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A Czech and Slovak UFO religion founded in the 1990s and centered on Ivo A. Benda. Their belief system is based upon the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations communicating with Benda and other contactees telepathically and later even by personal contact. They are considered to be the most distinctive UFO religion in the Czech Republic.
Ivo A. Benda began his public activities in the middle of the 1990s. He has organized more than 180 lectures and was visited by more than 12.000 people (according to his own words). In 1997 he published the book ''Interviews with Instructions from My Friends from the Universe.'' Some of the visitors of his public lectures considered his speeches as a perfect mystification, however, psychiatrists labelled his performance as a bizarre psychotic delusion. From 1998 to 2000, the ideology of the Universe People was close to sectarianism, with a central idea of coming catastrophe and evacuation of people to another planet. However, their later efforts moved to defence against the attacks of negative extraterrestrial beings, called saurians or lizard people.
In the second half of the 2000s, Ivo Benda and his group became more publicly known in Slovakia. In 2007, the Slovak private television channel TV JOJ reported that the Universe People sent instructions on how to defend against attacks of evil extraterrestrial entities to the Slovak Ministery of Defense. The envelopes also contained suspicious material, wich alarmed the Slovak Military Police and Security Services. One of the buildings of the Ministery was evacuated. These envelopes contained instructional CD's and promotional materials of the group. Ivo Benda stated on TV; ''If you were attacked by a lizard man from an outer world, the Ministery of Defense should defend the people, shouldn't they?' Or do you consider those lizard people as friends?''
According to Benda, extraterrestrial civilizations operate a fleet of spaceships, led by Ashtar Galactic Command, orbiting the Earth. They closely watch and help the good and are waiting to transport their followers into another dimension. The Universe People's teachings incorporate various elements from ufology (some foreign contactees are credited, though often also renounced after a time as misguided or deceptive), Christianity (Jesus was a ''fine-vibrations'' being) and conspiracy theories (forces of evil are supposed to plan compulsory chipping of the population). Benda based his philosophy on information from many independent books, including ''Angels in Starships'' (Giorgio Dibitonto), ''Inside the Spaceships'' (George Adamski), ''Bringers of the Dawn'' (Barbara Marciniak) and others. He also adopted parts of Swiss citizen Billy Meier's philosophy. However, Benda's philopsophy is in some points in conflict with Meier's and Meier has declined any contact with Benda and does not recognize his movement.
Members of the movement distrust modern technologies and control mechanisms of the society. They consider mass media to be a tool of oppression and manipulation. Despite this, Benda often seeks contact with journalists to tell his ideas to the public. They often have problems with copyright infringement, because Benda has declared that the only copyright owners are the Universe creatures, who do not consider it important. The movement also wants to abolish money.
Opponents consider Benda and his more active followers to be mentally ill and the Universe People to be a potentially dangerous cult. According to Zdenek Vojtisek, from the Anti-Cult Society for Studying of Sects and New Religious Movements, the Universe People represents a possible danger because of its religious background and similar features with Christianity.
Following the mass suicide of the members of the Heaven's Gate cult in 1997, the Universe People attracted the attention of Czech media as a group with a similar ideology and potential to commit similar acts. The probability of this development has diminished in later years.
In 2000, Benda announced the organization of the First World Symposium of Love, held at the Prague Castle under the auspices of the President Vaclav Havel. Havel's office denied these claims. Benda later stated that three months before the Symposium Havel had said that he would attend, but later changed his mind.
The group's enthusiastic propaganda on the internet, the nature of their recorded ''messages'' as well as attempts to comment on every aspect of life and appropriate any popular notion (life in The Matrix for example) has built it an internet cult following who make fun of it and even visit Benda's frequent rambling public lectures.
Source: Hyaena Gallery
Chen Tao (or ''True Way'') was a UFO religion that originated in Taiwan. It was founded by Hon-Ming Chen (born in 1955), who first associated it with UFO's and later had the group misrepresented as a New Age UFO cult. Chen was a former professor who claimed to be an atheist until he joined a religious cultivation group that dated back for two generations to the original female founder, Teacher Yu-Hsia Chen. But he broke with the group in 1993 and created, with another fellow-cultivator, Tao-hung Ma, their own groups. It was later, when he broke with Ma and decided to move to the US, that new elements, such as the pseudo-scientific information of cosmology and flying saucers as well as Christian motifs of the prophecy of the end and the great tribulation, were introduced to the group.
Chen developed his cult, published texts and works on his doctrine, and according to some sources, convinced his followers to give him money to gain passage aboard the spaceships -disguised as clouds - that would land on earth in 1999 and take them away. He also persuaded these followers to move to San Dimas, California to await God's second coming. They migrated in 1995. He then became convinced that Garland, Texas would be the place where God would come, for to his ears ''Garland'' sounded like ''Godland.'' He and his followers then moved to Texas in 1997. In Taiwan, the group was officially registered as The Chinese Soul Light Research Association. When the group moved to the United States from Asia, it was registered in the US as God's Salvation Church.
