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Door County Cherry

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7 hours ago, Door County Cherry said:

Something something sex cult.  Actress I didn't really know bc I didn't watch her big show but did know her show was popular.   A few other actresses who clearly had attended events but who have distanced themselves from it.

Ha!  This is 100% me when I started watching this. Actually I only started watching this because it comes on right after Lovecraft Country and I stuck around because I knew it as a something-something sex cult with that actress that I never paid attention to and wondered once and for all how the hell they pronounced the name!

I agree with a lot of the remarks here.  The documentary is interesting enough, but loses impact with the constant phone conversations and the hyper focus on Sarah.  The pacing is glacial.  They are six episodes in and haven't even gotten around to the stuff that elevates the group from a flim-flam self help group/pyramid scheme to a criminal sex-trafficking and fraud thing.  There is way too much padding and extraneous personal journey crap.  That entire episode with Bonnie and the constant 'artsy' flourishes showing her shower head was a bit too much.  Just tell the story!

I want to feel bad for these women but honestly I am struggling.  I mean, I understand they are brainwashed and stuff happens incrementally and people looking in the from outside can't always comprehend.  I mean, you have to be really in thrall or a fucked up headspace to go along with calling some rando woman 'master', having to check in with them multiple times a day even to asking permission for mundane stuff, voluntarily giving them blackmail worthy material about yourself, and consenting to being held down and branded.  But the documentary is doing a piss poor job of showing that mental process.  I can't help but compare this to something like the Surviving R. Kelly documentary that started out with 'oh R. Kelly just likes them a bit young' to spiralling more and more tightly into a story about a full on sex cult, imprisonment, and rape.  It was stark and terrifying and felt very immediate and horrific.  This  doc just feels like an exercise in hanging with a bunch of nice white suburbanites who fell in with a bad group of friends and they are all talking of the phone about it.

I plan to continue to watch because I want them to finally get to the stuff that goes beyond 'oh women are having sex with Keith.'  But I think in the end this is not going to make the major players look  as heroic and sympathetic as they want it to.

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 I just finished binge-watching the first 5 episodes of this.  It looks like the last episode should air around the time that Raniere is sentenced if I have the dates correct.

I think of all the people in this the only ones I have heard of before the NXIVM story broke are the Dalai Lama and Catherine Oxenberg.  I saw her in a made for tv movie where she played Diana and also in the movie she made about NXIVM.  (I, too, have trouble spelling it as it sounds like the medicine Nexium). Never watched Dynasty.  I recall the "what the bleep do we know movie," but I didn't see it and had no idea who directed or produced it.

I see I am not alone in finding most or all of these people unlikable.  So far the only person I like is the little boy that belongs to Sarah and Nippy (what a silly nickname).  I suppose I should like the Dalai Lama, but even he was getting on my nerves.  Raniere seems to be an egomaniac sociopath with a large dose of sadistic tendencies and Nancy Salzman is on some power trip.   This whole mess is Scientology lite and on the cheap.  Well, I am sure it isn't cheap for some of the followers, but it is compared to climbing the bridge or ladder in Scientology.  (Also I like the series Leah Rimini did about scientology better than this ).  I think Nancy was running her own experiment to see how far she could go in controlling people.  It reminded me of those experiments where people are told to give certain shock levels to other people to find out how and why people will blindly follow orders and at what point, if any, they will protest and refuse orders.

I am seriously over Catherine Oxenberg and her daughter's spiel on "noblesse oblige."  They didn't call it that, but it is what they meant.  I am so unimpressed with her mother being Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and being related to Prince Charles especially as there are probably hundreds of people ahead of them in the list of succession to the English throne.  I also wondered if India is named for India Hicks who I would think is also related to them.  Furthermore, in that scene with Catherine and her mother, they mention not speaking to each other for several decades.  I am not surprised India is messed up and self-absorbed.  Her mother called her "evolved" if I recall.  And where is her father?  is he not concerned about her as well. 

I found the first meeting of Allison Mack and Raniere to be cringe-worthy.  He spouts word salads and she agrees.  I do think if she has been an actress since age 4 she may well have no idea of who she is.  I saw a few episodes of "Smallville" in its first season, but I have no memory of her at all.

I have run out of time to post.  My main reaction to this show is that these people are all so self-absorbed, and they don't seem much better for being out of the cult.   Maybe they are just still in shock from it and have a form of PTSD. 

Oh, and I don't find Raniere attactive.  If he cleaned up, he would look okay, but not attractive enough to stand out in a crowd. 

 

 

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That Pam Cafritz-the one who started the Jness women's group and was one of the women who lived with him and was wearing the fake boob costume at the birthday party and later died of cancer- is like a spider, the way she's always hanging around the periphery, looking earnest.  I looked her up and found this on popsugar:  

"Cafritz's complicit behavior can also be traced back to the '90s during Raniere's CBI days. According to The Times Union, she reportedly hired a 12-year-old girl to walk her dog, encouraging the girl to visit the townhouse she shared with Raniere. Later, Raniere raped the underage victim, whose mother worked for his company. He allegedly had around 60 sexual encounters with her. Two years later, in 1993, the girl reported the abuse to the police. She eventually signed a waiver saying that the claim that Raniere had sex with her was true but that she wouldn't press charges."

YAY WOMEN!

