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Debuted on Aug. 23

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Following the experiences of people deeply involved in the self-improvement group NXIVM, an organization under siege with charges including sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy brought against its highest members and founder Keith Raniere.

I thought the first episode was really good and we haven't even gotten to some of the more salacious details. 

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I enjoyed it, but it brought back bad memories of the time my previous company did a program like this that was total horseshit.

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7 hours ago, cpcathy said:

I enjoyed it, but it brought back bad memories of the time my previous company did a program like this that was total horseshit.

This is why I did not move forward with any more interviews with that a certain restaurant/food company with black and white bears. Total cult/weird MLM.

I’m fascinated by cult documentaries because I just don’t get it.  Interesting how they built their system.  It seems a lot like Scientology.

Edited by For Cereals
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Shitty "training" like this gets sold all over the country every day, as long as you don't create a violent sex cult behind it, it's perfectly legal to go on taking peoples' money. What's more interesting to me is how people of normal intelligence and education get ensnared in it. So I appreciated Mark and Sarah's acknowledgment of how that happened.

During a time of extreme vulnerability, I was convinced by a friend to attend a weekend seminar put on by a company like this, except (as far as I know) it was purely about money and there was no secret cult involved. About an hour into the session I just stood up and walked out. They tried to badger me into staying but fortunately my defenses don't go down once they are up.

The thing is though, I was really concerned about negative consequences coming down on my friend. I was afraid that if I reacted too negatively, they would punish her somehow. That's the kind of thing they take advantage of. 

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I listened to a podcast about this group a while ago and forgot about it until the documentary showed up on HBO. I really give the side eye to people who claim that in one session of therapy their fear is cured (I'm thinking of Mark's anxiety on the freeway), so I'm left with the thought that these types of organizations - cults - are super effective at finding people who are ripe for this kind of thinking and indoctrination. If Mark really had only one session with Nancy Salzman and was able to conquer his freeway anxiety, that makes me think that he was vulnerable to this kind of intervention and probably would have been seduced by other groups/people eventually.

Those sashes look so cheesy and cheap, but it was telling how coveted they were to the organization's members.

I don't recall from the podcast, but I'm betting that the organization made a lot of money by charging big bucks for people to work their way up and earn new sashes, etc. I'm curious about the finances and look forward to learning more about them; it screams pyramid scheme.

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On 8/26/2020 at 2:39 PM, Maysie said:

I don't recall from the podcast, but I'm betting that the organization made a lot of money by charging big bucks for people to work their way up and earn new sashes, etc. I'm curious about the finances and look forward to learning more about them; it screams pyramid scheme.

Part of moving up the ranks was apparently bringing in new people. So yup, total pyramid/MLM scheme going on too. 

I wish they had clarified a bit when the different interviews took place. Some of them were obviously lower quality and older, but some of their group's stuff was highly produced, so it was difficult to tell whether people were being interviewed in the present or some time in the past when they were still in the group.

Keith Rainere (or however it's spelled) has to be full of shit with all his accolades, right? Quantum physics and highest IQ ever recorded, etc. Sure, Jan.

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On 8/28/2020 at 12:38 PM, pigs-in-space said:

Keith Rainere (or however it's spelled) has to be full of shit with all his accolades, right? Quantum physics and highest IQ ever recorded, etc. Sure, Jan.

A simple google search proves most of it was made up.

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I thought the first episode was a pretty good setup, but the second episode fell kind of flat. The Bonnie stuff went on for too long with too much artistic filler.

Mark was probably the last person they’d want to defect, since he had hundreds of hours of footage of the inside workings of the organization. Him cutting off the recording to get Sarah’s story was pretty chilling, getting to unravel the story with past-him for the first time. 

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I noticed in this episode how many people in the group were white. Apparently one of their big tenets is that you are in control of your own emotions, and negative reactions reflect poorly on the person reacting. I can't imagine that flying with most people who have to experience racism or xenophobia on a regular basis.

I felt bad for Bonnie and how hard she had to work to get through to Mark. I guess they had to do so many artistic shots because they had so much stuff recorded (which is bonkers! Who records everything?!), and didn't just want it playing over a blank screen.

