Raven de la Croix: From Russ Meyer to the Realm of Spirits

"I can imagine." The words provide not only a personalized license plate for Raven de la Croix, but a capsule life philosophy. This is a lady who can not only imagine physical and spiritual realms unknown to most, but has also lived through many of them on a journey that's only begun.

To her legion of fans, she is fondly remembered as one of Russ Meyer's most dazzling bombshells, the co-star of one of the most entertaining B-movies of the 1980s, and the last true Queen of classic Burlesque. But these are only a few of the life roles she has assumed over the years. Hell's Angel wife, licensed minister, drug rehabilitation counselor, spinal-chord-injury nurse, record promoter, gifted artist, Magical Clown for children, professional face & body paintress and custom temporary tattoo & Mehendi (Henna) artist “for the stars”, and (most importantly today) Spiritual counselor & Intuitive Communicator must also be added to the list. Raven has many faces; all are lovely and imbued with her own very special fire.

Although her home in North Hollywood is comfortably modest, Raven says it is a "healing house" which serves as a "cauldron of growth and creation in many realms." Indeed, with its array of sacred and ‘leading edge’ artwork, books, and music in every room, there is a sense of energy which seems to radiate from its very walls, which can be attributed in large measure to the lady herself.

Raven was born on August 24, 1947 in Manhattan, the oldest of five girls and three boys. Her birth name was Lynn; "my grandmother called me Raven, and I later made it my legal name."

The Indian meaning of her full name, (De La Croix - “of the cross”) she says, is 
"to emanate light into the concept ‘the unknown’ and the bringing forth it’s ‘isness’ through the strongest part of a sacred geometrical cross ... the center or heart". 
My transmutation to “De Lumiere” translated metaphorically and physically as, 
‘The Raven .... ShapeShifter shines through the unknown, dances with its elements and makes it known’... thus balance occurs. Integration of dark and light. To be ‘in’ this reality but not ‘of’ it. To navigate through this endless sea of energy with skill recognizing we choose everything. It is not what happens to us in life but what we choose to do with the experience. To live in grace and vibrational elegance” ... she reflects through all the journeys she has taken to arrive at these portals of new reality.

"I'm a combination of several terrestrial and extra-terrestrial DNA combinations and consider myself very fortunate due to the fact. French-Indian, German, Celtic, Scottish, (my grandfather on my mothers side was a respected member of the infamous “Black Watch” clan) and Columbian. Also Protestant then Catholic, and later found Jewish roots on my mothers side ... try “COHEN”, the 5-ft-5, green-eyed enchantress declares. For those of you schooled on the findings of Cosmo-archeologist Zacharia Zitchens work on genesis and other authors of similar great works, I suspect another earlier series of genetic origins such as DNA from Sirius, Orion, Pleiadian & a strong Andromeda connection... and all this is another story!

"My father has sired a number of children this lifetime in various marriages. After my parents separated when I was five years old, ( my father went into bullfighting ), it was just my mother, my next oldest sister and I left with my grandparents.

Her mother would remarry and have five more children. “My stepfather came into the marriage with a son, my brother Jimmy. This made the early “Brady Bunch” scenario ... his, hers and theirs.”

Quite appropriately, this most remarkable lady has a compelling family heritage. 
"My grandfather [William Knox Martin] invented the pontoon plane, fought for Pancho Villa and Zapata in Mexico, and introduced flight to China, South America and other countries. He was a contemporary of the Wright Brothers, helped start Avianca Airlines, made the first airmail flight over Barancia, needless to say - a pretty amazing character. He met my grandmother when he flew to Bogota, Colombia. She was already promised to a rich plantation owner, but my grandfather kidnapped her--with her consent--and took her to America. Years later when he died in a car accident, she became something of a wild woman compared to her strict religious upbringing and later married Captain Harry.

"My father is a painter, a teacher, writer, martial artist, bull fighter, adventurer and world traveler. He can do a little bit of everything. That may have been how I got some of my esoteric interests and multidimensional abilities so early in life."

"I don't recall being “completely” sexually abused as a child, but there were dark elements to my childhood; I still have a memory block about some aspects of it. 
Many men don't know where to draw the line with sexuality and I believe it to be a long standing deep plot to keep mankind from itself. I believe that looking back, after exploring & engaging in “sacred sex” (proper tantra), I realized (perhaps from the ancient past ... other lives I’ve led) ... due to my empathic nature, as a child, without conscious awareness, had a perception of inappropriate sexual attitudes, thoughts and behavior directed at me. It is probably the case that the psychic damage I suffered as a child was one of the factors that led me professionally into the sexual arena, to help deal with the shame sent by the perpetrators, and for me, too young to understand that I had choices ... it was embedded into my psyche." My current academic research proves this to be common in such cases.

"I always wanted to dance from the time I was very young. I’d dream of being in musicals, which were my favorite. They were romantic, happy and I loved all the singing and dancing. American Movie Classics are still very nostalgic for me. It represents a dream I tried to achieve this entire lifetime. I’m sure many women and even men would relate.

I was awful in professional dance classes. I couldn’t dance with a chorus line if my life depended on it! I felt the music differently and couldn’t make my body conform to the ‘set’ routine. I was profoundly traumatized at not being able to move about freely the way I “felt” music. They hadn’t made a movie about Isa Dora Duncan yet so I hadn’t been exposed to the idea of improvisational dance and just felt clumsy and awkward.

It wasn’t until I was asked to star in Night Clubs in Canada that I was forced to call upon any resources I could muster to fulfill my performance contract to headline in these venues, that the spirit of dance - from my core being - started to rip through! I would let the music I chose - move me. I felt as if was tapping into something joyous and wonderful. I felt incredible. I transformed while performing. I was introduced to the vibration of Ecstasy for the first time in this lifetime. I connected with the universal energy grid!

This came in handy when I had a severe accident later in life to where I was able to free myself from the limitations of my body. When I breathed in a certain way, it energized my energy centers within my body (Chakras) and I became elastic, fluid, flowing. I then learned what is called “sacred moves” and opened energy gates which spirals through me like a sensual fire; I never had to think about it. It was in harmony with an eternal beauty." She adds with a chuckle that "taking my clothes off while I danced was not in my mind at all!" My favorite definition of dance is:

Spirit Cherishing Matter In Motion”.

After eight years of Catholic school in Riverdale by the Hudson, she began “go-go” dancing in New York while still a teenager. "I walked passed a club in Washington Heights, Manhattan, (where I was raised under the age of five), and was asked if I'd like to dance there. Latin was popular and I could move easily to the natural rhythms. Next I danced in the East Bronx on a stage above the crowd on either side of the bar to Tito Puente and his contemporaries. People would tease me because I didn't drink--they'd say, `get the kid some milk!'" I’d drink “extra rich on the rocks”!

Born with jet black hair, (like Snow White, white skin, blue eyes) my hair lightened as I got older. At age 16, Raven colored it black and fluctuated between the brunette and the auburn until approximately 1991, where upon Raven stripped out the dye’s and went with the blonde like my mother and sisters. I had colored it black because I liked that Cleopatra look. Also, the inappropriate male sexual attitudes I'd experienced made me want to be anybody other than who or what I was. Black hair made me feel stronger, as a blonde men thought I was brainless and a push over." (What a drastic error!)

Another physical change occurring around this time came when the previously flat-chested Raven suddenly blossomed at 17 years of age, and found herself the object of ardent male attention.

The go-go dancing came to an end when the 17-year-old got a job at the 1964 New York World's Fair, working as a restaurant hostess at the Rheingold Beer Pavilion. "I didn't leave home until I was 18, and got married. I was a virgin until then. It was not a good marriage; he was basically an abusive replica of my alcoholic stepfather, God Bless both their souls. It was a torturous, violent, shattering relationship, due to his drinking and the typical family dysfunction and sick behaviors ... way before BW or the “self-help” era.

It’s amazing how many men inappropriately “feast” on children and no body knows and when they find out there is rarely functional help. Today, as counselor, this situation is outrageously evident and still not favorably handled in our legal system. Billions of cases world wide are never addressed. It is a sheer miracle that women remain as strong as they are after childhood and these nasty beginnings are why women still put up with spousal abuse today.

I had my son Matoux through the marriage in 1966; he's now a single father, having custody & raising his 10-year-old daughter. My marriage to his father lasted one year after leaving N.Y.C. settling first in Fontana CA and after I had to physically escape, (due to the ol’ addiction/lack of self esteem/violence/abuse syndrome), finally settled in Los Angeles, California,"

From 1969-76, Raven worked as a drug rehabilitation supervisor under Mark Jones, Founder, as advisor to inmates in prison through NARCONON (non-narcosis) a drug rehab program for inmates. This included work in a halfway house for paroled inmates, also counseling at the “California Men's Colony” at San Luis Obispo, and at San Quentin in 1973.

An extraordinary new chapter in her life unfolded when she was married for the second time at 25 to Damian (or Lil’ Joe), a member of the Hell's Angels. "I met him in San Bernardino, which was the main charter of the Hell's Angels. He was a handsome, well-groomed biker, seven years older than me, and he struck me as looking and acting like a handsome Fonzie!" One of his professions while in prison was studying underwater construction, following in the footsteps of his stepfather.

"The Hell's Angels are not quite as they've been portrayed in the media. They started out as war heroes, missionaries, like the Special Forces. Dare devils who had the courage to do what no man would like to do and yes… for our country. Now they have charters worldwide. After the war, the original group of comrades started car clubs when they got out of the service as they came from all parts of the country (from the draft). They agreed to keep their friendship alive, very much like the Vietnam Vets today, and decided to meet a few times a year in different areas. It seems that a larger group of them settled in the San Bernardino area and they eventually switched to motorcycles because they were less expensive in the long run, adventurous and enabled them to travel more easily in groups. They were seen as good guys for a while until ignorance and machismo of the Fontana steel mill bunch ruined the fun and caused the change of the H.A.’s course for many years to come. But they were strong, independent men who followed their own path, and when people insulted them or their women, it led to fights; that's when they earned their reputation. These hero type bad asses who fought in the blood pits for our country was not about to let these beer guzzling - fear based Neanderthals run the roost.

It was the next generation of Hell's Angels--and some wanna-be bike groups--that just enjoyed terrorizing people. But most of the Hell's Angels that I knew weren't like that. Just like any group ... you have all kinds. At least with them you knew what to expect and they didn’t need to pretend to be anyone other than who they thought they were, unlike a ‘so called’ business man or lawyer, etc. who seemed to be one way and you find out that what you see is NOT what you get!" Now THAT’s scary!

I’ve always felt safe around most HA’s (discernment is always good but this Tribe sticks together) whereas I’ve been terrorized & sexually threatened by bad police & lawyers and weirdo so-called ‘straight’ guys because they “figured” that I was “prey” because I was with the Tribe or later because I “looked” a certain way ??? ... a sick A equals A...

Damian never hurt anyone, but he was caught with marijuana, was given four years for two joints and they put him in jail." His incarceration took place shortly after they met. It was during his tenure at Puerta la Cruz, an "honor camp" near San Diego, that one of the many extraordinary events in her life took place.
"We wanted to be together, so I agreed to take a huge risk. I drove to the prison, and parked my car in the bushes, which was dirt road a mile off the lengthy road leading to this ‘honor camp’ in the middle of no where. He was one of the trustees so he was able to set it up so that he would be at the gate; because it was an honor camp without any history of breakouts, the security wasn't as tight as it would have been at a regular prison. I was able to crawl in and had to cross a dirt field on my belly. After a looooong scary journey, I came to the barbed wire fence where I saw a guy in a hat, whispering harshly, “who's there?” ... I was terrified! I thought it was a guard. My imagination was running wild. Then the owner of the voice realized through my squeaky response that it was me and helped me over the fence. It was Damian. I figured we’d have all night in a cave somewhere near but ended up 300 feet from the guards in the gun tower to assure his hearing the signals sent by his buddies notifying him that it was time for “count”. Then he would jump up, run back into the compound again, and jump into bed to be counted by the guards, and would then sneak back out to join me once again. We made love under a tree on an army blanket, a can of coke and a pack of Marlboros. I didn't realize it then, but if I'd been caught I could've gotten five years in prison!”

"The bad news came later when I realized that the hard part was yet to come! I then had to break out of the camp the same way I'd broken in. He'd given me a denim prison jacket to put on as I was cold from fear. My son was sleeping in the car in the bushes. My knees were shaking, my heart was pounding, I had mud on my face, and I was asking myself, `are you absolutely out of your mind???' It was the middle of the night, and I had to get my boy back home in time for breakfast.

"Once safely out of danger I became so exhausted that I pulled over on the freeway to rest in the back seat before I fell asleep at the wheel. No sooner did I doze off did a cop pull up and put a light on my face.

It was then that I realized how I must appear to them with dirt and the prison denim hat & jacket ... but fortunately, he didn't suspect anything, and just said if I was tired, he'd accompany me to a safer place off the freeway. So I followed him and slept till I could drive the journey back to LA.

"The whole experience was dream-like, but it really happened. I came home and said to myself, `what a ride!' But God knows I wouldn't go through a harrowing experience like that again." I look back only to see that I had one adventure after another and continue to do so!

Raven and Damian were married in prison at Chino in approximately 1973 before they transferred him to San Quentin. After the San Quentin stint, It was mainly due to Raven's letters to prison officials that he was released. "Because I'd been teaching drug rehab in prisons, that probably caused them to take me more seriously. They let him out to be a husband and father. They figured, as I suggested, that if he didn’t take the ‘straight & narrow’ he would return to the prison system, as so many do in those circumstances. “State-raised” they return to their “prison womb”. “

Living as the wife of a Hell's Angel placed her in a situation that would be perceived by many as dangerous, but she says the reality was different. "I felt shielded there, and never spoken down to." Even in present time, say when a funeral occurs, I of course, would often attend if I know the person. I have a place in the tribe among these nomads. Not everyone can walk that path. But I was blessed to have an ability to navigate and safely survive in unusual situations as my view is; we are all floating on a ball hurling through space TOGETHER, and people are people ... it’s just a matter of language. I walk through many worlds. These bikers respect me, just as I do them, and I always feel like family. What we ‘put out’ ... we get back - [physics].”

However, their life together as husband and wife was to be short-lived. "I was well-respected as a Hell's Angels wife but in any culture I do not share my man with other women. I was always monogamous and he wasn’t. Also, I realized that we were going in different directions. I told him, “I love you, but I have to move on” ... Something gave me the wisdom to see that it would not be healthy for us to stay together. It was one of the hardest things for me to do at that period of my life - as usually, in most earthian break-ups, there are a series of horrible things that happen before you crawl away from the wreckage. I opted for pre-wreckage dissolution. We parted very close friends and still are today. He still brings his latest love to meet me through the years. Most importantly, he was very good to my son during Matouxs’ early years.

(Also after their split, she had a tattoo on her thigh, "Forever Damian," surgically removed.) He had “Raven” in beautiful old English tattoo’d on his muscle and recently covered it over in a tribal style overlay tattoo of the Hells Angels wing, (under his wing?). She says that today, Damian has built a successful business, “Hell's Angels Leathers”, (check out the website under same name) selling official-Hells Angel licensed fine quality leather goods to the public as well as members, all with an upcoming web site. He was my childhood crush and remained the most significant connection “emotionally” for years and years… (until present time where I have finally found my true love and life mate, truly my best friend, Michael Ziton).

Despite the end of the marriage, Raven's connection with the bikers was not yet over. While living in the Panorama City area of valley in LA, raising her (then) 8 year old son, she was contacted by a then 26-year-old Hell's Angel named Dale, whom she had dated before becoming serious with Damian, who had been injured in a car accident and became a paraplegic. After being accidentally dropped by attendants after surgery, he became a quadriplegic! "He told me had no place to go. His girlfriend couldn’t handle it and his parents were too elderly to care for him, so I took the free training offered me by the hospital in Downey CA, to become a spinal-chord-injury attendant, and took care of him for a year in my home, turning his body every two hours of our lives, to prevent bed sores, plus administering physical therapy, cleaning, feeding and more. I made him promise to do holistic medicine, with no drugs. He did very well for a while but missed his friends and life and he was transferred to his home town with his buddies and is still being cared for today. He calls me a couple times a year to send his greetings and love.

“After teaching drug rehab for a while, I met Steve Gold & Jerry Goldstein, manager & producer of the famous WAR & other famous groups), in Chino’s men’s prison facility while I was entertaining (dancing) at an event they were putting on for an album they were recording. It featured Ike White who was currently a lifetime inmate with a great voice. (Note: The record company was able to secure his release to record on the “outside” but as far as I can remember he had been there so long he created having to stay imprisoned. It’s funny how we can get addicted to unfavorable conditions against our own selves. The ol’ self sabotage routine.

Raven entered a new field to become a promoter for LAX Records and Far Out Productions. Among the artists she promoted were ex-Animals leader Eric Burdons guitar player Aalon; she was credited with her work as ‘second engineer’ for Aalon’s “Cream City” Album, R&B legend Ike Turner, (while Ike & Tina were having the stormiest times in their relationship. I used to see Tina come into the company torn up emotionally & physically. I knew what she “used” energetically to emote in “Tommy” when she did that scene with the gun and trembled” Raven reflects), and bluesman Jimmy Witherspoon, Ronnie and Eloise Laws, Tanya Tucker, Lee Oscar & other WAR members individually and more. Far Out Productions also filmed Jimmy Hendrixs’ last tour (of which the ownership was fought over in court when Hendrix ‘moved on’). This was her line of work when the next turning point in her life presented itself.

