Kenneth Anger (director) INAUGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME (1953) Photo – 1


[Los Angeles, 1953]. Vintage original 8 x 10″ (20 x 25 cm.) black-and-white print still photo, with holograph notation on verso in director Kenneth Anger’s hand and sticker identifying this as from his archive. Light creasing, near fine.

Portrait of one of the elaborately costumed performers in experimental director Kenneth Anger’s avant-garde 1953 short film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. The film reflects Anger’s deep interest in Thelema, the philosophy of Aleister Crowley and his followers, as indicated by Marjorie Cameron’s role as “The Scarlet Woman” (an honorific Crowley bestowed on certain of his important magical partners). Crowley’s concept of a ritual masquerade party where attendees dress as gods and goddesses served as a direct inspiration for the film. Provenance: Kenneth Anger collection.

Kenneth Anger (1927-2023) is one of the great American underground filmmakers and one of the preeminent names both in LGBTQ film and in the history of alternative, experimental cinema. Working exclusively in short films, he produced almost 40 works since 1937, nine of which have been grouped together as the Magick Lantern Cycle.

His films variously merge surrealism with homoeroticism and the occult, and have been described as containing elements of erotica, documentary, psychodrama, and spectacle. Anger is certainly the first whose work addressed homosexuality in an undisguised, non-coded language, and several of his early films were released before the legalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults in the United States. He also focused on occult themes in many of his films, being fascinated by the English gnostic mage and poet Aleister Crowley, and is an adherent of Thelema, the religion Crowley founded.

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