I listened to the podcast Escaping Nxivm last week, which focuses on Sarah and her story. It's very interesting, but it's nice to see some of the other players in this doc. In it Sarah's assistant almost tangentially described Sarah as the worst boss she'd ever had, and I'd like to hear more about that.

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7 hours ago, pigs-in-space said:

I noticed in this episode how many people in the group were white. Apparently one of their big tenets is that you are in control of your own emotions, and negative reactions reflect poorly on the person reacting. I can't imagine that flying with most people who have to experience racism or xenophobia on a regular basis.

I felt bad for Bonnie and how hard she had to work to get through to Mark. I guess they had to do so many artistic shots because they had so much stuff recorded (which is bonkers! Who records everything?!), and didn't just want it playing over a blank screen.

I listened to the podcast Escaping Nxivm last week, which focuses on Sarah and her story. It's very interesting, but it's nice to see some of the other players in this doc. In it Sarah's assistant almost tangentially described Sarah as the worst boss she'd ever had, and I'd like to hear more about that.

If you ever learn more about Sarah's assistant's assessment, please post. I find the whole thing interesting. 

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23 hours ago, absnow54 said:

I thought the first episode was a pretty good setup, but the second episode fell kind of flat. The Bonnie stuff went on for too long with too much artistic filler.

Mark was probably the last person they’d want to defect, since he had hundreds of hours of footage of the inside workings of the organization. Him cutting off the recording to get Sarah’s story was pretty chilling, getting to unravel the story with past-him for the first time. 

Keith essentially ended up producing his own expose.

This week I was struck by the unrelenting banality of the actual content of Keith's philosophy. Whatever talent he had for attracting people must have been entirely physical - based on voice cadence, eye contact, mannerisms, etc. If you wrote his words down on paper it would be indistinguishable from lazy college homework.

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4 hours ago, PotterOtherP said:

This week I was struck by the unrelenting banality of the actual content of Keith's philosophy. Whatever talent he had for attracting people must have been entirely physical - based on voice cadence, eye contact, mannerisms, etc. If you wrote his words down on paper it would be indistinguishable from lazy college homework.

I think it's also in the structures of how these things work. They give you a couple really feel good, confidence-boosting wins in the beginning and see how you respond to that. If you don't come back, fine, you weren't someone who would probably be susceptible to the structure. But if that first win brings you back for more, they give you a couple more wins. And then they give you some challenges, but easier ones so you're successful and feel even better about yourself. And they surround you with people who are all expressing how happy this whole thing has made them and how well it's working for them. For people who are searching for that nebulous something that will make  everything all right and make them happy? It's pretty seductive. And for all those newbies, Keith isn't even part of the equation. It's only later that you're graced with his presence - after you've been told over and over how wonderful he is - so that you're just so grateful to finally meet him.

Mark talked about how many times Keith denied him before finally meeting to talk about his film work, so that it was clear by the time Keith contacted him he'd have done just about anything. Mark had been trying to get to talk to Keith because he had a plan for what kind of filmmaking work he wanted to do, but after meeting with Keith he dropped his own plan and started working on Keith's documentary/hero story film about Keith. 

This is why I'm enjoying this so far and don't mind the slow build. They're showing how easy it is for anyone to get sucked in. How intelligent, sensible people spend 12 years! (Mark) of their life enmeshed in it without even realizing they are. And what's also clear, as with just about any and all of these cults run by men, is that women always bear the more abusive burden, which is why the men in the group take so much longer to get that it's a cult and abusive.

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10 hours ago, Jextella said:

If you ever learn more about Sarah's assistant's assessment, please post. I find the whole thing interesting. 

She was interviewed in the podcast I mentioned, although it was more focused on other aspects of the cult. She did mention, however, that Sarah

Spoiler

expected her to work crazy hours, had really high standards, and when she complained that she didn't have much time to spend with her boyfriend, Sarah told her she had to rethink what quality time meant, and that working on her laptop at home while her boyfriend sits next to her can count as quality time. It seemed like the same go-go-go mentality that Bonnie mentioned in the past episode trickled down.

I really doubt that counts as a spoiler, but just in case I put it in spoiler tags. 

