You have to be very careful when you choose your Satan. You want to end up with the martini type, not the one that eats babies and borrows your car. You want a cool Satan, as opposed to the whiny, codependent South Park version. Also, you need somebody with a little sympathy, as the Rolling Stones advised. Sure, there's always going to be a bit of evil in the mix, but not more so than your average night with Jim Morrison, Hunter S. Thompson or John Waters.
Being the resident Houston Press Satanist, we thought it might be helpful in creating a guide towards selling your soul to someone who won't treat it like Wall Street treats your mortgage. Combing through pop culture, we've identified five good examples to set your standards by.
Just a note, if you saw the remake, you've already sold your soul to the wrong Satan. Good luck.
Peter Cook's Satan is both gleefully malicious (twisting requests, lying, sleeping with Dudley Moore's love interest) and oddly affable. He honestly seems to enjoy his time on Earth hanging out with Moore, even if his intentions are Moore's damnation. The two bond over feelings of rejection, albeit in an extremely British way, and both of them learn a little something about themselves.
In general, we wanted to steer clear of any portrayal that had clearly negative goals, hence Al Pacino's absence. Cook squeaks in by pitying Moore in the end, and saving him from perdition. God rejects his re-admittance to Heaven for this, and Cook swears to spend the rest of eternity covering the Earth in Tastee-Freez and Wimpy Burgers. Judging by the look of things, he's well on his way.
Jack Nicholson waltzes into town, picks himself a trio of women to provide every luxury for, dote upon, teach magic and make sweet Nicholson love to. His only rule is don't talk smack about him behind his back. Then they all live happily ever after. Or at least that's how it should've ended.
The girls curse a nosy neighbor into vomiting cherry bits. Mean and ill-advised? Yes, but not really Voldemort stuff. It goes horribly wrong as she dives completely off the deep end in a clear case of mental illness, and her husband beats her to death with a fire poker in retaliation. The girls break it off with Nicholson after that. He goes all stalker for a while, but he doesn't actually do them any real harm. In fact, he makes it pretty clear that all he wanted was a little love and trust, he just wanted it Satan-sized is all.
Let's try this out logically for a second. Ready? Someone comes into your life. They're good-looking, rich, kind and they teach you to freakin' fly. That person is into the polyamory thing, which takes some getting used to, but he obviously loves everyone equally, wants children, and can provide a life of ease. Then one day, some busybody that doesn't approve of your lifestyle starts sticking her nose in. So you and your partners key the woman's car, an act that drives her spouse into a rage that ends in her murder.
Question: Do you completely end your absurdly happy life and betray the person you love because the key you used in that act of vandalism fits in the Lexus you got as a Christmas gift? Hell, no jury in the world would've convicted you for causing that person's death. No wonder Nicholson turned on them.
Woody Allen is something of an acquired taste, but once you start to like him it's pretty smooth sailing. Deconstructing Harry isn't one of his bigger or more brilliant films, but it's a nice look at people who function through art instead of actually being a part of society.
Billy Crystal plays Allen's best friend who runs off with his latest girlfriend, Elizabeth Shue. As the walls between Allen's fiction and reality break down, he imagines himself as a modern-day Orpheus venturing into Hell to reclaim Shue from Crystal. Instead of fighting, Crystal and Allen end up comparing tales of sexual conquests over drinks in pleasant, if scandalous, conversation.
We thought it would be impossible to warm to the man behind Leland Palmer in any role, but Wise's portrayal of Satan in the show Reaper is one of the most likable of the bunch. He gets his kid a job retrieving escaped evil souls from hell, guides him through life, takes him to hockey games and just in general behaves like your average, somewhat WASPy dad trying to teach the next generation a thing or two about the world. Hell, there are people reading this right now that would trade their own parents in for Wise.
He even passes on a pretty pro-Christian message by admitting that even though he rebelled, he still loves God, and that God loves everyone, including him, in return. That's right, Ray Wise is the real-world Devil Flanders.
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If you must select but a single Devil to know, then the tops can only be Richard O'Brien as Mephistopheles Smith in his musical play Disgracefully Yours. He considers himself an evangelist of a better Hell. A Hell where you choose to join a never-ending party of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. He doesn't proselytize, he doesn't judge, he just lays out his case in a series of witty monologues and catchy tunes.
He's smooth, he's funny, and he makes a pretty damned convincing case for signing up for a membership at Club Inferno. In case you're wondering, yes, some people do go to hell to be punished. It's in the contract, unfortunately, but O'Brien makes it clear that all you have to do is run in the room and scare the hell out of them every once in a while.
"They love it," he says. "They talk about it for days."
No video recording of Disgracefully Yours exists, sadly, but you can pick up a pretty fair fan audio version over at Shawn McHorse's Musical World of Rocky Horror for absolutely free.