Know All Men by These Presents: That we, the undersigned, have this day voluntarily associated ourselves for the purpose of forming a corporation under the laws of the State of California, and we do hereby certify as follows:
FIRST: The name of this corporation is:
INSTITUTE OF HUMAN ABILITIES, INC.
SECOND: The purpose for which this corporation is formed are as follows:
(a) The specific business is the educational and scientific pursuits and development of the human mind as fully and to the same extent as a natural person might do, and the additional objects are as follows:
1. To construct and lease or rent for profit apartments, homes, multiple family dwellings of all types, motels, hotels, and mobile parks, and office buildings.
2. To re-sell at a profit all types of structures and businesses herein-above described.
3. To sell at wholesale or retail goods, wares and merchandise.
4. To distribute merchandise.
5. To do such things in any part of the world.
6. To hold without limit, purchase and convey, exchange, lease, sublease, mortgage or otherwise acquire and dispose of real and personal property, both within and without the said State of California, and in all other states, territories and colonies of the United States, and in all foreign countries and places.
In witness whereof, on the 29th day of December, 1969, we the undersigned as to be the First Directors of said Institute of Human Abilities, Inc., have hereunto set our respective hands.
Wilbert V. Baranco Jr., Robert Kerr, Paul Robbins
Victor Baranco lounged in his shorts shooting poker chips off his backyard fence with his B-B gun. He had been lying there off and on in suburban Lafayette, California, for nine months, ever since he had discovered the answers to the mysteries of the universe: Who am I and why am I here? “Since there are questions,” he had thought, “there must be answers.” And he had found the answers and realized he was perfect. There wasn’t anything else to do but lie down.
“I am 34 years old,” he told the blue-jay who was a frequent visitor to his backyard. “I have done everything there is to do. I have been a maitre d’ in a fine restaurant, and a used car salesman. I have won cruises for being a top refrigerator salesman. I have been a peddler of phony jewelry. I have flown people to Las Vegas to gamble. Some of the great people of the world — Mort Sahl, Francis Faye, Christine Jorgensen — know me by name. I have a wonderful wife, two perfect children and a Thunderbird. I have traveled to Los Angeles, Reno, Hawaii and Mexico. And now I have solved the biggest logic problem of all.”
Two psychiatrists had already told him that it was psychiatrically unsound to teach self-realization to other people. “Since I have discovered that there are no limits on me,” he told the bluejay, “I will not accept that limit. I want others to know what I know. I want to serve the world unselfishly and make a profit.” He lay down his B-B gun. “I will call what I know the More Philosophy,” he declared, and he put on his pants and left his backyard.
It’s More! It’s the great banquet table of life! It’s a corporation! It’s the Institute of Human Abilities. Oh-oh! Sounds like another of those encounter group things. Well, no, not quite. — Aquarius Magazine, Published by the Institute, of Human Abilities
It was three years ago that Victor felled his last backyard poker chip. Now the Institute that Victor founded to teach the More Philosophy has grown to be a chain of communes so efficient and profitable that people in Berkeley refer to Baranco as the Colonel Sanders of the commune scene.
Victor knew that for making money, real estate was the soundest investment. He had bought run-down old houses, lived in them, fixed them up with his own labor, and sold them for a profit. Then he figured out a new plan. He bought a decrepit old Victorian house on a dead-end street in Oakland, and populated it with some hippie fugitives from the dying Haight-Ashbury. He told them they could live in the house if they would repair it. It took the young people more than a year to repair the fine old house, restore it to its original beauty while Victor lived with his wife and children in his comfortable Lafayette home watching the investment appreciate.
Today there are six restored houses on that dead-end street alone, and ten more in Oakland, Lafayette, Berkeley, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Hawaii, with four more in the works, and about 160 people who are full-time residents. A resident pays a $200 a month residence fee which entitles him to room and board, parties, love, affection, and the opportunity to restore dilapidated houses for free. And there are several more people who are members of Victor’s corporation which owns these homes, renovated and paid for by the rent from the many More People.
In addition to the income from the residence fees of 160 people — $384,000 a year — the Institute also collects money from some 70-odd weekly courses at $45 each. On top of this is the equity in the houses restored by More labor, and on top of that there’s a non-profit organization, TOTA, which was recently set up to collect government and foundation funds for housing alcoholics, non-placeable foster children, and parolees.
