Homecoming Princess | 1968, June
Leslie had one of those big tooth smiles that makes you want to find a van and coax her in and drive her to the end of the earth and stay there with her.
She was attracted to smart, badboy types, maybe because her father had some badboy (alcoholic, divorced mom and remarried), maybe because living in the suburbs was like breathing in a plastic bag, maybe because being middle class in 1965 meant having to deal with the Vietnam War, how wrong it was, and how she and every other middle class kid was culpable. She had an older brother who’d already served time in the brig; he wouldn’t fight.
Leslie’s mom said that when she was little she had a good sense of humor and was “feisty.” Besides her older brother, she had two younger siblings, adopted Korean war orphans. The family went to church, went camping and hiking (they lived right near Eaton Canyon Park), and sometimes drove to the beach. Dad was an auctioneer and mom taught at the church school, even though she preferred just being a mom. Leslie put up with high school—Monrovia High, ten miles from where she was born—a smart kid who did just enough schoolwork to keep a low profile. She was more into doing than studying: Campfire Girls, Future Teachers, Church Choir, Band (Tuba), Job’s Daughters, student government and homecoming princess, twice.
Leslie: “I liked winning, and I always won.”
She was 14 when her parents divorced; she survived but missed her dad and got a boyfriend who’d been expelled from from high school. Beatlemania was getting old, and drugs were around, LSD and pot, so she got into that—and school got even lamer. She lost interest in books and needlework, got pregnant and had an abortion, which was not an uplifting experience, and moved in with her father after graduation. She started thinking maybe she should be a nun—a Catholic one. Then she and her boyfriend Bobby got involved in the Self-Realization Fellowship, which taught enlightenment through mediation, yoga, and celibacy. The SRF needed a secretary so she went to secretary school and learned to take 160 words a minute shorthand and type 60 words a minute.
Bobby: “A beautiful human being, great self-image, socially active. She was aggressive. She knew what she wanted, and she got it.”
06/03 Andy Warhol is shot in his studio in NYC. He survives. 04 Four hundred graduating students walk out on Commencement Day ceremonies at Columbia University. Over one thousand police officers are present; many are disguised in graduation robes. Seven million students will protest on U.S. campuses in 1968. 05 Robert Kennedy, riding two presidential primary victories, is shot in San Francisco. He dies the next day. 08 James Earl Ray, the suspected gunman in the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., is arrested. 12 Theatrical release of Rosemary’s Baby, directed by Roman Polanski. 13 LP release of Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison. 14 In relation to draft protests, Dr. Benjamin Spock and four others are convicted on conspiracy charges. 16 Parisian police reclaim the Sorbonne University. In May, a student strike led to a general strike of ten million. 18 Theatrical release of Monterey Pop, which documents the 1967 Pop Festival (90,000 attendees). 19 The Libre Community of artists is founded on 360 acres in Colorado. 21 In Booneville, California, Susan “Sadie” Atkins is one of five arrested in a narcotics raid. Ten days later, she’s released, re-arrested, and re-jailed. 24 Authorities dismantle “Resurrection City,” a shantytown constructed as part of the Poor People’s March on Washington. 24 Montreal’s St. Jean Baptiste parade erupts in violence. 29 “Tip-Toe Thru’ The Tulips” by Tiny Tim peaks at #17 on the U.S. charts.
07.01 Publication of the 32-page statement, “Toward a Female Liberation Movement” by Beverly Jones and Judith Brown. The text begins with a “shattered” layout of text snippets. One ex.: “Turn on the electricity and see her glow. It’s American Woman, 1968. She’s better than a robot: she’s self-programming.” 01 The Boys Town Choir appears as a part of the “National In the Rockies” convention. An album of a Tokyo performance is in the works, and the album Christmas with the Everly Brothers and the Boys Town Choir is scheduled for rerelease. The Boys Town of this period will be plagued by accusations of abuse and pedophilia. Manson describes routine rapes in state care; in 1952 he was charged with having sodomized another boy. 07 The Realist publishes the essay “The Yippies are Going to Chicago” by Abbie Hoffman. 11 LP release of Waiting for the Sun by The Doors. 15 For three consecutive nights, club-swinging police march through the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. Since the Summer of Love, 1967, the neighborhood has festered. 17 Following a coup d’etat, Saddam Hussein becomes Vice Chairman of Iraq’s Revolutionary Council. 17 In Chicago, Operation Breadbasket boycotts A&P stores. 18 LP release of Anthem of the Sun, by the Grateful Dead. 23 Five-day race riot in Cleveland, Ohio. 24 At the Newport Folk Festival, Arlo Guthrie first performs “Alice’s Restaurant.” 25 The birth control pill is condemned by the Pope. 27 Three-day race riot in Gary, Indiana. 28 In response to police brutality, the American Indian Movement (AIM) is born. 30 Virginia Slims market tests the advertising campaign “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby.”
Leslie Meets Bobby | 1968, August
Leslie aced secretary school. She registered at an employment agency. But the SRF thing had been a fantasy she had with Bobby (and maybe her father), and she and Bobby didn’t last.
Leslie: “When you’re young and very in love the breakup can be very difficult—so I was trying to make it on my own.”
She moved in with friends in Victorville, California, a nowhere-to-be desert town, where she met Bobby Beausoleil, musician, artist, and knife-thrower. He had a small group of women already in train, but Leslie was into him, so the two of them stole her friend’s car and drove off.
Leslie: “He was an angel, and I told him I would love him forever.” Leslie called her mother to say she wouldn’t be in touch for a while—she was going to do what she wanted when she wanted where she wanted. She was “dropping out.” Bobby had a house tent on the bus, an old munitions truck. He called himself “Sir Hokus,” (aka “Cupid,” aka “the Frenchman”) and described himself as a minstrel; he wore a confederate war costume, and carried a cane and a top hat. They drifted north, stealing food on the way.
The Haight was getting seedy, but San Francisco was Bobby’s scene. He’d been in a few bands—one of them, Love, was a big deal. Bobby said he’d been too young, seventeen, to sign the record contract.
Bobby was also an actor. He’d starred in a Kenneth Anger film as Satan, but he and Anger had a blowout (they may have been lovers), and Anger had placed a curse on him. Bobby had been in L.A. to shoot a soft-core porn film, Ramrodder, at an old western set—the Spahn Ranch. That’s where Bobby had met one of his women, Catharine “Gypsy” Share, who’d also had a part in the film. She was a little older, wiser and more radical than the average hippy. Gypsy wanted a messiah, and there was one man she kept talking about, “The Wizard,” who had his own bevy of women. In late August, Leslie got to meet him.
Leslie: “He just walked up and smiled real nice, you know, and I just smiled back. And he wasn’t any different than all the others. But I could feel much strength in meeting him.”
08.01 LP release of Wheels of Fire, by Cream. 02 In The Berkeley Barb, Ed Sanders publishes his satirical essay “Predictions for Yippie Activities.” Highlights: ass-washing, worship of filth, protestors armed with fish eyes. 03 In Washington, Abbie Hoffman attempts to enter a building where a subcommittee of the House Un-American Activities Committee has convened. He’s arrested for wearing a shirt that resembles an American flag. His book, Revolution for the Hell of It, has just been released by the Dial Press. In his musings on The Beatles, he echoes a popular assessment of the day, “The Beatles are a new family group. They are organized around the way they create. They are communal art. They … form a family unit that is horizontal rather than vertical.” 04 At the Newport Folk Festival, Steppenwolf performs “Born to be Wild.” It’s the dawn of Heavy Metal. 05 In Los Angeles, Black Panthers Tommy Lewis, Steve Bartholomew and Arthur Morris are shot dead by police. 07 James Brown records “Say it Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud,” which will become the anthem of Black Power. 08 At the Republican Convention in Florida, Richard Millhouse Nixon wins the presidential primary. 08 Race riots in Miami, ten miles from the Republican Convention. Three die by police bullets. 09 In Van Nuys, California, Beach Boys associate Gregg Jakobson records several songs with musical prospect Charles Manson. 09 End of a 267-day strike by Detroit newspapers. 12 In New York, Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company band record the studio/live album, Cheap Thrills. 12 The Beach Boys perform live in London. 13 Alekandrow Panagoulis, Greek politician and poet, mounts an attempted assassination of right wing military leader Col. George Papadopoulos. 15 Radio Free London commences transmission of pirate FM radio. 18 The Peace and Freedom party selects Eldridge Cleaver as its presidential candidate. 19 Publication of Tom Wolf’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which chronicles the adventures of Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. 19 LP release of Best of The Beach Boys Vol. 3, and The Beach Boys compilation, Stack-O-Tracks. 20 Soviet tanks, backed by 200,000 Soviet troops, invade Prague. 23 In Chicago, the yippies nominate Pigasus the pig for President. The pig and six others are arrested. 24 With the detonation of a hydrogen bomb in the South Pacific, France becomes the fifth thermonuclear power. 25 Five days of demonstrations and riots at the Democratic Convention: 10,000 demonstrators vs. 11,000 Chicago Police, 6000 National Guardsmen, 7500 army troops, and 1000 FBI and military intelligence agents. Two hundred students are arrested and dozens are injured; the clash is dubbed “Czechago,” alluding to Russia’s lockdown of Prague. 26 The single “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” is the first release of Apple Records, founded by the Beatles. 27 Tom Haden, arrested during demonstrations at the Democratic Convention, is beaten and held in the Cook County Jail.
