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Hold Your Demons

LA Weekly, USA
Jan. 30, 2004
Dan Kapelovitz • Friday January 30, 2004

Satan is alive and well in the Pasadena Sheratons Magnolia Room.

We got some seats right up front where the good stuff is, offers Bob Larson, who is about to demonstrate a live exorcism before 150 people. You can see the whites of the demons eyeballs up here.

Once the king of the Christian airwaves with his nationally syndicated radio show Talk Back With Bob Larson and his TV program In the Name of Satan, the holy warrior currently focuses his energies on casting out demons and raising DWJD (Do What Jesus Did) spiritual freedom teams. (Not What Would Jesus Do? but do what he did, says Larson, on the difference between his DWJD and the more famous WWJD.)

Bob Larson

Bob Larson is known as a sensationalistic and (deservedly) controversial “evangelist,” known for attacking rock music, alleged demons, wallets and critics (real or perceived).

Statements made by Bob Larson should not be considered representative of mainstream Christian beliefs and/or practices.

Larson is thin and energetic; his strawberry-blond hair is slicked back, its color perfectly matched to his well-groomed beard and mustache. Michael Jackson needs an exorcism, not the Nation of Islam, begins Larson, in the sonorous tones of a veteran DJ. Kobe Bryants got demons! The guys making 40 million bucks a year. Would you risk it all for five minutes of quickie sex in a hotel room?

Suddenly, a woman violently shakes her head, mutters and storms out. Is she possessed? Is she a plant? I follow her to find out. This is nutso, she explains. Hes not from the Lord. He needs a gossip column.

Larson continues to work the crowd. He describes the fury of past exorcisms; once, in South Africa, a Ouija-board-toting kid threw Larson against a stage and broke his ribs.

Soon it will be exorcise time, but first Larson implores the audience to buy his audiocassettes, videos, pamphlets and books, items that expose the evils of vampire cults, yoga, marijuana, Mormonism and, of course, The Truth About Harry Potter. Tonights demonstration is free, but Larson hopes even prays to snare some paying converts for the next days 10 a.m. seminar.

Finally, Larson removes his blazer, showing that hes ready to deliver some mortals from demonic bondage.

Think about the earliest, deepest, most traumatic experience of your life, instructs Larson. He offers to help anyone whos been molested, incested, raped, beaten, abused, unwanted and unloved.

Just then, an elderly woman seated directly behind me screams, I hate you, Bob! Youre a liar! Her name is Faith. I know because she introduced herself to me earlier in the evening; she seemed so nice and non-demonic then. Now she looks like an aging, inbred crack whore with a gray mullet.

Keep your eyes on me, instructs Larson when people in the audience turn to look at Faith. Dont get distracted.

Im gonna kill her, Bob, Faith yells, presumably threatening to murder herself.

Though the old woman seems to be the most-likely-to-be-possessed attendee, Larson ignores her. After a few more outbursts, Bob walks up to Faith and seethes, Ill talk to you when I want to. You be quiet, or Ill have you removed.

Its unclear whether Larson is speaking to Faith or her demon either way, she/it shuts up.

Larson picks out a young lady named Patty from the audience and anoints her forehead with some kind of holy oil. He asks her to recall her most horrific memories. Patty says she was raped and her parents used to beat her with a baseball bat.

Larson shoves his face directly in front of hers and says, I want you to look at me as if I was one of the men who raped you. What would you say?

Unlike Linda Blairs, Pattys head doesnt do a 360; she doesnt vomit, nor does she ram a crucifix into her crotch. Instead, she begins to cry.

Larson backpedals and explains why a demon has yet to manifest itself. The dominant emotion at times like this is just this shameful emotion of pain, he says softly. Tell you what: Ill work with you more tomorrow. Im so proud of this young lady for having the courage to be up here like this. The audience applauds. The moment seems more Maury Povich than Mark of the Devil.

Those of you who felt some stirring down inside you, maybe even resentment toward me, I want you to stand up, commands Larson.

Heidi, a young, heavyset woman, with brown curly hair, rises.

Larson shoves his Bible into the small of Heidis back, causing her to produce hideous moans. Two DWJD team members rush to protect him.

Larson asks Heidis demon how long he has possessed her. Since she was 5, she howls, not unlike a dying dog. A man did it to her.

What did he do to her? Larson demands.

You know what he did to her, she replies, now sounding a bit like Freddy Krueger. Dont play games with me.

You dont play games with me! Bob retorts. Do you want that sword in your back again? Tell me what he did to her.

He touched her, Heidi replies nonchalantly.

The confrontation escalates. Satan, do you have a right to be there? Answer the question! Yes or no?

Is she gonna let go of me? she cackles, now resembling the Wicked Witch of the West.

Larsons team members hold her arms, as Heidis body twists and contorts. Larson jabs his Bible-sword at Heidis chest and says, I divide Heidi from you, Satan. Do you have a right to be there? Yes or no? Heidi laughs satanically. Larson asks again: YES OR NO?!

Okay, no, Heidi says, intoning a bratty, Valley Girl.

Who are you? Bob demands.


Larsons beady eyes light up. His demons rarely have ancient names like Belial and Beelzebub; they are more likely to have mundane monikers such as Murder, Hate, maybe even Parking Tickets.

Distortion? he asks. What do you distort?

The mind.

So you sexually abuse a little child, and it throws everything into distortion, doesnt it? Who she is . . . what love is . . . what sex is.

Yes, she whispers. Its all devised.

I bet you wish you hadnt come here tonight.

Shes been praying for it all week, answers Distortion. Shes fasted two meals today. She never fasts.

Even Larson finds the self-effacing entity a little goofy. This demon ought to be on the Comedy Channel. This demons got personality, but its also arrogant and cocky.

Larson orders Distortion to go to the pit, and Distortion quickly agrees.

Youre lying, says Larson. Demons dont agree that easily to go to the pit. Heidi, I wanna see you at 10 oclock tomorrow. The gauntlet has been thrown down, but the battle for Heidis soul will have to wait until Saturdays seminar. What wont wait is the pitch: Im going to pray that right here tonight someone will write a check for $7,000, he tells the now freaked-out audience. (Hey, it doesnt hurt to ask.) Hell also accept $70, $140, $210 or $700. Credit cards accepted.

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