(Image c/o SFist)
By Isabella Wynn
Nothing ever happens around here, right? The Lamorinda area is a safe, quiet cluster of cities and towns where the demographic appears to be mainly made up of old, rich people, some college students, and young families. Have you ever wondered if there is more going on than you may think? That perhaps the Lamorina area is too quiet?
You may have heard about big-name celebrities living in the area. My sources tell me that Buster Posey and Alanis Morissette live in Lafayette and Zendaya allegedly spent a lot of her childhood in Orinda. This may be fun news, but there’s nothing scandalous about where these celebrities live or grew up.
I’d like to introduce you to The Purple People. In the lovely, little city of Lafayette resides Lafayette Morehouse. “Morehouse” lifestyle practices were founded by a man named Dr. Victor Baranco in the 1960s. Popularly known as a “sex cult”, this “intentional living community” defines themselves as researchers studying pleasurable group living. In exploring human nature they have discovered how group living can lead to the most enjoyable life. And these people really do seem to be living pleasurably.
They present their research findings through payable courses open to new and existing community members. Most notably is their $16,800 course titled “Expansion of Sexual Potential Intensive.” Members may also be invited to train for a certification in the demonstration of female pleasure and teaching the Fundamentals of Sensuality course. In addition to these courses, a momentous occasion for Lafayette Morehouse occurred in 1976 where Victor Baranco and his female counterpart, Diana, hosted a public event demonstrating female sexual pleasure and its extensive possibilities for three consecutive hours. Diana is still a member of Lafayette Morehouse and teaches courses.
Known as The Purple People (although community members dislike this nickname), Lafayette Morehouse is located on the outskirts of Lafayette on the edge of the Summit Ridge neighborhood in Walnut Creek. Their property holds communal houses, tennis courts, a night club, and a pool. They also drive golf carts around their property. In my attempt to visit the 23 acre Lafayette Morehouse property, I was met with a hard-to-find dirt road. Upon entry I was bombarded with screaming signs stating “Private Property” and “No Trespassing.” Morehouse is, of course, located at the very end of the long dirt road. I slowly drove past huge, gray houses with steep driveways until I could catch a glimpse of purple buildings. Out of respect for the property owners, I unfortunately could not will myself to explore further, but I can confirm they exist at the address found on Apple Maps.
Given their nickname, the Purple People live in purple houses and travel by old-school purple limousines. They even used to operate More University between 1977-1997, where students could study and get degrees in Humanities and Sensuality & Lifestyles. Their three 5-star Yelp reviews paint Lafayette Morehouse as a welcoming, educational community teaching students how to successfully grow their relationships through better communication and intimacy practices. However, Morehouse wouldn’t be a cult without some scandals.
One of Morehouse’s few rules is “don’t do anything you don’t want to do,” yet some have openly shared with the press that the group uses intimidation tactics to keep members quiet and coercion into taking illegal drugs. Dr. Baranco was charged with LSD possession in 1994. Aside from these small scandals and the very little information about them, Morehouse appears to quietly keep to themselves.
Living in their purple houses and driving their purple cars, The Purple People live their pleasurable lives in many different types of relationships and lifestyles; ranging from celibacy to polyamory. They spend their time throwing parties and practicing gardening, cooking, building, painting, and working on cars. They believe in perfection and achieving their highest potential. These Morehouse practices have made their way out of Lafayette. Communal living experiments using Morehouse principals have been located across the United States. With most groups residing in California, including the original Morehouse in Lafayette, groups have also been located in other states such as New York, Georgia, Hawaii, and more.
Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Spending your time partying, gardening, playing tennis, learning new skills, and having the best sex of your life? Morehouse believes in living your best life at your highest potential. Now, this isn’t a promo. Let’s not forget about the fact that Morehouse is ultimately a cult, however they don’t appear to be harmful and I am in no place to judge other people’s lifestyle choices. Please do stay respectful of their property.
Next time you find yourself in Lafayette, keep an eye out for those old school purple limousines and people traveling in groups. You may be grocery shopping with Morehouse members and you wouldn’t even know it.
Madison Sciba '24,