Enterprising videographer Jacob Katel spent a night in Pastor Vincent Spann's Basic Training Deliverance Academy, which is featured in this week's New Times' feature story, Holy Hustler. The video documents conversations and give a great glimpse into this wild boot camp/addict rehab/Pentecostal church in troubled Liberty City.
Let's start in the same place the story does: with Spann's holy anointing methods. In order to claim drug-infested properties from corner boys and dope fiends, the pastor sends his soldiers on missions dousing each with olive oil he's blessed. "How does a dog mark its territory?" Spann asks Katel before launching into a colorful rant that shows his flair as a preacher. "He marks it by peeing... He'll pee in different spots to let it be known that this is his area. The insects know it, the roaches know it, the rats know it, definitely other dogs know it. Wolves do it, lions do it, buffalos do it, ostriches do it. All animals mark their territory. The only people that have not recognized to the fullest ability how to mark their territory is human beings."
Spann takes a guerrilla approach to substance abuse recovery. He treats addiction like a demon to be exorcised- another of the pastor's specialties- and if you refuse to be rid of the habit, he'll force it from you against your will. In the next two videos, he speaks of "crack house jump outs"- missions in which he'd kidnap addicts from crack houses. And he promises Katel that, now that they've established a relationship, if he ever falls into addiction Spann will hog-tie him and force withdrawal upon him.
After the jump, we meet a few of Spann's loyal soldiers and hear the pastor explain why the true glory of Basic Training comes from the troubled pasts of all involved.
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In perhaps the most dramatic clip, Spann announces without shame that "all of us are ex-crooks, ex-addicts, ex-cocaine fiends, ex-alcoholics, ex-sexual perverts. All of us."
"We were the scum of the earth, but look at us now," he continues, a half-dozen of his devoted flock lounging around him.
This video speaks most directly to the heart of New Times' story on Spann- a two-time felon and bigamist who's been plagued by lawsuits for constantly reneging on debts and financial agreements. Is he just surviving any way he can, in order to continue his salvation of the hood? Or is he simply, as at least two of his jilted debtors called him, a "crook", unworthy of the "ex"? Read Holy Hustler and decide.