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33 minutes ago, pigs-in-space said:

She was interviewed in the podcast I mentioned, although it was more focused on other aspects of the cult. She did mention, however, that Sarah

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expected her to work crazy hours, had really high standards, and when she complained that she didn't have much time to spend with her boyfriend, Sarah told her she had to rethink what quality time meant, and that working on her laptop at home while her boyfriend sits next to her can count as quality time. It seemed like the same go-go-go mentality that Bonnie mentioned in the past episode trickled down.

I really doubt that counts as a spoiler, but just in case I put it in spoiler tags. 

Thank you!  I agree about the go-go-go mentality. The "high" of it all seems to have been a contributing factor for some.

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I’m interested in the story but not liking the documentary, which so far seems to be mostly style over substance. The first two episodes could have been condensed down to one episode or less. Lots of filler, very little actual information. 

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4 hours ago, Jextella said:

Thank you!  I agree about the go-go-go mentality. The "high" of it all seems to have been a contributing factor for some.

It also keeps you too busy and too tired to think clearly, or to think at all.

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4 hours ago, LeGrandElephant said:

I’m interested in the story but not liking the documentary, which so far seems to be mostly style over substance. The first two episodes could have been condensed down to one episode or less. Lots of filler, very little actual information. 

I liked the way the first ep concentrated only on the positive so you really got the view of it that the people there had. If you just watched that it would seem like it was amazingly good. If it really did what they seemed to think it did, wow! But then...of course it doesn't.

I was glad that I figured the original fee of like 2500 to go to a meeting at a hotel would have put me off even if I was interested. After than, somebody not giving me enough time to sleep would, I think, have been enough to get rid of me. But then, that's the point, right? Plenty of people were falling off along the way, but anybody who was going to get sucked in went all the way in. When they explained how they gave them all this money, and then getting a job meant you just worked more for them for free just made me furious.

One of Keith's biggest talents seemed to be the ability to listen to anything anybody said to him and turn it around on the other person, like it showed a flaw in them and the way they were seeing things, using his own cult-speak. Like how if you feel like you're being abused it's because you're addicted to being a victim and not that he's addicted to victimizing people.

9 hours ago, Jextella said:

Thank you!  I agree about the go-go-go mentality. The "high" of it all seems to have been a contributing factor for some.

Also it seems like after a point a desire to be one of the "in crowd" also kicks in where they get to be part of the inner circle.

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4 hours ago, izabella said:

It also keeps you too busy and too tired to think clearly, or to think at all.

I was thinking the weight issue had to do with Keith's personal sexual preferences but then I got to thinking that it's a way to mess with the girls' chemical make-up and ability to think clearly.

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I also wish they’d be more clear about what is a re-enactment and what isn’t. It’s never clear to me if we’re watching / hearing a contemporary recording or a re-enactment. 

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2 hours ago, sistermagpie said:

liked the way the first ep concentrated only on the positive so you really got the view of it that the people there had. If you just watched that it would seem like it was amazingly good. If it really did what they seemed to think it did, wow! But then...of course it doesn't.

 

I agree that was a good way to start off. I guess the second episode was the one that annoyed me more and seemed like mostly filler. They kept hinting at awful stuff but barely said anything. 

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Even though I've watched all the other documentaries and specials this is still interesting. I'm curious to see what they're going to do with the other 7 episodes. But, honestly, I can't believe Bonnie stayed with Mark even after he acted skeptical of her claims. Her being in so deep but having the strength to get out is really something.

I tweeted HBO and Mark saw it. (I didn't tag him or even say his full name.) He knows what he has in his wife.

1610530855_Screenshot_2020-09-02-21-17-142.thumb.png.25b5a377a7fc01586ab5f5d37f574de0.png

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On 9/1/2020 at 8:56 PM, sistermagpie said:

One of Keith's biggest talents seemed to be the ability to listen to anything anybody said to him and turn it around on the other person, like it showed a flaw in them and the way they were seeing things, using his own cult-speak. Like how if you feel like you're being abused it's because you're addicted to being a victim and not that he's addicted to victimizing people.

I did love Mark's turning around and using Raniere's cult double speak against him:  "Keith, I think you're still blocking what I'm saying."  That was gorgeous.  

