Kenneth Anger is a Hollywood legend. Experimental filmmaker and sensationalist, his works merge surrealism with homoeroticism and the occult. He’s also responsible, in part, for producing the Hollywood legend: his iconic book Hollywood Babylon, though completed in 1965, is still one of the best works on the history of film and scandal in the cinema capitol.
Anger’s romance with film began in 1935, when he starred as the Changeling Prince in Max Reinhardt’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He began producing short films at the age of ten, but few received notice until Fireworks (1947), the first film to show homosexuality openly. The film’s release led to Anger’s arrest on obscenity charges, but he was acquitted the following when the California Supreme Court deemed the work “art” (rather than pornography).
Anger’s later films continued to be influenced by his sexuality, the criminalization of queer desire, and his experience with mind-altering drugs like cannabis, LSD and peyote. His works have been featured in numerous exhibitions in Europe and the United States, most recently at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles in 2011.