Also she left Keith $8MM in her will and Frank Partolo thinks Keith poisoned her.

Edited by ninjago
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36 minutes ago, ninjago said:

That Pam Cafritz-the one who started the Jness women's group and was one of the women who lived with him and was wearing the fake boob costume at the birthday party and later died of cancer- is like a spider, the way she's always hanging around the periphery, looking earnest.  I looked her up and found this on popsugar:

This anecdote was way more interesting and insightful than anything I witnessed on this show so far.

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1 hour ago, ninjago said:

That Pam Cafritz-the one who started the Jness women's group and was one of the women who lived with him and was wearing the fake boob costume at the birthday party and later died of cancer- is like a spider, the way she's always hanging around the periphery, looking earnest.  

Those costumes definitely raised my eyebrows. Tacky. I also noticed that everyone in this cult likes to use the F word. A lot. I have no problem saying fuck, but to use it that much when they're supposed to be so enlightened or whatever seems weird.

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1 hour ago, Giant Misfit said:

This anecdote was way more interesting and insightful than anything I witnessed on this show so far.

And they devoted a significant amount to Pam in an earlier episode, about her Jness/pro-women stuff and her death, you'd think they might mention some of this other stuff.  I don't know, are they going to have an episode where they just go through everyone they've discussed and tell the really bad stuff they've done?

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11 minutes ago, ninjago said:

And they devoted a significant amount to Pam in an earlier episode, about her Jness/pro-women stuff and her death, you'd think they might mention some of this other stuff.  I don't know, are they going to have an episode where they just go through everyone they've discussed and tell the really bad stuff they've done?

I really thought that by this point they would have gotten into more of the nuts and bolts workings of the organization, and revealed more of the nefarious activities of the founders, but I'm kind of losing hope that this will happen. I hadn't heard the revelations about Keith & Pam Cafrit posted upthread, and they're pretty horrifying.

Because I knew very little of the story going in other than snippets on the news ("blah blah sex cult, blah blah TV actors I'd never heard of"), I was pulled into the show, but it's not turning out to be as compelling as I had initially hoped. It's not edited in a way that makes timelines comprehensible, and is full of unnecessary arty filler. 

The more I watch, the more it seems like an exercise in retro-active guilt assuagement/image burnishing for our main subjects rather than a hard look at the organization and the creepy-ass people who founded it.

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Just now, humbleopinion said:

Clare Bronfman gets sentenced tomorrow if it doesn’t get delayed again.

Here's an  old article from Vanity Fair published in 2010 that details the Bronfman sisters involvement in the cult. I doubt the show will go into as much detail about their history with NXIVM. A long but interesting read:

https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2010/11/bronfman-201011

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There was way too much high-fiving when the article came out. You are not heroes, people! 

Ugh. More driving and talking and looking pensively into space. 

It's interesting that as brainwashed as these women seemed to be, for some all it took to snap out of it was being replaced by younger women. 

I am watching the currently running PBS series Hacking Your Mind (free on PBS website). It demonstrates across a wide range of beliefs and actions just how easily and deeply a brain/mind can be manipulated, and that most manipulation happens on a subconscious level which is where the vast majority of our decisions are made. It shows you how it is done. It is very interesting ...and horrifying.  

 

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https://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/who-is-kristin-keeffe-nxivm-where-is-she-now-47825502

Keith has a son Gaelyn with Kristin but she didn't know she was pregnant until a few weeks before her delivery since all his women are thin and don't have periods.

Keith wanted to say the boy was adopted to perpetuate the lie that Keith is celibate.

Of course, the kid has 5 nannies each speaking a different language and no contact with other children.

Kristen lives off grid with Gaelyn.

 

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What's making this hard for me to get incensed about is that it's not super clear (to me, anyway) how it was that Keith had such a hold over people. What was it about his message that made people turn? I've seen all episodes so far, and I still can't answer that question. 

Whatever it was, it clearly worked. So much so that Barbara Bouchey seemed nearly as remorseful about Keith's "lost potential" as she does about her own lost life. This was the craziest thing I've seen on the show thus far because I still don't see it and because she is still seeing it.

I mean the guy has yet to say a single intelligent or inspiring thing and he has zero charisma. 

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24 minutes ago, Jextella said:

I mean the guy has yet to say a single intelligent or inspiring thing and he has zero charisma. 

I too am utterly mystified as to how this short word-salad spouting dork managed to have such a hold on so many people. I've read some articles that delved into the kind of control he exerted over the women who co-habitated with him, and it's absolutely horrifying what they subjected themselves to just to be in his company. I think that's why I keep watching the show, draggy as it is, in the hopes of gleaning some insight into how all of these people were so blinded. It's unfathomable to me.

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21 minutes ago, Cheezwiz said:

I too am utterly mystified as to how this short word-salad spouting dork managed to have such a hold on so many people. I've read some articles that delved into the kind of control he exerted over the women who co-habitated with him, and it's absolutely horrifying what they subjected themselves to just to be in his company. I think that's why I keep watching the show, draggy as it is, in the hopes of gleaning some insight into how all of these people were so blinded. It's unfathomable to me.

I don't want to be a "heightist", but otherwise, this is a perfect description (and hysterical!) 

