In the 1987 film "Angel Heart," Harry Angel is a private detective hired to locate former big band crooner Johnny Favorite. In the course of the film, while hunting for the missing singer, Angel encounters several of Favorite's former friends, including blues guitarist Toots Sweet. Mistaking Angel for a journalist because of his incessant questions, the uncooperative Sweet encourages Angel to leave him alone, have a few stiff drinks, and then manufacture the details he needs according to his own whim.
As I read Steiger's and Smith's pages about Krishna Venta, that scene from "Angel Heart" came to mind since what the two men offer is the equivalent of tall tales spun in a barroom (possibly with the help of co-authors Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, and Johnny Walker) by someone who knows just enough about a given topic so as to offer a plethora of misinformation.
That said, folks, I have so many problems with Steiger's and Smith's Krishna Venta essay that I do not have time to address them all. Instead, in order to demonstrate just how little they know about their subject matter, I will address only a few points chosen largely at random.
* Peter Kamenoff and Ralph Muller were never known at the Fountain as "Brother Kamenoff" or "Brother Muller." Instead, they were known, respectively, as "Elzibah" and "Jeroham."
* Francis Pencovic did not get the idea to become Krishna Venta "in the 1950s, as a young theology student." By 1950, Pencovic was already 39 years old, and he was never a theology student - unless being an armchair enthusiast who studied various religions on his own counts.
* Venta's "supplicants did not have to come to him bearing gifts." That is not to say that individuals endowed with worldly possessions were not particularly encouraged to join the Fountain of the World. Nevertheless, the majority of those persons who joined the Fountain were flat broke when they did so. Consequently, the Fountain often lost money on many of their members.
* Krishna Venta was never the president of the Fountain of the World. When the Fountain was incorporated, possibly because he was enduring child support issues at the time, Venta was not listed as one of the entity's officers.
* The quotation "Some female cult members were selected by [Krishna Venta] to administer sexually to him on a regular basis what he termed "therapeutic reasons'" is ludicrous. This is not to say that Venta being sexually active with his followers is impossible. However, as best as can be determined, such activities were never ritualistic or tantric. Instead, if such was happening, it was more akin to a "quickie" squeezed into his day when no one was looking than anything else.
* The conversation between Venta, Kamenoff, and Muller which the authors assert occurred on the last night of their lives is ridiculous. For one thing, the only statements which anyone can recall being audible that night were to the effect of "You know you're not supposed to be here" and "What do you think I am? A hypocrite?" Both statements are believed to have been uttered by Cardinal Gene Shanafelt since there is a high probability that Krishna Venta was asleep during the entire incident and never even knew what hit him.
* Finally, the authors' statement that Kamenoff "flicked his cigarette lighter and touched its flame to the fuse on the bundle that Muller held in his arms" demonstrates both just how little time they spent researching their subject matter. Aside from sounding like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon, this is completely incorrect factually. The triggering mechanism was a blasting cap, not a fuse.
Accordingly, based upon multiple issues with the facts the authors present regarding Krishna Venta, at least pp. 115-118 of their book must be dismissed and discredited as mostly erroneous and entirely unreliable.
Thanks again to Cat for this opportunity.