I would like to contact Jan Mogenson who was in the Everyman Theater in San Francisco with me in the 70’s. Do you have any contact info Thanks.
Still learning from that experience.
Hi Amanda, I don’t have contact info, but perhaps someone out in cyberspace does … if so, I’ll do what I can to connect you. I could also send an email to the few California folks I’ve had some back & forth with. Let me know if that would be helpful.
Hi 4 years later and I have been reading all the messages from the past few years. today. I have also occasionally followed the shenanigans of the Sharon Gans group. It strikes me as incredible that Robert is still there but then, no, looking back, it fits. Anyway thank you for your response which I never saw until today. I still attend a foundation group because the readings and discussions make me stretch the bubble I live in and at my age I have no goals beyond learning more and connecting with others and appreciating this world. Your blog is so well done and the feedback so worthwhile. Bless you. I never was able to find Jan Mogenson or anyone connected with Alex Horn’s group in San Francisco. By the way , I left with no remorse after 1 1/2 years having known for some time that there was something very wrong about these folks.
So be it. Thanks
Hi Amanda, thanks for visiting and for the kind feedback! Appreciate it 🙂 You might find this article interesting: https://nypost.com/2019/11/11/inside-the-alleged-cult-that-has-been-quietly-operating-in-ny-for-decades/
Also would be glad to talk about the Theatre c. late ’70s
I knew Jan a little bit– occasionally at the theater and taking us sailing.
He was married to Martha, yes?
One night, app. ’77-78 I saw Martha backstage and her face was all bruised and puffy– obviously beaten up– she was being kicked out of school and was talking to Gans later that night asking to stay– “no” Sharon said, “you don’t belong here.”
Do you remember anything about that?
HI, I was in this school in 1985 for 6 months when they were meeting in a building on the corner of a Franklin + Broadway….. I left after getting a really bad vibe from Alex Horn…. having witnessed the older students verbally tear apart another older student under Alex’s supervision. It was incredibly abusive and set all my alarms off, as did the subtle censorship that was beginning to take place. I’d like to contact some other folks who were members at that time and say hello as I lost friends when I left. From what I’ve read here and other places I guess I made the right decision! Thanks, Fred
I was there at that time too – I don’t recall a Fred other than Fred Mindel. Do the names David, Stephanie, Mary, Peter, Rhonda, Margo, ring a bell? i think i remember John Paul though. RP
Yes, Fred, you absolutely made the right decision! I raise my wine glass to your good judgement. I don’t think many people visit this page, but if you want, I can create a simple post out of your request … something like:
Member from 1985, Somerville “school” on the corner of Franklin & Broadway, seeking to connect with others. Email me at GSR@cultconfessions.com and I’ll put you in touch.
Let me know. Thanks for reading & commenting!
Thank you, that would be great! A few years later a couple of the older students tried to re-recruit me, not sure how many years after it was. I didn’t leave the group on bad terms because I told them I was going on the road as a musician…. it gave me enough of a time out to not want to go back….
One of them was Matthew, who was a carpenter I had befriended…. they looked bad though. I was still curious about the work and had read many books at that point by Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Collin, Bennett. Matthew called me a few times after but I got the feeling the group needed money…. I think this is when the group had broken with Alex because he was mentioned as being “out of the loop”.
I’m surprised that Sharon is still alive…. she didn’t look good the last time I saw her….. they did a play with F. Murray Abraham in midtown (in the early 90’s I think) and she was there getting waited on hand and foot by some of her “students”.
