Tuesday, December 30, 2008

55. And back to the hunt...

O.K., I've spent the past few weeks unintentionally getting side-tracked in an going discussion of the plethora of secondary source materials on Venta that are out there. And, what I've discussed is seemingly just scratching the tip of the iceberg! In fact, I've lost count of how many books I bought because I saw that they mentioned Venta and/or the Fountain, only to discover that they included a paragraph or less regarding either.

In any event, my aim is to get back on track with the spirit of the title of this blog (namely, My Search for Krishna Venta) and to leave the reviews of the secondary sources behind. However, one last time, for those who were not paying attention, here are some of the higher profile secondary sources on Krishna Venta/the WKFL Fountain of the World that one is apt to find should one wish to seek out materials on either:















54. An essay of mine regarding Krishna Venta is published


International Cultic Studies Association has been kind enough to include a recent essay of mine regarding Krishna Venta in their year end newsletter. It is reproduced here in its entirety courtesy of International Cultic Studies Association.

ICSA e-Newsletter, Vol. 7, No. 3, 2008
Krishna Venta
Shawn Sutherland

Earlier this year, Yisrayl Hawkins, who claims to speak for God, declared from his House of Yahweh headquarters in Abilene, Texas, that a nuclear holocaust was to begin on June 12, 2008. Hawkins’ warning was accompanied by a caveat that anyone joining his fold would be spared from the coming devastation. America responded to this alarm by continuing undaunted with its daily routine.

That such a grim proclamation was met with a shrug should not come as a surprise. After all, with its rightfully revered First Amendment, this nation has served as the modern world’s premier breeding ground for new religious movements (or cults, as they are more commonly known), prophets, and messiahs for most of its existence. Such entities and individuals are as much a part of our collective American experience as baseball games and apple pies. Oftentimes, they are equally forgettable; six months after its prophesied doom, the world is still whole, and Hawkins has faded from memory.

Conversely, would-be prophets and messiahs occasionally become a part of our collective consciousness and—right or wrong—seemingly come to embody the prevailing spiritual and socio-economic nuances of a given decade or generation, such as Charles Manson (1960s), Jim Jones (1970s), and David Koresh (1990s).

Likewise, although not akin to the previously mentioned triumvirate of malevolence, post-World War II America, and particularly the 1950s, is not without its own poster boy—a self-proclaimed messiah with a biography befitting the golden age of both Hollywood and the LAPD.

His name was Krishna Venta, and Monday, December 10, 2008, marked the 50th anniversary of his violent assassination, which all told ended ten lives.

Born Francis Pencovic in the San Francisco of 1911, Venta was an interesting candidate for messiah, having previously lived as burglar, thief, con artist, and shipyard timekeeper. This changed in 1946 when, following a stretch on a chain gang and a stint in the Army, Pencovic’s body (or so he claimed) became the host vessel for the “Christ Everlasting,” an eternal spirit being who had not only died on the cross at Calvary 2,000 years earlier, but had commandeered to Earth from the planet Neophrates a convoy of rocket ships whose passengers included Adam and Eve.

But in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, insisted Venta, such ancient history was irrelevant. This time around, his Earthly mission was to gather the 144,000 Elect foretold in Revelation and deliver them from an apocalypse heretofore unseen by mankind.

To draw attention to this cause, Venta donned a monk’s robe, permanently discarded footwear, and thereafter forewent cutting both hair and beard. In the Truman and Eisenhower eras, Venta, who frequently made headlines for both his luck at the dog track and his repeated arrests for failure to pay child support, cut a unique figure. His message, however, could not have been more tailor-made for Cold War America.

Armageddon, prophesied Venta, would begin as an armed race war in the streets of America. (If Venta's vision of the future sounds oddly reminiscent of "Helter Skelter," it must be noted that strong debate exists regarding whether Charles Manson, who periodically lodged at the Fountain of the World circa 1968 and 1969, was privy to the teachings of the dead cult leader during his respites there.) In this conflict, Communist Russia, with its nuclear weaponry, would render military aid to African-Americans. But the Soviets would eventually reveal their true stripes, insisted Venta, by enslaving their African-American allies and terminating religious freedom worldwide. Still, fear was unnecessary, for Venta was actively gathering the 144,000, and knew of a hidden North American valley in which his Elect could hide during the bloodshed until the ordained day came for them to exit their secret refuge en masse, cast out the Soviet empire, free the enslaved, and restore religious freedom to mankind.

