Why you should care
Having an ideology helps. But not always.
It all started in the days of Myspace. I’d just gone through a rough breakup and found myself single again. I wasn’t looking for another relationship, but that’s when it always happens, right?
As a practicing Satanist, I’ve always found it challenging to find a suitor with similar interests. And then came along Anton LaVey’s grandson Stanton. I received a message from him on Myspace asking to talk with me. During our first phone call, we realized we shared a multitude of similar interests; our subsequent calls would last for hours. As those late-night/early-morning conversations progressed, we decided to meet on Halloween. That three-day trip turned into a whirlwind relationship.
As our relationship progressed, the inevitable marriage talk came up, which was about as unconventional as Satanism. There was never a marriage proposal, but we started to discuss what type of wedding we’d like to have. Both of us were huge fans of Hank Williams Sr., and we were inspired by his public wedding to Audrey Williams. We decided to get married on June 6, 2006, at the Henry Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles and dub the wedding “A Tribute to Evil.”
Our wedding included 11 performers, among them Glenn Danzig, Hank Williams III, 45 Grave and Dolemite, who gave his last public performance before he died.
Growing up in Georgia, I didn’t get a lot of exposure to the occult and counterculture. Luckily for me, my mother and grandmother were avid record collectors, as well as horror movie and serial killer aficionados. They always inspired me to be unique, to be myself. So when, at age 13, I found the Satanic Bible, I knew that’s what I truly identified with. I was also going through a rough transitional period: I finally told my family about the sexual abuse I was subjected to and found myself at the crossroad of guilt and “what the hell am I doing with my life?” As I got older, Satanism helped me move past the trauma and repression that resulted from the abuse.
In 1999, I left Georgia for the bright lights of Las Vegas, where I began to dabble in erotica modeling. By the time 2000 came around, I was shooting under the pseudonym Szandora, a combination of Anton’s middle name, Szandor, and Pandora. I became one of the first satanic models of alt-erotica. Representing Satanism was a big deal for me.
During the course of our relationship, Stanton and I accomplished a lot. We did interviews, live performances, art, talk show appearances and threw one of the largest satanic events in history. But with all of that work, there was little time for anything else. Before I knew it, I not only became Stanton’s lover but also became consumed with handling every detail of our relationship and public personas.
I took on a similar role as Diane Hegarty, Anton’s second wife and co-founder of the Church of Satan, had, quit my job and began working for Stanton 24/7 for a whole year producing our wedding, which included 11 performers, among them Glenn Danzig, Hank Williams III, 45 Grave and Dolemite, who gave his last public performance before he died. We were married by El Vez, the Mexican Elvis, dressed as Satan. Alongside him were the Devil-Ettes.
In my mind, Stanton and I were working toward the same goal, to preserve and promote the tenets of Satanism. But it soon became clear that Stanton’s main goal was to use my loyalty to Satanism to possess every part of my being. I’m not here to paint anyone in a bad light — I’m no angel myself. I’m not saying I didn’t willingly participate in the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. I did, and in the process, I ended up losing myself. It became the catalyst and I became the prey.
My whole life I’ve been fiercely independent. Never would I have thought that I would let a man physically, mentally and emotionally tear me down, but people do a lot of crazy things for love. By the end of our relationship, I had tried leaving three times, each of those times ending in violence with Stanton breaking my cellphone and confiscating my ID and Social Security card.
At the time I was working for Marilyn Manson as his personal assistant. He noticed I was down one day, and I ended up confiding in him. The next day he gave me a cellphone so I could get myself out. All I remember is running down a spiral staircase to freedom, leaving behind everything I had ever worked for.
When I escaped, I was a shell of myself. It took years of therapy and self-care to fully love, respect and recognize the woman I saw in the mirror. Through this experience, I became an advocate for domestic violence victims so that I could help other women escape abusive relationships. I have become more of a solo figure in Satanism. I’ve never subscribed to a Satanic organization, but, as different as they are, I consider the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple to be my allies.
I’ve lived in San Francisco for the past decade. You can find me producing the Sinister Twist burlesque revue, among a slew of other artistic endeavors. I try to live my life without regrets: I don’t regret loving my husband and I don’t regret becoming a Satanist because, ultimately, it was Satanic tenets that gave me the guts to escape. I was born a Satanist and I will die one. If you’re going through something similar, I hope that you’ll see there is help out there and other people who have survived the same experiences who are willing to help you recover.
OZY has reached out to Stanton LaVey. His response follows.
“Szandora and I were never legally married. She was one of a couple dozen women that wrote me within the first day or two of my being on MySpace. I proposed (no pun intended) that we have a big publicity stunt wedding and sell tickets, on our very first phone call. However, her warped memory of her time with me is made even harder to believe or understand when you compare the known facts to her made up stories.
Like: she was never Marilyn Manson’s assistant. And the phone she claims he ‘gave’ her, was in a box of other junk of his at my apartment at the time and she took it when she left. I was pretty broken up over her leaving me when and the way she did. But I am now legally married to Sharon, the love of my life for 10 years now. Sharon is also the mother of my seven-year-old twin boys.
Finally the restraining order that was mentioned I fought in court and won. There were no grounds to grant it. So I don’t have an opinion one way or another about her but I would prefer that she stop using my name – I still don’t really understand why she uses the last name of a man who was supposedly so bad to her – and her time spent with me, while simultaneously slandering me by spreading lies intended to make me out to be a violent, abusive maniac as a means to gain pity and attention.”