The Kerista Cult or Sex on the Half-Baked Shell
explaining a beatnik rehash of some moldy love theories
Man to Man January 1967 Picture Magazines, Inc. 21 West 26th Street New York.
by Sylvan Porter p. 39
Its Claim of Reaching a High Level of Consciousness Really Means Sex
The six couples sat cross legged on the floor, forming a circle around a small stone idol that flowed with phospherescense in the darkened room. Somewhere in another part of the house there was a sound of music - high and shrill and sharp intermingled with the throbbing beat of drums. Swaying in time to the hypnotic beat, the couples joined hands and began to chant. The air was sweet with the heavy smell of incense and something else that could have been marijuana. A large goblet was passed around and each man and each woman took a healthy swallow.
The wine, the marijuana, the music and the darkness all serve to create the proper mood, to help the couples get into the free and easy frame of mind necessary for participation in this strange rite.
Suddenly the music stopped, and except for one small candle flickering in a corner, the lights went out. This was the signal! There was a moment of hushed anticipation then each man turned to the girl on his right and enfolded her in his arms.
It was quiet then except for the rusting of clothes being unfastened and dropping to the floor. Then there was whispering sounds followed by moans and soft sight as the couples moved in close. It was man and woman now. They were intent on what they were doing and unaware of what was going on around them. Some were preparing, others were already engaged, in the act of love. Then the whistles blew and the door to the apartment was smashed in "You're all under arrest!", yelled one of New York's finest as he and a half dozen other cops came charging into the room. They were accompanied by reporters and photographers who popped flashbulbs like it was the Fourth of July.
The next day New Yorkers and the rest of the world read for the first time of the Kerista Cultists and their utopian dream of love - 'the beautfiful and sane affection of one human being for another." It seemed that Keristans lived and loved communally sharing expenses and dedicating themselves to "freedom from repression".
Be that as may, it seems according to the laws of New York State there is a slight difference between freedom from repression and free love. And when you consider the fact that the cops gathered up a few ounces of marijuana in their raid, the Keristans found themselves in very bad trouble indeed.
Although Kerista pads are busted as soon as they can be located, others quickly spring up to take their place.. Furthermore, the movement has spread from New York City to Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and other cities and towns throughout the nation.
Kerista is envisioned as a "new kind of movement to eliminate suffering on this small planet earth.", according to its founder John Peltz Presmont who considers himself a visionary and prophet, destined to help bring man to a higher plane of consciousness.
Although beatniks and bohemians were among the first advoctes os the new sex cult, it has fund a surprising amount of support among college students, younf professional people and middle class white collar workers throughout the nation.
The situation for a Keristan revel can be more or less elaborate than that described above. In some chapters the couples wear robes and participate in elaborate ceremonies under the guidance of a high priest and priestess. There are initiation rites involving underage girls and boys as well as imaginative sexual games for the enjoyment of one and all.
Beat faddists on the other hand may be out primarily to sho rebellion to society in general. They take sex as it comes and there is catch-as-catch-can quality about their ceremonies. They let out all the stops, and think nothing of moving from one partner to another without guidance or direction.
One of the girls, Sophia G. shares a pad with a dozen or so boys and girls who as a group are loosely allied with the arts. They live communally, sharing expenses and themselves as well.
"We all meet for a balling good time maybe twice a week" Sophia said in a recent interview. "There is nothing special about it. We all get together in one room, drink some wine and smoke some pot and when the time comes we start undressing each other, After that it all seems to come naturally, if you know what I mean."
"Do you find this better than having a steady boyfriend?"
"You're damn right I do. This way I'm still my own boss. I get all the loving I want, from anyone I want. I don't have to be stuck with one guy who's always giving me a hard time. Some nights I make it with every guy in the joint - maybe do it three and four different ways. Who cares? Man, it's wild."
The movement has grown rapidly in a few short years. This is evidence, according to some psychiatrists, of its attraction to the rebellious youth of our generation as well as to these sexually blase men and women who have experienced virtually every type of lovemaking that is to be had in this enlightened age.
The growth of the Kerista movement is shown by the fact that Keristans now advertise openly for new converts in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. They even maintain a recruiting booth at the University of California at Berkeley - the site of the recent free speech riots. Touted as the swingingest cult on campus, Keristans offer students a chicken in every cot. Offering undergraduates unlimited sexual activity, Kerista also gives them something more exciting and secret than a fraternity to belong to.