Until then, Venta could be found on the road spreading his gospel or at either the Homer, Alaska, or Chatsworth, California, outposts of his WKFL (Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Love) Fountain of the World communal colonies, where his 100-something faithful (primarily females) engaged in such varied works of goodwill as feeding the homeless, offering shelter to battered women, and fighting wildfires.

Tragically, in a twist of irony, Venta, who embodied America’s post-war fear of nuclear weapons, was blown to bits in a Los Angeles suicide bombing, instigated on a December night in 1958 by two ex-followers with twenty sticks of dynamite and two very personal vendettas against their former leader. One assassin was jealous of Venta’s power and position, while the other insisted Venta had alienated him from his wife.

Today, 50 years after his passing, Venta’s story, although obscured by time, reminds us that, even with messiahs and prophets, there is really nothing new under the sun, but instead mere reiterations of choruses previously heralded. Nonetheless, it will unquestionably be interesting to see what manner of individuals take up the messiah mantle in the coming years.

Shawn Sutherland is a graduate of Abilene Christian University, and lives in the Dallas, Texas area, where he has been involved in patent law for the past 15 years. He is currently at work on Barefoot Messiah of the Atomic Age, the definitive biography of Krishna Venta.

Except where otherwise noted, entire contents Copyright ©, ICSA (International Cultic Studies Association). - a secular, nonprofit, tax-exempt research center and educational corporation. All rights reserved. ICSA reserves the right to authorize reproduction of any article or portion thereof. No part of this web site may be reproduced, except for brief review purposes, without written permission from ICSA. Opinions of individual authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of ICSA, its boards, or its staff.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

53. Headlines, post-December 1958, Part 2

The above are some headlines that ran in the newspapers during the week following the murders of Krishna and the other nine persons.

52. Christmas Eve 2008 and Christmas 1958

The above advertisement is from December 1958, again, the month in which Krishna Venta was killed.

And, as everyone who's read this blog knows, Krishna Venta was a Camel man...and not a cigar man.


Friday, December 19, 2008

51. The Psychology Behind Women's Love of Shoes

On a related note, since it seems to go against tradition, etc., my joke in regard to those ladies who joined the Fountain has always been, "How did Krishna Venta find so many women who were willing go barefoot?!?!" HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

50. A momentary sidebar

In June 2008, for reasons that as yet remain unclear, a gentleman who spent many of his formative years at the Fountain created a website (http://www.krishna-venta.com/) which purports to be the “Official Website of the W.K.F.L. Fountain of the World.” (This claim has been challenged by all of the surviving members of the Fountain whom I have interviewed for my book.)

Additionally, around this same time, this gentleman self-published two books which feature Krishna Venta prominently:

1. If Republicans Had Hearts, They’d Be Democrats -
http://www.krishna-venta.com/Book_1.pdf; and

2. The Spiritual Teachings and Biography of Krishna Venta -

Of the first book (If Republicans), I will say only that none of the former Fountain of the World members whom I have interviewed have any clue as to what Krishna Venta has to do with Republicans or Democrats. And I join them in that sentiment.

As for the second book (Spiritual Teachings), the first part of the title is true in the sense that it does offer some of the spiritual teachings of Krishna Venta (i.e., it contains transcriptions of a handful of the 60-something lectures Krishna Venta delivered in his lifetime). However, the word “biography” in the title is a misnomer.

As an historian, I have so many problems with this author’s books that I have neither the time nor the space to address all of them in this forum. I will say, though, that my biggest problem with these books is that, without offering any substantiation at all, the author adopts an “It is so because I say it is” approach in both of them. As a politician once said, "You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts."

And I will not even touch the fact that the members of the Fountain are angered at the fact that this person posted many items at the aforementioned website without their authorization.

I will offer, however, that I am thankful to this gentleman for creating his website and self-publishing these books in one respect: given that they take exception to virtually everything the man says in regard to Krishna Venta, I do not think that the members of the Fountain of the World with whom I have been working would have shared with me their memories or their documents to the extent that they have had it not been for this man’s actions.

49. Ed Sanders & The Family (more)

Earlier today, I was having a random discussion with one of the surviving members of the Fountain of the World, and we happened upon the subject of people conducting internet searches for "Krishna Venta" and their reasons for so doing.

I told them that I guesstimated that better than 90% of the people out there these days who know the name "Krishna Venta" and who are seeking additional information regarding him online probably came by their knowledge of Venta by having read one of the books regarding Charles Manson that mention him (e.g., Ed Sanders' The Family [see http://krishnaventa.blogspot.com/2008/11/16-ed-sanders-and-family.html], Paul Watkins' My Life With Charles Manson [see http://krishnaventa.blogspot.com/2008/12/47-paul-watkins-deceased-member-of.html and http://krishnaventa.blogspot.com/2008/12/48-word-about-paul-watkins-facts.html], etc.).

