Rose McGowan escaped from a cult – when she was nine

Rose McGowan is in that Conan the Barbarian movie that totally tanked at the box office. So she did an interview with People, and she earned an inset on the cover featuring their Kim Kardashian wedding extravaganza this week. Yahoo! has the details of her “escape from a cult,” and while I was hoping it involved a recent tell-all scrape with the Co$, it’s actually about a polygamist cult her family was involved with when she was a child. The story is really harrowing, with Rose and her family leaving in the night and getting pursued by the cult members. Apparently her dad was worried that she would get sexually abused, because the cult advocated relations with children. That gives me the willies.

McGowan, 38, spoke with People about how she spent her childhood in the Children of God cult. The sect is a “polygamous cult that blended free-love attitudes with Christian proselytizing.” At age nine she escaped the cult with her father after he became fearful that Rose might be sexually abused.

While in the cult, McGowan tells People she was often either angry or terrified. “You weren’t allowed to have imperfections,” she explained. “I had a little wart on my thumb, and I remember walking down this hallway — a door opened and some adult grabbed me and just cut it off with a razor blade and stuck me back out in the hallway with it still bleeding.”

McGowan also describes watching how the men in the cult treated the women. “At a very early age I decided I did not want to be like those women. They were basically there to serve the men sexually — you were allowed to have more than one wife.” The cult’s women would sometimes travel to area bars to try to recruit, an act known as “flirty fishing.”

McGowan’s father realized he had to leave when he was asked to draw cartoon literature that advocated child-adult sexual relationships. Soon after, Rose, her father, and some siblings left the cult in the middle of the night. They hid in a stone house, and avoided the cult members who came looking for them. “I remember a man trying to break in with a hammer,” McGowan said. The Children of God sect has since been renamed The Family International and has “renounced its advocacy of sexual sharing” and adult-minor sexual relationships.

Eventually, McGowan settled with her father in Washington, where they worked on their relationship. “We became really close when he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis at age 60,” she said. Her father died in 2008. Today, she is close with her siblings, who she describes as “the most together, offbeat, funny, regular-ish people.” Her mom is also happily married.

But McGowan has no illusions that things could have ended very differently. “As strong as I like to think I’ve always been, I’m sure I could have been broken. I know I got out by the skin of my teeth.”

For the full article, pick up the September 5, 2011 issue of People magazine.

[From Yahoo!]

That’s creepy as hell! You wonder how seemingly well-adjusted people get involved in stuff like that. A while ago I read an excellent book called Cults in Our Midst that explained how cults recruit and operate. I would recommend that book to everyone. Cults offer a sense of instant belonging and often “love bomb” inductees to give them a feeling of unconditional acceptance before sucking them in and indoctrinating them. (Here’s a link to different cult characteristics that are pretty fascinating.)

I’m not a fan of Rose McGowan at all. She most likely hooked up with director Robert Rodriguez when he was still married, (they’re over now though) and she’s jacked up her face beyond recognition lately. She claims that she had to get repairs done to her eye after a car accident, but it clear there’s much more going on with her than just that. Plus she looks smug and stuck up her ass all the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has some kind of pill addiction. She doesn’t look sober at all to me. But she has a really compelling story, I’ll give her that. Thank goodness her family got out when they did.

Rose is shown on 8/14 at the Do Something Awards (polka dot dress, credit: and on 8/11 at the Conan premiere (mermaid dress, credit: She’s also shown looking really brown on 8/23/11. Credit: Fame




You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

60 Responses to “Rose McGowan escaped from a cult – when she was nine”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Sara says:

    What the f..k did she do to her once naturally beautiful unique face?

  2. Bronson says:

    i didnt even recognize her…she used to be so beautiful.

  3. serena says:

    I loved her when she did Charmed. I don’t know how she ended up like this, jacked, stacked up and all. It’s all very sad and I sincerely hope she’ll stop doing that to her body. Hopefully she’ll do something better with her career too.

  4. Ari says:

    She used to be quite the unique beauty – I absolutely ADORE “Jawbreaker” because of her. This is not my Rose!!

  5. taksi says:

    I’m confused as to what happened with her mother.. was in the cult as well? Did she leave with them? Later on?

