BY CLAYTON PATTERSON | The Lower East Side was a magical cauldron. The brew that percolated in this pot nourished a number creative individuals who went on and made a creative contribution to the world.
Magic and mysticism are subjects of interest that have always found a place in the hearts of some fringe niche on the Lower East Side of N.Y.C.
In the late 1980s and early ’90s the local cops and the Manhattan district attorney were in a sticky situation with the unresolved Monica Beerle murder — a case wrapped up in the insanity and the buffoonery around the Texas stoner Daniel Rakowitz. There were individuals on both sides of this case who were deep into themes related to the end of the world.
In their paranoid minds, a couple of guys working for the D.A. had concocted a book-sized file filled with the possible atrocities a drug-crazed Satanist wearing “the Rakowitz stare” could commit. A couple of assistant district attorneys created a mythology, heavy in speculative details about a nationwide serial murder conspiracy story: Rakowitz, the so-called Monster of Tompkins Square Park Cannibal, is being led and influenced by his mentor and teacher, the great white Satanic cult leader Patrick Geoffrois. Patrick, they believed, had orchestrated and directed the Satanic ritual murder and dismemberment of Beerle, Rakowitz’s roommate.
Just looking at the facts of the case made this bizarre idea hard to follow. The F.B.I. recognized there is a phenomenon that often happens around unsoloved cases — that is the word “Satan” will appear. But there it was, and that created an idea, just like the myth of the finger in the soup, which became a part of the public’s knowledge of the case. There are still those who hang around in public places and spin tales of the demonic old days.
The D.A. could not have asked for a badder-looking, badass, dark-side, black magician. Patrick fit the bill perfectly. He was a tarot card reader on St. Mark’s Place and heavily identified himself with necromancy, a type of black magic.
I met Patrick on the street one day. He was friends with Stacy the squatter junkie and there were several other people we intersected with. I was immediately fascinated with Patrick. He was a full-fledged magician in more than one department. His mother had been a card reader in Paris. As a young man he went to India to study Shiva, the god of destruction, but instead met A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Swami Prabhupada was the original teacher who brought Krishna consciousness to the Lower East Side, and then out to the Western world. Patrick joined the movement and was one of the first devotees to take the books and literature across Demark, France, Russia, America and so on. In the movement, he met and joined up with Melanie, a woman who was his mate for many years
Melanie was also an original American Krishna, and with her first husband she met George Harrison of the Beatles and got that sidebar going. Eventually Swami Prabhupada passes on from his physical presence and Patrick and Melanie move on. Eventually he becomes one of the first white L.E.S. street heroin dealers, selling the dope under the stamp Dom Perignon.
Eventually they fell into the malaise of heroin addiction — heroin spiked up with coke eight-ball dreams and imaginary perceptions of self-grandeur. The greatest magician of them all — and why not? Daniel was a believer.
But Patrick never hung out with Daniel Rakowitz. Daniel was invited to Patrick’s house a couple of times. Patrick was a snob. Daniel was too street — too bordering on being homeless — too uneducated in the ways of magic. Patrick was a well-read, studied person of the dark arts. Daniel just was. I have a number of hours of videotape I recorded of Patrick. Daniel was not fascinating.
Locally, Patrick Geoffrois got his magical props on St. Mark’s by reading palms and tarot cards. His musical legacy came from being a member of the James Chance Band — having played with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Blondie’s Chris Stein — with his skinny-model good looks. He was neat and well-dressed in a prince of darkness style with plenty of silver accessories, which gave an impression of wealth.
Both Patrick and Melanie were H.I.V. positive. Melanie got down to around 80 pounds. She died in the hospital, but as one of the only modern miracles I know of, she came back to life. She recovered and once again became an active member of the Krishna movement. Patrick knew he was dying and played up being the Magick Warrior to the max. She and Patrick split. She lived and Patrick died.
I think Patrick honestly scared the crap out of the two A.D.A.s and possibly a couple of cops with his tales of “We are at the end of time.” He loved the drama. On the other hand, he absolutely denied having anything to do with Daniel Rakowitz. And I think that the Ninth Precinct cops, unless they were drug addicts, were just having fun with all the ideas related to mayhem, and also played it to the max, because the craziness led to trips down all kinds of dark alleys and avenues. Trips to Pennsylvania, California, Tennessee and so on, and meeting TV personalities.
And then there were the peripheral characters, like Max Cantor, who became another tragic figure. Cantor, who had played “Robbie” in “Dirty Dancing,” got swept up in the madness, fascination with Rakowitz and drugs.
Let Patrick die with the dignity of being a super-badass. Let the A.D.A.’s dwell on the projected evil inspired insanity. Let they boys on the corner dream about how evil the world really used to be. And Daniel can remain the Monster of Tompkins Square Park.