I know it enrages me when cults make up words/phrases or give words different definitions and the cult members all start to use the words as though they actually exist in the way they're using them in the dictionary.  The whole "you have to disintergrate your limiting beliefs so you can intergrate your true ethical self" just makes me want to start yelling at them.  And does anyone need to be this introspective and self-centered in order to change the world?  DAMN!!

But sleep deprivation and the strict control over calories are two classic brainwashing techniques and I loved how dismissive Raniere was over Bonnie's confessing to feeling sick because of her low blood sugar.  "So you pass out, I do it all the time.' What a gaslighting bastard.

Edited by kitmerlot1213
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2 hours ago, kitmerlot1213 said:

I did love Mark's turning around and using Raniere's cult double speak against him:  "Keith, I think you're still blocking what I'm saying."  That was gorgeous.  

I know it enrages me when cults make up words/phrases or give words different definitions and the cult members all start to use the words as though they actually exist in the way they're using them in dictionary.  The whole "you have to disintergrate your limiting beliefs so you can intergrate your true ethical self" just makes me want to start yelling at them.  And does anyone need to be this introspective and self-centered in order to change the world?  DAMN!!

But sleep deprivation and the strict control over calories are two classic brainwashing techniques and I loved how dismissive Raniere was over Bonnie's confessing to feeling sick because of her low blood sugar.  "So you pass out, I do it all the time.' What a gaslighting bastard.

He actually makes me ragey sometimes.

In addition to the limited calories and sleep deprivation it was probably hard to leave because their lives were wrapped up in the org. Belonging to that cult was like a full-time job.

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This might sound weird but this dude infuriates me more than Manson. Obviously Manson's a terror, but I believe he may be legit crazy. And then when you factor in all the drugs and shit you've got yourself a madman. But Keith is different.  He's almost like an incel who figured out to work some of the systems (like constantly getting "patent pending" on his dumbass "inventions") to make him appear smarter than he is. He's not just crazy-he's also just a narcissistic jerk.

I said on another board that this whole situation is like the movie THE INVITATION, The Emperor's New Clothes, and The Bachelor got drunk at a timeshare pitch and had a love child. Keith wasn't really charismatic, or good looking, but you isolate a bunch of people and make their lives revolve around one central figure and they WILL start buying into the shit.

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I noticed that the actor Mark Hildreth appeared in a bunch of the photos shown in the third episode. A quick google search tells me that he apparently recruited Kristin Kreuk, and at least one other girlfriend who actually testified at Keith Rainere's trial, identified only as Nicole. Apparently there's not much out there on his role in the group.

And gotta love that turnaround Lauren Salzman did from "yeah, I'll delete everything" to "IDK, I feel like I shouldn't..." Sarah was spot on about them using her as a recruiting tool for Keith's type.

Edited by pigs-in-space
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On 9/1/2020 at 4:52 AM, PotterOtherP said:

Keith essentially ended up producing his own expose.

This week I was struck by the unrelenting banality of the actual content of Keith's philosophy. Whatever talent he had for attracting people must have been entirely physical - based on voice cadence, eye contact, mannerisms, etc. If you wrote his words down on paper it would be indistinguishable from lazy college homework.

My husband watched the interview between him and Allison and after 2 minutes was like, "He's not saying anything! He's just stringing together random words."

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I can see how the group was alluring. The initial stuff is a lot of common self-help stuff, emotional intelligence stuff (look at how many people got into “the Secret”). The cost is extreme though like Scientology (or church really as most Churches in my area “require” you to tithe and give 10% of your income). In addition to the self- help stuff you had a group of like minded people you hung out with, went to events, etc. Really, just a different type of church where you talked about self-discovery instead of Jesus (or whatever stuff churches discuss). Adults who don’t do things like have a sport’s team they are on, etc. may be drawn to this type of group just to have a close friend circle. 

In episode 3 it got really weird with the branding stuff. It will be interesting to see how that is fleshed out more as it just seems so strange. Even in the end part with Sarah and the street confrontation and sex trafficking stuff at this point we didn’t see that only some odd ritual. It is really neat to hear real recorded calls not re-enactments. 

When Sarah was getting the brand the whole time I was thinking, “your husband is going to see that right away, how will this be a secret???”

