Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman
Four Star Review of The Manson File: Myth and Reality of an Outlaw Shaman Revised and Expanded Apocalypse Edition from Metal Impact (France)
“The Manson File, as brought to you now by Camion Noir, is much more than a revised and expanded edition of Nikolas Schreck’s “The Manson File,” which appeared in the late 80s. Former member of the gothic/industrial experimental combo Radio Werewolf, Schreck has never ceased to try to establish the truth about the ‘Manson Family’, and the grotesque fraud of the trial of leading Spahn Ranch figures, conducted, it should be remembered, in the absence of Manson, whose choice to serve as his own legal representative was denied numerous times by the court … The work accomplished by Schreck is titanic. The book’s sheer number of pages might dissuade the potential reader. But no lesser length would suffice to present the complicated ins and outs of the case presented here in so logical and irrefutable a manner. And when you immerse yourself in the narration of facts, it becomes impossible to deny them. The Manson File is a spider web designed to trap any flies of lies that have gathered in the last forty years. … Each character, each story has its own rationale, and even if we can get lost in this labyrinth of truths, and the characters’ names get tangled, everything becomes clear in the end, and the puzzle is reconstructed. … If the proponents of the hackneyed Helter Skelter theory have preferred from the outset to focus on a small group of culprits, the affair of the Tate/LaBianca killings is shown here to have involved a huge number of direct and indirect protagonists, many of whom were illustrious figures of the dying sixties scene. But the main responsibility for this hypocrisy that the American justice system has called a “trial” for four decades, is without a doubt Vincent Bugliosi, who masterfully played this parody knowing he was cast in the best role…. Throughout the book’s long development, Nikolas Schreck strives to reveal every aspect of the many different stories concerning the character of Manson. Far from trying to make a martyr of him, and far from trying to present him as a saint sacrificed on the altar of dissimulation, he is content to present him just as he is, with all of his philosophies and his contradictions, as the criminal/philosopher he has always been. The mere fact of presenting Manson’s words verbatim is indicative of the author’s desire for truth. As one who has communicated many times with the most famous prisoner in America , he knows who he’s dealing with, and does not disguise his thoughts to give birth to an uproarious and highly praiseworthy work. After reading this book, we’ve encountered a Manson who is always funny, annoying, disturbing, contradictory, but above all fascinating. The man who could have been a beacon of freedom in thought and action ended up imprisoned for life because of meeting the wrong people at the wrong time. … The Manson File is divided into several sections, distinct but complementary. It’s evident that the author tried to understand all the different aspects of Manson’s personality, the episodes of his life and his encounters, and to understand all the nonsense presented at his trial in the late 60s. Charlie is presented in turn as an influential musician of integrity, a shaman as defined by authentic Indian cultures, but also as a criminal who has spent more time in prison than in freedom, and never felt as safe – physically and intellectually – as in that cell. As I said previously, his trajectory is transcribed faithfully, without any attempt at “romanticization” if I may be excused this neologism, and when the language requires, Manson becomes the simple car thief or pimp he’s always been. … The image reflected in this book is a hundred leagues away from the buffoon embittered by the lack of recognition of his peers, and the cult leader eager for blood and vengeance against the establishment. Schreck puts center stage the real culprits of the case, the demented Charles “Tex” Watson, who has become a repentant “good Christian” supported tooth and nail by a procession of fans, star hairdresser and notorious drug dealer Jay Sebring and his friend/sidekick/nemesis “Voytek” Frykowski, friend to Roman Polanski, the husband of the late Sharon Tate, and especially updates the tenuous links between Hollywood, the Mafia, the American prison system, the Pentagon, the CIA, and U.S. Secret Service. What might seem from afar to be yet another conspiracy theory as seen from outside proves entirely credible in these pages and sends shivers down your spine. Thus, the comparison between the mock trial of the Cielo Drive murders and the catastrophic Warren Commission Report is logically proven as a concealment of facts that can on no account be revealed to the light of day. That The Manson File names Dennis Wilson, Sammy Davis Jr., Kenneth Anger, Mama Cass or Anton LaVey is not especially surprising. More so is the appearance of Steve McQueen, Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy, “Lucky” Luciano, Jean Harlow or JFK. And the strength of this book is that it manages to establish these connections between these different figures as distant by their rank as their spatiotemporal situation, without falling into the lowest kind of grotesque sensationalism. And once the big picture is put together, the evidence is shown all too clearly to the reader. … Please note, I am not saying here that we must accept all of Nikolas Schreck’s arguments and conclusions, and it will suit each reader to form his own opinion. But after forty years spent swallowing the “politically correct” versions offered up the former protagonists of the case, whether defendants, prosecutors, former cops and even simple figures of the establishment at the time, The Manson File’s luxurious “Apocalypse Edition” comes like a breath of fresh air, and most importantly, a door to a truth … This detailed study, which is never content with a simple surface survey, or a simple research work on materials already available, scrapes tirelessly into the deepest reaches of Hollywood’s second Golden Age … Read The Manson File …”
