Nicki Clyne insists disgraced Nxivm leader Keith Raniere is a “kind” person — even if he is currently in the slammer for a throng of lurid criminal charges.
“Contrary to what most people might believe, Keith is a very joyful and kind and humorous person,” the 39-year-old tells Page Six in an exclusive interview.
Clyne — a former member of Nxivm, a now-dismantled organization that has been widely characterized as a “sex cult” — has been barred from communicating with Raniere, 62, while he’s in jail.
“I miss just being able to have conversations with him about life, about philosophy, about deeper existential issues of why we’re here,” she continues, explaining that she yearns to one day reestablish contact with her ex.
“I really always valued his opinions and his thoughts on things. I just think he’s a very misunderstood person.”
Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison following his 2019 conviction on charges of federal sex trafficking, racketeering and possession of child pornography. The controversial figure, who is serving time at a prison near Tucson, Ariz.,was also fined $1.75 million.
“Certainly my purpose here is not to get people to like Keith. I want justice,” says Clyne. “But there’s a lot of things I miss about Keith, about the community and all the people who were involved.”
Raniere and cohort Nancy Salzman founded Nxivm in 1998. The personal development company offered “Executive Success Programs” and a range of techniques promising self-improvement with an emphasis on bringing “more joy” into people’s lives.
A succession of notable names — including the likes of Hollywood icon Shirley MacLaine, “Star Wars” alum Bonnie Piesse, Hallmark actress Sarah Edmondson and “Smallville” star Allison Mack — participated in workshops at Nxivm’s headquarters in Albany, New York.
Mack – who was married to Clyne from February 2017 until December 2020 – notably joined DOS (an acronym for a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “master over obedient female companions”), a coalition that Clyne, also a member, has asserted was “separate” from Nxivm. Their respective relations with Raniere were overlapping.
In June 2021, Mack was sentenced to three years in prison. She was incarcerated at a Dublin, Calif., facility, where she is unable to communicate with Clyne, after pleading guilty to charges she manipulated women into becoming DOS sex slaves.
“People are conflating an organization with thousands of people with Keith’s private sex life,” Clyne has told Page Six. “From my point of view, every woman who had a relationship with him did so because she wanted to.”
The former “Battlestar Galactica” actress also believes every woman who committed to DOS did so knowing that their skin would be branded with Raniere’s initials.
“Anyone that decided to join DOS, to the best of my knowledge, knew that getting a brand was part of it. And part of the brand was this commitment, this act of solidarity with the other women in the sorority,” she claims.
“It’s something that men do in fraternities all the time,” Clyne further notes. “I think that there’s just certain elements that have made it sound very ugly. And I’ll admit, if I heard it from the outside, I would have those same reactions.”
Between January and May 2017, acolyte Dr. Danielle Roberts used a cauterizing tool to permanently stamp nearly 20 women just below their bikini line with a “KR” insignia. (Roberts’ medical license has since been revoked.)
In her book “Scarred,” reformed Nxivm follower Edmondson, 45, refers to the video-recorded ceremonies as “a sadistic type of conditioning.”
When asked to share her feelings about her own branding symbol today, Clyne expresses satisfaction and pride.
“I feel great. I feel proud of my decisions,” she says. “I mean, you can barely see it. It’s really not a big deal. But I feel good about what I chose and why.”
Clyne believes the brands have become a polarizing topic within discussions about Nxivm and DOS because of Edmondson’s depiction.
“I think the reason it’s so controversial is that one woman said that she was told it was going to be something different than it was. Now, I wasn’t there when she was invited, but part of the protocol of being invited is that you’re told about the brand ahead of time,” Clyne claims to Page Six.
“People get tattoos out of friendships or bonding all the time. And it was much more similar to that.”
Without naming Edmondson specifically, she adds, “I think it’s very suspicious that only one woman out of 105 says that she was told something different.”
Clyne, who never faced charges amid Nxivm’s downfall, is no longer in touch with Edmondson. However, she maintains relationships with fellow veterans who, like her, still hold reverence for Raniere.
“There’s eight of us and we’re close friends. There’s also a number of other women who were part of DOS who don’t wish to be public because there’s just still so much prejudice,” she alleges.
“And even saying that you had a positive experience, people sometimes feel threatened by or it makes them uncomfortable.”
Still, Clyne says acclimating to life post-Nxivm and -DOS has been easier than expected.
“I think DOS prepared me to … be able to manage a lot of the hate and the attacks that I get and to really stay centered within myself and not identify with these ideas about me that are in the public,” says Clyne, who does not consider herself a victim.
“I don’t want to toot my own horn but I think I’ve acclimated pretty well, considering the amount of adversity [I’ve faced].”