There is no more American tradition than the beauty pageant. On this rigorous test site, young women with eyelashes that are larger than their swimsuits stand in front of a microphone and try to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine in less than two minutes. But there are some downsides to taking part in a beauty pageant, such as that a jury made up of poor game show moderators and real estate moguls pampers themselves. Wouldn’t women feel much better if they were judged on their feminine value by someone who is less creepy and patriarchal? Let’s say a camouflaged elder, dressed like a Central European Father Christmas predecessor who describes himself as a veiled prophet?
In 1878, the Crème de la Crème in St. Louis, Missouri, founded a secret society called the Veiled Prophet Organization. At its head was the mythical mystic, the veiled prophet of Khorassan, who sounds like a name a Real detective Character would find scratched in a human leather notebook. Each year, one of its members was chosen anonymously to become the prophet, dressed from head to toe in lace robes and a hood to mask his mortal face. Perhaps the most important task of the Prophet was to select one of the city̵
If all of this gives the feeling that there are translucent tentacles that only slide under all of these Bacchanal swimmers, that’s exactly the point. In the 1870s, St. Louis suffered an economic slump due to competition in the north and labor reforms. In response, local business and civil elites created their secret with the mission of being as weird as possible. These mighty people mixed the decadence of the carnival with the otherworldly writings of Thomas Moore (whose poetry gave the company its sinister name) and wanted their deliberately Cthulhu-style country club to draw just as much attention to the glamor of the city (as well as violent cherubs keeps away) defeats from labor strikes)
But eldritch-toned pomp and circumstance aren’t the only lovecraft aspect of the veiled prophet. There is also racism. According to its founder of the Confederate, Charles Clayback, the Society of the Veiled Prophets was an “elite” or a purely white secret society. There were also many subjects of the Confederate Knight with a capital KKK, with early versions of the Prophet in simple white robe with a pointed hat and pistol and a shotgun to ward off unwanted events.