Lafayette Morehouse — A brief history & resource guide
The Lafayette Morehouse is an intentional community founded in 1968 by Victor Baranco and his first wife, Susie. When Vic died in 2002, leadership of the community passed on to his second wife, Cindy Baranco.
The Morehouse concept became very popular in the 1970s, where reportedly over 70 Morehouses sprung up and Vic was called the “the Colonel Sanders of communes”. Currently the main campus is in Lafayette California, where about 60 people live, with houses in Oahu Hawaii (where Cindy resides), Oakland, and Atlanta.
Vic developed a curriculum around group living, communication, sensuality, and man-woman relationships, and created concepts and practices that are (to my mind) as powerful and relevant today as they were 40 years ago. Much of this curriculum is still taught at the Lafayette Morehouse and occasionally in New York, Atlanta, and Philadelphia. These concepts have to do with the inherent perfection of human beings, the importance of pleasure goals in living a full life, the nature of effective communication, the nature of man-woman relationships (which includes many practical aspects on learning how to please your partner and win with the opposite sex), effective governance structures for communal living (the “One No Vote”), and expansion of orgasmic potential for both men and women. Vic had many students who later became well-known using his materials (and/or derivations). Former students include Bob and Leah Schwartz (authors of “The One Hour Orgasm”), Regena Thomashauer (founder of “Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts”), Patricia Taylor (author of “Expanded Orgasm”), The Welcomed Consensus (an intentional community in San Francisco), Nicole Daedone (founder of the OneTaste communities in San Francisco and New York), Steve and Vera Bodansky (authors of many books including Extended massive orgasm), and even, it is rumored, John Grey of “Mars and Venus” fame. Vic was a contemporary of and knew Werner Erhardt and many other figures in the consciousness development movements of the sixties and seventies. He participated in CIA-sponsored LSD experiments (some of which were chronicled by Tom Wolfe in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test). Vic coined many words that came into common usage including the “do-date” (a sexual practice where both partners focus all their attention on one partners’ pleasure) and “win-win.”
Vic was and remains an extremely controversial figure, which seems to have been partly due to suspicions over his sexual research at a time where it was not allowed to say “vagina” in the public media, partly due to the unusualness of the lifestyle experiment him and his group were conducting, and partly out of his own litigiousness (he was involved in many lawsuits, mostly libel suits he originated, most of which he lost). He appears to have been at times a bit heavy-handed with his students, as was customary for group leaders at that time. There was also a lot of controversy surrounding More University, which was for over 15 years a California accredited institution granting doctoral degrees in sensuality and other topics. He was however a person with a rare insight into human character, who had an ability to call people on their “shit” very accurately in a way that one immediately got the truth of; and he had a tremendous zest for life and ability to enjoy himself under all circumstances, despite increasing physical pains and disabilities as he got older. The personal impact he has had on many people’s lives is huge (Oceana’s story below being particularly inspiring), and the lifestyle that he created is still very much alive 10 years after his death.
For more information see:
- Lafayette Morehouse website
- Wikipedia article on Morehouse
- A magnificent obsession , by Victor Baranco
- A Tale of Two Men by Oceana, a student of Vic’s
- For a negative perspective on Morehouse, click here. I have withdrawn my support for this organization as, despite good intentions, it is not a place where objectivity, clear thinking and courtesy are to be found (essentially its an anti-cult cult), however the article may have some value, for those willing to sift through the paranoia, factual errors and misinterpretations.