After NXIVM, what's next?

Women in NXIVM 'cult' detail life after 'The Vow' — and it's not what you think

Angelica Hinojos was prepared and ready to have her flesh branded with the initials of a man she hardly knew, and she was excited about it.

To Angelica, though, the brand wasn't about the man. It was about the personal development she felt she'd undergone during her eight years at a company called Executive Success Program — a program that would go on to be more commonly known to the world by its umbrella company's name: NXIVM. The flesh-scalding brand wasn't necessarily part of ESP but rather a symbol of a secret invite-only women's society within the organization called DOS, or Dominus Obsequious Sororium, which loosely translates to "Master Over the Slave Women."

"I was scheduled to get a brand and I was excited," she says, adding that her husband was "supportive" of her plans to be branded. "The brand to me signified a commitment to my growth, and the commitment that I also was making with the other women to help them grow."

Sandoval Studios

However, before the Mexico City native was able to get branded, NXIVM and ESP were shuttered after the program's founder, Keith Raniere, was arrested in 2018 on federal sex trafficking and forced labor charges. He has since been sentenced to 120 years in prison for his crimes. Former "Smallville" actress Allison Mack was also sentenced to three years in prison on racketeering charges for her role within the organization.

Via shows like HBO's "The Vow" and Starz's "Seduced," Keith's case soon took on a life of its own, as the word "cult" was thrown around leisurely, and viewers heard salacious stories about DOS, which some former members deemed nothing more than a secret sex club created to fulfill Keith's desires and boost his ego by branding women with his initials.

However, five years after NXIVM — and by default, DOS — disbanded, several women within the secret society spoke to about life within the invite-only group, and they maintain that it was about female empowerment, solidarity and love.

MORE: The craziest celebrity conspiracy theories

In addition, they all insist that they are not Keith's victims but rather victims of the response to NXIVM.

Nicki Clyne, who gained fame as Cally Henderson on "Battlestar Galactica" in the mid-2000s, has lost friends and jobs due to her involvement in ESP and loyalty to Keith. She and several NXIVM loyalists are also named as defendants in a civil lawsuit brought on by former group members who claim the whole thing was essentially a pyramid scheme.

James Oliver Cavendish

"I'm a victim of tremendous prejudice because at the end of the day," the former actress says, "I've done nothing wrong and yet I get attacked regularly. I've lost friends, I've lost career opportunities, I'm being sued because I won't adhere to this narrative that, you know, NXIVM was all bad, Keith is a monster and I'm a victim." 

In a legal response to the lawsuit, she argued that her name was only listed for "window dressing."

MORE: Controversial celebrity marriages

Linda Chung, a highly educated former lawyer who was involved in ESP for more than four years, says her reputation was tarnished due to the narrative that she was in a "cult."

"There was a time where people were kicking me out of organizations and trying to get me fired," she says. "I am a victim of that in the sense that people were trying to do bad stuff to me and making up stuff about me that was just simply not true. That had real-life consequences for me."

Carlson Studios

The truth about DOS, they claim, is far less sensational than what is being told. And although women were referred to as "slaves" and "masters," this shouldn't gin up visions commonly associated with those words, the women assert. 

"DOS was a network of women who were working together to build more discipline, more personal accountability, self-reliance and mindfulness," Nicki insists. "It was a series of relationships where it would be one-on-one type mentorships where you could have total trust, total accountability. The person who invited you is called your master. You're called a slave. I know that those words are very provocative, and they were meant to be, but only in the sense that it brought up questions of freedom and choice."

MORE: Celebrity mug shots

Angelica says the women in DOS were all friends and were free to come and go.

"I lived in Los Angeles at the time and my mentor lived in a completely different city. She had no way of monitoring me. She could tell me whatever, but I had choices. I had freedom to come and go as I pleased," she explains. "I think people thought we were living in a commune and not being able to leave, and we were doing some things that were very kind of dark. That just wasn't the case."

