Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Charles A. Coulombe’s unhealthy obsession with The Amazing Criswell

(click images to enlarge)

Jeron Criswell Konig (aka Jeron Criswell King, Charles Criswell King, Jeron King Criswell, The Amazing Criswell) was a psychic who was deeply involved the occult.  He was well known from his numerous television and movie appearances.  He was personal friends with Ed Wood, a cross-dressing movie director of low budget film with questionable morals, and appeared in several of his films. Criswell was also known for the articles and books he wrote about what the future would hold and the occult.  The Amazing Criswell was married to Myrtle Criswell (aka Myrtle Louise Stonesifer-King, Louise Howard, Halo Meadows) a former burlesque dancer.

Charles A. Coulombe has an unhealthy obsession of Jeron Criswell Konig.  His fixation with Criswell started early when he was a child and his family rented an apartment from the Criswells in Hollywood, California a block away from Hollywood Boulevard.  Mrs. Criswell rented another house the Criswells owned down the street to a band of hippies.  The neighborhood in Coulombe’s own words was less than desirable with “ladies” for sale one block away and homosexual “lads” plying their trade outside the nearby Baptist church.  Charles relishes telling stories about the Criswells whether it was about Mrs. Criswell’s activities in her bikini, the hijinks of her psychic husband, or going over to their apartment to watch an Ed Wood movie. Coulombe also has stated that he and his brother would excitedly rush home from school to watch the latest episode of of Dark Shadows, gleefully describing the seances portrayed therein.  A few years after the Coulombes moved out, their old apartment took on a new chapter as Disgraceland, an infamous punk rock flophouse.  We are digressing a bit but we want the reader to understand the occult, sexual degeneracy, and comedic sarcasm that was the world his family inhabited.  Coulombe states that Criswell liked “young lads” and “would search for younger male company”.  At the time Criswell was thirty-one years old which would make him at the least, guilty of homosexuality.

It is interesting, Coulombe is a self described, “devoted follower of ‘The Amazing Criswell’” and has been trying unsuccessfully for years to sell a book he has written about The Amazing Criswell to publishers. He vows if he does get it published, to dedicate it to his mother whom insisted his family move out West, from New York City after his father lost their money when Charles was age six, and found the apartment the Criswells were renting.  Charles organizes a yearly festival celebrating the birth of Criswell which typically begins at a restaurant, proceeds by candlelight procession to the old Criswell House, where at midnight a vigil is held with Sir Charles donning a wig and channeling The Amazing Criswell, and then it’s on to a bar with the festivities continuing.  He is fond of telling those assembled, “we are forever more known as the Criswellians.”

Charles’ best buddy Stephan Hoeller, the gnostic bishop, used to attend these affairs and probably only stopped due to his advanced age.  Hoeller quotes Criswell in his book on kabbalistic meditations of the tarot cards.  He even has hosted more than one ‘End of the World Party’ with Criswell, “raised from the dead” at his (Annie) Besant Lodge.  Want to bet Criswell at these parties is Coulombe with his wig channelling him?  One might ask what unites these three?  Criswell, Hoeller, and Culombe all regularly used tarot cards for cartomancy and have deep interest in the occult.

Sir Charles said of Criswell, “If you were to ask me was he a good man? A nice man? I’d be very hard put to say yes. But he wasn’t an evil man, he wasn’t an awful man. And you know he provided a lot of people with a great deal of entertainment. At the end of the day when you have the political and social leadership that we have. The ability to give a lot of people a little entertainment is far from a bad thing and what the hay, he gave us innumerable reasons for a party and after all if it weren’t for him nobody would ever have heard of Prince, Indiana.” And also, “The famed 1950s-60s television psychic Criswell, as un-Papal a man as one is ever likely to meet”.

Contrast the previous Coulombe quote about the Criswell who was interested in the young lads to what Coulombe wrote about pedophiles in Pedophiles in Tinseltown for Taki’s Magazine, “If they prove unwilling to address such a clear and present evil on their own turf, I have an alternative for such folk: Shut up. That’s right, shut up. Spare us your maunderings about your various causes (though please continue to send them money). Make your virtuous deeds as silent as your outrage over abuses within your own industry.” Sir Charles would do well to follow his own advice but this is not the habit of an occultist.

Here we have a man who portrays himself as a traditional Catholic organize a candlelight procession with other occultists in honor of a Hollywood psychic — famous for his incorrect predictions, who “frequently went to in search of young lads” — whom he also channels, mentions in his tarot divination, loves to quote, and wrote an unpublished book about.  This is all hidden, as the occult usually is, behind a masque of humor — explained away as good clean wholesome fun.  It is nothing if not a total mockery of the Catholic Faith.

