The Karen Unterreiner interview for ‘A Little Bit Culty’ with Sarah Edmonson and Anthony Ames is informative for those who study the ESP/NXIVM phenomenon.
Here is part 2 of our edited and abbreviated version from ‘A Little Bit Culty.’
Listen to the podcast to hear the complete interview.
Consumers’ Buyline was huge. The company doubled in size every two months. It was growing so fast, which is what supposedly scared the different groups, because we were shipping so fast. We could have swayed the vote in New Jersey.
It was definitely multi level marketing. Every member was both a customer and a distributor. Everything was set up so that you bought products and then you sold memberships.
They had a slogan, ‘just get two people’. A lot of money was made by the people at the top of the tree, and very little money at the bottom.
There was something in between we started around 1994.
Toni Natalie was involved. Keith started going into some health care products, vitamins and things like that.
He and Toni created National Health Network, which was basically stores that sold vitamins and things like that. Toni was developing that with him. It wasn’t doing that great. It wasn’t growing very fast.
Keith met Nancy, so there was a little overlap. National Health still existed when Nancy and Keith atrted ESP.
It’s funny, Toni Natalie’s book is called The Fall of NXIVM – but Toni wasn’t actually in NXIVM, she was in ESP for about six months to a year.
Keith would meet Nancy at the National Health Network, so there was a little overlap. Nancy and Keith were starting up ESP, and he must have known that the business with Toni was not going well, because he was starting up the next one, before National Health crashed.
Keith Raniere with some of his devoted followers. First row Sara Bronfman — Monica Duran, Karen Unterreiner,– Second row, Barbara Bouchey, Keith Raniere, Lauren Salzman, Pam Cafritz
‘These women, they all thought they were the one‘
You can tell, when you listen to some of the women – Toni Natalie or Barbara Bouchey, or me, up to a point, they all thought they were the one.
Some still don’t realize that while Keith was with them, there was a lot of other sex going on – a lot. Abortions, and everything else, were happening while he was with them.
Some of them still don’t get it.
Barbara Bouchey got that he was with other women while he was with her, but she doesn’t understand the extent. That’s a hard thing for many of us to own — that we were never special to him.
Some people knew coming in, but some of us thought we were the special one, or that he had left the others. That’s one of the saddest things, because I know there are people whose healing isn’t full because they haven’t realized that yet.
Colleagues at Consumers’ Buyline and at NXIVM, Keith Raniere and long-time girlfriend Pam Cafritz in the early 1990s.
I listened to some of them. They don’t quite get how bad it was. Keith had threesomes, foursomes.
The worst part is what they call ‘the devaluation phase’, because you’re replaced. He became a threesome with Pam and Mariana, at one point.
Mariana had stolen a cake out of the fridge. So Keith, and I set up a camera to catch her. You know, it was like a joke. But I looked at the film, and I see Pam and Mariana kissing in the kitchen. I show it to Keith.
Keith then disappears in their room for two hours. I felt so humiliated. He got turned on by seeing them kissing on the film, and then he just went off with them and left me sitting there.
Nancy Salzman AKA Prefect
Nancy Kept Women in Line
So you’re always trying, thinking, “well, maybe if I’m good enough. Maybe if I get skinny enough. Maybe if I ‘whatever’ enough.”
You’re left struggling and trying to get that back.
We also couldn’t talk about our issues. You couldn’t mention any displeasure with Keith. You couldn’t mention any kind of unhappiness.
If you did, then the others would come, the other women would get you like Barbara. Pam wouldn’t attack. Then later, you had Nancy.
If you saw a red flag with Keith, and you were upset about it, you went to Nancy and got an EM.
Nancy basically helped you feel bad for seeing the red flag or having a problem with it, and she got you to feel okay with it.
Nancy Salzman in The Vow
When she describes in the Vow how she was sent in to put us back in line – she acted like it was something that was bad for her, which it was. I understand that. But she doesn’t look at what she did to us. The lies she told us.
One of the worst things anybody said since I got out was ‘Well, the women around Keith were thriving’. I cried.
We had to make believe we were happy. I was always in trouble because my ‘state’ was too low. I was depressed.
“You’re harming Keith, because your state is too low” is what we were told. You’re supposed to act like you’re happy about your situation. But we were not – none of us. We were pretending. Nobody was happy.
Beginning of NXIVM
I quickly went in and started developing the computer system that held the thing together – that charged people, and did basically everything. That was my role. That and a little administration, because it was tied to my computer system in the beginning.
At some point, I couldn’t deal with running the operations of the company anymore because Keith had me running things with my hands tied.
You couldn’t compensate people for work. You couldn’t hire people to do things. You had to hire people we knew – who were not competent – because we didn’t want to hire people that we didn’t know because he was paranoid.
It became an impossible job. At one point, they offered me to give the administrative work to Clare Bronfman. I said, ‘Sure, take it’.
We don’t know what was going on in his head. I saw it at the end. As things were falling apart, I was putting my fingers in all the holes of the dam. He kept us busy, trying to keep things going in such a bad environment.
You were spinning your wheels all the time, trying to make things happen. You always felt like you were told it was you – you’re the reason why things weren’t succeeding.
So you felt bad about yourself and you’re very busy – that’s someone who’s really controllable. I think that was the motivation.
He wanted it to be a mess, so that he could keep things spinning, and also keep us feeling like we’re shit. Because it’s not his fault that things are a mess. It’s ours.
Keith changed his ‘ideas’ depending on who he talked to.
Keith’s Inconsistent ‘Theories’
Keith told different stories to different people.
Like I’m a scientist, my religion is science. Then you’ve got people who are very much the opposite. When he talked to them, he’d buy into the ‘energy’ and all that kind of stuff and made it look like I was just spiritually deficient.
So, whoever he was with, you saw the discrepancies in how he talked to people.
In some ways, Mariana saved me. Because Keith and I spoke about integrity. We talked about you can’t move up the stripe path unless you earn your way.
When it came to Mariann, that discrepancy between what he said and what he did really stood out – because it was right in front of me.
He let her throw a temper tantrum and feed into it. I’d be like: ‘With everyone else, that’s a bad thing. But with her it was okay.’
She was promoted a number of times when she didn’t have the qualifications because he wanted it to happen. There were just things in there that weren’t consistent.
Too many inconsistencies around Mariana that just didn’t go along with what he was teaching. I could not come up with a rationalization for what he was doing.
He’d say: “It’s more complicated.” That would be his answer. “It’s more complicated than your little puny brain can understand.”
END OF PART 2