“The God of Fuck” | 1968, September
Bobby hit the road and left Leslie at Spahn Ranch with “The Wizard.” Leslie saw something in Charlie Manson, and she saw that Bobby saw something in him. The sex was uninhibited, but she was still surprised when she saw Bobby giving Charlie a blow job. Charlie called himself “The God of Fuck,” and was supposed to be such a great lover that women had to beware of heart attack. Leslie wasn’t too impressed with his prowess, and they only had sex a few times—Charlie wanted to leave her for Bobby. Charlie was a musician, ambitious, and Bobby was connected and gifted and might be useful.
Charlie was older: 34, but he was a youthful person, only 5″3″ and with a young mindset—partly because he’d spent most of his life in state custody and jail. Two years before, he’d gotten parole. He’d actually asked to stay in prison, the only home he knew, but when he ended up in the Haight—the Summer of Love—he fell right in, playing his folksy, prison guitar, and living off petty crime. His rap was a mish-mash of prisonyard, Scientology, Gnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, astrology, California cult, Satanism—whatever was going around. He played his music in the Tenderloin District, and gathered devotees.
Some of the people at Spahn were familiar to Bobby; Susan “Sadie Mae Glutz” Atkins had lived in San Francisco, and like Bobby, had been involved in Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. Charles “Tex” Watson, new to Spahn, was a former High School BMOC, star athlete and over-achiever; he’d left Texas, dropped out of college, and given up his mod lifestyle as a wig salesman and dope dealer. Tex was trying to prove himself by building a house on Spahn.
Charlie knew how to keep everyone fed and jobless. And he was almost a rockstar. Traveling California, he and the women, “the Witches of Mendocino,” had hooked up with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. By August, they were all living at Wilson’s house, driving his cars, and hanging out with his friends, some of them famous, and some of them powerful. Charlie knew all the big name people and Angela Lansbury’s kids were around; the daughter, 14, carried a note from her mom saying it was ok. Dennis and Charlie churned out recordings in Dennis’s home studio. Neil Young was impressed by Charlie, and talking to industry people about record deals.
Leslie: “You couldn’t meet a nicer group of people.”
09.01 The Manson group purchases a school bus and paints it black. They drive the bus while the paint is wet, and the bus, festooned with flotsam, has a felty appearance. 04 In the Congo, an army coup deposes President Maseba-Debat. 06 Mattel’s Hot Wheels hit toy stores. 06 In Atlantic City, New Jersey, women liberation groups protest the Miss America Pageant. The press release reads: “This year, reality will liberate the contest auction-block in the guise of “genyooine” de-plasticized, breathing women. … It should be a groovy day on the Boardwalk in the sun with our sisters. In case of arrests, however, we plan to reject all male authority and demand to be busted by policewomen only. (In Atlantic City, women cops are not permitted to make arrests—dig that!)” 06 Swaziland gains independence from the United Kingdom. 08 Huey Newton, leader of the Black Panther Party, is convicted of the voluntary manslaughter of an Oakland policeman. 09 Arthur Ashe is the first black person to win the U.S. Open. 11 Responding to a statement made by the Black Unity party, which began, “The Brothers are calling on the Sisters not to take the pill,” the “Black Sisters” write “black sisters decide for themselves whether to have a baby or not to have a baby.” 11 The Beach Boys record a version of Manson’s song “Never Learn Not to Love.” 11 U.C. Berkley offers non-credit lectures by Eldridge Cleaver. The State, led by Governor Ronald Reagan, refuses to pay Cleaver, and threatens to withhold the University’s annual budget. 16 Richard Nixon belts out “Sock it to Me!” tagline of the television show “Laugh-In.” 18 Amidst protests, the Mexican Army occupies Mexico City University. 24 Premiere of the television cop show “Mod Squad.” 28 “Hey Jude” goes #1 on the U.S. charts. 30 The 900th U.S. military aircraft is shot down over North Vietnam.
Spahn Ranch | 1968, October
Dennis Wilson had his people add it up; he’d spent over $100,000 on freeloaders. He moved out of his playboy crash pad and three weeks later, when the lease expired, Manson and the crew moved back to Spahn Ranch—but Manson still had some juice with Wilson. One of Wilson’s partners, Gregg Jakobson, and one of Wilson’s friends, Terry Melcher, who was a major LA producer (The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Mamas & The Papas) and the son of Doris Day, were interested in Manson. Manson had his people singing and called the troupe “The Family Jam.”
Charlie would say everything was about sex, in and out. While everyone was tripping and making love, he’d stay straight to talk his game and help “his children” get over their hangups. For ex.: men had to have sex with men, and women had to have sex with him while they fantasized about their father.
Lyrics from Charlie’s song, “Always is Always Forever”: “Always is always forever / As long as one is one / Inside yourself for your father / All is none all is none all is one.”
Charlie didn’t like Hippies, he called his people “Slippies,” and kept the men in shortish hair. But Spahn was a typical Aquarian commune: big porch, showers outside. The women took care of the many children (the women weren’t supposed to talk to the children, just babble, because mothering was one of Western Culture’s biggest problems), and prepared meals with ingredients harvested from the trash of the A&P.
“All are one,” but there was a hierarchy; Leslie, as newbie, was at the bottom. Charlie could get freaked out by strong women—he hit women occasionally, because it was “what they wanted,” and one time he almost beat Gypsy to death. Leslie (now “Lulu”) regressed—lived in a dream. Every day was dress up: as cowgirl, she gave tours of Spahn; as motorcycle woman, she fixed the bikes; as a “back to the lander” she pumped water at the water pump. The women shared clothing that they hand washed and kept in a heap; their bond was sisterly.
Tex: “Then there was Leslie Van Houten, in some ways the prettiest of the women. Leslie was like a little girl—emotional, easily hurt, spontaneous, willing to do whatever she felt like doing, without thinking. The other girls ordered her around a lot and she accepted it, falling in her ‘mountain folk’ role, complete with lazy, exaggerated accent and pretended helplessness. Underneath all the crazy playacting and little-girl manner, I felt she was always genuinely afraid of Charlie. There was no question that she would do anything he told her to.”
