The missed connection with the Lafayette Morehouse (1986-1988)

(This is an extract from Marc’s unpublished memoir)

Relating to “bad sex”, another interesting fact.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, a mere 20-minute drive from where I lived in Berkeley, through the Caldecott tunnel into a town called Lafayette, was one of the most advanced man/woman education and sexual research centers that the world has ever seen.  It was called the Lafayette Morehouse and was founded by a man called Victor Baranco, who in the mid-80’s (the time I was in California) was in his prime; and the Lafayette Morehouse at the time was a wild, wild place.

Baranco’s story is very interesting.  He was a street-thug who had gone straight, the son of well-known musicians who lived in Oakland, a black father and a Jewish mother.  After going straight, he became a successful appliance salesman, and then successfully courted a popular and wealthy socialite, his first wife Susie.  He had participated in CIA-sponsored LSD experiments (as recounted in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test), and had discovered in himself a kind of gift for therapy and for human transformation, based on his idea of “perfection”.  He had also discovered a sexual gift of sorts, as Susie was frigid.  They had gone to see various doctors and psychiatrists about Susie’s condition, and been told that there was nothing to do about it.  But Baranco had refused to quit, and in the end Susie became so orgasmic that she was able to do the three-hour orgasm demos for which Baranco ultimately became famous.  From these gifts and these teachings, Baranco had bought a house and started a commune in Oakland, the Oakland Morehouse; and later had been donated a fairly large tract of land in Lafayette California, about 17 acres of what would later become prime real-estate.  The Oakland and then Lafayette Morehouse have been running continuously since 1969, even though Baranco died in 2002.  Baranco was not especially interested in getting rich or becoming a guru; he was just looking for, in his words, “a good gig”.  When he started his second commune, the Lafayette Morehouse (which ended up having about a dozen houses and 70 residents), Baranco was quite prepared, in his own words, to “coast” for the rest of his life.  He wasn’t exactly ambitious.

But then, in Lafayette, Baranco had a self-reported “thunderbolt” experience with a young woman in the swimming pool of the Morehouse, which transformed him irrevocably.  Her name was Cindy and she became his second wife, the object of his adoration and the center of his life for all of his remaining years.  Baranco’s first wife Susie continued hanging around, took other lovers, and is a respected figure in Morehouse to this day. Years later (2005, when I was re-introduced to Morehouse through my wife Rebekah) I had a slow-dance with Susie in Lafayette, and she was still sexy even then.

For more information about Baranco, google my article “Lafayette Morehouse History”, and then follow the links in the article in which Baranco tells of his “thunderbolt” experience with Cindy, what it did for him, and how he came to start Morehouse.

There are more Morehouse stories in Steve Bodansky’s fascinating memoir of those years, Extended Massive Life: A Love Story (the only biography that covers Morehouse, as far as I know, as Baranco wrote almost nothing). Baranco was a man/woman and sexual education pioneer, and he has had an enormous influence in sexual education in this country.  He had little interest in self-promotion or even in making money, he mostly wanted to make women happy.  He is one of the foundational teachers in my own system and as such has a prominent place in my book, As Lovers Do.  He was the first man that I am aware of to say publicly that the best and most powerful role for the masculine is to serve the feminine (“do what the woman wants”).  That surrender is as much a masculine virtue as a feminine one; indeed, that surrender is essential for love.

Morehouse teachings and Morehouse lifestyle are especially relevant to me because my experiences of therapy during my time in California were, essentially, a failure.  Those experiences actually increased my despair, because I was giving it my best, spending all my money, but not having any meaningful success.  I was not looking exactly to “find myself”, clear childhood traumas, discover the great existential truths of the human condition, or leave my mark on the world.  I was looking for a fun, all-immersive environment where I could hang-out with interesting people, men and women, and learn about love and sex.  The Lafayette Morehouse was the answer to my condition at the time, but I never met them until many years later.  They made a man out of me then (later), in every way; and so I wonder what would have happened, had I met them way back then.  It’s a great shame that I didn’t.  The Oakland Morehouse is about a quarter-mile from where I ended up living in Oakland, in my third and final year in California.  But I never knew.

I would not connect with the Lafayette Morehouse group until 2004, the year that I met Rebekah and moved into the Yonkers Morehouse in New York.  Rebekah and I studied with them intensively for three years, spending time and taking courses both in Lafayette and in their new place in Hawaii.  By then Baranco was dead.  We then modeled their ideas and even extended them in different ways through the intentional community that we founded in Philadelphia and ran quite successfully for three years, from 2007 to 2009.

Baranco and the Morehouse are not political, despite the enormous power of Baranco’s ideas for social change, for the transformation of human society.  The logical extension of Baranco’s ideas is the end of patriarchy, which will also (presumably) lead to the end of all wars, since few women will agree to send their sons and daughters off to war, especially the stupid and unnecessary wars of the last half of the 20th century.  But ending patriarchy was not on the agenda of Victor Baranco or the Lafayette Morehouse, at least not directly.  They were hedonists and sought mostly to have a good time in their little world. Their principal interest was in having better sex.  This is not a criticism, exactly (that they were socially and politically unaware): figuring out how men and women can get along, how we can have more love and more fun in our lives, and better sex, is a lifetime of work.  What they accomplished is a triumph.  They didn’t even care much for making money, they only taught and recruited to the extent necessary to fund the party, which they hoped to return to as soon as possible – and indeed all their courses are designed as some kind of party. Vic’s most famous saying is “enlightenment is when you realize that what was planned is a party”.  It’s very difficult to know exactly what God had in mind when he made us, but I think He would agree that a party is a good thing.  As such, I completely agree with Baranco.  Of course God throws many obstacles in the way, but this is for our pleasure and growth, so that we can figure out for ourselves the quickest way back to the party.  Life would be boring otherwise.

But in any case, since Baranco and the Lafayette Morehouse appear to be either unaware or uninterested in the social implications of their ideas, the job of promoting these ideas to a larger audience has fallen on to my shoulders; as well as the job of integrating these powerful ideas into a more modern context.  This is my life’s work.