An Interview with Thaddeus Shafer
On Wednesday, June 7th, crowds gathered to celebrate the opening night of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Dressed in their best party attire, a massive group of guests lined up outside Fringe Central to partake in festivities, drinking, and socializing. Unbeknownst to the party-goers, another group would be joining them that night; a group dressed all in white with a mysterious agenda. They had descended from a nearby mountain in order to meet new people and welcome them into the light. They called themselves The Society. Since the night of the Fringe party, The Society has made their way back up the mountain. However, a liaison between their world and ours remains: a man named Thaddeus Shafer. Shafer is a Los Angeles-based actor, director, and producer. Haunting had a chance to talk with him about The Society’s goals, motivations, and what we can do to help.
The Society: Light, Bliss, Ecstasy
“The Society is a collective of humans aiming towards ecstatic unification, who believe in the power of genderless, orgasmic nirvana and live in a harmonic state of bliss that is inclusive in nature.”
It is plain to see, with quotes like these, that The Society is an organization of togetherness and love. “They have an eagerness to include people.” Shafer explains. While Shafer himself chooses to remain more cautious, he notes that he understands their goal— he simply focuses more on keeping their protocols in place and making sure all parties are protected. “They are excited to have more join their ranks, and to introduce people to their level of understanding,” Shafer discusses. “They are less focused on the material and more on the community. They want to grow.” But not even Shafer can tell us how large this group truly is; he does not deal with Elders or even a singular family, but rather a rotating cast of Society members. “I am always meeting new people so I feel like I’m always dipping into an endless well. It could be twenty, it could be two-hundred, it could be two-thousand.”
So what kind of people are they looking for? “An ideal candidate for The Society is honest foremost. They also want people with a willingness to play and an open heart. Those are the common factors for those folks who do well and move up quickly,” explains Shafer. If you possess these qualities, then you should consider learning more and reaching out to them. However, this doesn’t necessarily ensure your acceptance. There is a process to determine if you are the right fit. “The process is proprietary so I’d be remiss to go into too much detail. I’m not going to be able to describe it in a way that’s beneficial to you while also keeping it useful to The Society.” In other words, Shafer doesn’t want people to tailor their responses or actions to the test; these are designed to determine an accurate representation of who a person truly is. “Plus, I’m just not an expert on how they run things. I’m always on the periphery.”
Coming Down the Mountain
The Society is a reclusive group. Shafer tells us, in fact, that this is the first time in a year in a half that they have even come down from the mountain. They don’t let the uninitiated see where they are from.
“They’re not keen on letting people up unless they know what their intentions are. They get defensive about people that don’t believe; past experiences have made them kind of protective of their space.” This is where Shafer comes in. He makes a point to note that he does not represent them, but rather helps them. “It’s not unusual. Other communities foster harmonious relationships between believers and non-believers. The Amish and the English (non-Amish) are a great example. My folks live in Amish country, and they will give their Amish neighbor a ride to Wal-Mart in exchange for the Amish giving them some lumber or fixing their shed.” Think of Shafer then as a similar sort of go-between, helping to provide a connection between two worlds. “Ninety percent of what I do is working my way down a to-do list. It’s mostly gathering supplies and providing informational status updates. I need to keep them aware of what is going on, what people are saying about them, and I need to keep my finger on the pulse of the community.”
What caused The Society to come down the mountain and enter our world after all this time? “I think I have an idea, but I probably shouldn’t say,” says Shafer with some trepidation. “It probably has something to do with…well, the changes in the family dynamic. I would guess the pregnancy has something to do with it. But I wouldn’t claim that—it’s just a thought I had.” At risk of being intrusive, I don’t press this issue. Shafer continues, “They were looking for an opportunity to come down. I’ve produced Fringe shows before so I had been to the party a bunch and thought it was a good fit. The only downside is that in the past, the art community has either pigeon-holed The Society as some immersive thing or spoken up against The Society as a repressive cult or something, but it’s neither. But I think it’s about time the world knows who they truly are.” That night was the start of something new for The Society, and I, for one, am ready.
Who (or What) is The Boanthropic?
Supporting The Society won’t come without its adversities, however. Most notably, there appears to be a mysterious force working in opposition to The Society. This force is known as The Boanthropic.
The Boanthropic appeared on Instagram and claims that they are not a being, but rather an idea. We tried to reach out to them to hear their side of the story, but were told that without form, they have no voice with which to tell their story. Their voice, we learned, resides in a singular figure: a seeming oracle figure of sorts named Mary. Some who met Mary at the Fringe party were warned to save her “Moon Child.” The effort to help Mary has sent followers all over the country in search of cryptic notes, strange words scribbled on walls, and stacks of old floppy disks all offering clues—but no answers.
When I broached the topic of Mary, and the mystic properties of the Moon Child, Shafer responded simply “I would love to see proof of that. It sounds like a fairy tale to me.” It is clear that the man doesn’t put much energy toward The Boanthropic and seems a little annoyed to even be talking about it. I change the conversation from Mary to The Boanthropic: “I don’t like to think much about or talk about them. I don’t even like to say their name out loud, because it just gives the hoax credence. People need to understand that it’s just a rumor that people manipulate to use for their own devices.” He compares these to faith, and how myths can get twisted.
“It’s just a shame because it will come up, and when it does, it can cause a bit of chaos up the mountain. So I’ll help disprove the rumors down here, put it to rest and clarify things for people, and then it’ll just pop up again. It’s just a pain in my ass, just an inconvenience.” I ask would they just go away if we stopped believing. “That’s where we’re at currently: belief is more important than fact. This whole static electric spiritual connection thing; I don’t buy it.”
Shafer is skeptical. Growing up as a pastor’s kid, he’s learned to question things. But does he believe in The Society or are they just a paycheck? I push him, “If The Boanthropic followers are just bovine following a herd, then what differentiates The Society and their idea of oneness?” He laughs, “Oh, I completely agree. The Society is not for me—that’s why I’m not a member.”
Sadly, after the Fringe party, The Society returned to where they came from. However, as Shafer notes, “they had some good vibes after the event, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a repeat of that. Having them come down is a large ordeal, so it requires advance team duty. If I’m to do what I’ve done in the past, it was costly. Finances are in the way of them being more accessible.” Investors would be helpful, but anything participants could do as well would be appreciated.
So, with The Society not coming down and not letting us up, what options do we have? Well, if you are honest, have an open heart, and good energy, then Shafer would love to give your name to The Society for consideration–or you can contact them directly via Instagram. In the meantime, please join The Society’s Slack Community or their Sub-Reddit, and keep an eye on Haunting for more updates on what mysteries lie behind The Society and The Boanthropic.
Thank you to Kevin Hsu for the cover photo.