Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Wormwood Star: A Portrait of Marjorie Cameron and her Art by Curtis Harrington, 1956.

I've been looking looking for this on the web for ages (thanks Pedro!).  Marjorie Cameron is a figure of considerable mystique and fascination to devotees of the avant garde and occult in post-war America.  In the 40s, she was the lover, muse, and magickal partner of rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parson, a association made notorious by her involvement along with L Ron Hubbard in the Babalon Working; subsequent to the death of Parsons, Cameron was part of a fascinating nexus of lesser known bohemians and occultists who preempted the alternative lifestyle explosion of the Beats and hippies (see Spenser Kansa's bio Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life of Marjorie Cameron for a breakdown of this poorly documented scene); in 1954, Cameron's presence dominated Kenneth Anger's underground classic The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.  (I've blogged quite a bit about Cameron, the Babalon Working, and related scenes in the past - for example here, here, and here.) 

In the whirling intrigue of all these associations, it's easy to forget that Cameron was a brilliant artist in her own right.  In 1956, Curtis Harrington produced a short 16 mm portrait of Cameron.  (Another of her many fascinating associates, Harrington was a protegee of the great Maya Deren, often remembered for his Val Lewton-esque feature Night Tide.)  Primarily showcasing her artwork, and scored by Cameron reading her own poetry, Wormwood Star is a slight enough thing in a sense; but it is also an atmospheric, must-see glimpse of a true icon of the underground, in all her mesmeric and ever so slightly scary glory:     


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