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‘Working Class Hero Magazine’ Interview With Kerry Thornley

Back somewhere in the mid-90s, my pal Matt Lutz of Working Class Hero Magazine conducted this wonderful interview with Kerry Thornley.

Kerry Thornley holding a harmonica, Berkeley, California, mid-80s.
(Photo courtesy of Louise Lacey)

I’ve lost touch with Matt over the years, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind us reviving it here.
Adam Gorightly

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Kerry Prankster: CIA, LSD, JFK

New York Press cover feature box on Kerry Thornley, June 19-25, 1991 edition. Clipping courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
Jonathan Vankin’s chapter on Kerry Thornley in Conspiracies, Cover-ups and Crimes was one of the main motivating factors that launched me on this strange voyage of chronicling Kerry’s life.

At the time, Vankin noted that he was considering writing Thornley’s biography, a notion that excited me immensely, as Vankin’s portrayal of Kerry in Conspiracies, Cover-ups and Crimes only whet my appetite for further revelations of one of the most curious characters to inhabit the counterculture and JFK assassination research scene of the 60s and 70s.

Of course, Vankin never got around to writing Thornley’s biography, so by the early 2000s I took it upon myself to dive down that particular rabbit hole, a journey which amazingly enough is still ongoing. I eventually pulled my research together in my biography of Thornley, The Prankster and the Conspiracy: The Story of Kerry Thornley and How He Met Oswald and Inspired the Counterculture, currently still available in all those various formats we read now. Hail Eris!

Here’s a fascinating article discussing Vankin’s coverage of Thornley from 1991 by John Strausbaugh, then-contributor and editor of The New York Press, then later host of the The New York Times’s “Weekend Explorer” podcast. This was a turning-point in Kerry’s life as IllumiNet Press was starting to publish Kerry’s works in a serious format, and subsequent coverage of Thornley, his works, and his story was being picked-up by earnest media types.

New York Press feature on Kerry Thornley, June 19-25, 1991 edition, Page 00001.
Clipping courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
New York Press feature on Kerry Thornley, June 19-25, 1991 edition, Page 00002.
Clipping courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
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Cosmic 23

A snippet from Daisy Campbell and John Higgs’ recent interview with Alan Moore was posted this morning over at the Cosmic Trigger Play Facebook Page on which I immediately clicked, and lo and behold, mine was the 23rd viewing of the vid, Praise Goddess!

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RAW and Stang Discuss Discordianism on the Hour of Slack

Fellow HD staff member Floyd Anderson just recently posted to Vimeo an Hour of Slack interview the Honorable Rev. Ivan Stang conducted with RAW in 1987.

In said interview, Stang notes that “…Kerry Thornley was a famous SubGenius.” It was statements such as these which led me to write—in The Prankster and the Conspiracy—the following:

By the late-80s, Kerry had become a major player in the Church of SubGenius, a spoof religion influenced to a great degree by its predecessor, Discordianism. Ever the sexual exhibitionist, Kerry once sent a photo of himself nude, fucking a chair, to Rev. Ivan Stang’s SubGenius mag Stark Fist of Removal. Stang, of course, published it, albeit with Kerry’s dick blacked out. As Stang later noted: “Kerry had love in his heart for all things, even chairs.” The Prankster and the Conspiracy, page 237.

During the course of penning The Prankster—and coming across the aforementioned photo of Kerry carrying on with a chair—I contacted Stang for permission to use the photo, which he graciously granted. For his assistance, I sent the good Reverend a copy of The Prankster. In return, he shortly after dissed the book whenever he got the chance, basically on account of the above paragraph. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to criticism and tend to keep an open mind about such things. However, Stang’s main (only) bone of contention about The Prankster concerned this single paragraph and the remark that Kerry had been “a major player in the Church of SubGenius” which he apparently took as some sort of slight (I think) as it suggested (perhaps erroneously) that Kerry had done a lot of the heavy lifting in creating the myth of Bob Dobbs. To this end, Stang went off on yours truly in a recent interview on Greg Bishop’s Radio Misterioso radio show, even though, conversely, he suggested in his 1987 Hour of Slack interview with RAW that Kerry was “…a famous Subgenius.”

During the same Radio Misterioso episode, Stang suggested that I’d ripped off the title for my latest book, Happy Trails To High Weirdness: A Conspiracy Theorist’s Tour Guide from his 1988 book High Weirdness By Mail, which I must admit is one of my fav all time books. Perhaps if he hadn’t got his panties all in a bunch over The Prankster and The Conspiracy ten years or so ago, Stang would have cut me some slack over the apparent indignity of using the phrase “High Weirdness” in the title of my book. However, it should also be mentioned that my publisher at Feejee Press actually came up with “High Weirdness” as part of the title to replace the bland working title I’d suggested: “On The Road With Adam Gorightly.”

Anyway, enough of me venting about the diabolical Rev. Ivan Stang. At the end of the day I consider him a great American, even though he gets a bit whiny at times.