Back to DANCE: Although I was attracting club owners asking me to perform in NY when I was younger, the next point of ‘attracting dance’ was when I was studying a philosophy, raising my (then) 6 year old son Matoux, and looking for a night job. A friend who knew the owner of the new club, Purple Lion in Hollywood, suggested I feature there and so I did! It was more like a night club situation with couples rather than a strip club. The scene in Russ Meyers “UP!” was what triggered a Canadian booking agent to contact me via Uschi Digart’s suggestion to feature as a stripper in Canada. After four new weeks on the Canadian circuit I became Canada’s Sweetheart and quickly known as a Burlesque Queen. Many of my engagements there had a hour wait line because the house was filled to the laws limit. I was asked to do double shows at lunch to accommodate the crowds. I chuckle at the funny escapades as a rookie till I gained focus and perspective of what I was creating and what apparent effect I was making on my public.

From then on I would simultaneously dance and act. The careers were concurrent due to the need to support my growing son.

Enter Russ Meyer ...

"While employed as a record promoter for Far Out Productions, I'd been building a floating bed and table in a treehouse type of residence in the Hollywood Hills for my son & I. Taking a food break, dead tired, a friend took me to a West Hollywood restaurant called Joe Allen's for a quiet meal. I was spotted there by a woman named Samantha Monsour who told me she was a 20th Century Fox talent scout for the infamous Eddie Foy Casting, that Russ Meyer was looking for a lead actress and that I should try out for his new film. I figured, why not? It turns out that they had tested about 400 women for the part. He was looking for a pneumatic cinematic, and decided that I fit the role [38-28-36]. He didn't do the `sleaze bit' on me--I didn't even have to take my top off to audition, which was probably unusual for Russ--so I said yes." I hadn’t heard of Russ but Steve Gold of Far Out knew and loved his style and assured me it was harmless and would be fun. It still didn’t prepare me for the experience but it encouraged me to try out for the film. I was contracted immediately.

The motion picture was "Up." In 1975 Meyer had
snappedout of a cinematic slump that followed his
1970 cult classic "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls"
(co-starring GG:T&N favorite Cynthia Myers), and
scored one of the biggest hits of his career with
"Supervixens." A hot director once again, Meyer
was determined to keep the roll going, and the
decidedly pneumatic Raven offered a means to
that end.

Even by Meyer standards, "Up!" is a pretty bizarre film. In a very promising (British actress’s voice -over) prologue, Kitten Natividad provides a silly but fun opening narration ("I am the cacophony of carnality...")

while perched fetchingly nude in a tree, and continuing as an unclad "Greek chorus" at intervals throughout the picture. But then we're subjected to a decidedly unpleasant segment of sadomasochism, with a Hitler look-a-like, as Meyer indulges once too often in his Nazi fixation left over from wartime days. On video, at least, we can fast-forward past this distasteful nonsense.

We first encounter Raven, as Margo Winchester, jogging along a rural road in low-cut, bare-midriff attire showing off her exceptional form. A local stud picks her up, but when he puts aggressive moves on her she desperately fights him off, with her top ripped off in the process. Mad with lust and fury, the sleazeball brutally thrashes her into unconsciousness, then begins to rape her inert body. Margo is revived just in time, and kills her assailant just as local state trooper Homer comes on the scene. Homer arrests the nude beauty, but makes a deal with her to concoct a story absolving her of any guilt. Margo has little choice but to pay the price of making love with him all over the countryside.

Margo is hired as a waitress, and her abundant charms, accompanied by saucy Mae West-styled wisecracks, immediately make Alice's restaurant the hottest spot in town. We're treated to scenes of Raven jogging braless in a skintight blouse, bouncing along quite merrily, and making love at a variety of outdoor locales with Paul, the boyfriend of restaurant owner Alice.

Thanks to Margo's magnetic drawing power, Alice opens a new restaurant, and at the grand opening Raven puts on a memorable performance shimmying to the music in a skintight, slit-skirt dress. This stirs an inebriated 300-pound lumberjack named Rafe to go after the buxom bombshell, tossing aside everyone who tries to stop him. Alice, seeing that the man-mountain is unstoppable, races off for help. Officer Homer comes to the rescue, but is no match for Rafe. When Alice tries to intervene, he begins to rape her as well. Desperate, Homer sinks an ax into the giant's back, but the seemingly invulnerable Rafe axes him in response. Bringing the scene to a gruesomely bloody conclusion, the wounded Homer uses a chain saw to finally extricate the girls from Rafe's grasp. Margo and Alice find comfort in each other's arms.

The film's denouement is classic Meyer--totally preposterous, but simultaneously amusing and titillating. Out of the blue, we learn that sweet Alice is a murderer--the daughter of Hitler and Eva Braun, no less--and she engages in an epic-length chase of a nude Margo. Alice soon strips off, too, just to keep things equal. Margo finally catches her adversary from behind and the women struggle until Paul appears, ready to kill Alice until Margo stops him. It turns out that Margo has been an undercover cop all along. And Paul was Hitler's homosexual lover, and ... well, never mind.

"Working with Russ was like going to boot camp. I did all my own stunts, and it was sometimes brutal. . . but I enjoyed the challenges! There was one time when I was pushed underwater for a drowning sequence that was especially terrifying. I have a phobia about being held under water due to a childhood near drowning episode and I kept hearing Russ (getting even) shouting, “Put her under again!” over and over. I was losing it, gasping for air, my fingers felt like claws as I grasped for a hold on my co-actor Larry, and finally when I thrust my middle finger rigidly in the air, Larry refused to dunk me again ... And just in time!!!

In another scene, I'm dangling almost naked from a root on a very high cliff, and there was no net--just a huge cavernous drop underneath me. I could've been killed, but my final regret was that you can't see from the film the danger that I was really in, so my plight was not cinematically recognized." Also, when I would run barefoot in the forest, I was not allowed to limp or act as if I stepped on the burrs and stickers ... If I stumbled he would yell, “CUUUUT! .... Run like a Gazelle dear!” I eventually applied ‘mole skin’ to the bottoms of my feet or I would still be out there ‘getting that shot’!”

"I wasn't used to running around naked in front of everyone!" she chuckles, "let alone running barefoot through the forest over jagged rocks. I focused on the magic of being in that beautiful redwood forest and not on being naked. I felt very much like Sheena, Queen of the jungle, as the animals spoke to me as well!” J

"Russ wanted his women to be of superhuman stock," Raven notes--a description which also fits the Meyer heroines in "Motor Psycho" (Haji), "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill" (Tura Satana), and "Vixen" (Erica Gavin). "In one scene, I swung from a rope, flew over the camera, (on one take actually crashed into it!), landed, and was directed to keep on running! It was like, `you want me to jump off this building? Okay fine ... chief!'"

The climactic chase sequence through the forest features, in typical Meyer fashion, a preposterously intricate dialogue between hunter Alice and prey Margo. Remarkably, she says, most of this dialogue was recorded live and not overdubbed in the studio. "That's one of the ways in which doing `Up' was great training -- he insisted that we do all that dialogue while running. All my other films were easy by comparison!"

"I didn't date Russ, but I think at one point he liked me; he was always a gentleman. He was gruff but nice, in an Army kind of way. I always called him `Chief'; I really didn't have any problem dealing with him. He inserted a few “put-down” lines toward my character because I wouldn't always play a scene the way he wanted. I had to fight for my individuality; he didn't seem to like my independence. We had a few disagreements, but we're still distantly associated although he still refuses to talk to me. Says he has to keep the phones lines open and talking smashes sales. I think he likes women to be seen and not heard and only on his films .... not in “real life”! I can’t take it personal as he is definitely his own character and sees things through his own particular ‘lens’ ... It just doesn’t include my reality.

However things changed in his later years … 1999 thru 2001. Now when he see’s me his eyes light up like a little boy who saw his first Angel … until his newly formed pornographic reactive originations would spew out in a base ‘Lil Abner” style retaliatory remarks not favorable to a Lady’s preference. And he would swing from one phase to the other. I have an interesting (to me) perspective of that whole segment of our lives. Hmmmmn….

Helping Raven learn how to survive in Meyer Land was Uschi Digart, glamour legend and co-star of Meyer's "Cherry, Harry & Raquel" and "Supervixens." "She is a very unpretentious, loving person. She knew Russ so well from their previous films together, and was very protective of me when I didn't quite know what to do. Uschi was nothing but good news for me."

For the princely sum of $1,000 a week for five weeks, Raven not only served as the film's star, but as makeup artist, hairdresser, and wardrobe designer, but also did her own stunts. "Uschi and I both were, for all practical purposes, associate producers with all our behind-the-scenes work. I learned a lot about film- making doing `Up,' like proper lighting, timing, stunts, voice-overs, and doing everything in one take through the right preparation. I was able to put that knowledge to work in later projects. Thank you Russ!”

