How I FoundMore house
Marilyn: How did you find Morehouse?
Cindy: I was friends with Diana and her family. They were a white middle-class family who, after a course with a man named Victor Baranco, went from white to black, from straight to gay, and ultimately Don and Arlene divorced. It was incredible the effect that man had on them and it made me interested. The course destroyed all the things I objected to in middle class - all the things I was trying to leave from my family. And I heard there was sensual material in the course too. I watched Arlene find herself. Morehouse caught my eye because of all that.
With that kind of impact on my best friend and her family, I wanted to take the first course that was available without my having to travel. It gave me hope that maybe this would be something good. I knew that these were my friend's parents' answers, but for some reason I thought it might pay off in the direction I was feeling my life through. I took Basic Sensuality about six months later.
Marilyn: How did you get to know Diana and her family to begin with?
Cindy: In 1964, when I was 10, my family moved to Long Beach in southern California. My dad had retired from the military and was going into private business and trying out ventures. He did very well. When I was 13 I ran into Diana at an elementary school that went through Junior High. She was in the 6th grade when I first saw her. Diana stuck out color-wise compared to the rest of the people. The way she conducted herself on the playground attracted me. She was really tough. She was just "different". I was definitely into "different". For some reason I just wanted to try something other than what I looked like. Even though Diana hadn't divulged any ethnic history, I could tell after my experiences in South Carolina that she was mixed race. There was complexity there that I thought I didn't have, whether it was disclosed or not. When we met, we became and stayed friends from then on. She lived in the same housing tract about a mile away. We would both walk to school - we were about the same distance away. We had identical houses in the tract. They were decorated quite differently but it was the same exact house and we had the exact same bedroom.
Marilyn: Then what happened?
Cindy: Being in a military family, I hadn't lived anywhere more than two years at a time and I really liked it in California because I had been there from the 5th grade to the 9th grade. When I realized that my dad was going to make a business move to go to another part of the country, I didn't want to leave.
Marilyn: So what did you do?
Cindy: I made a plan. Hanging out with Diana I could tell that compared to my parents, her parents were very different. They didn't have a family life like my parents did. Arlene and Don both had to work whereas my parents - my mom worked, but it wasn't the same feeling - she didn't have to work. So they didn't have the dinner at home together - that kind of thing. And Diana's parents were having trouble in their relationship. When they took a Basic Sensuality course at Topanga Canyon with Vic and Suzie, I was almost 15 by then and I had heard about the Barancos some.
I could tell the relationship between Diana's parents was shifting and my parents were leaving. I wanted to make a deal where I could stay with Diana's family, the Goenses. I didn't let my parents know they were divorcing because that was more instability in living arrangement than they would have agreed to. I got my parents to agree that as soon as I could work it out and finish a year of school in Minnesota, I could go back and live with Diana and her family.
I went back to California on Christmas vacation and then again at the beginning of the summer of that one year of school. I was in California every chance I could be. I earned money, did everything I could to get to California. I don't know why. It wasn't that I was in love with Diana. I just felt that I had to be there at a very young age. I had to be there. I didn't qualify because of my age - I was too young to start officially living my life, not 18 yet. I didn't get emancipated because I didn't need to. I had gotten my driver's license which didn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. I was playing adult games. Kids didn't count for much, but I never played from a kid position. I always played from an inferior adult - if that's what they wanted to have it as, that was fine.
I went back in the summer of 1970 and moved in the Goens family. Soon after that I took the Basic Sensuality course. My mom gave me the money for that first course.
Marilyn: So your plan to stay in California was working?
Cindy: Things hadn't really solidified yet, but it was coming together and my parents were coming around to the idea that I could stay. Don and Arlene were still living together but really had separated from one another. The physical separation came when Arlene decided to move into a Morehouse in Boyle Heights.
I moved with Diana and Arlene into that Morehouse in November of 1970. The very night we moved in Vic pulled his support out of the house because he thought the owners didn't treat the residents well enough. I was just glad that Arlene was willing to stay there because it still looked like the best alternative to tract house living. So we stayed there. I was very involved. That's how I got to my first Morehouse - through a dissolved marriage.
Marilyn: How did that work out for you?
Cindy: I teamed up with Anthony relatively quickly and we lived there in the house. I had told my mother that I didn't need her money anymore. I could make it on my own. That meant I had to come up with residency money and we did all sorts of things. We would make deals, like being part-time "slaves" and were treated in ways I didn't like. When they wouldn't let us have Christmas off, Anthony and I moved out and lived in an apartment for about eight months. During that time I had a waitress job at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
Willie and Kassy had moved out of Boyle Heights a few months before I did and after a while they started the Venice Morehouse. Willie knew Vic and I knew if I stayed close to Willie and Kassy I would get closer to Vic and his information. We were kind of waiting to be invited to live at Venice. I already loved the material.
Marilyn: How much contact had you had with Vic at that point?
Cindy: Vic had come to Boyle Heights already and I had taken several courses from him - three or four of them. There was a large population of interested people down there. He also taught several times in Venice. And one of the times he was down there and also did a Shazaam course we decided to do it too. We had never done one before. It totally wiped out all our funds. It was a lot of money for us.
Marilyn: What had you decide to take it?
Cindy: I went to the Shazaam because there was something wrong with my crotch and I couldn't tell what it was. I had been to a free clinic before and it seemed to be a continuing problem. When I told Vic about my symptoms, he said it was a yeast infection and I needed to get done more often by my partner, Anthony, at least three times a day. It was the most humiliating thing that had happened to me in my life up to that point. I didn't want to have my business talked about like that. My crotch being messed up is what motivated me - I wanted to get to the bottom of this.
Marilyn: Did getting done like that fix it?
Marilyn: Did you get any other medication too?
Cindy: No. Vic thought if your crotch was broken there was a reason. It wanted more attention paid to it. I had taken antibiotics for an ear infection and, although I had had antibiotics before, I hadn't had a yeast infection before. Maybe it was because of having an active crotch it was being like this. The yeast infection had been going on for a month. I guess I could have gone to see a doctor and paid $20 instead of $150 a head but I was starting to worry, "Is this who I am?" That was why I thought it was important enough to pay the big bucks and blow my job - which I was willing to do.
Marilyn: How did it blow your job?
Cindy: The Shazaam started at 12:34 a.m. and went until the sun rose. There was no way I could take the Shazaam without losing my job. I knew that if I didn't make it to work the next day, I wouldn't have a job. Same with Anthony. We both had minimum wage jobs at the time. We had to move right away because we had spent the next month's rent money on the Shazaam and now we were both jobless. We moved into the Venice Morehouse immediately. It was just before Christmas in 1972.
Marilyn: Then what happened?
Cindy: Anthony and I got married. About eight months after we moved into the Venice Morehouse, Vic invited Willie and Kassy, as he had before, to move to Oakland and be closer to him. Anthony and I happily agreed to go along with them to take care of them like we had been doing in Venice. After a living in a couple of Morehouses in Oakland we moved into 80 Hamilton Pl. and Willie and Kassy moved to Lafayette. Later that year in 1974, Vic was on the Big Island and Bobby was running the business and needed money. Anthony and I weren't attractive for any other reason in my book, but Bobby was willing to take $200/head/month from us so that's when we moved to Lafayette.
And that's how I found Morehouse.