wayne allen geis as acting and "life" coach and alleged cult leader
image from an old Wayne Allen Studio website
remarks by Joe Szimhart (subject to revision anytime)
2007 October, 2008 February, 2010 March
Theater has many possibilities and a theater has many approaches to design and function. One way to define a cult is a theater gone awry, as a stage without exits with a director that retains godlike attributes in the eyes of the characters. Totalist cult theater is reality reversed forever: The endless preparation for the stage is the pinnacle of life with the promise of ultimate self-transformation in the process to achieve an absolute goal. In the cult leader's view, the audiences [the non-theater people] are mere automatons with deep psychological flaws acting out society's roles. All people not on stage and not under the direction of the leader are mired in illusion.
The infamous cult personality George I. Gurdjieff (1877-1949) is a prime example of such a leader.
G used the "theater of all possibilities" as a forum for indoctrination for his devotees. G believed that men and women are mere "machines" or are "asleep" unless they awaken through his esoteric shock tactics. He approached his students with a relentless attack upon their self-concepts and egos. G taught that we are born without a soul, we have to create one to achieve immortality, and if we do not we will be "eaten" by the "moon." Of course, G talked in metaphors but he wanted his students to believe that his odd language indicated a hyper-reality that he had both contacted and somehow embodied. He taught by the way of the "sly man"--read into that anything you want, but I read "con-artist." For more information, read The Harmonious Circle by James Webb.(1987).
Gurdjieff taught dance movements and engaged members in "role playing." G used any means possible to get into a devotee's head ostensibly to purge maladaptive features and raise consciousness. By any means includes financial, sexual, physical, emotional, and goal manipulation. To get to the best in life you have to purge the worst in yourself--the leader is the man who both names the highest goal, labels your worst attributes, and then gets you to believe that he has the remedies to bring you to perfection. All you need do is submit and justify your presence. Whether you are smart and willful or shy and compliant does not matter--all your traits can be used against you once you take the first step. That first step is to come to trust the initial feelings and positive results of an encounter with the leader and his group. Once inside the orbit of someone "charming and witty" with a narcissistic and pathological need to feel important, one is vulnerable to a series of manipulations that are done "for your own good." Every one that criticizes you for belonging to such a "theater" cult is "all f#*d up" and "needs to go to therapy." All critics, especially those who love you outside the cult, suffer a dispensing of their existence. You cut them off.
There have been and are dozens of "crazy wisdom" or "crazy-wise" teachers like Gurdjieff among the new religions, eccentric schools, mass training workshops, and New Age cults. Crazy wise is a euphemism for a guru or teacher using anything they can get away with to both satiate their personal cravings and to break down the ego-defenses of devotees---the crazy wisdom teacher desires compliance. The devotee submits to such manipulations only after he or she comes to believe that it is a necessary process for enlightenment, but that is the devotee's primary mistake. That belief shuts the trap door to open choice outside the system. Now one is exercising bounded choice only within a circle of influence controlled by a leader. You convince yourself that nothing else matters. For extra information about "crazy-wise" gurus see Georg Feuerstein (2006 edition) Holy Madness: Spirituality, Crazy-Wise Teachers, and Enlightenment.For more on "self-sealing systems" and cults, read Bounded Choice by Janja Lalich.
Enter "Wayne Allen" Geis, a 67? year old, self-appointed acting teacher, "therapist" and life coach.
Geis, originally from the NY/Queens area, was a long-time, active devotee of J. Z. Knight's Ramtha cult or Ramtha School of Enlightenment in Yelm , WA during the 1990s till 2000 or so. Geis met Ramtha/JZ Knight in New York @ 1980 where he had his infant son, [as of 2008 very much his father's devotee] who was "blessed" by JZ/Ramtha at an early Ramtha gathering. According to an ex-wife [they divorced after several years] that I interviewed, Geis became obsessed with Ramtha through the 1980s and eventually moved to the Yelm area. Geis had little success in America and Europe as a performer, allegedly ruining his voice [kept cracking on high notes] from 1973 through 1987 which was about the time he relocated to be near the Ramtha School.
Geis and his current common law wife made news as accused of "sexual misconduct with a minor" in 2000. Either they left RSE or were asked to. [October 4, 2000 article "'Ramtha's channeler can't testify: She [J Z Knight] says she was in trance during alleged sex-case confession." Also, see http://theanna.org/clip/october2000.html]
The alleged rape case involved a complaint by a young woman, 19, who wrote a statement to officials that she was 15-16 years old when Geis and his partner Ruth took advantage of her and abused her. Her initial contact with Geis was as a student for "acting and dancing" [Geis does not teach dance] lessons, according to a report. I read through an entire police report based on an investigation by police regarding Geis. After confiscating video material and documents from Geis's residence, police reported that Geis had a collection of porn videos that included Geis and Ruth in sex acts with others privately filmed by Geis.
Years later, Geis, his partner and their combined family, relocated to the New York area. Geis began a small business as a performing arts coach under "Wayne Allen Studios" by 2005 in New Jersey, later in NYC. His mission statement:
"The absolute state of being is the most profound state an actor or singer can achieve...every interaction that you have with a mentor should bring about a connection to who you are, and who you are is not just a matter of intelligence but emotion. Greatness is something that has to be nurtured and unfolds through a process where the outside becomes unimportant and only what one is within, out...is important." --Wayne Allen
Before I interpret this, keep in mind that I have interviewed and exit counseled eight Geis students in September of 2007. I also talked with ex-RSE folks that knew Geis back through the 1990s. The recently exited eight range in age from the early twenties to thirty five. They were with Wayne Allen Studios from one to three years except for one that attended for perhaps several months. All eight agree that Wayne Allen's "school" had malignant cult-like attributes after seeing what a malignant cult is from video tapes and other educational materials I provided. In other words, Geis managed to manipulate all eight into a self-sealing belief system while demonizing outsiders, especially family members that would criticize the group or Geis. How did he manage this, you ask?
Bait: Each one of the students approached Geis for personal instruction in acting, singing, and theater arts.
Switch: Geis quickly maneuvered each one into a therapeutic relationship that included his diagnoses based on the diagnostic manual used by psychiatry. Each one came to believe that it was necessary for Geis to help purge them of all the negative influences in their lives from family, other schools and society. Each one felt compelled to confess or otherwise reveal their innermost feelings, memories, and secrets to him and the group if he so directed. Each one came to believe that Geis had their best interests in mind even if it required total submission and giving more money than they first imagined. A few believed that having sex with Geis would, as he promised, somehow improve their enlightened status as performers.
"the PROCESS": Once he gained control, Geis managed to confuse his students about their memories of abuse from prior contacts, family members, etc. by tampering with brain function. Research by Elizabeth Loftus and others demonstrates that under pressure and subtle influence over time, bogus therapies can create false memories in clients. Wayne's students call this "the process". For some it included lurid sexual contact naively interpreted as therapeutic. No direct link exists as far as this reviewer knows but significant parallels in belief and behavior appear between the 'wayneallen process' and The Process Church of Final Judgment a.k.a. The Process, a spin-off of Scientology, both of which influenced Charles Manson and his 'Family" cult in the late 1960s. Sex magic and pornographic behavior that purposely defiled common morals of "the establishment" was a "transformational" practice in both the Manson Family and in The Process led by the Englishman Robert DeGrimston (originally, Robert Moore) and Mary Anne MacLean.
[see article Traumatic therapies can have long-lasting effects on mental health, October 3, 2007 from Scientific American]
Geis reminds me somewhat of a pee-wee Diaghilev who carried on manipulative sexual liaisons with the young dancer Nijinsky [see The Diary of Vaslav Nijinsky, edited by Romola Nijinsky (1936, 1968)] and others while directing the famous Ballet Russ in the early 1900s. Ex-members of the Wayne Allen Studio can identify with Nijinsky's words:
Nijinsky wrote, "I was afraid of life because I was very young. I have now been married for over five years. I lived with Diaghilev also for five years. I cannot count. I am now about twenty-nine. I know that I was nineteen years old when I met Diaghilev. I admired him sincerely and when he told me that love for women is a terrible thing I believed him. If I had not believed him, I could not have done the things I have done...." (page 55). Nijinsky recounts an intense, confused, and emotionally painful relationship with Diaghilev.
But Geis was never in Diaghilev's class despite unsupported allusions he made on his web site to having touched greatness abroad and on Broadway. Geis is like the batting coach in the minor leagues that gets some ballplayers to believe that he is also an unrecognized but great major league coach who should own and manage the entire franchise! In my opinion (I've managed patient intake and crisis calls at a psych hospital for the past 9 years), Geis appears to behave within a disorder that bleeds into a pathology. Using the DSM properly, his behavior exhibits an Axis II personality disorder called narcissism and some characterize as malignant narcissism (not in DSM). All eight ex-members read the evidence and agree.
As for the Wayne Allen mission statement:
All statements must be taken in the context of the culture and language in which they originate to properly understand them. Geis has a history, albeit not the one he wants his students to believe at first. Geis comes from a sub-culture of New Age narcissism that pervades our society. His aligning with Ramtha teachings continues in his language despite his disavowal of Ramtha as a true or worthwhile teaching after 2000. Both follow common New Age beliefs that "we are the God within us" and that "we create our own reality."
1. The absolute state of being is the most profound state an actor or singer can achieve....Greatness is something that has to be nurtured and unfolds through a process where the outside becomes unimportant and only what one is from within, out...is important.—Wayne Allen
In that statement, the acting school guru suggests he knows the way to a purely 'absolute state of being,' that he somehow embodies it as a teacher, and that he [alone] will recognize it in students. He leaves out a crucial fact of life for identity formation: To know ourselves and who we are we depend on feedback from family, friends and the world around us. Malignant gurus will cut off our appreciation for and reliance on that world, family, and friends.
Robert J Lifton in his analysis of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism [his analysis of Chinese Communist re-educations camps in the 1950s] calls this "Demand for Purity:"
"In the thought reform milieu, as in all situations of ideological totalism, the experiential world is sharply divided into the pure and the impure, into the absolutely good and the absolutely evil. The good and the pure are of course those ideas, feelings, and actions which are consistent with the totalist ideology and policy; anything else is apt to be relegated to the bad and the impure. Nothing human is immune from the flood of stern moral judgments. All "taints" and "poisons" which contribute to the existing state of impurity must be searched out and eliminated.
The philosophical assumption underlying this demand is that absolute purity is attainable, and that anything done to anyone in the name of this purity is ultimately moral. In actual practice, however, no one is really expected to achieve such perfection. Nor can this paradox be dismissed as merely a means of establishing a high standard to which all can aspire. Thought reform bears witness to its more malignant consequences: for by defining and manipulating the criteria of purity, and then by conducting an all-out war upon impurity, the ideological totalists create a narrow world of guilt and shame. This is perpetuated by an ethos of continuous reform, a demand that one strive permanently and painfully for something which not only does not exist but is in fact alien to the human condition."
for Lifton's entire themes necessary for "Ideological Totalism," read the book or go to this rickross site.
2. "...every interaction that you have with a mentor should bring about a connection to who you are, and who you are is not just a matter of intelligence but emotion. —Wayne Allen
Allen used totalist language here to convey absolutes, but more importantly he inserts the "need" for a mentor capable to deliver those absolutes to students.
In reality, acting school has less to do with knowing "who you are" as it does knowing how well you can perform a role and what a character is. Acting and singing professionally are jobs, not self-realization campaigns common to many cults that sell expensive "transformational" seminars. Most New Age transformational therapies use emotional assault on identity, hypnosis and relaxation exercises, and group pressure to reveal intimate thoughts and ideas. The techniques are based on the old Leadership Dynamics Institute thought reform techniques that led to est and other controversial mass therapies. The film Circle of Power" [aka Brainwash] starring Yvette Mimieux documents what happened in early LDI trainings.
Allen (Geis) twists the meaning of acting school to trap aspiring performers into his control. Using the apparent positive results each one felt at first as bait with promises that an eventual "breakthrough" would occur, the acting coach then inserted phobias to avoid contact with family and outside influences. The "bad energy" would destroy all their gains, was the powerful implication. All eight ex-members told me that Geis refused to allow them to audition once they began the intense therapy with him by implying and outright declaring "you are not ready." He told each one, "You will die without me."
NB: What dies when a narcissist has no one to impress is a grandiose illusion that serves as the identity the narcissist. The ex-members are getting stronger every day but as of this wrting a few remain under the spell of the cult.