After all these years of people asking about Project Elanor, Tentmoot, and the internal workings of Bit of Earth, I assumed that’s what people want to hear about. But the response I’ve gotten, both in the comments of Questions and Answers and privately, seems to indicate that people are less interested in those aspects of the scandal these days. This is fine with me, as I realize more and more that is a post best left for after Jeanine and I have a chance to talk about what went down. I think I don’t know as much about what went down as I think I do.
That being the case, I definitely want to answer some of the questions I’ve gotten already, both because they are very important and because they fit so nicely with my last post. It’s a serious subject, but don’t worry, I have enough F-bombs and LOLcats to make it entertaining.
What do you think makes a person vulnerable to manipulation by someone like Jordan/Andy?
I am not changing my position that Jordan/Andy was a cult leader, as gaining more followers/believers was always his goal. However, on a one-on-one basis it is easier to classify what he does as domestic abuse. Jordan/Andy’s behavior fits within the definition of domestic abuse: “…a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners.” (Anne L. Ganley, PhD). Granted, Jordan/Andy wasn’t a physical abuser per se, but he certainly fit all other criteria, and there was enough threat of physical violence that it kept us in fear.
The thing about the “supernatural” angle of Jordan/Andy’s abuse, the way he got me to believe such fantastical claims? Part of that is just an extension of how abusers change the thinking of their victims. All abusers must convince their victims to believe things that aren’t true (i.e., that it is ok for the abuser to abuse the victim). So any resource regarding domestic abuse and how to recognize it is helpful. Honestly, that’s just good information for anyone to have; it’s sad but true that every one of us probably knows at least one person (and no, they aren’t all females) who is being abused. Understanding what they’re going through can only be a good thing.
- A desire to belong
- Unassertiveness (the inability to say no or express criticism or doubt)
- Gullibility (impaired capacity to question critically what one is told, observes, thinks, and so forth)
- Low tolerance for ambiguity (need for absolute answers, impatience to obtain answers)
- Cultural disillusionment (alienation, dissatisfaction with the status quo)
- Susceptibility to trance-like states (in some cases, perhaps, due to prior hallucinogenic drug experiences)
- A lack of self-confidence
- A desire for spiritual meaning
- Ignorance of how groups can manipulate individuals
Another useful list of bullets comes from here, this more about recognizing the behavior of the cult itself:
- A centralized form of leadership that rules with unquestioned authority
- A body of convictions, beliefs, and practices set forth boldly as “the truth”
- A compelling presentation of the group vision to prospects that is inviting and challenging
- A series of manipulative socializing sessions to instill psychological dependence on the group
- A definable process of group dynamics used to unethically control and manipulate members
- A history of abuses of authority by group leaders freely using deception and fear tactics
- A history of psychological and spiritual abuses of group members that destroy lives
Earlier on, were you ever able to step back and say to yourself ‘I don’t know about this’?
Definitely. There were lots of things early on that seemed off. Moments where I knew things were fishy and chose to look away. A perfect example of this came very early on, when Amy was dating “The Aussie” (and pretending to be from Sheffield, England). I don’t remember why I was chatting with him, but I commented about “our English friend.” He said, “What? [He's] not from England…” I remember that moment clearly; maybe it was kind of a turning point for me. I had great misgivings right then, and I remember deciding that I didn’t care, because at least I was feeling something.
Later, there was a lot of retconning; it was Amy who was a liar; Jordan, who was a different person entirely, was being honest. Later, when he did another “core switch,” it became Jordan who was incompetent and bad and screwed things up; Andy, who was a different person entirely, was being honest. It’s an interesting subtopic: how the old “core” was badmouthed after the fact, but let’s not stray too far.
Were all of his machinations to get attention from Famous People? If not, then what?
Yes and no. Early on a lot of them revolved around one way or another getting in touch with famous people, but mostly that was a tool to get people to like or trust them. I guess he figured out early on that people with “Hollywood insider” knowledge could write their own ticket in Fandom, and that’s where he operates. Since insider knowledge is practically currency on Hollywood Boulevard he sometimes claimed ties to celebrities, but never actually tried to contact them. Most of the rest of his “schemes” appeared to actually be to benefit others; to help someone get a really good costume on the street, to get someone into an apartment, etc. It’s just that his motivation always had a dark side; somehow he’d always end up either with someone “owing him” a favor or, with any luck, joining his “inner circle.”
You’ve mentioned ‘Others’. What, exactly were they?
Jordan claimed he could “channel” people, hobbits, elves, time travelers; I’ve talked about that part. What he actually did was 24/7 LARPing; he fully “became” that other. Spoke with a different accent, wrote with different handwriting, had different mannerisms; full on characters that he acted out. He’s very talented, although that creepy something about him prevents him from working as an actor. You have to work up to that level of intensity. He switched between them by closing his eyes and sort of jerking, just like every medium in every movie ever about mediums.
A couple of times, I’ve read that when things finally caught up with Jordan/Andy, he has a total meltdown. Do you have any idea what he is trying to accomplish when that happens, as in, what will a meltdown solve?
The meltdowns are exactly what they look like: tantrums. When his house of cards falls, he completely loses his shit. Given the rigid control he puts on himself to maintain all the different Others and their backstories. I mean, by the end, I actually had a PDA that I kept track of all of them with. There were 167 when I left. The meltdowns are the polar opposite of that much control, and the accomplish absolutely nothing.
I’m not including in that the kinds of fits the “others” would have. There were plenty of different screaming/crying freak-out fits, but those meltdowns were for specific dramatic or emotional effect, usually to make the story more dramatic or to force us to “fix” the problem. Or to punish us.
I guess what I’m trying to ask is: did the Players figure into this whole story before you, Jordan and your mother wound up staying with them? How?
As someone pointed out in the comments, it is not my place to speak for a family that has not chosen to come forward. My mother and the Players became friends when both of their children were effectively runaways. This was such a strange experience that they only really had each other to sympathize. I will absolutely speak out to defend them against the horrible accusations Jordan/Andy made in all his incarnations. They are not abusers, pimps, religious fanatics, thieves, members of the IRA or anything else. They’re just a family that has one fairly normal child and one with terrible mental illness, and they have suffered more than anyone else because of his lies and manipulation. Also, before anyone asks, I will not be discussing the Players opinion of Jordan/Andy’s gender identity. Don’t bother, that’s nobody’s business but theirs.
So. There we are. New questions can be added to this post.