Charles A. Coulombe standing in front of ‘Criswell House’.

Below is a sample of some of the information about Criswell, Coulombe, and Hoeller.  It is far from exhaustive.

Among those in attendance at the Boardners fete were several of Criswell's former tenants (in addition to being a brinksmanlike prognosticator, Cris was also a Hollywood landlord). Charles Coulombe, who was just a boy when his family moved into one of the showman's apartment buildings, remembered that "Mr. Criswell," as he still called him, claimed to have lost his psychic gift after he came to Hollywood. "He told my father that he had had the ability to tell the future when he was young, but that when he started taking money for it he lost it," Coulombe said.

As the clock neared midnight, Coulombe, dressed in tails for the occasion, donned a white wig and commemorated the planet's final moments by channelling Criswell. Reading aloud the psychic's vision of doomsday, Coulombe intoned, "Future generations from some other planet will dig down through seven layers of rubble and find us some two thousand years hence. They will wonder what on earth was meant by the words 'Henry Ford' or 'Hollywood,' and what in heaven's name was a Criswell?"

The Talk of the Town: POSTCARD FROM L.A., The New Yorker, (6 September 1999) (alternative link)

Preface to the Revised Edition, The Fool's Pilgrimage: Kabbalistic Meditations on the Tarot, Stephan A. Hoeller, April 2004.

It may be true, as Hoeller asserts, that “any serious artist is already half a Gnostic.” Certainly, any serious comedian is, comedy being the rearview mask of angst.
For a “man of the cloth,” Hoeller can be irreverently funny, a sort of ecclesiastical H.L. Mencken. On the eve of the millennium, he hosted an “End of the World” party that included such “guests” as clueless ’50s TV prognosticator Criswell (raised from the dead) and outré diva Tequila Mockingbird. I once heard him quip at a Friday-evening lecture that “a more suitable doctrine for modern life than utilitarianism would be futilitarianism.” I ask him if he thinks that cutting-edge comedians like Lenny Bruce and Sam Kinison were Gnostics in their own way. “Well, yes,” he replies. “Freud wrote that our reaction to a joke was an explosion in the psyche. When a person gives up the attempt to make sense out of a world that is largely bereft of it, it’s liberating. The realization that the machine is defective frees us from the constant temptation to tinker with it, and lightens the soul.”

Exile in Godville, LA Weekly, (19 May 2005).

At the Criswell Centennial, in 2007, singing ‘The Whiffenpoof Song’ about black sheep that have gone astray.

Criswell the Psychic is best know for his work in Ed Wood's Plan Nine from Outer Space and his very own predictions to the general public was not quite absent at his 100 year celebration at the Piano Bar in Hollywood. He used to say," The future is where we will spend the rest of our lives!"

It was a formal affair, very gay but not in a sexual way, but in the 1930's terms. Brother Charles Coulumbe, writer, and creator of this festival of future events coined the phrase that we are forever more known as the Criswelians.

Reverence for a man's motto 'we don't think we know". Happy Birthday to Scot from Dearly Beloved toured, heck out his site at www.findadeath.com attended with friends Alex and Sue, Dr Stephen Holler the Bishop of the Gnostic church, Ed Canfield, Audio Visual expert and his crew, We had Eddie Canter music loads special guests, and Good Booze I mean we emptied the top shelf and they were out of beer the next day. I was in charge of securing the location and asking Alex to make the yummy Swedish meatball appetizers and vegetable dips. That night, 30 of us in gowns and tuxes wet down the street singing on a pilgrimage to Criswell's old home known as Disgrace land by my peers. There, Brother Roy and his evil twin told real life ghost stories, only they were true! Brother Roy lived there with his family in the 60's! 

LA SCOOP - Tequila Mockingbird, Rock n Roll Hollywood, 30 August 2007

Charles dressed in wig on pilgrimage celebrating the 100th anniversary of Criswell’s birth


Three Los Angeles Prophets: Gene Scott, Aimee McPherson & The Amazing Criswell, Taki’s Magazine, (4 October 2007).

Ed Canfield is in Town for the Criswell party. This Year far for it's original elegance at the Piano bar. It was more like the City had let a prison bus out at the door. Lot's of rough trade just like Criswell would have liked it, Then the midnight vigil to Criswell's house where Charles used to like for ghost stories. Criswell house is also famous for spawning Disgraceland where Iris Berry and Pleasant Gehman lived.

