Cults are back and bigger than ever. For the bright lights of the glitterati, from Britney Spears to Tom Cruise, an aura of brainwashed serenity is a social must have. Any brash young trendsetter worth his salt now has a guru, sage or swami to flesh out his entourage. So forget about Gucci, Armani, and Prada; this season you’ll be sporting Scientology, Hari Krishna and Kabbalah.
Like vintage acid wash jeans, or a Depeche Mode comeback tour, cults are a bit of a retro fad. They were originally part and parcel of the hippy craze, when corduroy and hemp were de rigueur. Your parents probably remember . . . it was the Summer of Love, Haight Ashbury was cool, and the Beatles were grooving in India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The hip kids listened to Timothy Leary, turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. Even suburban housewives were going on Aztec vision quests or having their auras read. But, fashion is fickle, and eventually Charlie ‘buzz-kill’ Manson came along to ruin everybody’s fun. Cult leaders spent the next 40 years wandering in a cultural desert.
At this summer’s barbeques, clambakes and gin-socials, your indoctrinated friends will be the focus of conversation. It’d be a ghastly faux pas to be the last hapless philistine caught professing Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Of course, with so many sects clamouring for your attention, it’s nigh on impossible to find one that fits. Don’t fear, trend hoppers, I’ve picked out four of the hottest new movements for your perusal.
If religion is the opiate of the masses, then Scientology is Hollywood’s hillbilly heroin. It’s the official cult of greater Los Angeles (AKA Cultopolis, USA). With every passing week another A-list celeb is brought into the fold. Consider this star-studded list of inductees: John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Lisa Marie Presley, Jason Lee, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. They’re all Scientologists! They regularly intrigue their jealous friends with tales of the galactic emperor Xenu, body thetans, and e-meters. As high level Scientologists you can cure drug addicts, criminals and the mentally insane.
* Style tip: don’t confess anything incriminating during your ‘auditing’ sessions – being blackmailed is never sexy.
Do you enjoy smoking the odd joint to the island rhythms of Bob Marley? Are you willing to accept Haile Selassie I, the former emperor of Ethiopia, as god incarnate? If so, then Rastafarianism is for you. It’s breezy, casual and the perfect addition to any game of ultimate Frisbee. I mean, there’s always been a certain je ne sais quoi about smoking ganja, growing dreadlocks and listening to reggae in worship of Jah Rastafari. On the downside, style-philes should know that most pot heads are closet converts, which means zero points for originality. Likewise, being the second Rastafarian at a party is nearly as awkward as showing up to the Oscars in the same dress as Joan Rivers.
* Style tip: If you do it, own it, and own it early, otherwise you’ll come off as the stoned poseur.
Paris, the birthplace of crepes, lingerie and existentialism, has spawned the latest in European cult style. Yes, I’m talking about the Raelians. It was 1973 when singer/race car driver Claude Vorilhon first had sex with an alien in a volcanic crater. He would go on to claim that all life on Earth was created as a result of inter-planetary DNA manipulation. Now his notoriously promiscuous Rael girls turn heads from the catwalks of Milan to the mean streets of New York City. They even seduced Robbie Williams. Just check out their 2004 Playboy photo spread: sex sells!
* Style tip: Raelian orgies are cool, but remember to use protection, because hepatitis isn’t – just ask Tommy Lee.
The Larouche Youth
The Larouche youth is an all season classic. It’s a personality cult meets wildly paranoid political movement for a match made in heaven. Enjoy community service? Soon they’ll have you urging complete strangers to support the construction of a land bridge from Siberia to Alaska. Want to impress your highbrow friends? Tell them the truth about Queen Elizabeth, the Federal Reserve and the conspiracy to control the international drug trade. Wish you were more debonair? With a martini in one hand, and a holocaust hoax pamphlet in the other, you will appear informed, insightful and cosmopolitan. If Lyndon Larouche is in your corner there’s simply no way to lose!
* Style tip: The tin-foil hat is the ultimate accessory, practical, posh and animal friendly.