Born with a Tail

The Devilish Life and Wicked Times of Anton Szandor LaVey, Founder of the Church of Satan

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By Doug Brod

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$15.99

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$20.99 CAD

A provocative, irreverent biography of Anton Szandor LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, BORN WITH A TAIL chronicles a time when Americans welcomed a macabre showman into their living rooms via TheTonight Show, before a ginned-up hysteria known as the Satanic Panic would put a target on his shiny, shaven head.

When Anton LaVey burst onto the San Francisco scene right before the Summer of Love, he parlayed his eerie obsessions into a philosophy and lifestyle that capitalized on a New Age rage. With his signature cape, horn-studded hood, and Ming the Merciless beard, LaVey was a media-savvy provocateur who took what he did seriously, but was always in on the joke.

From a spooky old house on an otherwise unremarkable street, he founded the Church of Satan, where young women squirmed nude on the mantel of his ritual chamber as he delivered a doctrine of self-deification and indulgence that combined the writings of Ayn Rand, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Aleister Crowley with the pulpy fictions of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard.

Later, his bestselling book The Satanic Bible (still in print since 1969) struck an ominous chord with both the hip and the alienated—the fringe dwellers who were goth before there were goths. But LaVey’s influence could be felt far beyond his flock, namely in the nightmarish and supernatural entertainment that dominated pop culture in the 1970s and continues to make an impact today.

He was a musical prodigy who attracted a cluster of stars into his orbit, including Jayne Mansfield and Sammy Davis Jr. But living like a real-life Gomez Addams, complete with a full-grown pet lion, came at an awful price.

Deeply researched and featuring dozens of new interviews, as well as recently unearthed personal correspondence and church records, BORN WITH A TAIL: The Devilish Life and Wicked Times of Anton Szandor LaVey, Founder of the Church of Satan separates the facts from the fabrications of this uniquely American character’s extraordinary life.
 

  • “Entrancing and fascinating — an absolute must-read.”
     
    Gillian Flynn, New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl
  • “What an entertaining, bizarre, sometimes delightful, sometimes disturbing story. Thank you, Doug Brod, for this great book about an overlooked character in America’s gloriously weird history.”
    A.J. Jacobs, author of My Year of Living Constitutionally
  • “What happens when Satan meets show business? Please allow Anton LaVey to introduce himself. A quizzical cultural icon, this Zelig-like huckster with horns and cape became entwined with a veritable nightmare alley of celebrities, among them Jayne Mansfield, Kenneth Anger, Marilyn Manson, and Sammy Davis Jr. Doug Brod strikes just the right tone as he takes a magnifying glass to this tiny world, and the results are highly amusing. … I command thee to read [Born with a Tail]…”
    Jimmy McDonough, author of Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography
  • “You don’t have to sell your soul to enjoy Doug Brod’s wickedly entertaining take on the incredible true-life tale of master showman and devil’s advocate Anton LaVey. If it didn’t all actually happen, you wouldn’t believe a word!”
    Larry Karaszewski, co-screenwriter of Ed Wood and The People vs. Larry Flynt
  • “This is a delightful and strange portrait of an unusual man, made glorious by Doug Brod’s insight and witty prose.”
    Jonathan Ames, author of A Man Named Doll
  • “More than just a fascinating biography, Born with a Tail is a high-resolution X-ray of America’s weird psyche in the second half of the twentieth century.” 
    Chris Nashawaty, author of The Future Was Now: Madmen, Mavericks and the Epic Sci-Fi Summer of 1982
  • “The devil is in the details—and Doug Brod brings them all together in this deeply researched, fiendishly entertaining account on the life of celebrity Satanist Anton LaVey, one of the 20th century’s most fascinating pop-culture provocateurs.”
    Brian Raftery, author of Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen
  • “With devilish wit and even tenderness, Doug Brod shows how LaVey’s committed cosplaying held a mirror up to the darker parts of America...”
    Sean Howe, New York Times bestselling author of Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
  • “[Doug Brod] has written one hell of a book, a witty, cogent chronicle of one of the most noteworthy grifts American culture ever conjured up.”
    Glenn Kenny, author of The World Is Yours: The Story of Scarface

On Sale
Oct 8, 2024
Page Count
368 pages
Publisher
Hachette Books
ISBN-13
9780306833335

Doug Brod

About the Author

DOUG BROD is the former editor in chief of SPIN and TV Guide magazines and the author of They Just Seem a Little Weird: How KISS, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and Starz Remade Rock and Roll (Hachette). He has also been an editor at Entertainment Weekly and Condé Nast and has written for The New York Times, Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and Fangoria. A native New Yorker, he lives with his family in Toronto, where he is an editor at the Toronto Star.

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