Bob Blackburn, who did the Cocktail hour radio show on Sattelite. He is Criswellian as well, quote a few heads including Charles Coulombe. Next Year the Party will be held at The Cat and Fiddle. I went to the Club and hung out with motorcycle boys. Yeah! 

LA SCOOP - Tequila Mockingbird, Rock n Roll Hollywood, 27 August 2008

Criswell 101 — 2008

Photos from the 2009 Criswell Birthday Party

The Blessed Sacrament Carnival is almost booked. Ruby Friedman and her Orchestra The Neighborhood Bullys, Ruby Friedman, Slvia Junecosa, The Artie Vegas Revue with Willie Chambers of the Chambers Brothers, Juicy Flute, Paul Plagens, The Milano family and more are coming your was. Sunday at the Cat and Fiddle at we had the annual Criswell Party. We always have a candlelight vigil to his house. We tell stories and have a great time. People came from around the world to join us. Charles Coulombe and I hosted the event with Ed Canfield from Oklahoma who is a hardened Criswell enthusiast. I sang Masquerade and we a sang Happy Birthday to him with 10 Grateful patrons.

It fell the night the Fonda had the Vampire Ball and Ruby Friedman was paying at the Echo so the spirit was defiantly in the air...

LA SCOOP - Tequila Mockingbird, Rock n Roll Hollywood, August 2009

Coloumbe at the 2009 Candle Light Vigil chanting “Criswell” and singing him ‘Happy Birthday’

Sir Charles keeping his memories of Criswell alive (2009)

First-Hand Accounts of Criswell
from Charles A. Coulombe

Here are some intriguing stories I have received via email from a man who once lived in the House of Criswell!

My dear Mr. Royal:
I am astounded! Criswell was, when my family and I first moved here to Los Angeles, our landlord (1966-69). A mere child then (5-9), I remember Mr. Criswell, his wife, and their friends horrifyingly well---my father nearly did a movie with him. At last, a site which does the master justice. Who would have thought? Although now a respectable writer, my career and life have been warped...er...influenced by that early contact. A friend of mine was disgusted in overhearing a conversation earlier this year between yours truly and ex-Rep. Bob Dornan. Expecting a deep political conversation, as he drew near he realised that we were speaking of---CRISWELL! Dornan, when a talk show host, had repeatedly interviewed him. Thanks for your efforts in keeping the flame alive!
Charles A. Coulombe

This is a response to my request for more Criswell Stories:
Hmmmm. Well, for starters, he would never say he was a fake (as misrepresented in Ed Wood). He told my father that he had "had the gift, but I lost it when I started taking money for it." He had the unfortunate habit of wearing boxer shorts (and nothing else), and coming out on the front porch to confront whatever events displeased him.
His wife was quite mad. Mrs. Criswell had a huge standard poodle (named "Buttercup") which she was convinced was the reincarnation of her cousin Thomas. She spent a great deal of time sunbathing---which, given her size, was not too pleasing a sight. She had been a former speak-easy dancer, under the name of Halo Meadows (and appeared on an episode of "You Bet Your Life," with Groucho).

All of this is by way of prequel. You will have heard, no doubt, of Mr. Criswell's famous Brown Derby lunches. Well, none of us ever attended those, but, like the other tenants, we were expected at the Sunday Afternoon brunches. These were potluck affairs, held (to my then incredible embarrassment) in the front yard on long folding tables. The guests were an amazing assortment, including both mega-stars like Tor Johnson and Ed Wood, and others, like Jean Harlow's Understudy, and Madame Juno, psychic to the stars. But the highlight would come after the food was cleared away, and Mrs. Criswell would dance on the table, in her bikini, accompanying herself by singing songs of her own composition. (Incidentally, a friend of mine who had long doubted this story, ran into Vampira at a Comic Book Convention, and she confirmed the details!). At Criswell House, truth was stranger than fiction.

Speaking of which, those who remember Frank Edwards, whose national radio show dealt with the weird, and who wrote books like "Strange World,""Stranger Than Science," and "Strangest of All," told the story of "Remeber Pearl Harbor" being written a year before the attack on a Honolulu sidewalk. Sadly, Mr. Criswell made that one up. 
There is more I could tell (and expect I shall. But I will leave off for the moment with a walking itinerary of "Criswell's Hollywood." Start your tour at the Criswell House itself, now transformed into offices for a video company, at the corner of Selma and Cassil place, a block north of Sunset Blvd., next to Blessed Sacrament Church. Then turn left on Selma, and make a right at either Wilcox or Cherokee (I forget which). Two blocks (if that), and you will be at Boardner's, Mr. Criswell's and Ed Wood's favourite bar (and featured in "Ed Wood").

