Music is the universal balm and this holds true for religious cult members, devil worshipers, sex workers and porn stars too. Here are some prime examples from the likes of Traci Lords, Ya Ho Wa 13 and the daughter of Anton LaVey, among others.
When your day job is sex, it’s important to have an artistic outlet to keep yourself grounded. Otherwise, it can quickly get depressing. Many porn stars turn to drugs and prostitution. Some, the more intelligent ones, create a porn empire, like Sasha Grey and Joanna Angel. Directing porn films and acting in mainstream film roles can help combat the pain of the meat-market industry and the party lifestyle. Even more impressive are members of religious cults who manage to make recordings while living among a lackluster or even threatening flock of zombies.
Below are a few examples of some music made by sex workers as well as members of notorious cults, and communes.
Dennis Parker – “Like An Eagle”
While crime rates rose 150 percent across the filthy alleyways of New York City during the 1970s, Dennis Parker was busy making gay porn flicks. Like most actors, he longed for a career in the music business. Disco was everywhere and New York was in the spotlight with films like Saturday Night Fever making big bucks at the box office. Studio 54 and Hurrah had dancing queens bumping hips into the early morning hours. The discotheques were a commonplace area to dance, snort coke, drink, get laid, snort more coke, etc. With his strong Marlboro man jaw, sharp cheekbones, and shoulder-length shag haircut, Parker turned heads of every gender. In 1979, he created an album called Like an Eagle, with a title track that became a standout jam.
“Like an eagle/ Always hungry/ Always wanting/ Night/ Flight/ Always searching/ Never perching” – Dennis Parker
It’s very funny when you think of Dirk Diggler’s character in the film Boogie Nights singing his offensively bad track in the recording studio, “Feel, feel, feeeel, feeeeelll my heat.” Parker even made a music video to go along with the song “Like an Eagle,” featuring a 360-degree view of a sleazy Times Square, scenery most of us never saw firsthand. Parker gyrates his pelvis around seductively while people walk around him in the background wondering what’s going on. If the song wasn’t so catchy, the silly lyrics could have easily made it on the Gong Show.
Andrea True – “More, More, More”
You can’t get more literal than porn star Andrea True’s sensual tune about lovemaking. “More, more, more/ How do you like it? / How do you like it?/ Ooh, how do you like your love?/ But if you want to know how I feel/ Get the cameras rolling/ Get the action going…”
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, the willowy teen arrived on a bus in NYC in the early 1970s seeking stardom. She sang in Manhattan clubs while auditioning for feature films and landed a bit part in The Way We Were (1973), starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. A friend introduced her to porno as a way to pay the bills. To keep her acting image clean, Andrea only appeared in Scandinavian XXX movies at first. Eventually, she caved and embarrassed her parents by making good ‘ol American raunch, which was a blessing once she embraced her scandalous image.
Andrea had a lesser hit with 1977’s, “New York, You Got Me Dancing.” While making two memorable songs, Andrea never hit celebrity status with her music. After making three more disappointing albums, she threw in the towel and moved to Florida where many other leathery half-naked people go to retire. Singing her 1976 hit in local clubs fed her for a while until complications from throat surgery buried her musically for good. A real estate gig and a drug and alcohol counselor job kept her busy until her death in 2011.
Traci Lords may be best known for making underage porn, but she eventually broke into the mainstream movie world in John Waters’ Cry Baby (1990), a teen musical comedy starring Johnny Depp. A more recent endeavor of hers has been making techno-pop music for the masses. “Last Drag,” isn’t exactly terrible for its genre but it’s not memorable either. The music video that accompanies the song is painful to watch as Lords wears a Justin Timberlake-style white fedora as she hits on a man in a club. The song is about quitting smoking and a bad relationship on the same day. Maybe she should have quit the recording as well.
However, I have to give Traci props for her techno hit, “Control,” which made it on the Mortal Combat soundtrack and filled her bank account. I think most of Traci’s followers would rather see her act more and put down the microphone for good.