Blue Owl Studios

Linda maintains that DOS was "built on a foundation of true friendship."

Nicki adds, "I understand that DOS is not for everyone because it's difficult. I think that we may have been overly enthusiastic too quickly, and I think we may have invited people who thought they wanted it but didn't. Maybe [some of the women] didn't understand the commitment because they hadn't committed to something to that level until that point in their lives. I also think that some people joined more just because they wanted to be part of something that they thought was cool, which wasn't a good reason. So I think that those factors played into why, when things got hard, we didn't stick together."

MORE: Celebrities who come from rich families

Since the group's disbandment, it's become common for former NXIVM or DOS members to speak out against the organization. The thing about DOS that's rather ironic is that it was supposed to be highly secretive. The women all gave "collateral" to ensure that they wouldn't discuss the group outside of the group  — "collateral" was essentially described as something you wouldn't want out in the public sphere, including but not limited to salacious pictures, financial records or family secrets. 

"The point was never for someone to feel coerced to do anything because of their collateral," Nicki says. There's currently no indication that anyone's "collateral" was ever released to the public.

James Oliver Cavendish

While Nicki admits that sex was involved in DOS, it was far from a "sex cult" to satisfy Keith. In fact, Angelina and Linda — neither of whom were branded — say they hardly knew or saw the man and viewed him more as the CEO of a corporation. The vow they took wasn't even about the NXIVM leader.

"The vow that I took for life was to commit to my growth and for the growth of others. I still uphold it," Angelica says. "This was something that I really thought about and evaluated. I thought about how it would impact my life. So when I took [the vow] it was serious. It was the same way when I decided to marry my husband, you know, it had the same weight."

MORE: Stars who did time in prison or jail

The women — all of whom are highly educated — are unmoved by the negative TV shows about NXIVM and DOS, which Nicki calls "entertaining works of fiction." She even cites a part of "The Vow" in which several DOS members are outside a jail "looking crazy" and trying to get in contact with Keith. The reality, she says, was actually far less about Keith and more about humanity, something she says didn't fit the HBO show's narrative.

"We actually started a movement where we put on parties in the parking lot outside the jail," she explains, adding that weekly gatherings occurred for six months during COVID lockdowns. During this time, she says, Keith's cell window only briefly looked down on the revelry. Still, after a response from inmates, she remembers thinking, "'Wow, this is probably one of the first novel expressions of humanity they witnessed in a long time.' They've been locked essentially in a bathroom 24/7 with another grown-up. So we did it for six months and it was amazing."

To this day, she gets Instagram messages from former inmates. "They thank us and said we made their time more bearable," Nicki says. 

Empathy, the women say, was a component of their ESP lessons. Linda insists that the teachings she received within the organization were more beneficial than those she got at Dartmouth College, Cornell Law School and Columbia Business School.

"I attribute a lot of my success now because of the traits that I really learned in ESP," she says. "For that I am forever grateful, and the [return on investment] on these trainings was far better than all of my formal education before, hands down." 

Erick Vallaran

No longer in the legal world, Linda now owns a successful financial services business. But the negative perception of NXIVM — largely attributed to the TV shows, documentaries and news articles — has stayed with her.

"I've lost lifelong friends who really thought that I was either so brainwashed or so stupid or something. They thought I didn't know what I was doing," she says. "I know my intent. I know that I was really trying to help people because I believe ESP was very helpful for me."

MORE: Celebrities you forgot guest-starred on the original "Law & Order"

Angelica, who has a degree in psychology and a master's in work and organizational psychology, will never completely move on from NXIVM, nor does she want to.

"It's part of me, the learnings are with me," she says. "I do have a beautiful life and a rich life, and I think a lot of it is because of the learnings in ESP, not just the courses but because of the way I learned to think in those years."

James Oliver Cavendish

For Nicki, her post-NXIVM life and mentality has shifted in a way she never could have imagined when she was walking red carpets and promoting mainstream network TV shows. 

