Bohemian Grove

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
And here, everyone, are the arachnophobic powers that be.
Some dare call it
Icon conspiracy.svg
What THEY don't want
you to know!
Sheeple wakers
We had jazz concert. We had rope trick. This morning we went bird-watching.
Henry Kissinger[1]
The Bohemian club! Did you say Bohemian club? That’s where all those rich Republicans go up and stand naked against redwood trees right? I’ve never been to the Bohemian club but you oughta go. It’d be good for you. You’d get some fresh air.
Bill Clinton, replying to a heckler[2]
The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time. It is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine, with that San Francisco crowd. I can't shake hands with anybody from San Francisco.
Richard Nixon[3]

The Bohemian Club is a male-only exclusive private club north of San Francisco, California. Every year in mid-July, it hosts a three-week encampment at what is known as the Bohemian Grove, that is attended by some of the most powerful people in the world. Naturally, this has attracted lots of speculation of what is going on there; because when rich people meet, it's obviously evil. People attending are discouraged from talking shop, but it invariably happens.


Alex Jones is convinced that there are satanic gay rituals that go down when all the rich people get together,[4] because they burn an effigy in a ceremony called the Cremation of Care. The "ceremony" is narrated by Walter Cronkite from speakers inside a giant owl. Naturally, Alex Jones thinks all of this is very evil and horrible things must be happening, despite the fact he literally walked in without trouble one year to watch the ceremony. Conspiracy theorist Mark Dice claims that the idea of the nuclear bomb was first conceived at the Grove (a planning meeting for the S-1 Executive CommitteeWikipedia, which coordinated early research that laid the groundwork for the Manhattan Project, did indeed take place at the Bohemian Grove on September 13, 1942[5], but that is a small footnote in the Manhattan Project timelineWikipedia) and also claims that one can obtain a "PhD in Bohemian Grove Studies" by watching a couple of his flawless YouTube videos.[6] In 2012, Dice, Jones, Cindy Sheehan and numerous other Truthers actually traveled to the Bohemian Grove to protest against the meeting and to wake up the sheeple.[7] On top of this, many, many videos exist of Satanic rituals caught on camera in the Bohemian Grove.[8] That must be an easy place to sneak into, isn't it?


The Cremation of Care is thought to more symbolize the participants burning away their worries for the next few weeks. Most of the people there have vast responsibilities, and they get to party it up for three weeks without anyone watching. The owl symbolizes knowledge, from the goddess Athena most likely. Even the very word "bohemian" adds to this.

Philip Weiss, writer for the satirical (yet occasionally investigative) Spy magazine, managed to infiltrate the Bohemian Grove in 1989.[9] He mainly came to the impression that the festivity was similar to a camping trip among men, but with very important people in attendance who are allowed the rare liberty of not having to act statesman-like or wield their burdensome political/economical powers for a short while, instead engaging in encouraged idleness or in acts of rowdiness like publicly urinating near a tree, beer in hand, despite a sign warning: "Gentlemen please! No pee pee here!" and while listening to a piano valeted by an artist-hireling situated somewhere to lighten up the grove with the distant sound of some sweet serenades. Many attendees likened the Bohemian Grove experience to "having great sex."


Bohemian Grove has also been criticized for sexism on account of its "no girls allowed" philosophy, with Sonoma County debating whether they should provide security for a boys' club or enforce its sexist rules. In an entertaining letter, Supervisor Lynda Hopkins criticised a policy which allows women as workers and men who have mothers, but prohibits women as equal participants:

Which is exactly why it is so hard to get into politics as a woman. Because politics are still dominated by men, and women are less likely to be mentored by men, because we’re less likely to golf, hang out in men’s circles or be part of men’s clubs. We weren’t part of your frat. We’re not bros. Which is also why the Grove has always bothered me. Because it IS the “hegemon,” and it ISN’T an “anachronism.” The Grove is how the world of politics continues to function today.

However, she conceded that it "sounds like West County Burning Man, and I can understand the appeal."[10]

Bohemian Grove has at times touted the fact that they have "equal employment opportunities" (i.e., non-discrimination) for people whom they hire as staff. The reality, though, was that the club fought complying with the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), appealing legal rulings up to the US Supreme Court before agreeing to comply with the law. Women are now allowed as servants to the men of the Grove.[10][11]


See the main article on this topic: Cross-dressing

A consequence of the Grove being closed to women members and the annual performance of member-acted, -written and -directed plays is that there is inevitably drag performance.