  6. constance says:

    Hello Nikki Cox 2.0.

    She’s really fallen far. I wonder if her time with the Director Rodriguez has anything to do with her very over-processed non-career in the recent past. I had high hopes from her after Charmed.

  7. po says:

    Wow, I thought Id be interested in the cult story but I can’t stop looking at her face. Its not that she’s aged its her plastic surgery. Its shocking.

  8. Natalie says:

    The Phoenix (River, Joaquin, etc.) family used to be in the Children of God cult, too. It is an extremely disturbing cult. It definitely rivals the Co$ in ick factor.

  9. Ellie says:

    I don’t believe this story. Oh, she’s just now talking about it???? Seems very fisheY!

  10. kittykittybangbang says:

    I love rose and I miss her old face.
    I don’t know what it is, but her new face makes me think of leann rimes. I can’t put my finger on it. I think its the eye area. Am I the only one???

  11. WOM says:

    Thanks for another great book recommendation (I picked up “Inside Scientology” after hearing about it on this site).

    I went to a Catholic school, & part of our high school curriculum was learning about and comparing world religions and cults or sects. These were lessons that served me well in my early 20s.

  12. SueAnn says:

    Her face looks so bad! What has she had done? How many procedures has she had done???

  13. mary simon says:

    she f’d up her face, and at such a young age! The rest of her life will be devoted to maintaining that unfortunate mask. another young plastic surgery victim.

  14. John Wayne Lives says:

    I saw a docu on this cult. some sick sh!t. Cults are all around us. Google John Gottuso/Christbridge Academy/Arcadia, CA. Another cult operating right under peoples noses. And this dude ran a school!!

  15. Elisha says:

    What is there to not believe? It is known that she & her family was in this cult, & as another poster commented, so was the Phoenix family. The reason she’s bringing it up again because she has in the past is to promote her awful movie.

  16. corey says:

    That’s crazy and waaaay more interesting than some fake-*ss porn star getting fake married, this should have been the cover of people with KK on the sideline(or not there at all).

  17. Bill Hicks is God says:

    Winona Ryder was raised in this cult as well.

    As for her face, I think this scalpel snowball got rolling after a car accident caused some facial disfigurement – or so I recall reading somewhere.

  18. gonzo says:

    her face looks like maybe it’s not finished?

  19. K-MAC says:

    I get that it’s Hollywood and for that matter any woman who wants to do a little upkeep on the face ought to, but how in the hell do you ruin a face like hers!!!! She was so pretty and different looking. I loved her face!

  20. vera says:

    @Ellie: She has spoken about it often. I think she brought it up when she was on Howard Stern years ago. She had some very sad stories including some about the Phoenix family and their involvement in the cult. The cult has a very long and disgusting history and it makes me so angry that it still operates all over the world!

  21. danielle says:

    Scary story. It’s tragic how she messed up her face, she used to be SO beautiful!

  22. dilettante says:

    I had read she was in a bad car accident and her face changes are due to reconstructive surgery. Google it.

  23. Ron says:

    She escaped the cult but not the Dr Doom Plastic Surgery Clinic.

  24. VeneficA Delirium says:

    “OMG guise pay attention to me!”

    She was never pretty, IMO, but I hate when people say that it’s “tragic” because someone used to be good looking.

    So it’s only sad because they used to be beautiful? They deserve more sympathy because they used to be pretty?

  25. Lory says:

    She was in a serious car accident a few years ago and had to have surgery on her face! She almost fucking died. So before u start with the rude comments, make sure u know the facts.

  26. 4Real says:

    WTH did she do to her FACE!

  27. TG says:

    It is amazing how adults can subject their kids to cults. It is one thing to get involved yourself but to involve your child is something else. I was raised in a weird religion that didn’t involve going to doctors and even though I was sincere about the religion growing up I always knew I could never withhold medical help for my child so that is probably one reason I eventually got out of it. I also discovered an acquaintance who died of breast cancer because she didn’t seek help. I will never know if she would have died anyway, but to not do anything is such a waste and she was a Harvard educated lawyer and learning Russian. So tragic. The right wing Christians also helped push me away from Christianity. They have high-jacked the religion and the republican party too and I want nothing to do with those people.

