||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (May 2011)|
Lafayette Morehouse, previously known as More University, is an experimental community, or commune, established in 1968, on Purson Lane, Lafayette, California. The community is known by residents in the area as "the purple people", a nickname derived from the community's characteristic use of the color purple on their buildings and on some of their vehicles. "We tell people that all the houses here are purple so that there is no mistake that one has changed realities should they wander onto our property".
The community was founded by Dr. Victor Baranco (son of the Oakland jazz artist Wilbert Baranco) and his first wife, Dr. Suzanne Baranco. The organization also has a community in Oahu, Hawai'i. Since Dr. Victor Baranco's death in 2002, the group has been led by Dr. Cindy Baranco, Dr. Victor Baranco's second wife.
The community is an example of the experimental communal living groups that sprang up in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States.
This experimental community was founded on the "More Philosophy." "The concept of perfection" is the "cornerstone" of the "philosophy and lifestyle". Their "working premise is that people and things are right the way they are and include the potential for change". The members consider themselves as social researchers and "responsible hedonists". The community is governed by a strict consensus of the community, a process they call the "one no-vote" system.
The purpose of the community is the research and education of the enjoyment of life, and the enrichment of life's pleasures. Courses offered by members of the organization to the community include topics such as interpersonal communication, sensuality and sex, inter-gender relationships, individual development, among others.
As a result of their research in sensuality, they presented what they state was the first known public demonstration of a woman in a state of orgasm for three hours in 1976.
Conflict with local community
Because of the conflict between this group's lifestyle and ideals and those of traditional society, there had been controversy raised in the media about this group, primarily in the early 1970s and then again briefly in the mid-1990s. Because the group is different, yet requests its privacy, it is perceived to be secretive and exclusive by the surrounding suburban community of Lafayette. The group is also the target of harassment and rumor among teenagers who trespass on the property on a regular basis. Because of this harassment, the community has been forced to protect themselves by taking turns to act as guards.
Victor Baranco was one of three subjects of David Felton's Mindfuckers:
Charles Manson, Victor Baranco and Mel Lyman, the superheroes of the following stories, are mindfuckers simply because they have made it their business to fuck men's minds and to control them. They’ve succeeded by assuming godlike authority and using such mindfucking techniques as physical and verbal bullying and group humiliation—David Felton, Mindfuckers quoted in Billingsley 1994
Victor Baranco and More University were amongst the subjects of a 1994 article in Heterodoxy investigating "Mark Groups". The author based his conclusions entirely on secondary sources and never visited the group, interviewed its members, or examined the course material.
More University did have approval from the California Department of Education to issue academic degrees, this was granted in 1979; however:
According to Darlene Laval, who headed the state council that reviewed More in 1986, all one needed to do for approval at that time was show that they had a certain amount of money and a library, or access to one, "and that was about it." There was no review of the school's faculty, facilities, or curricula.—Billingsley, University of Sex
"More boasts a total of 34 faculty members, 15 of whom have doctorates—one from UCLA and 14 from More."
A few of the many incidents reported include a health officials' report on contraction of gonorrhea by a 3 year old girl "while on the Lafayette property"; in 1980 the head of "Medical Science" having licence revoked because of the prescription of "excessive amounts of narcotics and mood-altering drugs"; multiple litigations frequently dismissed, including
—Billingsley, University of Sex
In an article about the One Taste Urban Retreat Center, Lafayette Morehouse is mentioned as being the original inspiration for its philosophy
Lafayette Morehouse, a controversial 40-year-old community still in existence in suburban Lafayette, Calif., that has been conducting public demonstrations of a woman in orgasm since 1976.
Morehouse’s founder, Victor Baranco, was a former appliance salesman who called his philosophy “responsible hedonism.” By some accounts, Mr. Baranco, who died in 2002, used coercive techniques of mind control.“It was a huge ego-crushing machine, as any valid monastic tradition is,” said a man who lived at Morehouse for 20 years and did not want to be identified.—Patricia Leigh Brown and Carol Pogash, The New York Times
- The Aquarius, published irregularly from 1970 to 2004
- Morehouse - Choosing Your Family, published in Communities Magazine, Spring 2010, Issue 146, page 35
- Aquarius (Lafayette, CA: Lafayette Morehouse) 2003 (Spring): 12
- Honolulu Star-Bulletin Hawai'i News. Obituaries, September 12, 2002. Accessed June 7, 2008.
- SF Weekly (August 23, 1995). Purple Haze. Accessed June 7, 2008.
- David Felton, Robin Green and David Dalton. "Mindfuckers: A Source Book on the Rise of Acid Fascism in America". Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- Billingsley, K.L. (March 1994), "University of Sex", Heterodoxy (Studio City, CA: Center for the Study of Popular Culture) 2 (7): 13, ISSN 1069-7268
- Brown, Patricia Leigh; Pogash, Carol (13 March 2009). "The Pleasure Principle". The New York Times (New York, NY: The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2013-01-29.
- Laurie Rivlin Heller (2005). "Basic Sense: The More Philosophy of Victor Baranco and the Institute of Human Abilities," Communal Societies, vol. 25, page 29.
- Robin Green, "Sergeant Bilko Meets the New Culture," Rolling Stone #97, December 9, 1971, pages 1 and 40–46
- Lafayette Morehouse Website
- Flickr page
- painting of Victor and Cindy
- Morehouse v. Chronicle Publishing I California Anti-SLAPP Project, 37 Cal. App.4th 855, 44 Cal. Rptr.2d 46, California Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5., August 9, 1995.
- Searchable Database of Accredited Institutions and Programs U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education*
- Lafayette Morehouse - a brief history & resource guide