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1 hour ago, Jextella said:

What's making this hard for me to get incensed about is that it's not super clear (to me, anyway) how it was that Keith had such a hold over people. What was it about his message that made people turn? I've seen all episodes so far, and I still can't answer that question.

I'm listening to a podcast now called The Guru from Wondery about a "guru" involved in "the secret."  It cracks me up how similar all of this stuff goes.  A speaker says some things that seem to make sense in this confusing world.  People participate in the self-help seminars.  Then they're asked to do something that seems ridiculous.  They go "what" but push themselves to do it anyway. 

At least that guy sounded polished.  

It almost makes me want to meet Keith.  Does he have some kind of charisma that the camera doesn't capture? 

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As much as I’m frustrated with how little they’re actually telling us about Keith and his past, I’m getting almost more frustrated with how little they’re telling us about the women around him. Nancy seemed to be just as instrumental in it all, what’s her deal? And the Bronfmans? And Alison. Etc. 

It was interesting last night to hear what had happened to Barbara and Susan when they left and threatened to reveal things. Keith and company used the Bronfman money to go scorched earth in them using the courts and bankrupting them. 

Up until last night Sarah, Mark and Bonnie would talk about how afraid they were. But I couldn’t figure out what they were scared of as it didnt seem like much would happen. But hearing how nxivm destroyed Barbara and Susan made their worry more understandable, especially as Sarah and Mark, at least, were there For some of the time after Barbara and a Susan left.

 

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6 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

I too am utterly mystified as to how this short word-salad spouting dork managed to have such a hold on so many people. I've read some articles that delved into the kind of control he exerted over the women who co-habitated with him, and it's absolutely horrifying what they subjected themselves to just to be in his company. I think that's why I keep watching the show, draggy as it is, in the hopes of gleaning some insight into how all of these people were so blinded. It's unfathomable to me.

Not to mention how mind numbingly boring he was.....I would have snuck out the side door in my first meeting....it's always been a mystery to me how so many intelligent people get caught up in this kind of BS.  Maybe my deeply ingrained cynicism and lack of concentration span would help me in these situations? Hope I never have to find out!

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What happened to Barbara and Susan getting crushed by all the legal actions and siccing the police on them was horrifying, but it seems to me the ladies made the mistake of threatening to go to the media to get their money instead of the usual route of suing. It gave the group ammunition to claim extortion, or seemed to. I wonder if the ladies talked to lawyers before writing those demands

That video of Keith explaining to the group at the time that people have left and are making threats was all kinds of wild as it certainly seems Keith was admitting to them he was romantically involved with several members and it’s like the group didn’t really bat an eye to that

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Sarah and her “brand” enough already- we know 

She seemed very thrilled each time she spoke about how many times the picture of it was in the press. 

Something about her bugs me. I think she’d still be in the group, it was originally Nippy who wanted them to leave. 

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On 9/28/2020 at 1:28 AM, ElectricBoogaloo said:

I have tried to stay open minded about people who were in ESP/NXIVM, but Sarah really rubbed me the wrong way in this episode. I think she really believed that when the article came out, she would become famous and everyone would praise her for her bravery. When she saw the negative comments, she immediately called Barbara and said that people didn't get it and then blame the NYT reporter for not including the nuances.

On a separate note, it has bothered me that she keeps referring to this brand being on her vagina, which is anatomically incorrect. It's really annoying when people refer to the entire bathing suit region as the vagina. Just because it's covered by your underwear doesn't make it your vagina.

I totally cracked up when Barbara said that when she met Keith, she didn't find him attractive. So it wasn't just us!

All of this. ALL OF IT. 

She was expecting nothing more than adulation and admiration for her bravery in coming forward and with the timing of the #MeToo movement, thought this would lead to bigger and better things. You could see how she was almost giddy at the prospect. And then as soon as people started expressing a shred of skepticism and asking IMO reasonable questions, she went back into full on victim mode. Don't get me wrong, these people ARE victims, but there is something about Sarah over these last few episodes that has made me seriously question her motivation in being so front and center in this documentary. 

And for someone who continues to talk about how traumatizing the brand is, she sure likes to show it off a lot. Get a tattoo over it. Or a skin graft. At the very least, stop opening your pants and showing it to anyone that walks by. 🙄

Watching this in conjunction with Love Fraud over the past few weeks makes me seriously question why so many women are so drawn to ugly, megalomaniacal creeps. 

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I'm just speculating, but I wonder if the filmmakers didn't include certain things - or talk about certain people - because of legal risks.  As Barbara Bouchay mentioned, it's not hard to drag a person through the courts for years.

I'm not an attorney, but I wonder if they limited content to public record items only. 

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13 hours ago, Jextella said:

Whatever it was, it clearly worked. So much so that Barbara Bouchey seemed nearly as remorseful about Keith's "lost potential" as she does about her own lost life. This was the craziest thing I've seen on the show thus far because I still don't see it and because she is still seeing it.

Reminds me of the wistful way that Debra Newell still reflected back on Dirty John after everything that happened.

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5 hours ago, DanaK said:

That video of Keith explaining to the group at the time that people have left and are making threats was all kinds of wild as it certainly seems Keith was admitting to them he was romantically involved with several members and it’s like the group didn’t really bat an eye to that

Maybe people didn't know about the sex cult thing, but there was definitely an undercurrent of sleaziness/swinger throughout the group.  The first scene I saw was Mark introducing Sarah in front of a group (employees?  clients? Is there a difference?) and she comes up and they hug and kiss on the mouth.  Then the clips at the retreat, with the women in bikinis.  The party with the giant dildo and fake boob costumes.  Cut to Keith kissing a succession of women on the mouth casually.  The sexual references at the volleyball game.  The extremely gushing comments about how physically beautiful the women are.  

I wouldn't be at all surprised if there wasn't all kinds of screwing going on and that would at least help explain how the group went from self-help and career advancement to sex slavery.

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3 hours ago, MicheleinPhilly said:

And for someone who continues to talk about how traumatizing the brand is, she sure likes to show it off a lot. Get a tattoo over it. Or a skin graft. At the very least, stop opening your pants and showing it to anyone that walks by. 🙄

She does seem to have a perverse fixation on her brand. By that I mean she seems to now be using it as her "brand" (pardon the pun). Initially I thought it might be a quirk of editing on the show, but she chose it as the image (pants unzipped) for her book cover. I'll spare everyone the image, but my jaw dropped when I saw it. 

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A few things that jumped out at me in this last episode:

  • Sarah referring to being "pinned down and branded" - now I'm sure there were people holding her down because that has to hurt like a bitch, however, this makes it sound as though she was branded against her will. This is a far, far cry from her bragging about being badass at her branding and not shedding a tear. Combined with her branded vagina, she has no credibility with me.
  • At her NY Times party, Sarah's facetiming with Mark (I think) and Barbara calls and she says, "it's Barbara - should I take it?" That struck my husband and I, because why wouldn't she take it? Were they avoiding Barbara for some reason, and if so, why? This seems a bit different from the chummyness later in the episode.
  • I felt like they finally laid a little groundwork about the financial implications in all this. I may be misinterpreting it, but it seemed like Barbara was a good sized fish (financially) they reeled in and became kind of a bedrock for future money-making. When I saw footage of Keith and Barbara, he seemed like he was going through the motions (IMO) - never got any vibe of real feeling for her from him, so it seemed purely transactional (from a financial perspective) for him.
  • It seemed like they glossed over the fact that the entire executive board of nine people resigned en masse (did I misinterpret this???). In any other organization that would be a big damn deal. And it makes me side eye Mark even more because I bet it never occurred to him to wonder why nine people would quit at once - I mean, it worked out great for him! It also makes it even more annoying that when Bonnie was looking for support from him when she was getting out, he had to do some of his own sleuthing. It seems to me the mass resignation that elevated him to executive board member status should have been a red flag.
  • I liked and felt very sorry for Susan and Barbara. Barbara is particularly disturbing because she appears to be still enthralled by Keith.
  • Keith basically lives like a pig. Seriously, when he's not playing volleyball, taking midnight walks or sitting on some sort of chair on a platform spouting off, he's literally laying around on his couch in his overcrowded, overfurnished, messy townhouse (or whatever it is), relying on women to wait on him and make him dinner. These women are all over that? Jesus.
  • It hurt my heart to see the Dalai Lama in that meeting. And Keith's false modesty ("I'm not a guru") was so obvious.
  • I'm still wondering why Sarah was never one of Keith's chosen ones. She's not unattractive, so I'm guessing that she had more financial value in the field, recruiting people and running the Vancouver office.
5 hours ago, MicheleinPhilly said:

She was expecting nothing more than adulation and admiration for her bravery in coming forward and with the timing of the #MeToo movement, thought this would lead to bigger and better things. You could see how she was almost giddy at the prospect. And then as soon as people started expressing a shred of skepticism and asking IMO reasonable questions, she went back into full on victim mode. Don't get me wrong, these people ARE victims, but there is something about Sarah over these last few episodes that has made me seriously question her motivation in being so front and center in this documentary. 

I actively dislike her now. I know she's probably dealing with the trauma of all of this, but for pete's sake, get some help. There are women who had it far worse than you do - look at Susan and Barbara, who really lost everything (Sara and Nippy appear to be doing pretty well, financially, despite all this). Hearing her crow about being on the front page of the NY Times (showing off her vagina brand!) made me cringe.

 

On 9/28/2020 at 2:17 PM, Cheezwiz said:

I really thought that by this point they would have gotten into more of the nuts and bolts workings of the organization, and revealed more of the nefarious activities of the founders, but I'm kind of losing hope that this will happen. I hadn't heard the revelations about Keith & Pam Cafrit posted upthread, and they're pretty horrifying.

This episode left me with even more questions - like Barbara and Susan may have insight into the finances of the organization, including potential problems. Sarah and Mark obviously knew about Barbara and Susan before the story broke, so why didn't they try to bring them in on this effort to take the group down? It just seems there's some safety and power in numbers, but they seem to resist widening their circle.

A dumb question: what is "chargeable" in instances like NXIVM? Catherine went to "30 Rock" (as she pointed out) and got to air her concerns (and subsequently got the attorney general's attention, so props to her) but what was illegal about what was happening to India? What was illegal about Sarah's situation? Bonnie's? Unethical? Yes! Immoral? Yes! But as long as people willingly submit to master and slave relationships and agree to be branded, submit to food monitoring, etc., where can the law help?

