I Am Not an Animal
Bart Maelstrom is not Just a Polygamist. He's a Human Being.
If you're anything like me, at first glance the concept of polygamy seems like a pretty enticing idea. I mean, if you're going to commit to the institution of marriage in the first place, why settle for one wife when you can have three or four? You know, add a little spice to the mélange.
Being a polygamist, however, ain't all it's cracked up to be. Bart Maelstrom, polygamist extraordinaire of Fairview, Utah, told VICE how trying living with his four wives and twelve children can actually be.
"Yup," Bart cautions, "I know it sounds like everything a guy could ever want, but believe me, it's a lot of work. Actually, I don't know why anybody would want to go this route unless they had the intention of serving God in their heart."
Maelstrom is a member of a rogue sect of Mormons stationed 100 miles east of Salt Lake City and is doing his darnedest to keep the Lord by his side. It's hard for him, though. When he first started building his harem a lot of people were spreading falsehoods about him and his lifestyle and being mean.
"It's all about serving the Lord," Bart continues, "and sex and plural marriage have very, very little to do with it. People in the media and in the general population are always trying to make something out of it which it isn't."
On top of the burden of having to provide for the sixteen (and counting) members of his family, Bart and the other polygamists in his sect have to maneuver around state and federal laws restricting the practice and wrestle with a Mormon orthodoxy in Salt Lake City that is committed to keeping his brand of Mormonism a bad thing.
"The police around here are all hooked up with the Church of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, so for the longest time when anybody would come and stay with us and be introduced to the true teachings of (Mormon founder) John Smith, they would find themselves under surveillance and their names reported back to the LDS establishment in Salt Lake which would later contact and try to intimidate them. The LDS see us as a threat to their legitimacy and are determined to keep us marginalized. It's better now than it was, but for a while they were really on our case."
They're probably just jealous really. Then again, the authorities (whether civic or religious) aren't exactly anxious to facilitate life for some random individual who is mating with a gaggle of women. The gross factor tends to outweigh any religious explanation.
And what kind of reaction could he expect from his four current wives if he were to come home someday with yet another blushing bride, ass-first over his shoulder?
"Well, it's not really like that," he says, clearly losing patience with my line of questioning. "Our family is modeled on the Kingdom of Christ and any decision along those lines would have to be made with the approval of all of my wives. That being said I certainly do hope to add another one to our household sometime soon."