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VIDEO: Kerry Thornley Discusses Zenarchy And Illuminati Lady

In the following video snippet taken from Rev. Wyrdsli’s 1992 interview, Kerry Thornley discusses Zenarchy and the poem “Illuminati Lady,” which Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea described in Illuminatus! as “an endless epic poem which you really ought to read.” Of course, they gave no indication how one would go about doing so.

Portions of “Illuminati Lady” originally appeared in the underground mag St. John’s Bread Wednesday Messenger around 1970—although no one has really seen it since then—and as Kerry mentions in the video clip, he lost track of the manuscript somewhere along the line.

But fear not, fellow Discordians, Greg Hill filed away a copy in The Archives, which at some point we’ll no doubt release in book form for your possible reading pleasure!

'Illuminati Lady' from May 1970, Page 00001. Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.



VIDEO: Kerry Thornley Discusses Zenarchy and Illuminati Lady
VIDEO: Kerry Thornley on the Birth of Discordianism

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VIDEO: Kerry Thornley on the Birth of Discordianism

I recently re-discovered a rarely seen video interview with Kerry Thornley from 1992, conducted by our friend Rev. Wyrdsli in the back room of A Cappella Books (in Little Five Points, Atlanta) where Kerry was living at the time.

Below is the first clip in the video series, focusing on the birth of Discordianism as well as RAW’s involvement in the early scene.

Special thanks to my partner in crime Floyd Anderson for editing this and the other clips of the interview that will be released in the days and weeks to come!



VIDEO: Kerry Thornley Discusses Zenarchy and Illuminati Lady
VIDEO: Kerry Thornley on the Birth of Discordianism

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Who Is The Master Who Makes The Grassy Knoll Green?

Dealey Plaza: Reality Vortex

It’s been a working theory of mine that Dealey Plaza was some sort of inter-dimensional vortex of alternate reality perceptions. That’s why there are so many varying theories about the JFK assassination—because they’re all true and false at the same time.

To further elaborate on this theme, consult the Dealey Lama and enjoy the following video…

And for more ruminations along these lines, check out my recent appearance on The Sync Book Radio’s Always Record radio show:

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An Illuminating Day With Robert Anton Wilson

In 1976, pioneering underground newspaper the Berkeley Barb published the below article on a then 44-year-old Robert Anton Wilson written by Ray Ramsay. The article posted below contains some interesting history on the writing and publication of The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

Greg Hill was thoughtful enough to stash a copy into the Discordian Archives.

Hail Eris!

Berkeley Barb article on Robert Anton Wilson, March 12-18, 1976 edition. Click to Embiggen.
Courtesy of the Discordian Archives.
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The CalHi Pranksters

Kerry Thornley’s Senior Class photo, CalHi, 1957.
Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bortin.
In The Prankster and the Conspiracy, Kerry Thornley’s high school friend, Sylvia Bortin, recalled an infamous hoax which occurred in Drama Class at CalHi (Whittier, California).

Apparently the perpetrators — Kerry, Greg Hill and other unnamed cohorts — made a recording of what, at first, appeared to be a regular radio program, with music playing innocently from a radio positioned on the apron of the stage. In actuality, the sounds were projected from a reel-to-reel tape machine hidden backstage. Inserted into the seemingly mundane radio program, our merry pranksters had planted a series of interruptions, made by a newscaster, to the effect that Soviet planes were invading the U.S. and dropping bombs.

Photo of Greg Hill with the CalHi (Sophomore Class) Drama Club in 1957. Greg, who over the years cultivated a fetish for rubber stamps (featured prominently in the Principia Discordia), applied a stamp over his picture in the photo (center, top row).
Photo courtesy of Sylvia Bortin.
As Sylvia recalled:

“Somebody had told me early on that it was a joke, but some of the students didn’t know and got really scared… What made me feel bad was that one of the boys in the class was so scared that he was praying.”

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Interview of Louise Lacey, Early Discordian Goddess by Adam Gorightly

Early Discordian Louise Lacey. Photo courtesy of Faith Echtermeyer, Copyright 1980.

I recently happened upon an interview I did with Louise Lacey back in 2007 and thought it’d make a good addition to Historia Discordia, including — as it does — Louise’s recounting of the halcyon days of Discordianism along with some fond remembrances of Robert Anton Wilson, Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley.

At one point in the interview, Louise corrected (as she is wont to do!) my apparent butchering of the pronunciation of Eris — “Ear-reese” — which is how Robert Anton Wilson invoked the Goddess, and so often times I’ll use that pronunciation. Wilson was also the first person I heard pronounce “Principia” with a hard “c,” which is the correct way of saying it in Latin. (Just so ya know I’m not a total dodo!)

Elsewhere in the interview I state erroneously that Kerry Thornley did NOT appear before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury (during the Jim Garrison Investigation madness) which at the time of our interview was my understanding. However, I was wrong, which seldom happens to your humble Discordian reporter, but when it does I’m the first to admit it!

Hail Eris! All Hail Imperfection!

On to the Untamed Dimension’s Louise Lacey fnord Interview…

Links for Louise Lacey: