Saturday, March 04, 2006

Six Degrees of Charles Manson.

As anyone who has even casually perused this blog can tell you, I have an unhealthy fixation with the era of my childhood, loosely fixed at 1974-1983. An extension of this fixation, somewhere between an obsession and a hobby, is my collection of video of the time, particularly commercials. I have thousands of them from many different sources, and my favorites are the New York City-area ones I've managed to dig up. Since I watched way too much telly as a child, those are especially time-trippy for me.

I made a compilation tape of local NYC ads which I sell on eBay, but it was just short of two hours, and I wanted to fill it out. I went back through my collection to see what I had missed, and found a commercial that I had forgotten I had. It's for the "Tribute to Vaudeville" show at Bally's in Atlantic City. Featuring Joey Bishop as host, it also starred such long-waned luminaries as Tessie O'Shea and the Harmonica Rascals. I'm sure I zipped through this ad more than once without noticing that the guy standing next to Bishop is the producer of the show, none other than Roy Radin. This discovery feeds neatly into other realms of my peculiar fascinations: serial killing, celebrity corruption, and the abysmal depths of human depravity. In Radin's story, these perversions intersect appallingly and magnificently.

Roy Radin was a self-described impresario with designs on producing Hollywood films. He had become very wealthy as a producer, though that seems inexplicable as he only handled hokey vaudeville touring acts--inexplicable, that is, until you hear of what else he had his fingers in. An acquaintance of his, Karen Greenberger (probably his coke connection, as she was a major dealer and Radin indulged heavily) introduced him to Robert Evans, and the three were soon set to produce "The Cotton Club" for Francis Ford Coppola. Radin, however, cut Greenberger out of the deal, paying her only a finder's fee. Not long after, Radin disappeared (last seen after meeting Greenberger for dinner), and a few weeks later his body was found with his head blown to bits. Found near Radin's rotting body was a bible, open to the passage in Isaiah including "let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die." The two thugs arrested for the murder implicated Evans in the crime, but he was questioned and released.

Radin was said to be a leader in Anton LaVey's Church of Satan, and his gluttonous desire for food and cocaine would have been qualification alone. Of course, there was also his insatiable appetite for pornography, which may have reached a zenith with the legendary (or apocryphal) snuff film made by David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz. Allegedly, Radin commissioned the making of the film, helmed either by Berkowitz or an accomplice. The tape supposedly shows the July 31, 1977 murder of Stacey Moskowitz (and, I imagine, the blinding of her boyfriend, who was in the car with her). Other Son of Sam murders are said to have been filmed as well, though it is disputed by some whether they were actually committed by Berkowitz or other members of a Satanic group he belonged to called "The Children," which Radin held sway over.

Radin's mansion on Long Island was later the scene of the brutal beating and rape, inflicted by his wealthy Satanic friends, of an actress named Melonie Haller, best known for her brief role on "Welcome Back, Kotter" in 1978. She also was featured in Playboy around the time of her assault in 1980. The rape was videotaped, and police later found an astounding stash of porno in Radin's home, some of it starring Radin himself. Researching this, I never found the outcome of the case against Radin, though it would appear he escaped jail time. The details can be found in Maury Terry's "The Ultimate Evil," a bewildering epic account of all the horrible mayhem touched on here. Unfortunately, I no longer have a copy. Also, the Cotton Club deal is covered in Steve Wick's "Bad Company," which I have not read.

As for the title of this post, check out this link for a fascinating chain of horror and depravity in Hollywood which encompasses Radin's sordid story. Feel free to surmise how much of it is accurate. [3/6/17: Dammit! Link currently not working. I'm leaving it in case it recovers.]

Here are a couple of shots from that commercial featuring Roy Radin and Joey Bishop (associate of Sammy Davis Jr., also a player in LaVey's Church). It's from 1982, about a year before Radin's Friday the 13th disappearance.

Speaking no evil, Roy?

3/6/17 add: I went ahead and uploaded the ad to YouTube. I'm embedding it here, but go ahead and check out my whole channel. It's a fuckin' doozy. (Another great Vaudeville act, btw, "The Fuckin' Doozies.")


Blogger MO'SH said...

Unbelieveable! I'm exhausted from your post (and the included link).

One of your most coherent essays. What are you drinking?

Sat Mar 04, 01:42:00 AM 2006  
Blogger the feeb said...

how come your name isn't on the link anywhere?

Tue Mar 07, 10:41:00 AM 2006  
Blogger Clayface said...

Great coverage on Roy Radin. I am auctioning his baby grand piano from his house in the Hamptons with a compilation of original music scores with hand written notation mostly from Jud Strunk with some arranged and co-written by Alexander Sheeran, Aloen Clark and Glenn Jenks which were found hidden inside the piano bench under several music books. Some with bizare titles like "Hundred Miles of Hard-on" and "Chicken Wire Cage". Anyone interested can e-mail me for info at

Tue Dec 11, 11:57:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was working for Smithville Theatre, (NJ) in the summer of '76. One of the acts that performed was The Roy Radin Vaudeville Revue.

One of my many tasks was to drive the performers to and from their hotels. One of them was Godfrey Cambridge.

He was a very funny man and kept me in stitches every time I drove him. On the last night of the show, when I drove him to his hotel, he got very serious, and said: "If I end up murdered, my murderer will be Roy Radin. He is a very bad apple." I then laughed and when I looked back at him, he was not laughing.

I heard some time later that Godfrey died of "natural causes". I didn't think much of it until recently. I read online that he died only a couple of months after he said that, and I started to wonder...

And now that I read your blog, I think he may have been correct.


Thu Jul 31, 02:05:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Dope Fiend Poker said...

I worked for Roy Radin roughly between 1973-1975. He made his money by peddling his Roy Radin Vaudeville Review to Police Unions all throughout the Northeast. The shows were preceeded by "promoters" with crews of salesman who kept 80% of the action and I was one of them. Every six weeks or so we would hit a new city.
We pretended we were local police on the telephone (at the behest of the cops themselves) and sold ads to local businesses using strong arm techniques.
"Hey Joey (of Poughkeepsie's Jo'e Hardware Store for example) remember last year when those little ni%#$er kids busted your window? Wouldn't you want us to get there just as fast if it happens again? C'mon Joey do the full page ad this year."
Radin was a fat fuck who exploited and scared the shit out of everybody that worked for him.

Sat Apr 03, 02:27:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Unknown said...

I worked for Radin on one of his sales crews that traveled around the N.E in 74-75. I wasn't from there, but I worked with some guys he hired out of Haverill, MA.

He made a fortune on ad sales for the show booklets. The show tickets were chump change. If you couldn't sell the merchant an ad, you pushed some tickets on them. It was high pressure, arm-twisting sales. Never said I was a cop, but talked in a way that let people think I was a cop.

Agree that Radin was a dirtbag, bully who scared the hell out of everybody. It was rumored by then that he had a huge coke habit to match his huge appetite for power, money, food, and probably a few other things.

Sat Jul 07, 09:27:00 PM 2012  

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