Frederick Von Mierers, a deeply tanned cult leader with a shocking crown of platinum blond hair, spoke to his followers through their television sets. At two in the morning, Von Mierers would be beamed out into the universe courtesy of cable television. In clips from these extremely ’80s appearances, the former model shills mail-order cassettes and spouts new-age gibberish, his eyes getting impossibly larger and more urgent with each nonsense aphorism. It’s hard to imagine just how strange it would all seem without context, an insomniac flipping through the channels, stumbling upon this exaggeration of a man who claimed to be an alien from the star Arcturus.
Von Mierers believed in impending doom—that he and his fellow aliens had been sent here to help earthlings, an intergalactic team of emergency responders. As the leader of the group Eternal Values, it was Von Mierers’ responsibility to find the others, and teach them about their true origins and noble calling. Like so many cult leaders, he appealed to his followers’ vanity, telling them that they were special enough to literally save the world. Von Mierers, who believed in a “master race,” courted attractive young people. His Nantucket house guests recall being sent out to scour the beach for good-looking recruits, handing out invitations to the finest physical specimens they could find. John Richards Hoyt was 16 when the 30-something Von Mierers approached him at the beach. In a new documentary, Welcome to the Beyond, Hoyt recalls his introduction to the cult leader who would alter the course of his life. “Freddy said to me, you’re different,” Hoyt says, speaking directly to the camera. He and his friends would go to Freddy’s parties for the free beer; for a moment, at least, Hoyt was using him.
In Welcome to the Beyond, which premiered at Doc NYC on Tuesday, director Brent Huff deep-dives into Hoyt’s double life. It helps that Hoyt, or John as his family calls him throughout the film, was born into such a stereotypical American existence.