Kenneth Anger, an influential avant-garde artist who defied sexual and religious taboos in his works and showed grim movie star gossip in his classic Hollywood Babylon, has passed away. He was 96 years old.

Kenneth Anger died of natural causes on May 11 in Yucca Valley, Calif., a representative, Spencer Glesby, told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Few people have tapped into the forbidden depths of culture and consciousness so boldly and imaginatively as Anger, whose admirers ranged from filmmakers Martin Scorsese and David Lynch to rock stars such as The Clash and the Rolling Stones. .

He was one of the first openly gay filmmakers and a pioneer in using soundtracks as counterpoints to moving images. Long before the rise of punk and heavy metal, Anger juxtaposed music with bikers, sadomasochism, the occult and Nazi imagery. When the Sex Pistols and the Clash appeared on the same poster at a concert in 1976, clips from Anger’s films were projected behind them.

Anger had his greatest commercial success and notoriety as an author of Hollywood Babylon. Scandals and Hollywood practically went hand in hand, and Anger put together an extraordinary and often apocryphal family album, whether it was footage of Jayne Mansfield’s fatal car crash or allegations as widely disputed as the actress Clara Bow who allegedly had sex with the University of Southern California football team.

Completed in the late 1950s and originally published in French, Hollywood Babylon was banned for years in the United States. When it was officially released in 1975, New York Times reviewer Peter Andrews said the book was written as if a “sex maniac had taken over the Reader’s Digest book club.”