Despite its name, the Satanic Temple doesn’t believe in a hellfire-and-brimstone, supernatural devil. Rather, the non-theistic religious organization embraced Satan as a symbol of the “eternal rebel” to advocate for individual liberties and rational thought. Satanists like Jex Blackmore, national spokesperson and director of the Detroit chapter of the Satanic Temple, aren’t as into devil-worshipping as they are known for elaborate protests that challenge the sometimes blurry lines between church and state. The group made international headlines when they proposed to erect a statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed idol, outside the Oklahoma State Capitol to counter the presence of a Ten Commandments monument.
Blackmore organized the unveiling of the Satanic Temple’s controversial monument, the largest public Satanic ceremony in history. Her activism has focused on reproductive-healthcare advocacy, including a high-profile blog and protests at anti-choice demonstrations. We traded emails over a few days, just before the Satanic Temple launched a new campaign targeting after-school religious clubs, about what a Satanist really eats for breakfast, pancakes at a mermaid bar, and the beautiful simplicity of a poached egg.
Extra Crispy: What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Jex Blackmore: I had coffee, black and cold, which is how I drink it all year round—even in the winter. I didn’t eat anything in particular until later in the day. I have a love/hate relationship with breakfast. I’m bad at routine, and I’m bad at mornings, but I always wake up hungry. It’s one of those necessary evils. Usually, I get obsessed with one kind of breakfast meal and eat it for a few months and then get bored and give up on breakfast all together until the next perfect thing comes along. I’ve been into poached eggs for about a year now. I think a lot of people are perplexed by poached eggs. They seem complicated, but really they’re so simple.
Do you have any tips on cooking the perfect poached egg? Some people add vinegar, some strain their eggs, and others whisk the boiling water into a whirlpool.
I bring a small pot of water to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and add a splash of apple cider vinegar. Then I crack an egg or two straight into the pot. A couple minutes later, I scoop them out with a spoon, and they’re ready to eat. There’s really no secret. It’s an egg cooked in hot water! Some people ease the egg into the water from a small cup, but that’s totally unnecessary unless you’re aiming for perfection. I like to eat mine in a bowl, with salt and pepper, and maybe some green onions and fresh dill.
You’re actively engaged in political actions with the Satanic Temple. Is breakfast also a time for you to catch up with the news online, read the paper, or update social media?
I listen to music and read the news, or listen to the news on the radio. I like politics, hearing people respond to politics, and Black Sabbath is excellent with coffee. I usually avoid all social media in the mornings. It stresses me out. People are often too serious, or too desperate. I’m bad at it. My house is one hundred years old, and the dining room is arguably the best place to be, so it’s nice to enjoy it for a minute in the morning, check in with the world, and move on quickly.
Does your new kitty Baby Spooks wake you up to be fed every morning?
She sleeps perched across the top of my pillow all night like a creep. As soon as I show any signs of waking, she crawls down and shoves her furry face into my mouth. It sounds gross, because it is. I have no idea why [she does this]. Recently, I got another kitten so she would have someone around when I get busy. He’s a black cat we call Black Phillip. Black Phillip bites my toes in the morning. Not in a cute way, but in a brutal sometimes-he-draws-blood kind of way. I don’t even set an alarm anymore. I just wait for fur face in my mouth and bites on my toes.
Black Phillip is named after the fiendishly handsome goat in the horror film The Witch, I presume?
The Satanic Temple’s endorsement of Robert Eggers’s film and the rituals performed during a four-city tour with the movie really expanded the conversations surrounding the film’s depiction of feminine/individual liberties.
Thank you. I’m glad we were able to help frame the film in a way that felt relevant to the history of women in America and contextualize current debates about what it means to “Make America Great/Christian Again.”
Are you a fan of goat’s milk? I’ve never tasted it before, but I’ve been told it’s very rich.
I haven’t tried goat’s milk. I’ve never liked milk. I don’t like the way it tastes or makes me feel, and the idea of consuming a maternal lactate with every cup of coffee or bowl of cereal is bizarre to me. I think that’s why we’ve used milk in some of our actions and performances. It’s intimately tied to our ideas about motherhood, reproduction, and consumption. You know, they say cockroach milk is the new superfood? The world is a nightmare.
