Slacking Towards Bethlehem

Slacking Towards Bethlehem: J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius is a documentary being crowdfunded right now. There’s 3 days left and it isn’t quite at the funding goal yet, so consider check it out.

PRAISE “Bob"! – the fates have brought you into an encounter with J.R. “Bob” Dobbs through this instructional video barrage Kickstarter delivery device – the first step on your personal road to SLACK, an unsurpassable beatific experience.


The Church of the SubGenius has been called “the most aggressively preposterous theology the world has ever known!” But what is the Church? And who is J.R. “Bob” Dobbs? And why is his name always in quotes? And for nonbelievers, why has this strangely compelling parody religion, this long-running postmodern joke, caught the attention of such pop culture icons as Rachel Maddow, Nick Offerman, Jon Stewart, David Letterman, Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens), David Byrne, Robert Crumb, Richard Linklater, Alex Cox, Ken Kesey, Frank Zappa, Jonathan Demme, and Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh? And is it true that Tori Amos is also one of “Bob”’s chosen?

The Church of the SubGenius: The Early Years

“We tied together every occult, superstitious fringe belief you could think of…it was so much fun!”
– Ivan Stang, co-founder

Born into the suburban world of the 1950s, future founders of the Church of the SubGenius Reverend Ivan Stang (Douglass St. Clair Smith) and Dr. Philo Drummond (Steve Wilcox) come of age during the 1960s and 70s – a time of unprecedented social and political tumult. They experience the rise of a deafening consumer culture, the tarnishing of the “American Dream,” the violence of the Vietnam War abroad, and the Kennedy assassinations and conspiracies that follow.

As youths they revel in the delights of stable families, monster movies, Science Fiction, super-8 moviemaking, dinosaur figures, comic books, and Rock ‘n’ Roll. As they grow older they witness the emergence of televangelism, the Jonestown Massacre, punk culture, and Reaganomics.

Despite both growing up in Texas, it was not until the mid 70s that Stang and Drummond meet and quickly forge a friendship over a shared love of comic books, Captain Beefheart, and UFO paperbacks. One not so particular eve in 1977, while bemoaning their lack of conventional “success” for two such intelligent, well read chaps, Stang remarks, “Well, we’re not exactly geniuses.” To which Drummond replies, “yeah, we’re sub-geniuses.”

And in that moment the Church of the SubGenius is born. It is not long after that J.R. “Bob” Dobbs reveals himself as the Church’s iconic prophet and foremost patron of ineffable Slack. In fact, Stang and Drummond will later come to the realization that “Bob” has been planting evidence of his presence for them for the past twenty years!!!


“There was that moment of realizing that this thing goes further than I ever imagined.”
– Puzzling Evidence (Doug Wellman)

In late 1979 Stang and Drummond, with the help of their wives, brainstorm what would become perhaps the single most significant marketing effort made at the inception of the Church of the SubGenius – the writing, design, printing, and distribution of Pamphlet #1. The doctrine of the Church quickly spreads, and the word of “Bob” and the teachings of JHVH-1 teach “time control” as a way to wrest “Slack” from the ‘Pinks’ and ‘Normals.’ The Church, it seems, has struck a nerve amidst the deadening consumer culture, the evisceration of basic social services, and the worship of wealth that occurred during the Reagan/Thatcher years.

As “Bob”’s pamphlet continues to travel the world, the emergent punk publishing scene and new wave comic writers seize on the humor and cultural critique of the Church’s doctrine. In San Francisco it is fished out of a trashcan by cartoonist and artist Paul Mavrides, igniting a SubGenius cell that gives the movement some of its most enduring art and performances through LIES (Paul Mavrides), Dr. Howland Owl (Hal Robins), Puzzling Evidence (Doug Wellman), Janor Hypercleats and Pope Sternodox.

“Bob” captures the zeitgeist of the day. Cartoonist Robert Crumb reprints Pamphlet #1 in the first issue of his comic Weirdo. A few years later Simon and Schuster publishes The Book of the SubGenius. Acclaimed film director and SubGenius Alex Cox channels Church mythology in Repo Man as the glowing, alien-owned Chevy Malibu soars high above Los Angeles with Otto (Emilio Estevez) and Miller (Tracy Walke) inside, their faces shining with Slack as Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) watches from below.

Dr. Howl and Puzzling Evidence conduct legendary “Devivals,” radio shows (More than an Hour, Less than a Show), and introduce the word of “Bob” to Burning Man. The Stark Fist of Removal newsletter, The Hour of Slack podcast, an MTV special, and countless cassette tapes, posters, comics, videos, websites, and Facebook groups perpetuate the word of “Bob.”

By the turn of the century, publications as powerful as TIME Magazine begin to get the SubGenius joke when “Bob” is voted ‘Fraud of the Century” by readers of its online poll. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the “Free Party” constituents of Brighton in Great Britain voted “Bob” Dobbs as an M.P. to the House of Commons three times.

Today, “Bob”’s hucksterism and the wisdom of JHVH-1 is apparent in all fifty states and a multitude of countries across the globe!

Another early SubGenius of Texas, David Boone (late husband of Slacking Towards Bethlehem director Sandy K. Boone), documents the rise of the SubGenius in his 1980 film, Invasion of the Aluminum People, which is lauded by Academy Award winning director Jonathan Demme. This is one of the first known recorded instances of the transmission of SLACK.


Only with your support can our intrepid group of award-winning filmmakers dare to make this film. By giving us your hard earned cash, we can make this dream a reality, and breach all Earthly human, political, and cultural barriers with the searing nonhuman truth of the Word of “Bob,” J.R. “Bob” Dobbs, that LIVING GOD WHO WALKS THIS PLANET EARTH IN HUCKSTER’S SHOES.

To date, we’ve travelled over 8,000 miles and interviewed 15 SubGenius in four cities, sharing the so-called “reality” that SubGenii are forced to share with humans. We’ve only just begun to uncover many of the SubGenius’ most guarded secrets. The SubGenii are finally willing to go public and tell the TRUTH.

This is YOUR chance to get in on the ground floor of a huge, globally important cult. You will then attract all the $$$, pleasure spacecraft, and SHEER POWER OVER OTHERS that go with high-ranking support of the Church and this documentary!

But most important, you can smite your enemies, achieve TIME CONTROL and attain SLACK.