This year, I was thinking of getting a group of friends together and dressing up as members of the Heaven’s Gate cult who infamously committed mass suicide in 1997.
To jog your memory, 39 members of Heaven’s Gate were found dead on march 26, 1997, in a mansion in San Diego, CA. All members were found lying on their backs, dressed in a button up black shirt, black sweatpants, and Nike Decades (they got a deal on the price for buying them in bulk). Each was found with a $5 note and 75 cents in their pockets. They had all consumed phenobarbital (a sedative) mixed with apple sauce and chased with vodka. All members believed they were going to meet a UFO hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet, which would take them to The Next Level (the Kingdom of Heaven.) Pretty sure they didn’t make it past the crematorium. Turns out a few of them didn’t even make it that far, ’cause they’re still here on earth checking their email inbox. They believe they were left behind to “take care of admin”, so I asked them some questions, including what they thought of my Halloween costume idea. Here’s what they said.
Who are you, and why are you answering a suicide cult’s emails?
We were in the Group for 12 years and they asked us to take care of website, emails and their intellectual property. The formed the Telah Foundation to maintain all their information and it is still going strong until this day.
How many Heaven’s Gate members still exist?
Have you had any new members join since the suicides?
The Group ended in 1997. There hasn’t been a new member since 1996.
How do you feel about Heaven’s Gate Halloween costumes?
Those things come and go. This year it’s Catlyn costumes and dentists with lions heads.
How was the $5.75 ‘interplanetary toll’ decided?
Over the decades when group members went out to jobs they would take a $5 bill with them to cover the vagrancy laws of the states we were in. The three quarters were for calling back to the house (they used pay phones in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s). Each Member symbolically took their ID, $5 and the three quarters ($5.75) and “checked out” of the house. It wasn’t for a silly interplanetary toll. It was a humorous way to tell us they all had left the planet permanently. We know this may sound like dark humour to someone from the outside but we knew what it meant. The ID (drivers license) also served to help the police with identification later that night.
Did any of the deceased members’ families try to begin legal proceedings with Heaven’s Gate?
No. We talked with many of them to help them understand their family members dedication and understandings.
Do you believe the 39 members who died in March, 1997 made it to the alien space craft, and if so, where do you think they are now?
Yes, they are performing tasks of taking care of planets and the life on them, around the universe.
Have you ever encountered an alien?
Yes, two. Ti and Do.
Heaven’s Gate leader, Do
Who did your logo design and webpage?
The Group produced that in the summer of 1996.
Watch the Group’s exit video, filmed on March 19, 1997, exactly one week before their bodies were found: