MATING IN CAPTIVITY:
a cult memoir
for smart people

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About the Author

Helen Zuman is a tree-hugging dirt worshipper devoted to turning waste into food and the stinky guck of experience into fertile, fragrant prose. She holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and a Half-FA in memoir from Hunter College. Raised in Brooklyn, she lives with her husband in Beacon, NY and Black Mountain, NC.

Mating in Captivity: A Memoir

A Harvard grad seeks a mate in a cult that forbids monogamy. To pursue love on her own terms, she must brave exile and learn self-trust. When recent Harvard grad Helen Zuman moved to Zendik Farm in 1999, she was thrilled to discover that the Zendiks used go-betweens to arrange sexual assignations, or “dates,” in […]

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What Is a Sex Cult?

by helenzuman in General

If you google the term “sex cult,” you’ll find plenty of supposed examples—including, most notably, NXIVM, the Rajneeshees (profiled in Wild, Wild Country), and the Children of God. What you won’t find is a definition. No one—not even Wikipedia, or the Urban Dictionary*, or dictionary.com—seems to know what it means. Is it a cult whose […]

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Can I Trust You with My Teeth?

by helenzuman in General

About seven and a half weeks ago—the day I discovered that Vice UK’s ten-minute video about my Zendik story was on its way to going viral—I started feeling intense pain in my teeth. Checking my trusty Prescription for Nutritional Healing for an entry on toothache, I found only an entry on tooth decay: according to author […]

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A Word That Signals Warning

by helenzuman in Cults, General

This year, the Communal Studies Association awarded Mating in Captivity the 2020 Timothy Miller Outstanding Book Award—and sent me a beautiful wooden plaque, handcrafted in Amana, Iowa, which now hangs to the left of my desk on my (wooden) studio wall. In addition, they asked me to record an acceptance speech, to be aired at their […]

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