SlackSubGenius interview for Gray Areas, Page 1



from GRAY AREAS magazine


Rev. Ivan Stang interviewed by Netta Gilboa




What is the Church of the SubGenius?


That is a damned good question. Weıre still trying to figure that one out,

ourselves. A lot depends on who is asking. The Church wears many hats; it

has to, just to survive, since it doesnıt really fit into any one known

genre or category, and it infuriates devotees of MANY known genres,

categories and denominations.


Hereıs what we tell people:


In 1953, the holy salesman ³Bob² Dobbs discovered that there was a

Conspiracy of Normal Humans insidiously robbing away the Slack of the

SubGeniuses (the abnormals and nonhuman bipeds) and repressing their vital

powers of abnormality ‹ their Slack. In response, Dobbs created this

disorganized religion ‹ although he didnıt go public with it until 1980,

when he thought the world might be ready for it. It was a ³cult² for

mutants, misfits, disbelievers, and those whoıd believe anything... a

fellowship for gimps, perverts, dope addicts, hippies, those who still read

books, sex fiends, victimless criminals, and all the for-real, down home

people... the SubGenii: those who look, but arenıt, human. And,

unfortunately (at least until some rich sucker becomes our ³sugar-daddy²),

this has to include numberless slogan-spouting, immature, obnoxious nerds,

fanboys and geeks ‹ for without them, we wouldnıt even break even.


To some people the Church is salvation. Seriously. They honestly say that

just knowing that the Church EXISTED AT ALL saved them from suicide. To

others itıs just a really good joke, though an endlessly complex one. To

others, itıs a really bad joke, and to yet others itıs a dangerous cult,

potentially right up there with the Branch Davidians, the Satanists, the

Masons and the Southern Baptists. They think weıre some kind of devil

worshippers, even though we donıt even believe in the Devil. The overly

politically correct sometimes think weıre not good, politically correct

warriors against the establishment, because our stuff is funny and takes

vicious swipes at all who are most certain their cause is the morally right

one. Others ‹ especially doctors and lawyers ‹ seem to know professional

bull-slinging when they see it, and enjoy that aspect of it. So itıs a

What-Is-It. ³Is it an actual anti-human hate trip, or a trenchant,

sophisticated comment on racism and extremism in general? The ultimate hate

group, or the ultimate brutal slamming of all hate groups?²


At least we donıt hate minorities. We only hate the majority ‹ the NORMALS.


We proclaim how tolerant we are of everything weird, different, fringe, and

shunned, and then turn around and advocate enslaving all Normals ‹ the

Mediocretins, the Pink Boys, the Barbies and Kens, the Box Dwellers. (After

all, theyıve already enslaved themselves under the money-grubbing

Conspiracy anyway.) This proves that we embody the first principle of any

successful religion: hypocrisy.


For artists, itıs a great vehicle for collaboration with other talented

sickos; Dobbs created a wonderful framework on which one can hang almost

anything, a skeleton that anybody can help flesh out. Itıs a hell of an

excuse for pranks on the straight-laced. Our first and only real rule is,

³F‹- Œem if they canıt take a joke.² (Or in more polite terms, ³Let them

mount up upon themselves, if they cannot see the humour in it.²)


Those who think itıs some kind of sexy, primitive fertility cult, a

throw-back to Paleolithic days, using the underground art scene as an

excuse, are probably closer to the truth than anybody else.


There really is a Conspiracy of Normals, though, and we ALL definitely need

more Slack. Let there be no doubt about that.




How is it different from other churches?


All the rest are liars. We are liars too, for sure, but weıre the only ones

that are halfway honest about our lying. We come right out and admit all

the things the other churches wonıt say: that weıre in it for the money,

that God isnıt actually paying any attention (although ³Bob² will, if you

pay him enough money, and all kinds of fake Gods will, if you pay them much

attention), that all organized religion is based on the ³US VERSUS THEM²

hate concept. The bottom line for other religions (and philosophies, and

political parties) is: ³Weıre right, God said so, and everything different

from us is BAD.² The Conspiracy religions depend on the fear and hatred of

anything different. We rejoice in the Œdifferent.ı Itıs going to take

something very Œdifferentı to get this overpopulated planet out of the mess

itıs in. Not necessarily US ‹ but weıre helping to pave the way, to help

see that this new ³something² isnıt burned at the stake like Martin Luther

King Jr., Wilhelm Reich or JFK. Not to mention poor olı Jim Jones, David

Koresh and Charlie Manson!


We donıt kill people for not agreeing with our religion. We donıt shoot

abortionists in the back. We never burned anybody at the stake.


But weıre hoping to change all that.


Our marriages last only for set, limited periods of time, not for life. We

donıt preach that women are inferior creatures like dogs; in fact, we

question whether dogs are inferior creatures. We believe in the womanıs

right to terminate a pregnancy up to the 15th year after conception. Weıre

the only ones getting the REAL messages from REAL gods, aliens, demons, and

discarnate ghosts.


The Church doesnıt bring weirdos together for one unified cause, it only

lets them know that each other exist, and we encourage them to keep coming

up with their own, NEW causes. Weıre not looking for people who are

³like-minded.² By definition, SubGenii are all such Œcharactersı that they

drive each other crazy if they hang out together for long. We encourage

heresy and schisms.


I could be cute here and insist that every aspect of the Church is dead

serious, but, letıs face it... wouldnıt any proper satire or dopey parody

worth its salt say the same thing? Why canıt we be both? I might tell a

newspaper reporter one thing about the Church, my radio audience another,

and a cop yet another. ³Yes, sir, officer, weıre just comedians. All these

AK-47s are just PROPS for our SHOW.² ³Those mental illnesses and diseases?

Thatıs just part of the satire, your honor.² ³Oh, weıre just making an

anti-drug video, Mister Policeman!² ³Oh, but itıs not pornography, maıam ‹

itıs empowerment!²




Who is J.R. ³Bob² Dobbs?


Dobbs was originally a regular joe ‹ albeit one with superhuman powers of

salesmanship ‹ who happened to have been contacted by alien gods, and

subsequently became a major mover and shaker in the upper reaches of the

Conspiracy (the Trilateral Commission, CFR, Illuminati etc.). Infiltrating,

he learned Their ropes, and now is blowing the whistle on Them because he

thinks Slack is more important than anything else ‹ even money. (Easy for

him to say; heıs richer than Perot.) Dobbs is so surrealistically normal

that heıs totally abnormal, and he opens his arms to the weirdos, rebels

and perverts, striving to empower them while incidentally getting them to

pay to know what they really think.


Being a specific, historically accurate being, ³Bob² can be copyrighted,

whereas guys like Jesus and Muhammad canıt. Thus thereıs less chance that

³Bobıs² message will be garbled and twisted. Unlike them, he understands

advertising. He developed his own marketing strategy and didnıt have to

leave it to a bunch of embittered, antisocial follower-geeks. His is a

do-it-yourself religion.


Dobbs tends to speak in pithy slogans. Examples: ³Youıll pay to know what

you really think.² ³Too much is always better than not enough.² ³Pull the

wool over your own eyes and relax in the safety of your own delusions.²

³If you act like a dumbshit, theyıll treat you as an equal.² ³I donıt

practice what I preach, because Iım not the kind of person Iım preaching





What is ³Slack?²


What you donıt have enough of. What nobody has enough of. What They didnıt³cut² you some of. Those who say donıt know, and those who know donıt say ‹

as the Hells Angels said, which leads one to wonder why they, or I, said it

in the first place.


Slack is basically Something for Nothing, perfect luck, achievement without

ability. Itıs like the Tao. Itıs nothing and everything. Mostly,

everything. Everyone was born with Original Slack, but the Conspiracy of

the Normals programs you to replace it with False Slack ‹ like lame

counterfeit SubGenius imitation albums, say, or (much more frequently)

nerve-wracking jobs to pay for fancy gizmos and high status among the other

Cage Men. The Conspiracy is a confederacy of dunces who donıt even know

theyıre wrecking their own freedom by squelching everybody elseıs.




Is the Church tax exempt?


I wish! Unfortunately for we who keep his books, Dobbs refuses not to pay

taxes. He strongly believes that the people should not have to subsidize

religions they might not happen to believe in. He calls this ³the worldıs

first Industrial Church.² The fact that the IRS would never grant us

tax-exempt status has nothing to do with his idealistic yearnings.




How did the Church start? How does it get the word out to people?


PreScripture says the Church began in 1953 when J. R. ³Bob² Dobbs, while

experimenting with a home-made TV set and standing in a puddle of water,

was EMACULATED by JHVH-1, the alien Space God from some corporate Sin

Galaxy, and conceived this Church. Others say it really began the first

time two rascally kids ³cut up² in church, when they were supposed to be

acting pious. Real heretics say it started when my partner, Dr. Philo

Drummond, discovered that I, too, collected kook literature, and we pooled

our resources to create, for mercenary purposes only, the final synthesis

of all end-times prophecy, from all crazed religious nuts, true

visionaries, science fiction writers and bad monster movies.


The first statement is the only factual one. It is true that Dr. Drummond

and I have engineered Dobbsı public outreach; we make no bones about it,

and weıre happy to wallow in any due credit for that. However, before Dobbs

came along, we were NOTHING. We were less than nothing, before ³Bob²

revealed himself to us.


