Allison Mack Admits Branding Women in Keith Raniere's NXIVM 'Sex Cult' Was Her Idea: Tattoos 'Mean Nothing'

Allison Mack has stayed silent since her April arrest for sex trafficking and forced labor, but the former Smallville actress and accused cult master of NXIVM admitted in a previous interview to coming up with the idea of branding women with Keith Raniere's initials.

The interview took place roughly six months ago but was published on Wednesday by The New York Times Magazine. The lengthy piece, written by journalist Vanessa Grigoriadis, includes rare interviews with Mack, along with alleged ringleader Raniere, who was arrested in March, and media-shy socialites Sara and Clare Bronfman.

In a stunning admission, Mack readily took credit for coming up with branding women near their pubic region. Former NXIVM publicist Frank Parlato previously told Newsweek the burns were made with a cauterizing pen. When viewed at the right angle, he said, the letters "A" and "M" could also be seen, suggesting the branding also represented Mack's place in the upper echelons of the alleged cult.

In the New York Times Magazine piece, Mack suggested that the burn mark was a more unique way of showing devotion to the "sisterhood," which, authorities argue, was little more than a self-help scheme designed to funnel sexual partners to Raniere.

"I was like: 'Y'all, a tattoo? People get drunk and tattooed on their ankle 'BFF,' or a tramp stamp," Mack told the reporter. "I have two tattoos, and they mean nothing." A burn mark was a symbol of a "badass" woman, like a "rite of passage," according to the report.

"Even if they cried when they were getting the brand; even if they wore surgical masks to help them with breathing in the smell of burning flesh; even if the brand was much larger than they were told it would be and looked like an ancient hieroglyph; even if they were in a state of sheer terror, they were still able to transcend the fear and cry out to one another: 'Badass warrior bitches! Let's get strong together,'" the report states.

In a previous interview with Newsweek, Parlato described Mack as both a victim and perpetrator of abuse.

"Poor Allison unfortunately got caught up in the cult," Parlato told Newsweek. "She sincerely believed that it was going to teach her things that would make her a better, more spiritual, more critical-thinking and logical type of person."

As Newsweek previously reported, Mack, who could face 15 years to life in prison if convicted, is accused of increasingly grisly crimes. In addition to ordering around "slaves," she allegedly led one woman into a veritable shack where a then-unknown man performed oral sex on the woman. She is also accused of blackmailing members with "collateral" they handed over in exchange for a spot in her "women's empowerment group."

Raniere, who through his lawyers denied any wrongdoing, admitted to the Times that he was "polyamorous" but that all of his relationships were consensual.

"I don't think I'm seen as the person I think I am, and I also want to be the person that I think I am," he told the magazine. He described himself as a "nerd" who has "thought too much."

A lawyer representing the self-styled "vanguard," who is being held without bail in a Brooklyn jail, echoed those claims at a May 4 court hearing. Mack, meanwhile, is on house arrest in Los Angeles, awaiting trial.

"Everything was utterly consensual," attorney Marc Agnifilo said. "It was adults making decisions on their own of their own free will, and that's what the trial is going to show. A lot of adult, strong-minded, free-willed women made decisions for their own lives."

Allison Mack
Allison Mack departs Brooklyn, New York's United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York after a bail hearing over sex-trafficking charges filed against her, on May 4. In an interview with The New York Times Magazine published Wednesday, the star took credit for the branding of alleged victims. Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Allison Mack Admits Branding Women in Keith Raniere's NXIVM 'Sex Cult' Was Her Idea: Tattoos 'Mean Nothing' | U.S.
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