Now there’s a scene with the Queen, and admittedly this is a very sensitive situation. It’s a man in drag, and everybody knows it, and one giggle or snicker or, God help us, one forgetful on-stage scratching of the balls, and it’s all over. Anybody who’s been around past plays or rehearsals, involved in weaving this illusion, knows just how frail it is. A bunch of actors are standing around in costume, just [bullshitting] between run-throughs, a couple of Indians, a pikeman, and a guy in a dress, standing and leaning the way men do, and then the guy in the dress grimaces and reaches down and scratches himself and—blooey!—the whole fantasy, not just his performance but the believability of the whole show, is gone, and everything suddenly becomes campy, a big put-on.[12]:164-165

Anti-labor rights[edit]

In 2016, the Club lost a class action lawsuit that had alleged wage theft from the employees who work as valets. The Club was forced to pay $7 million in the settlement.[13] In 2023, the Club was again sued for labor law violations against valets, this time for unlawful labor practices, including non-stop 16-hour days without breaks, and failure to pay minimum wage or overtime.[14]

Affirmative action[edit]

The fact that the Club has never admitted a black, that the closest thing to a Bohemian who is a member of any racial minority is the former Philippine president General Carlos P. Romulo,[note 1] doesn’t make the attraction of musical talent any easier. To some younger members it’s increasingly embarrassing to be in a Club, nominally devoted to the arts, without a single black member. "We're going to get some black members in," vows one Bohemian. "But we've got to make sure in advance that they'll like it, that they’ll perform, and that they'll stay." Which is, one might say, being mighty white about the whole thing.
—John Van Der Zee from 1974[12]:147

Having been founded by an actor and some journalists in the 1880s, the club was soon taken over by businessmen who purchased property for the club, which now consists of a large club building in downtown San Francisco near Union Square and a large forest of redwood trees outside the small town of Rio Nido in Sonoma County, California. The bifurcated membership has created a caste system. Businessmen and politicians often live in cabins, sometimes with their own servants. Artists live in communal tents and eat communally. Though the artists also pay annual dues like the businessmen and politicians, the artists are expected to perform as musicians, actors, writers and directors. The membership is observationally very white, decades after Van Der Zee's book, as one might expect from a private men's club established in the 1800s.[note 2]

For although the Club claims that "everyone must carry a spear in Bohemia," in fact many members prefer to remain outside the school-play atmosphere, in the setting of their camps, confining their acting to cocktail-party chatter and poker faces. The theatrical burden — the writing, directing, musical arrangement, and rehearsing, the playing of lead and feature roles, the lighting and costuming — falls disproportionately upon the same people who produce and perform in the thirty-odd plays, revues, and concerts that the Club presents yearly in San Francisco: the young, the associate professional, and the chronically stage-struck, with the backbone of production the musical and choral camps that make a practice of rehearsing for a minimum number of hours each Grove day.
—John Van Der Zee[12]:44

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas attended Bohemian Grove as a guest of his benefactor, Republican megadonor Harlan Crow,Wikipedia as part of ongoing largesse.[16] In accepting such largesse, Thomas violated ethics law by not fully reporting the gifts over the years.[16] Don't expect much in the way of consequences though.

Some members of note[edit]

External links[edit]


  • The Greatest Men's Party on Earth: Inside the Bohemian Grove by John Van der Zee (1974) ISBN 0151369054. A straightforward look at the Grove by an undercover journalist posing as a waiter.


  1. Prince David Kawānanako of Hawaii was an early member.[15]
  2. Recollections from User:Bongolian who attended as a member's guest one day during what was billed as an 'open house', but was only open to a limited number of invited guests.


  1. Inside Bohemian Grove by Philip Weiss (2022) Sustainable Play.
  2. Bohemian Grove: Where the rich and powerful go to misbehave by Elizabeth Flock (June 15, 2011) The Washington Post.
  3. Nixon On Tape Expounds On Welfare And Homosexuality by James Warren (November 07, 1999) Chicago Tribune (archived from April 6, 2017).
  4. RT report with Alex Jones. Alex Jones on gay rituals of Bohemian Grove
  5. "S-1 COMMITTEE Bohemian Grove (September 13, 1942)", The Manhattan Project: An Interactive History, US Department of Energy - Office of History and Heritage Resources
  6. Absolutely flawless.
  7. Wake, up, sheeple!
  8. OMG Ritual Sacrifice!
  9. Masters of the Universe Go to Camp: Inside the Bohemian Grove, UC Santa Cruz
  10. 10.0 10.1 Sonoma County Supervisor To Bohemian Grove: Admit That It's Weird, and Sexist by Jay Barmann (June 9, 2019) SFist.
  11. Bohemian Club v. Fair Employment Housing Com Docket No. A024988 (November 20, 1986) Casetext.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 The Greatest Men's Party on Earth; Inside the Bohemian Grove by John Van der Zee (1974) Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 0151369054.
  13. SF’s Bohemian Club to pay workers $7 million in settlement by Jenna Lyons (July 1, 2016; Updated: July 2, 2016 1:17 p.m.) SFGate.
  14. San Francisco's secretive Bohemian Grove sued by valets by Andrew Chamings (June 12, 2023) SFGate.
  15. See the Wikipedia article on List of Bohemian Club members.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire by Joshua Kaplan et al. (April 6, 2023) ProPublica.