The Hollywood Appeal of NXIVM's "Sex Cult"

Keith Raniere's pseudo-philosophy ranged from hedonism and nihilism to neurotic obsessions with weight, body hair, and training people out of empathy.

Allison Mack

By Featureflash Photo Agency (Shutterstock)

TW: This article discusses emotional and sexual abuse.

In 2006, when Allison Mack was a lead actress on CW's Smallville, she accepted an invitation from co-star Kristin Kreuk to attend a meeting for a "women's empowerment" group called NXIVM (pronounced nex-ee-um).

Over the following decade, the Albany-based organization became known as a cult that practiced sex slavery and branding under the guise of mentoring young women.

This week, Mack faces sentencing after pleading guilty to charges of federal racketeering for her senior role within the organization, which included recruiting women for "labor and services" under orders from Keith Raniere, NXIVM's leader and co-founder.

On October 28, 2020, Keith Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison for his involvement with NXIVM. What was the appeal of Keith Raniere's cult, and what led to its deserved downfall?

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