Nicki Clyne insists disgraced Nxivm leader Keith Raniere is a ‘nice’ person – even though he’s currently in prison on a host of grim criminal charges.
“Contrary to what most people might believe, Keith is a very cheerful, kind and humorous person,” the 39-year-old told Page Six in an exclusive interview.
Clyne – a former member of Nxivm, a now-dismantled organization that has been widely branded a “sex cult” – has been banned from communicating with Raniere, 62, while he is in prison.
“I just miss being able to have conversations with him about life, about philosophy, about deeper existential questions about why we are here,” she continues, explaining that she aspires to one day restore the contact with his ex.
“I really always appreciated his opinions and thoughts on things. I just think he’s a very misunderstood person.
Raniere was sentenced to 120 years in prison following his 2019 conviction for federal sex trafficking, racketeering and possession of child pornography. The controversial figure, who is serving time in a prison near Tucson, Arizona, was also fined $1.75 million.
“Granted, my goal here is not to get people to like Keith. I want justice,” Clyne says. “But there are a lot of things I miss about Keith, the community and all the people involved.”
Raniere and his cohort Nancy Salzman founded Nxivm in 1998. The personal development company offered “executive success programs” and a range of techniques that promised self-improvement with an emphasis on bringing “more joy” in people’s lives.
A succession of notable names – including Hollywood icon Shirley MacLaine, ‘Star Wars’ alum Bonnie Piesse, Hallmark actress Sarah Edmondson and ‘Smallville’ star Allison Mack – have taken part in workshops at Nxivm headquarters in Albany, New York.
Mack – who was married to Clyne from February 2017 to December 2020 – notably joined DOS (an acronym for a Latin phrase that roughly translates to “master over obedient companions”), a coalition that Clyne, also a member, claimed be “separate” from Nxivm. Their respective relationships with Raniere overlapped.
In June 2021, Mack was sentenced to three years in prison. She was incarcerated in a facility in Dublin, California, where she is unable to communicate with Clyne, after pleading guilty to charges of manipulating women into becoming DOS sex slaves.
“People confuse an organization of thousands with Keith’s private sex life,” Clyne told Page Six. “From my point of view, every woman who has had a relationship with him has done so because she wanted to.”
The former ‘Battlestar Galactica’ actress also believes that all of the women who signed up for DOS did so knowing their skin would bear Raniere’s initials.
“Anyone who decided to join DOS, to my knowledge, knew that getting a mark was part of it. And part of the mark was that commitment, that act of solidarity with other women in the sorority,” asserts- she.
“It’s something men do all the time in fraternities,” Clyne notes. “I think there are just certain elements that made it very ugly. And I admit that if I heard it from the outside, I would have the same reactions.
Between January and May 2017, sidekick Dr. Danielle Roberts used a cautery tool to permanently dab nearly 20 women just below their bikini line with a “KR” badge. (Roberts’ medical license has since been revoked.)
In his book “Scarred,” Edmondson, 45, a reformed Nxivm follower, calls the videotaped ceremonies a “type of sadistic conditioning.”
When asked to share her feelings about her own brand symbol today, Clyne expresses her satisfaction and pride.
“I feel good. I’m proud of my decisions,” she says. “I mean, you can barely see it. It’s really no big deal. But I feel good about what I chose. and why.
Clyne believes trademarks have become a polarizing topic in Nxivm and DOS discussions due to Edmondson’s portrayal.
“I think the reason it’s so controversial is that one woman said she was told it would be something different than it was. Now I wasn’t there when she was invited, but part of the invitation protocol is that you are informed of the brand in advance,” Clyne tells Page Six.
“People get tattoos out of friendship or romance all the time. And it looked much more like that.
Without naming Edmondson specifically, she adds, “I think it’s very suspicious that only one in 105 women would say they were told something different.”
Clyne, who never faced charges amid Nxivm’s downfall, is no longer in contact with Edmondson. However, she maintains relationships with other veterans who, like her, still have respect for Raniere.
“There are eight of us and we are close friends. There are also a number of other women who were part of DOS who do not wish to be made public because there is still so much prejudice,” she says.
“And even saying you had a positive experience, sometimes people feel threatened or it makes them uncomfortable.”
Still, Clyne says acclimating to life after Nxivm and -DOS was easier than expected.
“I think DOS prepared me to … be able to deal with a lot of the hate and the attacks that I get and to really stay focused on myself and not identify with these ideas about me that are in the audience,” says Clyne, who does not see himself as a victim.
“I don’t want to shout my own horn, but I think I’ve acclimated pretty well considering the amount of adversity [I’ve faced].”