Heaven’s Gate cult video may go on sale

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The founders of Heaven’s Gate apparently knew two decades ago that their story of traveling on a spaceship to “the next level” had the makings of a Hollywood project.
In 1976, they recorded a “last statement” on video, made contract preparations and gave instructions that it could go on sale 30 days after their “departure,” the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
Thirty days has passed and the William Morris Agency is now representing sale of the video, which shows Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Nettles Trusdale.
According to the contracts, 40 percent of any money generated from the tape will go to heirs of Applewhite and Trusdale. The rest would go to the producer, to Los Angeles entertainment attorney Jerry Weinstein and the Morris agency, Weinstein said.
The agency and Weinstein, who is representing the producer, see the two-hour tape as the basis for a TV special and a video for sale, but no deals or release dates have been decided.
The tape has been stored in a vault in Oklahoma for 21 years, the Times said.
On the tape, a younger Applewhite sits beside Trusdale. With mesmerizing blue eyes and a full head of hair, he looks hale and fit, in contrast to his haunted look on a video testament made before his group’s mass suicide March 26.
Applewhite was among the 39 cult members discovered dead in a Rancho Santa Fe mansion. Trusdale died years before of cancer.
In the 1976 video, the couple presides over a question-and-answer session involving cult members, said Dick Joslyn, a former member who said he was at the taping.
Members believed that they were shedding their “containers” — their human bodies — to hitch a ride on a spaceship trailing the Hale-Bopp comet. The spaceship would take them to the “next level” of existence.
The presentation was recorded at a time when the couple believed they were going to be assassinated and then resurrected as a demonstration of the truth of their message.
At the beginning of the tape, Applewhite says he wanted to leave a record for “those people who care to know what we were about.”
In “The Last Statement of Bo and Peep (The Two) Before Their Departure From Earth,” Applewhite does most of the talking.
Occasionally, he glances with adoration at Trusdale, seated next to him at a round white table. He calls his female companion “my father” and “higher-ranking in the next level.”
He fields questions with calmness and ease, occasionally wiping sweat from his upper lip with a tissue.
“Why hasn’t the chief of chiefs destroyed Lucifer?” asks an audience member.
“Germination requires both poles,” meaning good and evil, he says, explaining the devil on earth is a “gift” in the form of a test for people on Earth.
He describes the group’s beliefs that to be ready for the ascent to the next level, one must give up all desires, including sex, and live a modest life.