I'm watching the last three episodes because I want to see how they tie it up, but I'm not optimistic that I'll get many questions answered.

Edited by Maysie
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18 minutes ago, Maysie said:

A dumb question: what is "chargeable" in instances like NXIVM? Catherine went to "30 Rock" (as she pointed out) and got to air her concerns (and subsequently the attorney general's attention, so props to her) but what was illegal about what was happening to India? What was illegal about Sarah's situation? Bonnie's? Unethical? Yes! Immoral? Yes! But as long as people willingly submit to master and slave relationships and agree to be branded, submit to food monitoring, etc., where can the law help?

I think you're right. Most of the things happening in NXIVM weren't chargeable especially as many of the people, even those who left, admitted they agreed to some of the actions. I think what finally did them in was stuff related to money. I saw that most of the charges were related to RICO violations and wire fraud, and a couple tied to attempted sex trafficking.

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29 minutes ago, Maysie said:

And it makes me side eye Mark even more because I bet it never occurred to him to wonder why nine people would quit at once - I mean, it worked out great for him!

All of these people-not just Keith- had an inflated sense of self.  Mark seems like one of those mediocre white guys who thinks he is brilliant and insightful when really he is just tall.  Nine women, some of whom have been with Keith for decades quit at once, to be replaced by the Seagram's heiress and the son of the president of Mexico...and Mark?  And Mark thinks, "Yes, of course, I am the natural choice to complete this board."

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53 minutes ago, Maysie said:

 

  • I'm still wondering why Sarah was never one of Keith's chosen ones. She's not unattractive, so I'm guessing that she had more financial value in the field, recruiting people and running the Vancouver office.

I said this a few pages ago, but I'm still convinced that both Sarah and Bonnie were exempt from his attention in that way because of their relationships with powerful men in the org. I believe Nippy was a co-lead of SOP, and we know how tight Mark was with Keith. I think Keith didn't want to risk them figuring out what was going on.

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My thoughts on Sarah are this...I really want to be sympathetic to someone who was brainwashed and branded, but she doesn't make it easy.  I think part of her problem is she's one of those personality types that must be the best or at the pinnacle of everything.  She couldn't be the best actor in the world because of lack of natural talent and opportunity, so when she found ESP she decided she was going be the best student/recruiter/whatever she could be.  When that all when sideways...I hate to say it, this is going to sound awful, but in someways I think now she's trying to be the best at being a victim.  And I know that people are accused of playing the victim, often by disingenuous people (often self-help gurus in fact) who try and minimize real trauma, and blame the victim and I'm really not trying to do that.  Sarah was a victim, her trauma is real and it is valid and I would even argue that it doesn't matter if other women in the group had it worse that she did.  That being said I think she fixates on what happened to her to an unhealthy degree.  I also know that we are only getting snippets of her life and being a documentary about the organization it also makes that we're focusing on what happened to her there but still...Basically I'm saying she's kind of an extra person to begin with and she's by extension she is being extra about what happened to her.

I also think she's trying to parlay what happened to her into being something like Leah Remini did with Scientology.  However, unlike Scientology, NXIVM is basically defunct.  There are still the wack jobs dancing outside Keith's jail cell, but by in large she isn't going to be saving anyone from falling into the clutches of Keith or NXIVM.  And also unlike Leah, who listed out all the unpleasant parts of her personality and bad things she's done at the beginning of her book (because she knew Scientology would attack her with them), Sarah doesn't seem self aware enough to know when she's not coming across well.

I really really hope she gets therapy and is able to move forward with her life.  I don't think continuing to focus on her trauma is in anyway healthy for her.  She's obviously a talented salesperson.  Go make money selling something (hopefully that doesn't involve a sex cult or bilking people out of their money on canned self-help BS). 

Also in terms of the documentary I agree that it's focusing too much on Sarah and Mark.  I was very interested in the bits about Barbara and the other nine women that left...I skipped some of the bits about Sarah checking her Facebook page.  While I guess in theory it would be interesting to witness the fall of an organization like NXIVM as it happens...as it's being presented in this doc, it's boring.  Also as others have posted, I'm not sure why they aren't mentioning the more salacious stuff, like Keith being a pedophile.  I don't know if they're saving it, but if you have to pad your documentary with Facebook updates and not talked about real criminal things this man has done yet, your pacing is off.  Every time they cut to updates about the NYT article I wished they would go back to Barbara or Susan and talk about substantive things.

Honestly I watched and episode of Cults and Extreme Beliefs about NXIVM that was an hour.  It seemed to cover all the information we've learned so far in five parts of this and even had extra information.  Also Mark and Sarah are interviewed for it and they both come off better than they do in this doc.  Probably a less is more thing.  Sarah also just refers to the brand being on her "crotch" which is at least closer than "vagina" in terms of anatomical accuracy.  She also admits that there were other women that underwent even more extreme traumas at the hands of Keith.

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5 minutes ago, Proclone said:

I also think she's trying to parlay what happened to her into being something like Leah Remini did with Scientology.  However, unlike Scientology, NXIVM is basically defunct.  There are still the wack jobs dancing outside Keith's jail cell, but by in large she isn't going to be saving anyone from falling into the clutches of Keith or NXIVM.  And also unlike Leah, who listed out all the unpleasant parts of her personality and bad things she's done at the beginning of her book (because she knew Scientology would attack her with them), Sarah doesn't seem self aware enough to know when she's not coming across well.

