Naked Witches And Sexy Satanists: The Erotic Occult Magazine Explosion

The boom in lecherous, kinky and erotic occult magazines at the height of the Satanic Sixties and Seventies.

There was an explosion of interest in the occult during the 1960s and 1970s, fuelled by cultural changes that made the once-forbidden now a subject of fascination. The legalisation of witchcraft in the UK and the founding of the Church of Satan in America – not to mention the loosening of censorship restraints that allowed once-banned subjects like black magic and Satanism to be explored more openly – brought the occult out into the open. As more and more people began to dabble in paganism, witchcraft and other old religions during the Age of Aquarius, so magazines, books and movies began to explore the subject. Not all of these were especially interested in the finer details of the occult. For many, the interest in witchcraft, Satanism and other dark arts began and ended with the fact that the rituals seemed to involve a lot of naked girls. Naked men too, but I suspect that it was the idea of attending wild ceremonies with attractive naked women that drew a lot of men – especially of a certain age – into the occult world. Of course, much like naturism, the reality of witchcraft involved rather more homely people of both sexes than the movies and magazines suggested, and was probably a lot less erotic than everyone hoped. I suspect that a lot of would-be occultists found the reality to be a lot less exciting than they had hoped.

But the fascination with sexy occultism gave birth to numerous magazines – some more serious than others. We have to remember that in the 1970s, photos of naked women appeared everywhere, and so we can’t dismiss some of the more serious occult magazines just because they featured nubile models pretending to be witches in artfully-posed cover shots. If that was what pulled in the readers, then why not? And even the most genuine occult magazines – at least those you would find on the shelves of your local newsagents – were still very much cashing in on a trend, destined for cancellation as soon as the public tastes changed.

While semi-serious occult magazines were commonplace in the early 1970s, the 1960s saw a few girlie magazines appear that used Satanic titles as a way of emphasising their sinful content. That content might have only been coy and airbrushed nudes, but it was hot stuff for the time, and with racy fiction and semi-serious features backing the bare flesh up, these magazines were as sizzling as the titles suggested, at least at the time. While the magazines made some effort to stick to the occult theme that the titles suggested, they quickly ran out of occult content and so would eventually feature a more varied content, with even the cover images sometimes forgetting the magazine theme.

By the 1970s, things had become rather raunchier, and just as a number of X-rated movies from the late Sixties onwards began to cash in on the occult boom, so adult magazines – from the bondage mag Bitchcraft to various one-shots – exploited the sex ‘n’ Satan angle.

The erotic occult boom even crept into less specialist sex magazines and scandal sheets, where a dash of Satanism and the lure of naked witchcraft rituals helped spice things up for their readers. Most adult and tabloid magazines of the era probably ran pieces on occultism, but some went all the way and featured the sordid activities on the front cover – all the better to attract readers who would pore over the images and possibly even read the articles, lips pursed with disapproval even as they loosened their trousers. Most of these magazines would source their images from the publicity-hungry Anton LaVey and Alex Sanders, both of whom were always keen to put together photogenic rituals involving attractive and naked young women.

Like its paperback rival (which we’ll come back to another time), the sexy occult magazine had a definite lifespan – most, if not all of these were gone by the late 1970s. Today, there are several witchcraft magazines in print, but all seem to take themselves and their craft very seriously, and I very much doubt that most of the Witches of Instagram would be very amused by the cheerfully exploitative nature of these ancient publications. But I might be wrong – perhaps there is a gap in the market waiting to be filled. If so, then we are happy to step up and revive this gloriously tacky, cheesy and outrageous world of sex, sin and Satanism.

DAVID FLINT

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