On July 21, 1968, a Los Angeles County Supervisor appointed Louise Huebner as LA’s Official Witch. She was presented with a signed and sealed scroll at a Hollywood Bowl celebration to kick off a summer concert series.
It reads: “This is to certify that Louise Huebner has been designated as the Official Sorceress of Los Angeles County by virtue of her supernatural powers… Signed: Supervisor Ernest Debs.”
One week later, the Official Witch enjoined 11,000 Angelenos in casting a sex spell over the county.
Five months later, Debs changed his mind. He wanted to take the title back.
What could go wrong with double-crossing a witch?
A Born Witch
Louise Huebner (1930-2014) identified as a witch long before she was officially appointed as one by Los Angeles County. Prior to that event, she had acquired a degree of local fame for her astrological forecasts on KLAC Radio. Her prerecorded spots ran 12 times a day, every two hours, and the station’s DJs affectionately referred to Huebner as “the staff witch.”
In a 2009 interview with Vice, Huebner said she had been a witch for her entire life. Specifically, she was a sixth-generation hereditary witch and third-generation astrologer, although emphatically not a Wiccan. She claimed tht her psychic skills, put to use during readings on KLAC Radio, included predictions of the JFK and RFK assassinations, Nixon’s presidency and the Watts Riots, among other events. In January of 1968, she foresaw “a very dramatic event on June 5, 1968 in Los Angeles that would shock the world,” per coverage in a Santa Monica City College newspaper. That was the day that Robert Kennedy was shot at LA’s Ambassador Hotel.
The County Comes Calling
It wasn’t Louise Huebner’s psychic powers, nor astrology skills, that LA County officials were seeking back in the summer of ‘68. It was her PR prowess.
LA City Councilman Arthur Snyder had appointed Huebner as Cultural Chairman of the 14th District, tasking her with organizing birthday celebrations for the city. She handled the task with distinction, putting on public events across more than a dozen LA communities lasting from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. She secured valuable sponsorships and donations from local and national brands, and packed the events with art, poetry, contests, dancing, parades and celebrity guests. Some 10,000 people attended the celebrations.
According to Louise Huebner’s own written account of the events around her becoming the Official Witch of Los Angeles, the county sought out her services after witnessing the success of those city celebrations:
“I was asked by the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation to help them promote a series of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. The invitation was extended because I had produced festivities in fourteen separate communities for a LA Birthday celebration. The County asked me to do for them what I had done for the City.”
Jim Anderson, then the Director of the County Parks and Recreation department, knew Huebner from her radio appearances and the city birthday celebrations. The department was co-producing a series of 12 summer concerts at the Hollywood Bowl, and wanted Huebner’s help in promoting them. Huebner describes her initial reluctance until discovering that the inaugural concert would be “Folklore Day.” The concept instantly inspired her.
The Magical Power of PR Stunts
It would probably have been fun to be a fly on the wall during brainstorming sessions between Huebner, Anderson and other organizers. Huebner’s big idea for the Folklore Day concert was for a gigantic spellcasting to “increase sexual vitality for the county.” Just one year after the Summer of Love, Huebner’s witchy vibe might not have seemed so out of place among the west coast’s hippies. The elected officials OK’d the witch’s spellcasting idea.
The spellcast concept led to the plan to appoint Louise Huebner as the official witch who would lead the ritual. A title would lend some gravitas to the proceedings. If anyone raised concerns about the county government’s tacit endorsement of witchcraft, they must have been overruled.
At a party at the Hollywood Bowl, one week before the Folklore Day concert, Louise Huebner was presented with her official document. Bearing the county seal and signature of Board of Supervisors President Ernest Debs, it declared her to be the Official Witch of Los Angeles.
A press release covering the event read: “Louise Huebner, the appointed Official Sorceress for Los Angeles County, along with a coven of witches, will involve everyone attending the concert, in the casting of a spell. This is the first time in the history of witchcraft that a spell of so great a magnitude will be cast involving so many of the general public.”
The release concluded: “Since Witchcraft attempts to deceive, cajole and otherwise disturb natural inclination and occurrence, then so too, with bits of color, attitudes and words, do children, politicians, actors, and women in love ~ weave spells; the success of which many times is dependent entirely upon the magic of their confidence.”
Let the Spellcasting Commence!
