While TikTok and Tumblr have long been brimming with a newly abundant witch culture, believers in magic also populate a darker, more occultic level of the internet — and John R. King IV, whose long-running blog details his explorations of demonology, is one of its most prominent practitioners. What happens when Kent Russell seeks him out? The result is (sorry) spellbinding.
I pressed King to let me watch him conjure. Show me a scream full of hooves, I said, or a smile spreading across a pool of blackness. He demurred. He had to ascertain what kind of person I was offline before that could happen. So we made plans to meet at the Okanogan Family Faire, a festival where especially dirty hippies encamp alongside militiaman types in a valley on the far side of the Cascades. For several days, they sing and dance and barter goods and services—mostly drugs. King would be offering tarot readings, but for me, he said, he might perform services that would disclose how demons affect everyday lives, my own included. I booked my flight and dusted off my camping gear.
“Hockey has no reason for being. Rather, hockey’s one of those things that give reason to being.”
The writer on his experience with night terrors, which he associates with his love of horror films and the work of Tom Savini, a special-effects artist known for working with director George Romero on zombie films:
Savini joined the Army rather than wait to get drafted because enlisted men got to pick their jobs. He served as a combat photographer in Vietnam. After the war, he moved to North Carolina and started acting in a repertory theater. He was still playing around with makeups, still using them to scare the holy shit out of people. (In Vietnam, he had been all, “Mama-san, take . . . a . . . look . . . at . . . THIS!”) In fact, that’s what earned him his early notoriety, the verisimilitude of his wounds. “There’s something about seeing the real thing that sets me apart from, let’s say, some other makeup artists who have never experienced that,” he said in a post-Vietnam interview. “When I’m creating an effect, if it doesn’t look good to me—real—doesn’t give me that feeling I used to get when I’d see the real stuff, then it’s just not real enough for me.”