by Jake Block
“Never thought I’d get to meet the devil;
Never thought I’d meet him face to face.
Heard he always worked alone,
That he seldom wrote or used the phone,
So I walked right up to meet him at his place.”
— Meet The Devil (Paul Williams)
This little ditty from The Phantom of the Paradise was playing in my head on the night I first met Anton LaVey. It was a cold night in San Francisco in December, and I was waiting outside of a house in the Potrero Hills area, where I had been instructed to be at 8PM. I had been a member of the Church of Satan for ten years, at this point, but I was still nervous and excited to be there and waiting. It was 8:25, and I was beginning to wonder if I had gone to the wrong address when a nondescript, white ford pulled up and a black-haired woman asked, “Are you Jake?”
I answered yes, and she said, “I’m Wanda Slattery. Dr. LaVey sent me to bring you in.” And we were off. I followed her through the streets of San Francisco as she weaved in and out of traffic. After about fifteen minutes, we pulled into two reserved parking places in the back of a large, dark brick hotel in the Van Ness area of the city. We went through the unmarked glass door and were in an upscale hotel with dark wood walls, tastefully decorated and warm. We emerged from a hallway and I caught a glimpse of a white Christmas tree with white lights in the lobby, and I chuckled. Wanda smiled and said, “Ironic, isn’t it?” I nodded as we got into the elevator and she pressed the button for the ninth floor. “This hotel is owned by a member of The Church,” she explained, “we have use of a suite to conduct business like this.” The elevator stopped on the ninth floor.
On the way to room 909, she informed me that when we entered, she would introduce me and then retire to the other room until needed. She opened the door using a key on her keychain, and not a hotel room key. I followed her inside the door, where it was silent and dark with only a few lamps illuminating the dark walls, living room and a conference room with a long walnut table with eight chairs. She removed her coat and folded it over the arm of a large leather sofa. “Jake, I’d like to introduce you to Anton Szandor LaVey.” I turned to see the tall, smiling figure who had appeared in the conference room. He was wearing a black shirt and jacket, black pants and shoes. Around his neck was his personal symbol, the silver inverted pentagram bisected with the lightning bolt.
We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Wanda asked if I we would like something to drink, and LaVey chose bourbon and I requested a glass of white wine. We sat at the conference table with LaVey taking a seat at the far end and i sat at the end closest to the door. Moments later, Wanda returned with our drinks and then settled down in the living room, taking up a steno pad and black ink pen. She was silent and her presence evaporated from my mind as I listened intently to this man I had come to respect more than any other I had known. He knew of me, and spoke of his enjoyment of things I had written over the past ten years of my association with The Church. We spoke of a mutual friend we shared in Reverend Pierre Raguet, and my working group The Melek Taus Chapel from 1973 – 1977. He remembered that as a young Agent that I had coordinated with other members who had remained loyal when, in 1975, Michael Aquino had left the group, later to form The Temple of Set. And then his eyes narrowed on mine.
He said, “I have one problem with you, in that you’re a career military member. I’ve had a member of the military as part of my staff before (Aquino), and at first, he was great. If I told him I would like him to do an essay on the color red, he could give me 5,000 words, annotated, proof read, and ready to print in The Cloven Hoof. Anything I needed administratively, he could provide. The problem is that he acted like he deserved a medal for everything he did.” I know he knew that I was aware of whom he was speaking, so I sat my drink down, thought for a moment an said, “Sir, the difference is that he is an officer, and I am an enlisted man, and even though we are both career military, enlisted men don’t expect or need to be rewarded for everything we do. Part of our job is to make the boss look good, and we know it.” He nodded. Wanda wrote.
And so it went on for over an hour, just a basic interview for someone to work on staff. Then, from outside, we heard the sound of a police siren as it passed the hotel and made its way further down Van Ness, fading as it went. “I’ve always loved that sound,” he said, “it brings with it the chance of mystery and adventure. My life can seem like and old film noir from a novel by Cornell Woolrich. His movies were always dark, saturnian affairs… atmospheric. He’s still alive, you know. His books and movies made him wealthy, but he lives in New York…” Shortly after that, the interview was over. He told me that he enjoyed meeting me, and would contact me after interviewing two more candidates. I assured him that I was ready and able to assist him if he needed me. We shook hands, and I thanked Wanda for her assistance, and I was out the door and on my way.
I drove through the night toward home, my mind filled with the events of the evening and the satisfaction of meeting the man whose book had made such an impact on my life. That feeling lasted three days with me, and I thought that, if my association with him and The Church goes no further, it was enough. Then, on the following Monday, I got a call, late in the evening. I answered the phone and a woman’s voice asked, “Is this Jake?” I told her that it was, and she said, “Be at the Black House at 8PM, Thursday. Welcome aboard,” and she hung up. Message received, and a new adventure in life had begun.