Meet Stuart Miller. You thought Dov Charney was a creepy boss? In Stuart's defense, he runs a sperm bank. But Growing Generations is a high-end sperm (and surrogate) bank catering to Hollywood agents and assorted other corporate bigwig types that was just profiled in W Magazine! So you can imagine how Miller's old marketing manager Scott Glasgow found it a little inappropriate when the Boss Man, according to a lawsuit just filed in federal court in Manhattan, emailed him this picture of himself. (There's an even more surreal — though surprisingly SFW — specimen from a company "team building" exercise after the jump.) Still, Glasgow liked his job. He made $100,000 helping gay couples "create new life"! So he had endured Miller's insistence that they share a bed on the company "Vision Cruise" even though he had no interest in actually doing him. The boss was going to make him VP! But then came all the cult classes:
See, Stuart Miller made all his employees sign up for that Landmark Forum thing.
The Landmark Forum was the invention of a used-car salesman named Jack Rosenberg who changed his name to Werner Erhard after reading a story on some prominent German dudes in Esquire and got all sorts of self-absorbed seventies philosophical narcissists to sign up for his classes before fleeing to the Caymans in the wake of a 60 Minutes expose, after which he left the Landmark "brand" to his older brother for a rumored $1 but an actual multimillion dollar sum. The Forum all but locks people in rooms and uses a time-honored cult regimen of weird jargon, relentless repetition and food deprivation to get them to spill their innermost secrets/fears/insecurities and and shake off their "victim mentalities" but paradoxically convinces everyone who calls it a cult that the Forum is a huge misunderstood victim of societal prejudice and hate.
46. Accounts of EST seminars describe seemingly religious experiences. For example, a former participant described portions of the course as "filled with moans, sobs, whimpers, and cries…an earsplitting scream…writhing and flailing in the air." Plaintiff Glasgow witnessed very similar reactions when he was forced to attend Landmark sessions.
53. When Plaintiff Glasgow expressed this uneasiness, Defendant Miller's only response was that Landmark is "very much the language of the company"
And bondage was the "bondage" of the company!
and that "all of the company's executives, owners, and board members have benefited from taking multiple landmark seminars."
Upon accepting the promotion to the position of Director of Marketing, he even asked Defendant Miller if he could discontinue the Landmark sessions.At such time, Defendant Miller told him specifically that the Landmark seminars were mandatory for company executives and was all part of being a "team player."
But back to the sex. Basically, Scott Glasgow agreed to sleep in Stuart Miller's bed on business trips if he didn't try anything, but then woke up in the middle of the night to find him caressing his head, which was weird, and he moved to the couch. Then Stuart made him dress in drag for a video presentation that subsequently got aired to clients and held an employee retreat where he showed him his ass during a "team building" exercise. There was a bunch of other creepy stuff and finally Glasgow asked to get his own bed on business trips and Miller accused him of being an "anger addict" and told him that he "and everyone else in the company were afraid to work with him." The lawsuit, for your pleasure, is here (click on any image to enlarge):
So what can we learn from this, besides that growing up gay in a family of Fundamentalist Christians fucks you up? I think that American business, from American Apparel and Abercrombie & Fitch to the massive hedge fund that trader sued for allegations that his boss forced him to take estrogen, is dominated by hucksters and frauds who are very good at selling things that, as Vanessa Grigoriadis said of the Forum itself, essentially "come down to the Nike slogan — 'Just Do It,'" or in the words of one Forum teacher, "LIFE IS EMPTY AND MEANINGLESS, AND IT'S EMPTY AND MEANINGLESS THAT IT'S EMPTY AND MEANINGLESS," which is to say, if you repeat something stupid enough times you can probably make a lot of money selling things as mundane as T-shirts and sperm, and your employees, so confused and cash-hungry from years of being barraged with pointless marketing messages, will probably go along with it.
But Glasgow could have made the whole thing up to settle a score with his ex-boyfriend. In which case he is even more awesome.
Related: Pay Money, Be Happy [New York Magazine]