Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A look inside Charlie's bag of tricks. Mentalism, Magic, Hypnotism, Psychology...?

Chaos by Tom O'Neill, pg369

"The most puzzling question of all," Bugliosi wrote, was how Manson had turned his docile followers into remorseless killers. Even with the LSD, the sex, the isolation, the sleep deprivation, the social abandonment, there had to be "some intangible quality... It may be something that he learned from others."

Here are some other candidates for that 'intangible quality.'


Death to Pigs, by Robert Hendrickson, c.2011 pg323

".. Phil Phillips was actually being played by the workings of a "mentalist" ..."

...mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Performances may appear to include hypnosis, telepathy... mind control.... Mentalists perform a theatrical act that includes effects that may appear to employ psychic or supernatural forces but that are actually achieved by "ordinary conjuring means", natural human abilities (i.e. reading body language, refined intuition, subliminal communication, emotional intelligence), and an in-depth understanding of key principles from human psychology or other behavioral sciences....

Long Beach Independent, 10-28-70

"When I(Vern Plumlee) first met Charlie, he walked up and said 'Let me run your life down' and he did. It just kinda blew my mind. He said I had been in jail since I was 14; knew I was at McClaren (Juvenile) Hall; knew I was AWOL. I don't know how he knew."

Maybe Charlie was employing the mentalist tactic of 'cold reading.'

Cold reading is a set of techniques used by mentalists, psychics, fortune-tellers, and mediums. Without prior knowledge, a practiced cold-reader can quickly obtain a great deal of information by analyzing the person's body language, age, clothing or fashion, hairstyle, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, level of education, manner of speech, place of origin, etc. during a line of questioning. Cold readings commonly employ high-probability guesses, quickly picking up on signals as to whether their guesses are in the right direction or not, then emphasizing and reinforcing chance connections and quickly moving on from missed guesses.

Dianne Lake 2022 interview

"He (Manson) had an uncanny ability to read people..."


Manson also used simple magic tricks to impress his followers with his powers:

Lynette Fromme says in Reflexion, pg19, shortly after first meeting Charlie:

"Later that night I watched cards, coins, and cigarettes disappear and reappear, slipping through his(Manson's) fingers. Not only did the tricks capture my awe, but his showmanship and spirit did too. I had to remind myself that this person could barely read..."

These talented mind manipulation artists combine their keen understanding of human psychology with excellent showmanship and theatrics to create the illusion of extraordinary powers.

Death to Pigs, pg461

Good: We've seen him do, you know, what people call supernatural things. We saw him bring a bird back to life. We've seen him jump over things that no human being could jump over, all kinds of things.

Bringing a bird back to life is actually a fairly common magic trick:


Manson apparently had sophisticated hypnosis skills, too:

(Danny Trejo) said (Manson) had hypnotic powers.

“That was the dude’s trick,” Danny said. “He survived inside by getting people high just talking to them. If he wasn’t a career criminal, he might have been one of those dudes who went to high schools and state fairs, the kind that brings people up on stage and gets them to do stupid things like pretend they’re a cat and sh**.”

Helter Skelter, pg162

Joseph Krenwinkel, father of Pat, re Manson:

"I am convinced he was some kind of hypnotist."

Death to Pigs, pg327

Interviewer: How could he control people like that?

Inyo County Deputy Sheriff Don Ward: Through suggestion--through mysticism--hypnosis if you wanna call it.

Shadow Over Santa Susanna, by Adam Gorightly, pg23

Most likely, Charlie employed various elements of hypnotism. It all had to do with the cadence of his voice, the intense look in his eyes, and the rhythmic movements he made with his hands and body.

Death to Pigs, pg244

Brooks: "Well, before when he put his motions in with it, all he had to do was start his motions and it's like, I would immediately turn on like a computer. Like, the button would be clicked and I'd become whatever machine or whatever tape was playing at the time."

In late August of 1964 CIA off-oid Sydney Gottlieb put into place a project called MK-SEARCH.

“A member of the American Society of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis was recruited for the purpose. The hypnotist was dubbed ‘Fingers’ by Dr. Gottlieb from the theatrical way he used his hands to put a patient into a trance.


Amazing acting skills were also part of his repertoire:

Reflexion, pg88

"Charlie was full of characters who took our attention, among them a lounge singer, a cowboy crooner, and "Hyme Feinschleister," a nebbish."

Member of the Family by Dianne Lake

--He could change his voice, intonation, and accent depending upon who was on the receiving end.

--Charlie used the shape of his eyebrows and the muscles in his face to become different people. He must have practiced a lot in prison, because he could isolate parts of his face that I didn't realize could move separately from the whole, dropping his brows in unison and then raising up only one. Then he made a V with his brows that made him look like the devil. With every movement of his face, his eyes changed as well, like a shapeshifter creating the illusion of different people and personalities.


Dianne Lake 2022 interview

"He (Manson)just had this uncanny ability to morph into these different personalities and people... "


Charlie's employment of LSD to influence his recruits is well known, using some well placed props:

Shadow Over Santa Susanna,  pg17

"On the wall of Manson's pad was a picture of Jesus, and below it Charlie often sat, sending out heavy vibes. ... Brockman was stunned by the realization that, if one dropped enough acid, then--like a psychelic alchemist--Charlie could manipulate the elements, turning himself into Jesus at will. "Charlie as Jesus was branded into my thoughts.... .. I knew I couldn't submit to whatever it was the idea of Charlie as Jesus expected of me. I only knew the man was playing heavy games. Charlie could plant that in a person's head, or create it, the same way a magician creates a bunch of flowers in the air.."


Charlie also used his knowledge of human nature to exploit people's vulnerablities:

Ken Dickerson, 20 in 2017, Manson pen pal 2005 to 2012

"He always wanted people to get rid of their ego..

--“He would make sure that any weirdness you had inside you, he found it.” Manson used that knowledge two ways: “He’d make you feel good about yourself, always make sure that you were happy in one way or another, give you compliments. If you didn’t feel comfortable with your body, he’d always say, ‘You are perfect. There’s nothing wrong with you. What’s wrong is other people judging.’” On the other hand, he also knew how to “make you as uncomfortable as possible.” Suggest homosexuality to someone who was totally straight. Keep people off base."

The success Charlie had conning people out of their property is a testament to his powers:

Death to Pigs, pg230

Watkins: "Charlie could go into some guy's house and talk him out of a ten thousand dollar piano."

The Family, pg50

-"Manson.. gave to Melba(Cronkite) a 1967 Red Ford Mustang which a New Yorker named Michael... had given to Manson."

Death to Pigs, pg258

Watkins: "When a guy goes off the ranch and comes back thirty minutes later and has a car and two hundred dollars and says somebody gave it to him. you know. He used to do that..."

Reflexion, pg120

Lynette:  "I don't think I ever heard him directly ask for money, but it seemed that people couldn't wait to give it to him."


Like any performing art, mentalism requires years of dedication, extensive study, practice, and skill to perform well and perfect.

Charlie developed a high degree of competence in the use of these mental mind-manipulation techniques. The question is, where did Charlie acquire these skills? He didn't get it from reading a book on magic tricks or hypnosis. Someone must have taught him.

We all know that Alvin 'Creepy' Karpis schooled Charlie in prison on the rudiments of playing the steel guitar. So why don't we know the names of these other teachers?


Submitted by Starviego. Thank You Starviego!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Recent Deaths - Linda Kasabian & Gary Rossington

 As you all have probably heard, Linda Kasabian passed-away a couple weeks ago. 

Linda Kasabian, Charles Manson follower who helped send him to prison, dies at 73 - Los Angeles Times (

Article submitted by Lee. Thank you Lee.


Gary Rossington, last surviving original member of Lynyrd Skynyrd has passed.


Sunday, July 17, 2022

Mark Ross (Aesop Aquarian) Biography

The following is a detailed biography of Mark Ross written by Gary Baum for "The Hollywood Reporter" (July 15,2022). Click the Link Below to read:

My Review:

I was happy to see that the author (Baum) confirmed Ross' death. For weeks, I was searching for something (that I could share publicly) as proof of his passing. This article fits the bill.

Baum does a good job of recounting Ross' wealthy upbringing in Brentwood, Los Angeles. It seems Ross rubbed elbows with several celebrities. This is contrasted with Ross' dysfunctional home life. In short, "the core issue in our family was that there just wasn’t much love". Ross' younger brother explains how Mark got into "tons of trouble". He was sent to boarding school as a problem child. But again, it was a boarding school catering to rich kids. Ross had a short stint with the Marines.

Ultimately, Ross aspired to be an actor. He held mostly small roles. To quote Baum, "He was a bit player, not a leading man, making ends meet with background work, music gigs and assorted side hustles".

Ross bumps into Susan Bartell and Madeline Cottage while they are panhandling in Santa Monica. Ross invites them to stay at his house in Venice and the rest is history.

Worthy of note regarding timeline: 
Ross became involved with "The Manson Family" following the TLB murders, but before the perpetrators were charged. "The notorious Tate-LaBianca murders had occurred the previous summer, but the culprits had not yet been apprehended"

Manson was being held on auto theft charges when Ross entered the scene. According to Baum, "Ross got to know Manson only during prison visits, which were encouraged by Family members". While being held on those auto theft charges, Manson was indicted for the TLB murders.

As we know, John Philip Haught died from a gunshot wound in Ross' apartment. To his credit, Baum invests considerable time and effort discussing several reasons why Zero's death has always been considered suspicious. I think this was a classy move, because no discussion of Zero can be complete without underscoring the questionable circumstances surrounding his death. Ross on the other hand, is much more dismissive of the murder theory, simply stating: "Perhaps it had been a game of Russian roulette, or a suicide. At least those were the theories offered to me by my housemates" (paraphrased). 

Starviego mentions on a previous post that Ross was the owner of the revolver used in Zero's death. If that is indeed the case, I feel Baum should have mentioned that information in the article. That's significant information. That might also explain why Ross is so dismissive and evasive of the murder theory?

Another thing that struck me as an oversight, is that Baum never mentions that Paul Watkins was sleeping inside Ross' vehicle when it was torched. Again, I think that's significant information. And once again, Ross is dismissive: "Maybe it (the fire) was just an accident. Mercury could well have been in retrograde".

According to Baum, Ross decided to leave (The Family) when Family members asked Ross to kill Bugliosi and the Judge. This is brand new to me. I'm not making any judgements either way, except to say, I've never heard this information shared before...

And Finally, of course, we have the famous "Manson" movie. I think it's safe to say, that Ross' connection to this famous movie is his most recognizable affiliation with "The Family".

In Baum's words:
Yet before Aesop severed ties with the Family, he claims he proposed the idea for, and brokered the necessary participation required to complete "Manson", which was nominated for a best documentary feature Oscar in 1973. The co-directors, Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick — respectively, a fellow student at his acting school and the teacher of their class — have both since died. 

From there, Baum does a great job of chronicling Ross' adventures and misadventures through several more decades. I will leave that to your own reading.

Best Regards, LS