  28. Christie says:

    Didn’t her dad run the chapter of the cult they were part of? If that’s true, surely he must have known what was happening before Rose was born. But still, it’s good that they managed to escape.

    To quote Rose herself, “My glasses had sliced me under my eye” during the car accident. So she only needed surgery on that part of her face, not the whole thing! I could be wrong, though; I don’t know how plastic surgery works so maybe they did go ahead and change everything.

  29. womanfromthenorth says:

    For the full article, pick up the September 5, 2011 issue of People magazine.

    NO way will I buy the kardashian wedding people. So thank you very much for sharing this. I saw it the other day when you posted the front cover pic and thought ” I’ll have to go to the store and read about Rose.

    Thanks again, wftn

  30. Rio says:

    I believe the Phoenix family (River, Joaquin and all) were in the Children of God cult as well– that combined with stage parents probably contributed to how messed up some of them got as adults.

  31. The Truth Fairy says:


  32. Cherry Rose says:

    @Lory -Oh please. She didn’t almost die in the car accident. All she did was get cut under one of her eyes. Why don’t you get your facts straight?

    She’s talked about being in the cult before. From what I remember, Rose’s father was the leader of the sect they were in. And from what I remember, Rose legally emancipated herself when she was a teenager. As for her mother, I don’t know. Not too sure why she needs to bring this up again.

    And yes, she totally jacked her face. She’s looking like she’s in the Jocelyn Wildenstein territory. That’s too bad, she used to be pretty. However, she is mediocre at best as an actress. Though I did love her in The Doom Generation.

    However, I always thought she used the guys that she dated. If she hadn’t dated Marilyn Manson, no one would really know who she is, and after they broke up she got that part in Charmed.

    Then, it looked like she only dated Robert Rodriquez because she thought he could help get her more roles in movies. When that didn’t pan out, lo and behold, they broke up.

  33. Seal Team 6 says:

    I don’t think Winona Ryder was raised in COG.

  34. lucy2 says:

    A cut under one eye, no matter how bad, would not cause the need for all the other surgery she did to her face.
    That’s crazy about that cult. Makes me sad that there are people still getting involved in things like that.

  35. Bill Hicks is God says:

    People really need to read the thread before posting the same questions over again when responses have been given. It’s annoying as f*ck. Really.

    @Lucy, I agree that a cut under any eye no matter how bad would necessitate what she’s had done to the rest of her face but who knows what distorted view of her looks she had as a result (or before, for that matter).

  36. Mae East says:

    Anybody else notice the bit about Rose and her father escaping with “some siblings”? How many of them are there exactly?!?

  37. Shoe_Lover says:

    I love Rose- always have always will

  38. carrie says:

    my ex-boyfriend met her when she was with Marylin Manson in a Manson backstage:he said she was really nice(she talked french with him and introduced him to Manson)and weirdly sexually unagressive

  39. Shannon says:

    The article I read about this said that her mother eventually left the cult as well (after Rose and her father) and is married to someone else now.

  40. LittleDeadGrrl says:

    It makes me sad when I see someone who was so beautiful become this plastic weird looking cabbage patch doll. I don’t understand what posessed her to do this to her face.

  41. MorticiansDoItDeader says:

    She also said she ran away from home at 16 and lived with a bunch of drag queens, which is why she’s so involved with the LGBTQ community. She’s certainly led an interesting life.

  42. Nah, nah & nah... says:

    Were the Arquette’s in this one, too? I seem to remember them talking about some commune-type situation they lived in as kids when they were interventioning David?

  43. dj says:

    OMG. Did anyone see her in Conan? I saw it for Momoa. She was ridiculous in it. I understand she was supposed to be campy but please! The first time I saw her in the movie she raised a sword and yelled. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a screech and the sword she raised over her head looked too heavy and it appeared like she could barely lift it. I actually laughed out loud! Her makeup and hair were ludicrous as well. J.M. was a good choice for Conan though. Pretty good DVD movie. Don’t expect Oscar material though.

