Ex-Girlfriend Tells Two Unknown, Amusing Incidents About Jailed Sex-Cult Leader Keith Raniere

“L” was a girlfriend of Keith Alan Raniere before he became the notorious Vanguard of the Nxivm cult.  

By L

I find the story of Keith Raniere telling his followers that they were former Nazis really bizarre, along with things like claiming people caused the shuttle Challenger explosion or the 9/11 terrorist attack because they didn’t do what Raniere wanted.

I can wrap my head around some of his other manipulative scripts’ effects on people (my past young, naive self knows that all too well), but this one is hard to fathom.

I would have laughed if he tried this on me.

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He once tried to impress me with a multimeter that showed activity when he went near it and none when I did.

I figured he probably had a heavy-duty magnet concealed some way to fool me.

Or that there was some other reasonable explanation that just didn’t warrant my time and energy to figure out.

The idea that it somehow reveals his spiritual superiority is ridiculous, but I’d bet he used the same sort of trick to fool his followers into believing he didn’t drive because he set off police radar detectors. In fact, he lost his license because he collected numerous traffic violations for which he never paid up. At least not while I was with him.

So let’s guess – who was Raniere in his past life? I’ll throw out Rasputin as a candidate. Anyone else wanna play? And me, I was probably some low-level grunt conscripted into the front lines of the German army.

Hopefully, I went AWOL and joined the French resistance.

Raniere’s mental picture of the “ideal woman”.

As a Narcissist, no one would ever measure up to that complete picture permanently which is why he was always in Pygmalion mode – trying to “improve” the models he already had to create that ideal.

Perhaps also part of his “need” to own many women – no one woman could match the ideal.

From the movie Sweeney Todd – which is the story of Benjamin Barker, a.k.a Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London that is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett. It was based on the Broadway musical – which, incidentally, Keith Raniere never got to star in.


Keith Raniere – he could have been a Hollywood or Broadway star if only people recognized his talent.

Keith Cast as Sweeney Todd?

Keith Raniere wanted to play the title role in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street but ended up cast as Pirelli, the sham street barber.

Ironically, that was related to another “Don’t say no to Keith’s ego” incident.

The last summer I was with him, he asked my opinion if he could be cast as the lead role in next year’s production of Sweeney Todd.

I said I didn’t think so – that they would probably go for a more physically imposing actor with a more baritone voice.

He was furious at me and made sure I knew it. It was just another nail in the coffin of our relationship – I was done being treated like that.

Don’t want my honest opinion, then don’t ask.

Incidentally, they did cast exactly the kind of actor I proposed, and additionally, one far more capable of portraying the tragic emotional creature that the role requires. Can’t portray those emotions well if you don’t even understand them.

During the run of the show, he made sure to inform me that a Hollywood talent scout was attending to see his work. At that point, I had been out of the relationship for many months. I don’t think I even bothered to respond. Pretty much avoided any interaction with him at all which wasn’t too hard since our roles didn’t intersect at all.

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  • Great post! Thank you, “L.” Your recollections are perfectly aligned with my own. I heard the same “talent scout” spiel — who knew RPI Players is such a Hollywood talent pool? Lol. — must’ve bought it back then, though — I joined the troupe!

    • Took a while to get there though. Older, wiser, and a lot more study and work put in to understand pathological behaviors. I contribute here in hopes that some of the young women he abused with malicious mental games might recognize some common elements. And then maybe they’ll be able to make more sense of it all and perhaps find some help and healing.

      • L- you so helped put a reality spin on this. Kept your head and left. What’s your theory on how so so many other women (with money!) fell for it? Do hypothesize!! Thank you!!

        • I would argue that if I “kept my head” I would never have been in a relationship with him at all. And it was early enough in his career of manipulation that he didn’t yet have an army of minions working on me to stay. Plus I was probably easier to let go since I didn’t come with money attached or the blind adoration of his superiority that he so craved. But, hypothesize…

          There’s two sides to every equation. Raniere obviously targeted women who fit a particular physical type, but I’d say there were certain personality traits he targeted as well – innocence, naivety, idealism, empathy, a sense of spirituality, etc. But he only made inroads when he found “holes” – insecurities, past traumas, inexperience. Women (and men – Brandon Porter, James DelNegro, Emiliano Salinas…) fell for it, wealthy or not, because he’s good at donning whatever mask he needs to fill those holes. He’s been practicing his techniques and refining them as he went along in addition to building that army of minions to support him in his manipulation.

          The idea of the EM’s the group practiced is actually helpful – when it’s either your own self exploration or helped by a professional who is not steeped in the philosophy of a psychopath. I wouldn’t trust any one of that group with my psyche.

          Some people are lucky enough to enter adulthood with a good understanding of their own psychological holes/weaknesses and how to protect them. Some of us have to learn the hard way – and sometimes it takes a long time.

          And finally, there were possibly a portion of the crew who are psychopaths/sociopaths like him who were comfortable with what went on. Or who became sociopaths in the process.

          • “The EM’s the group practiced….I wouldn’t trust any one of that group with my psyche.”

            Real therapists need patients to reveal their fears and weaknesses, but it is against the law for a therapist to abuse or exploit their patient.
            Scientology probably discourages real psychiatry so members will fall prey to the cult’s EM-like auditing.

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.” He also appeared in "Branded and Brainwashed: Inside NXIVM, and was 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 premieres on May 22, 2022.

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Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083
Email: frankparlato@gmail.com