10.01 No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation publishes the photo essay “What Sort of Man Reads Playboy.” 01 The horror film Night of the Living Dead premieres in Pittsburgh. 02 In Mexico City, the Mexican Army opens fire on 6,000 protestors at National Polytechnic Institute. Fifteen hundred are jailed, 500 are injured, and 300 are killed. 03 Howard Sackler’s The Great White Hope, starring James Earl Jones, opens on Broadway. The bio-play is based on the life of Heavyweight World Champion, Jack Johnson. 03 Yippie, Jerry Rubin, arrives at House of Un-American Activities inquiry with a toy machine gun; his cape is the colors of the Viet Cong flag. 03 Driving into Death Valley, Charles Manson tells one of his people that the assassination of Martin Luther King was a “heavy number.” 05 Two days of civil rights riots in Derry, Ireland. 07 Susan “Sadie” Atkins gives birth to Zezozose Zadfrack Glutz. 09 The Catonsville Nine, a group of Catholic activists who broke into the Maryland draft board and destroyed 378 draft files with homemade napalm, are convicted and sentenced to a total of 18 years in jail; attacks on draft boards become commonplace. 09 In the Congo, Pierre Mulele, rebel leader, is subjected to public torture and execution. 10 Theatrical premiere of Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda. 12 In Mexico City, the torch is lit for the XIX Olympiad. The games are boycotted by 32 African nations. 13 In Frankfurt, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Endsslin, Horst Sohnelein, and Thorwald Proll are convicted of arson, and sentenced to three years in prison. 13 The corpses of Nancy Warren, the pregnant wife of a police officer, and Clida Dulaney, Warren’s grandmother, are discovered near Ukiah, California. They have been beaten and strangled in ritualistic manner. Leather laces, similar to the ones used by Charles Manson in the Labianca murders at Waverly Drive, are employed in the crime. The Family is in the area. The murders go unsolved, but the Warren family files a civil suit naming two John Does and two Jane Does. 15 The Kirkus Review gives a marginally positive nod to the novel Mash by Richard Hooker and W.C. Heinz. 16 Theatrical release of The Boston Strangler, starring Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda. 18 At the Olympics, U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos give a black power salute during their medal ceremony, holding the pose through the playing of the U.S. national anthem. The U.S. Olympic committee suspends the two athletes. 18 John Lennon and Yoko Ono are arrested for possession of drugs. 20 Jacqueline Kennedy marries Aristotle Onassis, a Greek shipping magnate. 23 At U.C. Berkeley, 400 demonstrators protest the denial of academic credits for the Eldridge Cleaver course. 23 Theatrical release of Pretty Poison, directed by Noel Black. Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld star as an ex-convict and high school cheerleader who commit a series of crimes. 25 LP release of Electric Ladyland by Jimi Hendrix. The album includes “Voodoo Chile,” and “House Burning Down.” 25 LP release of This Was, by Jethro Tull. 27 In editorial, William Grier and Price Cobbs, co-authors of Black Rage, respond to a negative New York Times review, noting, “after 62 highly favorable reviews, the 63rd and first critical comment came from a black brother.” 27 Police clash with 6000 anti-war protestors outside the U.S. embassy in London. 30 Ramon Novarro, Latin Hollywood star of Ben Hur, is killed by two male hustlers. 31 Ouster of Liu Shaoqi, president of China. 31 In their school bus, the Manson “Family” sets out for Death Valley. Family members report that Charlie miraculously elevates the bus over inhospitable terrain. They secure residence at the abandoned Myers Ranch, which is owned by “Ma Barker,” the grandmother of a Family member.
11.01 The Moderator publishes “The Women’s Liberation Front,” an essay by Jo Freeman, who begins, “Before reading this article, turn to the first page of this magazine and read the masthead. There you’ll find that subscriptions to The Moderator are ‘Free to all qualified male students; $3 per year to all others.’ Overt discrimination against women? Probably, but more realistically, The Moderator is just a little less hypocritical than its contemporaries. Even if they decided to remove the word ‘male’ very few women would receive this magazine free. Because women aren’t qualified.” 05 By a margin of less than a million (out of 60 million voters), Richard M. Nixon is elected President of the United States. 06 At San Francisco State University, the Black Students Union and The Third World Liberation demand academic representation of minorities on campus. The coalition commences a 167-day strike. 06 Theatrical premiere of Head, the Monkees movie. 13 U.S. theatrical release of Yellow Submarine, an animated feature starring the Beatles. 14 Draft card burnings on “National Turn in Your Draft Card Day.” 15 In the Berkeley Barb, Gary Snyder publishes “Buddhism and the Coming Revolution,” which argues that a philosophy of “oneness” is incomplete to the task of social change. 15 Near Death Valley, Carl Stubbs, a spiritualist retiree, is found beaten in his home. He dies shortly after. He had been in the company of two unidentified, young “hippy” women. Patricia Krenwinkle is questioned a year later. 24 Eldridge Cleaver and his wife flee the United States. 24 Pena Soltren and two accomplices hijack a B-707 to Cuba. 25 U.S. LP release of The White Album, by the Beatles. 27 In Chicago, a program for “Radical Feminist Consciousness-Raising” is presented at the First National Women’s Liberation Conference. 28 John Lennon and Yoko Ono plead guilty to possession. Yoko had miscarried a week before.
12.01 First publication of Lilith, a women’s liberation magazine out of Seatle, Washington. 01 Charles “Tex” Watson and Charles Manson leave the Barker Ranch. In L.A.—a few doors away from the Spiral Staircase, where Manson had spent time in 1968 and 1967 when Bobby Beausoleil lived there—the two first hear the Beatles’ White Album. 02 Charles “Tex” Watson flunks the Army physical. He remains in L.A., and attempts to resurrect his wig trade. 02 Nixon names Henry Kissinger National Security Advisor. 02 Student uprising in New York City high schools. 03 Elvis, The Comeback Special airs on NBC. 04 The U.S. stock market tips into an 18-month plummet. 05 Eduardo Castera hijacks a B-727 to Cuba. 07 LP release of Beggars Bouquet by the Rolling Stones. The album includes the track “Sympathy for the Devil.” 11 Founding of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. 11 A young black couple hijacks a DC-8 to Cuba, treating passengers to tours and meals upon arrival. 13 Protests close San Mateo College for four days. 18 Black Panther leader, Geronimo Pratt, is wrongfully convicted of the murder of Carolyn Olsen. 18 Formation of Akwesasne Notes by the Mohawk Nation. The newspaper is an outgrowth of Mohawk resistance to the U.S. government. 20 In Vallejo, California, David Farraday and Betty Lou Jensen are shot in a parked car. The murders are the first attributed to the Zodiac killer, who boasts to police that he’s killed 37. 26 Palestinian terrorist attack on Israeli airlines. One dies. Though convicted, Mahmoud Mohammed escapes to Canada. 26 Formation of the New People’s Army, which commences a Guerrilla war in the Philippines. 26 Timothy Leary is arrested on drug charges. 28 The Beatles’ White Album, goes #1 in the United States. 30 Marina Habe, who is friendly with members of the Family, is abducted from her West Hollywood home. Her corpse, death by stabbing, is discovered New Year’s day. The crime goes unsolved; the investigation focuses on the Family. 31 Charles Manson returns to Death Valley. It’s a cold night, and he gathers his group around a campfire to expound upon the significance of the White Album, and foretell the coming of “Helter Skelter.”
“Tex” and Armageddon | 1969, January
By November, Charlie had lost momentum on his album deal, and there were 550,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam. Racial tensions were high—there were protests and violent clashes every day. Charlie drew on what he knew from prison to divine the future; “the Black Man,” in the form of Islam, would wipe out “the White Man,” who was superior but had it in his karma to be decimated.
Charlie relocated his people—took them to a ranch in Death Valley, which he secured in trade for a Beach Boys Gold Record that he’d swiped or taken as a gift (or something in between). He told Ma Barker, the owner of the ranch, that he and his group were musicians.
There was belladonna growing in the dessert, and the Family cooked it up. Tex took a massive dose and got arrested and beaten up in jail; he was never quite the same. He tried to go back to L.A. and his old girlfriend and life in the wig biz.
Leslie took on more responsibilities—managing the ranch, and sitting with Charlie to read him the bible. Charlie had a mystical relationship with nature—he walked through a den of snakes, and had a pet crow named “Devil.” To Leslie, the desert was “complete peace. The only thing you could hear would be the hum of the air.”
Sadie: “There was Leslie. At eighteen or nineteen, she had considerable mental and emotional strength. She was smart, more than able at that early stage to hold her own with anyone, except perhaps Charlie.”
The day’s work: killing the ego by walking around saying, for ex., “die, Leslie, die”; hiding gas and food for the coming Armageddon; making roads in the desert (Charlie had totaled the bus and would need an armada of dune buggies); knife training (how to kill); playing music and harmonizing; becoming Charlie (standing in front of him while mirroring his expressions and gestures).
Manson’s people went down to L.A. once in a while, and when the Yellow Submarine came out, mid-December, a few of them saw it. Charlie was already listening to the Beatles’ White Album, which he believed was directed at him and the Family. The Beatles were singing about “Sexy Sadie,” and the coming race war, which they called “Helter Skelter,” after a U.K. carnival slide. In a hidden message, the Beatles said, “Charlie, send us a telegram.” In January, to help everyone attain a “submerged consciousness,” Charlie moved the Family to its own “Yellow Submarine,” a house in Canoga Park, about half an hour from downtown L.A., and not nearly as cold as Death Valley in winter.