My job, as Sacred Scribe, is not only to make sure that ³Bobıs² teachings

get spread far and wide, and to recruit the best possible talents for doing

so, but to protect ³Bobıs² style from being watered down and cutesie-fied.

We will do ANYTHING to protect ³Bobıs² good name. Weıll tell people

anything they want to hear. Weıll even say he doesnıt exist, if thatıs what

it takes to insure his privacy and Slack.


Under Dobbsı direction, Philo and I started the ministry out modestly, with

small instant-print pamphlets that we left around in public places like

laundromats and dentistsı offices, for the unsuspecting to peruse and mull

over. To our surprise, but not Dobbsı, people responded in droves to the

offer of a $10 SubGenius newsletter subscription. That meant we had to

actually produce that newsletter, which grew into a 120-plus-page yearly

journal called The Stark Fist of Removal. We created a bunch of printed

ad-sheets full of slogans with our address attached, and, lo and behold,

punk fanzines started printing our ads for free. This material attracted

the attention of a few workers in ³underground cartoonist² culture (such as

Paul Mavrides, who fished Pamphlet #1 out of the trash at Rip Off Press),

and the printed Word started spreading on its own, not unlike a virus.

SubGenius ³clenches² started springing up here and there, and the Pamphlet

was reprinted in magazines like Heavy Metal and R. Crumbıs Weirdo. A fellow

Dallasite, John Hagen-Brenner, approached us and ended up designing much of

the early clip-style artwork for which the Church is known.


Under Dobbsı guidance, and being a professional film editor in my Œday

job,ı I started editing together bits and pieces from my collection of

oddball records, soundtracks and personal recordings into an audio tape

collection that later became part of the Media Barrage series. In 1981,

weird tape collage was a largely unknown thing. But, we swiftly learned, we

werenıt the only ones appropriating and rearranging clip-art and clip-tape.

A few people started sending us challenging tapes, most importantly the

individual now known as ³Puzzling Evidence² (now co-host with Dr. Hal

Robins of the reknowned KPFA-Berkeley SubGenius radio show). He was a major

inspiration, the master of creative tape-cutting. We worked his stuff into

ours, and this combination sufficiently intrigued others until there was a

whole network of independent tape arteests circulating über-edited tape

compositions among each other, all praising (or hating) DOBBS and his Word.

A critical juncture occured when the anti-music band of radical reactionary

³punk² rednecks, Drs. for ³Bob² (previously the owner and employees of

Little Rockıs only health food store, Beans N Grains N Things) started

trading hell-noise/Dobbs-rant tapes with us. They became perhaps the most

influential non-Dallas SubGenius coven or ³clench², due to the sheer

brazenness, creativity, and offensiveness of their so-called ³work.² An

unholy triumvirate formed between Dallas, San Francisco and Little Rock.


Up until this point, it had all been guerilla art and mail-order. But we

started holding Conventions, Conclaves and Devivals, allowing personal

contact with the unusual sorts of people who were drawn to Dobbsı Word. The

personal contact aspect was my bailiwick; in fact it became my job. This

real-life activity put us in contact with such persons as G. Gordon Gordon,

a professional mercenary and expatriate living then in Bolivia, who had

plenty of time to research the more esoteric aspects of Dobbs prophecy, as

well as to coordinate the ³security² aspects of the Church.


We had submitted a query regarding THE BOOK OF THE SUBGENIUS to 150

publishers. We got 150 rejection slips. But one day, young McGraw-Hill

editor Tim McGinnis found Pamphlet #1 in the back seat of my

sister-in-lawıs car. In the name of the Conspiracy, he made us an offer, we

got an agent (Jane Jordan Browne of Chicago), and, many months later, THE

BOOK OF THE SUBGENIUS was published. The snowball began to gather momentum,

albeit very gradually. SubGenius preachers such as myself and the dynamic

Pope David N. Meyer found ourselves sermonizing in art museums and

nightclubs; some people were convinced this was all just ³art.² Indeed, the

mavens of performance art in L.A. adopted us as savage prodigies from the

hinterlands. At this time, around 1983 and 1984, we were what might be

called ³darlings of the underground²... just another part of the cultural

freak-show. We were horrified, as we were SUPPOSED to be inundating the

entire globe, willing or unwilling, with the teachings of ³Bob², causing

riots and earthquakes, not amusing artsy-fartsy analysts of pop culture.


But we persevered. The riches that Dobbs had promised us had not

materialized, but we were UNDAUNTED. We tried to push the Church further

into the mainstream, starting with network radio, but we were laughed at

(or less). Luckily, the local Dallas independent, public-supported hippie

leftist radio station, KNON, saw merit in our audio work, and the radio

show THE HOUR OF SLACK was born. Puzzling Evidence, Gary GıBroagfran and

Dr. Hal Robins already had a SubGenius radio show at KPFA in Berkeley, and

recordings from that were a mainstay of HOUR OF SLACK. Soon, I was

benefitting from the audio contributions of ALL SUBGENIUSES and SUBGENIUS

SYMPATHIZERS, and Hour of Slack gradually got picked up by other stations.


We preached at more and more nightclubs and art museums, and I began work

on the SubGenius video extravaganza, ARISE, co-editing with Rev. Cordt

Holland of San Francisco. ARISE, half Devival footage and half appropriated

video clips, embodied the Œfair useı concept of copyright taken to its

ultimate logical conclusion. It is now available at any Sound Warehouse on

Polygram Video.


THE BOOK OF THE SUBGENIUS switched publishers from McGraw-Hill, who had

stupidly wasted the meager p.r. money on yuppie college students, to Simon

& Schuster, who wisely marketed it to ANYBODY CRAZY. I was commissioned to

do a second, ³safer² book, High Weirdness By Mail, a nonfiction overview of

all rival cults and extremists, from UFO nuts to white supremacists to the

sickest in underground magazines. Meanwhile, we were getting invited to

more club dates for preaching, and more radio stations were running The

Hour of Slack.


Meanwhile, the real-life, street-level aspects of the Church were flaring

far out of our control, or Dobbsı. People were standing on car hoods,

ranting, all over the country. Heinous pranks against God, state and church

were being performed in every city. A kind of small SubGenius subculture

developed, embodied at the so-called ³Dokstok² gatherings in the deep

South, which were like Woodstock on acid, and then on acid again. The Merry

Pranksters of Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test fame had finally found someone to

carry the tablets. Things that happened at the Dokstoks eclipse the

weirdness embodied in all rock festivals, pagan gatherings, witch circles,

and ³raves² combined. Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix would have been

impressed at the levels of illuminated partying occuring among what had

previously been disconsolate rednecks in the most ignored places of



When home computers became popular, various SubGenius BBS nets started up.

We edited another book for Simon and Schuster, Three Fisted Tales of ³Bob,²

which was an anthology of short stories about Dobbs for which we recruited

such luminaries as William Burroughs and Robert Anton Wilson. Even MTV got

into the act, paying us to produce a ³commercial² for ourselves as one of

their ³In Your Eye² Art Breaks.


And still we were making no real money, even off of our mail-order

operation. Dobbs must have been intercepting most of it.


In 1990 I was invited to preach at a huge neo-Pagan gathering called

Starwood in rural New York, sponsored by Ohioıs Association for

Consciousness Exploration (or A.C.E., of Cleveland). Repeated subsequent

Devivals in this Pagan milieu, combined with a particularly disgusting and

sexist Stark Fist issue, somehow prompted a whole new breed of SubGenius

preachers to come into existence: WOMEN. It seemed the Goddess liked ³Bob²

‹ or maybe just Connie, Dobbsı Primary Wife. SubGenius Devivals began to

take on a more rave-like, sensuous aspect, with shows in trendy clubs like

Clevelandıs Smart Bar being preached by stripper-preachers like Sister

Mary2 Au Contraire (our new superstar), the balladeer Sister Melodious

Chopps, Rev. Velveteen Sly and the bump-and-grind Rev. Suzy the Floozy.

Membership rose, in a couple of different ways.


Then came the counterfeiters, rip-offs and Slack Vampires, but weıll get

to those later.




How many members do you have?


There are now approximately 6,000 of the $20 Ordained

Ministers/Subscribers. Our three books have sold from 15,000 to 45,000

copies, depending on when they were published (they have slow but steady

sales, and are all still in print). Weıve printed about 50,000 of those

little $1 pamphlets. So I would estimate the total number of people who

CALL themselves SubGeniuses, but are leery of sending the $20, at around 30

or 40 thousand maybe, tops. Who knows? Of course, most of the True SubGenii

on the planet havenıt even heard of ³Bob² or the Church yet.


Keep in mind that SubGeniuses come in all types. There is no Œtypicalı

SubGenius. The geeky so-called Bobbies arenıt real SubGenii, just money

sources. In my networking and travels I encounter little old ladies,

college kids, seemingly straight businesspersons, skatepunks, old hippies,

doctors, artists and show-biz types, truck drivers, Pagans, Deadheads, FBI

and ATF infiltrators... it really runs the gamut as far as age, race,

creed, etc. There are even Christian SubGeniuses, Orthodox Jewish SubGenii,

and Buddhist SubGenii. I donıt know of any Moslem SubGeniuses. There are

SubGenii in Brazil, Israel, Kenya, The Peopleıs Republic of China, and all

over Europe and the English-speaking world in general.


The Church itself is all people who study and support the teachings of J.R.

³Bob² Dobbs. Many such people are technically SubGeniuses, but not ordained

Members. Anybody can read our book and then say they are members of the

Church. That wonıt do you much good, however, compared to what happens when

you send in your $20 for an official ordainment ‹ which is a real

ordainment, by the way; youıll be a real minister, able to perform legal

marriages ‹ and start getting your Stark Fist journal in the mail. The

magazine tells you about local SubGenius types you might want to meet, sell

things to, or have sex with or whatever; you also learn which nearby

stations carry the radio show, when revivals are coming up, etc. At that

point youıre dealing with The SubGenius Foundation, Inc., a business which

is the only authorized mass outreach arm of the Church, and which is run by

me. There is a reason for the Church to have such a business front ‹

without it, any idiotic TV executive could start making bad ³wacky

SubGenius² sitcoms about ³Bob,² which would instantly destroy the integrity

of ³Bobıs² message. (Itıs been tried.) Not to mention that none of the

people whoıve worked so hard for the Church all these years would ever see

any of the money. At least, as long as the trademark stays in our hands,

they get some meager pittance. Thatıs better than nothing, and infinitely

better than seeing the Church coopted by Hollywood.


Our next big project will be an album or a series of albums, and after

that, a movie. The problem is that we have to tenaciously hang onto

creative control. The second some L.A./Hollywood ad-boy committee gets hold

of this thing, itıll be ruined. We have learned our lessons from our

predecessors ‹ John Kicfallusi, creator of Ren and Stimpy, would be a

recent example.




Who are some of the more prestigious SubGenius Members?


Our idea of prestige, or Theirs? I consider the unknown Arkansas preacher

Janor Hypercleats one of our most valued contributors. But his name doesnıt

drop well in polite society. Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO is probably the most

famous frequent SubGenius collaborator. One of my partners and practically

a co-founder, Paul Mavrides, has lately been starting to get the

recognition he deserves. He designs our books, and generally polices my

tendency to get all sappy and sentimental. Heıs best known for comics like

The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers and Anarchy, but his paintings and

³serious² art are getting more and more attention. Other artists and

weirdos who are famous and happen to also be SubGenius ministers include

the painters Robert Williams and Gary Panter; cartoonists R. Crumb, Gilbert

Shelton, the late Rick Griffin, and many more; movie directors Jonathan

Demme and Mike ³Wizard of Speed and Time² Jittlov; counterculture heroes

Ken Kesey, Pee Wee Herman and Timothy Leary; philosopher Robert Anton

Wilson, and ³cyberpunk² writers like Rudy Rucker, John Shirley, and Lewis

Shiner; David Ossman of The Firesign Theater... A lot of the SubGenius

³celebs² are secretly famous ‹ that is, theyıre worshipped in their odd

field: Michael Peppe the performance artist, for instance, or Winston Smith

the collage guy. We and the ³band² Negativland have been scratching each

otherıs backs for 10 years. There really hasnıt been much serious rock star

or movie star interest. David Byrne was a dues-paying Sub for awhile but

drifted away. In rare cases Iıll go out of my way to try to recruit a

fringe rock star... I failed with Oingo Boingo (Elfman doesnıt answer mail,

probably the key to his success), but succeeded with the Rainmakers ‹ who

subsequently broke up, damn it.




What type of mail do you get?


We get roughly 20 pieces a day, ranging from wonderful through really

bizarre to really awful. My favorite, of course, are the money orders from

fanatical customers. Next best are the tapes, art and written pieces from

people who are about to be, or deserve to be, famous ‹ heretofore

little-known bands like The Swinging Love Corpses of St. Louis, or artists

like Joe Schwind. We get some absolutely mind-blowing unsolicited

contributions of this nature. Then there are those who say to themselves,

³Oh, they guys think theyıre so weird, eh? Well, Iıll show Œem WEIRD²...

and they send things like blood and skin, or photos of the Dobbs art

theyıve had tattooed onto their bodies. Just today I got a package

containing the leftovers of some weird occult ritual -- a black hood, an

envelope of ashes, a vial of sperm, and a blood-soaked letter in an unknown

tongue. We also get long ³confessions² from mutants ‹ some of these folks

spill their guts out to ³Bob² or whoever is reading the mail (usually me),

and the stories they tell can be pretty damn strange, or heart-wrenching.

Thereıs a lot of loneliness out there. So-called ³crackpots² and ³kooks²

send us a lot of information on alternative medicine, conspiracy exposés,

etc. The only ³bad² mail we get are unfunny jokes from Bobbies, and

complaints about our mail-order slowness. (Usually, itıs the Post Officeıs





The Church is anti-drugs. Why? What if your Members use drugs anyway?


Huh? We said that? Oh yeah, right, I forgot, thereıs a War on Drugs on.

Even if we were gobbling vast quantities of LSD every other weekend, and

dancing naked around bonfires and participating in glorious orgies, do you

think weıd tell YOU??


Actually, weıre not anti-drug; weıre against the stupid use of drugs.

Especially the stupid use of stupid drugs (like speed, alcohol or MTV).

Probably even the stupid use of ³smart drugs.²


Itıs not that weıre against drugs, itıs just that we think they arenıt

usually NECESSARY. ³Bob² should be enough. Then again, having arms and legs

isnıt absolutely NECESSARY, and quite frankly, ³Bob² ISNıT always enough.

He goes pretty well with psychedelics, apparently. From what Iıve been

TOLD, you understand. A HELL of a lot of SubGeniuses are dedicated drug

users, but itıs almost always Œsoft drugsı like marijuana and other

psychedelics. Hard drugs like booze, coke, TV... well, as ³Bob² says, ³If

you canıt get real Slack, False Slack is better than none at all.² The

problem with drugs is, humans get hold of them and abuse them. Pinks like

to get real drunk, drive real fast and do violence. We like to get real

stoned, think real fast, and do sex. Thatıs the difference. We think all

victimless crimes ought to be legalized, at least for SubGeniuses.


Offhand, why, I can think of several SubGeniuses who donıt take drugs.


People tend to assume that what ³Bob² has in his Pipe is marijuana.

Usually, heıs smoking the sacred Tibetan herb, Habafropzipulops, or ŒFrop

for short, which grows only on the graves or droppings of dead Tibetan holy

men or fullblood Yetis. Itıs a rare but legal herb, and you NEVER come down

from it. Whatıs ironic is that the term ŒFrop has lately become a slang

term for marijuana, even among people who never heard of Dobbs. And the

Feds have already caught on, incidentally; the handbook for the New Jersey

state highway cops instructs them that a ³Bob² bumper sticker is reasonable

cause to stop and search a car for drugs. Honest!


(Similarly, I sometimes see our jargon used by people who donıt know

anything about the Church... words like, ³Pinks² and ³bulldada.² It feels

good to know that one has contributed something new to the English





10. What sort of problems has the Church run into with blasphemy?


None. Weıre all for it. Oh, you mean problems from others. Weıve had

disappointingly little hate-mail or bomb threats. Believe it or not,

blaspheming is not yet illegal in this country, as long as you donıt use

FCC-disapproved curse words. I do know that some ³cult watchdogs² like the

Cult Awareness group try to warn people away from the Church because they

say itıs now a full-fledged ³cult,² just like the Branch Davidians. But

theyıre all so timid... Christian talk-show host Bob Larson occasionally

lambasts us as one of the Devilıs more subtle ploys, but I donıt blame him;

SubGeniuses are constantly pranking the guy. Down at the KNON radio

station, where we do Hour of Slack live, we get the rare bomb threat, but

the people who call those in are so self-evidently braindead that we donıt

even bother to call the cops about it anymore.


Weıve had a lot more problems from white supremacists than from any regular

run-of-the-mill Christians. Maybe itıs because the Christians see that we

are the ³mockers² foretold for the End Times, and are just doing our part

to fulfill Biblical prophecy. Weıve always said we were trying to ³undo²

the buckle of the Bible Belt, so that its pants would drop and it would be

forced to gaze, unflinching, on its own private desires; maybe they LIKE



I know lots of people who are harassed by religious nuts, though. Iıve

become very sensitive to making sure, in my critiques of goofy cults, to

separate Wiccans and Druids and suchlike Pagan types from Satanism. I

consider the Satanism hysteria to be a very dangerous outgrowth of

fundamentalist Christianity, based almost entirely on their own paranoia

and self-delusions. Especially when COPS, who should know better, fall for

this ³Satanic cults² garbage.




What about problems with the IRS?


Of course, any dealings by anyone with the IRS are always nightmarish. They

have never paid much attention to The SubGenius Foundation, Inc., per se,

because a quick scan of our bank records would tell the whole sad story. I,

personally, as an individual, was audited in 1983 and 1984, and it caused

me the worst headache I ever had in my life, but because I kept books so

badly they decided I owed them taxes on money I never made ‹ but I donıt

really think I was being targeted due to my SubGenius activity. Itıs just

that I was claiming ³office in the home,² and when you try to claim that,

their computers send them after you. (In the end, they decided that,

although I did all my work at home, I didnıt make enough money to qualify

my home as an ³office.²) Since then, even though I have the most legitimate

claim for ³office in the home² in the world, I have never claimed it;

theyıd just audit me again, and nothingıs worth that headache.


Itıs probably just a coincidence that my partner, Dr. Philo Drummond, was

audited the same years.


If you want to hear tax nightmares, check out Paul Mavrides. Heıs had the

feds and the State of California both coming down on him like a relentless

hammer for several years now. He insists that itıs not because heıs one of

the most virulent critics of the government and the Conspiracy, but merely

that they want every dime they can possibly get out of every cartoonist in

the U.S., starting with him.


You see, we have to fight paranoia. We have to pretend our phones arenıt

bugged and our tiny bank accounts arenıt monitored by the Feds or the CIA

or whoever; otherwise weıd go NUTS ‹ weıd be right where they want us. Just

because we wonıt let up on this silly ³JFK assassination² thing or this

³Iran/Contra² thing... I mean, if you start thinking that Theyıre after

you, you get REALLY paranoid.


Personally, I believe that my lackadaisical attitude and lack of real

paranoia has made me immune to harassment by UFOs, Men in Black, the

C.I.A., the N.S.A., etc. I tell myself that, CONSTANTLY. Those buzzes and

clicks on my phone, and the ones in my head, are JUST TECHNICAL PROBLEMS,









Copyright 1997 by Rev. Ivan Stang / 1st Orthodox Stangian

MegaFisTemple Lodge of People's Covenant Church of the

Wrath of Dobbs Yeti, Resurrected / The SubGenius Foundation,Inc.

PO Box 140306 Dallas TX 75214 / Fax 214-320-1561 / PRABOB -- SubSITE of SlackWhat has the Church trademarked?


The Face of Dobbs. That graphic. Thatıs all we really need. No ³Church of

the SubGenius² rip-offs could possibly survive without that Face. The

classic portrait of ³Bob² is what justifies and legitimizes literally

everything else we do.


All of our individual works are copyrighted, of course, usually in the

names of SubGenius Foundation and the participants. In other words, if some

Conspiracy T-shirt company wanted to make shirts out of some SubGenius

slogan or illustration, theyıd have to have permission both from us and

from that particular artist, and royalties would be divied up 50-50 the

same way.


Itıs a shame that we have to be sticklers for Conspiracy legalities but

itıs necessary, not only to prevent thievery from ourselves, but also from

our innocent contributors. Look at Robert Crumb ‹ out of idealism, he never

copyrighted his ³Keep On Truckinı² illustrations, and hippie capitalists

made zillions off of bumperstickers of those drawings. I know that Crumb

could have used that money when HE was being pestered by the IRS.


Personally, for a number of reasons, I would love to be rich or famous

enough to leave the U.S. and go live somewhere that I wouldnıt constantly

be harassed by minor government officials ‹ a place where I could BUY OFF

those officials, REAL CHEAP. Itıs depressing to me to have to think that

way, because Iım a patriot after a fashion... I mean, Iıd rather stay in my

country and help improve it. And Iım acutely aware that this is practically

the only nation on the planet where I could get away with broadcasting The

Hour of Slack in 17 cities. But the way they drain tax money even from a

poverty-stricken wretch like me, and the uses to which that money is put,

are enough to make one yearn for a nice corrupt Central American state.

Also, the crime here gets on my nerves. The really hideous thing is, in

most other countries, itıs a hundred times WORSE. Maybe not so many

gun-slinging murderers, but every other kind of crime. I used to be for

total gun control; I still think there should be a 7-day waiting period,

but after the latest few neighborhood robberies and the Branch Davidians

debacle in nearby Waco, I am starting to feel like Iıd better cling

tenaciously to my right to bear arms. BIG arms. Itıs almost like,

worldwide, thereıs this feeling of ³every man for himself.² And I really

hate that feeling.




What sort of problems has the Church run into over the years with charlatans?


Well, you know, when you get right down to it, weıre ALL charlatans. You

wouldnıt be much of a SubGenius if you WERENıT one, to some extent. The

most disturbing cases have been these yo-yos who show up every year or so,

nut cases who really, actually believe that they themselves are

³Bob²/Jesus, or Jesus/Crowley, or whatever... It seems that once a year

somebody comes along to whom I end up being forced to say, ³Uh, listen,

thereıs a few things I maybe ought to TELL you regarding ³Bob² and the



Sometimes itıs just obsessive fans, college-age kids who find their way to

my door expecting spiritual enlightenment. SORRY. I do my best in these

cases to serve as an example of a POLITE PERSON who ISNıT NUTS. But the

REAL CRAZIES... there have been a few. Usually they send us a few letters

and are so disappointed by my reply they they never write back. But there

have been people like The Hawaiian Jesus. He was this hippie who had been

living on a pot farm in Maui, and maybe reading the Bible too long under

the hot sun... he flew to Dallas and announced to me that he was Jesus,

reincarnated. (He originally meant to tell this to ³Bob², but I was, sadly,

as close as he could get.) He looked the part, if you go by those Sunday

School paintings. He brought with him a bunch of marijuana that smelled so

strongly, even through the sealed plastic bags, you could whiff it for

yards around. His plan was to get himself, and us, busted, so that he could

appear on Johnny Carson that night (by virtue of our amazing media

connections and lawyers!) and discuss the Biblical evidence that, not only

was pot meant to be used, but that he was Jesus. I managed to talk him down

from this plan, and I got rid of him by giving him the addresses of several

white supremacist groups in Alabama and Mississippi that shared with him

the concept of ³Identity Christianity,² the theory that the real ³Jews² are

the Anglos... he thought he had come up with that theory himself.


He was generally a really nice guy, and he did ACT and LOOK like the Prince

of Peace, if you go by Hollywood movie versions of Jesus. I told him I

didnıt believe he was the Lord, and that I thought he had a Messiah

complex, but that I would help ³spread word of his Presence² ‹ and weıve

done that. His name is Will Small. So be ready for His Arisal!


Thereıs always some street person pestering us with their revelations that

they are ³Bob² or the Anti²Bob², and they tend to sound really sad, and

they cave in when challenged by me, but at least theyıre so poor they canıt

come to Dallas.


Then thereıs Bob Dean. Heıs another one who says he IS ³Bob² Dobbs.

Unfortunately, whereas most of his competitors are street people, heıs got

a sugar daddy... and with this rich kidıs help, heıs actually released two

CDs under the name Bob Dobbs. (³Bob² without the quotes; he knew heıd get

sued if he used the quotes.)


In 1987 this young Toronto man, Bob Dean, and his wife showed up at my

house to tell me he was ³Bob² and that he was going to be doing radio talk

shows on CKLN, Toronto, under that name. He was a lot craftier than the

street psychos in that he made me think he was really just putting me on,

that he wasnıt actually crazy. He did seem rather unhealthily fixated on a

small number of personalities that I consider to be kooks ‹ the anonymous

³Cosmic Awareness² teacher, Lyndon LaRouche, and a few other fringe

philosophers. So I basically told him I would be happy to see him play

SubGenius tapes on the radio, but that I didnıt think it was a good idea to

claim he WAS ³Bob² ‹ for one thing, he wasnıt ³Bob², and for another, he

didnıt LOOK like ³Bob², and mainly, he didnıt sound anything like ³Bob² at

all. He went away babbling about how happy he was to be ³Bob.²


Nothing much happened until early 1992. Over the intervening years Iıd

gotten a few letters from Toronto-area SubGenius fans who thought I should

shut this fake ³Bob² down. At some point he was mixing SubGenius stuff with

readings from The Protocol of the Elders of Zion, which is an infamous

anti-semitic tract/hoax. The anti-semitic aspect really ticked me off and I

complained to CKLN, with no response. I have since heard that Dean was

fired from CKLN.


I soon received a package of publicity materials from DovEntertainment of

Toronto, announcing this BOBıS MEDIA ECOLOGY album by Nelson Thall and Bob

Dobbs (actually Bob Dean). All of their publicity descriptions of the album

were worded in such a way that the blurbs could just as easily describe my

projects and other authorized SubGenius projects. I.e., ³The album is a

transmutation of pop-culture sounds and the almighty spoken word, as

assembled from media guru Bob Dobbsı radio broadcasts between 1988 and

1991.² To most people with any passing familiarity with anything

³SubGenius,² that describes my radio show.


At no time was I asked permission that our names and concepts be used, and

no offer of royalties was ever made. They had sent me the album because

they thought I might REVIEW it or something!


I simultaneously received letters from friends who had seen full-color,

full-page, expensive ads for the album in magazines and assumed weıd ³sold

out² because they used such trendy, unSubGenius-like jargon. But, because

it was by ³Bob Dobbs,² they assumed it had our blessings. I got pretty

upset at this point.


I called up Gerald Belanger, head of DovEntertainment, and told him I was

quite unhappy and I couldnıt believe they were so obviously trying to rip

us off. Belanger, to my surprise, agreed that we should indeed get

compensation and credit, and he agreed with my suggestion that they put

stickers on the album stating that it was NOT the ³SubGenius² ³Bob² Dobbs

and that we did not authorize it. I actually thought the album was okay ‹

my only objection was that it was being sold with the implication that it

was our stuff! (In the end, Belanger continued to distribute the rip-off

album despite his assurances to me to the contrary.) I called David

Newfeld, the musician and technician who had done the production aspects of

the album, and he also agreed that we had been treated unfairly. He and

Belanger had both been told by Dean that everything Dean had done was with

my approval.


Bob Dean never returned my calls.


I wrote a letter detailing my objections, suggestions and demands. I let

about a month go by, and got no response. I called up Belanger. He said

that he and Newfeld had presented my letter to Dean and Thall and they

³just laughed² and said that we were broke nobodies in another country, you

canıt trademark a name and there was nothing to worry about.


I called Thall. He acted surprised at my complaint, said Bob Dean had told

him he had permission to use the name... and, in fact, that Dean had told

Thall (and a number of other people, such as David Lynch and Frank Zappa)

that Dean had originated the name and character of ³Bob² and that we were

copying HIM. Thall acted like he wanted to get everything straightened out,

and that he was sure we could turn this into a ³win-win² situation. He also

mentioned to me that his family owned a bunch of newspapers in Canada, and

that he was very close to the Marshall McLuhan estate. He suggested that we

meet in Cleveland on Oct.9, as I was to be there to perform, and he would

be on his way south to act as a consultant for the George Bush campaign,

and could stop in, meet me, and offer me ³a deal².


In the meantime, Thall continued to have his hired p.r. firm send out the

same misleading crap Iıd complained about. Even when quizzed about the

rip-off situation, this publicist was telling people that there was no

problem, that Bob Dean was good friends with Stang and had complete

permission. Apparently Thall hadnıt taken my efforts seriously enough to

tell his publicist the truth.


Thall then cancelled our meeting but said he was sure we would reach an

understanding. What understanding, I asked. Your office is still telling

people this is an authorized SubGenius album. Oh, well, he hedged, and

began repeating over and over, as if I hadnıt heard him the first time,

³well, you canıt copyright a name, I never heard of SubGenius before Dean,

but hey, controversy makes money;² heıd cut us in for royalties, ³why donıt

we market each othersı materials and turn this into a money-maker?² (I

paraphrase.) I got pretty stern with him and told him I didnıt like his

idea a bit, and that I did not want Bob Dean ³playing² Bob Dobbs, because

the worst-case scenario was that Dean would show up on David Letterman or

someplace spouting crappy imitation SubGenius stuff and... what next? The

Bob Dobbs Comedy Hour on Fox Network starring Bob Dean? Well, says Thall, I

only produced this album, I canıt control Dean, and my album doesnıt use

your trademarks, so there.


I then received three ad/interview pieces from different publications, all

tying the fake Bob album to our Church.


I called Thall up and informed him of these ads and interviews, and that I

did not want his album being sold anymore, period, until all connection

with us had been removed. He got pretty upset and must have said ten times,

³I have news for you, you canıt copyright a name.² He said heıd never heard

of Church of the SubGenius before Bob Dean and I could try all I wanted, no

way could we say he couldnıt use the name Bob Dobbs. I could not get him to

acknowledge that it was being used within a context that did indeed mislead

people into thinking this was bona fide SubGenius product. That didnıt

³sink in² at all, or at least he acted like it didnıt. Least of all did he

seem to comprehend that there was anything UNETHICAL or even slightly RUDE

about copping someone elseıs character ‹ whether or not they got away with

it. I really think the very concept was over his head.


Then followed the Battle of the Press Releases. I had sent a form letter to

a few select SubGenius collaborators explaining what was going on, and

Thall got the idea that I was sending this letter everywhere. So, to

retaliate, he sent a press release to most of the radio stations, album

distributors, newspapers and music magazines in North America saying that I

was this crazy nobody who was harassing him and the great Bob Dobbs, and

that his Bob was the real Bob because he was a student of McLuhan and had

interviewed Henry Kissinger once, and so everyone should buy or review

their wonderful album. Included was an unfunny ³bio² of their so-called Bob

Dobbs (by ³Connie Dobbs!²) implying that Bob Dean was channeling ³Bob²





How can there be two ³Bob² Dobbs?


There arenıt. Thereıs J.R. ³Bob² Dobbs and then thereıs this jerk in

Toronto named Bob Dean who calls himself Bob Dobbs because nobody will

listen to him otherwise. It may be that he really does think heıs ³Bob.²

Unlike the street people we encounter with Messiah complexes, Dean had the

Thall family fortune to fund him. Basically, this rich kid, Nelson Thall,

wanted to be an Art Boy, so he bought himself a Pet Artist ‹ only the pet

artist turned out to be a shameless and talentless plagiarist. (Well, not

talentless ‹ Deanıs one of the smoothest liars in the world.) But by then

it was too late ‹ Thall had already committed money to distributing this

album. So he has since tried to pretend that they were the great original

thinkers, and that we are some kind of pretenders. Call him up, like

friends of ours have done; thatıs what he or his paid publicist will tell

you. Itıs like they live in their own little insulated world where truth

and history donıt exist... itıs all the McLuhanesque ³electric

environment,² or some such crap, to them.




How has this problem hurt you?


1. Embarrassment 2. Their lies and slander 3. Financially. 4. My health.


#1: EMBARRASSMENT: imagine if somebody was using your name were on the air,

badmouthing Jews and spreading racist propaganda! Wouldnıt you be a little

ticked off? And thatıs only part of it. Dean is just plain SILLY. People

who donıt know any better think, ³Well, if this is the Church of the

SubGenius, I can do without it!² I get letters from people angry that ³we²

would say such mealy-mouthed crap as emits from Dean.


You should hear the interviews that Dean gives. (Iıve heard several because

half of the ones heıs given have been to disguised SubGeniuses, who just

wanted to see how stupid heıd get.) He insists heıs ³Bob² Dobbs ‹ he

refuses to ³step out of character,² EVER ‹ and he claims that back in 1979

he lived in Dallas, and that Philo and I used to ³attend his meetings² and

then ripped HIM off! He says this sort of thing just as straight-faced as

if he actually believed it ‹ even though there are hundreds who can testify

otherwise. Maybe he really does believe it! Thallıs even funnier, in that

heıs nervous around reporters and can never seem to get all his eggs in one

basket. He started off telling one reporter that it was all a big

coincidence ‹ that theyıd never heard of our Church or Dobbs. Then the

reporter asked, ³But then why does the album and p.r. contain all these

other SubGenius phrases and concepts, like Slack, ³Pinks,² ³the

Conspiracy,² Connie Dobbs, the Xists, the word SubGenius, etc. etc.?

Suddenly Thall changed his story and said, yes, there was a connection, but

it was that we stole our ideas from THEM. Smooth move, Nelson baby.


Also, as Dobbs, Dean claims to have helped assassinate JFK and Martin

Luther King. Ha ha, thatıs real funny ‹ if youıre a fascist at heart, I

suppose. Somehow I canıt see the real ³Bob² conspiring in quite that

direction. Coming from Dean, with his attachment to things like The

Protocol of the Elders of Zion, itıs probably wishful thinking.


Their sleaziness and hypocrisy is incredible! Their press release brags

about how they interviewed ³Americaıs number one political prisoner in his

jail cell.² But they wisely donıt say WHO that political prisoner might be.

One might conclude they meant Leonard Peltier. No. If you ask, it turns out

theyıre talking about Lyndon LaRouche!


#2. Their slander hurts us. There are probably a few recipients of their

press releases who had no prior exposure to the Church and believe them

when they say Iım this death-threat-making nut case, and that they with

their lame blatherings represent the true ³Bob². (Can you imagine how

ridiculous this all begins to seem to me??)


#3. Financially: people will buy this album of theirs, listen to it, and

conclude, ³Now I know what SubGenius is about ‹ egomaniacal nonsense. So

much for SubGenius!² And theyıll thenceforth avoid any of our new books and

albums and videos.


#4. My health. (Boo, hoo hoo.) For the first six months I got downright

apoplectic whenever I thought of these guys, and ended up having to get

medicated for blood pressure headaches. Lately, however, theyıve become

such transparent self-caricatures, and have put their own feet so deeply

down their throats, that my attitude has switched to a sort of detached

amusement, watching these ignoramuses dig their own graves in the art

world. ³How deep will they dig that pit?²


Theyıre using us as their publicity stunt. That would be almost admirable,

but for the particularly mean, reactionary and dishonest way theyıve gone

about it. One problem is, theyıre just not funny. Another is that theyıre

entirely ignorant of underground and alternative protocol, and instead do

everything the Œcut-throatı big business style... and they wonder why

theyıre getting hate mail!




What are some of the legal issues involved here?


Copyright infringement, obviously. Thereıs really no question that we could

win that, in court... the problem is, weıd have to send a lawyer to Canada

or hire one there just to get started, and weıre dead broke, and they know

it. And would it be worth it? Thatıs a MASSIVE headache, and I have a book

to finish. If they were in the U.S. itıd be a simple cease-and-desist

letter. But they know weıre financially hamstrung while they have literally

limitless funds. Thallıs dad owns a bunch of Canadian newspapers, and I

guess he must give little Nelson all he needs... like that personal

helicopter of his.


What Iım looking forward to is the ³damages² suit for slander and libel.

All I have to do is bide my time and theyıll blow it, big time. Theyıve

publicly accused me of sending them all this hate mail and harassing them

by phone. Actually, Iıve never given their number or address out to any

SubGenii, and I certainly never harassed them. Theyıre the ones who sent

all these idiotic press releases out, giving their number ‹ and they wonder

why theyıre getting angry calls, and why their sample CDs to radio stations

are returned to them, all smashed to pieces with a hammer! PLENTY of people

can see through their scheme and are angry without any inciting on our

part. Thall and Dean are so dense they literally donıt comprehend why

anybody besides me might be angry at them. Itıs almost hilariously typical

of the stupid rich, and yuppie business practices ‹ like a cartoon of the

Œheartless silver spoons² vs. the ³lovable tin cups.²




Why hasnıt your ³Bob² Dobbs spoken up?


