Excerpted from the following Paranoia Magazine article:
And Along Comes Mr. Scratch
Like many rockers before and after, David had taken a liking to the good life. You know the old adage sex, drugs and rock and roll, well on top of this add a heap of consciousness expansion, an interest in the occult, and you will have the prevalent influences on what might have seemed like Bowie’s immortal being. But paranoia soon struck in the form of the ole nemesis “nose candy” commonly known as cocaine.
With the help of Bowie himself and some close associates at the time, Marc Spitz details in the just published Bowie biography (Crown) how David was living in LA just a few houses away from the LaBianca estate where Charlie Manson’s gang had terribly mutilated Sharon Tate and her friends in a ritualistic murder. Bowie had taken to doing blow regularly and was getting more and more desperate and paranoid with each passing day.
In a number of shocking revelations, Marc Spitz in the Bowie biography explains precisely what was transpiring in the pop singer’s troubled life: “While planning the follow-up to Young Americans (album), Bowie would sit in the house with a pile of high-quality cocaine atop the glass coffee table, a sketch pad and a stack of books. Psychic Self Defense (Dion Fortune) was his favorite. Its author describes the book as a ‘safeguard for protecting yourself against paranormal malevolence.’
“Using this and more arcane books on witchcraft, white magic and its malevolent counterpart, black magic, as rough guides to his own rapidly fragmenting psyche, Bowie began drawing protective pentagrams on every surface.”
Bowie told the author, “I’d stay up for weeks. Even people like Keith Richards were floored by it. And there were pieces of me all over the floor. I paid with the worst manic depression of my life. My psyche went through the roof, it just fractured into pieces. I was hallucinating 24 hours a day.” Spitz adds, “Increasingly Bowie was convinced there were witches after his semen. They were intent on using it to make a child to sacrifice to the devil, essentially the plot to Roman Polanski’s 1968 supernatural classic Rosemary’s Baby.”
Seeing that he was in desperate need, poet and song writer Cherry Vanilla hooked Bowie up with Walli Elmlark who Spitz describes as a “Manhattan-based intellectual. . . who taught classes at the New York School of Occut Arts and sciences then located on Fourteenth Street, just north of Greenwich Village,” and which the author of this article was director of from the mid 1960s for more than a decade, promoting lectures and classes by the who’s who of paranormal and UFO experts of that era, including Cleve Backster, Stanley Krippner, Jim Moseley, John Keel – and, of course, Walli Elmlark the White Witch of New York.
As added confirmation of the madness David was trying to cope with, ex wife Angie Bowie reveals even more details of his fascination and dabbling into the occult in her own personal remembrance, Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side With David Bowie.
“There was a beautiful Art Deco house on six acres, an exquisite site property and a terrific value at just $300,000, but he took one look at a detail I hadn’t noticed, a hexagram painted on the floor of a circular room by the previous owner, Gypsy Rose Lee.
“A great deal of codling and reassurance got us through that crisis, and I went and found the Doheny Drive house. Built in the late fifties or early sixties, it was a white cube surrounding an indoor swimming pool. David like the place, but I thought it was too small to meet our needs for very long, and I wasn’t crazy about the pool. In my experience, indoor pools are always a problem.
“This one was no exception, albeit not in any of the usual ways. Its drawback was one I hadn’t encountered before and haven’t seen or heard of since: Satan lived in it. With his own eyes, David said, he’d seen HIM rising up out of the water one night.”
Feeling demonic forces moving in, David felt strongly that he needed an exorcism and asked that his new found friend white witch Walli Elmlark be called upon to lend her assistance to remove the evil from his surroundings.
“A Greek Orthodox Church, in LA would have done it for us (there was a priest available for such a service, the people had told me) but David wouldn’t have it. No strangers allowed, he said. So there we stood, with just Walli’s instructions and a few hundred dollars’ worth of books, talismans, and assorted items from Hollywood’s comprehensive selection of fine occult emporia.
“There he (David Bowie) was, then, primed and ready. The proper books and doodads were arranged on a big old-fashioned lectern. The incantation began, and although I had no idea what was being said or what language it was being said in, I couldn’t stop a weird cold feeling rising up in me as David droned on and on.
“There’s no easy or elegant way to say this, so I’ll just say it straight. At a certain point in the ritual, the pool began to bubble. It bubbled vigorously (perhaps “thrashed” is a better term) in a manner inconsistent with any explanation involving air filters or the like.”
The rock and roll couple watched in amazement. Angie says she tried to be flippant – “’Well, dear, aren’t you clever? It seems to be working. Something’s making a move, don’t you think?’ – but I couldn’t keep it up. It was very, very strange; even after my recent experiences I was having trouble accepting what my eyes were seeing.”
Angie insists that she would peak through the glass doors leading to the pool every so often and was dumb founded by what she saw. “On the bottom of the pool was a large shadow, or stain, which had not been there before the ritual began. It was in the shape of a beast of the underworld; it reminded me of those twisted, tormented gargoyles screaming silently from the spires of medieval cathedrals. It was ugly, shocking, malevolent; it frightened me.
“I backed away from it feeling very strange, went through the doorway, and told David what I’d seen, trying to be nonchalant but not doing very well. He turned white but eventually became revived enough to spend the rest of the night doing coke. He wouldn’t go near the pool, though.
“I still don’t know what to think about that night. It runs directly counter to my pragmatism and my everyday faith in the integrity of the “normal” world, and it confuses me greatly. What troubles me the most is that if you were to call that stain the mark of Satan, I don’t see how I could argue with you.”
“David, of course, insisted that we move from the house as quickly as possible, and we did that, but I’ve heard from reliable sources (Michael Lipman for one, the property’s real estate agent) that subsequent tenants haven’t been able to remove the shadow. Even though the pool has been painted over a number of times, the shadow has always come back.”