You’ve used milk in one of your counter-protests before for its symbolic resonance. The demonstrations you’ve done look very intense. Do you start your morning differently than normal to prepare yourself mentally for what’s ahead?
Many of our actions take place early in the morning before political events, so we often have to meet up around 6 or 7 a.m. Usually, I just drink coffee. There’s a lot of moving parts to coordinate, so we often don’t have time to eat.
The 17th-century colonists, like the characters in The Witch, used to eat things like porridge, cornmeal mush, leftover veggies, and dark rye bread with butter or cheese for breakfast. It was frugal and practical. Blah or yum?
Living in a time when so much of our food is full of chemicals, sugars, and dyes, I wonder if we even know what real food tastes like anymore. I bet early colonial cuisine was pretty good. My family is very Finnish, so I’m into eating bland, Nordic meals. Rye bread and fish stew always sounds good to me.
What do you make of the theory that some of the erratic behavior and unusual symptoms women displayed during the Salem witch trials were caused by ergot poisoning after eating tainted rye?
The poisoning claim doesn’t really give us enough credit for our own insanity does it? The Catholic Church published a manual on the prosecution of witches called Malleus Maleficarum in 1487. It was full of batshit proclamations about the danger of independent women, demon possessions, witchcraft, etc. Puritan America was a patriarchal theocracy glued together by a deep fear of the devil, the unknown, and of the wrath of god. The people of Salem suffered under these conditions. Ergot poisoning seems like a cop-out—like if a few hundred years from now we blame the Catholic sex abuse scandal on tainted sacramental wine. Maybe, but it could have also been the result of placing vulnerable children in the care of sexually oppressed, self-loathing “mentors.”
Apparently the Puritans never drank milk for breakfast, but they were totally down with beer in the morning—even the children. Boozy weekday breakfast is still pretty common in parts of Europe, but seems restricted to weekend brunches for Americans. Do you ever indulge in an a.m. beer?
A morning beer used to be crucial to my survival when I lived in a house with ten other people where we rode motorcycles through the living room, and the kitchen was primarily used to set off fireworks while giving people tattoos. Today, I stay away from day drinking unless I’m on vacation or taking a day off, because it really isn’t conducive to getting shit done. I need to go to Europe and learn how they do it.
You ride a motorcycle. What kind of breakfast do you normally eat when you’re on the road during long trips?
It’s difficult to pack food on the bike, because I really only have room for one small bag. If it’s a long trip, I’ll bring an apple or something to keep me going if I wake up really hungry. But I usually aim to stop at local diners. Stopping at greasy spoons and dive bars on motorcycle trips allows you experience the Twilight Zone of America. Did you know that there’s a divey tiki lounge in Great Falls, Montana, where you can have brunch at a mermaid bar? It’s real. Mermaids and mermen swim in a tank that’s open to the bar and kiss the glass as you eat your pancakes. In west Texas, you can find shacks out in the desert that are open for just three hours in the morning and serve the best nopalitos con huevos breakfast tacos with homemade salsa and corn tortillas for less than a dollar apiece and $1.50 for black coffee over ice. Really, there’s nothing better.
What do you think Donald Trump and Mike Pence eat for breakfast?
Every morning, a crew of irate evangelical bikers delivers Donald Trump a bald eagle breast fillet on a white plate, decorated with a miniature confederate flag. His racist butler wipes the corner of his small wet lips with a copy of the Constitution and presents a golden goblet brimming with the tears of immigrant children to quench his thirst. Quite the opposite, Governor Pence only eats dry toast in the morning, which has been diligently prepared by his wife Karen for the past thirty years. Eggs are no longer an option at the Pence household, because of the governor’s firm belief in the sanctity of life—plus, Karen got tired of providing a burial for each cracked eggshell. Pence eats his toast alone so he may flog himself whilst reciting passages from the Bible.
This is all true. Satanists have connections...