Reading about Ayah Pin’s Sky Kingdom – the Malaysian cult built around a giant teapot – getting fire-bombed recently brought back a lot of memories for me. Yes, it’s a cult built around a giant teapot. No, I’m not making this up. No, seriously. There’s a link here and here too. See.
Anyway, the memories: you see, I used to belong to Ayah Pin’s Sky Kingdom. It was one crazy Winter, I was in Malaysia (of course), and all the cool kids were joining. "There’s a giant teapot," they’d say. "You sit around a giant teapot. People from all backgrounds, and it’s the next stage up from all other religions!" Well, the next stage up from all other religions is something you just don’t ignore every day, but, truth be told, I was more interested in the giant teapot. I’d recently bought a giant round Tetley teabag from the market and had nowhere to whip up a brew; this sounded perfect for my needs.
Ultimately, it was a disappointing experience. I arrived in time to see Ayah Pin marry his fourth wife against his will. He was merely following the wishes of his cult followers who had decided he needed another wife after he told them they had decided that. It was awfully sticky, temperature-wise, and I was bitten numerous times by various forms of fauna. Possibly some flora too. The Sky Kingdom honoured water for its healing properties but perhaps my heart simply wasn’t in it as the water did nothing to bring down the bumps, rashes, and haemmorhagic fever. Prior to my arrival the cult had simply been known as Ayah Pin’s Kingdom but had entered into a sponsorship deal with Rupert Murdoch; the effect was to cause friction in the cult with various splits threatened by those who wanted to stay true to the path of enlightenment around the teapot and those who wanted to chip in and pay for a satellite dish. In my state of insect-caused delerium I writhed and ranted incoherently and became regarded as a prophet. I apparently formed a Third Way group who overran the cult compound with pointy sticks and parrots on string and finally got the water in the teapot up to a nice boil to try out my teabag. It wasn’t proper Tetley and I barely escaped with my life, dragged to safety by a friendly Howler monkey. I never did catch his name. Good times.
Ayah Pin and his magical Sky Kingdom isn’t the only cult to have been blessed by my membership over the years.
The Unified Church of Inappropriate Swimwear
The Unified Church of Inappropriate Swimwear (UCIS) believed that power came from within, true power came from within men in particular, and that channelling this energy was simply a matter of applying pressure to particular points around the crotch area. Tight swimwear focussed the power and various poses, squats, splays, and jumps allowed the wearer to relay messages with God. Learning each of the various Communication Bodyforms advanced the follower up another level but learning came at a cost.
UCIS members were forbidden from contact with their families, including pets. Families were considered a distraction. Each level advanced brought not only a new Bodyform – the vessel within which one talked to The Almighty – but also the necessity to purchase new swimwear. While the clothing styles varied only slightly from Imagination Not Required to Nad-Crushingly Compact, the colour and patterns were significantly different on each level of attainment. At the bottom of the scale for novices there was a bright yellow number with arrows representing the path of Godly Particles drawn on the front. The cost of Holy Attire was high to weed out the unworthy but it was possible to earn credit towards swimwear by posing in front of the Most Sanctified Eye Of The Prophet, a holy relic in the form of a camera. Pictures were passed onto missionaries of UCIS who would relay funds back towards the advancement of the acolyte. This process took place through the publication of a magazine called Tight Twinks, No Shrinks.
I joined UCIS as part of an undercover investigation into Speedo Racketeering on behalf of Miami P.D. It was the eighties and sport jackets with the sleeves rolled up was big, big, big. Someone, somewhere thought it would be a good idea to drag a tourist off the street and threaten him with jail-time for soliciting a woman with a perm for "rodent sex, plenty of cheese babe" unless he helped out. Sport jackets with the sleeves rolled up was big, her hair was big, the availability of mind-bending drugs was big, my fixation with Minnie Mouse was big. So, join UCIS I did.
New members were required to pledge allegiance to the cult through a ritualistic burning of Bermuda Shorts, which was fine, and then there was an Indoctrination Weekend with cake and soft drinks and a disco, which was fine too. Finally, there came the Acceptance Parade where we were welcomed into the inner sanctum of the cult itself, requiring the first wearing of our Level 1 Sunshine Thong. I could feel all eyes on my package. The square lumps of the bugging device really couldn’t be explained away naturally and I was forced to shout out the code phrase to request assistance: "the banana hammock has split, the banana hammock has split." The police never came – the availability of mind-bending drugs was big after all – and I was set upon and dragged before the leader of UCIS where I confessed everything. As part of the plea-bargain that saved me from an Everglades-based death I became Mr August 1988.
The Children of Enlightened Fondue
The Children of Enlightened Fondue believe that mankind was formed from a melted cheese sauce on the planet Bjornandbenny IX over 9000 years ago and then transported to Earth in a giant fondue set-shaped spacecraft to seed the planet for later consumption by the Space Goddess Roxette.
Cult members believe that by worshipping at the giant fondue altar in the mountains of Italy (originally Sweden but the smell of cheese attracted moose) they will be spared the Hour Of The Gorging, part of the Dinner Party At The End Of Time. Worshipping varies depending on how high up the cult ladder you are. For the senior members the typical weekly worship consists mainly of idle chat and small talk, a glass or two of wine, light snacking, and then wife-swapping. Junior members must perform their ritual tasks daily and their primary form of prayer takes the form of flat-packing furniture and removing key components from the cases.
At the time I joined I was on a hiking trip through Europe and had run out of money. Seeking shelter from an approaching storm I found myself drawn by the unmistakable sound of breadsticks snapping further up the mountain. It was a terrible plot to attract in the hungry and homeless and, upon reaching the cult settlement, I was grabbed, stripped naked, beat about the body with branches, and left to sweat out my sins in a wooden hotbox. It was days before I was released and by that time I was in such a state I would have believed anything.
Weeks passed and I learnt to assemble furniture and subsist on a diet of meatballs and rainwater – and I was happy to live that way, filled with euphoria knowing that I would not be dipped in the hot cheese sauce and swallowed whole when the end of the world came – until one night I was snatched from my sleeping plank. A professional cult rescuer by the name of Luigi had mistaken me for his intended target but nevertheless cleared my mind of the brainwashing I’d received through a careful series of open-handed slaps and Chinese burns. As thanks I teamed up with him and we mounted nightly raids on the cult headquarters abducting victims and unclouding their minds. It wasn’t long before the cult got organised and fought back.
The war was vicious and lasted for weeks. Strategically, we were at a disadvantage. They had the higher ground and could melt up vats of cheese in their fondue set in the space of a few hours before sending the lava-like streams down the hillside and into the forests where we hid. I’ll never forget the screams of the men and women we lost. However, the nature of the cult meant that followers were incapable of thinking clearly for themselves and required a constant stream of orders. In situations where quick-thinking was necessary we were far superior and, little-by-little, we edged towards final victory.
On the eve of the final thrust the night sky over the cult camp was filled with an eerie noise and swirling colours and we wondered what final defence the Children of Enlightened Fondue were putting up. In the morning we discovered the camp to be empty save for a strange disc of metal. Etched into the surface was a message that read "I Have Saved My Chosen Ones From The Traitors Upon Whom I Shall Wreak Most Horrible Revenge With Fondue Forks, Love Space Goddess Roxette". Needless to say, the rescued cult followers were livid and chaed Luigi and I down the mountain in rage. Luigi tripped on a rabbit hole. His accident bought me the time I needed to escape.
As an ongoing investigation is taking place I cannot divulge any information about my time in this sect, suffice to say it was the greatest experience in my life and I miss it deeply. Nothing can fill the void left by David. Nothing.