From the pages of
#14, the Satanism issue
(PO Box 15237, San Diego, CA 92175;
$3 per issue)MY LONG HAIR CONCEALED THE MARK OF THE BEAST
I was a teenage satanist, or so my dad thought. In his eyes, I was Damien. My long hair concealed the mark of the Beast, and according to dear old Pa, it was heavy metal that conveyed the evil message of Satan–and I loved it. I was 15, had long disgusting hair, torn Levi’s, and a love for the finer things in life: pot, cheap beer, girls, and fuckin’ metal! Besides owning a massive record collection, I always hung up evil posters and wore shirts with devils’ heads and other such nonsense on them. It drove my dad nuts.
My dad’s girlfriend, who by the way was very religious, had a son that I hung out with. He was a few years younger than me and easily influenced, so I had no problem getting him into all the things 80s boys should be into: horror movies, Dungeons & Dragons, and heavy fucking metal. I think the final straw was when my almost-stepbrother showed up at home wearing a Slayer shirt. It had all the markings of a classic metal shirt: the standard upside-down cross, the required pentagram, and a couple of pissed-off demons ripping some guy apart. His mom flipped, and seeing how she determined whether or not my dad was going to get some … well, he had to put a stop to this.
About a month after the kid had his satanic coming out of the closet, my dad, his girlfriend, her son, and I piled into the car to attend church. As we got closer to the church, I noticed a lot of long hair, Levi’s, and metal T-shirts. Then it hits me–I’m at one of those metal deprogramming sessions! When it was time for the big show to take place, everyone was herded into a large room that had a slide projector, tons of religious material, and a table with the usual devil stuff: records, books, newspaper clippings, etc. The meeting was hosted by a guy who was obviously an ex-rocker. He had the tapered white pants, the long-sleeve button-up shirt, and the ex-rocker haircut–short on top, long in back.
He started the meeting with a slide show. The very first picture was Iron Maiden’s cover artwork for Number of the Beast, of course. All the kids went “Yeah!” and I thought, “Man, this is gonna be pretty cool!” But it didn’t take the guy long to start in with hidden messages and evil-doings of every band you can imagine. Kids killing themselves, bizarre rituals, wacky theories, the whole bit. This went on for about an hour, and they pretty much accused every single band I liked of being devil worshipers.
Following the slide show, the church folk had a question-and-answer session where parents asked things like: “If my Billy plays his Motley Crue record backward, will it bring evil spirits into my home?” I was kinda relieved at this point because I noticed my dad smirking at the ridiculous questions. I figured he wasn’t taking the whole thing too seriously.
My dad and I never really talked about me being a satanist after that. Perhaps he thought the meeting really changed me, or maybe he just realized how ridiculous the whole thing was.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): zine cover.