Review of The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman
Revised and Expanded Apocalypse Edition by Tony Dickie of Compulsion Online
“At the turn of the century it seemed that Live Freaky, Die Freaky written by former Beach Boy session musician and investigative journalist, Bill Scanlan Murphy would be the book to explode the Manson myth and detail the actual events that lead to two nights of murder in what’s become known as the Manson murders. Murphy, a close confidante of Dennis Wilson, was first to seriously consider a drug angle to the case. Ill health and other circumstances saw to it that Murphy’s book never made it to print. Schreck, a friend and associate of Murphy, picks up on and expands many of the tenets of Murphy’s theory. It should be noted that this isn’t Nikolas Schreck’s first study about Manson. In 1988 Schreck edited the original version of The Manson File, a collection of Manson writings, letters, testimony, artwork, stories and lyrics compiled by Manson supporters including Boyd Rice, Adam Parfrey, John Aes-Nihil, Nick Bougas. This was the first publication to feature Manson’s thought uncensored, and it was regarded by many as an apologists take on Manson. Schreck followed this is up in 1989 with the interview documentary video Charles Manson Superstar, featuring an interview with Manson, while incarcerated in San Quentin, one of the many institutions Manson has spent since time in ever since his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment for commanding disciples of his cult to commit murder in what’s now known as the Manson murders. Except, as Schreck reveals in painstaking detail in The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman, this was never the case. And over the course of 900 pages Schreck posits a compelling case, compiled from over 20 years of research. It’s a scenario that entwines the Mafia, the swinging Hollywood scene and the film industry. Lurking behind it all is a Mafia money laundering scheme. A grand scale scam which lead to the financing of the Hollywood Paramount studios which, according to Schreck, was under investigation by the FBI at the time of the murders.
Public opinion on the so-called Manson murders has been largely based on Helter Skelter: The True Story of The Manson Murders written by Vincent Bugliosi, the Prosecuting District Attorney. In it he paints Manson as a vengeful cult leader who ordered his band of brainwashed followers to kill. The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman exposes Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” theory as an elaborate whitewashing of the facts revealing the motive for the murders to be a typical drug trade slaying between rival factions in the seedy Hollywood scene. The shady relationship between the criminal underworld and Hollywood circles, which revolved around the illicit drug trade is revealed for the first time. Even the chronology and order of who died when at the Tate house, according to Schreck, is wrong. With three victims already dead, there was a second trip back to the house, to clear-up any incriminating evidence and to plant misleading clues. Schreck confirms that Manson was present on the second visit, when Frykowski and Folger were killed.
Not only does Schreck dispel Bugliosi’s theory he concludes that the real motive was suppressed. It is these aspects that were underplayed, time shifted and intentionally excluded that make Schreck’s book so compelling, and ultimately convincing. The myth that the victims and perpetrators were unknown to each other is exposed as a smokescreen. Manson and Watson knew exactly who lived at Cielo Drive; Schreck makes known that both Manson and Charles Watson (the key protagonist in all of this, according to Schreck) had frequented the Cielo Drive house and were known to Tate and the other victims, as members of the same drugged-up party circuit centring around Mama Cass Elliot’s dope house. The story that these were random killings is revealed to be the lie, which many suspected it to be.
The true nature of the relationship between the Manson group and the victims revolved around drug deals. Sebring was “Candyman” to the Hollywood milieu and Frykowski was one of many dealers to the Manson group. Steve Parent, the first to die on the night of the Cielo Drive murders isn’t as innocent as he has been painted either. Neither were the La Bianca’s, who were to die on the second night’s killing spree. Leno La Bianca was up to his neck in mob debts, while his wife, Rosemary, was a regular supplier to Sebring and Frykowski, and was known to have dealings with Charles Watson. Schreck concludes that the only innocent victims in all of this was Sharon Tate and Abigail Folger, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time as their drug-addled boyfriends conducted a drug deal that went badly wrong, with fatal consequences.
The usual lists of characters play their role but Schreck also introduces a number of other players from the Hollywood milieu such as Steve McQueen (who was due to pick up a drug order from the Cielo Drive residence on the evening of the murders and then feared for his life due to his intimate knowledge of the key players), Van Dyke Parks (whose innocent appearance at the Cielo Drive house would take on a greater significance), to a number of other Hollywood and Canadian drug dealers along with a number of Polish immigrants, with relevance to the Manson case, close to Roman Polanski who were sucked into Mafia and FBI related activities.
Key to all of this was Joel Rostau, a shady mob figure, whose name was mysteriously excised from the trial and subsequently from Manson history. It was Rostau who dropped off a consignment of cocaine and mescaline to Sebring and Frykowski on the evening of the murders. Informed by the Cielo Drive dealers that they were in need of LSD for a big transaction later that night, Rostau raced across town to his regular supplier, Rosemary La Bianca, who was unfortunately out of town. With an impending trial for unrelated mob activities, Joel Rostau was executed before he could reveal the connections between Cielo Drive, the La Bianca’s and the Manson group. If Rostau’s name is unfamiliar to those well versed with the Manson case, the same can’t be said of Terry Melcher, the music producer and son of Doris Day. According to Bugliosi, it was Melcher’s initial support and then rejection of Manson’s musical career that resulted in the revenge killings at the Cielo Drive residence. Not only does Schreck fully elaborate on Melcher’s plans to record Manson for Capitol Records, his research reveals that Melcher while resident at Cielo Drive allowed Watson and others in the Manson group to live in the guesthouse. Interesting as that is, it is the appearance of another LA musician that really sheds light on the case. Just after Rostau arrived with his order of drugs for Frykowski and Sebring, the young songwriter Van Dykes Park knocked on the door of Cielo Drive looking for Terry Melcher, who had moved months earlier. Why, according to Schreck, is this important? Well if Van Dykes Park was confused about Melcher’s whereabouts, then why not Manson too? Park’s confusion about Melcher’s whereabouts was co-opted by Bugliosi and shifted onto Manson, to further bolster his revenge theory for the Tate slayings. Schreck goes further, though, arguing that Park’s presence was intentionally omitted as Park could also provide evidence that Rostau, a known mafia drug dealer, was present at the Tate residence on the night of the murders. Even on the basis of these few examples from The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman, it’s clear that Schreck’s research is in-depth, wide ranging and casts serious doubts about the accepted version of events.
The central role of Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson in the chain of events that lead to murder is fully explained for the first time. It was Dennis Wilson that championed the musical talent of Manson, setting up recording sessions and bringing Manson to the attention of the Beach Boys (who backed up Manson on some of those now missing tapes), and introduced him to Greg Jakobson and Terry Melcher, who planned to release Manson’s music on Capitol Records/ Brother Records, after introducing him to the public via a film that would capture the communal activities at Spahn Ranch. More significantly, it was Dennis Wilson that brought together all the conditions that resulted in the slayings. Wilson would forever be plagued by guilt which drove him to drink and drugs with reckless abandon. In one of Schreck’s more surprising revelations it seems Wilson’s relationship with Manson went far beyond just drugs and music though.
Even the togetherness of the so-called Manson Family was shown to be a lie. Manson’s so called “right-hand man” Charles ‘Tex’ Watson, wasn’t a regular fixture at Spahn Ranch, preferring his home in the Hollywood hills where he ran his small scale drug operation. The blame for the botched robberies that lead to murder is laid squarely at the feet of Charles ‘Tex’ Watson. Four months prior to the Tate slayings, Watson instigated a botched drug robbery at the home of Joel Rostau and his girlfriend – who just happened to be the secretary at Jay Sebring’s hair salon – which predated and mirrored the Cielo Drive murders. Despite the LAPD being aware of this, Schreck makes clear that, once again, these details were never aired in the courtroom or mentioned by Manson or the other defendants.
