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A compendium of queer people in the 19th and 20th centuries // Drawn and researched by Michele Rosenthal

Kenneth  Anger

Kenneth Anger 1927to

Influential experimental filmmaker, author, and occultist. He started making movies at age 10, and by age 20 he gained recognition and notoriety for his 1947 homoerotic short film Fireworks. The film—which includes imagery of violent sailors, a lit firecracker sparking out of a man’s pants, Anger himself being doused in a white liquid, and a burning Christmas tree—led to Anger’s arrest and acquittal on obscenity charges. It also led to a lifelong friendship with Alfred Kinsey. In addition to overt homosexual themes, his oeuvre of short films are often surreal, infused with symbolism inspired by the occultist Aleister Crowley, and set to pop music soundtracks that predicted the emergence of the music video. He found success as an author with his 1959 book Hollywood Babylon, published in 1975, which was a scandalous collection of celebrity gossip. Celebrities with whom Anger himself collaborated include Anaïs Nin, Tennessee Williams, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, and Marianne Faithfull. Today, directors as diverse as David Lynch, John Waters, and Martin Scorsese list him as an important influence.

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