I’d really appreciate if would put the notice! Some of the people I remember from the group are Michael Singer, Mark Ellison, John Paul Bonner, etc. I went to the Adirondacks with those three and I always wonder what happened to these folks…. Thanks, Fred
Interesting – I know there are definitely some people from those days in the mid-80’s who read this blog, hopefully the Queen of GSR will be able to get you in touch with some of those who want to be in touch. I was recruited in the late 80’s, which is when a huge push was going on and a lot of people were brought in. This was after the coup wherein Sharon ousted Alex, I was told it was with a push from her son who couldn’t stand the violence he perpetrated. I do know that Mark Ellison is out, you can probably find him through google – a lot of folks who you were in with are probably searchable that way. They may or may not want to be in touch with you, don’t take it perosnally. The show with F. Murray Abraham was a staged reading of a horrible play by Alex about Giordano Bruno. I was one of those people who had to help wait on Sharon, or at least help prepare the food. I remember that she called me (she was sweetening me up for a big reeling in) and told me to “go buy some of those good big oatmeal cookies in plastic they have in the store” I asked her if she didn’t want to have homemade cookies, wouldn’t it be a better vibration and she said “Well, someone had to have made them, didn’t they?” And I thought, yeah, in a factory – isn’t this against everything you ever professed to think? And I stupidly offered once again to make the cookies, which I did at five in the morning. She also had teams of people cooking turkeys and making turkey sandwiches – I never saw people so weirded out as the theater people who came to that so-called professional reading and were given homemade turkey sandwiches, oatmeal cookies, and coffee while being made to sit through a reading over 3 hours long! It was horrible, too – lots of long, boring speeches by historical characters so flat they leapt into the page. She then set out on a campaign to force the script onto Vanessa Redgrave. I was brought into this, and it was humiliating because Redgrave wanted nothing to do with it. I remember sneaking backstage at a play she was doing and begging to just take the fucking thing out of my hand so I could go back to Sharon and say I gave it to her. Now I know I could have skipped the whole thing and made something up and Sharon would have never known the difference, because she is not an evolved being, she has no idea whether or not people are telling the truth or lying unless she has some covert information stolen from people who think they are telling confidential things to a friend or sustainer, and she is a complete fraud who encourages her followers to be bullies, liars, and frauds.
here here!! your post is 100% spot on and encouraged me to write my own. Thanks for sharing.
OMG.. I was watching Leah Remini’s show on Scientology and got curious about the 4th Way School I was a “student” of for FIVE years of my young adulthood in Boston mid-80s. Even went to the Montana Ranch, where I was shamed and asked to leave more than once. Ok – now I understand the need for $$$. I could not have dreamed those 5 years of my life if I had been on LSD every day. Always interested in Theatre, arts, soul searching made me a perfect target for this “school” in my early/mid 20s after moving to Boston and being a bit lonely. Under the guise of trying to gain some self-enlightenment, and not being crazy about the southern bible belt I had fled, I’m still amazed at how I explained away the bizarre trappings of this cult. Tending to Sharon, one her rare visits, the constant scotch sipping, abuse by “older” students, cleaning and tending to older students kids, and recruiting. Jeezzzus! Crazy clever, Crazy abusive. The trilogy in NY of the Kennedy assassination, and the students (us) as plants in the audience to conjur emotions… All orchestrated for new recruits. I walked away one night after asking myself what I thought my father would think. I was asked to “come back to say good-bye” otherwise known as a teaching moment for separating for the other students from someone who was clearly no more than a “worm” (me). Alex’s word. And Bob, who apparently goes by Robert now, rolling his head in that crazy ass laugh. The fraternizing, the order to stop fraternizing. Interfering with people’s marriages, sex, pregnancy, and jobs and ‘outside’ families. I was so very sad to say goodbye to some people I had deeply come to care about. But whew!! What a foolish and young girl was I. They, on the other hand, know exactly what they are doing. My cheers for anyone who has been there and walked away. YAY for you. For anyone thinking about it – does it makes sense that you would be asked to keep secret something above board, being forbidden to talk to that person who left school and is just “negative” now. No one asks you to separate yourself from ‘outsiders’ unless they are trying to keep an emotional hold on you. Walk away and develop your life on your own terms. You only have one chance on this planet – don’t waste your time, money, and emotional currency on this group.
Thanks! I needed that.