You might wonder why the defendants never came clean. Susan Atkins, whose big mouth blew open the case and whose fanciful confession serialised in newspapers worldwide and published as The Killing of Sharon Tate – a book which kickstarted the whole Manson publishing conveyor belt – was offered immunity from the death penalty if she agreed to testify. Likewise the other defendants Krenwinkel, Van Houten were pressurised into agreeing to be brainwashed cult killers to fit with Bugliosi’s theory. Manson, who was raised in institutions and prison for most of his life, adhered to the prison code of not snitching, effectively signed his own death warrant with his unwillingness to tell all. Furthermore, the legal establishment ensured his silence by taking away his rights to testify, and when Richard Nixon, the incumbent President, declared Manson guilty long before the trial ended meant there was scant chance that Manson would ever receive a fair hearing.
In his desire to seek out the truth Schreck gives light to evidence that was never considered by the courtroom, witnesses that were never called, and highlights the inconsistencies between sworn testimony and later retellings that key figures have made over the years in interviews, biographies and subsequent TV docu-dramas. Just on the basis of this, the number of revisionist “facts” should be a cause for concern for even the most hardened believer of Bugliosi’s book.
In short, Schreck’s convincing thesis contends that Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” theory was an elaborate cover-up aimed to suppress the real reason for the murders. If the truth was told, then the links between Hollywood and the Mafia would have been exposed, and in the process a number of Hollywood careers would have been curtailed, while an ongoing FBI investigation – which had the drug dealing antics at Cielo Drive and at the La Bianca residence under surveillance – into a Mafia operation, which saw proceeds of a Kennedy airport scam laundered through drug dealing and which lead directly to Paramount Studios, would have been blown. The collusion between the Hollywood, the mob and the FBI – who clearly botched this sting operation – ensured the truth would never be told. Whether Bugliosi was an active participant in this collusion is never confirmed.
The amount of detail Schreck sets out makes it difficult to summarise. But The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman, goes way beyond the Manson murders touching upon Hollywood sex rings, orgies at Elvis’ house and implicates the role of the Genovese Mafia whose connections stretched back to Manson’s prison cell dealings with Alvin ‘Creepy’ Karpis, to his involvement in Bugsy Siegel’s death right up to the Cotton Club murders. While Jay Sebring’s star studded hairdressing career which acted as a front for mob money laundering brings into its orbit such Hollywood stars as Yul Bryner, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the affair between JFK and Marilyn Monroe. Veering as it does from the criminal underworld to the higher echelons of US politics, although credible, it does, at points, edge into the realms of conspiracy theory. This may superficially weaken Schreck’s viewpoint somewhat but Schreck’s book goes into detail into how all these strands combine, something that this review can only hint at.
And where does this leave Manson? As Schreck concludes he remains a car thief, pimp, drug dealer but he’s not as Bugliosi would have us believe a mastermind of a killer cult, at best he is an accessory to murder for his knowledge and involvement in the Hinman, Tate and La Bianca killings. It’s probably worth stating that Schreck was part of the industrial-goth outfit Radio Werewolf and performed in pro-Manson shows during the eighties. He’s still in contact with Manson – in fact, when Manson was caught with a mobile phone in his cell, Schreck was one of those on his call list. Yet Schreck doesn’t gloss over his more unsavoury attributes. I’d suspect that confirmation that Manson was present on the second visit to the Cielo Drive residence would surely prove irksome to Manson. So it’s fair to say that The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman, isn’t another whitewashing. Nikolas Schreck (and his wife Zeena) have previously blown the lid on the true life of (Zeena’s father) Anton LaVey, the former High Priest of the Church of Satan, so he’s not one to hide from the truth.
It’s important to state that The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman isn’t a true crime book; though it does develop all the different strands, using all the available evidence, testimony, transcripts and interviews together with material that’s never made into the public arena, into a cohesive whole to explain what he believes was the true motives and chronology of the murders. In many ways The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman brings things full circle, expanding on his philosophy which along with his music appealed to the initial members of the Manson group and enamoured Dennis Wilson to approach Terry Melcher who wanted to promote the philosophy, the communal living and the music of Manson as an entire counter-cultural package. Apart from the 1970 Rolling Stone interview, R.C. Zaehner’s Our Savage God and Schreck’s own original version of The Manson File – along with the ATWA sites – it’s rare to find Manson’s true thought appear in print. Schreck does a commendable job in outlining Manson’s philosophy, while analysing groups and individuals, both musical and political, who have used Manson as a vehicle for their own ends. Schreck concludes that most in their own ways have based their beliefs on Bugliosi’s fictionalised version of Manson – which is just as misguided and deluded as the countless Manson detractors who base their views on similar sources.
Schreck provides a comprehensive account of all the tenets of Manson’s philosophy. His spiritual philosophy is examined, from within a mystic tradition and as self-taught ‘mystic’, formed from a Christian upbringing that marred his troubled childhood to the years spent in isolation in prisons and institutions. Schreck argues that Manson should be viewed in the Shamanic tradition, and this can be seen in his nature mysticism – given form in his ecological activist movement ATWA – and in his psychedelic explorations and rapport with animals. Schreck delves further into Manson’s affinity with the Gnostic god Abraxas. In doing so, Schreck brings clarity to Manson’s spiritual outlook, where others have been stuck with the image of a hippie cult leader, cribbed from a number of sleazo inputs.
With sections on books, films, featuring numerous writings from Manson and appendices including a full transcript of Charles Manson Superstar and a comprehensive round-up of Manson’s music releases, The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman provides an informed take on the entire Manson industry, with an illuminating take on Charles Manson, separating the man and his thought from the myth built up over the decades by the rehashing of the same old misinformed stories. It is Schreck’s own study of the motives for the murder that make The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman so essential though. The amount of information he packs in a book that’s just shy of 1000 pages is staggering. Bringing together the results of 20 years research into the Manson case Schreck slowly weaves together all the differing elements to build a solid and convincing case. It’s probably way too late to change public opinion on Manson but by putting the information out there Schreck clearly shows there is another angle to the case, one that has been hidden to the public for over 40 years. The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman is an important book, not only does it go some way to explaining why much of this information has been actively withheld, it put its forward a believable scenario for public scrutiny and supplies enough leads for others to investigate further. If there’s a criticism, it’s the lack of an index to cross reference the amount of information provided. But that’s a minor quibble as The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman acts almost a reverse image to Bugliosi’s Helter Skelter book and for that alone it deserves to be read. It’s by far the most comprehensive and most balanced book on Manson I’ve read, and I’ve read many. The Manson File: Myth And Reality of An Outlaw Shaman deserves to be regarded as the definitive book on Charles Manson and the murders attributed to his group. If you thought you knew the true story of the Manson murders or thought you knew Charles Manson, Nikolas Schreck will make you think again.“
Review of The Manson File first editon from Blitz Magazine
”The Manson File … is a concerted effort to present new angles and new possibilities. It is very probably the most accurate and truthful book about Charles Manson ever published, and in addition to the author’s attempts to redress some of the largest misconceptions about Manson and ‘The Manson Murders’, it unveils a selection of Manson’s writings, drawings, letters, and poems, previously unseen.”
Review of The Manson File first edition by Stephen Sennitt of NOX Magazine
”The best, most balanced book on Charles Manson … So much has been written about Charles Manson, and so much has been written badly, or for the wrong reasons, that this volume comes like a breath of fresh air … an accurate and sensitive picture of the arch-fiend Manson. The Manson File contains much more than I can express here, but noticeably it transmits a feeling of freedom and defiance that the ‘grey forces’ in this world will find hard to understand.”
Review of The Manson File first editon by Carolina Gonzalez of San Francisco Bay Guardian
”The Manson File provides the same kind of sick fascination as its subject … Not an exploitation book: it’s an earnest attempt to explore the bewildering totality of the Manson phenomenon … This makes for very entertaining reading …While the material presented does not try to vindicate Manson as simply a misunderstood acid casualty, it does show that the image of Manson is made up of what people have projected onto what he actually is … With an annotated guide to books and movies on Manson and the Manson legend, and commentaries by Manson associates from disparate parts of the social spectrum, this book is a serious reference guide to a repulsive and titillating subject …”
Review of The Manson File first edition from New Times
”Grab a copy of The Manson File, a compilation of Mansonmania … Leaving no stone unturned, author Nikolas Schreck also exhumes several outlandish coincidences that have thus far escaped the attention of even the most devoted Manson mavens … Scary!”
Review of The Manson File first editon from New York Press
”A great collection of the wit and wisdom of Charles Manson.”
Comment on The Manson File first edition by Wade Williams, producer of The Other Side of Madness
”I started looking at The Manson File and those memories of the time all came back. I could hardly put it down.”
Comment on The Manson File first editon by Lynette Fromme
”The Manson File is composed of words from and about Manson that were left out of public scripture and broadcast … an interesting group of interpretations that contain more accuracies than other books.”