Crazy Nude Messiah and Kidnapped Converts (When Pictures do not tell the Whole Story)

Pictures often don't tell the story. A couple of dudes last year coming down from the mountain. So their woman friend dresses odd...lots of them do. Right?

This 1938 picture shows Mark Silverman ( know...the guy who looks like a friend of yours) and his "unwilling converts." Silverman was in fact a self-proclaimed "Messiah" who kidnapped the other two (Ms. "Button Pants" and that other guy who looks like a friend of yours) and forced them to live in the hills of San Gabriel Canyon, L.A. for 4 months. After the press was done photographing them, Silverman was taken by the deputy sheriff to a "psycopathic" ward.

Silverman forced the couple (actually his sister-in law and his brother Joe) to live nude in a cave the entire time while attempting to hypnotize them into murder and waiting "for the world's end." Prior to the kidnapping, he had gone to his mother's home where he burned her furniture and clothing. Mom was taken hostage as well, but was released earlier as mountain life wasn't good for her health. Before taking the hostages, Silverman, described as a "religious fanatic" was a shoemaker. Perhaps that explains Joe's spiffy boots! Regardless, Crazy Mark declared himself Jesus Christ and feed the pair walnuts, avocados and raw potatoes.

While being held for an insanity complaint later, Silverman denied being crazy, having queer religious beliefs and also pointed out he did not believe in nudism. Charges against him were dismissed.

Really, I thought it was a Banana Republic ad. Two questions not answered by the photo? Where did one of the victims get bell-bottoms in 1938? And why would ANYONE read fiction? This would have been damn hard to conjure up.

Also posted on my old time religion blog.

Original Press Photograph "Messiah comes out of the Hills with "Converts" 1938
Collection Jim Linderman


  1. sailor pants are traditionally wide-leggy!

  2. Those button pants are kinda' cool. Wish I knew a chick crazy enough to wear them.

  3. This is a chick crazy enough to wear them. I'd LOVE a pair of those button pants!

  4. This is a weird story, but reading between the lines of the new coverage at the time, it sounds like Mark and Joe's mama wanted them to come back to town, so she and a sister-in-law made an exaggerated police report. The mountaineers denied the allegations of nudity, or that anyone was being held against their will, and they all look pretty comfortable together in photos.

  5. Man, I haven't been here for a while. What was I thinking? Always good stuff here.