Ya Ho Wa 13
The Los Angeles-based rock n’ roll cult, the Source Family, led by the massive 6’5 spiritual guru, Father Yod, produced many albums under the name Ya Ho Wa 13. The groovy experimental tracks were seen as more of a fun pastime than a serious endeavor. Even though Yod’s voice wasn’t always in tune, the instrumental prowess of the other members carried the albums. Today, Ya Ho Wa 13 albums are some of the most expensive and sought after vinyl finds. Even back in the 1960s and 1970s, the group had street cred, when respected musicians like Sky Saxon of the Seeds and other established musicians joined the cult. James Baker, a.k.a. Father Yod, taught his followers yoga, meditation, ceremonial marijuana smoking, vegetarianism, and free love as his philosophy. Members of the Source family ran the trendy vegetarian spot, the Source Restaurant, which was featured in Woody Allen’s hit film, Annie Hall.
Check out the bluesy track, “Fire In The Sky,” featuring a soulful singer who reminds me of a more guttural Edwin Starr complete with the lyric, “Good god!” “Vampires/ Black sky above/ From a blue horizon/ werewolves stalking/ but I pray.” You can find many of these songs on Youtube. From the sound of them, most of these guys were sneaking a bit more than one toke off the ceremonial bong. If you haven’t seen the documentary The Source Family (2012), it’s certainly worth streaming.
The People’s Temple
Jim Jones started The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ in Indianapolis in 1955. He moved his church to San Francisco, California in the 1960s and began teaching the utopian concept of all races coming together to worship Christ in the same church at a time of racial unrest and segregation in the U.S. The nation was divided. Even the Beatles, who first came to America in 1964, felt this injustice when they were told that the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida would be segregated for their upcoming show. Appalled, the Fab Four decided they would take a stand and not play if their black fans wouldn’t be able to sit with the white fans. The Gator Bowl promoters caved and the young Brits got their way.
Eventually, Jones developed a God complex and isolated his flock in Jonestown, Guyana. On November 18, 1978, as family members of cult followers and federal authorities were closing in on the massive cult, Jones convinced his isolated flock to commit mass suicide.
However, before the devastating conclusion of his cult, the Peoples Temple produced a beautiful gospel album in 1973 entitled, He’s Able. This well produced, soulful record holds up over time and is a favorite among collectors around the world. The only time it can be hard to listen to is when the children’s choir sings. The macabre image of those poor, little souls lying in the Guyana grass is horrifying. As the old Christian adage states, “Beware of false prophets.” If only Jones’ followers thought of that when he started comparing himself to God.
Children of God
The Children of God cult sprung up in 1968, while many other cults were brewing in the sun-drenched hills, valleys, and beaches of Southern California. Leader David Berg started his child molesting freak show in my hometown of Huntington Beach. Actors Rose MacGowan, Joaquin Phoenix, and his brother River would eventually be raised to believe in Berg’s spiritual ideals and thus develop psychological problems that come from a lifestyle where sex with children was not only allowed but encouraged. Berg believed that he was sent to save people from eternal damnation and that God personally gave him the instructions. Interesting, since this exact same request seems to have been given to every person I’ve ever encountered who was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Children of God followers were not allowed to listen to secular music and thus made their own, going by the name, Teens For Christ. Unfortunately, their music is terrible, but what can you expect out of a group of kids who were forced to make music for their lecherous leader. The deeply perverse rare song hunters out there can look up David Berg’s child followers singing him songs of praise on Youtube.
Zeena Schreck is the gorgeous daughter of Satanic leader Anton LaVey, who wrote the infamous occultist rule book The Satanic Bible. Growing up in her Satanic family was not as wild as everyone may think, except that her parents stayed up all night and slept until five in the evening. Her adopted uncle, Kenneth Anger, usually picked her up as a girl to take her for walks around San Francisco’s, Union Square. Zeena eventually turned away from running the Church of Satan to become a Buddhist and live in Europe, but she took aspects of her teachings and made music that is purely evil.
Radio Werewolf is one of the coolest bands you probably never heard of. It’s a dark trip on to the set of a vintage horror movie. You will be transported to another realm by the ambient sounds of “Against Time,” off the 1989 album The Lightening And The Sun.
Zeena’s version of Nancy Sinatra’s, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” features a World War II-esque sample sound of marching boots to kick it off the song followed by a deep bass line reminiscent of Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire.” Zeena seduces with sultry vocals and smacks a bit of German into the middle of the tune. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find Radio Werewolf albums anywhere but on Youtube. The compilation album, The Vinyl Solution, (get it) may be the easiest album to find, as it was released in 2013.