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In cases like this, I'm always torn for feeling bad for the people who got sucked in because of their deep seated insecurities/need for approval and being angry that people have thousands of dollars to piss away on this psychobabble bull shit. It also makes me wonder what these people could have achieved if they'd had genuine support and love rather than someone manipulating them to keep his pyramid scheme going. It's obvious that a lot of the participants put a lot of time and effort into being "good members" and fulfilling all of these requirements, so just think of what they could have accomplished if they had focused the same amount of time and energy into something useful.

I'm always suspicious of self help groups like this because as an outsider, they look like an obvious MLM where the founder gets to deify himself and rake in tons of money. I am going to assume that not every self help group has secret sex cults, but how many of them do and just haven't been exposed yet because people are too afraid to speak up and face the consequences of being expelled from the group/shunned from everyone who supposedly loves them?

During the first episode, I kept wondering how they had all of this footage and so many recorded conversations so when Vicente revealed that Raniere asked him to film everything, I just laughed at how Keith essentially handed Mark the proof to expose him in the future.

I agree that some of the footage of Bonnie was cheesy and that they didn't know what else to do while playing all of those old conversations. I felt all of those shots were really distracting. I'd rather just see her staring out a window.

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6 hours ago, fountain said:

most Churches in my area “require” you to tithe and give 10% of your income

Wait really? How do they know your income? I thought in most churches people just donate whatever they want? But then, I don’t go to church. 
ETA: I had to google that. This website says Christians in the US donate on average $800 per year to their church. What area do you live in? https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/average-church-religion-donation.html/

 

Edited by LeGrandElephant
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It seems like all their initial platitudes sound perfectly fine - just the cost and MLM structure is sketchy, but they seem to be saying perfectly fine self help things, nothing special. And then suddenly they’re giving collateral for blackmail and getting branded? I feel like there was a jump there that wasn’t explained, from normal self help stuff to suddenly tons of massive red flags. Like were they doing this collateral thing for years in smaller ways so it didn’t seem so crazy? It’s hard to understand that jump. 

I still don’t understand how they just had no plan for what to tell the husbands about the brands. Obviously they’re going to notice. Didn’t make sense. 

Edited by LeGrandElephant
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Even before they really delved into episode three, I was annoyed with Mark. He told Sarah that he, a man who was suffering no physical or sexual abuse, was resigning from the cult but that she was going to have to smile and suck it up.

On 8/31/2020 at 1:12 PM, pigs-in-space said:

I noticed in this episode how many people in the group were white. Apparently one of their big tenets is that you are in control of your own emotions, and negative reactions reflect poorly on the person reacting. I can't imagine that flying with most people who have to experience racism or xenophobia on a regular basis.

Yeah, this became really apparent in episode three when Nancy explained the whole "at cause" principle. Yes, as an adult, you are responsible for your reactions and behavior but the claim that no one can make you feel a certain way is ridiculous when you apply it to racist or homophobic assholes saying that you are a second class citizen who doesn't deserve to have the right to marry or vote or own property (this is still a real thing - when my sister bought her house in 2012, she had to sign a neighborhood covenant that said only white people were allowed to own the property, which was ironic since she isn't white).

On 8/26/2020 at 11:39 AM, Maysie said:

Those sashes look so cheesy and cheap, but it was telling how coveted they were to the organization's members.

I don't recall from the podcast, but I'm betting that the organization made a lot of money by charging big bucks for people to work their way up and earn new sashes, etc. I'm curious about the finances and look forward to learning more about them; it screams pyramid scheme.

I'm not familiar with the financial details of this particular cult, but I know people who did Landmark seminars and it's a similar self help scheme in that you have to pay $$$ to participate and you're expected to keep taking their classes (which guarantees income for the pyramid scheme) as well as recruit new members. In the case of NXIVM, I'm assuming that you were not able to move up to different colored sashes and stripes until you completed X number of classes and recruited X amount of people within a certain amount of time. I wonder how much it cost for the privilege of attending V Week.

In episode three, Sarah explained that in order to earn a commission, you had to enroll at least one new person per month in a five day seminar. And Sarah outright told Mark that doing NXIVM was her source of income which was one of her concerns after all the shit hit the fan.

