Kustom Kar Kommandos is a short movie by underground cult director Kenneth Anger(Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Scorpio Rising, Invocation of my Demon Brother, Lucifer Rising). His intricate dreamscapes that combine Thelema magic with homoeroticism and fetishism are even today deeply hypnotic and seductive. Kenneth Anger was friends with pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey (of Kinsey Report), Aleister Crowley, Anton LaVey, Tennessee Williams and many others. He was a big influence on the likes of David Lynch and John Waters. Since his start in 1947 with Fireworks who was also to become part of one of the key US epic obscenity trials after its release, Anger continued to develope his taste for BDSM and psycho documentary & spectacle.
Kustom Kar Kommandos is for me a lesson for using money, funds $ when you got them, even if it is the likes of Ford Foundation. There is a continuous discussion about asking for money from banks, companies vs the state. As the state is crumbling or being slowly drawn into financing only mega-festivals and mega-crowd events (the night of the museums etc) it is vital to think about KKK a sort of deeply perverted (how else?) tutorial. Kustom Kar Kommandos was supposed to be a full length feature about the car fetishism in the US, about the subcultures developed around this cult.
And it had 10.000 $ from the Ford Foundation. The money drained and he only got to make this 3 minute-long teaser.
The music is by The Paris Sisters with the perfect 1962 hit – Dream Lover. Kenneth Anger was he first to probably recognize the full artistic potential of musical videos – and KKK is here to prove it.
Somehow both this and Atrocity Exhibition/Crash go together as well as Christine by Stephen King. It is all part of a continuum that makes the car home, mistress and coffin. Please observe that the car is never fully represented as in the ads – the car as such doesn’t exist. It is just fragments, parts, and interior, and even more than this, visually it is just mirrors, reflection, chrome that act as a hall of mirrors deforming, stretching and shaping the driver and glamorising everything.
As much as cars really became sex cars for the new drive-in generation, cinematically the interior of the car was established as the place of sexual phantasy, of first love, of getting away from the parents and adults. Not wild nature, the beach or the free love communes, but the smell of leather and speed, oil, the motor dials and vaginal cushions. This continuum stretches to Cosmopolis by David Cronenberg and the limo aquarium world that harbours the schizoid but generally bullet-proof hub of the capitalist world. A self-sufficient, encapsulated and luxurious fantasy.
Kenneth Anger transforms every act into a car striptease and erotic massage. The nurture that goes into the car is without limits, it verges on maniacal care and makes it a form of kar kama sutra.