From the dust jacket: In the Hollywood movie storms of 1977 where films like Star Wars and Close Encounters spawned a maelstrom of epic adventure and wonder for kids everywhere, such streets also spawned another breed of child. Bitter, alienated, and lost in the punk-influenced beginnings of a feel-good era of disco-inflamed junkies, Joey Minstrel wandered Hollywood’s backyard–Bakersfield, California–where the Lords of Bakersfield prey on youth. The story is based on an urban legend of the late 1970s and early 1980s where law officials and the media killed for lust of the most corrupt kind.
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Want another freaky read? Order A People’s History of the Peculiar from Viva Editions, Amazon, Indiebound, B&N, Quality Paperback Books and Powells and locally from Russo’s Books. “. . . a compendium of blistering funny facts, outrageous anecdotes and all kinds of zany information you really need to know.” —Caroline Leavitt, NYT best-selling author of This is Tomorrow and Pictures of You (foreword also by Caroline Leavitt). Featured on Coast to Coast AM and the Marilu Henner Show. Read more about the book and see what so many authors are saying.
THE LORDS OF BAKERSFIELD spans more than a century of secret-society murders in Central California. Begin your journey with Belardes’ book, which takes you deep into the psychological territory of the urban legend, tying the legend to remittance men in the late 1800s, media conspiracies in the late twentieth century, high-society killings, witch hunts and ghost legends. Read about Joey Minstrel, a child prostitute based on the true life of convicted killer Robert Mistriel, who has been incarcerated since the 1970s for his murderous role with the Lords of Bakersfield, a group of prominent, corrupt lawmakers, media moguls and city leaders. Read the newspaper stories that implicate the dead, former publisher as part of the murder spree. Even the Los Angeles Times says there were secrets in Bakersfield. Rolling Stone in 2005 agreed and wrote about Bakersfield’s secretive D.A. regarding pedophilia witch hunts in the 1980s and conspiracies in the 2000s surrounding the slaying of the assistant D.A., stabbed to death by a cop protecting his family too little too late. Lords: Part One precedes Edward Humes’ Mean Justice, a true-crime nonfiction book taking place after Belardes’ fictitious account, documenting criminal cases from the 1980s and 1990s. Belardes interviewed secret eyewitnesses for his novel, crept around murder sites, reviewed court documents and more, digging deep into the story, including into a bizarre collection of documents titled Valley Fire. He even pulled from his own memories of growing up in Bakersfield, where he overheard talk from credible sources about “gay snuff films” and “suspicious video tapes” disappearing from file cabinets after one of the supposed Lords of Bakersfield died in the early 2000s.
WHEN LORDS: PART ONE was initially released, between 300,000 to 800,000 of America’s youth were estimated to be involved in child prostitution. According to statistics from a 2005 FBI report, the average age of a child first used in prostitution is between 11 and 14 years of age. The narrator of Lords: Part One, a fictional character based on one of the most notorious child prostitutes from Kern County, is 13. Another notorious child prostitute from Kern County is Justin Berry. He appeared on Oprah for being a child internet porn star and prostitute out of Bakersfield, California. Belardes worked for several years at Bakersfield-based ProSoft Technology when Berry was hired at only sixteen years of age as the webmaster. Berry mysteriously disappeared from his position at the company. No one at ProSoft would answer Belardes’ questions about Berry when he later worked for KERO, an ABC affiliate in the area. Robert Mistriel was rumored to have begun working on Hollywood streets at age 11 in the late 1970s. Read more about the problem of prostitution in Kern County.
THE AMERICAN DEATHROCK BAND Burning Image released Oleander in 2011 after conversations between Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn (who narrated the documentary Witch Hunt about Lords of Bakersfield set-ups in the 1980s. Penn verbally slammed the D.A. at the Bakersfield premiere) and Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys. Their discussions led to talks between Moe Adame of Burning Image and Biafra. Belardes’ book was at the epicenter of Oleander’s creation, as it was also said Lords: Part One was part of the discussion. Belardes can be heard on the album reading parts of his novel as spoken word. Belardes appeared onstage with Burning Image in 2012 at Riley’s Tavern in Bakersfield, where he read passages from his book during the dark, guitar-driven deathrock opening moments of the show.
HOWARD OWENS, FORMER Vice President of the Bakersfield Californian newspaper, held a secret meeting with Belardes at Jerry’s Pizza and said the newspaper suppressed any reviews of the novel upon its release in 2005 (2015 marks the 10-year anniversary of the novel). Equivalent to a book burning you might say? Owens, who was terminated from his position, later opened up about the novel. “Bakersfield is a noir town. It is a hard, bitter town. It is the kind of town where any crime is possible, and with enough of a good-old-boys essence that cover-ups and conspiracies are easy to believe.” In his review of Lords: Part One, Owens wrote, “If N.L. Belardes hadn’t given Bakersfield the noir novel it richly deserves, then who would have done it? The only way to write this book is to believe in the conspiracy, fear the conspiracy, and then write it anyway. You’re only bound to make as many enemies as you are to gain readers.” Now read a review from Dissident Books.
Nicholas Belardes with Moe Adame of Burning Image. Second image: lyrics from Burning Image album on Lords of Bakersfield.
AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE HAVE DIED who were related to Lords: Part One. Donald Ackland helped shape the introduction (modeled after Ackland’s suggestion of using the literary structure of true crime in A Season in Purgatory by Dominick Dunne). Ackland, who acted as agent for the book, died in a single-car crash outside of Las Vegas, Nevada in 2004. He once wrote in a letter to Nicholas:
For me there are no commoners, only liars: good liars, bad liars; those who victimize & lie, those who enrich & lie; those who lie with a smile, those who lie with a snarl. This said there is still one class of commoner, coming from any direction and any level. Those who are mundane, banal, dull witted, socially regressive, haters of mankind, bad liars & their fellow travelers; and such commoners are most often found among the upper reaches and middle reaches of our perverse society.
In a video for a short-film contest, actor Jim Padgett can be seen portraying the over-the-top newspaper publisher Simon Sundale in a scene from the novel. Padgett, who gave acting lessons, including to Belardes, died soon after making this video. He will always be remembered as a passionate, forceful actor and friend. Click to watch.
I have been waiting for someone to come and bring this corrupt twisted conspiracy forward and shed some more light on it. The reason why I am writing to you is to let you know of a specific case that is dear to me which I feel pertains to the Lords and also to give you extra material to look into as you continue to write your books and shed light on these issues that have been kept in the dark for so long.
I do not have the time to go into specifics, so I will just give you the simple gist of my case and maybe over time we can correspond through email or maybe even in person sometime. If you ever get time, please look into the murder case of . . .
Stay tuned to a full page of emails . . .
Had enough? How about the paranormal side of the story? Did you know there are connections between child ghosts, Yokut wolf spirits and the Lords of Bakersfield? Ready for a ghost tour of Oleander? Is the Fritts mansion haunted? Stay tuned for a map of Lords sites and ghostly haunts. There’s a lot more to come, including past articles retooled for the site . . .
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