This New Religious Movement was a mix of Buddhism, Taoism and UFOlogy. Chen laid out a complex theology based on ideas of spiritual energy which was a variation of Chinese ch'i-kung thought, modifying traditional Chinese popular ideas in accordance with his reading of Western physics and Asian and Western ideas of demonology. It emphasized transmigration of souls (with three souls per person) and placed great emphasis on spiritual energy. Adherents also believed in ''outside souls'', who basically acted as bad influences, or even as demons, in the human world.
Preaching that much of the world is dominated by these evil spirits, he integrated Christian millennialist and eschatological ideas into his theology, calling himself a prophet who was able to chart the course of the coming conflagration and the road to individual salvation. Chen believed that Earth went through five tribulations going back to the age of the dinosaurs. Each of these tribulations was survived by beings living in North America who were rescued by God in a flying saucer. He believed the solar system is 4.5 trillion years old, or roughly 300 times the age science gives for the Universe. He also taught that the solar system was created by a nuclear war.
The group is best known for a highly publicized, and failed millennial prophecy. Shortly after moving to Garland in 1997, Chen predicted that at 12:01 A.M. on March 31, 1998, God would be seen on a single television channel across North America. Whether or not the person had cable service was irrelevant to God's appearance on that channel, as he would be formally announcing his Second Coming.
At the time the group had roughly 160 members, 40 of which were children. Members purchased more than 20 homes in a upper-middle-class south Garland neighborhood. Like their neighbors, these followers were white-collar professionals, some of whom were reportedly wealthy. ''They dressed in white, wore cowboy hats and drove luxury cars,'' according to The Dallas Morning News. They reportedly believed that two young boys in their group were the reincarnations of Jesus and Buddha. They told reporters they had come to Garland to watch ''God come to Earth and take human form at 10 A.M. on March 31, 1998, at the home of Mr. Chen, a former college professor.'' The Garland Police Department, understanding the potential gravity of the situation, coordinated resources, including Southern Methodist University religious studies professor Lonnie Kliever, and were on stand-by when the international media began arriving in what had previously been a upper-middle-class section of the Dallas suburb.
''Its presence unsettled many Garland residents,'' wrote Adam Szubin in a law enforcement case study. ''They did not understand the group's different style of dress and behavior, and many feared violence.'' Throughout the group's stay, the police department maintained contact with community members and informed them of investigation developments and contingency plans for the community's ''well-being.'' When the predicted appearance did not occur, the group became confused. ''The Chen Tao leader announced that he obviously had misunderstood God's plans, and members quietly returned to their homes,'' wrote Szubin. ''Because we did not see God's message on television tonight, my predictions of March 31 can be considered nonsense,'' Chen stated. He offered to be stoned or crucified for the event, but no one took him up on this offer. He had earlier made a false prediction of finding a ''Jesus of the West,'' who would look like Abraham Lincoln.
Unlike other millennial religious groups, Chen Tao seems to have effectively fallen apart after its leader's prophecies wen unfulfilled. Immediately after the failed prediction, some of the members had to return to Taiwan due to visa problems. In total, roughly two-thirds of the members abandoned the group. Later, the remaining members moved to Lockport, New York. They continued to wear cowboy hats but began stating that a war between China and Taiwan would lead to a nuclear holocaust that would result in much death, but also God's arrival in a ''God plane'' to save the members. They originally stated that this would occur in 1999, but later revised the date. Later the group moved to Brooklyn, New York, where a ''counseling center'' was organized. Services promising to heal from AIDS and cancer were offered daily in New York's Central Park, now recognized as God's new main base. Whether Chen Tao still exists is uncertain. The group entered a sharp decline after the failed prophecies, and virtually nothing was heard of it after 2001. The current whereabouts of Hon-Ming Chen are unkown. Preston Miller's movie God's Land takes an imaginative look at these events.
''Asking me if I'm a homosexual is like asking James Brown if he's black'' - Jobriath (1946-1983)
Jobriath (born Bruce Campbell), was an American singer-songwriter, best known as the first openly gay rock musician to sign a major recording contract and as one of the first stars to succumb to AIDS.
In the mid 1960s, Campbell went AWOL from the U.S. Army, reemerging in L.A. with a new name: Jobriath Salisbury; soon after recording an album with his first band, Pidgeon, Jobriath was located by the military police, leading to a 6-month stint in a military psychiatric hospital.
In 1972, promoter Jerry Brandt heard Jobriath's demo and rushed to California to find him. Brandt secured Jobriath a record deal with Elektra for a rumored $500.000 and undertook one of the most ambitious campaigns ever seen, culminating with the appearance in Times Square of a 41' by 43' billboard of a nude Jobriath.
Plans were announced for a lavish debut in Paris, a show set to involve a model Empire State Building ''suddenly transforming into a giant spurting penis to ejaculate a figure (Jobriath) dressed (as) King Kong (and) the mysterious figure shedding the ape costume and emerging as the most fabulous Marlene Dietrich you've ever seen.'' With a price tag of over $200.000, Elektra cancelled the show.