Having refreshed yourself, proceed up to Hollywood Blvd., make a left, and walk a block to Las Palmas. On the south-west side is the site of a now defunct coffee shop called the Gold Cup, where Mr. Criswell would search for younger male company. Then cross Hollywood, and go back half-a-block to Musso and Frank's, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood, and another of Mr. Criswell's fun spots. If you have a car, or if the beefeater martinis (his favourite) have not yet done you in, you can drive east to Vine street, make a right, and gaze longingly at the parking lot to your left. That was the site of the Brown Derby, site of the famous lunches. Or else, leaving Musso's, driving west, on the left hand side, before you hit La Brea, you'll see the Roosevelt hotel. In addition to Criswell's drinking there, it is supposed to be haunted by Marilyn Monroe and Montgomery Clift, among others.

More stories! MORE STORIES!!!
Well, way back in 1966, after we first moved in, but before I began school, Mother and I were hungry. She asked Mr. Criswell if he knew of a reasonable place for lunch. He replied, in stentorian (he had no other) tones: "certainly! The Gold Cup, up on Las Palmas and Hollywood!" As I believe I mentioned, this was a place he frequently went to in search of young lads---this we did not know then. Ensconced at a table, I noticed that the clientele were staring at us. I asked my mother why this was. She looked about rather stiffly, and answered, "they are celibates, and rarely see mothers and children." NEXT TIME (if you are interested) MRS. CRISWELL AND THE GRAZING INCIDENT.

More email between myself and Mr. Coulombe: 

I had no idea that Criswell was a landlord. What kind of building(s) did he own?

Two apartment houses---ours, which had four units (in one of which he and the Mrs. lived) and another around the corner on Selma. He had inherited them from an aunt. 
Who attended the Brown Derby lunches?

Now there's a question! Usually the more active of the Brunch-goers, Ed Wood, and an old woman named Violet who was supposed to have money, and to whom the other lunch-goers sucked up to unmercifully, supposing she might help launch them.

Did you talk to Criswell much personally?

I should say. My activities often provoked his porch outbursts; but then again, he would wax melancholic, and contrast my upbringing with his. 
I hadn't heard that Criswell was interested in young lads. What did Mrs. Criswell think of that?

We never discussed it. However, he did lock his bedroom door at night, for fear she would stab him while he slept; I suppose that on some level she was not pleased. She also did not clean their apartment, saying that "dust must form its own patterns." And now for the grazing story.

You must understand that I started school at Blessed Sacrament, a Catholic school on the same block. Criswell's back yard was directly under the convent windows; there was an empty lot (now part of the church/school parking lot) which had been a house, two doors down from the Criswell House. One day (when I was in second grade, so 1967/68) some of my friends called me over to the fence separating the schoolyard from the lot. There, in the middle of the field, was Mrs. Criswell, in her bikini, on all fours eating grass (she was much into health foods).

"Isn't that your landlady?" Asked my friends.

Mortified, I nevertheless, even then, sensed that the slightest hint of embarassment on my part would set me up for endless ridicule.

"yes," I replied, that's Mrs. Criswell."

"Well, what's she doing?"

Looking matter-of-factly at her, I said, "she's grazing."


"It's lunch-time. I expect she's hungry. Is that all?"

It appeared to be, and so we went away. But when I got home you can imagine my shrieking at my folks.

What was his upbringing like?  
After three decades, I don't really remember many details, save that it managed to be both strict and weird, and encompassed a large extended family.


Charles Coulombe is the co-host for the 2012 “Chriswell: a look back” birthday pilgrimage.

2012 Lecture Schedule December, The Gnostic Society, Besant Lodge: 2560 N. Beachwood Drive, Hollywood CA 90068

10 January 2020 Annual Tarot Forecast For the U.S.A., The Gnostic Society, 
Besant Lodge: 2560 N. Beachwood Drive, Hollywood CA 90068

Hermetic Imagination: The Effect of the Golden Dawn on Fantasy Literature, Tumblar House, 28 April 2016

Did Charles get his introduction to Tarot from Criswell?

Two men obsessed with Criswell and Tarot Cards


  1. If Coulombe ever meets Ratzinger it will be the
    Hermeticism of Continuity

  2. If Coulombe ever meets Ratzinger it will be the
    Hermeticism of Continuity

  3. Fascinating. But kindly learn how to use “whom” correctly.