They were surprised and disappointed, to say the least, to learn that Manson of all people was the portal via which most people hear about Venta these days.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

48. A word about Paul Watkins' "facts"

For related postings concerning this entry, see also:
In regard to what Watkins writes about Krishna Venta and the Fountain of the World in his book (see http://krishnaventa.blogspot.com/2008/12/47-paul-watkins-deceased-member-of.html), I was tempted to expound on the issues I have with Watkins' remembrances. However, I have opted to not do so for two reasons:

1. In my book, I include a section wherein I separate the fact from the fancy that has come to encase Krishna Venta in the fifty years since his death, and there’s no point in me doing so here.

2. There is so much in Watkins’ presentation that is either historically inaccurate, pure gossip, and/or just plain erroneous, that, for the purposes of this blog, it is simply more expedient to just acknowledge the particles of Watkins’ writings that are not contested: (1) “Charlie always had his eyes open for alternative headquarters”; and (2) the Family did indeed have designs on the Fountain and hoped that they might take eventual possession of the property.

Again, please let me go on record as saying that I am neither a defender of nor an apologist for Krishna Venta and the Fountain of the World. But I am a person who believes accurate history is a precious commodity. To that end, I do not rely on secondary source documents (e.g., Sanders, Watkins, et al.) for my facts regarding Venta but instead upon the mountain of primary source documents I have amassed and the countless hours of interviews I have conducted with the Fountain members who bore witness to the events about which I write.

47. Paul Watkins (deceased member of the Manson Family) on Krishna Venta and the Fountain of the World

Copyright notice - the following excerpt from pages 88-90 of the book My Life With Charles Manson is copyright 1979 by Paul Watkins and Guillermo Soledad:

Even though we were pretty firmly ensconced at Spahn's, during the first three months, Charlie always had his eyes open for alternative headquarters. The Family had moved frequently in the past and we never knew when we might have to do so again. Bad vibes between Charlie and some of the cowboys had become increasingly apparent. It was for that reason that we cultivated a religious order just over the hill from Spahn's called the Fountain of the World.

The Fountain was a nonprofit spiritual order of men and women (primarily women) just north of Spahn's in Box Canyon. It was an impressive complex, built at a bend in the gorge by a stream (almost hidden) by oak trees and a sprawling well-irrigated garden. The buildings, all constructed of hand-worked stone, included a chapel, two dormitories, and a small auditorium where daily meetings were held. To the right of the auditorium on a knoll above the garden, a wooden cross was cemented into the ground. From a distance the Fountain looked like an ancient fortress hewn into the base of the canyon wall.

One morning not long after the birth of Zezos, Charlie woke me up and told me to come with him. I pulled on a pair of Levi's, a T-shirt, and my boots and followed him out of the ranch house. We hiked up to the saloon where the pickup was parked and climbed in.

“Where we headed?”

Charlie fired up the truck and backed it out onto the highway. "The Fountain of the World.”“What?”

Charlie told me what he knew about it as we wound our way up Santa Susanna Pass to Box Canyon and turned left. "It might be a good place to hang out…you know, hide under the cross when the shit comes down at Spahn's. And the way Shorty's been running at the mouth, it might be anytime.

We got there around ten a.m. and parked the truck on a hill, then trudged down the path to the auditorium. The place was about half full, and one of the brothers was already into his rap. He acknowledged us with a smile as we sat down. After a long uninspired spiel proclaiming the virtues of moderation and human compassion, the speaker—tall, stoop-shouldered, and clad in a full-length robe—told the history of the Fountain and Krishna Venta, its founder, had undergone a rigorous purification process, part of which included hanging on the cross for three days.

Charlie sat beside me fingering the beads around his neck, his hair long and uncombed down his back. He sniggered to himself as the speaker raised his arms to symbolize the crucifixion.

"For three days the honorable Krishna Venta remained pinioned to the cross you see there on the hillside." He gestured toward a window which fronted on the ravine.

“For three long days...”

Charlie couldn't contain himself. "Hey, brother, that ain't nothin'," he blurted out smiling.


“That's nothin'…three days ain't nothin'. Paul here could hang on the cross for a week. No problem…right, Paul?
The audience, most of them brothers and sisters of the order, gawked at us. I was a little startled by Charlie's boast at first, but I knew his games pretty well by then and I went along with it.

