Mormons, Pagans, and Naked Women Stefene Russell Culture

local_cafe Mormons, Pagans, and Naked Women

by Stefene Russell

Published in Issue No. 9 ~ October, 1997
I look up and see the sky! I look down and see the ground! This is a song about up and down!
Sesame Street Monster Choir

Other states do not create legislative bills through divine revelation. That’s why it’s illegal in Utah to have two glasses of beer in front of you on a restaurant table. In other places, if you hear angels singing through the slats in the electrical sockets you are sent to the bughouse to be surged full of electricity until all you have in your ears is a permanent fractured buzz. People here still believe that anything is possible. And that is why, in Utah, anything is.

But it’s not just the Mormons. They simply discovered a landscape in synch with their cosmology. After all, this is the landscape where the Anasazi Indians
disappeared. This landscape used to be under the sea. There is a sea of energy in which Utah floats, and its elements are unknown. Geomancers
claim Utah is the heart chakra of the world, and that there is a huge swirling black funnel, like a doomsday leak, over the LDS Temple in downtown Salt Lake City. But the Temple didn’t create it — it was already there.

Why is Utah’s electromagnetic field so strange? I don’t know. It’s certainly full of radioactive dust from the above-ground atomic testing during the 60’s, and the ground here is full of uranium.
It’s rich in copper, too, which is why the world’s largest hole is here. You can see it from space, along with the Great Wall of China. It’s a mine, and it looks exactly like the diagrams of Dante’s Inferno. They are also building the world’s only Cosmic Ray observatory out here: huge tanks of water to catch muons, which will pass through lead because they are so fast. Not only that, but there are germs and chemicals that can’t be found anywhere else on the earth, by gracious courtesy of the Tooele Army Depot. Utah is where Cold Fusion was discovered, too. Some have claimed this to be a fraud, but it isn’t. The problem with re-creating the experiment elsewhere is that the very process is indigenous to this climate.

People who are just passing through when their car breaks down here become permanent residents. Natives can’t shake this place; you can move away, but you always come back. Whether you’re transplanted or born here, if you do move on from this place you find that it leaves its thumbprint on you.
And after that, no matter where you are in the world, if you are from Utah, you will find other people from Utah. And they will agree: this place has a peculiar charge to it, and it both attracts people with like charges and transforms those with opposite charges. This is the place, spake Brother Brigham when he looked out the back of a covered wagon, all miserable with tick fever and the runs. THIS is the place. This IS the place. This is THE place. This is the PLACE. This is the place where nothing happens by accident. This is the place that supplies the Transcience Corp. with sea monkeys. This is the place where a man can marry another man and have the state be oblivious to it for three years.

“One of the unhappy consequences of mass society is that our concepts of what is possible and ‘real,’ have largely been informed by stereotypes,” writes James Dale Davidson in An Eccentric Guide to the United States. “The myth of the average life is encouraged by a fundamental habit of the imagination: the desire to rationalize…we make everything more orderly, and thus more ordinary than it really is.”

There is an unusually high Pagan population in Utah, and an unusually high percentage of those Pagans are returned Mormon missionaries.
This is not a fact you will not find charted in any bar graph, because the Prophets, Seers and Revelators in this state don’t have a clue, and if they did, they would do everything in their power to snuff it out. Witness the police: my friend Rusty has been arrested here for riding his bike down the street with a paper bag over his head (it had eyeholes), goose-stepping through the produce section at Albertson’s, and just lying in the middle of a road that hadn’t seen a car since people used the word “spooning,” to mean “getting a hickey.” Like my pop, the lawyer, says: “The Utah legislature never tires of trying to outlaw human nature.”

This is why Crash Worship likes coming to Utah. There’s lots of repressed energy to play with.
If you’ve never seen Crash Worship, this will not make a lot of sense. You have to go see them “play.” They could be classified as a band … sort of. I hesitate to even describe them, because a description of a Crash Worship show often sounds like this: “Uh, there was some fire ‘n stuff, and, uh, lots of people got naked, and, uh, some chick got nekkid on stage. And then some guy from the audience started havin’ sex with her. And, uh, there was this guy, he kinda looked like he was from Road Warrior. Well, they all kinda looked like that. And then some naked painted people were dancing, and, uh, there was some more fire n’ shit, and, this guy drove through the audience with a flaming lawnmower, and, eh, well, then all of a sudden there were some fireworks or something. Real caveman, you know. And then they played until 2am, when the bar closed, so people went outside and danced on the gravel and had a parade for a couple of blocks. Then after the show we all went to Village Inn, with our hair all kinda singed. The waitress stared at us and we had some pancakes and smoked a bunch of smokes. I will never forget it.”

