Lafayette Morehouse

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Lafayette Morehouse, previously known as More University, is an intentional community, or commune, established in 1968 in 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.[1][2] "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".[3] The San Francisco Chronicle referred to it as a "sex cult", and in an article about California "sex communes", The New York Times describes it as "a controversial 40-year-old community ... that has been conducting public demonstrations of a woman in orgasm since 1976".[4][5]

History[edit]

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,[6] the group has been led by Dr. Cindy Baranco, Dr. Victor Baranco's second wife.

In 1977 Morehouse opened More University which conferred Bachelor of Humanities, Master of Humanities, and Doctor of Philosophy in Lifestyles and Sensuality postsecondary academic degrees.[7] Approval to grant degrees was authorized from the California Department of Education in 1979.[8] In 1989 the California State Legislature formed the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education to review vocational schools and private degree-granting institutions in the state.[9][10] In 1994 this agency reported that it would be investigating More University as part of a crackdown on private, nonaccredited universities.[10] As Billingsley noted in his 1994 criticism, "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."[8] Billingsley also reported that the university had 34 faculty members with 15 of them holding doctorates with one from UCLA and 14 from More.[8] More University closed in 1997.[7]

Philosophy[edit]

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[edit]

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.[citation needed] Because the group is different, yet requests its privacy, it is perceived to be secretive and exclusive by the surrounding suburban community of Lafayette.[citation needed] The group is also the target of harassment and rumor among teenagers who trespass on the property on a regular basis.[citation needed] Because of this harassment, the community has been forced to protect themselves by taking turns to act as guards.[1][not in citation given]

Criticisms[edit]

Victor Baranco was one of three subjects of David Felton's Mindfuckers:[11]

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[8]

Victor Baranco and More University were amongst the subjects of a 1994 article in Heterodoxy investigating "Mark Groups".[8] The author based his conclusions entirely on secondary sources and never visited the group, interviewed its members, or examined the course material.[citation needed]

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";[8] in 1980 the head of "Medical Science" having licence revoked because of the prescription of "excessive amounts of narcotics and mood-altering drugs";[8] multiple litigations frequently dismissed, including

a libel suit against the San Francisco Chronicle, which dubbed the school an "Academy of Carnal Knowledge". Still another suit involved Contra Costa County.

— Billingsley, University of Sex[8]

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.[5]

Works[edit]

  • The Aquarius, published irregularly from 1970 to 2004
  • Morehouse - Choosing Your Family, published in Communities Magazine, Spring 2010, Issue 146, page 35

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Boulware, Jack (August 23, 1995). "Purple Haze: A speedy tour of the Morehouse commune". SF Weekly. Retrieved June 7, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Are you "the purple people"?". Lafayette Morehouse. 
  3. ^ Wagner, Joy, "Here and Now at Lafayette Morehouse", Aquarius, Lafayette, CA: Lafayette Morehouse, 2003 (Spring), p. 12 
  4. ^ Bowles, Nellie (June 12, 2011). "Nicole Daedone's mission of orgasmic meditation". SFGate. San Francisco, CA. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  5. ^ a b Brown, Patricia Leigh; Pogash, Carol (March 13, 2009). "The Pleasure Principle". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-11-09. 
  6. ^ "Obituaries". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. September 12, 2002. Retrieved June 7, 2008. Victor Baranco Jr., 68, of Haleiwa, educator and founder of the More Phylosophy, died Saturday. He was born in Oakland, Calif. He is survived by wife Dr. Cynthia A., sons David and Bro, daughters Michelle and Sugar Ann, and four grandchildren. No services. 
  7. ^ a b "More University". Lafayette Morehouse. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Billingsley, K.L. (March 1994), "University of Sex", Heterodoxy, Studio City, CA: Center for the Study of Popular Culture, 2 (7), p. 13, ISSN 1069-7268 
  9. ^ Private Postsecondary and Vocational Reform Act of 1989
  10. ^ a b "California Trying to Close Worthless-Diploma Schools". New York Times. August 31, 1994. 
  11. ^ David Felton, Robin Green and David Dalton. "Mindfuckers: A Source Book on the Rise of Acid Fascism in America". Retrieved 2009-03-16. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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
  • Robin Green, "Beyond Shazam at Guru Gulch", Rolling Stone #114, pp 14–16, Aug. 3, 1972. Covers attempt by Mel Lyman to connect with Baranco and learn more about his methods.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°55′11″N 122°05′37″W / 37.91973°N 122.09372°W / 37.91973; -122.09372