  44. Rachael says:

    I watched one of those documentary or Dateline type shows one time about a guy who was kind of like the “favorite” little kid of the cult leader of Children of God way back in the early days of the cult, when the child abuse was REALLY bad (I think the instances of abuse gradually decreased as a the years went on and the cult leader guy got too old for to care anymore). He and the other kids in the cult at the time were abused HORRIBLY. Eventually, at like 30 years old, he made a video of himself telling the his friends and fam about how he was going to go kill one of the former cult members and then kill himself. He followed through on both plans.

  45. trh says:

    “Weirdly sexually unaggressive”…. now that is a novel concept

  46. Sue says:

    River & Joachim Phoenix were in the same cult as children, in South America. Stories about River, Joachim & Summer having to panhandle for the group and possible sexual abuse with River. Bet a lot of these kids turn into addicts. Feel sorry for them, as a kid you’re trapped.

  47. Annie says:

    Yep she’s another one like Megan Fox – started out with damn near perfect facial features then done went and messed them up with plastic/botox/fillers.

  48. original kate says:

    that’s rose mcgowan? i thought it was valerie bertinelli. what the hell did she do to her face?!

  49. Mouse says:

    Sigh, she was so pretty and now she looks like her face was molded from play dough by a preschooler. R.I.P. Rose’s natural beauty.

  50. MJ says:

    I am strangely attracted to this trend of star printed dresses, maybe because it reminds me of my bedroom ceiling when I was 12?

  51. Vickyb says:

    Not Without my Sister is a really good book about this cult – well worth reading. So sad for anyone involved in this cult. I don’t know much about Rose McGowan but it’s a compelling story.

  52. Adrien says:

    No, Bill Hicks (#18), Winona was raised in a hippies commune(the one with Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg) not a cult.
    Her face is fine. She’s 38.

  53. MissVJJ says:

    aaaaahhhh I used to love her!!! She was so beautiful! She jacked with her face, now she has a 60 year old head on top of a 28 year old looking body!!!

  54. Mairead says:

    I agree with Vera. I read an interview with her (in Cosmo UK I think) when she just started on Charmed and she discussed it then. She was more nonchalant about it, perhaps because the true horror of it all probably hadn’t fully sunk in yet?

  55. YourPhoenix says:

    VERY old knews. This came out, like, 10+ years ago. She did an interview about Scream (the first one, where she played Sydney’s friend and Duey’s sister Tatum) and she spoke about it then. It was a big thing then, and also when she was on Charmed she spoke of it. This SO OLD. Didn’t think there was anyone who didn’t know about this??

  56. YourPhoenix says:

    I must be the only one who thinks she looks much better now than pre-surgery. That pic is absolutely GORGEOUS!!

  57. YourPhoenix says:

    Sorry for the multi-comments, I meant the FIRST pic. Don’t know if thats pre or post surgery though.

  58. Isabel says:

    When I read this a while back, it seemed very obvious to me she’s been sexually abused as a child. A man who’d been brought up in this cult made a docu about it after getting out, interviewing other people who’d gotten out too. The score of those who were abused: 100 %. Plus, Rose got emancipated at age 13 and lived on the streets at some point: not a sign of good parenting, or a safe home. The version of events she’s telling now, having narrowly escaped, seems more like something she’d have wanted to have happened.

  59. maria says:

    she was famous as a BEBE model and cult films like Doom Generation (Greg Araki sp?)a small part in Encino Man, and Louis,Clark and George,ok she sucks as an actress except in grindhouse she was better-I think she was always pretty as a goth chick which she was edgy and sexy and before Dita too! She lost her sex appeal when she dated Manson and I even have that issue with Dita he is coottified tome and both girls were strung out when with him.She was tongue in cheek funny in jawbraker too. I find pic of her that pre date Dita’s but same flavor,who was still doing Bettie page contests and winning every year here in Sf and used to be a total mean girl(has now aged grew up and became gracious ,I knew her kind of in the 90′s from clubs and a few years ago my bff dressed her for a Macy’s benefit and said Dita is much nicer, I mean if I was in my 20′s sexy and had everyone at my beck and call I may have been that way too I love Dita now)I am sure Rose can be on drugs she has admitted to usage with Mr Cootie pie but I have only heard she is nice by people who met her and yes I know I sound like I know everyone but being in the club scene in Sf in the 90′s I have stories ha if you even cared about Paget Brewster I can give you tons of true gossip on that B….