There’s nothing like a few celebs to keep a sex cult in business.
And the extraordinary power of celebrities to persuade their fans to blindly follow them is emerging as a central theme in the saga of the Nxivm (pronounced Nexium) sex cult, which allegedly depended on the persuasive power of Smallville actress Allison Mack as a key recruiter.
She is said to have been promoted to No. 2 in the group for her ability to entice a steady stream of young women—who were subsequently branded and beaten—as sex partners for its founder, Keith Raniere.
Raniere and Mack been charged with—and pleaded not guilty to—sex-trafficking and forced-labor charges.
However, Page Six reports Mack is now seeking to cut a deal with prosecutors, and that she also sought to increase Nxivm’s star power by reaching out to Emma Watson and Kelly Clarkson on Twitter with the intention of getting them to join the group.
“.@EmWatson I participate in a unique human development & women’s movement I’d love to tell you about. As a fellow actress I can relate so...” Mack tweeted at Watson in January 2016.
In 2013, she tweeted to Clarkson: “I heard through the grapevine that you’re a fan of Smallville. I’m a fan of yours as well! I’d love to chat sometime,” she wrote to the pop superstar in 2013.
According to the Page Six report, Mack is now looking to cut a deal with the feds in Brooklyn.
A new affidavit, filed Friday, resulted in a delay to proceedings against her until May 3, because “they are engaged in plea negotiations, which they believe are likely to result in a disposition of this case without trial,” according to the document.
Mack is accused of being the second-in-command of the sex cult run by the mysterious Raniere, which masqueraded as a self-help group based in Albany, New York.
Mack allegedly used her celebrity to lure young women into the cult, who were then pressured to have sexual relations with Raniere and were, incredibly, branded with a design based on Raniere’s and Mack’s initials in ceremonies.
In October, The New York Times published shocking testimony from women who claimed to have been branded during a Nxivm ritual.
The Times reported that, “Each woman was told to undress and lie on a massage table, while three others restrained her legs and shoulders. According to one of them, their ‘master,’ a top Nxivm official named Lauren Salzman, instructed them to say: ‘Master, please brand me, it would be an honor.’”
“A female doctor proceeded to use a cauterizing device to sear a two-inch-square symbol below each woman’s hip, a procedure that took 20 to 30 minutes,” the Times reported, “For hours, muffled screams and the smell of burning tissue filled the room.”
The FBI’s criminal complaint similarly claims that, “Once recruited as ‘slaves,’ women were allegedly expected to perform menial chores for ‘masters’ and have sex with Mr. Raniere, who was known as ‘The Vanguard.’”
“Raniere has maintained a rotating group of fifteen to twenty women with whom he maintains sexual relationships,” the FBI said. “These women are not permitted to have sexual relationships with anyone but Raniere or to discuss with others their relationship with Raniere. Some of the Nxivm curriculum included teachings about the need for men to have multiple sexual partners and the need for women to be monogamous.”
The Daily Beast has previously reported how Mack is alleged to have helped form a secret sorority within the group, known as DOS (Dominos Obsequious Sororium, which means Master Over the Slave Women), envisioning “a united group of women branded in the name of Mr. Raniere and Miss Mack—which will be a force for good, and a female force against evil.”
Women in the group were allegedly kept on a 500- to 800-calorie-a-day diet, it was claimed in the Daily Mail, “because Raniere likes thin women and believes fat ‘interferes’ with his energy levels… slaves must immediately answer their masters any time they text or call them, and if they do not recruit enough slaves of their own, they are beaten with a paddle on their buttocks.”
Nxivm has long been aware of the power of celebrity. A 2010 Vanity Fair piece alleged that Raniere went out of his way to court wealthy and influential followers, including Seagram’s heiresses Sara and Clare Bronfman.
Vanity Fair reported the Bronfman sisters donated a total of $150 million to Nxivm.