01.01.69 Just north of Berkeley, Odds ‘n Ends, the first waterbed store, opens for business. Charles Hall introduced the invention, dubbed “The Pleasure Pit,” at “Happy Happenings,” a 1968 summer art exhibition at the San Francisco Cannery gallery. 02 The Beatles, breaking up, record Abbey Road. 02 Newark police confiscate 29,850 album covers. The portrait gracing “Two Virgins” features the full frontal nudity of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. 02 People’s Democracy, an organization founded three months before in support of civil rights for Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority, begins a four-day march from Belfast to Derry. 06 At San Francisco State, 350 teachers go on strike; they want education reform and an end to police occupation of the campus. 07 Governor Ronald Reagan demands the California legislature “drive criminal anarchists and latter-day fascists off the campuses.” 10 Charles Manson, in L.A., sends for the Family. He’s found a house in Canoga Park. 12 LP release of Led Zeppelin, the first Led Zeppelin album. 12 In Madrid, 300 students are arrested, the University is closed, and martial law is declared. 16 In protest to the soviet invasion, Jan Palach, a 21-year-old university student, sets himself on fire in Prague. He dies five days later. 17 Black Panther leaders John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter are shot to death in a UCLA lunchroom. The shooters are members of a rival Black Nationalist group. 18 The Yippies hold a Counter Inauguration. They swear in Pigasus the pig, then assassinate him. Poetry and music follows. 18 As part of the counter-inaugural protest activities in Washington, Shulamith Firestone (editor of 1968’s Notes From the First Year, a theory and practice journal of the Women’s Liberation Movement) and others distribute flyers that declare, “The women’s revolution will be the ultimate revolution. And we have sounded the opening gun.” 20 Richard M. Nixon is sworn in as the 37th U.S. president. 20 The salary of the U.S. president doubles to $100,000. 22 Minority students at the University of California at Berkeley form the Third World Liberation Front, and initiate a three-month strike. Governor Reagan sends police. Concurrently, students at San Francisco State University are striking. That strike lasts five months. 23 Theatrical release of Ramrodder, featuring Bobby “Cupid” Beausoleil and Catherine “Gypsy” Share. 23 Gregorio Ordonez, deputy mayor of San Sebastian, Spain, is assassinated by a member of the E.T.A., a Basque separatist organization that will murder over 800 people, and kidnap dozens, in coming years. 26 After two days of floods and mud slides, FEMA declares southern California federal disaster area. Ninety-one die. 26 Elvis Presley returns to the studio, recording Long Black Limousine, which includes “Suspicious Minds” and “In the Ghetto.” 27 In Baghdad, fourteen men, nine of them Jewish, are executed as Israeli spies; 500,000 citizens celebrate under the hanging bodies. 27 Convicts Byron Vaughn Booth and Clinton Robert Smith escape from the California Institution for Men at Chino. The next day they hijack a DC-8 to Cuba. 28 Blowout on the Union Oil platform off Santa Barbara, California; 2,000,000 gallons of crude oil contaminate 35 miles of coastland and 800 square miles of ocean. 30 On the roof of Apple Records, London, the Beatles give their final performance. 30 At Howard University, medical students boycott classes, demanding the ouster of the department chair. 30 LP release of The Holy Land by Johnny Cash.
02.01 No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation publishes “An Argument For Black Women’s Liberation As a Revolutionary Force,” an essay by Mary Ann Weathers, who writes, “Women’s Liberation should be considered as a strategy for an eventual tie-up with the entire revolutionary movement consisting of women, men, and children. We are now speaking of real revolution (armed). If you can not accept this fact purely and without problems examine your reactions closely. We are playing to win and so are they.” 02 In Marin County, California, a predawn fire destroys a 24-room mansion occupied by members of “the Chosen Family” commune. 02 At New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, ten paintings, including a Rembrandt, are vandalized. The act is in protest of the museum’s “Harlem on My Mind” exhibit. 04 In Cairo, Yasser Arafat is elected chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). 05 On the U.C. Berkley Campus, a war has broken out between police and students. 08 The last issue of The Saturday Evening Post hits newsstands. 08 In Mexico, a meteor shower brings day to the night sky; one meteor weighs over a ton. 10 LP release of 20/20 by The Beach Boys. 11 During a protest at St. George Williams College, Montreal, 200 students axe and burn the computer center. 12 Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski sign the lease for 10050 Cielo Drive. They move in three days later. 12 Students at the Howard University School of Law boycott classes and occupy buildings. 13 In Montreal, the Fronde Liberation du Quebec bomb the Stock Exchange. 13 At Duke University, black students take over buildings and demand an African American Studies program. 13 At the University of Massachusetts, 33 protestors are arrested during the occupation of an administrative building. 14 Pope Paul VI deletes St. Valentine and many other names from the Roman calendar of saints. 14 Release of the portable (plastic) Olivetti typewriter. 15 LP release of Instant Replay by the Monkees. 17 Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash record songs in Nashville. 18 The PLO attacks an Israeli El-Al plane in Zurich, Switzerland. 22 At Rice University, 1,000 students and 200 faculty members protest the appointment of the new university president. Unrest persists for five days. 24 Students occupy the administration building at Pennsylvania State University. 25 In Vietnam, Navy Lt. Bob Kerrey takes part in a SEAL action that takes the lives of twenty women, children and old men. Kerry will receive a Bronze star for his actions. 27 At U.C. Berkeley, police club and arrest Latino protestors and protest leaders. Governor Reagan sends the National Guard. 27 President Nixon is greeted in Rome by thousands of protestors. Kommune I members, Dieter Kunzelmann and Rainer Langhans, attempt to bomb Nixon’s motorcade. 28 The presiding judge denies Sirhan Sirhan’s request to be executed.
03.01 Three days after performing at the Diner Key Auditorium in Miami, Jim Morrison is arrested for felony lewd and lascivious behavior, and misdemeanor public profanity, exposure, and drunkenness. 02 Soviet and Chinese forces clash at the border of Ussuri River. 10 In Memphis, Tennessee, James Earl Ray pleads guilty to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He will recant. 10 Publication of the novel, The Godfather, by Mario Puzo. 10 Theatrical release of Oh! What a Lovely War, directed by Richard Attenborough, starring Laurence Olivier. 10 Theatrical release of The Assassination Bureau, starring Oliver Reed and Telly Savalas. 12 Paul McCartney marries Linda Eastman. 13 Police raid the home of George Harrison, who is arrested with his wife for possession of 120 joints. 15 The skirmish at the Ussuri River Border escalates. Moscow dubs China a world threat; war-fever grips both nations. 18 Commencement of Operation Breakfast, the secret, illegal, bombing of Cambodia; 3,650 B-52s quadruple the tonnage dropped on Japan during World War II. 20 The Chicago Eight are indicted for rioting and bomb making. Black Panther, Bobby Seale, calls the judge a fascist dog, a honky, a pig and a racist. He’s tried separately and sentenced to four years for contempt of court. The remaining defendants, Rennie Davis, David Dellinger, John Froines, Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Lee Weiner, mock the court, wearing judicial robes (over police uniforms), blowing kisses and cracking jokes. 21 In El Monte, California, a .22 caliber Longhorn revolver, serial number 1902708, is stolen from the Archery Headquarters. The gun, a former movie prop from Ronald Reagan westerns, will change hands several times, and eventually end up with the Family. It’s the gun used to shoot Lotsa Poppa Crow, and in the murders at Cielo Drive. 21 Alex Rackley, suspected as an FBI informant, is taken to Black Panther headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut, where he’s tortured, and shot. 23 On his rounds in Los Angeles, Charles Manson stops in at 10050 Cielo Drive. He may be looking for Terry Melcher, who’s been traveling, or he may be looking for someone else, or seeing who’s there, or casing the house. Manson spots Sharon in the yard—he’s halted by Sharon’s photographer. Manson is directed to the guesthouse to look for / wait for his party. There, Manson meets Rudi Altobelli, the owner of the home, and an entertainment professional Manson knows through Dennis Wilson. Manson attempts to talk up Altobelli, who tells Manson to leave through the back alley, so as not to disturb the residents. 24 In Manhattan, Lennox Raphael’s play, Che!, which depicts Che Gueverra as a victim of sexual envy, is shut down for obscenity. 26 John Lennon and Yoko Ono are married and proceed to Amsterdam for a honeymoon “Bed-In” for peace.
“Creepy Crawlies” | 1969, April
Maybe it was Gyspy who first went around overpraising Charlie. Or maybe it was someone else, or all of them. Charlie’s life was dedicated to getting praised, and he’d push as far as he could. The problem: he had to keep up with his own image. If someone was a drug dealer, like Tex, Charlie had to me more of a drug dealer. If someone was a Satanist, like Sadie, he had to be more of a Satanist. If someone was a murderer, and some of them were, Charlie had to be more of a murderer.