One of the hallmarks of Meyer's directorial style was to keep cast and crew together in a remote setting while shooting, with no husbands or boyfriends to distract his female stars. "But he couldn't quite keep me confined. His people would check up to see if everyone was in their place at night, but I'd stuff my bed, wig and all, so it looked like I was sleeping. Then I'd sneak out the window and go exploring. Ken, a grip from a mid-west college, felt compelled to report my late night visits to town for which Russ has never forgiven me. Uschi helped me get out. I'd always be sure to be back before 2 in the morning, as ‘call time’ was 6 AM when they'd get us out of bed. I loved walking in the forest at night and looking up at the stars and communing with nature as I still do even more intensely today. I also had a romantic relationship with a handsome young man Karl Richardson who owned a logging company in Miranda, which lasted about a year. I couldn’t move away and neither could he so we faded away from the forefront of each others lives. Besides, although he was a very nice fellow, he, like many men let their insecurities get in the way of the real truth and I can’t live with “projections” I yearned to live with someone who could “see” who was in front of them. I call this the “Marilyn Syndrome”. One of the books I am writing.

"One morning after one of my late-night adventures, Uschi got me up and said Russ wanted to see me. He was very upset, and I thought, `oh, God, he found out.' But he was upset because someone had stolen his hard roll of salami he had hanging out in back of the cabins kitchen area, and he wanted me to find out “who done it’!" She laughs delightedly at the memory. "He'd already asked everyone in his crew." The little reenactment of "The Caine Mutiny" ended when Raven realized that the culprit had been a raccoon. J

An occasional source of tension between director and star was Raven's budding exploration of spirituality, which still stands as a major sore (from Meyers’ perspective anyway). "I was studying Scientology and he thought my interest in Scientology kept me from being as overtly sexual as he wanted on screen or in personal appearances. Perhaps he had never met a woman with scruples? I guess in most cases it would be A=A re: Women of Flesh and the fantasy of men that all women “who look like that” are available for mental masturbation or the blatant projectile?

He didn’t appreciate my being “real” and bringing up the subject of my son and my love for animals. He preferred his icons to plop out their breasts at the dinner table in a crowded restaurant for effect. He has never forgiven me for that and he has an ardent hate for Scientology (although I do not believe he really knows what it is nor has the organization harmed him in any way or I’d have heard that story) and doesn’t appreciate or trust anyone connected to that philosophy.

I had a wondrous period of alignment and inspiration during that era which is the basic foundation of my academic expertise and intuitive insight based on ethics and integrity. From there I would expand to many other related compatible holistic platforms of information.

But I could cope with Russ because I have a sense of adventure, and he found out that I'm pretty tough. After everything I'd been through even then, I was not easily intimidated!" In other words, I stand up for myself.

"Up" was released in the fall of 1976, and was successful enough at the box office to make Raven an overnight sex symbol--even though she was only billed in the credits by her character's name, Margo Winchester, as was the rest of cast. But with the continual shrinkage in the number of theaters willing to show Meyer's brand of cult films--too sexual for mainstream venues but not "hard" enough for art houses amidst an onslaught of X-rated pictures--it was to be his last full-scale national theatrical release. "Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens," RM's final release to date, was released in 1978-79, never shown on more than a few dozen screens at any one time before finding a lucrative home on video. It was the end of an era.

Raven In Hollywood

However, it was the beginning of a moderately busy screen career for Raven. She had a nudie cameo in the 1977 Joey Heatherton-George Hamilton fiasco "The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington," lying unclad on a table while her posterior is being covered with ice cream. Joey had to share a dressing room with the scene-stealing bombshell, and the film's star "wasn't too thrilled with that," recalls Raven. "She was uptight because a lot of the other girls in the film would be nude and many of the young would-be starlets delighted the crew with exposed body parts. Although I was famous for my body parts I was also famous for “close sets” and waiting for “action & cut” to reveal mine ... professional not exhibitionist ... shy actually". Also in 1977, she played a bride in the burlesque-style comedy "Jokes My Folks Never Told Me," and had a bit in the Phil Silvers farce "The Chicken Chronicles." Her brief cameo in the 1980 smash "The Blues Brothers" had Raven singing in the ‘concert scene’ with jazz legend Cab Calloway.

Perhaps the brightest jewel of Raven's filmography was the 1983 fantasy romp "The Lost Empire." 
After working for the "king of the nudies," she found herself teaming with the new prince of B-movies, Jim Wynorski. It was Wynorski's first major film as a director (aside from a couple of minor releases in 1982) after writing for Roger Corman productions, and would lead to such future cult faves as "Big Bad Mama 2" and "Deathstalker 2" (both 1987) and "Not of This Earth" (1988) and many many more. Making the film special to Raven is that she was not only the star, but the associate producer, performed her own stunts, welded a bow and arrow, designed her own wardrobe and found some locations, hired Alan Howarth (who has worked with John Carpenter on many a sound track; “Christine” etc.) to do the Lost Empire soundtrack, hired several crew & cast, it was her sons first one liner film role at age 16, insisted the Native American be authentic along with the chants and words, edited a scene or two, contributed creative wording in the script to avoid vulgarity .... and well wrangled Miss Piggy, (as everyone else including Wynorsky was terrified of the lengthy female Python she met in a dressing room at a stint at the “Body Shop” (LA), shared by Fielding West- Magician & owner of Snake.)                                                
"Jim and I talked about the concept for the film, and he wrote the script along with directing and producing. Originally I was to be the first lead, but there were so many things behind the scenes that I needed to do as associate producer, it made more sense for my character of WhiteStar to be the second lead, besides (real reason) the ‘money people’ wanted a blonde.” (I hadn’t yet gone back to blonde) I love my Native American connection so was delighted to be WhiteStar.

The story line for the film is basically akin to the old "Buck Rogers" sci-fi serials, with the addition of contemporary action, wisecracks and a lot more skin. The picture opens with a robbery of a Chinatown jewelry store resulting in the death of several policemen. (all jam packed with things like: THE Lassies ‘bark’ and Tommy Redding also Ken Tobey!) The thief turns out to have a motive far more sinister than greed: the seizure of a magical stone once possessed by an ancient civilization. It seems that whoever brings the two original stones, the Eyes of Avatar, together once more can rule the world with absolute power. The brother of gorgeous blonde undercover officer Angel Wolfe (played by Melanie Vincz) was one of the cops killed in the heist, giving her a special incentive to go after the culprits.

Angel's boyfriend, FBI agent Rick, tips her off that the criminal mastermind seeking the power of the stones is a mysterious religious zealot, Dr. Syn Do. He owns his own remote island and attracts newcomers by staging athletic competitions among beautiful women who will, unbeknownst to them, become his slaves. Angel decides to enter the competition, but must recruit two others. The first is Raven as Native American Goddess WhiteStar, who makes an unforgettable entrance: at an Indian holy place, Angel says a prayer for Whitestar to return from the netherworld, sprinkles some dust on a fire, and Raven emerges (with war whoops) in sexy, fringed Indian attire atop a white horse. "Whitestar!" cries Angel. "Well, who'd you expect ... Tonto?" she replies with a smile.

After getting the third recruit from prison--blonde bombshell Angela Aames (as Heather), whom Angel had put away--the threesome joins other competitors on a private plane to the island. It quickly becomes apparent that the competition will be brutal; the first event is a fight to the death with a black-hooded goon, with Angel emerging victorious. As the competition continues, WhiteStar attracts the eye of Syn Do, who watches the proceedings from video monitors. Perhaps no scene in "The Lost Empire" is more vividly remembered by admirers than her erotic "snake scene," and it was one that she was instrumental in arranging. He invites her to a private dinner in his dark lair, as he sits shrouded in a robe and clutching a python snake. "You have won the right to remain here forever at my side," he intones. "I pity the losers," cracks Raven. He responds by drugging her; in the film's most sensuous and revealing scene, we see a nude, reclining Raven being embraced by the giant 15-foot python, (Miss Piggy in “real life”).

Just as the girls are gathering information on the island's evil doings, Angel's friend Rick blunders upon the scene and is captured--possessing the second Eye of Avatar matching the one previously stolen, thus enabling Syn Do to gain the absolute power he'd sought. Dr. Creepo's henchman is about to kill Angel and Rick when Whitestar returns to fire a well-aimed arrow killing Koro (Bob Tessier). Dr. Syn Do (Angus Scrim) --who turns out to be a virtually immortal, monstrous survivor of the ancient times, awaiting this moment--is able to load the two magical stones into a laser cannon (which moves back and forth resembling a giant penis) aimed at a bound Angel. But Rick is able to decapitate the monster, leaving it to be sucked back into hell, (which looks like a fiery vagina). In true Buck Rogers style, everyone escapes by plane as the laser cannon blows up the island. "I shall return!" the voice of Syn Do proclaims behind them, but Raven has the sarcastic last word: "Is that a fact?"

It's all good, goofy fun with pretty good production values for a B-movie, and all three lovely ladies on display throughout in revealing attire with occasional bared breasts. Considering that the many virtues of "Up!" (above all Raven and Kitten) were partially undermined by the seamy Nazi subplot and excessive violence, "The Lost Empire" ranks in my eyes as The #1 must-see flick for any fan of Raven's.