A recent Kerista revel at Berkeley was wild enough, but not very imaginative., according to reports published in the Berkeley Barb, a school newspaper.
Most of the guests were taken upstairs to a room dimmed in blue light. Cpes danced to rock and roll, or lounged on chairs, beds and floors. Then according to the report, they began to undress themselves and each other.
At this point the host appeared carrying little jars of watercolors. "All right, now we are going to paint each other." he said. "The paint'll wash right off in the shower." He dipped a finger in the jar. "Are there any volunteers, preferably female."
By that time about forty people were upstairs. Most were nude. Four girls and four boys volunterred to be streaked, daubed, and spotted. It didn't add much excitement, but by that time nobody seemed to care anyway.
The beds were beginning to be shared by pairs. There were murmers, caresses and quick breathing. Two couples sat on a couch sipping burgandy from paper cups and watching three couples become increasingly active on the emporer size bed. In the b lue room the rock style of dance had yielded to good old fashioned body contact. In the bathroom two couples took a bubble bath in the large tub and another pair showered.
The party went on and on with couples waiting patiently to use the beds. Often a couple would get up and apologize to those waiting their turn for taking so long.
The Berkeley chapter of Kerista is more or less typical of other college groups, often located in apartments in poor sections of town where no one will ask questions.
Easy enough to join, the collegiate Kerista groups are usually made up of the offbeat, the highly sexed and those who are just lonely and want to belong. There is rarely any formal program. Rather it is more like having a party every night, with lots of liquor and dancing followed by sex.
Many of the females who join Kerista in college are the maladjusted, the swingers and the curiousity prone. Some are type coeds found spending weekends in fraternity houses, taking on all applicants.
Statistics show that one out of ten coeds has engaged in sexual activity with four or more men by the time she has reached her sophomore year. This would indicate that the average large college might have more than one hundred girls who are available for membership in an organization such as Kerista, while smaller schools might have ten or more members to form the female population of such a club.
Girls have no difficulty at all in joining the local Kerista chapter In many cases they will be asked. At other times, selected students may be invited to weekend parties. If they work into the organization, without any trouble, they are asked to become permanent members.
One of the leading advocates of the new order of sexual freedom is beat poet Allen Ginsburg, who is also demanding that marijuana be legalized.
Ginsberg, the grand old man of the beat generation, said recently. "Kerista sounded a bell that was heard all over the Lower East Side (of New York City) and reverberated to San Francisco as a possibility for a new society. Actually what goes on at these pads is nothing that doesn't happen in millions of homes across the country.
I can think of nothing more natural that intermarried couples dating and dancing. As for sex, the resolution of anxiety between the sexes is accomplished at the moment of tender physical touch between a man and a woman. It also represents the slow dismantling of the superstructure of sexual repression that has burdened everybody since childhood."
Psychiatrists note that even though there might be loss of sexual repression, the sexual act becomes an every-day sort of thing, bereft of any joy. The result may be a kind of pseudo-sophistication about sex which turns it into something as routine as taking a bath or eating dinner. It becomes less exciting, more like breathing or sleeping.
Dr. Alben Krause, director of the Sexual Motivation Research Laboratory, stated recently that there are areas of our nation "in which authorities have all but given their tacit legal approval to the mate-swapping activities of local citizens. When widespread wife-swapping has been brought to their attention they have said in effect that what a group of married adult individuals do within he privacy of their own homes is outside the law."
Dr. Krause goes on to note that wife-swapping and other sex clubs are not as well organized as Kerista, which not only has a strong national membership, but a special ritual and well thought out philosophical point of view.
One indication of the club's growth and stability for instance, is its newspaper, the Kerista Speeler. Said to have a circulation of 5,000, the newspaper keep members informed of the founder's views and tells them where new Kerista pads are being set up throughout the nation. Thus, Keristans who travel can make it a point to schedule overnight stops in communities where a Kerista chapter is located.
This, according to some members, is an exciting new way to travel. One night a vacationing couple will be staying with a lot of beatniks, and the next with a group of college kids, or a group of married couples who have bought a house somewhere on the outskirts of town where nobody can see what is going on. Strangers are made to feel welcome. Sometimes a local group will even put on a special ceremony for visitors.
And although some may really see it as a means of reaching what its founder call "a higher plane of consciousness", most observers are content to see Kerista as merely the best organized of the off beat movements with sexual motivation as it's real basis for being.