Unspeakable (2007)
By: J.R. McNamara on January 13, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
B.P. Productions (USA). All Region, NTSC. 4:3. English 2.0. 82 minutes.
The Movie
Director: Marc Rokoff
Starring: Rev. Steven Johnson Leyba, Durk Dehner, Charles Gatewood, Blanche Barton
Country: USA
It seems to me that Unspeakable is a complete misnomer for this documentary - 'Indescribable' may be a better title, or at the very least, the best description. Unspeakable is a documentary about a man named Reverend Stephen Leyba Johnson, and the good Reverend is an astounding individual: Reverend in the Church of Satan, Native American, and artist, he pursues a lifestyle which appears to be odd, freakish and bizarre, but within the universe in which he lives, is almost Leave it to Beaver-ish in its wholesome decadence. In some way, the way each and every one of us chooses to live our lives is normal, until someone else observes it, and compares it to their own "normal" existence.

His art reveals itself in five continual works in progress, which are presented as huge voluminous books titled: My Stinking Ass, Sex and Violence, Apache means Enemy, M.A.I.M.: My American Indian Movement and Coyote American (while these remain unavailable to see in any art museum, comic book and fine art company Last Gasp have released a book called Coyote Satan America, which acts as a 'best of').

The revelation of his artwork is amazing. He refers to it as "Sexpressionism" which is psychosexual perverse yet appealing art. The suburban ideal of gay or straight is gone and replaced by a vision of non-gender oriented sexually charged artwork. It is a multilayered multimedia extravaganza that is so intricate, one has to admire the amount of work that goes into it. He uses everything he can get his hands on: blood, urine, ejaculate, used tampons... even paint!!!

Also on show in this doco are some of his performance art pieces, such as the Apache Whiskey Ritual where Leyba receives a buttfucking with a JD bottle by a girl using it as a strap on penis while wearing either bondage clothes or a Squaw outfit, and a private blood ritual where syringe needles are inserted into the head of his erect penis, causing blood to drip onto his artwork.

This documentary reveals many aspects of his life, and features interviews with many people that are involved in it: from his wife and fellow artist/ Satanist  Leslie Leyba, a peep show performer who saves her tampons for Satan, to his father, Crazy Benny, right up to the High Priestess of The Church of Satan, Blanche Barton. Their comments reveal the origins of his artistic nature, and how he uses it to exorcise his inner demons. This documentary is not just about Leyba though, it also presents The Church of Satan as a legitimate religion with some profound opinions on Christianity, and also portrays the plight of the Native American from a very personal point of view.

Unspeakable is incredibly reminiscent of the documentary Crumb, insomuch as showing a portrait of an artist as a powerful, and also damaged individual. While Rokoff has supposed to have been making a doc about one artist, he ended up with a multi-coursed audio visual meal of many flavors.
This film is full screen and shot on video, so the quality isn't the greatest. It is no where unwatchable though, and could probably be compared to the handheld home video your Uncle Albert took of the family's Christmas party... even down to the occasional camera shake. Interesting though, it is for that exact reason that the film has 'familial warmth' about it.
The audio is pretty shocking but at no time is any dialogue obscured. Most of the footage of Blanch Barton has awful sound though, mainly because it was clearly shot in a playground and the background noise of children playing is not overpowering, but certainly annoying!
Extra Features
The Verdict
A strange, quirky little documentary that finishes nowhere near were it starts. Not for everybody, but I enjoyed it to the point where it almost became inspirational.... and I still can't figure out if I got it, or missed the point completely. This doco is steeped intensely in the Right of Free Speech, and if one is easily offended, as Blanche Barton suggests, use "the power of the off button" .
Movie Score
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