The Cult of the Duce: Mussolini and the Italians

he golden hair has thinned and those vivid blue eyes have dimmed a shade or two, but it’s hard to imagine anything could happen to John Hoyt’s jawline, composed of two I-beams connected at the chin by way of a ball-peen hammer’s divot. sensai at the bar at Casey’s Pour House in Berwyn on a frosty afternoon before New Year’s, watching meaningless college football bowl games and enjoying a few beers, Hoyt seems like he could easily jet to Milan, stride into a studio and command the lens, just as he did 25 years ago.

Back then, Hoyt claimed the title of “First Male Supermodel” beneath the name Hoyt Richards (his middle name is Richards). He did things such as serve as the delighted sandwich meat between Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell on the New York party scene.

But Hoyt doesn’t do that anymore. He’s more enthusiastic about filmmaking and the sporadic acting gig. More than whatever else, though, he wants to utilize his art to help others who’ve endured what he has—and tell the planet that, simply because you may spend almost 20 years in a cult and bestow $4.5 million of one’s earnings upon its membership, you aren’t some simple-minded person capable of being brainwashed by anyone with a Manhattan apartment and a wild story about intergalactic reincarnation. “I’ll never be boring at cocktail parties,” says Hoyt with a laugh.

You want stories? Hoyt has them. Some are incredible, like how a youngster from Princeton turned down an offer—and a fat payday—to fly to Europe for an image shoot because he had an econ exam that day. However not these are upbeat—such as the mental image of Hoyt having his head shaved by angry Eternal Values cult members fed up with his preferred status. A little more amusing, perhaps, is how Fabio helped him escape.

It’s tough to listen as Hoyt covers recovering some sanity and esteem after being berated all day by EV acolytes about his unworthiness. He speaks willingly about his amount of time in Eternal Values, his battle to regain his life after leaving, and how important it’s for him now to help others heal from similar experiences.

Hoyt’s smile is ready, and his wit is more than a defense mechanism. He’s reached a spot in his life where his amount of time in Eternal Values no further defines him. He may look pretty quite similar on the outside, but Hoyt has changed on the inside.

“It’s been a hard process,” says Hoyt’s older sibling, Rory. “He’s grown a whole lot and matured. He left Eternal Values when he was 37, and he was still 20 with regards to his maturity. Now, he seems such as a regular 54-year-old.”

Rory has seen his brother do a lot of growing in a quick time. “And it’s taken a lot of personal effort on his part,” says Rory. “Section of it has been looking in, and section of it has been looking out and saying, ‘So what can I actually do to help people avoid this?’ ”

That’s the story now. Hoyt is working on a documentary in regards to the ordeal, plus a guide he’s writing with a former EV member. Hoyt once viewed Eternal Values founder Frederick von Mierers as a spiritual talisman of sorts, effective at opening fascinating worlds to a son whose life to the period had been virtually out from the “Preppy Handbook.” He wasn’t stupid—Hoyt holds diplomas from the Haverford School and Princeton—but he was vulnerable. Consequently, what started as fun and games became a sad story of manipulation, humiliation and regret.

“When I was because situation, I thought, ‘Nothing beats this could ever happen,’ ” Hoyt says. “Which was my greatest vulnerability. It started simply, and as I acquired further and further engrossed and it got cultier and cultier, the thing I said was: ‘This isn’t a cult. It can’t happen to me.’ Mind control works on everybody.”

John Hoyt didn’t want to go to the Haverford School. He was perfectly happy at Conestoga High School, where he was at the top of his class. But after his sophomore year, his mom insisted he make the switch.

Hoyt was 2 when his family moved to Berwyn from Fayetteville, N.Y., a village of approximately 4,300 just east of Syracuse, in 1964. He was the fourth of six
children—four boys, two girls—raised by Bob and Terry. His mother’s reasoning for the change in school was based on the success Hoyt’s brother Rory had at Haverford, where he tightened up his academics and gained admittance to Princeton. “Rory was a notorious procrastinator and was struggling in public places school, while I was succeeding,” Hoyt says. “When Rory went to Haverford for his senior year and found myself in Princeton, my mother said, ‘That’s the solution.’ I said, ‘No.’ ”


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