"In the big scene with Dr. Syn Do, Miss Piggy was around his neck and began writhing toward me. I looked straight at her while I said my lines, (she knew my scent). If they'd kept shooting, she would have crawled right to me, face to face, like a magnet, lending to the energy of the scene to follow, and it would have been a wonderful transition--the goddess and the serpent. But unfortunately, they didn't catch it on film .... ahhh where are those master shots!”."

The aftermath of "The Lost Empire" is even eerier than the film, because a startling number of the picture's principals have since died. "Angela Aames died of a heart attack reportedly caused by alcohol and cocaine (speed balls) [in 1988]. She was a beautiful girl, and very nice. I think she was troubled because she was becoming popular for something she didn't consider valuable, her sex appeal. She didn't appreciate herself enough." Angelique Pettyjohn, famous for her StarTrek appearance, another brunette bombshell who played the inmate with the whip & leathers in a fight scene with Angela Aames, died in 1992. Breast cancer I believe. The two primary villains and several of the film's principal crewmen have also passed away. Bob Tessier & Art as well.

Raven's other best-known film was also released in 1983. In the comedy "Screwballs"--co-written, but not directed, by Wynorski --a group of high school kids venture to a local strip club and see Raven perform on stage as "Miss Anna Tomical," tossing her top to them at the end. In 1984's "Best Chest In the West," she again performed a strip number. Russ Meyer was in that audience!

Her final but non-commercial film appearance was in the 1987 picture directed by Rob Nilsson, "Heat and Sunlight." "I played myself, a burlesque queen, and during an interview in a feature segment of, “Current Affairs” (TV series) I was able to make the point that the dance can be sacred. It was really my first improvisational film role."

Every actress loses out on a few choice roles, and for Raven the two that got away was first - "Conan the Barbarian." Her athletic stuntwork in "Up!" and "The Lost Empire" had already demonstrated that this was a lady capable of handling the most physically demanding action role, and her free spirit and sense of adventure would have made Raven an ideal warrior goddess. However, the central female role opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1982 film went to Sandahl Bergman--a stunning and physically adept lady, but no Raven. (Then again, who is?) The second was Universals, “The Stripper”. She was on the road when they called her for that one and her teenage son (at that time) forgot to give her the message till it was too late! {{{{sigh}}}}

One of her most prominent roles was a co-starring part in the CBS TV Movie of the Week was "Hear No Evil," which aired in November 1982. Gil Gerrard (TV's "Buck Rogers," as it happens) played a San Francisco narcotics detective who testifies against a Hell's Angel (Blade Runners Brian James) suspected of drug trafficking, is disabled when a bomb explodes next to his car, and learns how to keep living a full life while temporarily deaf (show made for the hearing impaired). Raven relived part of her former life playing Candy, the wife of the lead biker (Brian).

Television also provided the vehicle for a Raven appearance seen by millions, articulately & seductively introducing Tom Snyder’s guests: Sean Connery, Russ Meyer and others at the beginning of a May 1981 episode of the late-night "Tomorrow Coast-to-Coast." This was a memorable event as Tom was focused on her breasts, Russ was liking this until Tom asked if guys ever knew the color of her eyes where upon Raven embarked on her story of a relationship where the fellow had an obsession for feet. She had them howling when she described this lads sweaty lip wondering what was under that sock! The camera crew was paying attention and ended the show with a “circle shot of Ravens arch ... high heel and all! Raven was also a favorite of the crew of that network because they told her that for all the celeb guests that had appeared on the show (& others) none had ever written a thank you. They were so touched that they posted the letter for all to see and left in there for quite some time. They were amazed that she looked “like that” and could walk, talk & chew bubble gum AND all at the same time!

Quite logically for an actress who was at ease in live performance as a dancer, Raven also worked in several Los Angeles theatrical productions, including "Carnal Knowledge" (in the role of Bobbie made famous on screen by Ann-Margret), "Orpheus Descending," and "Captain's Paradise." "Ludlow Fair" was "a comedy about two very different personalities and their relationships with men" which ran for six weeks. Raven was also featured in a play called "Hooters." She describes the plot: "One guy's (Phil Vogel) “supposedly” sophisticated with women is teaching his friend (Moosey Dryer) how to score. The first guy's obsessed with `hooters,' but finally learns a more solid foundation for dealing with women. My character was basically a buxom beauty who gets all the guys but is ultimately lonely and feels like her soul is on top of Mount Everest; another character was a plump girl who let her weight define her. My character, Cheryl, looked as if she had it all, but really didn't."

"As an actress, I felt I was in a straitjacket. I did more than 13 films and was in demand, but there were always limits placed on me. I had much to offer but wasn’t seen beyond my physical attributes". Thus my departure from acting …

The Last Queen of Burlesque

"My life has been like the Perils of Pauline and Little Annie Fanny combined!" Raven says with a laugh. "I could have had a tragic life, (some say mine is tragic) but I was always protected from the worst in these precarious scenarios I would encounter while passing through worlds. (My upcoming book? manuscript? work? …)

The late Peter Wolfe [an editor of Oui magazine, not to be confused with the rock singer] would take me to places like; Plato's Retreat, Hellfire, a leather club in New York where you'd go down the stairs and enter another world. People there were into Bondage, S&M, and things I’d never heard of. I heard that Annie Sprinkle used to have tattooed dead fetus’s in jars ... I don’t think I had the whole story. Some people would be in chains with a dominatrix standing over them with a whip - it was all a blur. Someone offered $1,000 to kiss the bottom of my high heels! I was seeing part of the underworld of Lylith … sometimes a kind of Sodom & Gomorra epic, and also painfully observed some shattered human beings there. Some people were exploring to find some fantasy world, but too many were filled with despair and it was apparent that some were suicidal or dangerous (that much on the edge). This affected me greatly. I’ll never forget those images. I will paint them some day. There seemed to be nothing I could do to help and it was all I could do to keep the snakes from crawling up my legs ... This statement is more a feeling than actual snakes. Psychic Vampires haunt these places in some of the corners where others are exploring or working out their scenarios … while others were absorbed in watching.

Raven's years as the last queen of classic burlesque began unexpectedly as a byproduct of a magazine assignment. "Cheri magazine asked me to a do a piece about the life of strippers, and during the same period I was hired to write a screenplay on the subject. I went to St. Catherine's in Canada, near Toronto, and interviewed the strippers. It actually ended up being closer to counseling, trying to help these beautiful young girls who'd bought into a system that demeaned them. They were scared, frequently had drug problems, and in many cases had been sexually abused as children."

(In addition to her assignments for Cheri, Raven later served as a contributing editor to Oui in 1982, writing about the burlesque life and conducting celebrity interviews.) “Leave It To Beaver’s” Jerry Mathers, Miko Brando, The Women of the “Follies Bergere” in Las Vegas, Paul Sabu - son of Sabu the Elephant Boy and more were some of her subjects of interest.

She didn't enter the world of exotic dance as a regular profession until her Meyer cohort Uschi Digart, had to pass on an offer to dance in Canada, and asked Raven if she'd like to take the job. And so, at age 33 around the winter of 1980, Raven entered her new realm of fame as a burlesque performer. To get a full sense of the stripping life, Raven got up on stage herself--just as she had in "Up"--and the response was explosive. "I was asked to start at $2,000 a week... all expenses paid. I was raising my 12-year-son alone, and was still studying a full Academic schedule in the Academy of Scientology; and like any college - that cost money. So I said yes."

The magazine work, article writing and dance offers from Canada recommended by Uschi seemed to dovetail simultaneously.” Ahhhh ... there‘s that synchronicity again!” she soothed.

She approached her new line of work as another form of artistic and creative expression. "I was known fondly as an Ecdysiast - - - which is defined as “the art of taking off one's clothes to music - - - rather than as a stripper.

"When I was performing on stage and everything was working, it was a form of ecstasy. It had nothing to do with sex; it actually became a ceremony of energy and light. Sensuality and femininity were healthy and whole. My dressing room became a giant altar with jewels and feathers and special items that would be a part of my preparation in my ‘cauldron on the road’. I would prepare mentally as well as physically, the same as I do now when I paint, write, or perform a healing. Everything has to be in order. I have to be open, to be naked and vulnerable in order to make an offering of honestly surrendering to the ‘now’ moment. When I would weave the energy .... a pin could drop and you’d hear it if it weren’t for the music."

Even while unveiling, Raven says that her performances "were a form of goddess dancing, (without knowing it in those terms at the time). I had vivid dreams of an ancient future that I thought were just dreams until my research later revealed to actually be recalls of past times as well as on going abduction experiences where I would levitate in a dance that would’ve thrilled Tinker Bell. It disturbed me to see people hurting each other, or the degradation people suffered to experience sexuality. Where was the magic? The Love? Thus my presentations became goddess-like; I served as a healing matriarch. I brought that kind of energy and aura to the stage." As a non-drinker who often performed in bars, "I wove a web of love to protect me, and it worked. I really communicated with my audience in a way that other dancers didn't choose to , and I was sometimes ridiculed by some paparazzi for taking the time to talk to fans. They would call these men ‘nerds and losers. I would tell the objectors to take a good look in the mirror!" (As in reflection ... not looks.)