I want to co-sign your entire post but I wanted to address this specifically as I think you are spot on. She's NOT saving anyone by participating in this and also, Leah Remini was already a quite successful actress/household name before she left the "church", wrote her book, and started her series. I definitely get a "perpetual wannabe actress" vibe from her and think (and here I'm entirely speculating and possibly being a bit cruel) that she thinks this all may lead to something for her in terms of being recognized by Hollywood. 

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1 hour ago, ninjago said:

Mark seems like one of those mediocre white guys who thinks he is brilliant and insightful when really he is just tall.

Bwahahahaha—and YES.

In other news:

Amanda Knox Signs NXIVM Petition

Her agent/publicist/advisors/whoever must have been sound asleep at the wheel when she signed that sheet of crazy. I certainly hope her activism outreach also extends to people who actually need and deserve the help.

Edited by spaceghostess · Reason: Typo
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1 hour ago, Maysie said:

I felt like they finally laid a little groundwork about the financial implications in all this. I may be misinterpreting it, but it seemed like Barbara was a good sized fish (financially) they reeled in and became kind of a bedrock for future money-making. When I saw footage of Keith and Barbara, he seemed like he was going through the motions (IMO) - never got any vibe of real feeling for her from him, so it seemed purely transactional (from a financial perspective) for him.

Barbara said she found out, later, that the reason he was sleeping with her was to use her.  She apparently has good money management/business skills.  Keith convinced Clare, I think, to hire Barbara as her money manager.  That way Keith was sleeping with the woman who had a lot of control over the Seagram money. 

1 hour ago, Maysie said:

It seemed like they glossed over the fact that the entire executive board of nine people resigned en masse (did I misinterpret this???). In any other organization that would be a big damn deal.

I don't think all the women who left were on the board.  I am pretty sure Susan wasn't.  Barbara said she realized that the board was made up of women who were sleeping with Keith. That's what made her start to turn.  

Even if they weren't board members, I do think they were all either high up in the org or very visible members.  I think someone, probably Nancy, realized the optics were bad and that if they were going to grow, they couldn't maintain the rinky dink board structure where all members were Keith's lovers.  

So after the departure of everyone, I think they restructured the board.  Instead of lovers, it consisted of a billionaire heiress, the son of a president of Mexico and Mark(?)  Maybe because of Mark's Hollywood connection.  The optics on it are more "respectable" and powerful and less likely to cause an uproar.  He might have been sleeping with Clare but no one would claim he was sleeping with the other two. 

1 hour ago, pigs-in-space said:

I said this a few pages ago, but I'm still convinced that both Sarah and Bonnie were exempt from his attention in that way because of their relationships with powerful men in the org.

 I agree.  I also think--forgive my crassness--Keith aims at low hanging fruit.  He manipulates women who are very low in the power structure yet willing to become slaves.  Or he sleeps with some of the more powerful women in the org who basically act like juvenile teenagers around him.  

I suspect that if he did send out feelers to Sarah, she just kind of ignored them because she was so into what she was doing.  Then she got together with Nippy and he was less interested in that risk. 

But then I also wonder when she was branded and how long she was in after that? 

 

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I still think Sarah is upset Keith didn’t try to sleep with her and if she would have been sleeping with Keith instead of Nippy she probably would still be in NXIVM.

Also I don’t trust Mark and could see him joining another cult if his film making is flattered.

Edited by Armchair Critic
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This just feels like more a vanity piece than anything. Way too much self congratulatory back-slapping by Mark and Sarah. She’s giddier about her picture everywhere than busting the story wide open. I think Barb would very much still be there if she felt like she were Keith’s chosen one. I sense more sour grapes than anything from her. 
@proclone yes, on everything you said!

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2 hours ago, Proclone said:

Also as others have posted, I'm not sure why they aren't mentioning the more salacious stuff, like Keith being a pedophile.  I don't know if they're saving it, but if you have to pad your documentary with Facebook updates and not talked about real criminal things this man has done yet, your pacing is off.  Every time they cut to updates about the NYT article I wished they would go back to Barbara or Susan and talk about substantive things.

Yes, this has what's been bothering me about the series so far. I won't post here as not to "spoilerize" in case the remaining episodes cover it, but Keith was allegedly involved in even MORE heinous stuff than the sex slave/branding scam he had running. And women high-up in the organization (meaning ones he was schtupping) actively aided and abetted him. Thus far, the series has danced around this stuff.

If even a portion of the allegations I've read about him are true, Keith is not merely a swindler or cult svengali, but an absolute 100% psychopath.

And like others, I'm wondering why the female founders (particularly Nancy & Lauren Salzman) get to slither away without much fanfare. I'm guessing it's because they may not have been as financially entangled in the organization? Because it's the financials that people ultimately got nailed on. 

 

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Spoiler

What about the son Keith had with a member of NXIVM and wanted to pass off as an orphan so people would think he was (HA!) celibate?

Edited to say humbleopinion posted about it above. Why didn’t they mention it in this series?

Edited by Armchair Critic
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12 minutes ago, Armchair Critic said:

 

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What about the son Keith had with a member of NXIVM and wanted to pass off as an orphan so people would think he was (HA!) celibate?

