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Where NXIVM Members Mark Vicente and Bonnie Piesse Are Today
South African filmmaker Mark Vicente joined NXIVM in 2005, and spent over a decade enmeshed in the organization recording everything that went on. He was doing so for a future documentary on how NXIVM founder and so-called revolutionary genius Keith Raniere changed the world. Little did Vicente know his hours of footage would instead end up in an HBO docuseries that reveals the inner workings of NXIVM as an abusive “sex cult.”
The Vow is a nine-part series dramatically unspooling the rise and fall of NVIXM from the late ‘90s up until the present day. Its second episode centers around Mark Vicente and his wife, Star Wars actress Bonnie Piesse, who were both high-ranking members of NXIVM for many years. The episode documents how Piesse realized her desire to leave the organization before Vicente. But once Mark Vicente also understood the extent of what was occurring within secret women’s society D.O.S—forced dieting, branding, and in some cases, sex slavery—he realized how powerful all the footage he had gathered over the years was going to be to expose this organization for what it really was. “I realized I had to document everything because, if this thing went south, and they turned it around on us, then I had to have some kind of proof of what we were actually trying to do,” Vicente told Vanity Fair in an interview last week.
Episode Two of The Vow, entitled “Viscera,” gets into the strain their NXIVM ties (Vicente was close friends with Raniere) put Vicente and Piesse’s marriage and how they both survived the cult. Today, the couple is still together and living in Lisbon, Portugal, according to both Vicente and Piesse’s Instagram pages. Piesse, an actress and musician who played Beru in Star Wars Episodes II and III, is currently running Soul + Sky, a business that provides Intuitive Tarot readings. According to his website, Vicente has several films in development at present, and is also in the process of writing a memoir called “Mentor: My Journey With a Spiritual Psychopath” on his experience with Keith Raniere.
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Mark Vicente testified against Keith Raniere in court in May of 2019, saying that his former guru Raniere “exercised strict discipline and control over his followers, forcing those who questioned his leadership to undergo training and excommunicating those who went against the group,” according to The Guardian’s coverage of the trial. In June of 2019, Raniere was convicted by a Brooklyn jury for a slew of charges including racketeering, sex trafficking, forced labor conspiracy, and wire fraud conspiracy, for which he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years imprisonment and up to life in prison. His sentencing is set for October 27 of this year.
HBO’s docuseries would be much less colorful without the years of Vicente’s recorded footage of both NXIVM and Keith Raniere. Turns out that’s one thing we can count on from unhinged narcissists of 2020 docuseries fame—they insist that their genius requires documentation.
Lauren Kranc is an editorial assistant at Esquire, where she covers pop culture and television, with entirely too narrow of an expertise on Netflix dating shows.
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