The real ³Bob² has spoken up. He is quoted extensively in our publications

regarding the problems of Bobbies and misrepresentations of the Church. But

heıs way too busy and lucky to have to deal with a couple of pathetic,

jealous nobodies like Dean and Thall. He probably doesnıt even know about

them. Besides, we donıt negotiate with terrorists.




20. How do the two Bobs differ in style and content?


Bob Dean embodies a lot of what ³Bob² Dobbs stands against... abject,

uncreative dishonesty being number one. The true ³Bob² is funny, yet angry,

yet compassionate. Dean is none of those; instead, heıs a glib egomaniac

who talks mainly about what a wise and insightful guy he himself is. Heıs a

gross elitist, with kind of a fascist, right-wing edge to his rap ‹ but

without the satire!! His big heroes include LaRouche and Kissinger. Also,

whereas Dobbsı teachings may sound downright absurd to disbelievers, there

actually is a very coherent, if psychedelicised, logic to his Word. He

makes sense in a weird sort of way. Dean, on the other hand, showers his

listeners with trendy jargon that doesnıt actually make a lick of sense.

Itıs confusing in an annoying way... because itıs not deliberately

confusing. Dean has a tendency to sound like a coke-head with a big

vocabulary, but none of what he says really Œconnectsı on any emotional

level, except maybe with die-hard McLuhan cultists.


Heıs fixated on a small number of select crackpots and visionaries, and he

takes them altogether too seriously (Mae Brussell, LaRouche, Cosmic

Awareness, etc.). We synthesize ALL kooks.... but we tell our audience to

distrust them, and be selective as they look into what they have to say ‹

not worship them.


These two guys worship Marshall McLuhan the way I worship Jimi Hendrix.

Itıs SICK. They take McLuhanıs basic rap, and put our name on it. I suspect

that one reason theyıve been so nasty is that I didnıt show proper respect

for their Œgodı in conversations with them. The fact they theyıve memorized

McLuhanıs essays and kissed the butt-shoes of the great man himself simply

doesnıt impress me in the least. Any intellectual nerd could do that.




Comment on the second counterfeit CD, and how Negativland was duped.


This is one of the saddest aspects of the whole deal. Negativland and the

Church have, of course, been mutually exploiting each other since 1984,

when they opened at our infamous Night of Slack Devival in San Francisco.

We have a lot in common. Anyway, even after I had started complaining to

Thall, he and Dean decided to do a second BOBıS MEDIA ECOLOGY album. Only

this time, they would hire the hippest of the hip to remix the material

from their first album. They paid Steve Stein and Negativland, both of whom

surely needed the cash, to do short, 5-minute bits. When Mark Hosler and

the other Negativland guys got the tape, they asked, ³Hey ‹ this doesnıt

sound very SubGenius-like; did you get permission to do this from the guys

in Dallas?² At which point Thall said, ³YES.² So they did these remixes.


Now, Negativland isnıt just angry that they got rooked into contributing to

a rip-off. It was even worse than that. The packaging of BOBıS MEDIA

ECOLOGY 2 is done in such a way that it appears to be a Negativland album ‹

their name is the main thing you see, even though they did only 5 minutes

of the whole thing. Ironic, thatıs for sure, considering the U-2

disaster... but one good thing came out of it. Dean and Thall are now hated

not only by me, and all SubGeniuses, but also by Negativland and all

Negativland fans who know about this debacle. You can call up Mark Hosler

or Chris Grigg or Don Joyce if you have any question about this.


This is one example of why I say that Dean and Thall arenıt just dishonest,





A 1987 pamphlet of yours says that ³the official High Priest/Priestess I.D.

card that comes with membership encourages the new SubGenius to twist the

Church for his own ends.² How do you feel about the Canadian Bob Dobbs in

light of that?


Twist it, sure.... not that it could be much more twisted. We didnıt expect

anybody to claim to be the whole thing, lock stock and barrel. We never

said that property was theft. Thatıs for Commies. Weıve always encouraged

people to ³take the ball and run with it,² but we certainly never thought

anybody would be greedy enough to claim they WERE the ball, and that

everybody was supposed to run with them.


Hundreds of people ‹ no, thousands ‹ have managed to collaborate with us,

to indeed twist the Church their own ways. Weıve never had any trouble with

a single one of those thousands of people, because it was a mutual

exploitation. This is the first time anybody has CHEATED us, tried to cut

us out entirely. Thall will argue that he offered us ³a deal.² Sure he did,

but only after we threatened to sue. And some deal ‹ heıd allow us to buy

his albums from him and resell them.




22. Whatıs pissed you off most in this hassle, and what have you learned

from it?


Number one: rich people can do any damn thing they want. And they think

itıs funny if somebody whoıs poor suffers because of it.


I know how that sounds... how ³bleeding heart liberal, have-not² that

sounds. But itıs the horrible damn truth. The hideous, nightmarish truth.


Unconnected to the Dean/Thall thing, one disturbing revelation I got from

doing SubGenius, in general, was how many people are so prejudiced against

perceived ³success² on the part of their own friends. There are those

so-called SubGenii, either mean or just plain stupid, who see our video in

a store and instantly assume it means 1) weıre now rich, 2) therefore we

must have Œsold outı, and 3) that weıre now inaccessible assholes who think

theyıre ³above² everyone else. Actually, my phone number is in the Stark

Fist and anybody who wants to can call me up. Our address is printed on

everything we do, and itıs not like some fulfillment company handles the

mail. I take the mail out of the P.O. box myself. When we do live shows we

donıt hide out backstage ‹ weıre at the sales table, hawking our goods,

gabbing with our awestruck fellow Subs, etc. Unfortunately, since Iıve

achieved some minor notoriety, all these naive kids think that means Iım in

some ivory tower somewhere. Actually Iım in a backyard outhouse in Dallas

and, considering the kinds of fruitcakes I have to deal with on a daily

basis, Iım pretty damned available. I would say that I am probably the most

accessible and least snobbish of all SubGenius members. Thatıs my ³job.²



(continued, Part 3.)



Copyright 1997 by Rev. Ivan Stang / 1st Orthodox Stangian

MegaFisTemple Lodge of People's Covenant Church of the

Wrath of Dobbs Yeti, Resurrected / The SubGenius Foundation,Inc.

PO Box 140306 Dallas TX 75214 / Fax 214-320-1561 / PRABOB -- SubSITE of Slack


Moving into other gray areas, your ³Bob² has appeared again and again in

the computer world. Any comments on the Mac virus?


Wow. That one was a gas. The only time we ever seem to get national press

is when somebody else does something in our name. Essentially, the Church

got blamed in the press for the first Macintosh virus, even though nobody

on our mailing list had anything to do with it.


The story goes: On March 2, 1989 (?) (I canıt remember), on all Macintosh

computers that had been infected (by modem usually), there appeared on

those screens upon ³booting up² a message advocating world peace, with a

graphic of the earth. All well and good. It was a benign virus; after

flashing this corny New Age message onscreen, it disappeared forever, and

theoretically caused no damage at all. Understandably, those Mac users who

saw it were upset that their systems had been transgressed. Frankly, I

think they should have been thankful for it, because this was the first

thing that caused national attention to be focused on viruses, yet through

a benign virus! Its existence probably alerted thousands to the dangers of

malignant computer viruses, and prompted them to use virus-cleansing

programs, probably in the nick of time.


It wasnıt even anonymous. The creator, Richard Brandow, was credited

onscreen. But the San Francisco Chronicle called him up and asked him why

heıd done it. He said that heıd been inspired by prankster groups like the

Neoists and the SubGenii. The Chronicle latched onto that ³SubGenius²

connection (the Church having been a big fad in SF at the time), and

suddenly all the wire services were carrying the story that this ³joke that

turned into a cult² was responsible for the most vile and evil computer

virus known to man. It was publicity you couldnıt buy for a million bucks,

even though there wasnıt a shred of truth in it.


If the Church were to create a computer virus, you can rest assured that,

firstly, it would NOT be a corny message of ³world peace² that was

displayed onscreen, and secondly, that it would NOT infect JUST THE

COMPUTER. The SubGenius virus is an organic one that would affect even the

userıs PETS.


The best part of all was that newspapers all over the country were stating

that ³Bob² Dobbs was a sinister cult leader who had been assassinated in

1984, and his deranged followers had commissioned this deadly virus to be

invented. It certainly taught me how much to trust what I read in the

papers or hear on the news!


I donıt feel sorry for those who got unreasonably bent out of shape over

the thing; I know it terrified countless computer geeks with the EASE with

which their holy machines had been invaded. But that was a lesson they

should have been glad to learn the easy way. If it damaged any systems, Iım

sorry those owners think we had anything to do with it. They should be glad

we didnıt; for if we had, their screens might have been exploding all over

the world...




Didnıt the Amiga computer end up with ³Bobıs² head as a font or a keyboard



Well, itıs not the actual Dobbshead, itıs a sort of digitized, mini-iconic

symbol of a Dobbshead. We were pleased as punch at that. The way it

happened: a pal of ours was working as a programmer on the Amiga during its

development, and had been using the Dobbshead as a sort of test-pattern.

