Panic for Satan: How I Learned to Freak Out and Wrote Lots of Porn Anyway

satanicpanicmovie

Scary dude in a hood from Satanic Panic directed by Marc Seltz.

Satanic Panic  (disgusting picture alert) is an upcoming low-budget horror movie based on a fictionalized version (emphasis everyone’s) of reports of 1980s Satanic Ritual abuse other than Flock of Seagulls. It shares a name with Jeffrey S. Victor’s book on the subject, but doesn’t appear to be based directly on it.

satanicpanic

Interestingly, the same subject is covered in a very different way by Susie Bright in an interview with Debbie Nathan Susie conducted for her podcast that turned into an article on 10ZenMonkeys. Debbie Nathan is the author of Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt.

The interview is about the broader schema of sex panics and kiddie porn, but I find the Satanic angle really mind-boggling because I remember it so vividly from the ’80s. I remember being told by a fundamentalist friend that by purchasing Dungeons & Dragons books, even if I wasn’t worshipping Satan, I was giving my money to people who did. I remember listening to the famed anti-back-masking lecture from fundamentalist screwball Jacob Aranza, who played “Stairway to Heaven” backwards (“There’s no escapin’ it… it’s my sweet Satan”) and claimed that the “Hotel California” was the Church of Satan in California Street in San Francisco (on which street I later lived). Most vividly, I remember Ms. Magazine, in January 1993, running a cover that asked me to “Belive It: Child Ritual Abuse Exists” — AFTER I had already read, in numerous sources, the (almost inarguable) debunking of many of the 1980s Satanic ritual abuse claims… many, not all, sure but once you’ve proven that the world has gone stark raving mad, how much slack do you give its claim that the Belgazarans from Theta Omicron Eleventyseven are trying to get through its tinfoil hat?

This Beta Panic occurred after I had met numerous women who were sexually abused as children, most of them by family members and none of them in a ritual setting. (The women weren’t the only ones abused, but I guess guys didn’t talk about that shit in the ’80s. Since then I have met plenty of guys who were abused, physically and/or sexually, as children, some by family members and some by non-family members, none of them in a ritual setting). Several of these women, and many other self-identified feminists I met from 1986-1990, believed not only that Satanic ritual abuse existed, but that it was a feminist’s duty to vigorously pursue its exposure. More importantly, some of them believed that to question the claims of Satanic abuse’s purported victims was concretely the same as questioning all abuse victims, participating in a culture of silence that had kept women down for thousands of years.

I also remember my affair, circa 1988, with one of those women, with whom I was madly in love for reasons I remember only after half a bottle of Johnnie Walker. Red or Black works, but Blue Label’s way too classy. She told me that by writing porn novels with titles like All the Way in the Hay and Hot Wife in Heat, I was directly contributing to and causing — her words, not mine — the rape of little girls. Her words, exactly, not mine.

She, who I will affectionately refer to as Hell Woman, informed me in no uncertain terms that in doing so, I had disappointed and displeased her. I had brought up feelings for her about her own sexual abuse. I made her wonder whether she could really care about me.

We proceeded to process those feelings in intermittent all-night sessions of soul searching and strangely awkward fucking for the next several months, but it’s the initial bombshell that I remember most vividly because Hell Woman’s revelation induced in me an early instance of what psychiatric science would later teach me to recognize as…wait for it… a PANIC ATTACK. That I am prone to such lunacy should come as a surprise to no one given that I’m the child and probably the grandchild and great-grandchild of alcoholics, and that many members of my family suffer from depression.

But this was the ’80s. There were two flavors of crazy: manic-depressive and schizophrenic. 697588634_29553ac023-copy.jpgBeing the child of an alcoholic got me a get out of jail free card for having commitment issues, for all the good it did me, but it didn’t free me from unscientific assertions about porn that seem built in the Devil’s factory for the specific purpose of freaking Sensitive New Age Guys like a 19-year-old Thomas Roche out. Said assertions had all the magnificence of the best nonscience — this wasn’t pseudoscience, because it was so phenomenally abstract as to be unassailable. I was responsible; it was all my fault; everything bad from the Holocaust to Hell Woman’s own abuse was because I cashed a $600 check for writing Beeline Books 40,000 words’ worth of MILF porn. It’s all for you, Damien. It’s all for you.

I quit writing porn while I had my little affair with Hell Woman. I started again when I decided she was motherfucking batshit. I continued to have panic attacks. I calmed them by writing porn.

woman_screaming1.jpg

Woman screaming, courtesy of 10ZenMonkeys

This was Santa Cruz. In the 1980s. It was the height of the Lesbian Sex Wars. Feminist bookstores had received bomb threats for carrying Pat Califia’s Macho Sluts. I was a man, sure, and therefore in the view of certain feminists, I was saddled up on the side of Satanic Pat even if I didn’t consume porn, let alone write it. I was a man, but not 100% sure I wanted to be, and getting less sure every day, partly because I felt guilty about being one, and partly I couldn’t imagine anyone would want to be one (Patrick, for one, later did, but that’s another story). I wrote porn in secret and tried to decide how I felt about it more or less without the help of anyone. It was 1941, fuckers, Santa Cruz was Casablanca and I was Rick, and porn was my Ilsa, and I stuck my neck out for nobody and I’d take stroke-offs from both sides but wouldn’t choose either.

Turned out later that like all good guerillas Lazlo was just a cumshot, porn never has to choose, and Major Strasser was my own sordid guilt; the fucker keeps getting up no matter how many times I tell him not to go for the phone and then plug his Kraut ass when he does. I think Violet plays Claude Rains here, rounding up the usual suspects, and she looks smart in that uniform. Porn was never really my Ilsa; I was my own Ilsa, and she still goes flying off into the North African night, sticky and singing La Marseillaise, thinking fondly of Baudelaire and the shuttered houses of Paris.

One year almost to the day after my affair with Hell Woman ended, I went to the computer room at UCSC to write some porn. I started writing, and in she walked… of all the computer rooms in all the universities of all the world. Hell Woman was glad to see me. She hugged me. Hell Woman was an alcoholic who, when I was with her, had been two years’ sober. She told me proudly that she was at 30 days, she had gotten in to SM, and showed me that she had been “reading up” by proudly displaying her copy of Macho Sluts.

I said it was great to see her, went back to writing porn and did not have a panic attack.

Satan

Satan by Gustave Dore, via Wikipedia.

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3 Responses to “Panic for Satan: How I Learned to Freak Out and Wrote Lots of Porn Anyway”

  1. Little Tart Says:

    Thanks for sharing something so intimate and personal.

  2. Club Satan: The Witches’ Sabbath (DVD Review) « Skid Roche Says:

    […] speaking of Satan…. Eros Zine reviews Club Satan: The Witches’ Sabbath, the first commercially released […]

  3. Alcoholism Blog » Blog Archive » Panic for Satan: How I Learned to Freak Out and Wrote Lots of Porn Anyway Skid Roche Says:

    […] Panic for Satan: How I Learned to Freak Out and Wrote Lots of Porn Anyway Skid Roche Thomas Roche recalls the sex panic about ritual Satanic abuse of children in the 1980s, with the personal spin that the crazy woman he was dating blamed child abuse upon the pornography he had been writing to pay the bills. […]

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