"Psychopolitics": Inside The Independence Party Of Fred Newman, Part Three
Fred Newman, the leader of the Manhattan Independence Party, wants to have a say in how your children are educated. But his views on sex and marriage may leave some parents wary. NY1’s Rita Nissan has more in part three of her special series, "Psychopolitics."
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Read Part One and Part Two of Rita's series.
Fred Newman lives by his own rules. He says monogamy and marriage aren’t for him.
“I don't think it's any of the state's business who my dearest loves are and how I relate to another human being and give to them and receive from them,” he says.
Newman calls them his dearest loves, the women he lives with in his West Village townhouse. He admits some of the women initially came to him for psychological help. Newman treats patients in Social Therapy, his self-created field of psychology.
“Some of them were in therapy, yeah,” he says.
But mainstream psychologists say it's unethical for therapists to have sex with their patients because it violates personal boundaries and trust.
Newman is not held to any ethical codes. As a psychotherapist, he doesn’t need a license to practice in New York State, although the laws have changed and he’ll need one by the end of the year.
“I think that people’s sexual relationships should be something very personal between the people who are engaging in it, and I think if people love each other, care for each other, are attracted to each other and decide together that they want to have sex, they should,” he says. “[Does it matter that it's a patient and a therapist?] I think sexual relationships are relationships between human beings, not human beings under certain descriptions or in certain categories. I believe that people should fall in love as they so desire, and if they want to include in that sexuality, they should include that.”
Newman controls several organizations that appear to be intertwined: Social Therapy clinics, the Manhattan Independence Party, and his youth charity the All Stars Project. All Stars introduces children and teens to Newman’s ideas.
At All Stars headquarters, Newman writes and directs plays at the Castillo Theatre. His books are everywhere, and volunteers have been invited to social therapy related events.
“It’s cool,” says Loretta Martin.
NY1 met Martin at a campaign rally for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She works for Newman’s Independence Party and volunteers for All Stars.
“We hear it all over the place, Social Therapy,” Martin says.
A 2003 evaluation of All Stars shows some high school students read his book, "Let's Develop." In it, Newman explains what he calls "friendosexuality." He writes that sex is best when "performed" the same way children play, with friends as equals.
Former patients say they were advised to have sex with their friends, without forming emotional bonds. Mainstream psychologists say that leads to unhealthy relationships.
Here's how former patient Marina Ortiz describes what happened when she went to Newman for help with a relationship: “Fred Newman in therapy suggested that maybe I should go have a relationship with someone else and bring it back to the therapy group and see if there were any problems and then we could discuss it. That was his advice to me regarding a personal relationship. He said I should go sleep around.”
Ortiz says Newman’s views on sex were well known among his followers.
“It was a joke in the media and even in the community that Fred has four wives, Gabrielle [Kurlander], Hazel - the late Hazel Daren, who was his first cult relationship - and two other wives, Gail Elberg and Deborah Green,” she says.
Some of those women now have plush jobs with All Stars.
Gabrielle Kurlander earns $200,000 a year as its president. In the 1980’s she was a therapy patient. Newman fell in love with her. He once wrote, "Gabrielle Kurlander, my dearest love, made my life."
Gail Elberg is another All Stars official that Newman lives with. Elberg oversees the volunteer program. She’s been with Newman for more than 30 years.
Newman doesn't call these women his wives. He doesn’t think marriage is a good thing.
“I don't consider any woman my wife. I think that's a highly troublesome and complex relationship,” he says. “I no longer participate in it. I have some very dear friends of mine, women friends of mine, who I relate to in all kinds of ways. But I don’t collect wives.”
All of this doesn’t sit well with the people who have spent decades tracking Newman. Critics say his unorthodox views make it questionable whether he should work with children, and they say Mayor Bloomberg should be held accountable for helping All Stars grow.
Since he took office, All Stars has moved into a massive new headquarters thanks to tax free bonds from the city, and its been awarded a three-year contract to operate after-school programs. But that contract is on hold because of various investigations.
We have spoken to some All Stars participants who say it's a wonderful program that gives underprivileged children and teens a place to go. They praise Fred Newman and the work that he is doing.
- Rita Nissan