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As heard on Skepticality Episode 192.

Joanne Hanks isn’t your average ex-Mormon, ex-polygamist, ex-wife.

She’s an accomplished portrait and landscape artist (view her work at, an expert interior designer (she earned her design degree at Mormon Church-owned Brigham Young University), and a woman who learned the hard way to stand on her own feet after being raised to let others make her life decisions.

Most recently, Joanne has written “It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass, a riveting account of her experiences as a “First Wife” in the Mormon-based polygamist cult that she and her husband joined after five years of marriage.

Born into a mainstream Mormon family in 1960 and the youngest of three, Joanne lived where her father’s Air Force career took the family, which included Washington state, Maine, Florida and California. After her father retired from the Air Force in 1972, the family settled in Orem, Utah, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Joanne married Jeff Hanks in 1987 in the Salt Lake Temple. Five years and three children later, the Hanks moved to Manti, Utah, and joined the Mormon-derived, polygamist cult The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days, or “TLC” for short. Seven years later, the Hanks did something that the religiously deluded and cult members rarely do. They saw through the madness and left.

While in the cult, the Hanks were featured on 20/20 (Barbara Walters and John Stossel) and by broadcast and print media in San Francisco, Great Britain, Brazil, Sweden and others. After leaving the cult in 2000, they were featured on CNN (Paula Zahn Now) and in Vogue magazine.

In “It’s Not About the Sex” My Ass, Joanne tells her crazy story with humor, satire and insight. She levels about husband-sharing, “sister wives,” the TLC “prophet” James Dee Harmston (who called himself a “celestial stud service” and sought divine guidance on threesomes), racism, sexual abuse, fraud and manipulation. And she reveals how Harmston wiggled out of his failed prophecy that the Second Coming of Jesus would take place on March 26, 2000.

While Joanne hopes readers will enjoy “It’s Not About The Sex” My Ass, she wrote with a sense of mission. “If the book leaves you at once amused and outraged, and on the lookout for how we dupe ourselves,” Joanne explains, “I will have accomplished something worthwhile.”

Joanne lives and paints in Orem, Utah. To see Joanne’s art, visit her website by clicking here.

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