Boyd Rice ‘Iconoclast’ – Film review

Boyd Rice ”ËœIconoclast’ DVD
DVD ”“ Limited availability via

Iconoclast ”“ Dictionary definition;
1. A person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition.
2. A breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for religious veneration.

Boyd Rice ”“ his very name sparks raging debate; with many accusing him of variously promoting Satanism, far right wing politics and producing pending on your viewpoint some of the either most challenging or un-listenable music ever produced.

Larry Wessels ”ËœIconoclast’ is an attempt to document Rice’s rise to worldwide notoriety ”“ Rice has operated within various disciplines including music, sculpture, art, and education ”“ none of which Rice admits he is formally qualified to do. In addition Rice has made his living as both a personal bodyguard and a Tiki bar owner, and recently he won a World Jelly Mould competition”¦

Wessel spent six years piecing together the material for ”ËœIconoclast’ which is presented here spread across 3 DVD’s ”“ at this stage the DVD is not fully commercially available and is shown at galleries, art houses and film festivals. As such I was delighted to receive a copy, and having allocated an entire evening I sat down to learn all about Boyd Rice, the man described as ”Ëœthe most dangerous artist alive today’ and a man who apparently due to threats to his safety chooses to live in an underground bunker!

The first disc is entitled ”ËœLemon Grove’ and looks at Rice’s childhood growing up in the California town of the same name. Through a succession narratives Rice discloses the events that ultimately formed his psyche ”“ his grandmother was born at midnight within Lemon Grove cemetery, how his father Beverly so burdened by carrying a girls name chose the name Boyd as it was “manly” as it contained the word boy. Rice seemed to be bored by school preferring to dream up as he describes ”Ëœpranks’ and spending too much time watching occult TV shoes “Dark Shadows” and “Strange Paradise” ”“ In addition Rice discovered the music of Martin Denny. Rice did not just enjoy the TV shows; his exposure to them led him to the local library and a thirst for occult knowledge, not to mention a subscription to “Man, Myth & Magic” magazine.
Despite these influences Rice remained bored ”“ he celebrated his 13th birthday in 1969; the year man first stood on the moon, and the same year that Anton LaVey’s “Satanic Bible” was published and Charles Manson and his acolytes committee the Tate/La Bianca murders. Rice describes these events as being an awakening ”“ 1969 was Boyd Rice’s year zero.

From then on Rice seems to have been able to absorb influence from such diverse disciplines as glam rock to Dada; it was perhaps Dada that Rice was most attracted to, it essentially validated his previous desire to create pranks and instilled in him a belief that nothing need ever be viewed from a fixed point or limited to singular interpretations.
Rice describes how in 1976 he first came to the attention of Police ”“ he was arrested for trying to present the US First Lady with a skinned sheep’s head, at the same time he was producing photographs of nothing, literally exposed Polaroid’s devoid of any image, he also produced his own magazine ”ËœVoid’ ”“ all of the pages being blank. These actions brought Rice to the attention of other Dada followers including percussionist Zev who subsequently suggested to Rice that he should release an album. ”ËœThe Black Album’ was released in 1977, housed entirely in a black sleeve with no indication of the name of the artist, despite it being a very limited print run copies found there way to the UK and in particular to such luminaries as Jon Savage, Genesis P-Orridge and Mutes Daniel Miller who immediately re-released the album, the first for Miller’s own Mute label. Rice describes being aware of punk, but dismissing it as he believed its aims were to destroy music, and failing miserably by merely rehashing the sounds that preceded it. A 7” followed, Rice now recording as Non ”“ the single had two centre holes allowing it to sound differently pending on how it was played, this was followed with a locked groove 7” single which would play continually until the needle was physically removed from the record.

The second disc opens in late 1978, Rice has relocated to San Francisco, and is working as a security guard ”“ he has maintained his interest in the occult, and has also through what appear to be a series of chance meetings has been introduced to various film producers including Ray Dennis Steckler whose 1964 film “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies”, Rice says, changed his life. Steckler was also responsible for a number of Scopitone jukebox music videos, like those for the Kessler Sisters which Rice states “blew my mind”

Rice was then introduced to the team behind Re/Search Publications and became a regular contributor to their “Incredibly Strange Films” and “Incredibly Strange Music” publications, as well as others on “Industrial Culture” and “Pranks”
Another keen fan of “Incredibly Strange Films” was Anton LaVey, who was so taken with the books he contacted Re/Search and was put in contact with Rice, and an enduring friendship developed. Around this time Rice began to write to Charles Manson who subsequently invited Rice to visit him in San Quentin, these visits continued up until Rice attended on one occasion, and was searched by a prison guard who discovered a bullet in Rice’s clothing. Manson got 2wks solitary and hasn’t spoken to Rice since.
Rice was upsetting a few people at this time; he had after apparent years of effort developed the symbol for NON; an appropriation of Wolfsangel and Cross of Lorraine, his interest in Nazi ideology had developed to such an extent he was photographed with the then American Front leader brandishing knives ”“ this so upset the owners of ReSearch that they fell out, Rice accuses them of then publicly branding him a fascist (a tag that lingers) the fallout being such that Rice relocated to Denver.

Disc three ”ËœDenver’ has Rice continuing as NON, however due to the belief that he is a Nazi his gigs are now the subject of public protests. A succession of friends try to explain that Rice is merely prepared to publicly explore societies taboo’s, whilst the rest of us are happy to shun then them, often without knowledge or reason.

Rice is clearly an intelligent and elequent man, with a thirst for knowledge ”“ however this final disc shows that Rice is either naively stupid, so up his own arse, or actually a danger to vulnerable elements of society, in particular children. He describes a bar in Denver ”ËœThe Lion’s Lair’ in which “young” girls would walk naked before sitting at Rice’s feet, he also describes the creation of a painting in which he used the menstrual blood of a 13yd old who we are told by a third party he bragged about deflowering. Further alarm bells sound when he tells of conversations with Tiny Tim in which Tim describes heaven as a place were he could have sex with “young girls” ”“ Rice by repeating these beliefs arguably endorses both Tiny Tim’s paedophilic leanings, and Charles Manson’s misogynist views of women equating them to dogs who require training.

What concerns me about the film is that Wessel at no time challenges Rice ”“ the first two discs shine some light into quite who Boyd Rice is, though I believe Rice has perhaps had too much editorial control ”“ he has met and befriended some of the worlds most infamous characters, however there is no detail about how these meetings happened, they appear as chance happenings ”“ meeting Charles Manson is not a chance happening, you can hardly bump into him at the local Wal-Mart! The only person who seems to question Rice is Christian preacher Bob Larsen who is seen at the beginning of the film exorcising a woman for apparently being a lesbian and who previously broadcast an interview during which Rice told the mother of Sharon Tate that her daughters murder “was the best thing to happen to her” ”“ subtle!
Rice attempts to dispels the Nazi issue by declaring a fondness for order, and that Nazism was based upon order ”“ I do not believe Rice to be a Nazi; Wessel himself is Jewish as is Mute honcho Daniel Miller; neither of which would work with a Nazi. The problem with Rice is that he declines to fully declare himself; he knowingly creates a shit storm then sits back and watches the fallout, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he will be harmed by such.

”ËœIconoclast’ is an exhaustive work, but I wonder quite who it will appeal to? To a fan of Rice it lacks real substance, intimate detail ”“ they will want more; to the casual observer Rice is already too obscure or notorious; ”ËœIconoclast’ at 4hrs in length will not alter that viewpoint.
I enjoyed the film, it is at times quite fascinating but was I left frustrated that so much of Rice remains uncovered, Rice has spent his life documenting the darker side of humanity, and in turn presenting his take on that for public consumption, but when you poke your nose into such areas as Satanism, and Nazism then surely you should expect to be asked a few hard questions, and sadly ”ËœIconoclast’ fails to do that, it appears as a (very) extended promo for Boyd Rice.

”ËœIconoclast’ can be obtained direct from Iconoclast Movie

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Phil Newall is 47, from The Wirral - he earns his living not writing about music nor playing music...though sorely wishes he could. He was fortunate enough to see many of the first generation punk bands when they played the U18's matinee shows at Eric's, Liverpool. As an attendee at Eric's he was exposed to punk rock, dub reggae, art rock, and all manner of weirdness; as a customer at Probe Records he was variously served and scowled at by Pete Wylie and Pete Burns - he has written for Record Collector, Whisperin & Hollerin, and Spiral Scratch and wanted to write a book detailing the Liverpool punk scene; however with 'Head-On' Julian Cope beat him to it...and frankly did a much better job.


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