Adam Parfrey, whose Feral House publishing company was a resource for underground, extreme and what some may consider “forbidden” knowledge, has died. His death at age 61 was announced on the official Feral House Facebook page.
Born in Los Angeles into a show business family – his father was actor Woody Parfrey, whose extensive film and television career was often chronicled by his son via Facebook – Parfrey grew up in the punk culture of the ’70s and ’80s.
His edgy works for Amok Publishing soon gave way to his own imprint, Feral House, which was the source and authority for many Hollywood films that explored the underground, including the Tim Burton film Ed Wood, the American Hardcore feature documentary, and Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground, for which he also co-wrote the screenplay.
Parfrey was on the cutting edge of subjects that other publishers did not have the interest or courage to publish. He co-founded Amok Press with Kenneth Swezey in 1986, publishing Joseph Goebbel’s novel Michael. Its most prominent release was Apocalypse Culture, a collection of articles, interviews and documents exploring the margins of culture. It was subsequently banned in many countries.
Hailed by one website as “probably the most influential ‘underground’ publisher in post-millennial America” and called “The Most Dangerous Publisher in America” by a Seattle Weekly cover story, Parfrey ran an unusual outlet in publishing. It was mostly the product of Parfrey’s boundless curiosity, and did not publish based on query letters or agent inquiries, the standard method of the trade. As a result, he often co-authored many of the books in the catalog, which ranged from examinations of men’s adventure magazines to secret brotherhoods (Ritual America) to 1960s sex magazines. As such, his stable of authors included Satanist Anton LaVey and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski.
Feral House’s collections of bizarre conspiracy theory, such as Secret and Suppressed: Banned Ideas and Hidden History, were also an influence on Chris Carter’s X-Files.
Parfrey also appeared in and co-wrote Crispin Glover’s controversial What Is It? a Sundance Film Festival selection in 2005, and he had several spoken word recordings.
Parfrey’s second publishing imprint, Process Media, a collaboration with Jodi Wille, debuted in 2005 with publications by authors Jerry Stahl (Permanent Midnight), Humphry Knipe (The Nero Prediction), Timothy Archibald (Sex Machines), and Jolene Siana (Go Ask Ogre).
Survivors include two sisters, a brother, and six nieces and nephews. No memorial details have been released.