Charlie would chant, “I am Charlie, and Charlie is me. You are Charlie, you are me. We are all one.” Charlie didn’t like speed, but a few of the Family members added that to the formula. Charlie pitched in racism and a more violent outlook, and the Family became the commune for psychopaths. Tex was back, as was Bruce Davis, who’d been off in London working with the Scientologists. Charlie thought he’d need an army of bikers for the Armageddon; he used the women to bring them in. When Charlie paid a traffic ticket for the president of the Straight Satans, he was awarded a “ceremonial sword.” Everyone had a sheath knife strapped on. An old prison buddy of Charlie’s was teaching the art of the break in, and the Family was going out on “Creepy Crawlies”: they’d rearrange people’s furniture while they were sleeping, just to mess with their reality. When Charlie found out the band Iron Butterfly was out of town, a Family posse ripped them off. Leslie robbed her father’s house.
Charlie had never been into guns: guns were for momma’s boys who needed cocks; if you lived by the gun, you’d die by the gun. But one of the Straight Satans, Danny DeCarlo, started hanging out with the Family (he just got divorced), and he was a gun dealer. The Family returned to Spahn; they’d need an escape route to the desert when Helter Skelter went down. The blacks, Charlie said, would rise up and kill the whites and write “pigs” on the walls in blood. Helter Skelter had only been delayed, Charlie said, because the black man had been appeased by the white woman. DeCarlo set up a munitions shop at Spahn. He took over a shack known as “the undertaker’s parlor.” Charlie liked to go into the desert and shoot off rounds with automatic weapons. The blacks weren’t competent enough to rule the world and after a little while they’d come find Charlie and the Family to take over.
Leslie: “All we did was listen to the Beatles’ White Album and read ‘Revelations’.”
04.01 In New York, 21 Black Panthers are arrested for conspiracy to commit murder. The target is law enforcement. 01 Theatrical release of Machine Gun McCain, starring John Cassavetes and Peter Falk. 04 The Smothers Brothers, too controversial for CBS television, is cancelled mid-season. 04 For the first time, a fully mechanical heart is implanted in a human. 04 The anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King sets off two days of demonstrations worldwide. Hundreds of thousands take part. 05 Family member Steven “Clem” Grogan is arrested for grand larceny and suspicious activity. 07 New York Magazine publishes “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation,” an essay by Gloria Steinem, which begins, “Once upon a time—say, ten or even five years ago—a Liberated Woman was somebody who had sex before marriage and a job afterward. Once upon the same time, a Liberated Zone was any foreign place lucky enough to have an American army in it.” 09 Three hundred students, led by Students for a Democratic Society, seize a Harvard University administrative building: 45 are injured, 200 arrested. 09 Dale Butler, owner and founder of Butler’s Buggy Shop, learns that a recently purchased V.W. is a stolen vehicle, and that it was stolen from his own lot. He informs police, who trace the VW back to Manson. 09 LP release of Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan. 11 Release of the single “Get Back” by the Beatles. 11 Students at Harvard University commence a three-day strike. 12 Based on several letters from witnesses and military participants, Colonel Howard Whitaker flies to Vietnam to investigate what will come to be known as the My Lai Massacre. In March of 1968, “Charlie Company” of the U.S. Infantry killed 400+ unarmed civilians—men, women, children, the elderly. Many of the murders were preceded by rapes and gang rapes. 15 North Korea shoots down a U.S. naval aircraft, killing 31. 19 At Cornell University, armed black students occupy a building and demand “a program relevant to black students.” 20 In Northern Ireland, British troops reinforce the Royal Ulster Constabulary. 20 Responding to a vote by U.C. students to create a park out of a vacant lot, the Berkeley community occupies the site and begins work. An initial force of 100 quickly grows to thousands. 22 Minority students at City College of New York occupy the main building, demanding increased enrollment. The school closes. 23 LP release of With a Little Help from My Friends by Joe Cocker. 23 Charles “Tex” Watson is arrested in Van Nuys, California. He’s tripping on belladonna. 23 In Los Angeles, the Ash Grove blues and folk club burns down. 23 Conservative faculty members at Cornell charge the administration with selling out to terrorists. They demand the campus be disarmed. 24 U.S. B-52s drop 3000-ton bombs on Vietnam and Cambodia. Anti-war demonstrations are held in 40+ U.S. cities. 24 Paul McCartney says he is not dead. 25 Bruce Davis returns to the United States. He’s quit his position at Scientology in London. Manson, in prison documents, had identified himself as a Scientologist. Davis, during his six-month tenure in London, may have worked in a diplomatic capacity with the Scientology splinter group, The Process. One of the interests of the Process (in keeping with rumors of CIA operations, as in the case of Lee Harvey Oswald), was human doubles. Bruce resembled Manson, and had a similar history of childhood violence and sexual abuse. In years to come, theories involving body doubles and The Process will circulate about Manson and the “Zodiac Killer”; at one time, Bruce Davis was a suspect in the Zodiac killings. Other doubles in the Family: Charles/Charles (Watson/Manson); Lynn “Squeaky” Fromme/Sandra Good; Ruth Ann “Ouisch” Moorehouse/Leslie Van Houten; Susan “Sadie Mae Glutz” Atkins/Sharon Tate (About the time Tate made her first film appearance, as a witch in Eye of the Devil, Atkins, was dancing in Anton LaVey production, “the Witches’ Sabbath.” Tate played a vampire in her next film, The Fearless Vampire, directed by and co-starring Roman Polanski. The Family overlapped with advisors and crew of those productions, as well as the production of Rosemary’s Baby.) 27 The National Insider publishes “Letters From The Devil” by Anton Lavey. His work, the Satanic Bible, is released by University Books, and reprinted by Avon Books later in the year. 28 Charles de Gaulle, President of France, resigns. 30 LP release of My Way by Frank Sinatra. 30 LP release of Songs from a Room by Leonard Cohen.
05.01 An Apollo 8 photograph of a lunar “earth rise” is rendered as a U.S. postage stamp. 02 LP Release of Electronic Sound by George Harrison, and Stand! by Sly & the Family Stone, which includes the single “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey.” 07 Theatrical release of Sinful Davey, directed by John Huston, starring John Hurt. 10 In South Vietnam, The U.S. launches an offensive against Hill 937 (Hamburger Hill). U.S. bombing leaves 70 U.S. soldiers dead, and 372 wounded. When U.S. forces secure the hill, they find the North Vietnamese have long since retreated. 10 In Zap, North Dakota, “Zip to Zap,” the music festival, ends in dispersal by the National Guard. 13 Race riots in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia lead to a state of emergency. 15 Governor Reagan orders fences and gassing of the People’s Park in Berkeley. “If it’s a blood bath,” he says, “then let it be now.” Hundreds are shot with buckshot. Alan Blanchard is blinded, and James Rector dies the next day. The campus goes war zone. 18 Terry Melcher visits Spahn Ranch to hear Manson sing with the Family. Melcher plans to come back with a recording unit. 20 Clem Grogan is arrested for auto theft. He’s released. Two weeks later he’s arrested for exposing his penis to school children, and sent to the Camarillo State Mental Hospital for a 90-day observation period. In two days time, he escapes the hospital and returns to Spahn. 20 At People’s Park, mourners gather to grieve the death of James Rector. National Guard helicopters spray C.S. gas, while troops wearing gas masks attack the crowd with clubs and bayonets. Campus goes vacant. Downtown Berkeley, a maze of barbed wire, is under martial law. 21 Shirley Chisholm, U.S. House Representative from New York, addresses the House of Representatives, beginning, “Mr. Speaker, when a young woman graduates from college and starts looking for a job, she is likely to have a frustrating and even demeaning experience ahead of her. If she walks into an office for an interview, the first question she will be asked is, ‘Do you type?'” 21 In Rosario, Argentina, Luis Blanco is shot by police during a peaceful demonstration. Riots ensue. 22 In New York, at Colombia University, students take over two buildings, demanding a black studies program, and that ROTC be moved off campus. Police break through student barricades and arrest 1,000. Two hundred are injured. 25 Theatrical release of Midnight Cowboy, an X-rated drama directed by John Schlesinger. 26 In Montreal, John Lennon and Yoko Ono stage their second Bed-In. 27 In Ashland, Kentucky, 64-year-old Darwin Scott, Manson’s uncle, is hacked to death and pegged to the floor with a long kitchen knife. About fifteen miles away, an unknown Californian, hallucinogenic-using guru sojourns in the company of several female companions. Manson is out of touch with his parole officer. 29 In Cordoba, Argentina, a general strike breaks out. 29 LP release of Clouds by Joni Mitchell, and Pretties for You by Alice Cooper. 30 Civil rights riots in Curacao. 30 Thirty-thousand mourners gather in People’s Park. They thread flowers into the fences and the barbed wire. Some mourners slip flowers into the rifle muzzles of the National Guard. 31 John Lennon and Yoko Ono record “Give Peace a Chance.”
Dune Buggies | 1969, June
Terry Melcher was supposed to come to Spahn, but he didn’t show up. Gregg Jakobson had been in Death Valley, but nothing came of it. There’d been talk about a film and Meltzer’s friend, Charlene Cafritz, who’d just gotten a few million dollars in a divorce settlement, shot a bunch of footage of the Family. But that was stalled out, too.
Charlie’s people were starting to split; Helter Skelter hadn’t happened and they wanted to go home. By now—many crimes and maybe a few murders later—Charlie was worried about what they knew. He tried to make sure everyone was guilty of something so they couldn’t leave. He threatened the women, told them he’d cut their breasts off. He had a plan for the belladonna growing in the hills; the Family would process it, and with the strychnine (a byproduct), they’d poison the Los Angeles water supply. “It’s coming down,” he’d say, “Be ready.” The establishment pigs had it coming, he told Danny—they should have their throats cut and get hung by their hocks.
Charlie: “It looks like we’re gonna have to show blackie how to do it.”
Charlie was “Man’s son,” and Jesus—but he was just on a higher plane of consciousness, they were all Jesus. Charlie: “Look down on me, you will see a fool, look up at me, you will see your lord, look straight at me, you will see yourself.”
The dune buggies were expensive. A perfectly good VW was stripped down to a no frills machine that Charlie was likely to hide in the sand. Tex burned a drug dealer who Charlie thought had Black Power contacts. The dealer called Spahn with threats—Tex had left his girlfriend as collateral—so Charlie drove to L.A. and shot the guy and left him for dead.
Charlie: “There is all kinds of different families. We have to find ourselves first, God second and kind, k-i-n-d, come next. … I was working on cleaning up my house, something Nixon should have been doing. He should have been on the side of the road picking up his children. But he wasn’t. He was in the White House sending them off to war.”
Bobby screwed up a drug deal with a Family connection, Gary Hinman; then Bobby screwed up getting Hinman to refund the Hell’s Angels; then Bobby and Charlie screwed up scaring Gary—they cut his face in half; then Bobby screwed up murdering Gary. Hoping to throw off the cops, Bobby dipped his hand in Gary’s blood and wrote “Political Piggy” on the wall. Next to that, he used his fist to stamp a Black Panther paw print.
06.01 Leviathan publishes “What is the Revolutionary Potential of Women’s Liberation,” an essay by Kathy McAfee and Myrna Wood, who begin, “A great deal of confusion exists today about the role of women’s liberation in a revolutionary movement. Hundreds of women’s groups have sprung up within the past year or two, but among them, a number of very different and often conflicting ideologies have developed. … Some groups mobilize middle class women to fight for equal privileges as business women and academics; others maintain that the overthrow of capitalism is irrelevant for women.” 01 Life Magazine publishes the names and photos of 242 U.S. soldiers killed in one week in Vietnam. 01 Thomas Sowell, a black professor at Cornell University, charges the University with “paternalism.” He and other University professors resign in disgust. 03 Terry Melcher, Gregg Jakobson and Mike Deasy, a guitarist who has a studio set up in his van, visit Spahn. A wig-wearing “starlet” named Shara or Sharon is with Melcher. One Manson Family-member will later identify the starlet as Sharon Tate, but Tate is six-months pregnant, and in London. After a recording session at Spahn around this time, Melcher, the son of Doris Day, returns to his Malibu beach house and live-in girlfriend, Candace Bergen, to describe life at the ranch as “soft, simple girls; sitting naked around this Christ-like guy, all singing sweetly together.” 04 Edward “Sunshine” Pierce flees Spahn, leaving his car and belongings. Manson had asked him to kill someone, probably Melcher. 04 LP release of At San Quentin by Johnny Cash. 04 Manson is arrested for a statutory rape that occurred at Spahn. He’s released on $125 bail and the charges flatline. 05 Two-day race riot in Connecticut. Police impose curfew. 06 Life Magazine publishes photographs taken from Apollo 10 of the Earth and moon in space. 08 President Nixon initiates “Vietnamization.” South Vietnam will be on its own. 08 Formation of the Weathermen, a radical splinter group of Students for a Democratic Society. 08 At the Brown University commencement address, two-thirds of the graduating class turn their backs on Henry Kissinger. Protests interrupt commencement and graduation ceremonies nationwide. 13 Theatrical release of Blue Movie, directed by Andy Warhol. 15 The New York Times reviews Die Nigger Die! by H. Rap Brown: “The cutting edge of deep pain is there, but so is the raucous, sometimes slightly hysterical, laughter of life.” 18 At the National Convention of Students for a Democratic Society, the Weatherman, a radical faction of the 100,000 member group, seizes control of the national office. 20 LP release of Aoxomoxoa by The Grateful Dead. 22 Ohio’s Cuyahoga River, massively polluted, catches fire. Time Magazine describes a waterflow that “oozes,” and will cause death not by drowning but by “decay.” 22 In London, Judy Garland is discovered dead in her Chelsea home. The barbiturate overdose is ruled accidental. 28 With the Stonewall riots in New York City, the gay rights movement finds a national voice.
Death Valley | 1969, July
Since 1968, there had been thousands of protest attacks—bombings, destruction of property—all over the country. It was time to tell the government that violence would be met with violence, that the movement was going to “bring the war home.” Nixon was the head of his family, and Charlie was the head of his. Charlie re-enacted Christ’s crucifixion while the rest of the Family was tripping; he’d have them baa like sheep; he’d ask them “will you die for me?”
Linda: “Charlie Manson’s ego was such that he wanted more and more and more power. … He was greedy.”
Lyrics from Charlie’s song, “Eyes of the Dreamer”: “All the songs, have been sung / And all the saints, have been hung.”
To justify its crimes, the Family envisioned itself as a mirror of American culture and policies; the United States was responsible for innumerable deaths and wrongs. The group dedicated all they had learned, all their tricks, to saving Bobby; the women contributed a night of prostitution to raise money, and after watching an old movie, came up with the idea of a copycat killing that would prove to police the real killer was still at large.
Everyone loved Bobby. Leslie was still “in love” with him. Even Gary Hinman had loved Bobby; they had been lovers, lived together in Gary’s house. Charlie’s entry to the Hollywood scene had been closeted gay sex, and in San Francisco, he’d been involved with a secret homosexual society. Charlie was committed to Bobby, and to Tex. In the same way that Charlie had kept his distance from Leslie because she was “Bobby’s girl,” now he kept his distance because she was “Tex’s girl.” Leslie hadn’t gone out on the Cielo Drive murders; she had to prove her love for Bobby, for Tex, for Charlie, for the Family.
Sandra Good: “Those murders were committed to get a brother, Bobby Beausoleil, out of jail. And we were young people, and we saw the need for social change in this country and we were willing to go to war to make the change to save our air, our trees, our water, and our animals.”
Leslie: “It was supposed to start a revolution that would clean the souls of everyone.”
Charlie: “When you go to war, against an enemy, you go to war for God and country, and you give your life to that cause.”
Sandra Good: “Hey, in war people die. … You go into a village, whatever, you don’t leave anything. That’s what they did in Vietnam.”
