In loving memory of Ha Rav Aryeh Lev Tann
My name is Roger Tann but have been known as Viking for the last 17 years of my life. I am a 33 year old Jewish Rocker who has been working the freakshow and magic circuit under the name Dr Gore doing horror magic and freakshow acts that have been so gruesome that they were banned by British TV. So the 2 questions I’m always asked are:-
Where did such a nice Jewish boy go wrong?
Why did you rebel against your faith?
I always answer them with the same answer, I didn’t really, I just saw faith and personality as 2 different things. Just because I happen to be a punk rocker doesn’t mean i don’t have faith.
My father was an Orthodox Rabbi, I grew up with learning and Shabbat and Yommim Tovim like all good Orthodox boys. From the moment i could hear i grew up on bible stories instead of fairy stories. My favourites were always the ones full of blood and gore, the fighting for one believes in. My father brought those stories to life for me and I suppose my love of the macabre came from there.
We moved around a lot and i spent my teenage years in Birmingham. There weren’t many people my age or a Jewish school over the age of 10 so I went to a non Jewish school where I first discovered anti-Semitism and lived it for the next 8 years. During this time I started hanging out with punks and rockers who didn’t care if I was Jewish, pink or green with spots, I was a decent person.
So after leaving there and having a run off bad luck at uni I decided to go to Israel. Spent time there at yeshiva, worked as a youth worker on the Lebanese border, spent time working doors at clubs even lived on the streets for a time, but I found my home. I spent half my time in the old city and the other half in Tel Aviv. This to me just screamed to me the 2 halves of me that make me as a person, spirituality and night clubs. I never found them to be exclusive of each other and to this day I never will.
I moved to London in 2000 and worked as a doorman and bodyguard for a further 4 years before disaster struck, I was hit by a car and was unable to continue my career. I thought long and hard about what I knew and the only thing I had left to use was my magic. A hobby of 14 years by that point became my passion and my new career. By this time my love of gore had taken new meaning and created something new, horror magic. After reaching the semi finals of Britain’s Got Talent (and having my semifinal act banned for doing a live human autopsy on national TV) worked around the world ripping peoples organs out and cutting people up with power tools (really satisfying if the get the chance to try it, just don’t hurt your friend trying, he will never forgive you).
A year ago bad health struck again and I’m now ill with a neurological disorder and live using a wheelchair. I pray that its only temporary.
During my 10 years in London I discovered something new, a serious divide in the community that made in most part appearance more important than anything else. I found myself pushed out and shunned, hell I even had people crossing the road to not be seen anywhere near me. Recently I have been going to Chasidic areas and apart from a few gasps of amazement at the fact I put on tefillin I am accepted for just being an Orthodox Jew.
In short I can sum up in 1 statement that was said to me many times by my father Ha Rav Aryeh lev Tann, The Torah and Judaism are so big that the can encompass almost all walks of life.