Friday, 9 April 2021

Venus Calling

Once again, your help is required.

 

Back in 2019 fellow obscure music blogger Bob, of Dead Wax and That’s All Rite Mama, sent me audio clips from both sides of a 45 that had been sold back in 2017 via a popular auction site. Since that day I’ve been trying to track down a copy, but one has yet to turn up on the sales sites I frequent.

 

A message went out to listeners of the World’s Worst RecordsRadio Show, but no one there had a copy either. Then a couple of days ago I was contacted by someone else in search of the disc. Needless to say the best I could do was offer to share my two short clips. However, that message, from Bethany at the Papa Jazz Record Shoppe in Columbia, South Carolina sent me off in search of more information about the man who created this wonderfully insane record, Lawrence Milton Boren.

 

Luckily, Bethany’s partner, Joe Buck, had already done a fair bit of digging around. Joe had discovered plenty about Boren – who also used the names Victor Luminera and Dr. Discovery – and had pieced together much of his career from the late fifties onwards, but after some further investigation of my own I can bring you a pretty comprehensive rundown of his life and crimes.

 

Larry Boren was born on 17 August 1924, in Portland, Oregon. When he was still a toddler his family moved to New Jersey, but by the age of 11 they had moved again, this time to California, where he would remain for the rest of his life.   

 

In 1948, then living in Santa Monica, Boren was arrested after his 22-year-old wife, Norma, reported him to the authorities for beating their seven-month-old son, Francis. ‘He can’t stand to hear it cry’, a distraught Norma told the officers who questioned her as to why the infant needed hospital treatment for black eyes, a bloody nose and bruises. Boren, then working as a church organist and music teacher (the cheek!) was jailed, and rightly so. The brutality was doubly shocking as Boren had been a conscientious objector during the war and, after being sentenced in August 1944, had ‘spent two years in a Washington work camp because he doesn’t believe in fighting.’ 

 

It appears that Norma divorced him while he was inside, for in 1952 Lawrence Boren married for a second time, to a woman called Eleanor Bean.

 

In 1958 he founded the non-profit World of Tomorrow Foundation, having become fascinated by the idea of life on other planets. In July that year he attended the first national convention of the Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America. From what I have been able to gather, Boren was an early convert to New Age therapies, writing about, and giving talks on, the use of colour and sound therapy. Joe has done a great deal of research already on Boren’s obsession with UFOs. Rather than regurgitate that here, why not have a read of his own blog on Boren’s career?

  

Now, this – for me at least - is where it gets interesting: in 1958 our Larry decided to try and make it as a songwriter, registering the copyright in three songs, Love is a Mystery, The Kingdom of Enchantment and Venus Calling. The following year he added two more compositions to this burgeoning portfolio, Kyra from Venus, and Venus, Land of Love. This last song, along with the previous year’s Venus Calling was recorded and issued on a red wax 7” single. Venus, Land of Love  (which, according to the disc’s label, is ‘An Outer Space Rhumba Mambo’) was credited to ‘George Dains (The Earthling) and Gloria Anne, as Kyra of Venus’, with the flip side (‘An Outer Space Ballad’, apparently) solely to ‘Gloria Anne, as Kyra of Venus’.

 

The disc was issued by Futura Records of Los Angeles and, although the songs were copyrighted under his full name, on the disc Boren credits himself as Laryon. The label states that these songs are ‘from the forthcoming musical: “From Venus with Love”.’ In December 1959 the World of Tomorrow Foundation announced that it was holding a casting call for ‘its long-planned production, “From Venus With Love”, [the] first outer space musical comedy.’ The show was due to be staged the following February at Los Angeles’ Horseshoe Stage Theatre, with Boren writing the music, lyrics, acting as producer and director, and co-writing the script alongside David Reed III. The script to the show, naturally, was ‘based on a story by Lawrence Milton Boren’. From Venus with Love was not in any way connected with the episode of the same name of cult 60s TV show The Avengers. From what I can ascertain, the only actress cast for the musical was 16-year-old Angel McCall, who accompanied Boren to UFO conventions ‘as an emissary from Venus… Wearing a futuristic costume and a four-hour make-up job that included rhinestone eyebrows, jewel-tipped eyelashes and blue face powder.’

 

While trying to drum up interest in From Venus with Love, Larry Boren introduced the world to his New Age Symphony, consisting of animated light set to music, a process, he claimed, that had been gifted to him by a group of visitors from Venus, with the chief purpose of ‘healing through color therapy.’

 

Now calling himself Doctor Boren, in 1964 he took his first foray into the film world, directing and producing the science fiction film The Incredible She which, apparently, won the ‘Los Angeles Southland Film Festival’ that same year. All traces of the film and this festival have long since disappeared, but Larry Boren did win a cash pot of $1,000 for a film entitled Opus 2. That film, described by ‘writer, producer, director, designer, cameraman and narrator’ Boren (who submitted the film to the festival ‘under the pen name of Victor Luminera’) as ‘an adventure in surrealism’, definitely was screened, at the Los Angeles Film Makers’ Festival on 13 October 1964, where it beat Andy Warhol’s ‘Banana Sequence’ to take first place. 1964 must have been a busy time, for that same year he also authored (this time as Victor Luminera) a seven-part Course in Electro-magnetic Sex.

 

In 1965, using his given name and calling himself an ‘independent research scientist’, Boren wrote and published his 125-page feminist tract Woman, a Glorious Destiny Awaits You: The Coming Reign of the Feminine Power: A New Scientific Breakthrough Revelation. The book was officially launched in Hollywood, in January 1966 at a press conference to announce the arrival of ‘a new woman’s crusade for balanced government’. Boren co-hosted the conference with veteran dancer Ruth St Denis. The following month, under the auspices of the World of Tomorrow Foundation, he copyrighted the song End of This World, which appears to have been his final attempt at anything remotely commercial within the music field.

 

Throughout the early 1970s, and now listing himself as a ‘specialist in electromagnetic lighting effects’, Boren continued to peddle his space-spirituality schtick: in 1971 he was giving talks to staff and customers of the Santa Fe savings and Loan on Space Exploration, on behalf of the Universal Life Church – the same church that ordained me (yes, I am officially the Reverend Darryl W. Bullock, the Laid of Doonans) more than a decade ago.

 

Does his film The Incredible She exist? Is it a different film to Opus 2, and could either of these works have been subsumed into his next project? The latter seems unlikely as his 1973 opus, Psyched by the 4D Witch, (that, as Luminera, he conceived, wrote and directed and, as Milton Lawrence, acted as Executive Producer) is a zero-budget, badly out of focus softcore sexploitation film similar to the worst of Ed Wood Junior’s later efforts. Again, Joe has done some research for you on that HERE, and you can find the whole thing on YouTube if you’re interested. In the opening minutes of the film we see a pair of eyes surrounded by glitter: could this be footage Boren had committed to film years earlier, of young Angel McCall, as an emissary from Venus? Incidentally, the film has a rather avant-garde score, composed by Boren, again using the pseudonym Victor Luminera, although the title song, Beware of the 4D Witch, was written by Joe Bisko and performed by Johnny By the Way (vocals) and Attila Galamb (music).

 

Sadly, there would be no more recordings from Boren. But the old roué kept himself busy. He had taken a third wife, marrying her in Las Vegas in February 1970, although that did not last long, for in December 1973 he married Cleo Williams, making her the Fourth Mrs. Lawrence Milton Boren. Early the following year he published the 95-page The Earth Set Free -- Through Reverence for Life Part 1 through Aquarian Enterprises a company, I assume like Futura Records, owned and operated by Boren himself.

 

He divorced Cleo in January 1979, after a little over five years of marriage, and then the trail goes cold. All I can tell you is that Lawrence Milton Boren died, in California, on 1 July 2013, leaving behind a fascinating and eclectic, if somewhat small, body of published work.

 

Anyway, here are short clips of both sides of that elusive 1959 release, Venus, Land of Love from George Dains and Gloria Anne, with Venus Calling by Gloria Anne solo. If anyone out there has the disc, or full MP3s of both sides, please do let me know!

 

Enjoy!

 

Download Land HERE

Download Calling HERE

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for really diving deep into this and uncovering even more information! I've updated my Letterboxd review of his film to link to this article. I certainly hope you're able to dig up a copy of his record, but it was a treat to here the soundclips.

    https://letterboxd.com/sloppyjoebuck/film/psyched-by-the-4d-witch-a-tale-of-demonology/

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    1. You're welcome Joe: thank you and Bethany for inspiring the post in the first place!

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