The album ''Jobriath'' (1973), could never have lived up to the expectations, though it received reltively good reviews. Jobriath did a small tour - with some ecstatic crowds and some, like the one at Nassau Coliseum, who shouted ''faggot'' until Jobriath left the stage - before announcing his retirement.
In 1975, Jobriath reemerged as ''Cole Berlin'', working as a cabaret singer and sex worker. Jobriath died of AIDS-related illness on August 4, 1983; he was 36.
In the end, most agree, it wasn't the hype that ended Jobriath's career, and it certainly wasn't a lack of talent, it was that the world wasn't ready for an openly queer star.
''Sometimes the groundbreakers'', one friend said, ''all they really get to do is break the ground.''
Source: LGBT History
I remember seeing Rani Mukherjee for the first time in Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, a drama that explores a theme you rarely see in Hindi cinema, adultery. After the movie was finished I was depressed. I cried and my throat was dry, which rarely happens to me. I could really feel her immense guilt throughout the movie. What struck me most about Rani Mukherjee were her eyes, which are the gateways to someone's soul. They were almost transparant, I felt the 'humanness' emanating from them. She has a smile that could light up your day. I think Rani Mukherjee knows how to communicate with an Indian audience in an Indian way. If you look at ancient, traditional Indian theatrical performances, the actors always face the audience. They perform for the audience with utmost respect and with the intent of uplifting the spectators to a greater reality. The fundamental purpose of any performance is to lift the audience from the micro to the macro.So before I knew it, I was neck deep in Rani's movies for weeks. Although some of them were quite ridiculous, she never was. Somehow she seemed to transcend, from my viewpoint as a Westerner I might add, the weird and sometimes infuriating plotlines.
Reading her backstory I was surprised to learn that she wasn't considered 'Bollywood heroine' material. She was referred to as the successful moviestar Kajol's poor (second) cousin and was written off by the critics for being plump, short and for not having a fair enough skin. Not to mention her distinctive husky voice that sets her apart from her contemporaries. When director Karan Johar finally cast Rani Mukherjee as Tina in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai he wasn't really that keen on her (many actresses had already said no to the role), but he signed her on the insistence of Shah Rukh Khan and producer/director Aditya Chopra who had both seen her in a promo for Raja Ki Aayegi Baraat. In his biography An Unsuitable Boy he writes about their first meeting: "I rang the doorbell and it was opened by a five-foot-nothing little girl. She hadn't looked so short in the promo. I narrated the first half of the film to her. She said she'd take two days to think it over. I thought, even she's going to say no. But if that were so, I would be happy because she was a little dumpy. I also thought she was not right for the film.'' Kuch Kuch Hota Hai proved a breaktrough for Rani, it emerged as a blockbuster in India and she won a Best Supporting Actress trophy. The rest is history, so they say.
But what really matters is that Rani has made me believe that things don't always have to add up - that you could be badass, yet vulnerable. Playful, yet responsible. Sexy, yet klutzy. Quiet, yet be able to summon the super strenght of a goddess. That there is no one way to be a woman. Her die-hard fans call themselves 'Ranians', I have become one too!
When I saw Vanity (Denise Katrina Matthews) for the first time I knew deep down I was gay. I was 8 years old at the time, and when the videoclip of Nasty Girl came on tv, something happened to me. I didn't know there was a word for what I was feeling, but in the back of my mind I couldn't help to think it was wrong. So, I basically surpressed it. For years. Vanity was my secret fantasy. To me she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. In fact, I still think she is. I'm always attracted to women who kinda look like her, even though they are way out of my league.
Most people know Denise Matthews as the lead singer of Vanity 6, along with Susan Moonsie and Brenda Bennett. The group was put together by Prince, and Vanity was fashioned in the image of Prince himself (he later stated that he saw Vanity as the female version of him). Vanity eventually went solo and appeared in movies and tv-series, in fact before she met Prince she already made the incredibly campy Tanya's Island & Terror Train under the name D.D. Winters. Vanity was never the greatest singer or actress, but I would basically watch anything with her in it, even if it was autrocious (remember Never Too Young To Die or Kiss of Death?).
Apparently Vanity was a party girl and years of extensive drug abuse had taken a serious toll on her health, causing damage to the liver, eyesight and hearing, and eventually resulting in a heart attack. In 1994, that addiction led to near-fatal renal failure. She said later that Jesus Christ appeared to her at that time and offered her a second chance at life if she abandoned her Vanity persona. In 1995 she announced that she had been born again and was formally renouncing the hedonistic lifestyle of her past. All ties with the entertainment industry were abandoned, and the former ''Vanity'' subsequently established her own evangelical ministry. She told her story in a self-published autobiography, Blame It On Vanity.
So, the former wild child spent the last few decades of her life as a sober Christian evangelist, which is basically my nightmare come true. Mind you, the Christian evangelist part, not the sober one. I obviously don't want to disrespect her, but she will always be Vanity to me, my 'not so secret anymore' fantasy.