"There's nothing like having everything destroyed and facing some of your biggest fears to find out who you really are, and as strange as it may sound, I wouldn't trade any of these experiences because I've grown so much," she says. "I've found out who my friends are. I've learned that I'm willing to stand up for what I believe in. I've also found such a strength and a kind of a peace within myself because I'm not so concerned with what other people think, which is hard to overcome as an actor. Your whole idea of who you are and also your value in the world is determined by what's being said, how audiences react, how much people like you."

James Oliver Cavendish

Along with five other former DOS members, Nicki, Linda and Angelica are now working with the Dossier Project (the "DOS" in Dossier is no coincidence). The purpose is to share their perspective on what they personally experienced in DOS and with Keith. Suffice to say they had different experiences than former DOS members whose stories are more prominently featured in the news.

"We talk about what DOS really was and what we experienced," Nicki says, "but we also talk about what's going on in our culture and how we view women and how we view women's empowerment and whether some of those ideas are really as empowering as we think."

Adds Linda, "The truth really is that ESP and DOS were really good trainings and really a group of people who all shared the value of personal development. I know that doesn't sound as sexy as sex slave, but that's the truth."

Scary fall

Flo Rida's 6-year-old son hospitalized in ICU after falling from 5th floor window

Flo Rida's 6-year-old son, Zohar, is in the intensive care unit after falling from the 5th floor window of an apartment building in New Jersey. 

Kristina Bumphrey/Shutterstock

Zohar's mother is blaming the building for the fall, and her attorney said it's a "miracle" the boy survived. He reportedly suffered a lacerated liver, collapsed lungs, fractures to his feet and pelvis and internal bleeding.

According to TMZ, the accident occurred in early March. In a lawsuit filed this week, the boy's mother, Alexis Adams, alleged the the building's construction company and window installation company were negligent, claiming that "incorrect sized guards" were installed on the windows. This, she said, led to Zohar falling onto the concrete sidewalk. 

"This feels like a nightmare," she told News12 New Jersey. 


It's unclear what kind of relationship Flo Rida has with the boy. Back in 2018, reported that the rapper had never met his son. The "My House" chart-topper was not listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. 

Alexis's lawyer said her son will need to learn how to walk again following the 50-foot fall. He's still in a full-body cast, which severely restricts his movement.

New pics

Linda Thompson shares never-before-seen Polaroids of Lisa Marie Presley in the '70s

Can't help falling in love with these new pics…

On Wednesday, March 29, Elvis Presley's ex-girlfriend Linda Thompson shared several 50-year-old Polaroid snaps of The King's only child, daughter Lisa Marie Presley, who died in January

Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

"Like many of you, I am doing a little bit of spring cleaning and ran across this photo album from back in the day," Linda captioned a slideshow of photos on Instagram. "Time stood still for a few moments as I looked through these precious photos."

Linda noted that she lovingly remembers Lisa Marie as "Yisa Marisa" and called her a "precious little girl."

One of the images, from 1974, shows Lisa Marie at age 6 after losing her two front teeth. Other snaps from 1973 show a young Lisa Marie lounging on a boat and celebrating Christmas.

"We had such a wonderful relationship for so many years. She's still a part of my heart," Linda wrote. 

Linda, who dated Elvis from 1972 to 1976, noted that she sees a lot of Lisa Marie in her daughter, actress Riley Keough.

"There are so many nuances in Riley's facial expressions that remind me of her beautiful mom," Linda said of the "Daisy Jones & The Six" actress. "Lisa's lovely, formidable, powerful presence lives on in her gorgeous and talented daughter."

Lisa Marie died unexpectedly on Jan. 12 after going into cardiac arrest. She was just 54.

Racist reaction

Oscar nominee says she fired an agent who encouraged her to look more white

Rosie Perez fired an agent who encouraged her to look more caucasian early in her career. 

