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Allison Mack has taken credit for brainstorming the Nxivm cult’s controversial branding practice in a story published just a little over a month after the former Smallville actress was released from federal custody on a $5 million bond.
In a New York Times Magazine feature about the Nxivm cult published Wednesday, writer Vanessa Grigoriadis says Mack took “full responsiblity for coming up with the DOS cauterized brand” in an interview for the story.
Nxivm’s branding ritual was first exposed in a New York Times story in October, and which the publication claims has led to “hundreds” of defections since. Women were branded as a rite of passage in the cult by a female osteopath with a symbol that includes a ‘K’ and an ‘R,’ the initials of Nxivm leader Keith Raniere.
“I was like: ‘Y’all, a tattoo? People get drunk and tattooed on their ankle ‘BFF,’ or a tramp stamp. I have two tattoos and they mean nothing,'” Mack told Grigoriadis of the brand in an interview, looking for a more meaningful gesture.
The admission comes after Mack was charged in federal court with sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and forced labor conspiracy. The actress is currently under house arrest at her home in California under electronic monitoring as her case proceeds. Mack was released from custody on a $5 million bond on April 24.
It is unclear from the NYTM story when the interview with Mack took place, though it must have been before she was taken into custody, as she hosted Grigoriadis at her apartment in Brooklyn.
Mack told Grigoriadis that she joined Nxivm at a moment when she felt dissatisfied with her acting career and hoped Raniere could make her a great actress. She described recruitment tactics and the cult’s system of “masters” and “slaves,” with each master and slave group “like a little family,” in her words.
When Mack herself became a “master,” as The Hollywood Reporter reported in a May cover story about the Nxivm group, she was reportedly punitive. “She berated [her slaves] and told them they were worth nothing, that they were weak and couldn’t uphold their word,” said one woman familiar with two of Mack’s “slaves,” who declined to be named because of the ongoing case.
According to Nxivm whistleblower Frank Parlato, who first wrote critically of the group in his blog, a report that led to the NYT‘s initial branding story, Mack gained access to Raniere’s inner circle out of her ability to recruit beautiful women to his organization. “She never had what [Raniere confidante Pam] Cafritz had, the ability to be an excellent body servant or valet,” Parlato told THR. “But she had the ability to bring women to Raniere’s bed. She procured some startling beauties.”
Prosecutors have said that Mack’s group had over 50 “slaves.”
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