Keith is dying his hair in jail – with ink from ballpoint pens

There is good news and bad news for the Vanguard and his followers.

On the one hand, the Nxivm defendants’ trust fund is almost out of money – and the attorney for the chief financier, Clare Bronfman, told the judge she won’t be putting any more in.

On the other hand, Keith Raniere is dying his hair.

He was grey when he was first hauled into Brooklyn federal court last April on sex trafficking charges. Now, his hair is almost black, or perhaps is better described as blue-black – the color of ink in ballpoint pens.

This unique color is not entirely surprising, for they do not sell hair dye products at the commissary at the Metropolitan Detention Center where Raniere is being held without bail. Prisoners seeking to hide their grey hair often use ink, drained from ballpoint pens.

In some prisons, inmates use Kool-aid powder, but at MDC, they do not sell the product. Otherwise, Raniere’s hair might have been grape.

Raniere has also let his hair grow to shoulder length, giving him a look that is a cross between Jesus and Charlie Manson.

He is, however, clean shaven.

At court yesterday, seated at the defense table, surrounded by attorneys and co-defendants, Raniere spent a lot of time staring at his old girlfriend, Toni Natalie – the woman he said he would see either in prison or dead – after she left him.

He was half right. Raniere was seeing her – after being led from prison in handcuffs and shackles, which were removed just before he appeared in court.

Natalie was in attendance, sitting next to Catherine Oxenberg, who rescued her daughter from the sex cult that brands women on their pubic area with Raniere’s initials.  Both women were in New York taping an episode of Dr. Oz, with Catherine also doing promotional work for her book on Nxivm – “Captive” – which has garnered worldwide attention and critical acclaim.

While Toni and Catherine looked radiant, if not exultant, Raniere looked pale, somewhat wan, and pasty.

This contrasted starkly with his deep blue-black hair.

There was only one thing marring the otherwise better-than-Clairol job: Raniere missed some spots in his hair and there were patches of grey amid the blue-black.

In his brownish green prison garb, with a pale complexion, blue-black and shoulder-length hair, and cross-eyed blue eyes, it gave spectators something to gawk at. As a deranged sex cult leader finally brought to justice, he looked the part to perfection.

While some derided his appearance, considering the conditions for coiffure he faces in jail, it was a reasonable effort on his part. He had to drain at least a dozen ballpoint pens. And though there were some grey patches he missed, this is understandable since there are no mirrors in prison.

All that is available to prisoners to inspect their appearance are polished metallic pieces that serve as “almost-mirrors” for prisoners. These are only a few inches wide and tall which makes it difficult to see how good or bad a hair dye job looks.

Viva Executive Success!



About the author

Frank Parlato


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  • I forgot to mention what a bitch it is to keep up with the roots, once you get on the hair color train. He doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. The smartest man alive – NOT!

  • When I said a few months ago that I hope Keith dies in prison, it autocorrected to dyes in prison. Clearly my wish was granted…….. incorrectly. Sorry everyone, this is on me.

  • Keith is probably a real hair artist. I wonder how he manages to avoid hard to remove
    stains on his skin with the pen ink.

  • I predicted from day one that Claire would, in the end, just take care of Claire.
    Claire has always lacked empathy for any living creature.
    She is a narcissist to the bone.

  • A new word for the Urban dictionary Vanitygaurd
    Where you would rather look pathetic than go naturally grey

  • I so hate to laugh at this, but I can’t help it. Grey hair on a man can signify maturity and sophistication. What vanity! And while looks are not all-important, isn’t it poignant that Toni and Catherine exude beauty of spirit and KAR does not?

    As one who is prematurely grey, I concur with the strong coffee (or black tea) method. But – the smartest man alive opted for blue-black pen ink. Yikes! This just get weirder and weirder.

    I do not wish pain or embarrassment on anyone, but what goes around, comes around.

    Cult leader Jim Jones was vain and dyed his hair raven black,

  • Poor Vanguard. Seeing a fellow inmate reading the NY Post, he said “Pass the paper mate” and this was the result.

  • Haha
    I remember mentioning, in a comment a few weeks ago, that Keith must be using homemade concoctions to dye his hair.
    I’ve heard that strong black coffee can also work as a hair dye, as can certain vegetables, such as beets. Maybe Keith can try beets next time, and dye his hair a lovely shade of pink just in time for St. Valentines Day.

  • You have painted a vivid picture with your words and juxtaposing the beauty of Toni and Catherine against the beastly appearance of Keith is brilliant. I must say those prisoners do use their ingenuity and it is too bad Keith hasn’t made any friends who could help with the dying process and ensure he covered all those nasty greys.

  • What would be a better nickname, Little miss Clare-all, or Baby Barney (purple hair from grape kool aid dye)

  • There was a push at federal prisons to ban common pens like Bic about 5 years ago, no clue where it ended up. The complaint was that inmates are dying their hair / creating tattoos with potentially hazardous inks.

    Besides pigments, the major ingredients used by most cheap inks are Benzyl Alcohol and Phenoxyethanol. These allow inks to dry almost as soon as they hit the paper, but they are hazardous chemicals. Benzyl Alcohol is typically used to kill ticks and lice, people are supposed to shower and wash it off after applying it. The side effects are mostly related to rashes and irritation, but some people get messed up when it gets into their eyes (repeated low doses is the most common way this happens.) You know someone has been screwing with it when the skin around their eyes puffs up and their vision is skewed because of the pressure on the eyeball. Have heard stories about the need for skin grafts when it’s used for tattoos and temporary blindness.

    But Phenoxyethanol is the stuff that can kill you. Most products use it in low doses, but pen ink is allowed to have a higher concentration because it’s not supposed to be used for anything but writing. Most people know to avoid ingestion because of the possibility of organ damage, your kidneys and liver can fail the same way they could if you drank a bunch of bottles of NyQuil. There’s a big debate about whether or not this stuff is safe in Europe, pretty sure it’s been banned in most countries.

    You’re going to find these chemicals, along others that are worse, in lots of the cheap, disposable pens they sell at prisons. No way to tell which is being used unless you look at the Material Data Safety Sheet from the manufacturer, which usually doesn’t make it past the distributor.

    Would not surprise me to learn KAR is poisoning himself. Again, I’d be surprised if the trial makes it to judgement, either his attorneys will find a way to get the charges dropped or he’s going to off himself when it becomes apparent he’s going to be found guilty. This sounds like a step towards the later.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” Parlato was also credited in the Starz docuseries "Seduced" for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Additionally, Parlato’s coverage of the group OneTaste, starting in 2018, helped spark an FBI investigation, which led to indictments of two of its leaders in 2023.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premiered on May 22, 2022. Most recently, he consulted and appeared on Tubi's "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM," which aired January, 2023.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083


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