The Manson Murders
Movie stars, drug dealing, and the LAPD

It's the 30th anniversary of "Helter Skelter." On August 8 and 9, 1969, Charles Manson's "family" apparently executed Sharon Tate, wife of film director Roman Polanski, and a whole host of other Hollywood denizens, in their homes in the Hollywood hills. I'd always felt that Manson and his killers had some connection with their victims before the murders took place.

When Hal Lipset, the renowned private investigator, informed me a few years ago that the Los Angeles Police Department seized pornographic films and videotapes found in Polanski's loft and, additionally, certain LAPD officers were selling the tapes, that seemed like a clue. One police source told Lipset that there was seven hours worth of Polanski's homemade porn, and that it was worth a quarter of a million dollars.

Lipset gave me a litany of those private porn flicks. There was Greg Bautzer, an attorney for Howard Hughes, with Jane Wyman, the ex-wife of then-California Governor Ronald Reagan. There was Cass Elliot in an orgy with Yul Brynner, Peter Sellers, and Warren Beatty. This trio, along with John Phillips, had offered a $25,000 reward for the capture of the killers. There was Sharon Tate with Dean Martin. There was Sharon with Steve McQueen. And there she was with two black bisexual men.

"The cops weren't too happy about that one," Lipset recalled.

I eventually tracked down a reporter who told me that when she was hanging around with the LAPD, they showed her a porn video of Susan Atkins, one of Charlie's devils, with Voytek Frykowski, one of the victims. This contradicts the official story, which is that the executioners and the victims had never met until the night of the massacre.

But apparently the reporter mentioned the wrong victim, because when I wrote to Charlie and asked directly, "Did Susan sleep with Frykowski?" he answered, "You are ill advised and misled. Sebring [one of the victims] done Susan's hair and I think he sucked one or two of her dicks. I'm not sure who she was walking out from her stars and cages, that girl loves dick, you know what I mean, hon. Yul Brynner, Peter Sellers...."

Hollywood celebrities weren't the only ones playing with the fire of the Manson clan. Preston Guillory, a former deputy sheriff in Los Angeles, told me, "A few weeks prior to the [arrests at the] Spahn Ranch raid, we were told that we weren't to arrest Manson or any of his followers…the reason he was left on the street was because our department thought that he was going to launch an attack on the Black Panthers." Racism, it seems, turned the Sheriff's Department into collaborators in a mass murder.

It also seems likely that the Manson family had actually served as a hit squad for an L.A.-based cocaine ring. On the evening of Friday, August 8, just a few hours before the slaughter took place, Joel Rostau, the boyfriend of Jay Sebring's receptionist and an intermediary in the ring, visited Sebring and Frykowski at the Tate house to deliver mescaline and cocaine. While the Manson trial was taking place, several associates of Sebring were murdered, including Rostau, whose body was found in the trunk of a car in New York.

Manson has become a cultural icon. The personification of evil. In some circles, he's even considered a counterculture symbol (although Charlie himself will tell you he was never a hippie). In surfer jargon "Manson" means a crazy, reckless surfer. For comedians, Manson is a generic joke reference. In 1993, I asked him how he felt about that. Manson replied, "I don't know what a generic joke is. I think I know what that means. That means you talk bad about Reagan or Bush. I've always ran poker games and whores and crime. I'm a crook. You make the reality in court and press. I just ride and play the cards that were pushed on me to play. Mass killer. It's a job, what can I say?"

Paul Krassner's Impolite Interviews (Seven Stories Press) and Pot Stories for the Soul (High Times Books) will both be published in September.

See also...
... by Paul Krassner
... in the Scope section
... from August 9, 1999