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MANSFIELD
66/67 ALL ABOUT
MANSFIELD


MANSFIELD 66/67 is about the last two years of movie goddess Jayne Mansfield’s life and the speculation swirling around her untimely death being caused by a curse after her alleged romantic dalliance with Anton LaVey, head of the Church of Satan.

This is a true story…based on rumour and hearsay.

synopsis

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of Jayne Mansfield’s fatal and legendary car crash, yet we still are left to wonder: was her life spinning out of control in the last two years of her life, or...did the devil make her do it?

Even knowing how the story ends, who could resist cheering for Jayne Mansfield (the king-sized over-the-top punked-out Marilyn Monroe who became the ultimate atomic-era sex-kitten-gone-berserk) as she navigates the cultural and spiritual landscape of a quickly changing world in the mid-1960s?

Defined by her hunger for publicity, on the one hand Jayne was Hollywood Babylon made flesh, with five kids, three messy divorces, and a lurid death that may or may not have been caused by a Satanic curse. On the other hand, she had perfect comic timing, 163 IQ, spoke five languages and was outspokenly anti-war, making her impossible to categorize, though the headlines that her wild life inspired certainly tried: Can A Sex Siren Be A Good Mother, Love Goddess With A Jinx, the Smartest Dumb Blonde...

And then there was her reported affair with Anton LaVey, head of the Church of Satan. The handsomely devilish Anton started his “church” with a publicist and preached a live and let live lifestyle. “If you’re going to be a sinner, be the best sinner on the block,” said Anton and that was music to sex-positive Jayne Mansfield’s ears. Unfortunately, her then-boyfriend lawyer Sam Brody was sent into a jealous rage and desecrated sacred Satanic talismans in Anton’s lair, prompting a curse to be put on his head that he would die in a car accident within a year. In 1966 and 1967, Jayne and Sam proceeded to have seven fender benders and near-fatal smash-ups until the one that tragically took both of their lives in a bizarre crash where reporters said alternately Jayne was either beheaded on impact or wig-scalped.

Welcome to MANSFIELD 66/67, a true story based on rumour and hearsay, where classic documentary interviews and archival materials are blended with experimental dance numbers, performance art and animation, elevating a tabloid tale of a fallen Hollywood idol into a celebration of the mythical proportions of a true original.

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  • backstory

    by P. David Ebersole & Todd Hughes

    As children growing up in America in the 1960s, we both had heard the story of Jayne Mansfield, the beautiful blonde movie star who was decapitated in a horrific car accident while her children slept in the back seat. Todd remembers his mother telling him that the actress was dabbling in black magic, and that she had been a nude altar at Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan in San Francisco. True or not, these stories conjured up forbidden images of the naughty adult world of swingers. David’s mother was deeply involved in sixties feminism and the end of the era of the blonde bombshells carried a whole different connotation. So, with or without the added layer of LaVey’s roguish brand of Satanism – a playful Hefner-esque Playboy After Dark dabbling in the dark side – Jayne’s life and death proved to be a mutual obsession for us...offering insight into the changing world we lived through as young men. If our parents were formed by their rejection of the picket fence lives of the 1950s, ours were shaped by the way in which that generation insisted on breaking down societal norms and constrictions. Jayne’s uneasy intersection with that moment of American history meshed perfectly with our common interests in people who live as outsiders, especially those who experience a questioning of faith and how that expands an acceptance of mans’ multiplicitous nature, be it expressed in sexually adventurous behavior or non-traditional paths in life. All very heady thoughts when you are talking about an alleged affair between a woman known best for having the body measurements of 40-21-35 and a man who liked to wear plastic devil horns and a red cape to impress girls! But such is the wild world of Jayne Mansfield because everything Jayne naturally feels larger than normal life.

    Together, for close to twenty years now, we have researched and collected Jayne and Anton literature and artifacts trying to piece together this mysterious story as a narrative feature script. And in that time, of course life happens, so we made other projects including our first non-narrative project HIT SO HARD, about Patty Schemel, the drummer of Courtney Love’s band Hole who ended up homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. After the success of our next documentary ROOM 237 (which we executive produced), a film exploring subjective interpretations and perceived meanings of Stanley Kubrick’s film THE SHINING, we were next tapped by superstar Cher to tell her family story in DEAR MOM LOVE CHER for Lifetime. Three films in, we decided we may indeed now be documentarians, and so why not tackle the story of Jayne and Anton that we remained so fascinated by as a documentary?

    But we found ourselves not very interested in the “simple” idea of making a exposé where we were might try to dig past the rumours and legends to expose the absolute truth, but rather found ourselves fascinated by creating a celebration of the storytellings and spectacles which have ingrained themselves into the lore and accepted truths of Hollywood Babylon. For instance, although it has been disproven many times, many people today still insist that Jayne Mansfield was decapitated, preferring to hold on to the gory hearsay in lieu of accepting the reported facts. Why? What is more interesting about that which may not be true but lives on in the collective unconscious?

    First, we set out to interview subjects with not just first hand experience of either Jayne or Anton, but hopefully people who might hold deeper thoughts about either or both of them and/or their alleged relationship with each other. Much like how we stayed away from anyone directly involved with Stanley Kubrick in our ROOM 237 documentary because the interest was in the obsessive nature of the subjects more than in proving whether or not what they said was “true,” here we likewise did not interview family on either side in hopes of keeping the conversation about the way in which a story like this lives with the audience, who is less interested in proof per se and more interested in what it means to them to believe it.

    We reached out to find contemporaries who may or may not have been their colleagues, artists who expressed being influenced by one or the other, theorists and feminists who might have a take on it all, film scholars who could put their careers into context with each other, experts in Hollywood gossip -- essentially a melting pot of people who could only comment on what they heard rather than who could, say, confirm the veracity of the stories being told.

    On an artistic level, we felt that telling this as a “true story based on rumour and hearsay” required that we created our supporting material in the same vein. This is what inspired us to use what we call emotional dance numbers and experimental film and performance sketches to ruminate and try to understand the extraordinary circumstances which lead up to Jayne’s tragic death.

    Further, in lieu of recreations, we attempted to blur the lines of realness by having over fifty actors and dancers portray Jayne in various fantasized interpretations of her life. This approach gave us the freedom to create imagined nights on the Sunset Strip, secret meetings between Jayne and Anton, conflicts between her lovers, and even whimsical period animation to illustrate two key moments that otherwise only live on in memory and retellings of events in her life circa 1966/67. The idea is to “explode” what might be called the usual documentary approach, all in an effort to explore the psychology of the changing times and the mythology of the larger culture through the story of Jayne and Anton, to envision ourselves into the head space of these, in our opinion, early pioneers of enlightened thought and revolutionary behavior.

    Borne out of our long and fruitful collaboration with cinematographer/producer Larra Anderson, we were able to achieve this fever dream of an idea through a unique collaboration with Leeds Beckett University’s School of Film, Music & Performing Arts and The Northern Film School. As luck would have it, when it came time to explore these ideas and film them into reality, Larra and her university were able to invite us to come as visiting artists-in-residence. The school provided The Ebersole Hughes Company the opportunity to work with their faculty and students (over 100 participants in all) as part of what we are happy to say turned out to be a very successful research project for the renowned Yorkshire institution.

    And thus, MANSFIELD 66/67 was made!

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