"Sure," I grunted. "Sure, I could do that.

“Come on!" Charlie urged, getting to his feet. "Let's go on out there. Paul, so you can hang. Come on.”

I got up and started up the aisle with Charlie right behind me. But as we stepped out the door, one of the brothers stopped us. "I'm sorry, but I don't think that's such a good idea. It might elicit some unfavorable publicity…you understand." He gave Charlie an imploring yet conciliatory smile.

Charlie chuckled. "Sure, brother," he said. "Maybe some other time.

After that little episode, Charlie began sending contingents of girls to the Fountain to work with the sisters—soliciting donations, passing out literature and spreading the precepts of Krishna Venta. Sometimes they remained for days at a time, posing as devout and pious ladies of the cloth. But the Family, as a whole, was never warmly received and things didn't work out as Charlie had planned. We finally gave up on the Fountain. We didn't learn until later that Shorty had paid them a visit.

The irony of that whole scene (I later learned) was that Krishna Venta's Family bore a striking resemblance to Charlie's: according to the records the order was started when the honorable leader (sometime in the 1950s) recruited a nucleus of women and a few men to enlighten the world with his spiritual teachings. But Krishna Venta's teachings were never, it appears, divorced from the pleasures of the flesh. Under his leadership, group sex, or what he likened to tantric, transcendental self-realization, was a common practice. Most of his critics, however, including an irate husband of one of the sisters, didn't consider this form of "self-realization" quite kosher. One night, during a small service held in the chapel, that same husband arrived with a case of dynamite and blew Krishna Venta, himself, and thirteen others to kingdom come. The ruins of that explosion were left intact as a monument to the order's founder.

Charlie always thought that a hilarious story.

46. Krishna Venta

Speaking of Krishna Venta, the namesake of this blog, above is a photograph of him. Another photograph is located at http://krishnaventa.blogspot.com/2008/11/at-left-is-photograph-of-krishna-venta.html. I will be including in the book a few photographs that are, I believe, heretofore unseen. For obvious reasons, I am opting to not post them here.

45. Headlines, post-December 10, 1958

This is but a sampling of the headlines that appeared in newspapers around the nation in the days following Krishna Venta's assassination on December 10, 1958. Needless to say, the press had a field day with the whole situation! (Double click image for expanded view.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

44. Images of Christmas, 1958

The moderator of this blog created the above collage of images in order to provide the reader with a guidepost as to the landscape of America in December 1958, the month of Krishna Venta's death. (Double click image for expanded view.)

43. December 10, 1958 - In Memoriam

Keela Baker

Martin Baker (Priest Paul)

Peter Kamenoff (Brother Elzibah)

Ralph Muller (Brother Jeroham)

Anna Noga

Ethel Martin Ray (Sister Elvira)

Elwyn James Shanafelt

Gene Shanfelt (Cardinal Gene)

Jane Shanafelt (Bishop Jane)

Francis Pencovic (Krishna Venta)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

42. December 10, 1958 - 50 years ago!

Just a reminder that tonight (actually very early tomorrow morning) at 2:00 AM Pacific Time marks the 50th anniversary of the bombing at the WKFL Fountain of the World, which claimed the lives of Krishna Venta and nine other persons.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

41. Something for the man who has everything?

This shirt is apparently some sort of "print on demand" item available via Shop.com and is included here solely because it cracks me up!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

40. Other Krishna Venta weblinks (more)

More weblinks containing information on Krishna Venta:



These links also prove that gossip very easily becomes "fact" in the media.

39. Charles Manson mentions Krishna Venta in interview

This clip - posted at YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEEnL8AWuZ8) - includes a segment in which Charles Manson mentions Krishna Venta...and proves that his knowledge of Krishna's biography and history is lacking.

38. Some footage of Box Canyon on YouTube

This posting at YouTube really doesn't have anything to do with the Fountain per se, but it does offer some cool footage of Box Canyon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kZqxA5mGe8

37. Krishna Venta on My Space?

One thing I have found interesting over time is that there are two entries at My Space for people who have appropriated the handle "Krishna Venta":

1. http://www.myspace.com/krishnaventa; and

2. http://www.myspace.com/evilmuffingoat.

As well, there is a My Space entry for a band called Neophrates (http://bandmix.com/neophrates/) that mentions Krishna Venta. See http://www.myspace.com/neophrates

Don't ask me to explain this because it's beyond me! HA! HA! HA!