“We are aware that the vast majority of human beings on this planet are leading lives which they consider far less than perfect. This needn’t be the case. Whoever you are, and whatever you want more of in your life, we can show you how.
“Weekly groups are held in private homes. People come to make new friends and have an interesting evening playing games designed to be fun and at the same time increase awareness of how one is in control of one’s own life. The beginning groups are called ‘Mark’ groups. Yes, that’s right. Like ‘pigeon’ or victim.” —Aquarius Magazine
It was a hot night in Oakland, California. The claustrophobic apartment I had come to was even hotter: the curtainless windows had to be kept shut or no would be heard above the sound of traffic on the street. The one-room dwelling was crowded with “marks” who sat on aluminum and grey plastic chairs, lay on the single-sized water bed, huddled here and there on the floor. In the following scenes, I have changed the names of “Marks” and “evaluates” to protect the innocent.
On any night of the week wherever there are More Houses, groups of people like this one — computer programmers, teachers, students, dental assistants, clerks, pharmacy delivery boys, the pharmacists themselves, jobless longhairs, hippie chicks — pay $2.50 to sit near each other and play structured games directed by a group leader.
Our group leader was Chris, a healthy young woman whose bosoms were falling out of the front of her low-cut satin shirt. “OK, Arnie,” said Chris. “Now I want you to name five things that you want and I’m going to try to see that you get them.”
Arnie, a husky, prematurely balding college kid, sat folded shyly next to the wall on the floor. It was his first Mark group. He squirmed, his eyes looked frightened. “I feel so uptight,” he said. “Paranoid.”
“You’ve never made a mistake in your life,” lisped Bryce earnestly from across the room. He gazed at Arnie intently, like a hypnotist. “You’ve never made a wrong decision in your life.” Instead of being calmed by Bryce’s fervor, Arnie became more confused and upset.
“It’s OK, Arnie,” Chris reassured him. “Just tell us five things that you want. That’s what I’m here for, to see that you have a good time and get what you want.”
Arnie sat pulling at his bottom lip, stretching it inches and letting it snap back into place. He took a deep breath. “My name is Arnie,” he began. “I want to be free, to overcome my inhibitions, to attain my creative potential, to have a beautiful relationship with a woman, and, uh, to really know what I want.”
Chris rolled her eyes, and everyone snickered. “Arnie, how can I get those things for you? Name some material things. Five material things.”
“Oh,” he said, blushing. “Material things.” He started in on his bottom lip again. “I want a stereo, a car, a house by the ocean, some new clothes, and a waterbed maybe.”
“Well,” said Chris, breaking the silence. “It’s still hard to get you what you want. Don’t you see, Arnie, you lose by not wanting things you can get? Robin, you’ve been here before. Why don’t you tell us what you want?”
“I want a leather watchband, some flowers, embroidery thread, and some herbal shampoo,” I said.
“I’ll make you the watchband,” Roger volunteered.
“I’ll get you the embroidery thread,” said Chris. “Come to dinner at the Harper Street More House on Thursday night, and I’ll give it to you then.”
“I’ll get you some flowers,” Frannie offered between giggles, “and give them to you Thursday.”
“OK, Arthur, now you.” Chris and Arthur exchanged warm glances.
Arthur, a veteran of these group meetings, at 40 was older than anyone there, and had an air of knowing what he wanted. He had swaggered in earlier, his green drip dry shirt opened practically to his waist, and hugged and kissed Chris. Then he had sat down at the feet of the girl whose apartment it was, under a Dennis Hopper poster. Sometimes he rested his head in her lap, and stroked her shin with a forefinger.
He straightened up and smiled confidently. “Certainly, Chris. I want a waterbed, a shirt with a More House symbol on it, I want to have a good time and to make out with Chris and Patty here.” He patted her knee.
“Penny,” said the girl reddening.
“Oh. Right, Penny.”
The game continued. Ralph was chosen to sit on the “hot seat” while everyone interrogated him. He revealed that more than anything he wanted to give a certain 36-year-old sociologist her first orgasm.
“Have you taken the Basic Sensuality course?” Bryce wanted to know. Ralph had, and the course veterans agreed he’d have no trouble with his goal.
“And have you been doing your exercises?” Bryce persisted. Ralph blushed and nodded. The veterans laughed.
“What exercises?” I asked.
“Masturbation,” said Bryce.