Kenneth Anger Net Worth: How Rich is Kenneth Anger?
Kenneth Anger, born Kenneth Wilbur Anglemyer on February 3, 1927, and passed away on May 11, 2023, was an American filmmaker, actor, and author known for his groundbreaking work in the underground experimental film scene.
His career spanned from 1937 to the early 2000s, during which he created nearly 40 short films. Among his notable works are the “Magick Lantern Cycle,” a collection of nine films that blend elements of surrealism, homoeroticism, and the occult.
Anger is recognized as one of America's pioneering openly gay filmmakers, with several of his films released prior to the legalization of homosexuality in the United States. He was also deeply intrigued by the occult and incorporated occult themes into many of his works, influenced by the teachings of English occultist Aleister Crowley and his religion, Thelema.
Born into a middle-class Presbyterian family in Santa Monica, California, Anger claimed to have been a child actor who appeared in the film A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), although the accuracy of this claim remains disputed.
He began creating short films at the age of ten, but it was his homoerotic film Fireworks (1947) that gained significant recognition, albeit surrounded by controversy. The film's provocative nature led to Anger facing obscenity charges, but he was eventually acquitted.
Following this, he developed a friendship and working relationship with pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey. Anger later moved to Europe, where he produced several shorts inspired by the avant-garde scene, such as Eaux d'Artifice (1953) and Rabbit's Moon (1971).
Returning to the United States in the early 1950s, Anger embarked on new projects, including Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954), Scorpio Rising (1964), Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), and the scandalous gossip book Hollywood Babylon (1965).
While Hollywood Babylon became infamous for its sensationalist claims, many of which were disproven, it generated enduring urban legends. During this period, Anger became acquainted with notable countercultural figures and involved them in his subsequent Thelemite-themed works, such as Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969) and Lucifer Rising (1972).
After encountering challenges in producing a sequel to Lucifer Rising, which he attempted until the mid-1980s, Kenneth Anger retired from filmmaking and shifted his focus to Hollywood Babylon II (1984). However, in the 2000s, he returned to filmmaking, creating shorts for various film festivals and events.
Kenneth Anger cited filmmakers such as Auguste and Louis Lumière, Georges Méliès, and Maya Deren as his influences and served as a significant source of inspiration for directors like Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and John Waters. His work had a profound impact on other filmmakers, artists, and the emerging art form of music videos, incorporating dream sequences, dance, fantasy, and narrative elements.
Throughout Anger's cinematic works, several recurring themes can be observed. Homoeroticism is prominently featured, starting with Fireworks (1947), which explores Anger's own homosexual awakening through navy officers flexing their muscles and provocative imagery symbolizing sexual fluidity.
Similar homoerotic imagery can be found in Scorpio Rising (1963), featuring a muscular, topless, leather-clad biker, and Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), where a young man sensually polishes a car, with close-up shots emphasizing his physicality. Naked men also appear in Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), engaging in wrestling, and Anger Sees Red (2004), showcasing a topless man performing press-ups.
Another prevalent theme in Anger's films is the occult, particularly his own esoteric religion, Thelema. This theme is evident in works like Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Invocation of My Demon Brother, and Lucifer Rising, all influenced by Thelemite concepts such as the Aeon of Horus and featuring actors portraying pagan deities.
Anger perceived filmmaking as a form of casting a spell, drawing a connection between film creation and ceremonial magic, a practice associated with Aleister Crowley.
Flames and light are central recurring images in Anger's body of work, with Fireworks showcasing a burning Christmas tree as one example. These images are related to Lucifer, a deity to whom Anger dedicated one of his films, as “Lucifer” translates to “light bearer” in Latin.
Anger frequently employed both classical and pop music in his films to accompany the visual imagery. In Scorpio Rising, he utilized popular songs from the 1950s and 1960s, such as “Torture” by Kris Jensen, “I Will Follow Him” by Little Peggy March, and “Blue Velvet” by Bobby Vinton.
As early as 1941, Anger incorporated music into his films, as seen in Who Has Been Rocking My Dreamboat?, which featured tracks by the Mills Brothers. His use of popular music alongside his visual storytelling had a significant impact on the development of music videos and the rise of MTV, despite Anger expressing his disdain for the music video industry.
Notably, when approached by the band Combustible Edison to direct a video for their song “Bluebeard,” Anger declined, believing that while music could complement film, the reverse approach was meaningless.
Kenneth Anger Net Worth
At the time of his death, he has an estimated net worth not less than $60 million.