Pope" who performed rituals using naked women as altars, and Anton's 1969 Satanic Bible continues to sell like hellfire. Jayne Mansfield and Sammy Davis Jr befriended LaVey, and were said to have dabbled in his form of Satanism. Later, LaVey appointed Marilyn Manson a priest of the Satanic Church.
Life began for Stanton Zaharoff LaVey in 1978, when he exited the womb of his 14-year-old mother, Zeena LaVey (Anton's second-born daughter). Until the age of five, Stanton was raised in Anton LaVey's Black House. He slept in a small attic living space which the family called "uncle Einar's room".
Stanton recalls many nights staying up until dawn as Anton's keyboard-playing filled the house: "My grandfather would occasionally climb the creaky ladder in the secret passage that went from his basement bedroom, up through the living room and directly to my headboard at the top of the house. My family treated me with all of the love a boy could hope for. If it wasn't for those first years, I'd be dead by now, one way or another."
Stanton, now 27, has never learned the identity of his father. "There are all kinds of fantastic stories about me being a satanic genetic experiment," says Stanton, adamantly denying rumours Anton is both his father and grandfather. "That's OK. People will be people."
Even so, Stanton does bear a striking resemblance to his grandfather. He is 6ft 4in, has a shaved head, and his facial features, especially his menacing eyes, are very similar to those of the late Church of Satan leader. When Stanton was younger, he looked a lot like his uncle Satan. (Satan Xerxes Carnacki LaVey, Anton's only son, was born in 1993.)
Stanton is almost always smiling, but he looks like the kind of guy who could (and most likely wants to) beat the shit out of everyone who crosses his path. "I'm sort of like a prison-looking guy," he offers. He has a few tattoos, including a majestic lion's head, underneath which is a quote of his grandfather's: "Be as a lion in the path. Be dangerous even in defeat."
Zeena publicly disowned Anton in 1990, after which Stanton didn't see his grandfather for many years. When Stanton and his mother left the Black House, his life took a turn for the worse. One night, according to Stanton, Zeena climbed out of her coffin/bed and went after him. It was the same coffin upon which she had earlier satanically baptised her son. "Zeena grabbed her dagger and was coming at me in this zombie trance, telling me she's going to kill me once and for all as she always wanted to. I barricaded myself in my room and watched The Honeymooners all night long until the sun came up."
Stanton says he did have a fair share of good influences due to Zeena's interesting array of friends; noise-music pioneer Boyd Rice, Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey and satanic rocker King Diamond, withall of whom Stanton is still friends. Eventually, Zeena settled down with Radio Werewolf frontman Nicholas Schreck. When Stanton was 12, the trio moved to Vienna, Austria. There, Stanton ended up living on his own for a couple of years, often on the streets.
Stanton was reunited with his grandfather during the last year of Anton's life. "My final visits with him were so powerful. His strong personality and preserved appearance made it seem like he'd be here forever. I never imagined he'd die so young," says Stanton. "Zeena had warned me years earlier that, should I ever make contact with my grandfather, she would disown me, which she did when I was 17, for telling her that [Schreck] was on my 'list' - or maybe it had something to do with the three months of back rent I stole from them the last time I saw them."
Stanton hasn't seen or spoken to Zeena or her husband in over a decade. "I want as little to do with that woman as possible," he declares.
From the age of 15, Stanton was raised by his grandmother Diane, whom he credits with rescuing him. Even with her unconditional love, it took him several tumultuous years to readjust after being abandoned in the middle of a foreign country. He, like most teenage boys, rebelled, but Stanton says he had been dealt the kind of hand in life that left him desensitised and hungry for extreme experiences. In these pursuits, he had more than a couple of run-ins with the law. Stanton has been to jail at least five times and spent two of his 27 years behind bars.
"I want to go on a killing spree every day, from the moment I wake up, and it doesn't stop until I fitfully fall back to sleep at the end of the day," says Stanton. "Mugging people, selling drugs, robbing houses and vandalising was what I did from the age of 16 to 20. I turned 21 in county jail. I got a honey bun from another prisoner as a birthday cake."
When not incarcerated, Stanton enjoys being a provocateur. Less than a month after 9/11, Stanton performed as Osama bin Laden with his band Beyond Joy And Evil, shouting anti-US propaganda while throwing green cologne into the crowd pretending it was anthrax. (This was before the actual anthrax scare.)
Eventually, Stanton was able to avoid the law long enough to open Odium, a short-lived but legendary store/art installation on LA's Sunset Strip, which sold, as he puts it, "books, videos, CDs, comicbooks, artifacts, memorabilia, newspapers, file archives, artwork, photographs and knick-knacks of a counterculture and underground nature - intellectual smut".
It was at Odium in 2002 that Szandora and Stanton almost met for the first time. "When I came to LA on a photoshoot gig, I rode by Odium, but I wouldn't go inside because I was too nervous to talk to Stanton in person," recalls the 23-year-old Satanist in a distinct Southern accent.
