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March 23, 2007 6:39 AM   Subscribe

Heaven's Gate Cult pre-Suicide Videos (via, wiki)
posted by bardic (38 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heaven's Gate: The Sequel, an interview with the lone survivor
posted by bardic at 6:50 AM on March 23, 2007


Fascinating. The woman in the red overcoat really struck me how being completely batshitinsane doesn't necessarily mean you have to lose your composure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:52 AM on March 23, 2007


Wow, big day for suicide stuff on the blue.

Love the quote from red overcoat lady who says: "You might need to get someone else to finish up your web site."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:00 AM on March 23, 2007


It's good to see that Rio DiAngelo has his head screwed on tight again now that he's out from under the cult's spell.
posted by The Straightener at 7:05 AM on March 23, 2007


Porcupine Tree did an excellent job of excerpting the audio from those in their song Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before it is Recycled. Very creepy stuff. I didn't know who it was for a while, but googling some of the lines from the song brought me to the heaven's gate stuff (mostly in text form) that's been online for a while now. It's not that there's looneys out there who make this stuff up that gets to me -- it's that ordinary people can be taken in by them so completely. The credulousness required to fall victim to a cult must be less than you'd think, really.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:08 AM on March 23, 2007


The credulousness required to fall victim to a cult must be less than you'd think, really.

sure ... i live in a country where people think green pieces of paper make the world function and few ever question it, even as the world around them goes to hell
posted by pyramid termite at 7:13 AM on March 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


This is freaking amazing. I hadn't heard of this debacle before. The videos provide such an amazing insight!
posted by algreer at 7:14 AM on March 23, 2007


sure ... i live in a country where people think green pieces of paper make the world function and few ever question it, even as the world around them goes to hell

I live on the fringes of this cult myself, and let me tell you about its adherents. They'll stop at nothing. Nothing, I tell ya. They're making me miserable.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:36 AM on March 23, 2007


Did anybody else hear the background noise in some of those videos? I was listening with headphones and could hear what sounded like white noise with an increasing pitch. I wonder if this was a soundtrack for their mass suicide?
posted by SteveInMaine at 7:50 AM on March 23, 2007


The credulousness required to fall victim to a cult must be less than you'd think, really.

Seconding that.

I had a few bad moments in college. At a time like that, it doesn't take much more than the proverbial lovebombing to make "inside" seem so much more appealing than "outside," no matter how rational you otherwise believe yourself to be. The cute girl unexpectedly lavishing so much attention on you, the sudden invitations to one social event after another, the whole bootstrapped circle of friends...

I mean, I broke free rapidamente after I realized that neither actual sex nor anything like it was forthcoming, but it was a salutary experience. I've never been so quick to judge people who get sucked into cults ever since.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:53 AM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


This, from the LA Weekly article, also caught my eye:

"The Heaven’s Gate regimen extended beyond sexuality. A thick Procedures Book, spiral-bound and handwritten, regulated every facet of life. Bathing lasted six minutes and used 1 gallon of water. The Procedures Book designated what television shows could be watched, what books could be read and where the students could sit, and laid out detailed schedules with precise times, such as vitamin intake at 7:22 p.m. It specified the circumference of pancakes."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:54 AM on March 23, 2007


It seems like rate at which someone blinks is inversely proportional to their level of craziness.
posted by odinsdream at 8:09 AM on March 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


The circumference of pancakes?! Just goes to show the thin line between micromanagement and batshitinsanity.
posted by scratch at 8:10 AM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


One reocurring theme in within individuals drawn into cults or extremist beliefs seems to involve an inability to accept or understand the concept of moral ambiguity. Compromise becomes viewed as synonymous with corruption. From there on it becomes easy to bifurcate the world into light and dark.
posted by Thoth at 8:25 AM on March 23, 2007


I'm so glad I live in a community open-minded enough to allow pancakes of all circumferences.

Anyway, great post. I had forgotten almost completely about this, and I never learned any of the details. It's very sad, you really don't have to be that crazy to fall into a cult like this.

Anyone know why they use the word 'individual' so much?
posted by bluejayk at 8:27 AM on March 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


So ... nobody's going to mention Prudence Calabrese and the Hale-Bopp companions? (According to an account in Jon Ronson's The Men Who Stare At Goats, the Heaven's Gate suicides were triggered by a relatively infamous hoax on the Art Bell show.)
posted by grabbingsand at 8:38 AM on March 23, 2007


The circumference of pancakes?! Just goes to show the thin line between micromanagement and batshitinsanity.

I'm sure the IHOP Procedures Book mentions something about the circumference of pancakes, but I don't see anyone calling them batshitinsane.

Mmm, pancakes.
posted by itchylick at 8:41 AM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I went to high school in Del Mar so when I was a teenager I spent a lot of time in Rancho Santa Fe visiting my (far wealthier) friends. I remember I was on the phone with an old friend of mine the day after the suicides happened (before the news really grabbed onto it much) and she was telling me about how she & her husband had gone to dinner at Marie Callender's the night before and were seated near this large group of freaky people eating chicken pot pies together. She said they couldn't figure out if they were men or women, so they kept walking back and forth pretending to need the restroom so they could have an excuse to stare.

Later on, I remember watching a local San Diego tv reporter stop a Rancho woman on the road to ask her for her thoughts about the people in the house. The woman stopped, scrunched her face, and said, "Oh, but those weren't RANCHO people. They were RENTERS." That still kills me.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:44 AM on March 23, 2007


The circumference of pancakes?!

Not that surprising, since regulating caloric intake is often part of keeping people's heads in the right place.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:53 AM on March 23, 2007


StickyCarpet--huh? I can see plain old withholding-and-doling-out-food-unpredictably as a way to induce a nice bout of Stockholm syndrome, but regulating caloric intake seems, I dunno, kinda reasonable.

(Unless the pancakes were mandated to be no more than the circumference of a nickel, or something.)
posted by scratch at 9:03 AM on March 23, 2007


i saw heaven's gate speak a couple years before the mass suicide. we even snuck in a video camera and taped it. how could you pass up people claiming to be aliens? when everything went down it took me a couple days to realize the connection. alas we couldn't find the tape, we would've made a killing off of it.
posted by andywolf at 9:19 AM on March 23, 2007


alas we couldn't find the tape, we would've made a killing off of it

heh.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:34 AM on March 23, 2007


Oh the memories...

I was working at an web design studio when all of this went down. A few of us had contemplated buying matching purple jumpsuits and complementary Nikes as a joke. Meanwhile my parents back home suddenly became overly concerned about my "weird job on the Internet."
posted by slogger at 10:06 AM on March 23, 2007


"The circumference of pancakes" is an oddly melodious phrase.
posted by EarBucket at 10:11 AM on March 23, 2007


From the LA Weekly article:
How does one come to understand their messianic blessings? For DO, that journey began in a Houston psychiatric hospital in 1972. Marshall Herff Applewhite, or Herff, as the charismatic son of an itinerant Presbyterian minister was then called by his friends, had been a talented musician, well-liked teacher, choir director, and singer with the Houston Grand Opera. But those days were over. He’d left his wife and children after a tryst with a male student led to his requested resignation from a university position. Herff was adrift, torn by his sexual desires, and shaken by voices in his head.

In the hospital, Herff met Bonnie Lu Trousdale Nettles, a registered nurse whose investigations into astrology and theosophy were guided by communications with a 19th-century monk named “Brother Francis.” Bonnie became instant friends with Herff, giving him a crash course in metaphysics. In the folie à deux that ensued, Bonnie and Herff decided they had known each other in previous lives, and hit the road to discover their joint purpose.
Quite a spiritual journey: perhaps Herff should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.
posted by cenoxo at 10:25 AM on March 23, 2007


Ooh. I think I found a name for my punk band.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:25 AM on March 23, 2007


WRT to the circumference of pancakes, there is — and shall forever be — only one true Master.
posted by cenoxo at 10:28 AM on March 23, 2007


Were they founded by Rick Moranis's character in My Blue Heaven?
Dr. Margaret Snow Coopersmith: Barney, look at the way you eat pancakes!
Wally Bunting: How does he eat pancakes?
Dr. Margaret Snow Coopersmith: He has a system for eating pancakes.
Barney Coopersmith: So the bottom pancake gets the same amount of syrup as the first.
Dr. Margaret Snow Coopersmith: He has a system for everything!
posted by kirkaracha at 10:40 AM on March 23, 2007


Heaven's Gate? They had balls.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:55 AM on March 23, 2007


I am reminded of the e-mail I recieved months afterward. Headers a mile long, been bouncing around trying to find it's way home:
Unavoidably delayed. DO NOT EAT THE PUDDING. Repeat, DO NOT EAT THE PUDDING.

You laugh so you don't cry.
posted by pointilist at 12:00 PM on March 23, 2007


I'm impressed they could agree on the appropriate dimensions pancakes. That's quite an achievement for a community. We can't even agree how people should be quoted.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:27 PM on March 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


It specified the circumference of pancakes.

Blueberry muffins, an EQUAL amount of blueberries in each muffin!
posted by porpoise at 1:05 PM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Man, I want nickel-sized pancakes now. :(
posted by perilous at 1:17 PM on March 23, 2007


Oddly enough, about 1 week before the suicides, a young man came into the computer lab I was running at the college I worked at and surfed to the Heaven's Gate web page and spent about an hour telling me all about their beliefs (and his fervent belief in their beliefs).

I wasn't sure he hadn't killed himself until he showed up for class that next monday. Still weirds me out.
posted by UseyurBrain at 4:53 PM on March 23, 2007


Here's the official list of Heaven's Gate "offenses", including:

*Trusting my own judgment
*Inappropriately offering suggestions
*Staying in my own head, having private thoughts
*Picking or choosing certain tasks
*Having likes or dislikes
posted by stammer at 8:18 PM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry you have to be crazy to fall for this. This requires the prerequisite of trusting a guy from a mental hospital who hears voices, a huge alien conspiracy, all sorts of psychic powers, an amount of conformity that makes 1950s suburbian look like woodstock, and the mingboggling decision to kill yourself to get on a spaceship.

Sorry, this isnt a pyramid scheme. You have to be pretty fargone and have years of credulous nosense drilled into your head by 'gurus' before you can even approach a group on this nutty level.

39 to beam up? then laughter? sickening. Everytime I think Dawkins is over-the-top I think of these sad pathetic creatures.
posted by damn dirty ape at 9:21 PM on March 23, 2007


"2. Sensuality - permitting arousal in thought or in action (not nipping it in the bud)."

This one's about 100 times worse than the rest of them, methinks.
posted by tehloki at 10:09 PM on March 23, 2007


Fascinating. Misguided, sure, but they hardly seem pathetic to me.
posted by owhydididoit at 11:45 PM on March 23, 2007


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