There was an amazing day where some media experienced how things worked in my universe. I had my usual entourage of paparazzi and fans walking me back to my hotel to freshen up after performing all day before an “interview/dinner”, when out of the darkness a smooth female voice of an attractive African American street worker cooed,” Would you like to join me for some relaxation tonight?” The majority of the crowd either ignored the woman or made a rude comment or nudged me to keep walking and one tried insulting her. My understanding of the compliment she was paying me urged a reply of resounding gratitude ... “working people” do not give away their “favors”. It’s their livelihood. I knew she meant well. I replied warmly, “Thanks for the offer of your gift. I appreciate that! Gotta date with the press and friends for dinner. Thank you though! Have a wealthy night!” She stepped out of the dark doorway and flashed me a dazzling smile. We walked on. About two days later I was walking to my hotel alone after my escorts sauntered off to a dinner that I declined, when out of the blue I heard some harsh guttural threats spew out of the dark and as I turned toward the searing energy I saw the same woman stand into the light pointing a pistol at my unseen would-be assailant who was a frightening looking hulk of a man who was almost upon me. He cowered at the sight of the gun as she reminded him that he was out of his territory and he scurried away quickly. I thanked her and invited her to dinner but she smiled and said she had a date for the evening. I hugged her and went on to my hotel. The peculiar thing I found out the next day was that the men who had wandered off to dinner that night, the same ones that two days earlier made prejudice statements regarding the woman, was robbed by the same would-be assailant that this woman saved me from! Go figure!” I just always try and speak to the person in front of me. Not what I wish them to be or not be. We are all a reflection of a part of each other and many people do not look at their interactions this way. I see a face of God in all beings and I also see a part of myself. Maybe not in the way one would think … but even if you meet your polar opposite ... do you ‘react? Or do you respond?”

Indeed, the one time I had the opportunity to see Raven perform at a Washington, D. C. theater in the early 1980s, the part of her show which left the strongest impression was her Q&A session on stage afterward. At the time, I knew nothing about Raven except for her performance in "Up," but it was immediately apparent that this was a woman with a lively intelligence and keen wit. I got the distinct impression that at least a few other members of the audience didn't quite share my appreciation for these qualities; robbed of the comfortable anonymity of darkness when the lights went up, some where a bit disconcerted when Raven's dialogue began. But she soon put even those startled fellows at ease.

Toronto was also the setting for one of her most unforgettable experiences in burlesque. "I had designed a Wonder Woman costume with red-white and blue G-string, and at the end of my act I pulled out an American flag and stuck in the V. I was shocked and embarrassed when all of a sudden everyone booed--`why don't you have a Canadian flag?,' someone yelled at me. Another guy had also been hollering that he wanted to see some `beaver.' (“What the heck was that?” she wondered) On lunch break I went shopping, so at the end of my next show, I pulled out a Canadian flag and the applause was a huge roar and when someone yelled “Show us some beaver!” I pulled out the cutes lil’ stuffed beaver you ever saw and it brought down the house with laughter."

One of Raven's most successful long-term burlesque engagements was approximately a year as featured dancer at the Purple Lion, a once renowned local club in Hollywood. "One of my sisters danced at the club with me. She looked a little like Daisy Mae, and Max Baer [Jethro in "The Beverly Hillbillies"] saw her perform and fell in heat with her." That’s Max.

She also performed for a while at the famous strip club in Hollywood ... the “Body Shop”, where Kitten Natividad was a regular. I baby-sat the club for Kitten while she was on vacation. Perhaps the club with the best stage and sound system she ever worked at was Dream Street in San Antonio. "It was a really magnificent stage; it reminded me of the crystal cave in the first two `Superman' films! And backstage & props were wonderful, too. It provided all the elements to allow me to put on a magical show."

In 1983, Raven became the first (and perhaps the last) burlesque performer to dance at any Playboy Club anywhere as they are a cabaret club and although cleavage is featured even partial nudity was not. The engagement was in Century City California, doing an modern version designed by Raven, Burlesque revue called "Dangerous Curves and Moving Violations." The show was such a success that Raven was extended from the original three-week engagement to eight weeks. Her son, Matoux was the prop master for the show and walked away with a years relationship with a Playboy Bunny named Wendy.

Any discussion of Raven's exotic dance career must also note her sizzling performances in San Francisco at venues owned by the Mitchell brothers. S. F. was the last city in which she performed Burlesque.

Raven does have some humorous erotic videos that are available out there. Some such videos were shot by Ken Kirk of Napali video. Keli Stewart and I did one silly video we fondly refer to as `Bra Wars' ( title thought of by Lost Empire director, Jim Wynorski) in which we'd greet each other by bumping bosoms, compare bra sizes, and that sort of thing. I did a few other videos for Napali during that time.

“I also was 1st & 2nd camera operator (master shots & action as well) on a number of productions for Ken and Napali, learning a different side of the business. In some cases, I shot girls wrestling. If Ken hadn't been such a gentleman & well ... a really nice guy, he could never have gotten us to do this stuff!" she laughs. "It was funny stuff. Kind of cartoonish. He treated us well and paid us thousands of dollars, which I was able to use later for college."

Into the Spiritual Realm

Raven says her journey into ‘other realms beyond the world we know’ began very early. I remember when I was just a few years old, living in Washington Heights in Manhattan NYC, on the sixth floor, I could see the George Washington Bridge from my bedroom window. I always wanted my Nana to bring me a bottle of cold milk and rub my temples so I could sleep. I would feel nervous till I felt sleepy. But every once in a while, I don’t recall the time for the intervals, but I used to fly over the bridge going up. I could see down but I couldn’t for some reason see up. It would start with these lights that would come to the window and I tried to call out but my voice wouldn’t come, then I would get numb and “go up”.

Another time, some years later in Riverdale NY, again living in an apt. Building on the sixth floor, my mother caught me about to climb out the window while seemingly sleepwalking. She had heard when one sleepwalks not to wake the person but turn them around and lead them to bed. That is what she did. It was, says Raven, one of the trigger memories of her alien abductions, or "Peter Pan flights, as she calls them." I'd often have flying dreams and experienced what I later realized was astral projection -- seeing places that I'd never actually seen before in day-to-day life until I was much older and physically saw landscapes that I hadn’t physically seen until then. These were only the beginning of a series of events that would eventually unfold to uncover amazing adventures, which still occur today.

It was not long after Raven's arrival in California following the end of her first marriage that her formal exploration of self-empowerment & spirituality began. "My natural father found out that I was looking for him, and contacted me. He was a Scientologist who was a comrade to [the late Scientologist founder] L. Ron Hubbard and actually was in charge of the safety of Hubbards children aboard the Flagship. That led me into a correspondence with Hubbard who used to call me “Scrapper”. I believe he nicknamed me this for I was not a rote believer and would challenge things I felt were not aligned with ethics, integrity and truth based on what he himself would underline. Scientology is not a cult at all, as it's been portrayed; it’s mainly as dogmatic as any other religion or belief system. I found it to be more analytical - like a science of human behavior ... this information was a blessing and literally a life raft in a tumultuous sea of human emotions and reactions that were to me ~ overwhelming, and can rob one of the very essence of spirit based on abuse and some of life’s soul shattering experiences. My spirituality of Scientology ‘clicked in’ later when life afforded me the opportunity to apply this stuff in ‘real life’.

My I. Q. actually soared after applying Scientology to my life. It became my first real foundation from which to align & discern anything I would later encounter in research & development of ‘leading edge’ information for self-empowerment and my continuing journey to life mastery." I then knew, at least in concept, that I was ultimately responsible for the condition that I was in due to my choices and actions. It’s not what happens to you in life but what we do with it. It’s about taking responsibility for ourselves and how we personally unfold once we know this truth. It has been a continual integration process and a much more certain future because of knowing and applying this principle. There are no victims (although it seems so) and even though some of life’s experiences are grueling around the world ... we still get to recognize and accept where we are with it and plan how to raise our energy to a point where change can occur. Passionate focus on what we desire creates manifestation. Avoid negative or pessimistic focus. Do discern ~ as you are responsible for everything you create. Everything.

Through Scientology, says Raven, "I learned that ethics, integrity and love are senior to everything else in life. You can look at yourself with pride, and do your best, which is all that matters." In a way, she feels, gaining these insights in mid-life may have been a blessing. "Either you become sedentary and grow old, or you create your own stage to continue developing as a human being...Having a passion for life is not a function of age. It's never too late to turn your life around."

In 1981, she created a new stage for herself, becoming a "volunteer minister" with the non-sectarian American Fellowship Church. After receiving extended training "on world religions and modern applications regarding the human psyche and the anatomy of the soul" in 1984, she was ordained again and gained an International status and has continued to perform ministerial services to date.