Szandora first became aware of her future soulmate when she read The Secret Life Of A Satanist, a biography of Anton LaVey which features a photograph of a then-10-year-old Stanton. "I didn't really think much about it, because when you see this picture of this young boy, he kind of remains 10 years old in your mind. I didn't put two and two together until I heard about Stanton's store."
Szandora has been a huge fan of the elder LaVey since she stole a copy of the Satanic Bible from a bookstore when she was 14. Living in Griffin, Georgia, a small Southern town in the heart of America's Bible Belt, Szandora was surprised the store even carried the book.
"I went home and read it, and I became obsessed," she recalls. "I finally found a definition for what I naturally believed in."
When asked what Satan means to her, Szandora responds, "In Satanism, I am Satan, in Christianity, I am God. I am my own god. I don't think Satan is some silly monster rising out of brimstone to scare children into doing what their parents are doing." Szandora is a self-described "complete witch". "It's using things like beauty, glamour and intelligence to get what you want and be who you want to be."
Defying the stereotype of the conservative, Bible-thumpin' Southern parents, Szandora's mother and father were extremely open-minded. "My mom was really cool," says Szandora. "She liked serial killers and was into criminology and pathology and dead people and horror movies; so I didn't grow up like a normal Southern hick." According to Szandora, her folks are thrilled she's with Stanton.
Like Stanton, Szandora had a rough childhood. At 15 she was kicked out of school for cutting a guy 9in down his forearm with a razorblade, after he kept begging her to do it. The act was caught on camera and when Szandora returned to school the following day, she was taken into the principal's office. The authorities searched her bag and found copies of the Satanic Bible and Serial Killers A To Z, after which, Szandora says, the situation turned into a witchhunt.
"The deputy kept asking if I was in a satanic cult. I kept telling him I was a Satanist, and if there was a cult here I'd know, and I'm not in any fucking cult."
She was sent to a youth detention centre in Georgia.
"A lot of fights broke out," remembers Szandora, "There were a lot of girls fucking girls. There were girls who were gonna be there till they turned 18 then go to prison for 25 years for killing people; so they were resigned to munching carpet for the rest of their lives."
She was at the detention centre for three months, in which time she had to spend a month in a mental hospital and undergo psychotherapy.
Szandora (who won't reveal her real name due to problems with stalkers) initially invented her satanic moniker as an email address. Anton was her hero; so she took his middle name, Szandor, and feminised it. When she was 18, she began using Szandora as her modelling name and it stuck.
Szandora's erotic modelling has attracted quite a cult following, hence the creepy stalkers. For the past five years, she's been featured in Marquis, Swag, Tattoo Savage, Draculina, and other magazines and was a Gothic Beauty covergirl. She's also the number-one model for the Gothic Sluts, Barely Evil and Rubber Dollies websites. She has just broken away from her former photographers/webmasters and is starting her own site, Szandora.net.
In addition to modelling, Szandora hula-hoops with Thee Swank Bastards, a Vegas-based 50s-style surf band. Szandora differentiates herself from standard hula-hoopists, who stand in one spot and keep the hoop level: "I command the hula-hoop. The hoop sort of flows with my mind. I know that sounds strange." She can also go-go dance as she hulas.
Szandora says she practises witchcraft through hula-hooping: "I can concentrate on whoever's bothering me, whatever makes me happy. It's a total stabiliser for me, magical. It's mind over matter. It's satanic power."
Before Stanton and Szandora met, they'd heard of each other from mutual acquaintances, but for some reason, none of these friends would furnish either one with contact information for the other.
Finally, after Szandora had just gone through a break-up, she received a message from her friend, dollmaker and model Ugly Shyla, that Stanton was available and now was the time to contact him. At the time, Szandora was living in Vegas, and Stanton was in LA, but they spoke on the phone for eight hours a night and emailed all day long. After a month of this long-distance romance, these children of Satan couldn't stand to be apart any longer, and Stanton flew Szandora to LA. "I made plans to visit for three days, and never left," recalls Szandora.
The couple's home contains many odd artifacts, including a human skull and a painting of Stanton's godfather, underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger, which Anger gave them for Christmas. The pair also own a painting of Szandora that one of her fans created, mixing his blood into the paint so he could be closer to her. "We could clone him, raise him, then beat him up," suggests Stanton.
The couple plan to tour the US with an "anti-burlesque" show, featuring "a troupe of sexy female performance artists that will exploit real taboos while being sexy, all in the name of Satan", according to Szandora.
They are also juggling numerous projects, including a TV show. "It's Sonny And Cher meets Ripley's Believe It Or Not. It's not going to be fun and games," says Stanton. "I intend to use my access to explore the real underbelly of US culture in a way yet to be done."
The couple's goal is to create a true worldwide satanic empire. "We're the first family of Satanism," says Stanton nonchalantly. "We're taking over."