Lori from Boston
Hi Lori – Thanks for commenting and I’m glad you find the Blog helpful. Yep, “school” was and is just a smaller, less successful, and somewhat less bombastic version of Scientology. All cults are the same, really. They all pull the same emotional and social levers. Good for you for leaving!!! You reference some stuff that I’m not familiar with – Kennedy Trilogy? Must have been some theatrical production.I’d also be curious to hear your perspective on the fraternizing and sudden non-fraternizing.
And, yes, “school” knows what it’s doing – at least the leadership knows. I’m always amazed at the deep impact these groups hold — sounds like you left in the late 80s, early 90s, yes? How did you find this blog?
Thank you for the response. Yes, the blog is helpful. When you talk about the deep impact, while the best decision I made was to walk away, I still have these memories that just fly into my head, sometimes dreams haunted by Sharon or Bob, or where I’m trying to attend a meeting without making a commitment. Crazy stuff. Then I’m good, let it go. I was always curious and searching, I even “did” est before it was the forum – way back in 78-79, but that was child’s play compared to what these folks did.
Alex wrote a series of plays based on the Kennedy Assassination, produced in NY, off-off Broadway, but billed well. 3 Plays, I think it was called the King Trilogy, “I” and 2 others, I forget. It was required reading. Very interesting and of course, exploiting the Kennedy emotional card. There was a very intense scene in the play with Jackie O crawling on the back of the car. The plays were interesting, thoughtful, but the back stage stuff was ridiculous. We were spread throughout the audience and told to get “emotional” so the attendees could get something out of it. I was weepy and the poor guy next to me started balling –
he was so upset. Sharon was pushing all her contacts to get Patrick Kennedy to attend the plays. To my knowledge they never did. Post show was Sharon and Alex sitting in their chairs getting waited on like royalty. It was really sickening. That was around 84-85. I left about a year later. As for the fraternizing, Bob, who was still married at the time, but his wife was not part of the school, and his kids were still pretty young, was carrying on with Myra, one of the ‘older’ students. She had a daughter not too long after I left, but they were not allowed to officially date. There were several marriages. During a trip to the Montana Ranch, I got close to Bob’s right hand man. I can’t remember his name now, but he was a sweetheart. He got really sick after we got back and I was at his apartment taking care of him. Sharon called him, asked if I was there, and then told him to get me out of there. I was a dark negative presence, poisoning him and that’s why he couldn’t bring any new students to school. If he was going to continue in the school, he would have to stop being interested in me. No dating. Then shortly after that, all fraternizing was forbidden. One young woman got pregnant the first year I was there and when her family found out, Bob and Sharon sent the guy away – basically hid him so the girl’s family couldn’t find him. Can you imagine?!? I think about that woman every now & then. There were several other marriages, some occurred just before I joined and 4 or 5 in the year or 2 after I joined followed. When I first joined, cost was $250 a month. There were about 60-70 students in Boston, about the same in NY I guess. We did 3rd line of work 2-3 nights per week, meetings 2x a week and younger students were required to babysit or clean the houses 1-2 nights a week so the older students could meet and do their “work”. 3rd line work occurred mostly in Harvard Square or Copley Square in Boston etc., and at one point had about 120+ students and about 30 “older” students. There was so much pressure to bring new students and if you couldn’t you were accused of being negative and purposely interfering with everyone’s work and progress. I was so naive, when some of the older students would yell at me, abuse me, I would use Ouspenky’s words to try and protect myself. Ha! That didn’t work. These people were sick with the desire to abuse us. It’s what they knew how to do, to get results. I find it very interesting that they don’t acknowledge Gurdjieff any more. I was attracted to the philosophy, the readings, but that quickly went to the back burner when the push was on to bring new students. They spent just enough time on the material to pretend they were doing the “work” but the ultimate purpose was bringing in $ for the apartments, the ranch in Montana, air fare etc for the “teachers”. I spent considerable effort actively forgetting those years, but I think was I there about 82 – 86 or 87. After we got kicked out of the Somerville location, we were in Brookline, I think, I left shortly after that. So thanks for the opportunity to share.
I have 2 kids of my own, one is away at school, the other is a Junior in high school and I do talk to them and encourage them to explore the world but to never ever let any group charge $ to share ideas or separate them from their family or friends.