In 1986, Raven assumed a new identity as Rev. Dr. Lynne Chrystie Ana. "I felt that I needed a new name for my new life ... so I readopted my birth name and my confirmation name, as mentioned and left out my last name." At this stage “Current Affairs” featured her in a special where people took a 360 turn in their lives. They told this part of her story to prime time media.

She would remain "Lynne" for six years. After which she reintegrated Raven De La Croix for a couple years until her first visit to Maui where everything shape~shifted once again and she came back and stripped out the dark hair color and realized that her name would now read ... Raven of Light or Illumination instead of the Dark Bird of the Cross. Today, she is known as Raven De Lumiere in her spiritual and professional endeavors.

As a minister, "I've had the opportunity to perform various weddings and baptisms." (Indeed, during my first visit I met a neighbor whose wedding ceremony had been performed by Raven.) "I've done many mixed marriages with people of different faiths and heritage’s, which I believe can help bring people together."

Raven's progress in her new life was slowed for a time due to a physical setback in 1987. "I slipped and fell on a wet spot in Hughes market in Silverlake CA, and was badly injured. For awhile I was barely able to stand, and to help relieve my pain I had a breast reduction operation [in 1991]." In the wake of her accident, "I was told by doctors that I needed to have the reduction because of the weight of my breasts on my back." Later, she developed serious dental problems that made everything else more difficult. These were painful and emotionally tragic times both physically and emotionally as parts of me were dying and changing and it was hard to understand ... hard to let go ... I literally had no financial or emotional or familial support during this crisis period. This is where I had the choice to succumb or surrender. This is where I made the choice to go to college. This is when I chose life over death. This is where I learned about energy in a way that healed my life and allowed me the gift of extending this energy to others. "I'm much better now, and in fact I'm more flexible than ever--I can dance better than I ever did." I am re-sculpting myself newly each day!

And as the recent photos for which Raven posed exclusively for GG:T&N, she is perhaps more beautiful today than at any time in her life: blonde once again, lean 'n lovely in classically glamorous fashion, and bursting with her distinctive combination of passionate energy and good humor.

Carrying out her longtime deep concern for children, from 1987-91 Raven did volunteer work caring for babies with AIDS, and later provided assistance at the Sexual Abuse Center for Children in Santa Monica. After a year of courses at ITC Institute for computer training in Los Angeles, Raven took courses at Los Angeles City College from 1990-92 for four nights a week. "I was terrified at first going back to school, but all of a sudden I realized how powerful Hubbards Study Technology proved to be. I was able to study anything I wanted and Ace it. I even made the Dean's Honor list, and gained business, management and communication abilities, including writing and computer skills as well as majoring is Art & Music."

"I've always had psychic abilities and paranormal experiences that increased with training and research. [In 1996] I took a friend of mine, a world-renowned channel, Darryl Anka (yes, cousin to THE Paul Anka) (www.Bashar.com) to a channeling at my family reunion in Niwot Colorado. We had about 30 people present. The channeling was wonderful, enlightening and fun. Nineteen of us were staying overnight at one of my sisters house and in the middle of the night around 3 AM, all of the alarms in the house went off at the same time; some were battery .... some were electric. Someone kept trying to turn them off, but they kept ringing. My mother eerily out of her sleepiness sang out, “They're here!”.

Outside, the cattle were screaming and had all lined up in the area behind my sisters house. The news even reported it the next day; there were cattle mutilations reported. Everyone knew something happened, but didn't know exactly what. Two of the young children didn’t wake up but they wet the bed. I slept in the rec room downstairs with friends who saw me get up in my sleep and say ... “Oh noooo!” I had my two Scotties tied to my legs (so they wouldn’t wander?) I went upstairs to ‘take care of things’ . Weird. It was a unanimous feeling from the 22 beings (three were pets) that we were abducted."

The next day a few women who were at the channeling but did not stay overnight had requested a “private” session with Bashar. On the way to taking Darryl to the airport for his return to LA, I was present at this private session. I made it a point to ask Bashar what his ‘take’ was on the event at me sisters house. He indicated that we indeed had a ‘visitation’ and that it was an agreed upon event from a higher part of ourselves. That there were no victims and that ultimately we are in agreement with what occurred but were not fully in our day-to-day reality but was conscious in the larger picture.

The subject of alien abductions has been a recurring theme in popular culture ever since the first modern-day UFO sightings in the late 1940s, and particularly since the celebrated Barney & Betty Hill "abduction" case of the late 1960s. Raven is a firm believer ( not to be confused with a “true Believer”) in the truth of such events, and says that through channeling, meditation & research she has been able to recover memories of being abducted many times in her life.

"Time is not linear, but is stacked like a tower. There's always missing time in abductions, hours that can't be accounted for. I believe some abductions are carried out by the government, as exchanges of technologies for experimentation." What may be considered fictional entertainment for some viewers of "The X Files" is very real for Raven.

"I've proven to myself that when faced with a life-threatening situation, you can refuse to accept it and therefore prevent the worst from happening. I was once faced with a crazy person pointing a gun at my head in an attempted robbery. But I refused to “buy into it”. He was looking right at me, but as soon as I held the thought “been there, not my preference, I actually disappeared in his eyes when I noticed a hazy white cloudiness around the room, a - la “Celestine Prophecy”, and was able to escape unharmed and get help. I made the decision not to invest into the scenario that was presented to me, raised my vibration by that very choice, a - la Caroline Myss in “Anatomy of the Spirit. Also Ester Hicks’ extraordinary “Abraham” work. That proved to me that you don't have to become a victim just because you are presented with something. There is more to this as one might suspect but that’s the longer version."

Again though .... It is not what happens to us… but what we do with it. Out of the other three people present, my friend Joseph after initially assailed in the experience made a similar situation after the fact and still managed to shift the possible outcome to the point where the widow seemed to ‘glow’ as a choice and he took it. Being tall he leaped off the balcony and shimmied down a tree and found me. The other two were kicked around a bit and a knife was held to ones throat and for the assailant grabbed what he thought to be a great deal of cash (which was a wad of one dollar bills) and fled. I believe there are no accidents ... that possibly my buddy and I were meant to diffuse the energy and probably prevented what could’ve been murder.

Another of Raven's most life changing (for all concerned she adds) paranormal, extraordinary experiences came in mid-October 1992 during a visit to Bandelier National Forest in New Mexico. "I went with a group of friends from different walks of life [the best-known of which was "Three's Company" actress Joyce DeWitt and legendary classic film producer Robert Watts,{Star Wars, Indiana Jones, On Deadly Ground, Alive, Roger Rabbit, Meetings With Remarkable Men, 2001} both long time friends of Darryl Anka’s “Bashar”. Robert also brought his wife and children from London to witness what proved to be more than an amazing adventure for all concerned!] to this government owned, sacred park near the underground bases at Los Alamos. We had four camping days & nights in winter, consisting of inter-dimensional experiences varying from experiencer to experiencer that changed the course of all of our lives. On the last magical night, after a channeling from our old friend Bashar, where we had built a fire in an ancient Indian amphitheater, with no advertising, as we didn’t know exactly where this event would actually take place, watched beings come out of the forest and magically fill up the seats, even in the rain. When the rain stopped the theatre was full and the channeling began for a couple hours in the biting cold. What we saw in Bandelier was unbelievable...It was like the film `Close Encounters.'" But what followed for some that evening was a privilege to be a part of!

"We had aborigine didgeridoo music playing on a loop till dawn, and after four days of hardly eating, we were in an extremely high-energy frequency, allowing us to see beyond the third dimension." She describes seeing a ship extending "20 miles across the sky, and smaller ships going from port to port. The big ship was like a city floating in space, folding the fabric of space. The dimensional gates opened."

The events at Bandelier, among other related topics, are discussed in a 1996 documentary in which Raven starred and narrated, "The Elastic Zenith”, which placed in the Houston International Film Festival for best experimental video, (and can be ordered from Raven via web site or DreamWeavers MultiMedia Communications … the current company). The videos producer, Joseph Barmettler, describes seeing a "portal" in the sky, and then a "black triangle" and other grids blocking out some of the stars. Then, said the Joseph, the sky "burst open like the Fourth of July," as if "the fourth dimension had pressed onto the third dimension."

The film poses the philosophical question, "what would life be like if you were not in the world?" meaning that there is no such thing as insignificance in creation. Meaning you really count. Raven presides over a mystical ceremony in which participants tap into a "universal energy," and enter into a heightening of vibrational frequency where fears do not rule although discernment prevails and readies oneself for the "cohabitation of another dimension." One of the film's themes: "You create your own reality", is also a central conviction of her life: "how very powerful we all really are." One element of this power is the "goddess energy," present but not always developed in both males and females which she believes can be awakened and also recovered from one's DNA. Information is light ... the bones of the earth are the rocks and the bones in your body contain the codes ... the living library. Spirituality, she notes on camera, is "not like church on Sunday...it's about getting back in the stream of well-being...and the vibrations you resonate. It’s an everyday thing".

