“Nancy Drew versus Satan” only with more scary oral sex, The Closed Circle is a crusty, musty paperback cash-in on the 70′s craze for Satanism and the occult. Written by Barney Parrish, the pseudonym of George Wolk (although why he needed a pen name I don’t know), this is the kind of cheap paperback that lives up to all the promise of cheap paperbacks: it’s a fast read that’s full of sex, sleaze, and reactionary attitudes.
Satan was big in the 70′s. The purported true stories of people who escaped from or were enslaved by Satanic cults were flooding the market like the Great Boston Molasses Flood, unleashing an avalanche of books and movies about the Devil that started with Rosemary’s Baby in 1968, and continued with The Exorcist (book in 1971, movie in 1973), The Satan-Seller (1973) written by the fraudulent “high priest” of Satanism, Mike Warnke, The Devil and Mr. Smith (1974) another “Satanic cults abused me” book, The Devil’s Rain (1975), Race with the Devil (1975), Malachi Martin’s Hostage to the Devil (1976) riding piggyback on The Exorcist (Martin claims he was the inspiration for the movie), The Omen (1976) and coming at the tail end of the craze, like a stray dog looking for scraps, The Closed Circle (1976).
Peter Fonda and Warren Oates take on Satanic cultists.
The Closed Circle revolves around Lila Gerard who is described by the berserk back cover copy as, “Lila: Crazed or Possessed? Lila: Shy Bride or Wanton Bitch? By day, quietly religious, by night, lewd and possessed of a strange psychic power that enables her to witness events a continent away – weird events, diabolic orgies, and a cult of evil which calls itself THE CLOSED CIRCLE.” Which makes it sound like she has DirecTV and the Spice Channel.
Satan is real, and apparently he’s ruining marriages
with too much sex.
Lila, who is taking a “university-level” course in weaving, starts sleepwalking, possessed by “nocturnal Lila” who is really into sex, much to the horror of her husband (“Lila, what are you doing? Jesus, the light on and everything?” he cries) turning him from a normal young groom with a romantic inclination, into a man who sobs and weeps while he “protects his penis from her.” Her attempts to have sex with him make him vomit, and scare him, and make him cry, and so after he forces her to read the “disgusting filth” that Nocturnal Lila wrote down about the devil orgies she psychically witnessed, Diurnal Lila realizes she has no choice but to commit herself to an insane asylum. There her psychiatrist, Dr. Cabel (yes, he’s named Dr. Cabel), discovers that she is psychically linked to kidnapped hippie hitchhiker girls who have been abducted by a Hollywood Satan cult who are beating them to death and making them sit on dildos.
“Yes we are!”
Things take a turn for the sapphic when a lesbian nurse sells Lila’s story to the tabloids, which causes the Closed Circle to hire a hitman to try to snuff her out. The celebrities in the Closed Circle are real-world celebs, given fictional names (I count Robert Redford, Elizabeth Taylor, Ann Margaret, Edward G. Robinson, and Jackie Gleason), and they really are a lot of fun. Wearing hooded robes, they kill black cats, keep hippie chicks imprisoned in their mansions, gobble LSD-soaked sugarcubes, and, being a conservative’s idea of decadent, they have awesome call and response sessions such as:
“The hooded figures gathered in a circle and the litany began:
“Why are the rich rich?”
“Because they are chosen.”
“Why are the famous famous?
“Because they are elect.”
“Why are the rich rich and the famous famous?”
“Because we ARE.”
“How do we intensify this?”
“We destroy that.”
“What is that?”
“THEY are that. The poor are that. Their morality is that.”
“Who is that?”
“The weak are that. Their minds are that.”
“How do the weak attack?”
“Manson,” the circle hissed.
“How do their minds attack?”
“Their thoughts weaken us.”
“How do we gain strength?”
“We destroy their thoughts.”
“How do we destroy their thoughts?”
“We destroy THEM.”
Manson had been on trial just six years before, so you can understand why he’s on their minds, but man. Satanists are like the 1% before there was a 1%.
Fast, cheap, and a reflection of what people thought was really going on behind the closed doors of Hollywood bedrooms, The Closed Circle is a little time capsule of crazy. Written mostly to be sold to bored housewives with high school educations and tipsy blue collar workers in bus stations, you can blow through it in about 2 hours and get your fill of kinky sex and evil elites. As harmless as it seems, books like this paved the way and seeded the national imagination for the tidal wave of false memory syndrome books and the Satanic Panic of the 80′s that would shred families and result in Geraldo Rivera’s bold expose’, Devil Worship: Exploring Satan’s Underground.