The Scarlet Letter
Volume III, Number 4 | December 1996
In Memoriam
By Ariadne

Richard Christopher Legener, better known to most of you as "Criss Piss", was born on December 11, 1954 under the sign of Sagittarius. His tarot card was Art and that was truly his outlook on life. Everything he accomplished was tied in with this. His greatest satisfaction was derived from creating Art from whatever he found in his travels.

I'd never known him to spend much money on his creations. He would 'dumpster-dive" for old photographs behind photography labs and make collages. If he needed spray paint or t-shirts or just about anything for his projects he knew where he could get them for free, or they would just come to him. Not to make it seem easy; he was out there walking and working for them in his own way.

He had a particular spot where he would get boxes of blank cassettes which he would never tape other peoples music on—he would only make his own. He would collect t-shirts out of the free bin, print them and them give away all of them—usually with his band or Crowley/Thelema designs on them.

He called his son, Alex, his greatest creation. Chris taught me the Art of beautiful Love. There were times when Chris would feel as if he wasn't as successful with his Art as he would like to be , but he never changed his style to be more palatable to anyone. He was true to himself, to his heart, and that's where his Art came from.

Chris was one of the strongest propagators of Thelema I have ever met. He introduced me to The Book of the Law and when I heard him speak of it shivers would run up my spine. Yes, I know I'm biased, but my point is that he was so strong in his certainty it was inspiring. He really appreciated the way Crowley made his entire life a work of art.

I've seen Chris enlighten many people over the years with his particular form of Art— in your face. He was studying Qabalah and Liber AL when he was a teenager. He had a band called "Creeping Things" when he was in his 20's. One of their songs was the Enochian First Key set to punk rock.

Later, when he was 30, he had another punk band with his friends Cheryle, Charles and Crum called Circle Kaos. He was the singer and lyricist. The content of the lyrics were very political and, at times, very sarcastic. For example: "I hate war and Ronald Reagan. I hate all authority. I hate organized religion, pseudoChristianity. Jerry Falwell, big False Prophet preaching his hypocrisy. I wish Jesus was here to witness all this mockery."

Circle Kaos played around Texas, then went to New York City. They were well received by the underground, street kids, us.

When he returned to Texas and one of the members remained in New York, Chris and Charles formed another band, Ex Pistos. This band was more hardcore and the lyrics were different. They still remained political, always; but he incorporated much more magick into them. "Scorpions and creeping things, having power in their stings. Beetle lurking, gathering, sacrificial offerings. Satan laughing with delight, brandishing a bloody knife. Lennon was the sacrifice, Victim of the Antichrist."

With songs like The Ancient of Days, Braineater, Make your Peace with Death, and Now It's Boiling (the lyrics are instructions on how to shrink a head), Chris was able to teach people esoteric ideas. The Rant, a long tongue-in-cheek "expose" on the stupidity of Christian televangelists, was a favorite.

While on tour with our bands in California, we found O.T.O. and attended a Gnostic Mass. We decided to move to Berkeley. Chris had previously visited Berkeley when in his 20's and met Grady McMurtry. We received our Minerval initiations at Thelema Lodge.

Ex Pistos remained together for about a year, but O.T.O. really became Chris' main focus. He organized several classes, a Yezidi mass and a Voudoun bembe. One of the events that he was most proud of was the Thelemic Arts Fest, held at Gilman St. Theater, which he and Tern Compost put together. It featured only art created by Thelemites, but was a success with non-Thelemites also.

While in California Chris advanced to second degree O.T.O., was made a Gnostic bishop and joined the A.'.A.'.

Chris would argue vehemently with the Christian propagandists on the University of California campus. That was definitely one of his favorite things to do. He knew the Bible inside out and could quote passages that most of the supposed Christians had never heard of. He could really piss them off with the truth. It was hilarious to watch them get flustered—he would bring along friends to enjoy it also. But he was very serious about what he was saying.

When he returned to Austin, he continued to "debate" with the Christians on UT campus. He also would call the radio/TV talk shows and some of the hosts would become so upset that they would screen calls and recognized him even when he used different names. A group called the Crystal Methodists heard Chris on some of the shows and taped him. They will be releasing a CD with some of Chris' better conversations included.

While Chris worked at a telemarketing firm, he still found ways to help people. He would turn them on to jobs there, or call his friends to sign them up for "beer-drinking" studies and others.

During the seven months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer he was blessed with the support of many friends and family. Throughout the summer people visited and it really meant a lot to him. Special thanks to James and Caitlin from California, to Content and Cammi from Austin, to Chetyle who never failed to cheer him up and to Carole Dixon, his sister, who was really there for him when he needed it most.

Thank you to everyone else (yes, you: Charles, John, Shaun and Theta). As I said at his memorial service, Chris really believed "Love is the law, love under will," and he was shown that Love again and again throughout his illness.

Chris will remain with us always.

< Back to Vol. III, No. 4 Cover