Ex-members of the ‘cult’ of the Odyssey Study Group paid $400 a month while the founder lived in the Plaza Hotel
Sharon Gans, who died in January aged 85, led the ‘ultra-secret cult’ Odyssey Study Group
Two members of a “top secret theater cult” in New York City claim they had to pay to work as unpaid housekeepers, cooks and assistants for founder Sharon Gans and her husband.
Stephanie Rosenberg and Marjorie Hochman filed a lawsuit Monday in the Manhattan Supreme Court against the Odyssey Study Group — which marketed itself as a theatrical study group but was in reality an alleged cult — and estate managers for actress Gans.
The two women, who defected in 2019 and 2016, said they paid $400 a month in membership fees as of 2005 for the privilege of serving as unpaid “personal assistants, cooks, housekeepers, drivers and personal shoppers for Gans” who lived in luxury. with her husband at the Plaza hotel.
Rosenberg and Hochman say they witnessed physical and mental abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, private adoption, arranged marriages and financial crimes during their time in the Gans group.
Examples of the more serious allegations are not set forth in the 21-page lawsuit.
“Using methods traditionally used by cults to groom, intimidate, weaken, gas and exploit their victims, OSG has coerced and fooled its members,” the indictment said.
“The members of the cult have made defendants Sharon Gans and others very rich.”
The two women who filed the lawsuit and other members reportedly worked as much as 80 hours a week, paying for things like groceries out of pocket as part of their participation in the group.
Gans (left) and her husband Alex Horn reportedly fled San Francisco in the late 1970s after a similar group, Theater of All Possibilities, were charged with child neglect and physical abuse.
The group allegedly treated its members as slaves, used them for free labor and demanded a $400 monthly dues that would allow Gans to buy an $8.5 million apartment in the Plaza Hotel.
They are asking for a refund of their $400 monthly allowances along with payment for thousands of hours of unpaid labor.
Gans won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1966 for her role in Soon Jack November. She then starred in a 1972 film version of Slaughterhouse-Five. She died in January at the age of 85.
Gans and her husband Alex Horn fled San Francisco in the late 1970s after similar allegations about their first group, Theater of All Possibilities, were published in the San Francisco Chronicle from Dec 1978.
Theater of All Possibilities members told the Chronicle and San Francisco officials they paid thousands to learn the techniques of Russian philosophers George Ivanovich Gurdjieff and PD Ouspensky.
Members of that group said they were beaten for not selling enough dinner show tickets to people they had to confront on the street.
They also claimed that children were neglected because children were left backstage while their parents rehearsed or performed “countless other chores.”
Members told authorities and the San Francisco Chronicle they saw children neglected backstage while their parents performed numerous chores
Gans and her husband reportedly believed that the path to self-development involves labor and willful suffering, according to the New York Post.
After the San Francisco debacle, Sharon and her husband set up shop in New York in the early 1980s and were eventually able to purchase an $8.5 million apartment at Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel with money raised from their subjects. according to the Post.
“In the 30 years I’ve been working in this field, this has been one of the most secretive groups I’ve come across,” said cult expert Rick Ross, a key witness in the recent trial of New York-based sex cult Nxivm, in which a number of Hollywood figures actors and filmmakers captivated by leader Keith Reniere.
Ross tried unsuccessfully to organize an intervention for an OGS member in the early 2000s.
“Everything was quiet after San Francisco,” he told the Post.
Monday’s lawsuit states that Rosenberg and Hochman joined the group in 2005 “because they had been informed by previous members and leaders that OSG would help improve their lives economically, physically and spiritually.”
The group disguised itself “as a study group or “esoteric school of inner development” that offered unique opportunities for “self-improvement” and “self-development,” the suit said.
The suit lists Minerva Taylor, Lorraine Imlay, Greg Koch and Ken Salaz as the beneficiaries of Horn’s interest in the group. Taylor, Imlay and Michael Horn are named as fiduciaries of Gans’ estate.
They were all leaders of the OSG sect, except for Michael Horn, the lawsuit said.
“Plaintiffs understood that once they left the group, they would be shunned, declared disaffected and cut off from the community of friends that, as a direct and deliberate result of Defendants’ efforts, had become his or her entire world,” lawsuit claims.
Rosenberg left the group on April 5, 2019, according to the lawsuit. Hochman escaped in or about May 2016.
Along with the $8.5 million Plaza apartment, Gans is said to have once owned a Montana ranch and real estate in Mexico.
In 2015, Gans’ son David Kulko left OGS and sued his siblings in an effort to dissolve the company that owned the Montana ranch, according to the New York Post.
After Kulko left the “cult” in 2000, his family kicked him out of the company and kicked him off the ranch they used to “support, fund and protect the operations of the Odyssey Study Group,” the Supreme Court of Justice said. Montana. documents.