Folklore Day and the promised spellcast to kick off the summer concert series took place at the Hollywood Bowl on July 21, 1968, with 11,000 people in attendance. Looking the witchy part with her long, black hair and slinky silver dress, Louise Huebner – now the Official Witch of Los Angeles – led the crowd in reciting a special incantation:
“Light the flame
Bright the fire
Red is the color of desire.”
Audience members were provided with salt and garlic (a promotional bit by Lawrey’s spice company) and red candles. There were some curious choices for stage presence – perhaps not so surprising from a disparate committee of witches and government officials. A car dealership donated a silver Mercedes to match Huebner’s dress, and it was driven onto the stage. Councilman Snyder arranged to borrow some iguanas from the LA Zoo, a move Huebner found disquieting. She writes “we all distanced ourselves from them emotionally,” and recounts that one iguana died on the return journey to the zoo. Otherwise, the event seems to have been considered a success by all involved.
So, did the spell succeed in increasing sexual vitality for the county? It’s hard to say. But, in 1970, the county’s population was around 7 million, whereas the most recent census data puts LA County’s population at 9.8 million. We can’t rule out spellcraft as the reason.
About that Official Title…
Louise Huebner moved on with her career, expanding upon her local fame to record a now-collectible spoken-word album, “Seduction Through Witchcraft” (1969). She also went on to publish numerous books, among them 1969’s “Power Through Witchcraft” and 1971’s “Never Strike a Happy Medium.” In promoting these works and her other endeavors, Huebner often used her title as the Official Witch of Los Angeles.
Just five months after the spellcast, Supervisor Debs, whose signature appears on the scroll Huebner received with her title, had a change of heart about appointing LA’s Official Witch. He instructed the county’s counsel to send Huebner a letter, stating “This is to notify you that there is no authority for your use of the title: Official Witch of Los Angeles County, which has appeared on the jacket of a record album and other promotional material concerning your activities.” The letter argued that the scroll Huebner received was “purely ceremonial.”
What was a witch to do? Hex the county counsel? No, Huebner once again invoked her magical powers of positive publicity, plus a heady dose of pithy prose. In a return letter, she reminded the county that they approached her, asking to “take advantage of my promotional abilities.” Her prestige as a witch was already established when the county sought out her skills. Huebner also expressed disappointment in Supervisor Debs’ about-turn concerning the value of witchcraft, writing:
“If the small amount of humor created for Supervisor Debs by his Press Agents has now failed him, then will he please return the gift I gave to him of the Magical Golden Horn that was meant to insure his Romantic vitality. Certainly he must know that it cannot work now that he has professed a disbelief in goblins, pumpkins, the good tooth fairy and all things that go bump.”
Additionally, Huebner staged a press conference, “offering coffee and donuts as a lure.” It was well attended. The official witch suggested that she might be forced to “de-spell” the entire county if the government persisted in trying to rescind her title. She said “…I will be forced through an act of pride to take back the Los Angeles County Spell for increased Sexual Vitality. What with smog and freeways being what they are, I shudder to think of what the De-Spelling could do to devastate the County.”
The Official Witch Evermore
According to Huebner, the county counsel never responded or commented on her letter nor press conference. She continued to use the title, Official Witch of Los Angeles, until her death in 2014. Huebner was profiled in Life magazine and publicly acclaimed by the Mayor of Salem, Mass., who presented her with a commemorative broom. She dedicated her second book, “Never Strike a Happy Medium,” to Supervisor Debs (shared with Isis the Moon Goddess).
Louise Huebner’s Linkedin profile outlines an eclectic career path, often but not always related to her witchcraft. It describes a writer, poet and author of books and columns, producer of national and international public events, and an expert in religion, astrology and the occult. She was active in “Get out the Vote” campaigns, and in the 1980s ran a mini mall of antiques and collectibles. Huebner was president and founder of the Society of Professional Astrologers. She also managed the estate and catalog of her late husband, Mentor Huebner, a renowned artist and Hollywood production illustrator.
A beguiling video recording of Louise Huebner reciting the same spell she cast over Los Angeles, part of an interview with KCRA-TV, is available on YouTube thanks to the Center for Sacramento History. Surrounded by red candles, Huebner discusses her beliefs about the origins of witchcraft and the idea of seduction through witchcraft. Take a look at the short video, that is, if you dare to be under the spell of the Official Witch of Los Angeles.
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