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Sometimes the history of esoteric research produces some wonderful anecdotes. Take for example the following diary entry of UFO research legend Jacques Vallee (author of the seminal ufological works Passport to Magonia and Messengers of Deception) regarding a dinner at his house with the notorious founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey.

LaVey shot to fame in the late 1960s, gaining widespread media coverage, and shocking mainstream Christianity, with his founding and promotion of the Church of Satan. LaVey was as much a colourful celebrity as he was the ‘Black Pope’ though, and his and Vallee’s paths first crossed in the esoteric mileu of California in 1970, when a young writer who was interviewing Vallee suggested a meeting with his friend LaVey.

In Volume Two of his Forbidden Science journal (suitably titled “California Hermetica”), Vallee describes his first encounter with the head of the Church of Satan. Setting off at “a suitably late hour”, he recounts, they drove to 6114 California Street, “a black house with permanently closed shutters”, where LaVey made what can only be described as an appropriate entrance.

A black tail-less cat greeted us on the front steps. Someone opened a round spy-hole, recognized Art and unlocked the heavy door. We met a pleasant, shapely blonde woman named Diane, LaVey’s wife. With a flourish she introduced us into a purple parlor full of books, with a fireplace in one angle, a skeleton in a glass cabinet, a gravestone as coffee table.

We took our seats, avoiding the stately chaise percée. Of the High Priest there was no sign until the mantelpiece pivoted away, startling us. A bald head adorned with a pointed black beard appeared at ground level and a large man looking for all the world like Mephistopheles climbed out, idly twisting a five-pointed star. Wearing a green sweater, the jovial diabolist shook our hands and sat among us. While Diane served coffee, Anton assured us modestly, like a good pastor, that he sincerely believed in his religion, even if he did not trust his disciples farther than he could throw his massive Wurlitzer organ.

Vallee visited LaVey many more times during the 1970s (their talks at times “interrupted by Christians who evidently thought they could save Anton’s soul by throwing heavy objects against his house”). Come 1982 though, and Vallee notes (in Forbidden Science Volume 3) that the Black Pope “seemed to have lost much of his charisma and power”. At one dinner date, the odd esoteric pairing sound awfully normal as they “commiserated about the state of our respective homes” and discussed movies and computer games.

Computer games were once again the topic at another dinner in 1984, when LaVey had asked Vallee for advice on a computer to use for word processing. During the evening, Vallee’s daughter showed LaVey her Atari, and how to play games on it – giving rise to one of the great phrases in any book, “we enjoyed seeing the Black Pope playing Donkey Kong”:

Anton and Diane came to see us Tuesday. He had called me for advice: Diane is looking for a computer she could use for word processing. They had dinner at our house, where my daughter demonstrated her Atari. She also instructed Anton in the use of videogames, so we enjoyed seeing the Black Pope playing Donkey Kong.

Black Pope playing Donkey Kong

You can read more wonderful anecdotes like this one – and learn a lot about esoteric and parapsychology groups in the late 20th century – by picking up the three volumes of Jacques Vallee’s journals, Forbidden Science.

(h/t @MuseumMichael)