From this small and lame bit of titillation, you can imagine why a fellow who had been raised in the Mormon church, if he were caught unawares, and was drawn into such a bacchanalia, would not know what to do. If you can’t imagine, let me help you out with a sidebar, written completely in earnest, from a publication put out by the LDS Church—the Men’s Manual , Vol. II:


— Saucy and Pert

— Seductively dressed

— Unpredictable responses

— Solicitous eyes

— Flattering tongue

— Impudent attitudes

— Independent Spirit

— Sensually perfumed

— Persuasive


— Avoid her. (See Proverbs 5:8.)

— Flee from her. (See II Timothy 2:22.)

— Do not look at her. (See Proverbs 4:25.)

— Do not think about her. (See Job 31:1.)

Fellows brought up on this sort of literature are apt to get an entirely paranoid view of the world — and the authors also neglect to mention that all women are saucy, pert, and sensually perfumed somewhere in their swarthy little souls. Some of us here, however, do a pretty good job of chloroforming our wiles and putting them in bondage with several bolts of gingham fabric and exiling them under the couch. And so the guys here keep themselves sane by telling themselves that they don’t like to have sex. In fact, the Church tells them they don’t want to have sex, either, and the guys believe them. The Men’s Manual, Vol. II also says that men should stay slightly hungry all of the time, and feel real bad about “those soft little comforts in life, such as a refusal to be subject to adverse working conditions.”

So these little fellows are sent out at 18 or 19, at the peak of their randines. They are under strict orders to remain in the company of their male missionary companion twenty-four hours a day. This is often in some country full of gypsies and fleshpots, such as Brazil. They look around them with disdain at first at all the folks who eat tasty food and have sex and dance all night. Then they begin to notice that these people are having an awful lot of fun. And then they begin to wonder if this churchy stuff is all it’s cracked up to be.

So they come home a little more sophisticated, wondering how all those people who are headed for outer darkness seem so cheerful, but don’t necessarily think about it too hard. And if they enroll at the University of Utah rather than Brigham Young University, they might encounter some cultural version of the Jezebel described above — such as the Pagan Student Spirit Alliance or a Crash Worship show.

Fact No. 1: Crash Worship lives in New Orleans, a city which is made up of all the colors on the other side of Salt Lake’s color wheel.

Fact No. 2: They are a band, but they are really a bunch of conjurers and energy-manipulators.

Fact No. 3: They would say “ptooey,” to anything the Men’s Manual, Vol II, would have to say about how to live one’s life. As a matter of fact, it would be safe to say that their stance on how to live one’s life is made up of colors completely on the opposite side of the Men’s Manual, Vol. II’s, color wheel (charcoal and lime green, judging from the poorly executed illustrations).

Actually, I’ve seen Crash Worship liberate dozens of men spavined by Salt Lake City. Their glasses come flying off, they take off their shirts, they take off their shoes and their pants. They suddenly feel what they were trying to feel during elk season.

There is no class at the missionary training session that deals with having to face the force of your own orgone. Jezebels, certainly, which means dealing with your own pituitary gland, but stepping into a Crash Worship show is like being bobbled around in a giant rock tumbler full of angel pheromones. There is an island of brain tissue, right in the middle of our craniums, shaped like a butterfly, that responds to fire and wine and loas. Sometime after people started riding horses and planting stuff, someone figured out that if they could flatten that butterfly with the palm of their hand, they could take over the world. And so they did.

Unfortunately, that butterfly is the same one that migrates inside El Nino. The Salt Lake City Park Service has not noticed how many May Day wicker folk have been burning in the parks, or how quickly mead has been selling out in the liquor store. The cops show up every time that Crash Worship comes to play in Salt Lake City, but it is too late; they’ve already written “Be what thou wilt shalt be the whole of the law,” in indelible ectoplasm in the parking lots of bars all across the city, and blew their butterfly whistles in the canyons so that they echoed for months afterwards. Tithing will never replace fire, and wanking off in the closet will never replace kissing strangers; and the Men’s Manual, Vol. II, and not even the Book of Mormon, can replace that little golden book of your solar plexus, once you find it again.

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Stefene Russell is a writer and editor who lives in the Midwest. She also plays in a samba/world percussion band, and still uses a manual typewriter from time to time, including as a percussion instrument.