Let me know if you any other questions. Secrets are generally dark and unhealthy. Con Artists – amazing!
Wow. Thanks for all of this … in fact, I think it’s really important information, esp for those who “school” may be targeting now. I might want to craft this into it’s own post. How would you feel about that?
BTW, others have mentioned the “school” dreams to me — I’ve had a few of my own. But, honestly, I think I managed to avoid the worst of the worst in “school”. Maybe it’s b/c Sharon was merely a shadow passing through the hollow halls on occasion and Alex was already dead. The Boston branch, I think, goes for the slow but steady indoctrination strategy. Sounds like The Sharon Show is more of a full-frontal attack. All of this is to say, my dreams don’t have the disturbing content of other more Alex/Sharon afflicted attendees.
Have you had any contact with other “disgruntled ex students” since your departure? Have you shared the experience with any non-members?
Hello GSR, I have no problem if you want to craft this into your own post. Of course, I assume you won’t use my name. Yes, I think the Boston approach was more methodical and probably tamer once Alex was gone. I understand Sharon kicked him out before he died. I have had contact w/ 2 people post school. One I reached out to right after I left but the conversation was very awkward – I don’t think she wanted to talk about it. About 3 years ago, an ex-student I was very fond of and had shared an apartment with reached out to me – she was planning to write a story about the experience, but after we met, which was a very good reunion, I didn’t hear from her again and did not want to push her. I have talked to several folks about my experience. I was in therapy for about 2 years after leaving – I had suffered from depression and anxiety most of my life and after leaving school I felt ‘freed’ to finally get the help I needed. I got back to work, developed my professional life, married and pretty happy about my life. I have talked some to my husband about what happened, but it’s not a shared experience really. He’s understanding, but a very grounded guy. He has a pretty good radar when it comes to scammers. Otherwise, I’ve really placed this on the back burner. Watching Leah Remini’s stories about Scientology re-kindled my interest in the whole cult/group thing. I think everyone searches for their ‘tribe’ and other ways to connect and find purpose, but it still baffles me how leaders of groups like this justify what they do. It’s like telemarketing that targets people’s hearts. The bottom line message to people who may be getting drawn in is – If it’s a place that begins to feel unsafe, unsupporting, and undermines your self worth and self respect – then it’s time to go.
Yea, I call it The Hope Market. And, yes, the phenomenon is bizarre, yet common. I’m glad to hear that you spoke with people and were truly able to move on. I, personally, think when the “invisible world” remains a festering secret, it continues to wreak havoc on psychology. While those cult worms continue worming through heart and soul, the perpetrators keep on, keeping on, protected by the silence.
On the other hand, when you take the time to process the experience by talking to others, you exorcise it out of your system and unburden your heart, mind and spirit.
BTW, I’m careful about including names in this blog — I will use first names for “teachers” & recruiters so those who are seeking information will recognize the group. I never name members, or ex-members.
