Mark Vicente

Vicente on Raniere in 2008 Shows People Can and Do Change Their Opinion

I thought about whether or not to republish this 2008 comment Mark Vicente published on the a cappella forum CASA.org.

I was hesitant because members of the anonymous ‘peanut gallery’ who sometimes comment on this site and elsewhere will probably use it to mock Vicente, which seems to be common sport ever since the docuseries “Seduced” showed a side of him that differed from the view most people had of him in “The Vow.”

I only know the Vicente as seen in “The Vow,” the defector. I met him once briefly when he was in Nxivm, in 2007, when he still supported Keith Raniere. The view of him in “Seduced” is pre-defector.

The reason I decided to publish this comment is as an illustration. Vicente did so much to bring down Raniere. He spearheaded the takedown in many ways.  And like others, before he became a defector, he was a staunch supporter.

Mark Vicente and Bonnie Piesse

After he became a defector, he had the good fortune to team up with Catherine Oxenberg and myself, and he had strong allies in his wife, Bonnie Piesse, and his friend and business partner, Sarah Edmondson, and her husband, Anthony Ames. That turned out to be a lethal combination for Raniere.

But for a dozen years, Vicente loved Raniere and defended him. That’s what makes this 2008 comment important. It shows his state of mind at that point in time. And it shows that minds can change.

Mark Vicente with his then- mentor Keith Raniere

It is also fascinating to observe the way defectors went from one world to another.  I suspect the first group of defectors were the Nxivm 9, led by Barbara Bouchey and Susan Dones. They were shunned by the then-numerous Nxivm community, including Mark, even though they were once great friends. That was 2009.

When Mark and Sarah Edmondson chose to defect in 2017, they were shunned by Nxivm members, including many of their close friends, whom they loved or professed to love for years.

It is perhaps indicative of a cult: A person is enamored by Keith one day, believing him to be larger than life, and then they change and those who still adore Keith shun the defector. Then, when they who once shunned others also leave, they are shunned in turn.

Mark and others went from shunner to shunned.

If nothing else, this ought to give one who has defected a great deal of sympathy for those who have not yet defected, rather than despise or mock them – for they were once precisely where the present supporters are now.

I think this is the best reason to publish this 2008 comment by Vicente: There are, I estimate, about 100 people who still support Keith Raniere staunchly.  They are visibly represented by the Nxivm-5. But they are more than five. I have personally seen about 20 of them gathered in Brooklyn alone just prior to Raniere’s sentencing. And I have spoken to numerous others in the USA and Mexico by Zoom and by phone.

If they are misled, now that Raniere is defeated, I do not think a kind of reverse shunning, and certainly not shaming, is in order.  It is time to be patient.

Kristin Kreuk, Nicki Clyne and Allison Mack host the A Capella Innovations festival.  Note the banner in the background.

***

As a result of two festivals Clare Bronfman funded called “A Capella Innovations” in late 2007 and again in early 2008, which sought to promote the role of Keith Alan Raniere as a musical mentor, a number of people in the a capella community smelled an incursion of a “cult.”  In 2008, most of the bad publicity was focused around reports in the Albany Times Union, a 2003 Forbes Magazine article and Rick Ross, the well-known cult deprogrammer, who published unflattering things about Nxivm on his website.

That was enough. As the a capella online forum reveals, many of the a capella community called into question Raniere and Bronfman’s roles in their close-knit world. There were about 200 comments, most of them negative.

In response, some of Raniere’s friends and followers stepped in to defend him, like Allison Mack, Lauren Salzman, Nicki Clyne, and Clare Bronfman.  Mark Vicente also came to Raniere’s defense.

By Mark Vicente

Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:29 am

Good morning. My name is Mark Vicente. I was one of the facilitators (performance advisors) at A Cappella Innovations this weekend. I am a film director who has been in the industry for over 24 years and have in my cumulative career worked on probably 30 feature films, numerous documentaries, commercials and music videos. I’ve had the privilege of working and interacting with some amazing people; actors, celebrities, filmmakers, politicians, heads of state, activists, humanitarians, etc.

I’ve read through all the posts now and thought I might add some impressions. Some of what I’ve read sounds like refreshing critical thinking, some of it non-sensical conjecture, and then some of it emotionally reactive absurd fear-mongering. It got me thinking back to my home country, South Africa.