"She told me that if I dyed my hair blonde and got a nose job, 'I can get you more jobs. Because you're not Black,'" the "Flight Attendant" star told Variety in a recent interview. "I couldn't believe it. I was like, 'Oh my goodness,' like, 'Thank you, fired.'"

David Fisher/Shutterstock

For a while, Rosie's career suffered. She "had nobody" and "no money," she said.

Then she shared her plight with "Criminal Justice" co-star Jennifer Grey, who quickly called her own agent.

"Jennifer and I clicked instantly," Rosie said. "I haven't seen that woman in ages, but I just think she's phenomenal. She's like, 'I cannot believe how racist this industry is.' She picks up the phone and calls Jane Berliner at CAA and says, 'You need to represent this actress.'"

That phone call proved to be quite beneficial: Rosie soon landed her gig in "White Men Can't Jump" — a role that was originally written to be played by a white woman. She also got a job in 1993's "Fearless," for which she earned an Oscar nomination. 

Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Ironically, Rosie told Variety in 2021 that she hasn't been invited back to the Academy Awards since then. 

"Not even to sit in the audience, not to present, nothing — and I'm a member," she said. "I love the Academy Awards. I cheer on my peers, but it hurts. It's like when your home team doesn't ask you to come back into the stadium after you got up to bat and hit the home run." 

In 2022, Rosie attended the show to present an award with her "White Men Can't Jump" co-stars Harrelson and Wesley Snipes.

Momma matters

Nick Cannon explains how he financially supports the mothers of his 12 children

Nick Cannon is detailing how he financially supports the mothers of all 12 of his children, and the truth is actually not that complicated. 

"It ain't even about a monthly allowance or an amount of money because I don't give myself that," he said during an interview with Hot 104.1. "I don't give myself that. What they need, they get it."

Larry Marano/Shutterstock

Nick, who has an estimated net worth of $20 million, added, "There's never been something that one of the mothers of my children has asked for and they didn't receive."

Over the years, the "Masked Singer" host has welcomed children with six women, including ex-wife Mariah Carey, Brittany Bell, Abby De La Rosa, Alyssa Scott, Bre Tiesi and LaNisha Cole.

"Everybody has their challenges – but when you really understand this woman has given the greatest sacrifice and sacrificed her body to bring a child into [this world], that's the best gift any man could ask for," he said. "Regardless of what goes on in any scenario … I'll never say anything disrespectful or bad about any of the mothers of my children."

Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock

With multiple women helping to raise his children, Nick is often asked about his baby mamas and if any of them have relationships. 

"I don't keep no secrets [from them]," he said on the "The Big Tigger Morning Show" last year. "They know how I move. I multitask. They don't have to [get along]. They all get along with me."

The "Wild 'N Out" star said he just wants to be a "responsible" father to his trove of children.

"I just want to be the best father I can possibly be and lean into it. I embrace all my children. I love children," he said, later adding, "I didn't set out [for this to happen]. … A lot of people have a lot of children as well and they kinda keep it quiet or they don't talk about it. I lean into mine."

Home sweet home

Kat Von D sells her home that appeared in a major movie to owner of a Hollywood landmark

Kat Von D's famous house — the picture-perfect home featured in 2003's "Cheaper by the Dozen" — is under new ownership.

The massive 12,565-square-foot property sold for $7.75 million to the co-owner of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, TMZ reported, citing real estate sources. 


The former "L.A. Ink" tattoo artist initially listed the home on the market in January 2022 for a cool $15 million after moving her family to Indiana, but that was back when the real estate market was at its near peak.

Kat, who bought the Los Angeles home in 2016 for $6.5 million, changed it up. While the property looked warm and familial in the Steve Martin-led film, the reality is a little different. The estate, which is located in Los Angeles' Windsor Square neighborhood, includes lush, manicured landscaping, a blood-red swimming pool and a gothic aesthetic. The estate also features a main residence with 11 bedrooms, eight full bathrooms and seven fireplaces, plus a separate carriage house with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.

