Boyd Rice: I am one of the nicest men you will ever meet
One of my first introductions to underground films was theV. Vale’s Re/search Publication,Incredibly Strange Films, which included interviews with Doris Wishman and Joe Sarno amongst others. I also remember their wonderful publication Pranks, where you could read interviews with Joe Coleman, Jello Biafra, John Waters, Timothy Leary, Abbie Hoffman and Boyd Rice. Re/search has always been a great resource for getting the low-down on counter-culture, punk and the American Underground. These books were a great place to introduced to anyone from Burroughs to Bob Flanagan and you could often expect the odd appearance or input of Boyd Rice.
If you took a slightly darker turn you might find yourself with the frankly sickening world of Adam Parfrey’s Apocalypse Culture I and II, where you could read about all the extremes of Human life: necrocards (a bit like organ donation cards for Necrophiles), Paedophilia, cannibalism and Jews for Hitler. No surprise to find Boyd Rice there with a selection of quotes from Hitler.
Iconoclast is a movie that tells you about the whole life and interests of Boyd Rice. Not just his involvement in Re/search and Apocalypse culture, but also his experimental music, his radio discussions with Religious fundamentalist, Bob Larson, his fascination with Evil, his love of glam rock and his passion for designing Tiki Bars. There is a real sense that Larry Wessle, the filmmaker behind the film, really wants us to think “Hey, this guy might be into some really sick stuff, but he is a nice guy really.” What is more unexpected is the length of the film, approximately four hours. While watching you do get the sense of watching a fan film, made in the glory of Boyd’s shining (albeit dark and misanthropic) halo, but this is possibly also what makes the film worthy of a watch. It is certainly a valuable resource on Boyd and the culture that surrounded him.
We hear about how Boyd admired and befriended the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LeVay, Serial Killer Charles Manson and ukulele player and singing sensation Tiny Tim. We hear Boyd’s experiments with noise and distortion, how he brought out a Record with two holes so you could listen to it off and on centre. And then of course there is his more political music where he calls for Total War, expresses his hatred of people and tells us that love will not change the world. There is a lot of hate and misanthropy wrapped up in Boyd, and certainly a distaste for those soft Christian ethics. In his radio discussions with Bob Larson we hear him defend Satanism, talk of the evils of Christianity, speak of his admiration of Saddam Hussain and defend a police state based on social Darwinism. (Anything that helps depopulate the earth, Boyd says, is good). I have to admit there is something I find rather titillating about this, but in all fairness I am not on either of their sides. Bob Larson always seems outraged and Boyd just seems able to get one over on him all the time. It is strange to hear the religious right being treated as liberal tolerant humanists, but that is kind of what you hear and it is interesting because it shows up the hypocracy of the religious right. At one point Boyd tells him “ I think one of the reasons I enjoy your programme is because I think your an absolute Satanist. Because you are making a living off these people who are weak and confused, you are dominating them and having a good time of it.” And personally, after listening continually to Larson’s call out donations you get the idea that Boyd Rice may gave a point.
At one point on the film we hear him on the Bob Larson’s show talking to Sharon Tate’s mum telling her that her daughter’s death was the best thing that happened to her. It gave her an identity and something to live for. My jaw drops in shock. No wonder people, both right and left, dislike him. In the film, protesters stand outside his gigs, they have read his lyrics, especially the line in People which says “Whatever happened to Vlad the Impaler? Where’s Genghis Kahn when you need him? Or Roi d’Ys? Ayatollah Khomeini? Adolf Hitler? Benito Mussolini? Nero? Diocletian? Kitchener? Come back! Come back!” and understandably they don’t want this fascist in spreading hate.
But Boyd is actually a nice bloke, we are told, it just happens that he has an interest in evil. So when he is not thinking about Satanism or discussing the parallels between the aesthetics of the British Fascist Oswald Moseley and David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust (see pictures below), he’s designing Tiki Bars (exotic themed bars with water fountains, Hula girls, tropical plants and so on) and watching incredibly strange films. He is now starting to get into reincarnation and is actually quite friendly with Bob Larsonin real life.
Then again, in the days of myspace, I remember that a friend had created an account and was pretending to be him. I looked through the comments and read one by someone soon to be off to fight one of Bush’s wars. The bloke had written that he was going out there to shoot some people for Boyd. Of course, it may not have been real. You never no with social media. But I feel uncomfortable and sickened. Maybe the protesters were right.