In apartheid-era South Africa, there were a number of people that felt the government’s policy of seeing other human beings (black) as sub-human, was flawed and immoral. The government’s brilliant plan was to frame this complaint in a very specific way so as to guarantee control of people’s perceptions. What they did is labeled anyone who dissented as a “communist” with nefarious intent. I myself was one of those labeled people. I refused to do mandatory military service in a war that I did not believe in. Consequently, I was labeled as a criminal for several years until Nelson Mandela pardoned all ‘criminals’ of conscience.

The government’s framing technique was amazingly effective however as most people believed that anyone who questioned the government was a bad person. So complete was this strategy that most law-abiding, news-watching citizens couldn’t fathom the possibility that someone who dissented may have good intent.

Mark Vicente with his high-ranking green sash.

The government had complete control of the media. I experienced this very deeply during my time as a news cameraman in South Africa in the late ’80s. I would spend a day shooting in unrest-ridden townships seeing all manner of ghastly things and then go home and watch the news, which told an entirely different story, as though what I had shot had never happened. It was at this point that I understood there is a vast difference between media (what is reported) and reality.

In some of these posts, it seems that a few people think they are the same thing. Anyone who believes everything they read, hear or see is under a self-induced spell of sorts. Which brings me to something that I haven’t seen addressed deeply yet:

What is a Cult?

It’s a word people have used liberally in these posts. Sort of like “Commie Sympathizer”. But what is it? It seems scary, frightening…like maybe they’ll cart your children off into the night, perform ritual sacrifice, or steal your brains!

When I was a kid, my Mom told me to never go beyond the fence around our property (we lived in the bush) because the witchdoctors would get me and eat me. Later, when I grew up, I found out that it may just have been a story used to scare me into never going beyond the fence. And believe me, it worked! I was scared!

The word ‘cult’ seems to strike an irrational fear in people. It’s guaranteed to frame whatever is being talked about in a very specific way. But what is this ‘cult’ thing? Some say it has something to do with worshiping a deity or figurehead or concept. Well… there’s lots of that going on in the world. People worship their gameboys, cars, fashion models and celebrities. Others say it has something to do with not thinking for yourself. Once again, we have a lot of that going on in the world. In fact, it could be the number one ailment of humanity.

‘Cult’ seems to be this vague indefinable word. It’s supposedly bad… but what is it? A few years ago Keith Raniere and I had a conversation about another group that had been called a cult for years. He pointed out that not all cults are destructive groups. And not all destructive groups are cults. What people are scared of are not cults… what they’re scared of are destructive groups. So why speak of a ‘cult’? If there’s a group of people (whether they’re a cult or not) killing puppies across the street, you call them Puppy Killers. If something is destructive, why don’t we just call it that? Destructive! Or Anti-Humanitarian!

Now, maybe you don’t like a particular group,(maybe you’re xenophobic or something). You can’t call them a destructive group because there’s nothing you could really put your finger on that’s destructive. Maybe they seem a little too happy, too nice, too friendly… or whatever – so you call them a ‘cult’ and you import all of the negative attributes of a destructive group. It seems to be a blanket term people use when they can’t seem to find something bad about something but have some kind of a bad emotional feeling. What matters is if a group is destructive or not, not whether they are this vague, indefinable thing called a ‘cult’.

Which brings me to this supposedly evil, bad-intentioned, dangerous guy…. Keith Raniere. I’ve noticed that a few people have been searching under every rock to find the TRUE intent behind A Cappella Innovations. It reminds me of reading the National Enquirer in which it is often stated that the federal government is actually run by aliens who arrived in space ships in the ’50s. I’m somewhat skeptical of this. I’ve always been a fan of getting firsthand data.

I’ve known Keith Raniere for about three years now. I am very fortunate to call him my friend. George Lucas had Joseph Campbell as a mentor and I am fortunate enough to have Keith as an adviser in my filmmaking endeavors. When I first met Keith, I was very careful and skeptical of him. One of the problems for me (which turned out to be an asset) was that he was not authoritative and yet people were saying a number of great things about him. But he just acted like a normal guy.

So how do you know someone’s intent? One way might be to see how they live their life. I have taken time to really watch how he lives his life and how he conducts himself.

This is a guy who lives very simply. He owns very little (sinister?), doesn’t drive a car (some might think that’s sinister), and took a vow of non-violence many years ago (some call it weird, others call it noble). He is extremely conscious of his ecological impact and goes so far as to tear up little pieces of a paper towel to use rather than the whole square. This is a really down-to-earth, warm-hearted guy who really cares about other human beings and is devoted to inspiring people to be the best they possibly can.

Mark Vicente with Keith Raniere in Raniere’s library.
In addition, he constantly strives to figure out what the right thing to do is. Because the right thing (an act that would uphold humanity) sometimes goes against popular opinion, he sometimes finds himself in the middle of controversy or social unrest. He never does things just to please people and often states that he is wrong about things and feels that he can learn from everyone else.

For some reason, there are those who think that it is not possible to aspire to be noble but, instead, there must be some bad intent at work. Why? What are the criteria being used to evaluate his true motives and those of ACI? A scared feeling that someone has because they heard a story (that was designed to scare them)? Questionable data on a website? Yes, it’s true he has never responded to the allegations made against him in the media. Is that a sentence of guilt?

There are two ways to gather data. The scientific method and the unscientific method. The scientific method: Gather data and form a flexible hypothesis. The unscientific method: Form a hypothesis based not on data but some prejudice or ‘feeling’ and then find data that matches.

What does all this have to do with this forum? Well, it’s this very non-thinking that seems to be at the root of many human travesties.

Look at every war or genocide that ever happened. They happened because people were irrational and overemotional. In World War II, the Nazis told the people that the Jews were responsible for their misery. Most people never questioned that little piece of propaganda. They went along with it for whatever reasons…. a little thinking may have gone a long way.

A Cappella Innovations in my understanding is attempting to promote a more humanity-based experience through expression and voice. That is the reason I am involved. In Africa, many tribes use singing and dancing to express the way they feel about certain things. Injustices, births, deaths, life. I always found it to be an inspiring tool of transformation.

It seems in some of the posts, that the search for nefariousness is a foregone conclusion and now some are just fighting for the ‘proof’ of badness. To be skeptical of others’ intent is a wise thing. But there is a distinct difference between skepticism and cynicism. Skepticism involves evaluation and study and critical thinking. Cynicism, on the other hand, is the refusal to critically evaluate and the attempt to make something bad.

It concerns me that some people who are complaining the loudest about the possible nefariousness of ACI, NXIVM, etc. are the ones behaving destructively, both in words and actions. Perhaps the reason they assume bad intent of other people is because they themselves have bad intent and, consequently, assume all others do as well.

Maybe not everyone does…

I met some wonderful people this weekend and hope to be friends with them for a long time. Thank You to all of you who participated in this in the spirit in which it was intended.

All my very best,
Mark Vicente
Writer/Director

 


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Frank Parlato

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  • I agree completely with what Mark Vicente said in 2008:

    “It concerns me that some people who are complaining the loudest about the possible nefariousness of ACI, NXIVM, etc. are the ones behaving destructively, both in words and actions. Perhaps the reason they assume bad intent of other people is because they themselves have bad intent and, consequently, assume all others do as well.”

    I believe this is exactly what has been happening the past few years, that people who want the satisfaction of destroying something are placing all the blame on Keith and NXIVM. That only comes from a feeling of emptiness and also leads to a feeling of emptiness. I think we all have the instincts to lash out at others at times, but it’s a nasty thing and brings everyone down, ourselves included.

  • Eveybody has a chance to change their opinion. Everyone should be able to reevaluate and reassess their view of things

  • Mark Vicente……Meant well. He is a good guy. He meant to do good both with J.Z. Knight and Nxivm.

    The documentary Mark filmed prior to joining Nxivm was a hit and made millions of dollars. Mark certainly was not attempting to get rich by joining either organization.

    I am guilty of making fun of Mark Vicente. At the end of the day he did the right thing and helped Frank and the other people fighting Nxivm. I sincerely wish Mark Vicente well.

    I will not be making fun of him in the future.

    Wherever you are Mark I hope you and your wife have a Merry Christmas!

  • Huge thanks to Mark for stepping up and doing the right thing. Why so much shade being thrown his way? I believe it’s because people will never understand the intense compartmentalization Keith had over the entire organization.

    IMO, the people who should be taking it on the chin are the ones who know vital information and are STILL keeping it to themselves. Ed Kinum comes to mind, but there are many who should have trouble sleeping at night.

  • I worry for Marc. I hope he and his wife will stay out of cult-like groups. He seems to be very attracted to that stuff. I am happy he saw the light, but I really worry for him and Bonnie. They seem to be searching for spiritual answers, I know they are in tarot card reading now. I come from the most occult spiritual place which is Louisiana. I know its history because my famille goes way back before this was even the US. I am a traiteur like my maman was. But I stay away from bad Gris Gris. I have a faith in divine power from Jesus and use some tribal treatments. That’s what that means when you say you are a traiteur, you are a treater or healer. Now, I actually like to think of myself as more of an “encourager”. I pray, I meditate on prayer, I use certain tribal medicines, etc. I just feel in ma acajien “cajun” bones they are vulnerable to suggestion because it sounds otherworldly and interesting to them. I would say beware of the loup who comes dressed in sheep’s clothing to them. They sense your vulnerabilities.

  • Absolutes:

    Absolute Good.

    Absolute Bad.

    Raniere is Relatively Bad.

    Mark is Relatively Good.

    So are most of us.

    Absolutes are unavailable.

    How good, how bad?

    Enough.

  • I don’t even want to mention it, it’s so seemingly trivial, but it’s makin’ me nuts not to and Mark, among many others, needs to know.

    That paper towel trick that signals Keith as a humble, self-sacrificing environmentalist? It originated with our Mother, the late great Rose Pipino Hutchinson — as anyone who knew her can attest — be it weird or selfless she was most definitely of the latter category in EVERY aspect of her life. (Albeit, a little weird. 😁)

    Keith adopted this along with many other “character window” tricks borrowed from her to first manipulate my sister, Gina, and her friends recruited for Keith’s “Concept School” exploits.

    (Some of them, including my sister, worked for slave wages for CBI — they were only paid for “recruitment” despite working full time in the IT department, etc.)

    “Character window” is, btw, a movie term to describe little actions or quirks that reveal the personality of a fictional character.

    But I never heard of Keith (or Nancy, not a one of them) driving around during a fierce winter storm giving out food, blankets and heaters to stranded people in ghetto neighborhoods like our Mom did…many, many times!

    They just scripted the attributes, little character windows, of a person considered ethical and compassionate — our Mom was known as “Saint Rose from Cohoes” — into their con game show to present Keith & Nancy as such ethical persons themselves.

    As if Keith or Nancy ever gave a fuck — or anything more than a fuck — about saving trees or humanity.

    I don’t, btw, fault Mark or anyone for falling for it. My comment (hopefully) illustrates the opposite — to show how contrived and staged this all was from the get-go to the get-gone. (If you can without disappearing from the planet altogether.)

    Mark was obviously not “behind the camera” when the NXIVM script was in development and thought he was making a documentary — not a work of pure fiction.

    • And it is made out as if KR had these wonderful things that were good that no one ever does yet I have never even liked using paper towel very much rather than a washable cloth I can use for years, for similar reasons. They held KR up as some kind of God when all he was doing was a few tiny things and in fact was more like my student children – up late in the day around lunch time as too lazy and up very late at night which is actually pretty anti social and unfair on other people. KR was a selfish boy child.

  • The world is a cult. A cult planet full of illusions, deceptions, power plays, gender terrorism, nationalism is a vanity. We are all humbled when we get old and look back at what fools we were.

  • The “reformed sinner” is a special kind of saint, in some people’s minds. “I once was lost, but now I’m found,” as the hymn has it.

    Is Vicente that saint? Or is he one of the rats who left a sinking ship? He left when it became obvious the jig was up for Nxivm. The house of cards was falling. DOS was going to be exposed and the whole sordid business of branding and sex slavery was some pretty shit about to hit the fan.

    So he got out. Does this make him a virtuous guy? I say no.

    That’s not mockery from the peanut gallery. That’s the fact of the timeline.

    In my opinion, Vicente is not a virtuous guy. I think he’s a weasel. An opportunist who played both sides of the game. A slimy character who has proven himself a convincing liar on more than one occasion. Just read his statement above defending Raniere. A “kind hearted guy”? He knew better at the time he wrote that; at least that’s how he testified in court. Raniere, in private, was a foul mouthed misogynist.

    Vicente is a film maker by profession. He made films promoting Raniere and now he’s making films vilifying Raniere. Profiting on both ends. I wouldn’t trust the man one inch.

  • I say BRAVO to all of those who at one time were the followers, and then left. Sarah, Mark, Bonnie, and Nippy were the vocal ones — but we know that after the house of cards began to crumble for KR, many many followers also left.

    Really now, is it so hard to believe that the way you think or feel one year could be so different than how you think or feel in a subsequent year? Of course not. Things change…the world changes…you change.

    It seems to me that only a few people “got rich” from NXIVM — and for those who spent years fighting them in court, or lost their life savings to stay in this cult — I say good for them in trying to recoup some of that via books, movies, speaking engagements, etc.

    When this group of whistleblowers defected in 2017, they risked it all: their safety; not knowing if they would be in litigation for years as others were; their hopes of what they once strongly believed to be right and true; etc. In 2017, Sarah, Mark, Bonnie, and Nippy didn’t know how this was going to end, and I’m sure Mark certainly never even thought about it ending in 2008.

    It seems that KR kept many things and people compartmentalized among the community — not everyone knew what the another was doing or involved in. How many knew that Daniela was being kept in a secluded room for 2 years? Not many, right? Did Nippy even know Sarah was in the secret society of DOS? He certainly didn’t know she was branded for quite some time.

    A magician only allows you to see what he wants you to see…

  • I tried to see if I could translate Mark’s comment into semi-plain English. This was the best I could do:

    ————————-

    My name is Mark Vicente. As you can tell from my work history, I’m simply better than you.

    I’ve read through all the posts: the good, the bad, the ugly. And it got me thinking back to my home country, South Africa. What? You didn’t know that’s where I’m from?

    In apartheid-era South Africa, some folks, like yours truly, believed that seeing Blacks as sub-human was flawed and immoral.

    However, the government wanted to discourage that kind of free thought. Anyone who thought Blacks were as human as anyone else was labeled “communist”. I myself was frequently called a commie no-goodnik.

    Perhaps out of spite for that unfair label, I skipped out on military service. As a result, I was considered a very special kind of heroic criminal, until Nelson Mandela pardoned all ‘criminals’ of conscience, such as myself.

    Before that time, only “bad people” questioned the government because, surprise surprise!, The government ran the media. I experienced this very deeply, or some would say, first-hand, during my time as a news cameraman in South Africa, where I’m from, in the late ’80s. I once saw U2 in concert, and Bono looked right at me for a sweaty split second.

    After a day filming unrest-ridden townships, spying all manner of ghastly things with my little eye, I’d go home and watch the news. What they showed on TV was an entirely different story, as though my footage wasn’t good enough and had been relegated to the cutting-room floor. It was then that the vast difference between what is reported in the media and what is reality began to dawn on me.

    But back to this a Capella message board where folks seem to be under a self-induced spell that tricks them into thinking cults are real.

    When I was a kid, my Mom told me to never go beyond the fence (we lived in the bush in apartheid-era South Africa) because the witch doctors would get me and eat me. Some other cultures employ the device of the “bogeyman” to instill such fear-based, blind obedience in children.

    Later, I found out that story’s sole purpose was to scare me into never going beyond the fence. And believe me, it worked! I was scared!

    Similarly, the word ‘cult’ seems to strike an irrational fear in people. But what is this ‘cult’ thing? Some say it has something to do with worshiping a deity or witch doctor or concept or bogeyman. Others say it has something to do with not thinking for yourself.

    ‘Cult’ seems to be this vague indefinable word. It’s supposedly bad…but what is it? A few years ago Keith Raniere and I had a conversation about another group that had been called a cult for years. He pointed out that even if it were a cult, not all cults are destructive groups. And not all destructive groups are cults. (See why I love this guy?)

    What people are scared of are not cults… what they’re scared of are destructive groups.

    Like bogeyman cults or witch-doctor cults or gameboy cults or supermodel cults. Okay, scratch that last one.

    So why speak of a ‘cult’?

    Maybe it’s because you don’t like a particular group (maybe you’re a player hater or something).

    You can’t really put your finger on anything they do that’s so bad. Maybe they seem a little too happy, too nice, too friendly… or whatever – so you call them a ‘cult’ or a slut or an idiot or a chump or a man-whore.

    Which brings me to this “evil, bad-intentioned, dangerous” guy: lil ol’ Keith Raniere.

    I’ve known and worshiped Keith Raniere for about three years now. I am fortunate enough to have Keith as my friend and adviser in my filmmaking endeavors, in case you’ve forgotten I’m a filmmaker.

    When I first laid eyes on Keith, I was very careful and skeptical of him and played hard to get. One of the problems for me (which turned out to make him want to chase me even more) was that he was not authoritative and yet people were saying a number of great things about him. But he just acted like a normal guy.

    So, despite my strategy of acting unimpressed, why did I finally fall for Keith?

    This is a guy who lives very simply. He goes so far as to tear up little pieces of a paper towel to use rather than the whole square. Weird or noble? You tell me.

    Some people think he is just putting on a good-guy front that hides sinister ulterior motives.

    Yes, it’s true he has never responded to the allegations made against him in the media. But for f@ck’s sake, is that a sentence of guilt? Well, I suppose it could be interpreted as a non-denial of guilt, but definitely not a sentence,

    What does all this have to do with this a Capella forum?

    Simple: You all are acting like a bunch of Nazis.

    In Africa, where I’m from, many tribes use singing and dancing to express the way they feel about certain things. Have you ever seen a bunch of Nazis doing that? “Springtime for Hitler” does not count. Which reminds me, have you ever seen Ricky Gervais’ brilliantly named band, Foregone Conclusion? That’s some funny stuff.

    Look up skepticism in the dictionary. Then look up cynicism. Then, take a long, hard look in the mirror. Which concept applies to your thinking about A Capella Innovations? Is that really who you want to be?

    Last thing I’ve got to say is this:

    The people who are complaining the loudest about ACI, NXIVM, etc. are behaving destructively, both in words and actions. Perhaps the reason they assume bad intent is because they themselves have bad intent. Reminds me of a classic lyric:

    “I am just as steady as that clock on the shelf.
    Maybe you’re accusing me of what you’re doing yourself.”

    –“Hey! Jealous Lover” by S. Cahn, B. Walker, K. Tworney.

    As we used to say in Apartheid-era South Africa,
    All my very best,
    Mark Vicente
    Writer/Director

    • Alison, I once saw Keith Raniere rip little pieces of paper towel into the shape of South Africa. So, I really appreciate and understand your Mark Vicente translation. Have you ever considered working as a translator for the United Nations?

      • @Call me al

        —”I once saw Keith Raniere rip little pieces of paper towel into the shape of South Africa.”

        Ha!

        I should have cut out even more of the text in hindsight, but I was trying my best to keep all his original sentiments in place.

        Great idea! I wonder if the U.N. is accepting applications.

        • Hi Alison. Although I often disagree with you, it’s refreshing to think about the case from your point of view.

      • ‘I once saw Keith Raniere rip little pieces of paper towel into the shape of South Africa’.

        Very funny, Call Me Al

  • Wow. People can change their minds, who would have ever thought of making that point except for the great and wonderful Frank?

    The current believers are not where the previous believers were, there are six convicted felons with one of them serving 120 years in federal prison.

  • Mockery and derision – sounds like Mark was branded, but he doesn’t get the luxury of crying in a courtroom over it. He has to ‘be a man’ about it.

    Settling the gender/brand argument. It’s still horrible and demeaning, only men have to pretend it’s not.

  • Mark, Bonnie, Sarah, Anthony, Catherine and Frank are the “heroes” in this particular story.

    If one does not understand such, then this person does not understand what it takes to do what all of them did. And are still doing.

    By the way. If Keith had been such an intelligent guy, he would have asked India to leave. Have her get in touch with Catherine.

    Knowing Keith loves a good analogy, think of Keith’s behavior regarding India, as follows.

    So Keith is on safari. And one day, he gets the brilliant idea, to get out of the car, and walks up to a lioness. The plan is to take one of the cubs, from the lioness. But, if you try to steal a cub from a Lioness, It won’t be without some serious damage.

    And I call 120 years in jail, serious damage.

    Mark, if you read this: you did the right thing. That’s how all of you will go down in history.

    All of you out there, I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year, from Holland.

  • Mark Vicente’s viewpoint in 2008 was that being “skeptical” or cynical…

    So it begs the question. What was Mark’s opinion of cults when he followed Ramtha and J.Z. Knight? I wonder. How long until Mark joins another cult and will Bonnie continue to support him.

    Back to Frank’s point, intelligent people can fall for cults and we should give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s the Christian/Judaic way! And if we were Muslims, we’d just behead the guy. 😉

    • —”How long until Mark joins another cult”

      He is already in another cult. It’s known as COBAVAC. Aka: The cult of being a “victim” of a cult. In some places, it goes by COCE: Cult of Cult Escapees. Or “IEFAC”: “I Escaped From a Cult, Inc”

  • Mark Vicente does not deserve praise or sympathy. He is a self-righteous phony with a Gandhi complex. He is a filthy rat who jumped off the sinking ship and went to the press and authorities to save his well-pounded ass (by Keith Raniere). His wife, not sure about her, but his behaviour towards her shows what an immoral being he is.

    Twelve fucking years!

    If you are reading this Mark, you suck.

      • Right, all of the brave women who spoke out also had nothing to do with taking Nxivm down. Women’s work is often ignored and males’ work overpraised .

        Sad!

        • If Mark had not stepped up, I doubt one woman would have ever spoken up.

          He and Catherine and Sarah and I were the essentials.

          The brave women [except for Sarah and Catherine] were nowhere at first. It took a lot of effort to get them on board – and perhaps Mark was number one in doing that.

        • There are no “brave” women, Mexican Lady. We’re all pussies. You haven’t learned that in all your years on FR yet?

      • A broken clock gives the right hour twice a day (!). In the same fashion, a vitreous person with a “Gandhi complex” – as the post above rightly qualifies – can by chance produce some beneficial effect …

        • …and a broken clock with a missing hour hand is correct 24 times a day. So if your clock is broken, throw away the hour hand.

          Also the more cults you join and promote, then the more of a hero you can be when you leave them.

    • I wrote a flippant comment in regards to Mark Vicente at the top. However, when the time came, Mark did the right thing. Do I respect him as a man? No.

      …BUT, your and my own personal feelings will never change the fact that when the time came, he stood up did the RIGHT thing.

      He made a significant contribution at a crucial time in the fight against Keith Raniere.

      You and anyone who critiques him can never change the fact he stood-up and did the right thing when it counted most.

  • We are not the spies peeping into the windows of Mark Vicente’s awareness nor the witnesses of his personal accounting of and with himself. Thank you for reminding me. Because, by golly and self-evidently, I need and want to remember this and to keep remembering, especially to remember to respect potentialities as well as variations. But still… Whoops, ah did it again. Like Britney Spears. Shoot. Never too cool for school, though. Now cut it out, Frankster. It isn’t even Christmas eve yet.

    Roger Stone just went to a very glammy-poo evening party at Mar a Lago, though. I saw his photo. ( In the Daily Fail, of course.) Lovely attire and that HAIRdo of Mr. Stone’s, what a cute kid he appears to still be, grinning like an eager beaver who just sighted his favorite woodie. I mean, ah-cha! Somebody explain the happy dance. And it isn’t Woody Allen! What is it, Roger Stone? You can tell me, a fellow New Englander. Honest. I have known a lot of Stones. In fact, one damned near ruined one of our perfectly good toilets, not to mention Oliver Stone!

    But anyhow. All hail Ellora and Ajanta, and understandably so, no matter what you might have heard. And is Roger old enough to remember the old game show, I’ve Got a Secret? Perhaps we have met already? Somewhere in the surf? Jamestown? Rhode Island?

    If that was you, please accept my apologies. I was so young and didn’t know any better than to misbehave, experimentally. If that was not you in Jamestown, perhaps another time or lifetime? This has been so very busy, living. The long and maybe not the short, but naturally, the tall. Who doesn’t love paradoxes?

  • “ I was hesitant because members of the anonymous ‘peanut gallery’ who sometimes comment on this site and elsewhere will probably use it to mock Vicente, which seems to be common sport ever since the docuseries “Seduced” showed a side of him that differed from the view most people had of him in “The Vow.””

    Aww, I feel so special. For the record, it was his behavior in the first episode of The Vow that set off all my alarm bells, and the more I read and watched, the louder they got. He “triggered” me because of the patronizing, condescending gas lighting of his wife. I shit you not, Frank, to long term victims of gas lighting, it’s like a dog whistle forever more. No matter how he tries to appear, he can’t hide his narcissism, and I will readily admit I’m a bigot when it comes to narcs.

    His portrayal in Seduced was a foregone conclusion reached weeks before it aired.

    Say what you will, I watched my own observations repeated nationally over time. It’s not just the peanut gallery and you know it.

  • Look behind things for a second. Who is the man, where did he came from, what, when, with whom, how, why he did it? Behind human fates are past and future actions. It must be worth the recognition. Some people take longer, someone sees the signs earlier. I think one thing’s for sure. All the victims, and some of those who victimized other people, all figured out what was going on behind the scenes. I appreciate those who have been willing to take on the conflict and the negative consequences for their judgment.

  • “Mark and others went from shunner to shunned. If nothing else, this ought to give one who has defected a great deal of sympathy for those who have not yet defected, rather than despise or mock them – for they were once precisely where the present supporters are now.”

    This is so true, Frank. Having been in a Christian cult myself, I know how it feels to be ‘loved’ on one day and to be hated on the other when you dared to leave the lies behind. I am also familiar with pseudopsychological esoteric workshops which work in a pretty similar way. Alas, you find all this dangerous nonsense in many a company today, too. In order to improve his/her employees’ management skills, the CEO hires someone to teach ppl to get better and better at presenting themselves. Some of this stuff might seem helpful in the beginning, but later it often turns into manipulation of the affiliates and their clientele as well. It appears to me that nowadays we have been used to this kind of manipulation to such an extent that it is not always easy to detect the hypocrisy that is going on in several areas of life.

    A cult or a cultish workshop is never about humanism, nor is it about real love, ever. Although it is often times about seemingly higher goals, if there is a cult leader as the center point of attraction/power/adulation, it is in the long run mainly about securing his fame, his success, his riches and possessions, briefly, about pampering his self that longs to leave a legacy of sorts to the ‘whole’ world (whether the world needs it or not). Seeing through such a deception can make you really angry for some time. We can get mad at the cult leader, at other (former) members, even at everyone around us, and in the end we might also struggle to forgive ourselves for having been that gullible.

    Therefore, during the whole process of breaking free from a cult and coming to terms with what has happened to us, first of all we need a lot of patience. Second, we need a secure place or person where we can vent without being judged for doing so. We need someone in whom we can trust, someone who understands all our struggles, how we got there, why we got there, and how we found ourselves somehow alone and without direction when we finally left.

    As I have said before (in another comment), it needs a long time of healing for former cult members, whether they were not so long attached to the cult and not so close to the cult leader, yet they ALL need time to recover; both from having been lied at (i.e. deceived) and from believing the lies which led to those ‘mistakes’ we made when we believed the lies. Errare humanum est, isn’t it, or in other words (Jesus Christ’s), “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” (John 8:7)

  • This is the problem: people like Keith and, unfortunately, Mark here, who constantly parse into the nuance of what words mean to shift the frame from an uncomfortable feeling that stops action, bypassing those feelings, changing the meaning, and thrust the person into the desired action. The goal is to convince a hesitant person to think feel or do something they don’t want, but something that fits into the agenda of the person doing the persuasion (Keith and Mark). Rationalizations and justifications of one persuader’s biased desires; spreading like a virus to open-hearted victims. Good thing Mark turned this around, it’s clear Keith knew he could persuade Mark into action by playing into his dream of being a genius filmmaker, but he must know in his heart of hearts that the tactics he himself used, based on not one but two manipulative cults he joined, served only his ego and dream of manipulating the masses with his filmmaking vision.

  • “Would you rather” question: seven of those long lingering lip kisses with Keith spread out over a year’s time – or one 10 second full tongue deep kiss with Giuliani. No follow up questions or information. Just choose one, please.

  • I said I like Marc Vicente. I only know the story inaccurately, but every word he says is meaningful and understandable. I’ve never been disappointed with the smell of my nose, it’s often the only thing I can rely on in my line of work. But I believe I know he says what he really thinks and what’s true.

  • Rather than castigate Mark for having been fooled, I’d rather salute Mark, for having the depth of character required to ask himself the difficult question, “What if I’m wrong about all of this?”

    That question only arises in moments of genuine crisis.

    It takes guts to honestly answer it.

    Take care, Mark. Do well. Have a good life.

    • He is a liberal. So NO. People with “cult brain” can’t help it. They need a “cause” to be a part of to feel morally superior to others. Don’t you just hate them?

      • Only if he learns the true meaning of humility. Not just the words (” I made a mistake”, which is still a version of I, I, I ego). And lets go of the need to be ‘on the right side’, ‘morally superior’ as you said (that was the ‘hook’ for most of the Nxivm adherents: “WE will make the world a better place” “WE will control the wealth, for the good common good because the ‘deplorables’ are not as capable as we are”. And so people with a good heart (and an underlying ‘savior’ syndrome) get caught in their own nightmares, all in search of that all-elusive “I matter”. But not many people stop to ask themselves the question. Who is this ‘I’ that craves recognition, adulation, power, riches? And until we can answer that, all of us (not just Mark, although he does seem to like his ‘stories’ of power and righteousness quite a bit from his writings) will be prone to follow someone that gives you an ‘easy’ answer: “just follow me. You will see the (blue) light”.

    • Maybe he has now learned enough about what you can do wrong in a cult and what mistakes you should avoid. Perhaps his experience is now so extensive that he could start his own cult. However, it would be advisable not to.

Frank Parlato Investigates

Frank Parlato Investigates

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

Parlato has 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, which was ironic since many credit Parlato as being one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

IMDb — Frank Parlato

If the whole world stands against you sword in hand, would you still dare to do what you think is right?

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