Ugh, watching their sales training tactics annoyed me so much. Is there anything worse than being in a group setting and asked, "Are we ready to have FUN?" and being expected to go "WOOOOO!" in response? Actually, yes. What's worse than that is having that followed up with, "Come on, FUN?" and being asked to "WOOOOOO!" even louder.

Listening to the way them talk about how to manipulate people into taking more classes and Keith instructing the sales people how it could be a million dollar company made me sick. And of course that turned into Sarah paying her "best friend" $375/hr to EM. I really don't understand how Lauren expected Sarah to keep a HUGE FUCKING BRAND a secret from her husband.

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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Lauren Salzman is a reprehensible human being.  Sarah bears responsibility, too, as she was easily manipulated, until it was too late.

Monthly collateral? That's loan shark territory right there.

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20 hours ago, LeGrandElephant said:

Wait really? How do they know your income? I thought in most churches people just donate whatever they want? But then, I don’t go to church. 
ETA: I had to google that. This website says Christians in the US donate on average $800 per year to their church. What area do you live in? https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/average-church-religion-donation.html/

 

From my understanding they know your income because you disclose it when you fill in your parishioner paperwork and I have heard some churches take a copy of your tax return. My area has a lot of very large churches. I am sure small community churches don’t do the full 10% tithing but lots of churches in my area are consolidating and moving towards being huge business type churches, where they provide you classes, have sport’s teams, etc. I live in the prairies in Canada and as an accountant I see what people donate and for the pretty devotedly religious it is a lot. If you have seen the Righteous Gemstones show more churches in my area are going that way as the small churches close their doors. 

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11 hours ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

Ugh, watching their sales training tactics annoyed me so much. Is there anything worse than being in a group setting and asked, "Are we ready to have FUN?" and being expected to go "WOOOOO!" in response? Actually, yes. What's worse than that is having that followed up with, "Come on, FUN?" and being asked to "WOOOOOO!" even louder.

Listening to the way them talk about how to manipulate people into taking more classes and Keith instructing the sales people how it could be a million dollar company made me sick. And of course that turned into Sarah paying her "best friend" $375/hr to EM. I really don't understand how Lauren expected Sarah to keep a HUGE FUCKING BRAND a secret from her husband.

LOL! I know when I'm about to delve into my neuroses in front of a group of people that sounds like a ton of fun! Well worth that extra "WOOOO!" /s

Lauren was so manipulative. Learned it from the best (her mother), I assume. Part of the collateral was explicit naked photos. I'm sure Keith wanted a steady stream of naked pics that these women didn't know he would see.

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On 9/5/2020 at 2:57 PM, LeGrandElephant said:

Wait really? How do they know your income? I thought in most churches people just donate whatever they want? But then, I don’t go to church. 
ETA: I had to google that. This website says Christians in the US donate on average $800 per year to their church. What area do you live in? https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/average-church-religion-donation.html/

 

In my experience, mainline Protestant churches (my tradition) depend on member donations/tithing to fund at least part of their expenses, but tithing is not required. I think in the Jewish tradition, synagogue membership does come with fees. 

And I haven't seen it in this thread, but here is the New York Times magazine article that blew this whole thing wide open. Spoilers abound. 

Inside Nxivm, the ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment

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1 hour ago, FoundTime said:

I haven't seen it in this thread, but here is the New York Times magazine article that blew this whole thing wide open. Spoilers abound. 

Inside Nxivm, the ‘Sex Cult’ That Preached Empowerment

Financial info from this article:

  • Jness (the women's group) has 11 different 8-day courses which cost $5000 each
  • NXIVM's monthly classes cost $5000 (I'm assuming this is the "discounted" cost for unlimited classes that Keith was shown demonstrating to Sarah and others to sell in episode 3)
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On 9/4/2020 at 6:41 PM, pigs-in-space said:

And gotta love that turnaround Lauren Salzman did from "yeah, I'll delete everything" to "IDK, I feel like I shouldn't..." Sarah was spot on about them using her as a recruiting tool for Keith's type.

Lauren very quickly dropped that best friend act and launched into the "You made a sacred vow to me that you broke...." I was like, no this bitch didn't.

tenor.gif

Nippy is also the only person I've seen so far who has been pissed. He was big mad and rightfully so. I'm still trying to figure out how Lauren or Sarah thought she was gonna hide that brand from him. It wasn't even in an inconspicuous location.   

2 hours ago, izabella said:

How is everyone watching episode 3 when it hasn't aired on HBO yet?

HBO posted the episode on the app/website a couple days ago.

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5 hours ago, izabella said:

How is everyone watching episode 3 when it hasn't aired on HBO yet?

HBO Max posts episodes of The Vow and Lovecraft Country several days early.

Although I feel sorry for him, who the fuck actually prefers to be called Nippy?

Doing some independent research, I did not know . . .

Spoiler

 . . . that Nicki Clyne was Allison Mack's wife, and Keith pretty much ordered them to get married.

 

 

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55 minutes ago, Tachi Rocinante said:

Doing some independent research, I did not know . . .

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 . . . that Nicki Clyne was Allison Mack's wife, and Keith pretty much ordered them to get married.

 

I was curious as to why and assumed that it was

Spoiler

so they could invoke spousal privilege, but according to wikipedia: "The marriage was alleged to have been a sham to get around US immigration laws, and only became public a year later during legal proceedings on the conspiracy and racketeering charges as part of her involvement with NXIVM."

Now I'm trying to figure out why Keith would want Nicki to be an American citizen enough to make her marry Allie. Tax purposes? I really have no idea.

 

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1 hour ago, ElectricBoogaloo said:

I was curious as to why and assumed that it was

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so they could invoke spousal privilege, but according to wikipedia: "The marriage was alleged to have been a sham to get around US immigration laws, and only became public a year later during legal proceedings on the conspiracy and racketeering charges as part of her involvement with NXIVM."

Now I'm trying to figure out why Keith would want Nicki to be an American citizen enough to make her marry Allie. Tax purposes? I really have no idea.

 

Spoiler

I'm guessing so she could live in Albany near Keith. A quick google search told me that Canadians can only stay in the US for six months out of the year, so I'm guessing it was easier to get married than go through some other immigration process.

 

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That was the whitest, most privileged cult evah....

Fascinating how so many supposed intelligent people were roped into it.

For some reason, Nancy Saltzman is the one who irks me most here.

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5 hours ago, Tachi Rocinante said:

HBO Max posts episodes of The Vow and Lovecraft Country several days early.
 

I thought that was only because of the holiday weekend.  If it's every week, I'll need to look for this on Friday.

I'm very into this documentary.  The fact that Mark is a filmmaker and recorded everything really helped round out the telling of the story from the Mark, Bonnie, Sarah and her husband POV.  

But I really would love to see the Alison Mack side of all of this.  She joined years after Sarah and Mark joined yet she rose so fast to the point that it looks like she started this sex cult side of the operation.  

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On 8/28/2020 at 12:38 PM, pigs-in-space said:

I wish they had clarified a bit when the different interviews took place. Some of them were obviously lower quality and older, but some of their group's stuff was highly produced, so it was difficult to tell whether people were being interviewed in the present or some time in the past when they were still in the group.

I am having difficulty following the timeline of events -- particularly what the time frame was with Mark's wife leaving him and when Mark found out the DOS group. (I had to Google to put it all together.)

That said, I found Mark's devotion to Keith super, extra creepy and that the number of people in the world with all that disposable income to waste on Hilton-Garden-Conference-Room seminars astonishing. 

Keith reminded me of a miniturized version of Booger from Revenge of the Nerds.

Edited by Giant Misfit
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1 hour ago, absnow54 said:

Nippy’s (dumb nickname aside) smack down of Lauren was glorious. 

It was!  And it was so satisfying, especially when everyone else was so calm when talking to her.  I was like, this bitch manipulated you and your friendship to get you to join a sex cult and brand yourself with someone else's initials. Ugh, so frustrating!

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I am sure Lauren must regret asking Sarah to join DOS as she seems like shit person so she probably doesn’t regret getting involved in DOS. They did it to recruit, as Sarah was a great salesperson but it seems like DOS was going along fine for a while then comes Sarah. From the timing info it seems Sarah was out of Nxivm within a couple months of the branding or maybe even sooner, which is a big thing to do when you run the Vancouver centre. It seems Nxivm fell really fast once it fell while things like Scientology still are going. I guess Scientology has more money/power behind it.