07.01 Bernard “Lotsapoppa” Crowe is an on-the-scene dope dealer and pimp; he lives near Cass Elliot’s house, where the Manson group has spent time; one Family member will remember him as “the Negro member of the Family.” Tex, who’s become a “burn artist,” has cleaned himself up to burn Lotsapoppa. But Lotsapoppa doesn’t trust Tex, and holds Tex’s sometimes-girlfriend as a guarantee. Tex gets ahold of the money and leaves her behind. Lotsappopa makes a call to Spahn, asking for Charles, meaning Tex, but gets Charlie instead. Charlie says Tex had left Spahn, but Lotsapoppa doesn’t believe him, and tells Charlie if he doesn’t get his money he’ll kill Tex’s girlfriend, and be out to Spahn with hoods and Black Power to murder the men and rape and murder the women. Charlie can’t find anyone, not even bikers, to fill in the ranks, so Charlie goes to Lotsapoppa in Hollywood. He takes T.J. the Terrible, a goonish Family member, and walks into the apartment, unties Tex’s girlfriend and has her go make coffee while he negotiates a truce. Negotiations fail, and Charlie shoots Lotsapoppa, who plays dead (Lotsapoppa will survive). Before leaving, Charlie takes a leather vest from one of Lotsapoppa’s men. 03 Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones drowns in his swimming pool at his home in Sussex, England. 04 At Blue Rock Springs in California, Michael Mageau is shot four times and Darlene Ferrin is shot five times with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Mageau survives; Ferrin dies. The crime is the second known attack of the Zodiac Killer. 04 In Los Angeles, Catherine Share visits a friend. There, she meets 19-year-old Linda Kasabian, who, having left her husband on a search for God, is in the midst of a failed reconciliation attempt. Share brings Kasabian back to Spahn. After a two-day introduction to the Family—drugs, orgiastic sex, oneness—she fetches a bag of acid tabs and her daughter and moves in. When she tells Tex about some money that’s back at the house where she’d been staying, he suggests she steal it for Manson. The next day, she does—Leslie Van Houten takes the $5000 dollars to give to Manson. Manson rewards Kasabian with sex. 05 Assassination of Tom Mboya, Kenyan Minister of Development. 14 Theatrical release of Easy Rider, directed by and starring Dennis Hopper, with Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. 15 The Black Panthers publish their ten point program, demanding: freedom, employment, an end to capitalism, housing, education, exemption from military service, an end to police brutality, release of jailed black men, fair trials, and national autonomy. 17 In L.A., Mark Walts, sixteen years old, disappears while hitchhiking. His body, shot and mangled (run over by a car), is found the next day off Topanga Canyon Boulevard, in the proximity of the Canoga Park house where the Family sometimes stays. Walts was a Family associate, visiting frequently. He’d been shot with a .22, the same caliber as the gun that will be used in the Lotsapoppa Crowe shooting and Cielo Drive murders. Walts’s brother, who may have also had interactions with the Family, issues a public statement, accusing the Family of the murder. The police visit Spahn and ask questions, but no charges result. At about the same time, another body is disposed of a few miles northeast of Spahn. The victim wears clothing belonging to Susan Scott, a Family member and one of the original “Witches of Mendocino,” who had been living at Spahn until she disappeared. State of decay precludes positive identification. 18 “Chappaquiddick Incident”: Edward M. Kennedy drives off a bridge; Mary Jo Kopechne, campaign aide, drowns in the car. 18 LP release of The Soft Parade by The Doors. 19 Arlo Guthrie returns to the Newport Folk Festival. In one month, the film version of his popular song, “Alice’s Restauraunt,” will hit theaters. 25 Stokely Carmichael meets Eldridge Cleaver in Algiers. Cleaver says that his differences with other Black Power leaders remain unresolved. 25 Gary Hinman is a 34-year-old musician, Buddhist and hallucinogenic cook who lives near the Family’s digs in Canoga Park. Hinman, an old friend of Bobby Beausoleil’s, and possibly his part-time lover (he may have also been Manson’s lover), sells Beausoleil a few thousand dollars worth of laboratory mescaline, his specialty. Beausoleil sells the drugs to bikers, who later claim the wares were toxic. Nobody believes the bikers, but Beausoleil goes to Hinman for a refund. Hinman, who’s a gentle man, has been studying a rigid form of Buddhism that teaches him to say no; he says no. Eventually, Bobby convinces Hinman to sign over his two cars, but the Manson women have already called Manson to the scene; Manson acts too soon—springing through the door and cutting Hinman’s face open with the “ceremonial sword” awarded to him by the Straight Satan motorcycle gang. Manson is also after a recent inheritance that Hinman has received, but Hinman has spent all but 20 dollars on travel expenses for a trip to Japan (to study his self-assertive Buddhism). Hinman isn’t convinced that the dental floss stitches of the Manson women will suffice to reattach his face, and he repeatedly requests medical attention. Bobby doesn’t know what to do, and consults Manson, who has returned to Spahn, by telephone. Bobby believes that Manson’s answer is to kill Hinman, which Bobby does, stabbing Hinman twice in the chest. Hinman is active politically, and Beausoleil seeks to pin the crime on Black Power by writing on the wall and leaving a Black Panther symbol (all in Hinman’s blood). 28 On a night raid, police locate two stolen vehicles at Spahn. They speak to Charles Manson, who identifies himself by the name Summers. A search of the ranch yields rifles. Police run license checks on numerous vehicles, including Hinman’s Fiat, which Beausoleil is driving. 30 LP release of In a Silent Way by Miles Davis.
“Will You Die for Me?” | 1969, August
The victims of the “copycat” murders had to look random, but Charlie didn’t want to waste the killings, so he picked victims that deserved to die—people he didn’t like, who weren’t too closely linked to the Family. Charlie picked right, the prosecution would be unable to connect the dots; but the state came up with an alternative, arguing that “Helter Skelter” was the motive. In the years since the trials, a web of connections has formed, Spahn Ranch/Cielo Drive, Spahn Ranch/Waverly Drive. Some of it’s speculative, and some of it’s more speculative, and all of it happened a long time ago, but the big picture is one of overlapping social circles with shared interests in sex, drugs, and the occult.
—Bobby Beausoleil had acted in Mondo Hollywood, which documented decadent Hollywood, with Jay Sebring, one of the victims at Cielo Drive. Sebring was active in a sex/party crowd that crossed Satanistic ritual and S&M performance. Charlie had first-hand knowledge of that scene; in later years he’d say he wasn’t fond of it.
—Tex and Sharon Tate had lived just a few doors from each other in L.A. (right near the Whiskey Lounge).
—Charlie had known Abigail Folger in San Francisco, where she rejected him spiritually, and maybe sexually. In L.A., Abigail volunteered at a free clinic where the Family went for medical treatment (mostly sexually transmitted diseases and skin diseases from eating out of the garbage).
—In San Francisco, Sadie had been involved with Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, and a dancer in his “Topless Witch Revue.” LaVey had consulted for Polanski’s film, Rosemary’s Baby; he also played Satan in the film. Sammy Davis Junior, who had been introduced to the Church of Satan by Jay Sebring, would say of the victims at Cielo Drive: “Everyone there had at one time or another been into Satanism, or, like myself, had dabbled around the edges of it for sexual kicks.”
—Dennis Hopper spoke of sadistic and Satanic films by Polanski; Ed Sanders, in his biography, The Family, tracked rumors of Charlie dabbling in sadistic movies, kiddie porn and snuff films. Charlie: “Don’t you think those people deserved what they got? They were into kiddy porn.” (A porn-ring “cover-up” theory has developed along these lines.)
—Tex had spent time at the Cielo Drive house, and maybe lived there when Terry Melcher was renting it. Tex had been tight with Terry; Terry had provided Tex with cars and credit cards. Other Family members also spent time at the house; Gypsy and Sadie had swum in the pool.
—In March, Polanksi had hosted a party at Cielo Drive; some crashers, maybe Family people, were thrown out. Later that month, Charlie had visited Cielo Drive, asking after Melcher, who was out of town; Charlie had seen Sharon Tate there, and he’d been unceremoniously dismissed.
—According to Family biographer Ed Sanders, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger’s boyfriend and a victim at Cielo Drive, was selling MDA. In postmortem examinations, small amounts of MDA were found in the systems of Frykowski and Folger. Jay Sebring was also a drug dealer, according to former Beach Boys musician Bill Scanlon Murphy, and may have been the object of a Tex Watson “burn.” (This is another area where there’s been a great deal of conjecture and not-quite hard evidence in the years since the murders.)
—The groundskeeper at Cielo Drive had spent time with someone he remembered as “Patty Montgomery,” which was a Patricia Krenwinkel alias. Tex also used the alias “Montgomery.” After throwing “Patty” out of the guest house, where he was living, the groundskeeper would hear prowlers at night.
—On July 30, eight days before the murders, a call was placed from Esalen Institute to the house at 10050 Cielo Drive. Manson may have recognized someone from the Cielo Drive house at Esalen, where he felt he had been passed over in some kind of musical audition.
—Charlie cased houses he was going to rob. Because Sharon’s Ferrari was not in the driveway, he may have believed that Sharon was not at the house; Tate and Polanski had been traveling, and if Charlie had knowledge of their itinerary, and/or the sublet arrangement between them and Folger and Frykowski, who were staying at Cielo Drive in Tate and Polanski’s absence, he would have thought she was still out of town. Given Charlie’s aversion to killing children (Sharon was eight months pregnant), that helps to explain why he picked the address; he thought only Frykowski and Folger (a drug-dealing competitor and a woman who’d spurned him) would be present.
—Leno LaBianca, the husband in husband/wife victims at Waverly Drive, was in massive debt, either from gambling or from fraud, or from bad investments, or from all three. He owed money to the mafia.
—Rosemary LaBianca, the wife of the husband/wife victims at Waverly Drive, had a complicated personal life: three marriages, extra-marital activity, and a number of possible lovers, male and female. Her financial dealings were just as suspect as Leno’s. (According to Manson researchers Bill Nelson and Maury Terry, she was also involved in the drug trade.)
—The LaBianca’s moved into their Waverly Drive home the previous November; they’d bought the house from his mother. Since they’d moved in, they’d been the victims of numerous robberies. The house had been unoccupied prior to that—during that time, Charlie and his people were often at the home of Harold True, who lived a house over. As part of his routine, Charlie scouted the Los Angeles area for houses to rip off: people on vacation; people moving. He’d taught Family members how to case and creepy crawl a house—get the layout and figure out what was there. That the LaBianca dogs didn’t bark at Manson’s people suggests they were already familiar with them.
—Suzan Laberge, Rosemary’s daughter from an affair at the end of her first marriage (Leno was her third husband) was dating a Straight Satan member who had lived at the ranch. (A great deal of speculation has also sprung up around this relationship: black magic, drugs, etc.) LaBerge had been dating the biker the previous year during a six-month period when she lived across the street from Tex Watson in Los Feliz. (Tex, during this time, was a wig salesman. Suzan’s mother, Rosemary, stocked wigs in her dress store. One of Jay Sebring’s specialties as a hairdresser was working with wigs, i.e. Frank Sinatra. According to Bill Nelson, Rosemary received at least one shipment of drugs from Mexico via the cover of wigs.)
Leslie: “Pat Krenwinkel and I were in a small room taking care of the children, and Manson came in and said to Pat to leave with him.”
Leslie: “I felt that, if they went again, that I wanted to go. I wanted to go and be a good soldier and surrender myself for what I believed in.”
Leslie: “Charlie came up to me and asked me, did I believe enough that I could go with them and that I could kill. Was I crazy enough to believe in him, and I said: ‘Yes.'”
Sandra Good: “The crimes; those weren’t crimes, it was war. That was a Holy War. And that has nothing to do with Manson. This was society’s children taking lives and at the same time giving their lives to make change in this country. My friends who did the killings, I stand by them. I stand by them because I didn’t see anyone else willing to go to war; in war there’s death, there’s killing and sacrifice. They were willing to go to the gas chamber. I hand it to them. I don’t see anyone else with the heart.”
08.01 Police conduct an aerial flyover of Spahn, mapping the whereabouts of stolen VW components, and identifying a VW reported stolen from the Dick Joyce Volkswagen Agency In Van Nuys. 01 Police receive reports of rifles and automatic weapon fire at Spahn. 01 Manson announces that he’s heading to Big Sur; the Family needs more members. He leaves two days later. On the way, he picks up a pregnant hitchhiker, gives her LSD (her first time), and takes her as his lover for the duration of the trip. 05 Manson visits the Esalen Institute, where he has a musical audition which does not go well. He strikes his new companion; they then return to Spahn together, leaving the next day. In San Diego, Manson tells his companion’s sister that the black overthrow of the white race is imminent. 05 The maid at 10050 Cielo wipes down the bedroom door; Police will recover Patricia Krenwinkel’s fingerprint from this door. Three days later, the maid wipes down the front door, which will yield Watson’s fingerprint. 06 Before Bobby Beausolail murdered Gary Hinman, Hinman turned over the pink slip to his VW. Thinking that the car is his, Beausolail flees in it. The VW doesn’t make it all the way to San Francisco, and while Bobby is pulled over and waiting for parts (he’s napping and stoned), the police drive up. Bobby presents a fake ID, and he’s still covered in blood. In the tire well, the officers find a bloody knife. 07 Merv Griffin announces that Joe Nammath and Woody Allen will be two of the first guests on his new late night talk show on CBS. Allen’s mockumentary, Take the Money and Run, will be released August 18. 08 Iain Macmillan photographs the Beatles crossing Abbey Road. 08 Manson and his hitchhiker return to Spahn, where they find out Bobby had been arrested. Charlie tells the group, “Now is the time for Helter Skelter.” He sends out a few of the women to buy some paraphernalia—the credit card is stolen and they’re arrested. That night, he gathers Pat, Sadie, and Linda, and puts Tex in charge. They need to get their brother, Bobby Beausolail, out of jail. They’re going to kill some people—make it look like the Hinman murderer has struck again. “Leave a sign. You girls know what to do. Something witchy,” Charlie tells them. They pile into the car. Tex knows where to go. 09 Just past midnight, they pull up to the gate at 10050 Cielo Drive. Tex scrambles up a telephone pole and cuts the telephone lines. They climb over the gate, then a car appears. Tex walks up to the window of the car, and shoots the driver, Steven Parent, four times. Dead. Inside the house, Tex announces, “I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil’s work.” With Tex leading the assault, the group murders Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Jay Sebring: 102 stab wounds. Sharon is eight months pregnant. Charlie and another family member (or two) return to the scene to wipe for fingerprints and make sure the crime looks like it has been committed by the same Black Power murderers who killed Gary. In the morning, the housekeeper discovers the bodies, and the bloody message, “PIG.” Charlie doesn’t like a few things about the murder—the victims were too scared, it was too messy—so he decides to show his “children” how to “do it right.” The Cielo Drive murders hit the news—the talk is of Satanism, rituals and orgies. After dinner, Charlie talks to Tex, Pat, Sadie, Clem and Linda on the porch. Susan “Sadie” Atkins is on cocaine and methodrine. Leslie Van Houten is on acid. She’s tripped hundreds of times since high school; since she joined the Family, she’s been tripping every few days. Leslie: “He asked me, ‘Do you believe enough in what I say to know that this is something that has to be done?’ … and I said, ‘Yes I do.'” They get into the car and drive to LA. Tex, Clem, Sadie and Leslie are crammed together in the back seat. Leslie and Sadie nod out. Charlie tries to find some satisfactory victims (or makes a show of it); he gets thwarted at a church, turns down one house because there are kids in it, turns down another house because it’s too close to a neighboring house and someone might hear something. After tailing a sports car that gets away, Charlie directs them where to go. 09 In California, the Haunted Mansion attraction opens at Disneyland. 09 The Fire Department tells police that in the previous weeks they’ve seen rifles and VW engines and parts at Spahn. 10 Police receive another report of Manson’s threatening behavior and guns at Spahn. 10 At just past one in the morning, Charlie, Sadie, Linda, Clem, Pat, Leslie and Tex pulled up to 3301 Waverly Drive, the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Charlie goes in, ties up the couple, and comes out. The LaBiancas think it’s a robbery and aren’t frightened. Charlie takes the car and drives off with Susan “Sadie” Atkins, Linda Kasabian and Steve “Clem” Grogan. They’re looking for more victims. Patricia Krenwinkle, Leslie Van Houten and “Tex” Watson remain at Waverly Drive—to do the deed. Charlie has told Tex to be sure the women participate in the killings. Leslie: “When Tex handed me the knife, I knew he wanted me to do something, and at that moment I lost all sense of my humanity.” Leslie is reluctant at first, but stabs/slashes Rosemary Bianca in the buttocks and possibly the back. Leslie: “I had a knife and Patricia had a knife. We just started stabbing and cutting up the lady.” She struck sixteen times. At the time of the sixteen wounds to the buttocks, which are not mortal, Rosemary may be dead already. In all, Rosemary is stabbed 42 times. Leno is also stabbed to death. Tex delivers the killing wounds to both victims. Pat carves the word “WAR” on Leno’s stomach, and swipes the bloody words “DEATH TO PIGS” on the wall, and “HeLter SkeLTer” on the refrigerator. Before leaving, the group cleans up and helps themselves to cheese and chocolate milk. They hitchhike home. Leslie tells one Family member that the more she stabbed the more fun it was.