As seen in the documentary, Raven practices breathing techniques that "help you get back in touch with yourself." After explaining, "somewhere in my past lives or experiences, I have come to a total clear vision of how interactions between beings work," she performs a spiritual dance in a field. The film's final message: "We're not human beings having a spiritual experience, we're spiritual beings having a human experience."

Of course, the lurid publicity surrounding the mass suicides of

the Heaven's Gate cult members have left most people deeply skeptical

of belief systems that embrace such concepts as contact with extraterrestrial’s. "The people in Heaven's Gate were lost souls in the sence of not being connected to their inner~source … their natural core selves," declares Raven. "They weren't nuts, but they succumbed to their lack of self-worth and short-sightedly didn't see any possibility of happiness in this life. They were looking at the world as it was, and didn't have the self-love or confidence to choose to be a part of the solution. That’s like saying all Catholics, Jews or Asians are bad or wrong or other such ignorance blanket statements. There is much more proof that something is out there than a small groups mis-guidance indicates. The Heavens Gate incident is equivalent to a grain of sand on a huge beach of data as is evidenced by books, films, TV, x military leaders, defected Russians, Mexican raw footage, airline pilots both commercial & military, doctors reports, hypnotherapists, and more ” While many readers may respond to Raven's experiences with raised eyebrows, no one should make the mistake of connecting her convictions to those of self-destructive cults. All of Raven's vast array of activities and explorations are ultimately life-affirming--embracing life and all its possibilities, rather than giving up or her singling out a particular belief system. “One can be more “cause” that they ever imagined but we need to be responsible (ability to respond) & creative in practice.” She muses.

"I'm naturally psychic, (as I believe everyone is) and I've been researching for years to develop that ability, bridging the analytical with the esoteric." says Raven. "I'm working to harness the energies that we all possess." In the course of this spiritual journey, "I feel like I'm finishing the growing up process that I never completed when I was young, healing my inner child and refining my womanhood and moving into the richness of the Crone". Thus I have unfolded my service as Psychic Witness ~

"I believe my role is not as a spiritual expert per se, but as an explorer and navigator of the other realms in relation to this one. One of my greatest pleasures is performing sacred concerts with contemporary & indigenous instruments using the ascension of fifths musically, sacred geometry for form, sacred breath & movement along with stunning visuals and entrancing, healing, sonic tapestries! A leading Edge Revival at its most effective presentation for the benefit of audiences as well as performers weaving an unmistakable energy that actually transforms! It's all about being intuitive and surrendering to the energy. I particularly like to offer that to kids of today, giving them a tribe that's safe and self-empowering, instead of joining a gang or getting into activities that are destructive and drug related. Turning them on to their true selves!"

In performing channelings, tarot card readings, and other "transformation/mystic" activities, Raven's clients have included Bruce Springsteen and his children, Pia Zadora and her children, and such motion picture and TV studios as Warner Brothers, Disney, and Universal.

Both her mother and father are artistic, and Raven has carried forward that part of her heritage to become a gifted painter, sculptor, and explorer of other artistic endeavors such as ceramics, "crystal medicine jewelry and self-empowerment wands." Scattered throughout her home, along with works by other artists, are her vivid, dramatic renderings of extraterrestrial’s and other paintings and sculptures depicting aspects of spirituality in more abstract form. Her original artworks enable Raven to express ideas, memories and imaginings that would be difficult to convey in any other way; all display the intense focus and free expression that exemplify nearly every aspect of her life.

Until the age of 52 she created a character "Crystals, the Mystical Clown" a magical child entertainer. Another of Raven's current avocations is professional face painter, Henna artist and custom freehand temporary BodyArt at Hollywood Industry Events, Film openings & events for children of all ages. In her words, she also acts as an "intuitive advisor” to children, underlining the loving gift of self-empowerment through various educational venues and also through sacred movement dance media’s."

Much of Raven's energy these days is directed toward the preparation of Sacred Concerts~ merging dance, music and spirituality, under the title "All One Tribe." Having performed sacred dances in Cali, Columbia (at the invitation of the Colombian government) and at various locales in the U.S. and Canada, she is diligently planning elaborate Performance Art concerts at locations identified as "sacred," such vortex’s such as Sedona, Arizona, Bandelier NM, Maui, Australia and more. The purpose of these events besides joy? ... "to inspire the sacred within all of us."

As if all of this were not enough, she has also been in discussions about a possible radio program to be called "Ranting’s Of A Mad Woman” … In Raven’s Haven... a safe place to explore consciousness". In her "mission statement" for the program, she dedicates this exploration to be for the people by the people...To provide a platform for new and solution-oriented programming with which to offer inspiration for self-empowerment and thus regeneration of personal and spiritual connection to one's natural state."

Additionally, she's been working on a proposed book called "So You Want to Be Glamorous?" The book is " a sometimes funny and sometimes tragic look at what people do to fit~in some image, (based on my experiences). It's all about self-esteem and the Marilyn Monroes of the world." She is writing her autobiography with the working title, “Death of a Burlesque Queen ... a metaphor” and another; “If I Should Die...before I wake”, a book communicating all the things I ever wanted to say to my significant others in my whole life but never got to say it my way from my heart and in a way that they could ‘hear it’, also; “Mother .... Please Don’t Drink the Water!” about the frustrations of evolutionary wisdom when those you love think you’re a nutcase! And the philosophical but funny book , “Human Tales” starring her Scotties, Mr. Scott of 15 years and Maya Darling of six years and their friends, showing their viewpoint of the humans around them and their wisdom of perception and unconditional love.

To promote her unique vision and array of experiences, Raven has created a genuinely fascinating World Wide Web site. Some portions of the site feature delightful photos from and comments about her movie and burlesque careers, but the primary focus is on her spiritual life. Sprinkled throughout are her thought-provoking ruminations, such as: "The tears in my life were the sails in the ship of my soul, and have piloted me through deeper and deeper levels of conscious awareness of myself and the Universe." Raven's Web site can be found at: www.rantingsofamadwoman.com

Like Lillian Muller, another stunningly beautiful woman featured in these pages who's more focused today on spirituality than on sex appeal, Raven quite rightly sees absolutely no conflict between her past careers and her current endeavors. "There was a time when I bought into other people's belief systems, and started thinking that I was wrong for being who I was. But now I understand that sensuality and loving are what life is all about. These are qualities that have great value; they are nothing to be embarrassed about. I believe a cruel subplot of the underground pushed by the dream~stealers - created the descent into the underworld, convincing people they are degraded or that love is degraded, self evidenced by crime, pornography, child molestation and contents of the media pushing fear and cheap thrills. I have a remembering ... memories of beauty, ecstasy and joy, where love prevails and dreams are weaved and new universes are created. That is where I live. Yes... reality is but we are here to create what ever we want from what is to what will be. Well folks ... what WILL it be? It is up to us!”

"I am a living dichotomy with a very intense polarity," Raven told me at our first meeting. "I've had many careers, and each one has expressed a different part of me." I have no idea where Raven's life journey will take her next, but after all the twists and turns she's experienced in her first 53 years (in this lifetime, anyway), she’s eager to find out what lies around the next bend. She is looking for a publisher and a possible investor in her future venues. Any viable leads will be remunerated happily!

(In addition to checking out Raven's Web site, fans are invited to contact her at: DreamWeavers MultiMedia Communications, 10061 Riverside Dr. #389, Toluca Lake, CA 91602. She has RARE UNPUBLISHED SLIDES & PHOTOS numerous photos available for sale, and is planning to produce a newsletter for fans. You can also E-mail Raven at: ravenz@sbcglobal.net)

Interview by Steve Sullivan for issue #14 of “Glamour Girls Then & Now”.


Steve Sullivan’s addition to Raven’s story of Michael:

Reflecting Raven’s conviction that the positive elements in her life have washed away all the negatives that came before, she recently became engaged to her “spiritual soul mate,” Michael Ziton. “I have finally found my true love.” For anyone who has come to know her warm and generous spirit, and her unflagging optimism in the face of pain, no news could be more welcome.


Michael is a Syrian-American born in Toledo and raised in California. “We met on October 8, 1997 in a park in the Beverly Hills Mountains, which is considered sacred land. I actually experienced what felt like `a ripple in the force’ when he entered my field about 20 yards away. There was a definite connection that was cosmic and ancient.


As we got to know each other, I realized that mentally, physically, and most important spiritually, we are a vibrational match. Currently, Michael and I work with children together. We’ve created a new Web site that features our services with children including counseling and entertainment venues for children of all ages." 
(The site's url will be:
Dreamweavers ) "We have a blast working with kids. 
I see ourselves sacred dancing, inspirationally speaking, writing and painting!


"We’re had our wedding celebration on Valentine's Day 1999, and it was a most sacred and unusual wedding!" We are making a film out of it! Stay tuned for the release!

PS: Since this writing we have been married four years this coming Valentines 2003
and are happy to report that we are still having a wonderful unfolding journey together! 



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