The other programmers loved it and it ended up as one of the dedicated

Œfontsı or whatever. The funny thing is, the first person who brought it to

my attention was Robert Anton Wilson, whoıd been given a prototype Amiga

for testing purposes. Since itıs only a few millimeters high, it doesnıt

look like the real ³Bob², but only gives the impression of being him... so

itıs perfect, it spreads his legend without damaging our trademark.




There are also IBM computer BBSs which celebrate ³Bob² Dobbs. Any comments

on those?


I wish I had the time and modem to follow these and participate. My partner

Philo monitors some of that. The gossip we hear about ourselves is great.

Itıs incredible to read these people who have never met you arguing about

your personal life. Iıd like to know where they get some of their stories.

I have read on BBSs that I am nearly blind; that I see Dobbs in dreams;

that I have a dozen wives and girlfriends; that I have a dozen husbands and

boyfriends; that Iım rich; that I forced somebody to send someone else a

mail-bomb; that Iım dead. (God forbid that the ACTUAL TRUTH get out!!) One

gratifying thing is that I keep seeing variations on my old Brag of the

SubGenius... there must be a couple of hundred different Brags floating

around out there on the net.


What distresses me is that there arenıt any parodies of the Church. Of

course, itıs the ultimate parody of all life on earth, but... youıd think

somebody would do it anyway. So far the only good parody of the Church was

done by one of Dobbsı own 13 Apostles, St. Janor Hypercleats, with his

³Church of DON.²




The Church sells some audio and video tapes. Which sell best and what will

people learn by getting them?


Theyıll learn hundreds of cool new lines they can use to impress their

friends, first off. Mainly theyıll be entertained and simultaneously fired

up with renewed righteous hate for the Conspiracy.


The distinguishing factor about our tapes is the editing style. Weıve been

perpetuating this manic style for 13 years, and now MTV and big radio

stations have begun to try to catch up with us. We collage everything from

recordings of our own devival preachings and songs, to clips from radio

preachers and monster movies... heard in stereo, itıs actually pretty damn

spectacular, although, like our predecessors The Firesign Theater, it

requires close concentration by the listener. You can hear any given

SubGenius tape or radio show a dozen times and youıll keep finding nuggets

you missed before.


Our video ARISE has been excerpted on the syndicated TV show Nightflight

for several years now, but in censored form. ARISE would be a good place

for anybody to start soaking in SubGenius electronic media. On the other

hand, the cassette tapes are a lot cheaper. Our tape, ³Media Barrage 10:

REPENT!² is a real good starter; although almost 10 years old, it embodies

the linear yet brain-twisting style of the SubGenius mini-cut technique.

You CANNOT be BORED by any SubGenius tape; you might be NUMBED, but thatıs

because you tried to take in too much at once. If you like Negativland, or

DEVO, or crazed preacher-comics like Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks, youıll

CREAM or OOZE over SubGenius.


The Hour of Slack radio program is the most vibrant SubGenius output going,

right now. A lot of people buy whatever is the latest Hour of Slack (if

they donıt live in a place where itıs on the air), and then theyıre hooked.

Or they buy our Best Of HoS tape. These and the media barrages are equal

parts music, ranting and collage. We also have a few tapes that are nothing

but music, such as The Hairs in ³Bobıs² Ears, and the new ³Bobıs² Media

Pollution. Generally, any given SubGenius audio tape is a cross-section of

many different bands, ranters, preachers and tape-cutters.


Although ARISE is distributed by Polygram (not that weıve seen any royalty

statements from them for a whole year), we have produced several other

videotapes which may be of equal interest to countercultural diehards,

which we alone sell. ³Pre-Dobbs Stangfilms² is chock-full of the claymation

pornography and satirical underground travelogs I did before I worked for

Dobbs, plus a lot of stuff censored from ARISE. We also sell videos of

certain special live stage devivals, intercut with video/computer

psychedelia... such as the ³Rant Nı Rave² videotape starring Sister Mary2

and myself, and ³Night of Slack² from the infamous San Francisco show where

³Bob² was first assassinated. That one has all the classic old-time

SubGenius preachers: Pope David Meyer, St. Janor Hypercleats, Dr. Hal

Robins, Pope Sternodox, and The Band That Dare Not Speak Its Name.




Surely your tapes have been pirated and people have traded copies without

paying the Church. How do you feel about that?


It helps us at this stage, and probably always will help us. If we were

persnickety about this, weıd print our stuff on orange paper so it couldnıt

be xeroxed.


Much of the Hour of Slack radio material come from tapes traded to me. I

canıt afford to go buy albums by, say, Diamanda Galas or Zoogz Rift or

whoever... but I give Œem airplay because theyıre traded to me (often by

the artists themselves). Or, say, somebody gives their pal a copy of our

stuff, in return for some amazing obscure prank call tape (which I

collect). The guy decides he likes our stuff and realizes he can get MORE,

from us ‹ so he sends US a copy of that great prank call tape in trade.

Hell, I probably trade as many tapes as I sell. But it keeps us awash in

new material, all the time. Itıs sort of time-consuming and not very cost

effective, but staying open and loose like this is precisely what makes the

whole money-eating project worthwhile.


Besides, anybody can tune in to Hour of Slack, and copy that. Itıs on in 17

cities. The bigger stations include WFMU (E. Orange, New Jersey, reaching

Manhattan), WCSB Cleveland, WREK Atlanta, and WZRD Chicago. Itıs on in

Madison, Wisconsin and at Stanford University in California... and of

course KNON in Dallas, not that anybody in Dallas pays us any attention

(which is fine with us!).




Do you think any such pirated tapes have ultimately hurt sales, or helps

spread the word about the Church?


As I said, it helps. I trade all kinds of tapes myself. And itıs all the

kind of similarly obscure stuff that you donıt find in stores. However, I

donıt SELL copies of other peopleıs tapes, and if we find out somebody is

simply copying our tapes and selling them, bootlegging us in other words, I

would be pretty pissed. Itıs a moot point, though; theyıd sell even less

copies than we do. In fact, there was this brain-damaged kid in New York or

someplace, Tad something, who decided to advertise bootleg copies of ARISE.understand from my ³moles² that he sold maybe 5 copies. Our braying

laughter at his expense was well worth any slight damage he might have

done; he spent far more on the ads than he ever got back in sales.


Plus, bootleg copies are almost always of poor technical quality. I would

imagine that if a collector purchased a bootleg of ARISE, heıd think, ³Gee,

this is a lot better than I expected... getting a clean stereo copy from

the source would be WORTH it!²




Our readers who collect tapes might wish to know your feelings on recording

and playing tapes with Dolby.


The introduction of Dolby into cheesy home taping decks is one of the

Conspiracyıs sickest, most perverse sales ruses. On the other hand, I must

say that any Pink whoıs fooled by it, deserves to be fooled. I donıt know

ANYBODY who uses Dolby in home taping anymore. In most machines that you or

I can afford, itıs nothing but a sound MUFFLING device. It gets rid of some

hiss, alright; it also eliminates detail and high end. Only an IDIOT would

use it in most home taping situations.


This is not to say that the Dolby system itself is evil. Itıs a wonderful

invention, FOR VERY TOP-OF-THE-LINE GEAR. Itıs great for professional

applications, with the kind of gear used in sound studios. I used to mix

film soundtracks for a living, and in that realm Dolby makes sense. But

home decks are just too clunky and inexact, too low-tech, for Dolby to do

what itıs supposed to. Instead itıs just a misused sales tool.




31. Letıs talk more about the book, High Weirdness by Mail. How did you

discover cool mail, zines, etc.? Your interest predated Factsheet Five, no?


This sounds like boasting, but Mike Gunderloy told me that Factsheet Five

was itself inspired by our early STARK FISTs, which had a section on

oddball publications. Gunderloy was one of the earliest SubGenius

contributors and saw that the world could use more of what we were fitfully

publishing along those lines. In a way, I suppose we were Œnetworkingı

before there was a word for it.


I guess it started for me when, as a young sci-fi movie fan, I did a

fanzine at age 12 to 15... thatıs when I learned how relatively cheap and

easy it was to self-publish, at least for a small circle of weirdos. Later,

after comics went up to 50˘, I started collecting stuff equally weird but

much cheaper than comic books: kook literature. In the early Œ70s I spent

any spare dough on 16mm short films I was producing. I also got involved in

a small network that centered around the Firesign Theater. I may be

mistaken, but I think thatıs where Gunderloy and I first crossed paths ‹ in

fact, several of those old Firesign fan club members later turned into

SubGenius contributors. Anyway, I dropped out of the fanzine world for many

years while raising my kids and making a living editing business films.

Once the Church got moving, I quit the film biz (except for the occasional

banned documentaries, like THE CU CHI TUNNELS, which concerned the Viet

Congıs side of the Vietnam War) and got back into ³underground² publishing

and SubGenius image-mongering. My whole life, Iıve been exploiting what you

might call ³home media², pushing that cheap media as far as the envelope

would stretch. Itıs FUN. You meet good folks that way. Iım sure some would

argue; but theyıre probably the kind who never leave their house. For me,

underground media is in equal parts printing, mailing, video and audio

electronic media, and also phone and personal contacts. I must have ten

thousand acquaintances (as opposed to only a few dozen close friends). Itıs

time-consuming, but then I work fast. Itıs expensive after awhile, but then

I live on the cheap. And, bless her heart, my wife works a regular job,

which fills in during my lean months between being a highly-paid free-lance

writer or editor or whatever it is that I do.



