Kenneth Anger

1927 -

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

genre:  erotic art
country of citizenship:  United States of America
native language:  English
languages spoken, written or signed:  English
award received:  Maya Deren Award
official website:

Kenneth Anger (born Kenneth Wilbur Anglemyer, February 3, 1927) is an American underground experimental filmmaker, actor, and author. Working exclusively in short films, he has produced almost 40 works since 1937, nine of which have been grouped together as the "Magick Lantern Cycle". Anger's films variously merge surrealism with homoeroticism and the occult, and have been described as containing "elements of erotica, documentary, psychodrama, and spectacle". He has been called "one of America's first openly gay filmmakers", with several films released before the legalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults in the United States. Anger 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. Born to a middle-class Presbyterian family in Santa Monica, California, Anger later claimed to have been a child actor who appeared in the film A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935); the accuracy of this claim is disputed. He began making short films when he was ten years old, although his first film to gain any recognition was the homoerotic Fireworks (1947). The work's controversial nature led to his trial on obscenity charges, but he was acquitted. A friendship and working relationship subsequently began with pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey. Moving to Europe, Anger produced a number of other shorts inspired by the artistic avant-garde scene there, such as Eaux d'Artifice (1953) and Rabbit's Moon (1971). Returning to the U.S. in the early 1950s, Anger began work on several new projects, including the films Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1964), Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965) and the gossip book Hollywood Babylon (French edition, 1959; U.S. edition, 1965). The latter became infamous for various dubious and sensationalist claims, many of which were later disproved, though some remain urban legends. Getting to know several notable countercultural figures of the time, including Tennessee Williams, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jimmy Page, Marianne Faithfull and Anton LaVey, Anger involved them in his subsequent Thelemite-themed works, Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969) and Lucifer Rising (1972). After failing to produce a sequel to Lucifer Rising, which he attempted through the mid-1980s, Anger retired from filmmaking, instead focusing on Hollywood Babylon II (1984). At the dawn of the 21st century he returned to filmmaking, producing shorts for various film festivals and events. Anger has described filmmakers such as Auguste and Louis Lumière, Georges Méliès, and Maya Deren as influences, and has been cited as an important influence on directors like Martin Scorsese, David Lynch and John Waters. Kinsey Today argued that Anger had "a profound impact on the work of many other filmmakers and artists, as well as on music video as an emergent art form using dream sequence, dance, fantasy, and narrative." Source: Wikipedia (en)


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