Launched in January 2019, Sects Sell is my weekly opportunity to explore a cult and experiment with a mid-century-ish, retro style of advertisement. New pieces are posted every Friday on this page and on Instagram – follow this and other work at @bridgetmakesstuff.
The aesthetic of the print ad is square in the middle of the 1950s. In particular, there’s a subset of home and travel ads and catalogues that feature script with rounded bodies, but tapered serifs — the cover of this catalogue on the right is a great example. It also shows pretty clearly the graphic style of the time, which doesn’t aim for photo-realism, but also stays pretty true to form.
The actual shape of the sign is based on the famous Sky Ranch Motel from the Vegas Motel Park. I’ll just say it’s one of the … seedier … options available to your 1950s tourist(?). The sign is iconic and it features prominently in a lot of parodies of Vegas.
I would be very surprised to learn that you’d never heard of Heaven’s Gate, the cult where everyone dressed in matching Nike and walked in formation and ate in unison and believed that the Hale Bopp Comet was gonna take them to heaven, but just in case, I’ll share from their website, which is, famously, maintained to this day using funds the group amazed before they all committed suicide so they’d catch their proverbial train.
Heaven’s Gate posted a press release on their geocities expage live journal from hell — or heaven, I guess, get it, I got jokes, this is going great. Here are the three sentences I reacted to most audibly:
- We came from [the Kingdom of Heaven] Level, that time, that space, and entered this one. And in so doing, we had to enter human bodies — which we did, for the most part, in the mid-seventies.
- If you should choose to [follow us], logistically it is preferred that you make this exit somewhere in the area of the West or Southwest of the United States — but if this is not possible — it is not required.
- You must call on the name of TI and DO to assist you. In so doing, you will engage a communication of sorts, alerting a spacecraft to your location where you will be picked up after shedding your vehicle, and taken to another world — by members of the Kingdom of Heaven.
So that’s Heaven’s Gate! Tune in next week for the Rajneeshees!