My personal favourite is the Raelians. In summary, they follow their leader, Rael (rael, sorry, real name Claude Vorilhon, a former racing car driver), who met an alien near a volcano who told him that humans were a genetic experiment by the Elohim, of which the alien was one. Call me old-fasioned, but I think this alien was blowing its own trumpet a bit. As a potted autobiography of a species, it's a little bit on the boastful side.
I went to a cult meeting of their's a few years ago, along with a kindred of open-minded responsible adult friends. It would be a fascinatiing sociological analysis of a closed hermetically-sealed microcosm of society with a singular obsession. Oh fuck it, okay, we were going to go along to a meeting to have a jolly good laugh at them! We were the Scooby Gang and, at worst, we were going to run away , Hannah-Barbera sound effect at the ready, at the slightest hint of the word 'conversion'. At best, we were going to rush Rael on stage, pull his face-mask off and reveal him to be Keith Harris, while Orville quacked behind him, "If it wasn't for you darned kids, we'd be ruling the world now!".
"A fiver", my pal Sam says, "for seeing a cult leader called Rael? That's a bargain, it beats most comedy performances in the Edinburgh Fringe!". Sam, and his fabulously cool Dad, were fixtures at the Fringe festival Pleasance hang-out. Sam could smell comedy gold a mile off. As a starting-point litmus test, he was a God-send (or, Elohim-send, so to speak).
Big Bearded Rob thought it was good value for money too - mind you, this is the bloke who used to buy several tins of Asda Basic Range meatballs for his weekly lunch, which were cheaper than the dog food in the same range. Again, he was a fantastic thermometer measuring pennies-to-minutes of family entertainment.
And my other pal, Big Nosed Barry, was happy to bring his camera along. He loves to catch a moment on camera, like this photo - of a drunken Rob being dragged away from stand-up comedian Richard Herring, after the always unwelcome inebriated contribution for funny writing, "Awright, you're a comic, ain't you? I've got a good joke for you...". Big Nosed Barry's good at catching moments like this, things to be treasured with friends and family. Amplitudinous stonkered cunt that he is (shite, there's no photo - I'll put it up on this blog soon).
So, we arrived in the spendid confines of the Sheraton Hotel in Edinburgh. We were quickly shown through to a specific suite by a gaggle of baffled hotel staff - presumably they knew what to look out for; a bunch of giggling, socially-retarded, hairy-arsed software developers that should be rightly locked-up at home, setting up Linux networking solutions. After we signed ourselves in, our first port of observation were the bouncers. Bouncers. As in, real proper, huge, ebony-skinned bouncers. The type that you see in hyper-reality movies like "Last Action Hero", as opposed to vomit-stained-pavement Glasgow pub bouncers. And just to continue in that hyper-reality, we saw some Raelians scattered on the stage like proper cult leaders.
We then had the powerpoint presentations by posh female leader scientist of the Raelians. She told us about the science of reproduction and put up lots of slides. It sounded like science, it looked like science, it was pontificated by a scientist-like person. It used words like 'genetics', 'cloning' and 'Clonaid' (the company that was funded by the Raelians). However, if the subject matter was written by Noel Fielding and acted out as Vince Noir in full-spangled "Mighty Boosh" silver suit, I would've believed it more than the silvery Raelian lady scientist witterings. Without any recourse to marijuana either.
Another reason Rob chose the wrong moment at walking out was because he missed Rael's glowing paen to masturbation, something that Rob has professed to being a great fan of when drunk. I thought it would've been a true Road to Damascus vision for him. It would certainly explain why the Raelians find monkeys so funny, as they do a fair amount of audacious bishop-bashing when the moment grabs them. If that wasn't enough for Rob, the reference to Intelligent Design's contribution to nature, by creating glowing pink rabbits, was surely a masterstroke and one that would aid the fight against world hunger.
I thought it was a strangely compelling argument. Well, not the argument itself, but the importance of faith in being a part of a faith-based organisation. I mean, how come Scientology is respected? Is it because that bloke L Ron H wrote a few best-selling novels? Actually, screw it - all that stuff about loaves, fishes and burning bushes from mainstream Christianity sounds considerably less believable than a French bloke bumping into a well-spoken alien after a few laps around the Grand Prix. And then there's Rael himself. He seems a pleasant enough bloke, with a polite manner. Okay, as a British citizen, I regard any Frenchman that can speak English as polite for our snooty-nosed Gallic cousins. But you get the point, plus he didn't seem as hard-nosed and out for conversion as the thrusting superficial and dull proponents of Scientology. As an example, Rael's got a considerably more interesting biography than Scientologist spokesman Tom Cruise. Check it out; singer, songwriter, racing car driver and Messenger of Elohim. I'd be proud of that sparkling line on my curriculum vitae. Plus, reading his early biography, he had a singing career based on Jacques Brel.
Incidentally, and as a post-script to all this, one of my friends, Anti-Hippy, was extremely annoyed that he hadn't known about this meeting. He says he would've been grilling them on every point of their culture and religion, in typical Goth Victor Meldrew, which is his style. In some respects, I think Rob's "bollocks" exit sounds like it would've been ultimately (and poetically) more polite. As a cult, they're not a suicide one - or preaching a particularly nasty message. Supposedly, they're just wanting an excuse for wanking each other off (whilst dressed in spangly Superman white suits) in the spirit of organised religious cults. None of the journalists present, incidentally, asked any particularly heated questions, with the possible exception of "Are you SURE you want to do that to those poor bunnies?". As religions go, in the supermarket sweep of unfounded beliefs, it ranks pretty high in "Compare A Religion" dot com.
Just don't freeze me cryogenically and wake me up in 200 years time, in time to see Keith Harris gazing benignly at me.
Update: My pal, Sam, has reminded me that it was the Sheraton hotel and not the Caledonian Hotel. Presumably, he reminded me, in case I was sued by the proprietors of the Caledonian for daring to suggest they'd host such a nutty event. I've also stuck the rest of the slides below. I love the fact that, supposedly intelligent humans (who are in contact with aliens and our destiny) notwithstanding, they still forgot to turn the spellchecker on for some of the Powerpoint presentation.
Chris Nicholson would like it to be known that he has no intention of starting his own cult. It's bad enough that this blog is building up a disturbing 'following'.