You are 100% spot on about the silence protecting them. And your efforts to expose – applauded! I’m not sure who might still be there, but these are some of the first names of ‘older’ students in charge of younger students and 3rd line of work. Marie & Geoff (married in mid 80s), Myra, Alan, Ed, Jane, Lou (married to another student whose name I forget), Ann, Paul. During recruitment, the strategy was to always work in male/female pairs. Women always in skirts. (wth…) Men in dress shirts & ties, jacket optional. Do NOT target anyone over 35 – they are essentially already “dead”. (i.e., they have lives & too busy to chat with strangers in the bookstore about their dreams). Introduce yourself (first names only). There were various tactics discussed & used, but nothing formal – it was basically drag anyone you can to an ‘open’ meeting. Then Bob would stroll in and start talking about this secret “work” that only special individuals would have the capacity to benefit from. Sales brilliance, really. Things like, the people that invited you to this meeting recognized a certain openness and hunger in all of you that might, if you’re special enough, might get a peek at… And then after about an hour and listening to people share their stories/interest/specialness – Bob would say something like, ‘there’s no commitment, but we are only interested in only those people who have a sincere and serious desire to discover an elevated plane of life for themselves to experience a month at this school. The one month trial includes a cost because there has to be some skin in the game, as they say, there has to be a value associated to it…. ” And then, everyone that was really interested would stay and wrap up the details with one or 2 ‘older’ students and we would end up with 5-6 new ‘students’ for the next month. Anyone at the ‘open’ meeting who challenged Bob, sometimes it was Alan or Geoff or Myra, with questions about the legitimacy of the group was asked to leave or the question would be turned back on the person asking it or the subject would change. Lots of attention and kindness were given to those people in the first month. My personal saving grace I think was that one of the older students, Myra, who had been there the longest at that point, (and reminded us often) absolutely HATED me. That always struck in my craw. The night I shared I had decided to leave school, in front of the entire group, Bob had said – “I didn’t invite you here to say goodbye, I invited you here to convince your friends and me on why we should let you stay”… And then gave everyone who wanted to say something to me a chance to say it. Myra asked me if my relationship with them was so worthless. I told them that in the last year I was there I felt really conflicted about getting any closer emotionally because I had seen too many other people cut off if they chose to stop doing the “work”. And that her contempt of me never made me feel very welcomed there anyway. And that there were a few other friends there I would miss terribly. And then Bob “excused” me. Very weird. I had keys to his apartment because I cleaned his house once a week and so he met me outside to get his key. It was very weird – he basically said – Thanks and good luck. And walked away.
There were things I really did like about the the experience, that were very aligned with theatre (Stanislavski, Chekhov, Ibsen) etc., but I assume those really were suggested tools from Sharon’s theatre experience. “Body” Work was the line of work to get in touch with your physical being. It was very physical, very odd, but I really liked it. It made me feel good and I actually still do that sometimes now If feel really tight in the joints. I liked reading & discussing Gurdjief, Ouspensky in small groups, but hated those discussions when Sharon & Alex were there. They exhibited such contempt for us as if were nothing more than cockroaches they had to endure hoping one of us might become enlightened. I also like discussing Plato, the bible, particularly the parables, Emerson and was into existentialism (Sarte, Camus) for a while in my youth. So this group and others like them take those experimental, questioning works and use just enough of it to pique a person’s interest and seeking. And then use it for their own means and satisfaction. Hoping that helps in your efforts to alert seeking souls to the truer nature of this group.
Wow. You had quite an exit. Classic gaslighting – from Robert/Bob saying you had to “convince” them to “let you stay” (?) to Myra (a woman who demonstrated contempt) inquiring as to why your relationship “to them was so worthless”.
Apparently the new millennium recruitment process was altered in that the queen recruiter, Lisa, spent a few months spinning a “friendship” and then dumped me into the group, as opposed to bringing me to an immediate group offering. Also, they had started implementing the “free 5-week experiment” ruse.
Well, I appreciate the info. This is stuff I hadn’t heard about before — the requirements for 3rd-line, new friendship efforts, women wear skirts, men wear suits, for example. I didn’t encounter that level of control, but I’m sure I would have had I extended my tenure.
Wow. I’m trying to rack my memory for anyone I recall as Lisa – doesn’t ring a bell. We used to often talk about using more modern methods of recruitment – it was long before social media, but anything we came up with was shot down. I have a feeling they were threatened with some harrassement charges. So spinning the longer term friendship is certainly even more insidious. They had to modernize a bit or the conservative approach wouldn’t have attracted anyone. You are one smart cookie !! Thank you again for creating and posting this – if it alerts a single ‘target’ you will have served your mission. It has certainly helped me! Even after all this time.
I’m not sure when Lisa made her entrance. Whenever it was, by 06, when I was sucked in she was recruiter grande dame. It’s always good to know that the blog is helpful. It used to get a lot more traffic, but I figure it’s a resource worth keeping out in cyberspace. I will definitely craft a post from the info you supplied. Just read through it again and a lot of it is new to me .Thanks for that!
Hi—do you know whether Michael C. is still involved in the Gans cult?
Hi Curious – Thanks for your question. When I was a participant Michael C “taught” us tai chi, or some kind of a facsimile, of tai chi. I’m guessing he’s still involved only b/c he was definitely in the inner, inner circle when I was in … a “teacher”. But, honestly, don’t know for sure. GSR
I found your site here while reminiscing over a curious series of encounters that I had with two women in fall of 2013. Their names were Myra and Catherine, and they struck up a conversation with me as I was eating lunch outside Sofra in Watertown, MA. Catherine was quite shy, but Myra was very engaging, and we had a great conversation for an hour or so. Afterward, they said they would like to meet up and talk again. I was a youngish 33-year-old man and they were both middle- or late-middle-age women, but being generally open to odd connections with others, I said that sounded good. Myra even suggested that she was reading Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on self-reliance, and that I could read it, too, so that we could discuss it.
Myra and Catherine told me that the best way to communicate with them was by calling their “answerphone” and leaving a message, which they would return. This was the first indication I had Myra and Catherine were a little strange and secretive in their communication. Despite the roundabout communication, we managed to meet again, even coordinating a last-minute change of venue from Sofra to Panera in Porter Square (which I remember because Panera is a somewhat disappointing substitute). At this meeting, they asked me if I would like to accompany them to a lecture the following week. They wouldn’t give me any information about it, so I was a little skeptical. The lecture happened to fall on a date when a friend was visiting, and so I asked if my friend could come as well. Myra said that wouldn’t be possible, and so I declined.
At this point, I was quite sure that what had seemed like a chance encounter on a Saturday afternoon at Sofra had, in fact, been the beginning of some kind of recruitment, possibly to a cult. I googled some of the phrases Myra and Catherine had used that had seemed strange or caught my attention, but I didn’t have much to go on, and I couldn’t find anything. I agreed to meet with them one more time, just to see if I could catch any clues in their speech, but they seemed quite disciplined in their secrecy. And so I left without making future plans and never saw them again.
The series of encounters was very odd and memorable, and I have occasionally thought about it since. In 2015 I did some digging on the internet and discovered some information about Sharon Gans and “School.” On a whim today, I searched “Sharon Gans Myra” and found your page with several mentions of someone named Myra. I’m curious if this is the same Myra whom I met in 2013.
Thanks for any insight you can provide!
Hi Mark – I feel fairly confident that the Myra you met, is the Myra referred to in this blog. She’s a long time member and those recruitment tactics are classic “school” stuff, all of them, but Emerson’s Self Reliance was (is?) a School favorite and the “lecture” which is sometimes called a “presentation” is age-old when it comes to casting the cult net.
So, everything that they did was pre-scripted and intentional – they were dangling the bait. It seems like they courted you for many months. Good for you for opting out.
I don’t know how much of the blog you’ve read, but if you’re curious, here’s the cult’s recruitment training manual: https://www.cultconfessions2.com/2012/05/04/privilege-2-making-new-friends-i-e-recruitment/
Thank you so much. This information is really helpful toward understanding and processing that odd experience I had. Even brief encounters with “clever insincerity” can undermine a person’s confidence in the general good will and trustworthiness of others. I think that is why, nearly a decade later, I still puzzle over my seemingly serendipitous meeting with Myra and Catherine.
Good luck to you as you heal from that group and help others do the same!
Hi Mark – I’m glad the info is helpful. I think you’re saying something very important: you had an encounter –however briefly– with intentional betrayal and it leaves a scar. Sometimes people who left School in the 70s or 80s or 90s find this blog and I can only conclude that “clever insincerity” is so insidiously damaging that people seek out resolution for years – they may not even be aware of what’s driving them. It seems to break an ingrained social contract so deeply that those of us who encounter it feel a deep need to understand … what the f happened? How could anyone behave this way? People indoctrinated into a cult behave this way.
So, I’m glad that this info gives you what you need to take in that you didn’t get sucked in! Good for you. And now you can move forward in life with some new knowledge that will help you protect yourself from social parasites.
Take care, Esther
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