A woman searches for spiritual enlightenment and loses her way.
The life story of Samsara â€œFrau” Drakke opens in 1990, as she and friend Katrin are busy making lucrative livelihoods as exotic dancers in Germany. But Drakke is arrested and indicted with criminal conspiracy stemming from a stint at an Indian commune years earlier. While in jail awaiting extradition, she tells her life history to an American lawyer and then to a panel of High Court Judges, desperately hoping to persuade them of her innocence. Born in 1948 in Yonkers, N.Y., to desperately mismatched parents, Drakke, raised Catholic, sought refuge as a child in a nearby church to escape her mother’s alcoholic rages. In her late teens, she often sacrificed her pre-med collegiate studies in favor of feverishly indulged sex (her â€œnew guru”) and allowed it to dominate her life, so much so that it sabotaged her career aspirations and caused familial rifts. Drakke, aimless and drifting, joined the Rajneesh commune in 1981 as one of 12 initial members and befriended fellow worshipper Sila, but after a long stay, commune leader Bhagwan Rajneesh soon betrayed her and other members by alerting FBI officials to activities Drakke and others may have been involved in (firearms transport, wiretapping, poisoning, federal conspiracy) after she and others abandoned their guru’s â€œcrumbling empire.” She is given recourse with release from prison on bail, but legal red tape keeps her freedom in jeopardy. She’s extradited into the hands of U.S. officials who oppose her bond release but plea bargain down and send her off to five years in prison, where she finds reflective solace. The authors have drawn on their extensive experience in human addictions and recovery therapies in creating this compelling story, but the narrative suffers from a frenetic and haphazard timeline that makes Drakke’s histrionics a jumpy affair. Still, it’s a potent brew, and her serpentine journey becomes a guilty pleasure to behold. In prison, Drakke’s â€œextremist” behavior is countered with an inner resolve to revitalize herself and atone for the past.
An overheated, yet absorbing chronicle.