Edited to say humbleopinion posted about it above. Why didn’t they mention it in this series?

They left all kinds of good tidbits out and droned on and on about Mark, Sarah, Bonnie, Catherine.

Clare and Sara's Dad, Edgar Bronfman Sr., the man who made the Seagram booze fortune took some Nxivm training in the early 2000's and was outraged that his daughters were giving  KR millions.

Gaelyn is now 11, and has not had contact with KR.

Reported that KR had a second son born 7 months before his arrest in Mexico.

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I think the volleyball games are some of the saddest moments on the show, especially when Keith makes some inane comment and everyone in attendance laughs and stares at him in adoration.  I was also dying at Keith's "Transparency doesn't mean that everyone sees everything"--actually, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what transparency means.

I agree that Sarah seemed to get off on being the center of attention but she definite;y did not like people questioning her in why she stayed in the cult and allowed herself to be branded.  My only take away re: Sarah is that her son is absolutely adorable and Nippy seems like a good dad and very supportive of her as well.

Edited by kitmerlot1213
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10 hours ago, luckyroll3 said:

I think you're right. Most of the things happening in NXIVM weren't chargeable especially as many of the people, even those who left, admitted they agreed to some of the actions. I think what finally did them in was stuff related to money. I saw that most of the charges were related to RICO violations and wire fraud, and a couple tied to attempted sex trafficking.

Yeah, this is where the documentary does a terrible job of laying the foundation of the criminality.  It needs to do a better job of creating the through line of the experiences of Bonnie, Sarah, Mark etc.  to why these things are more than just salacious stories and are actually criminal in nature.  Honestly the doc itself kinda suffers from some of Keith's inscrutable word-saladry.

At the very least, they should have had some expert talking heads giving context alongside the personal stories.  Someone explaining straight up that at the very least NVIXM was a  pyramid scheme.  Bonnie's super boring episode with the shower head scenes alludes to that --  about how much money they had to pay into it, taking these classes, the 16 hour days, and the pressure to recruit more and more people.  They were led on by promises of big returns only for them to never see the money because the goalposts on advancement kept moving  And so many of the members were so financially in deep with them that they had to keep producing in order to get any money.  The last episode where Susan and Barbara's resignation letter indicating how much money they were owed also speaks to that.  There is no way a legit company operates in that way, they clearly do not follow any  employment or labor laws.

Also I believe the creation of DOS and the method of their recruitment of women into it may actually rise to the legal definition of sex trafficking.  The slave/master thing -- would be fine if it was just kept to a kinky after hours stuff, but that,  added to the collateral being collected and the allegations that the women were forced or held down to get the brands, now brings in the spectre of extortion and coercion.

And finally NVIXM is also a big ass racket, hence all the racketeering charges.  It is a fraudulent business that offers a service for a non-existent problem.  Hence, a straight up racket. 

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On 9/29/2020 at 9:33 PM, kitmerlot1213 said:

I think the volleyball games are some of the saddest moments on the show, especially when Keith makes some inane comment and everyone in attendance laughs and stares at him in adoration.  I was also dying at Keith's "Transparency doesn't mean that everyone sees everything"--actually, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what transparency means.

I agree that Sarah seemed to get off on being the center of attention but she definite;y did not like people questioning her in why she stayed in the cult and allowed herself to be branded.  My only take away re: Sarah is that her son is absolutely adorable and Nippy seems like a good dad and very supportive of her as well.

Reimagining common word definitions is one of the trademarks of a cult. It's so weird. The psychology behind it is that you take a word people commonly used, one they're familiar with, and then you tweak it just enough to create a new definition for it-one that suits your needs. Keith does it with ethical, suppressors, victim, and parasite (to name a few). I loved it at the Dalai Lama meeting when Keith said, "The factual information isn't reality." 

1883801811_Screenshot_20200930-0325442.thumb.png.15c0fd8c8defd539a79a0aaeb76aec12.png

Edited by mamadrama
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7 hours ago, DearEvette said:

Also I believe the creation of DOS and the method of their recruitment of women into it may actually rise to the legal definition of sex trafficking.  The slave/master thing -- would be fine if it was just kept to a kinky after hours stuff, but that,  added to the collateral being collected and the allegations that the women were forced or held down to get the brands, now brings in the spectre of extortion and coercion.

 

I can't recall whether they've covered this on the show or I read about it in an article (truthfully I feel like I'm getting a clearer picture of this shit from supplemental reading) but some women reported being blindfolded and laid out and then having an unknown person perform oral sex on them. 

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19 hours ago, Armchair Critic said:

Also I don’t trust Mark and could see him joining another cult if his film making is flattered.

Quoting myself here to say that I just found out that this wasn’t Mark’s first time at the rodeo. He was involved in another cult before this, the Ramtha School of Enlightenment

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/what-is-cult-hopping-nxivm-dos-838750/

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20 hours ago, Proclone said:

My thoughts on Sarah are this...I really want to be sympathetic to someone who was brainwashed and branded, but she doesn't make it easy.  I think part of her problem is she's one of those personality types that must be the best or at the pinnacle of everything.  She couldn't be the best actor in the world because of lack of natural talent and opportunity, so when she found ESP she decided she was going be the best student/recruiter/whatever she could be.  When that all when sideways...I hate to say it, this is going to sound awful, but in someways I think now she's trying to be the best at being a victim. 

