Santa Cruz Sex Cult

Skirting along the California coast on Highway 1, drivers occasionally point a finger up to a seemingly random assortment of hills just north of Santa Cruz. “That’s the place if you’re looking to join a sex cult.”

Santa Cruz is well known as a hub of freaks, so it’s expected for local gossip to ring with a certain undertone of perversion, making sex cults the perfect topic of conversation.

“What do you mean by ‘sex cult,’ exactly?”

Many responses are given in answer to this question. More often than not, people who point to a random hill along the coast in California and say, “That’s the place for sex cult meetings,” really don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. They really just want to hear the sweet sound of their own voice saying words that will catch the attention of whomever happens to be within earshot.

Alternatively, it’s like this: You’re driving along the coast, looking around, gripping the wheel, turning with the turns, flying along like the best part of any high-stakes race—the victory lap. Over to one side is the ocean. Your heart soars in life-affirming awe. You take another swift turn and glance up to the sky. Inland, you see the lush, tree-covered hills. For a moment, you truly feel at peace—satisfied and content, you swear, as you have never known possible. You are so overjoyed that you must somehow share your happiness. Looking up at the proud hills, you speak the first words that come to mind. “You see that hilltop up over there? That’s the home of a real life sex cult!”

People worry quite a lot about earthquakes and monsoons. If the world itself isn’t destroying itself, then the universe itself certainly is. The universe loves destruction and chaos. Until the day people find themselves somehow immortal, they should worry. What are we but sitting ducks, marked and numbered under death’s microscope?

Also, the costs of living keeps rising, and vacation time is increasingly difficult to come by. Once you actually find enough time and money to get out of your house and go someplace, you automatically either need to find a restroom, or you want food. Just to put things in perspective (you clear your throat, making sure that everyone is listening), suddenly you raise your voice above the terrible screeching of tires and clapping of distant thunder, “So, I’ve heard that right up there is the place where some sort of sex cult holds its meetings.”

The inevitable response comes right on cue. “What exactly do you mean—‘sex cult’?”

“You know? I’m not really sure…” you answer, trying to sound as mysterious as possible.


Peter Clarke is a writer native to Port Angeles, Washington currently living in Oakland, California. His short fiction has appeared in 3AM Magazine, Curbside Splendor, Hobart, and elsewhere. He’s an assistant editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal and founding editor of Jokes Review. See: