Ivan Stang

Rev. Ivan Stang (born 1953) wanted to grow up to be a special effects stop-motion animator exactly like Ray Harryhausen, and made a few award-winning 16mm shorts. However, Dr. Philo Drummond introduced him to the world of "Bob" Dobbs (not any of the frauds currently claiming to be "the" "Bob"), and his movie career went cult-wards into The Church of the SubGenius. Stang edited 6 SubGenius books and has produced a slightly-syndicated weekly SubGenius radio show, THE HOUR OF SLACK, since 1985. He still makes his living ordaining SubGenius ministers and preaching at weirdo events such as X-Day, Starwood Festival, and Burning Man, although his current interest is microphotography of animals invisible to the naked eye. His son picked up the Slack and is now a member of the Director's Guild in Hollywood. Church of the SubGenius, Hour of Slack, and old Stang movies.

Mind Blowing Movies: Pig (2010), by Rev. Ivan Stang

Mm200This week, Boing Boing is presenting a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series here. -- Mark

Watch PIG by Adam Mason on Vimeo

Pig (2010), by Rev. Ivan Stang

I don't take mind-blowing lightly, and there are several very different ways in which movies have blown my particular mind, such as it is.

Movies seen by a very young child and therefore making an inappropriately huge impression are one type of blowage. In that respect, more than 50 years later I still vividly remember seeing Mighty Joe Young (1949) on my grandfather's TV when I was about four years old, in 1957. Cowboys in Africa (?!?) capture a giant gorilla who ends up performing on stage -- like Kong, but much more professionally. While, in front of an agog nightclub audience, his beautiful human keeper sings "Beautiful Dreamer" while Mighty Joe effortlessly holds her aloft, along with her grand piano and a solid platform. That sequence stuck with me, and to this day I often feel like a trained giant ape helping a pretty girl (or sometimes just an enlarged and life-imbued piece of clip art) make an impression on a bunch of drunks in a bar just to earn a few bananas. *

Probably the second monster movie I remember seeing was The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), fourth in the Universal classic series. It opens with torch-wielding redneck villagers harassing a poor handicapped man, Igor, who fends off their attacks by hurling huge chunks of the decaying Frankenstein castle wall down on them. He then finds his old friend the "monster" buried in a sulfur pit (having been pushed into it when it was still molten, in the previous movie). He frees the monster, and exploits its innocent mindlessness to get revenge on the Normals and Pinks who persecuted him.

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RAW Week: Pope Bob Remembrance, by Rev. Ivan Stang

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RAW (seated) and Rev. Ivan Stang (left)

If Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea had not written the Illuminatus! trilogy, there might still be a Church of the SubGenius, but we probably wouldn't get it.

All SubGeniuses, Dr. Philo Drummond and myself in particular, owe Pope Bob big time, and we've never made any bones about that. He and Shea gave us the broad view of conspiracy theories that is required for any understanding of what we call The Conspiracy. RAW's seemingly countless other books also served to remind us that while we are indeed crazy, the so-called "normal" people are even crazier.

In the late 1970s, I felt compelled to get Pope Bob's attention somehow, mainly so that I would have an excuse to send him our first SubGenius Pamphlet. He had once mentioned an oddball Texas UFO-related cult called The Silver Shirts, so I decided to write him with questions about them. At the end of his informative response, which I was amazed to receive, he told me, "If you get any deeper into UFOs, remember to keep your sense of humor!" His timing was perfect -- I was about to lose my sense of humor about UFOs -- and I took his advice to heart.

Later, in the 1980s, I had the honor of opening for him, or at least introducing him, when he lectured in Austin or Dallas, so I got to meet him in person and even have a few dinners with him. I busted ass writing up a proper introductory rant about this fellow that I regarded almost as a god, and I expanded on it each time. It was a series of lines like, "...he is the James Joyce of swingset instruction manuals... the Lenny Bruce of children's books..." I have been gratified that not only have others swiped that intro to describe other artists, but that Pope Bob himself used parts of it to describe himself.

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