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In cases like this, I'm always torn for feeling bad for the people who got sucked in because of their deep seated insecurities/need for approval and being angry that people have thousands of dollars to piss away on this psychobabble bull shit.

For me it's the express linkage in cults like this and $cientology and most MLM's between emotional well being and financial reward. The message in this white supremacist capitalist dystopia is that if you aren't financially well off and professionally accomplished it's your personal and emotional failure as a human being that is at it's root rather than y'know systemic oppression, or chemical and biological illness. 

And while I can understand that once they are in the thing the community becomes the point, I think a lot of these people are lured in by the desire for financial and professional success. And in the case of this cult/mlm the two things become intertwined the cult is literally their job, Sarah talked about her fear of leaving because it was her income. The real cult is capitalism and as long as world is hooked on it, there will be people Keith Raniere who can exploit peoples desire to be the 1% to get everything he wants for himself personally.

But lord he is such a dumb super nerd I find this one particularly hard to grasp, like at least $cientology starts out with the blackmail and bullying so you absolutely know why a lot of people are sticking it out in spite of it's many layers of bullshit.

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I still don’t understand how they just had no plan for what to tell the husbands about the brands.

I believe Lauren said the plan was to "explain" it to Nippy in their cult terms so he'd accept it, I think Nippy might have only wigged because Sarah said it linked back to Sex with Keith. If she had explained how empowering it was for the ladies and never told him it was Keith and Allies initials in the brand he probably wouldn't have 'reacted' that way. The whole message of their system is not to let your reactions get the better of you and to control the way people react to you. If Sarah had followed the plan that yes she would have told him only Lauren told her to and only allowed him to see it when Lauren told her to that was the whole point of the master slave/sacred vow/collateral stuff. I do love how much she misjudged how far gone Sarah was and that as long as she never heard about the sex cult aspect of DOS she'd just happily go along.

 

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But I really would love to see the Alison Mack side of all of this.  She joined years after Sarah and Mark joined yet she rose so fast to the point that it looks like she started this sex cult side of the operation.  

I think despite his protestations Keith liked being compared Scientology, uses the same lingo (centers) and wanted that same kind of clientele, actors:  they had a lot of money and honestly not much formal education, and are highly susceptible to this kind of stuff. The only big difference is he tried to explode their dependence on fame when the clams really play that aspect up. Fame and success is huge part of their model at least when marketing to actors/celebrities. While here we see Allison talking about how fame is a sickness. I guess that's one good thing about Scientology I don't think it explicitly was designed for sex slavery where as for Keith it was probably the main long term goal. 

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58 minutes ago, blixie said:

I think despite his protestations Keith liked being compared Scientology, uses the same lingo (centers) and wanted that same kind of clientele, actors:  they had a lot of money and honestly not much formal education, and are highly susceptible to this kind of stuff. The only big difference is he tried to explode their dependence on fame when the clams really play that aspect up. Fame and success is huge part of their model at least when marketing to actors/celebrities. While here we see Allison talking about how fame is a sickness. I guess that's one good thing about Scientology I don't think it explicitly was designed for sex slavery where as for Keith it was probably the main long term goal. 

It seems to me ESP is Scientology with the serial numbers and maybe the slightly more bat-shit beliefs (like Xenu) filed off.  The use of the terms centers and tech. The idea that it's all scientifically based.  It sounds like EMs are basically auditing without the tin cans. The insistence that they are the only group of people who can change the world, especially without explaining how.  The frequent use (and misuse) of the word ethics or ethical.  The beliefs that they can cure various diseases with their "tech".  The structure and the costs...  It all adds up to something very very similar to Scientology.  I mean the jargon thing is part and parcel of cults in general.  The controlling of how you speak is one part of indoctrination, but everything else seems to be wholesale stolen from Scientology specifically.  I wouldn't be surprised if Keith was involved in Scientology at some point in his life.  I'm guessing he at least studied it from the outside and instead of most people's reaction of, "This is horrible," he said, "Hmm...Can I add sexual slavery to it?"  So the supposed smartest man in the world is not only a sexual predator, he's a plagiarist.

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