The home was actually built in the 1890s and moved to its current location in 1915.

Just one month after the former reality TV star listed the home, it was burglarized while she and her son, then 3, slept. 

Maja Smiejkowska/Shutterstock

In February 2022, TMZ reported that strange sounds woke Kat at 10:15 p.m. She then saw a "beam of light moving about the house." Kat grabbed her son, got out of the home and called 911. 

When police arrived, they found a man just wandering around the home. He reportedly told police he was buying the house and needed to use the restroom. No surprise, but that man was not the eventual buyer. 

Fiance problems

Amanda Bynes' family makes decision while she remains under psychiatric hold

With her "best interests" in mind, Amanda Bynes' family is making a decision while she remains under psychiatric hold: They don't want her on-and-off fiancé, Paul Michael, coming anywhere near her.

"They do not want her ex-fiancé around her, and he has been instructed to have no contact with her," an insider told "He does not seem to have her best interests in mind and her family has nothing good to say about him."


Amanda and Paul got engaged last summer, but they soon split up, only to get back together. Despite their constantly-changing relationship status, it appears the duo were separated when Amanda suffered a mental breakdown last week. 

On Sunday, March 19, Amanda was found naked and alone while roaming the streets in downtown Los Angeles. She soon waved down a car and informed the driver that she was coming off of a psychotic episode. After calling police herself, the "Easy A" star was then taken to a nearby police station and later placed on a psychiatric hold in a hospital. 

She remains under the hold, as her parents, Rick and Lynn, monitor the situation.

Last week, Paul told Page Six that his former flame was "off her meds."

"She got off her meds, and she's still off her meds… She's wild," he said, insisting the two are still "friends."

@amandabynesreal /Instagram

Rick and Lynn, though, aren't buying it and are "taking every precaution in order to ensure that Michael has no contact" with their daughter. 

The latest psychiatric episode occurred almost one year to the day of a judge terminating the conservatorship that guided Amanda's life for more than eight years. 

TMZ reported on March 21, 2023, that a second conservatorship isn't off the table, but isn't likely. Amanda's parents are taking solace in the fact that the former actress recognized she was in trouble when she flagged down a car and notified police herself.

Living situation

Bruce Willis' current wife addresses report that Demi Moore is now living with them to help care for the actor after his dementia diagnosis

Demi Moore is sharing the same roof with her ex-husband, Bruce Willis, and his current wife, Emma Heming, according to a new report. A source told on March 8, "Demi has moved in, and she is not leaving until the very end."

However, later in the day, Bruce's wife, Emma Heming, denied it. "Let's nip this one in the bud. This is so dumb. Please stop," she wrote on her Instagram Story.

Phil Faraone/Getty Images for Comedy Central

Bruce and Demi, who were married for 13 years and share three children, have had a close relationship for years. 

"At first no one outside the family could understand what Demi was doing living with her ex and his new wife, but now it makes sense," the source told Radar. "Demi has been a rock for the family and is determined to make sure every day Bruce has left on earth will be filled with love."

Last March, Bruce's family announced that the "Pulp Fiction" star was retiring due to Aphasia, a condition that affects a person's ability to communicate — to speak, write and understand language. Then, last month, the family announced that he has been diagnosed with dementia — this in addition to his battle with aphasia. 

"Now Bruce will leave before [Demi] does," the source claimed. 

Matteo Prandoni/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

On Sunday, March 5, Emma issued a PSA about her husband after seeing paparazzi images of him getting coffee with friends. 

"If you are someone who is looking after someone who has dementia, you know how difficult and how stressful it can be, just to get them out into the world and navigate them safely – even just to get a cup of coffee," she said. "In the spirit of raising awareness for dementia, it's clear that a lot of education needs to be put forth."  

Emma continued by pleading with paparazzi to give Bruce his "space" if they see him out and about. 

"Allow for our family or whoever is with him that day to get him from point A to point B safely," she said. 