Any especially weird mail you got as a result of High Weirdness?


That book was based on the weird mail Iıd already gotten. What it produced,

however, was some paranoid mail. I had lambasted a number of hate groups in

it, especially white supremacists, and one of those groups ‹ The Church of

the Creator ‹ published a death threat against me in their magazine, Racial

Loyalty. It reprinted my paragraph on them wherein Iıd called them odious

inbred perverts, and they asked that any ³Dallas bootboys² who could locate

³the Jew Stang² should ³remind him what some of our other readers did to a

certain other obnoxious Jew talk show host.² (P.S., the punchline is, not

only am I not Jewish, Iım probably related to these N. Carolina rednecks!)

That wouldnıt have bothered me much, except that I then learned that my

ex-friend Bob Black, in a fit of jealousy over my perceived success with

SubGenius, had sent all those racist groups my real name and home address,

along with my nasty comments about them ‹ in hopes that one of them would

kill me or at least my wife and kids. (This may give you an idea of the

kind of counterculture integrity that exists out there.) This was serious

enough that I called the FBI about it, so that IF my house got burned to

the ground, theyıd know who to investigate. Nothing ever happened. I would

assume that the FBI were glad to have their files on me updated by



The Secret Service investigated the Church in 1982 ‹ showed up at my house

wanting to know if we were serious about advocating killing Reagan. (We

werenıt ‹ exactly.) Theyıd been alerted to us by some good citizen, but

hadnıt seen our materials. I showed them our stuff and they left ordained



One of the jargon-spouting New Age seminar-holding ³teachers² we listed

complained because Iıd called her act ³Witchcraft for Yuppies.² She didnıt

want to be associated with Œwitchcraft.ı In hindsight, I too am sorry I

made that comparison, because Iıd hate to associate the witches I know with

that particularly deadly-corny, trendy dingbat. Iıve come to know a whole

lot of witches in recent years, and several of them are my main

collaborators now. It really dismays me that Œwitchesı get mixed up with

ŒSatanists.ı To this day, Iıve yet to meet a single Satanist in the

Wiccan/Pagan scene. There are Satanists, but from what I can tell theyıre

utter wimps, powerless nerdy geeks who ‹ like role-playing gamers, or the

ŒKlingonı Trekkies ‹ get their kicks through vicarious power fantasies. The

Pagan scene itself seems relatively healthy and Slackful, to me.




What things are you especially proud of?


The best thing about this whole scam has been ³discovering² ³new² artists.

Iıve met so many talented people.... I feel like Iım the lucky guy who

later gets to honestly say, ³Yeah, I was the first person to encourage, or

give airplay to, or publish, that now-famous person!² The mutual

exploitation aspect is GREAT. They need the exposure, and we need the

freshness, the ever-sicker new material.


And friendships. Most of my very best friends I met through the Church.

(Also some of the grossest jerks, but they donıt count.) If youıre patient

enough to tolerate the geeks and glad-handers, you can wade through them to

meet the coolest and most amazing folks on the planet. Itıs certainly paid

off for me in that respect. I can walk through life knowing I am one cool

son of a bitch, if only by virtue of being able to count as friends some of

these Descended Masters that are my SubGenius buddies and girlfriends. I

have an urge to start naming names, but it would never end...


There have been drawbacks, as well. Straddling the brink of poverty is one.

Also, as we get slightly famous, a few people have become jealous...

bitterly jealous, to the point of circulating lies about us, especially me.

And others equate modest success with selling out. Theyıre so stuck in

their little alternative culture world... they only know 50 people, all of

them college age kids, and if 5 of those people also become SubGeniuses,

then they think the Church has become too ³popular² and therefore ³not cool

anymore². Well, I guess those folks were a bit too concerned with being

cool and popular themselves, because it never worried us that much one way

or the other. I suppose theyıll REALLY feel left out when, in 1998, every

man, woman and child on the planet is FORCED to believe in ³Bob² whether

they want to or not!!


Itıs like, for these armchair undergrounders, once you get the barest

smidgen of recognition, youıve ³SOLD OUT.² SOLD OUT!!! Iıd like anybody to

look at the last STARK FIST and say weıve ³sold out.² Hell, itıs so extreme

it offended the most offensive underground cartoonists!




I read you were working on a book about bummers. Is that still in progress?

If so, what sorts of bummers? Are you looking for stories from people?


Iım so glad you asked. Yes, for about 5 years Iıve had my feelers out,

trying to collect first-hand accounts of particularly spectacular,

Œtelling,ı or pathos-laden BAD DRUG TRIPS. These would probably mostly be

Œbad acid tripsı and the like, although terrible alcohol trips are

certainly also included. I have gotten dozens of submissions, but only a

handful of them are well written enough or horrifying enough to be of

interest. A lot of it has been, ³Yeah dude like, I took two hits and drank

ten beers and I puked on my date.² Thatıs not what weıre looking for. We

want VISIONARY bummers. They donıt even have to be ³bummers²; that is, they

can be drug stories that are especially pertinent because of their totally

surreal nature.


Itıs a delicate matter, a thin line to tread, and I have to have REALLY

GOOD SAMPLES in order to even approach a publisher with it. I donıt want it

to be perceived as either and anti-drug book or a pro-drug book; itıs just

accounts of what happened, that will probably be HILARIOUSLY FUNNY to old

psychedelics users, and DREADFULLY PERPLEXING to straight people. It would

also be educational to youngsters who are contemplating getting into

psychedelics, in that it would give them helpful hints as to how to avoid

certain bad situations. The most important thing, to me, is that it

function to prevent panic in first-time users... i.e., theyıd know from

reading this book that no matter how far out there they may feel, they WILL

COME DOWN. What I DONıT want to do is increase the kind of drug hysteria

that wrecked my trips as a teen in the early 70s. (Although without having

had those experiences, I probably wouldnıt be here, doing this, now.) So

what I mainly want is not just entertaining stories, but HONESTY ‹ thatıs

whatıs lacking in so much drug literature. To tell the truth, I could just

choose 20 pseudonyms and write the whole book myself, as could any number

of my friends. But if I can gather together ENOUGH of the MOST COMPELLINGLY

TOLD true stories, it could be more enlightening and entertaining than any

Carlos Castaneda hoax.


Iım very much still looking for stories; I havenıt hit up any publishers

yet. Anyone who has a ³BUMMER² worth telling is most welcome to submit it

to me at my P.O. box in Dallas. Anywhere from 2 to 20 pages, handwritten or

typed, is fine... but I donıt want dopey juvenile garbage, I want powerful





Is there anything else youıd like to add?


There are a couple of thousand SubGeniuses who got involved back in the

early Œ80s and lost interest after awhile. I would like them to know that

the Church has expanded in some very major ways that may re-interest them.

The biggest change is the influx of women, the female influence. Our live

stage devivals are so vastly different from the old parade of bespectacled

male geeks that youıd hardly believe it. With the gorgeous, brilliant,

fast-talking witch-lady preachers like Mary2, and the interactive

giant-screen video backdrops, youıd scarcely recognize the new face of the

Church. Itıs painfully true that for many years our shows were conducted

and attended by what looked like the lowest geeks of sci-fi fandom. That

has changed drastically. There was a time when the Good Sex for Mutants

Dating League was nothing but a bunch of lonely fat guys looking for dates.

Well, that was then. This is now. We have taken the orgiastic ³Dokstok²

spirit and managed to bring it intact into the other hinterlands. You

havenıt lived until youıve undergone, and consummated, a SubGenius ³Short

Duration Mass Marriage Ceremony.² This is a grass-roots movement so weird,

so Midwestern, Southern and hick-like, that, by definition, the trendoids

in L.A. and New York will be the LAST to pick up on it. This is your chance

to show the east and west coasts that TOTAL ALL-OUT FULL-TILT FREEDOM is

MORE available right in your own podunk home town than in the coolest,

trendiest, corniest Œrave sceneı nightclubs. Abnormality need not be bought

up and subverted by the Conspiracy. As long as you crazy rednecks and bad

boys and girls can resist the commercialized fake slack of the media, YOU


POSSIBLE. And you donıt even need ³Bob² ‹ you only need what ³Bob²





How can interested readers get in touch with you?


Rev. Ivan Stang, The SubGenius Foundation, Inc.


PO Box 140306, Dallas, TX 75214


Send an SASE for free information on Church of the SubGenius products (not

much more info than you have right here, actually). Send $1 for the

Pamphlet that started it all, or for the mighty Catalog of all our goods

(T-shirts, etc.). Send $14 for The Book of the SubGenius or any of our

other books. Send $8 for any given audio tape. $20 for the video, ARISE.

$20 for the most important thing ‹ Membership and ordainment as a minister

in the Church, and a subscription to The Stark Fist of Removal magazine.

Make checks to The SubGenius Foundation. Thank you and praise ³Bob.²



Copyright 1997 by Rev. Ivan Stang / 1st Orthodox Stangian

MegaFisTemple Lodge of People's Covenant Church of the

Wrath of Dobbs Yeti, Resurrected / The SubGenius Foundation,Inc.

PO Box 140306 Dallas TX 75214 / Fax 214-320-1561 / PRABOB -- SubSITE of Slack





Copyright 1995 by Rev. Ivan Stang