I think this is well said. I'm related by marriage to one of these people and it's true - when she does something well she's AWESOME and when she is ill/injured/compromised, she's still AWESOME (and no one has overcome a greater challenge). I have to work to separate her need to be the best from what she's actually experiencing in her life so I can be supportive when necessary, because yes, even those people need support. They just make it so damn hard sometimes.

I think all of these people need therapy. They've been traumatized (some more than others) and from my perspective, it's important to make that time a defining moment in your life as opposed to the thing that defines you. I feel like Bonnie and Susan are in the former camp and Sarah is in the latter. I can't tell where Mark or Barbara are on that scale.

 

19 hours ago, Door County Cherry said:

I don't think all the women who left were on the board.  I am pretty sure Susan wasn't.  Barbara said she realized that the board was made up of women who were sleeping with Keith. That's what made her start to turn.  

Susan was not on the board, if I remember correctly. I believe she was running Seattle (and when she left and that office closed, it left an opportunity for Sarah to open Vancouver). What I am not sure about is if the entire executive board of nine women resigned at once. Again, the documentary has been unclear about who was where, in what position and when they bailed. It sounds like Susan might have left a bit before Barbara??? I was going to say it doesn't matter, but it kind of does because it just underscores that if there was a significant number of influential people (board members and center leaders) leaving the organization in a short amount of time, that a lot of people chose to overlook that and give Keith a pass.

 

11 hours ago, DearEvette said:

At the very least, they should have had some expert talking heads giving context alongside the personal stories. 

I think it would have been helpful to have someone walk us through - a narrator! - start to finish, about how this thing unfolded. They could have begun at the end - like headlines/newscasts of who's been charged with what - and then take us back to how Keith got started, etc. and how it evolved into a sex trafficking pyramid scheme (not all multi level marketing is illegal - Amway, Tupperware, etc). Instead, I feel like we were brought in about 3/4 of the way through everything and each episode lurches us back and forth in time. So I have no feel for what the organization's structure is, how the pyramid works and then how these individual business units (DOS, etc) unfolded and who had what role in which scheme. I've seen other documentaries work on a chronological basis and even if the more compelling stuff doesn't happen until closer to the end, at least you understand how you got there. For example, I think "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" did an excellent job of taking pieces of information from different times, people, agencies, geographies, crimes, etc. and then tying it all together. I understand it was based on the book, but the premise is the same - disparate stories and people coming together into a cohesive narrative.

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Maysie said:

For example, I think "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" did an excellent job of taking pieces of information from different times, people, agencies, geographies, crimes, etc. and then tying it all together. I understand it was based on the book, but the premise is the same - disparate stories and people coming together into a cohesive narrative.

An excellent example - "I'll Be Gone In The Dark" managed to piece together complex info from many different locations and times, while at the same time layering it with the author's personal story, to make a cohesive understandable whole. I was gripped all the way through and marvelled at the editing while I was watching. By comparison, "The Vow" is a flabby unstructured mess. With only a few episodes left, I'm doubtful that they'll be able to pull all the various threads together. 

5 hours ago, MicheleinPhilly said:

truthfully I feel like I'm getting a clearer picture of this shit from supplemental reading)

My experience is the same - I've been trying to fill in the gaping holes in this series, by cruising around on the net, and the info out there is much more concise and compelling than what is being presented on the show.

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19 hours ago, Cheezwiz said:

And like others, I'm wondering why the female founders (particularly Nancy & Lauren Salzman) get to slither away without much fanfare.

 

Spoiler

Several of them have pleaded guilty but are still awaiting sentencing. Nancy, Lauren, and Allison, not sure about others.

 

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I somewhat regret my comment about  Catherine Oxenberg as I have since recalled that I had a high school teacher whose daughter had joined the Moonies (I think I was maybe 16 when this happened and the daughter who ran away was a grade ahead of me in the same school) and I also knew the mother and grandmother of a girl whose father had taken her to some cult in Spain or Portugal.  Some rescue group  eventually got the girl back to the US.  I am not sure how the other one got away from the Moonies, but it looks like from her FB pages that she is no longer a Moonie, but has friends that she met from it).  These parents were in absolute anguish over their children.

So Mr Raniere now reminds me of Kody Brown with his sister wives when Barbara --I think that is the one-- recounts how the girlfriends get together and tell her she needs to get over her jealousy and anger issues.

I am still wondering what potential Barbara sees in Raniere.  He seems to be okay at the piano, so maybe he could have chosen a musical career.  I guess if he were not so controlling, greedy, and power hungry he might have been okay as a motivational speaker like that Robbins guy.  Or he could have taught math classes.

On 9/29/2020 at 1:22 PM, Cheezwiz said:

She does seem to have a perverse fixation on her brand. By that I mean she seems to now be using it as her "brand" (pardon the pun). Initially I thought it might be a quirk of editing on the show, but she chose it as the image (pants unzipped) for her book cover. I'll spare everyone the image, but my jaw dropped when I saw it. 

Peverse is the best description of her relationship with her branding.  I wish there were outside commentators.  I would especially like to know what Sarah's therapist parents thought of her involvement. 

 

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