Ad issue

Conservative pundit Candace Owens feuds with Christina Applegate over resurfaced ad

In a seemingly outta-left-field feud, Christina Applegate is slamming Candace Owens for her comments about a 2022 SKIMS advertisement.

The "Married… With Children" actress initially called the conservative pundit "f****** gross" before extending an olive brach. 

Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

Last year, SKIMS released an ad that showed a woman in a wheelchair wearing the clothing line. The ad preached inclusivity. Candace called it "ridiculous."

"I'm just getting tired of this all-inclusivity thing," she said in a 2022 interview. "Look, I assume that people who are in wheelchairs also have to buy bras, also have to buy underwear… I didn't know that we needed to see that in our face."

Christina — who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in early 2021 and now struggles with mobility issues — fired away at Candace on Twitter after being made aware of her comments via a recent Forbes article.

"Yes late tweet. But woke to see the most horrifying thing," she tweeted on Thursday, March 23. "This Candace person making comments about companies who see we need help. It's f****** gross."

The actress then thanked companies like SKIMS for "seeing us." 

In a follow-up tweet, she continued, "Going to try and sleep but my rage is keeping me awake. Candace Owens, do you know when you have seen pictures of me how f****** hard it was to get my clothes on? A team has to help me!!! So I'm excited for accessibility clothing for me and my community."


Candace defended herself in a YouTube video. 

"Let's debunk the idea that I'm an ableist," she said. "I thought that was really, really interesting, that I somehow wanted to pursue disabled people and I somehow wanted them out of spaces. That is absolute nonsense. I've spent my entire life fighting the idea that, in order for me to feel like I'm allowed to be black or that I'm allowed to be a woman, I need to therefore see black women everywhere. That is the opposite of what it means to actually have confidence. I don't need to see Tyra Banks being a model. I don't need to see Tyra Banks wearing underwear."

Christina eventually had a change of heart regarding her initial reaction to Candace. 

"I thought my last tweet was enough. But then my heart said something else. No rage. If Candace wants to get on the phone with me to be educated on being disabled. I will not come with anger. I will come with love. Because she needs to hear that. I pray for her tonight. Sincerely," she tweeted.

Custody situation

Olivia Wilde accuses Jason Sudeikis of trying to 'litigate her into debt,' of 'intimidation' and 'trickery' and of making legal moves behind her back

The custody battle between Olivia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis is getting more and more contentious. In a new court filing, she accuses him of trying to "litigate her into debt."


"While Jason can afford to spin his wheels with filing after filing, Olivia cannot," her attorneys wrote in advance of a now-canceled Friday, March 24, hearing in Los Angeles, according to "Jason seems intent on throwing whatever he can against the wall to see what will stick, and this Request for Order seeking a stay of the California Parentage action is just the latest example."

Olivia and Jason share son Otis, 8, and daughter Daisy, 6. The "Ted Lasso" star has fought for the children to live primarily in New York City, while Olivia wants them in Los Angeles. TMZ reported that the "Don't Worry Darling" director scored a legal win, as a judge rejected Jason's request to have the case moved to New York.

John Photography/Shutterstock

In addition, her team claimed that Jason is using "intimidation or trickery" to win the case, and they believe he's being "underhanded" and acting "in bad faith" in regard to their children's living arrangement. 

"Jason should not be permitted to litigate Olivia into debt, and then claim she should be deprived of her right to seek a needs-based fee contribution from him," her attorneys said, noting that she is "aware that he is far wealthier than she is."


Despite the rough start to the custody battle — she was served legal paperwork in front of 4,000 people during CinemaCon in 2022 — the "House" alum added she was surprised things had gotten to this point. 

"We were scheduled to start working with a family therapist in California in mid-January. I thought things were calming down and were going to move forward in a more amicable, respectful fashion," Olivia wrote in the court docs. "Instead I learned … that the entire time I was negotiating the parenting time schedule in California [Jason] was plotting to proceed with the New York Child Support proceeding behind my back."