Four-Star Cults

The Kool-Aid was lukewarm

by Alta Viscomi; illustrations by Celia Palmer


As a result of this issue, we anticipate an inevitable swell of student interest in visiting cults. Because of this, we’ve decided to include a few helpful online reviews to make planning your next cult excursion a little easier. 

The Spa at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints  

(formerly the Warren Jeffs retreat center) 


✭✭✭ “loved the southwestern backdrop”

Attended education summit here. Loved the hot chocolate and traditional corn cakes in the lobby. Things did get a little weird when the owner stumbled into the conference and tried to couple everyone up into “acceptable marriage pairs.” His insistence that I divorce my husband for one of his sons was kind of rude. He would only answer to “President, prophet, seer and revealer” when I requested extra towels from the front desk. 

-Agnes, Cincinnati 


✭✭✭✭ “great family environment”

I’m an older woman and found the sound of 800 children laughing and chanting scripture about the fate of their souls immensely relaxing. My grandkids came up from Phoenix for the day, and loved the jovial atmosphere. I noticed the bellhop seemed to be removing some older male children from the premises. I’m guessing this was related to the pamphlet in our room about maintaining the golden ratio?? Also, loved the privacy from the massive cement walls surrounding the resort.  

-Linda, Tampa


✭ “Was expelled, wife and children stayed.”

Dammit, I can’t believe this place is still open. Eight years ago my college buddies and I had a little reunion at Mr. Jeff’s famous ranch retreat. In the middle of the night, all the men and post-pubescent male children were unceremoniously abducted and deposited at a 7-11 a few miles from the Spa (more like compound if you ask me). We’re all working on an exposé documentary with Michael Moore. 

-Steve, Seattle 


The Club Med (At the People’s Temple)

Jonestown, Guyana


✭✭ “Hemispheres Magazine lied”

My sister and I had been so excited to “go native” in socialist Guyana after United Airlines Hemispheres Magazine article “Alternative Vacations, Alternative Government Structures.” When we arrived there, we found a disappointing influence of Marxism in the resort’s Pentecostal progressive policy (We’re open minded, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t proud Americans). Also, those dick heads took away our beach clothes so we could match the linen robes everyone else was wearing. My tan lines alone earned this South American armpit barely two stars. 

-Misty, New Hampshire


✭✭✭ “The next Sandals, with better drinks!”

My fiancé and I had talked about a destination honeymoon, and when she called off the wedding the owners were nice enough to let me sub in my co-worker, Zeke. Zeke was a real trooper for coming with me, we would sit at the bar most nights and buy each other rounds of the signature Kool Aid in the Shade martini. We had a great time, I hardly think of Allyson now. Zeke taught me a lot about the world and about myself. On the downside, I think the Kool aid may have given me a few long term GI problems. Also, I haven’t seen Zeke since I got back. Come to think of it, I’m not sure if he rode the plane home with me. I actually haven’t heard from anyone I met on the trip. Maybe I’ll post on the group Facebook page.”

-Mikey, Los Angeles 


✭✭✭✭ “Celeb Hot Spot”

A-listers in and out every day. I keep running into major celebrities and politicians during our mandatory sauna sessions (insider tip, Will Smith is less helpful with dating advice in real life). Sadly, I think we missed the smoking hot Senator Leo Ryan who was flying in for a massive party this month. Next time, Leo!

-Lauren, Washington DC


The Scientology Medical/Beach retreat in L.A.

Los Angeles, California 


✭✭✭✭ “Not your average medical retreat”

Anyone who says Scientology isn’t a classist cult is kidding themselves. If you break it down, I bet I paid at least sixty bucks per revelatory sauna experience. My wife wants me to take my health more seriously as we’re getting older, but I don’t know if all this scientology medical mumbo-jumbo did anything more for me than my yoga classes at our YMCA.

-Ned, Las Vegas 


 ✭✭✭“Front desk lady rude about alien ‘myth’”

Of course I was going to ask. And she was all “There are some people spreading the utterly false idea that Scientology is based on alien beliefs or ancient aliens or something of that nature. Scientology is based on communication, knowledge and understanding and provides help to master life and gain more understanding about it.” Whatever lady. Just give me the wi-fi password. 

Also, Tom Cruise leaves his pubes in the communal shower.

-Lee Ann, St. Paul


Twelve Tribes Community in Manitou Springs

(Winner of the 2014 Best Local Cult award)

✭✭✭✭ “Came for the Mate--stayed for the politics!”

I joined Twelve Tribes three years ago when I was looking for a good study space for my neuro exam and found the Mate shop in Colorado Springs. It feels like people are a little more experienced here when it comes to taking action about social issues rather than just talking about them (I’m looking at you, bourgeois of the Wild Goose). Sure, the harp playing of our Mother leader can take on unusual gusto early in the morning, but its more peaceful than the screaming and vomit in Mathias hall. 

-Ben, Colorado Springs


✭✭✭ “Not a ton of help from the front desk”

I love Manitou Springs and I admit I’m a sucker for cults appropriating Native American culture, but when I tried to tell the front desk man about the overpowering stench of patchouli in our room, he said he would “guard his heart against my negative energy.” I’m no Conrad Hilton but that doesn’t seem like a viable customer service strategy. Also, the teepees were a bit drafty, and pretty minimal as sound barriers, if you know what I mean. 

-Ethel, Bar Harbor