His Missouri bear heaven stumbling, Big Bear looking back to Ursa Rio

By Mike Weland

Owen Benjamin in a recent podcast
Owen Benjamin in a recent podcast

It’s been nearly two years since Boundary County has heard much of anything from Big Bear Owen Benjamin, his 10-acre property on the banks of the Moyie River off Earl Lane in northern Boundary he dubbed “Beartaria” or “Ursa Rio” or his collective of followers he calls “bears,” but that may be changing soon if his recent daily podcasts are to be believed.

Benjamin’s financial fortunes appear to have taken a serious turn for the worse of late, adversely affecting his latest crowd-funded utopia, a 200-acre spread in Mountain Grove, Missouri, deep in the heart of the Ozarks, and he’s turning his attention back to Boundary County.

In February, Benjamin received notice that Worldline SA, parent company of payment processor Saferpay, had unilaterally terminated their credit card contract, meaning no credit card transactions through Benjamin’s web host, Unauthorized TV, perhaps the only host to still carry his podcast, can be completed. Those transactions are said by former Bears to be his primary source of income.

In a recent post, he states that funding from “superchats,” a way by which to monetize podcasts, has dropped significantly. He claims that he’s losing money on Ursa Rio, though he admits that donors pitched in $400,000, which he used to buy the 10 acres in his own name.

He says donors have requested refunds, growing disillusioned that they’ll see a functional Beartaria living up to Benjamin’s promises, but claiming his scheme comprises a trust, he refuses, explaining in his cutting edge and controversial comedic style that served him so well through his long and illustrious Hollywood career:

“People give me money, I buy land so we can have festivals outside of Babylon and the beast and hell!”

He says he has no money, but tons of wealth in land and (hang on for a quick blast of his edgy humor) respect.

On March 7, his former videographer, Adam Camacho, who in 2021 filmed much of the construction that took place at Beartaria, shot a documentary on the project and who was documenting development of the Mountain Grove property until he and Benjamin had a recent falling out, sued his former mentor and his many business entities for breach of contact, seeking in excess of $35,000 for unpaid professional fees, forcing Benjamin to hire attorneys.

Camacho is the videographer who showed up with his sound man at my home and office on Main Street Bonners Ferry in May, 2021, after I published an article on a meeting of several concerned Earl Lane residents and county commissioners, shooting disparaging footage causing the story to go national. He called earlier this year and apologized.

According to a stopowenbenjamin podcast by Camacho, the local residents in Mountain Grove, Missouri, are no more welcoming to Benjamin and his bears than were locals in Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry … if anything, they’re more hostile, and in his podcasts Benjamin admits to dissension in the ranks of donors who are crowdfunding Benjamin’s acquisitions … mostly bears who also contribute most of the equipment and labor as well.

Here at Ursa Rio, Benjamin was offering donors from as far away as Australia who “donated” $400 unlimited access to unlimited camping and a long and varied list of activities, depending not on the season, but on who was asking and what they wanted to hear.

But at a public hearing before the planning and zoning commission in June, 2022, he changed his plans, saying he as building a total of six dry cabins and a shed on a ten acre parcel in north Boundary County, he said, as a place where he, his friends and family could recreate and join together to garden, grow crops, teach kids to fish … a bucolic paradise.

Unable to render a decision as to approving the conditional use permit and what, if any, conditions to impose, P&Z deferred the decision to county commissioners. But Benjamin, who denied crowdfunding, made the contention that the use proposed was not commercial or residential, but recreational, and therefore not requiring a conditional use permit, never followed up and he soon went off to Missouri.

He still asks for his loyal bears to send him money on promises of access, though the latest unique Bear offer is a true doozy few, I imagine, will easily refuse … for a mere $10,000, the discerning investor bear will get two tickets to the 2024 Beartaria Times National Festival August located in the Ozarks and consisting of three days and two nights of camping, Bonfires, games, and a conference from experienced professionals in the areas of homesteading, homeschooling and community building, a $120 per person value; two tickets to the 2024 Beartaria Ozark Campground banquet, a bench that stays on the property made from lumber on the property, marked with your name, and a week’s stay at Owen’s Private Property (Ursa Rio). Spend the evening around the campfire with the world’s most banned comedian!

He also says he’s planning on a June concert at Ursa Rio featuring two bands but, alas, no edgy banned stand up comedy.

Despite everything, Benjamin is handling his travails with dignity and aplomb.

“I hope Adam gets to own Beartaria then throws a big gamma barbecue, invites Elaine Duncan and all the neighbors and promises not to form a militia,” he grouses. “I think that would be a good ending to the story.”

14 thoughts on “His Missouri bear heaven stumbling, Big Bear looking back to Ursa Rio

  1. Thank you for this wonderful article and for taking the time and energy to follow up. I am glad Adam Camacho finally apologized to you, better late than never. And I am glad Owen still remebers me! 🙂

  2. Yes please keep the pressure on this narcissist sociopath the foul things that come out of his mouth are stomach turning. This man is not a comedian he’s never even been funny that’s why his D list Hollywood career ended.

  3. Owen is my master. He tells me when and where I can go doo doo. Sometimes I end up holding it in for several days because he forgets to tell me when I am allowed to vacate my bowels. That’s ok. He’s pretty busy getting sued, so I understand. It hurts my tummy and my heart, but I follow orders. I wear elderly diapers and I enjoy the feeling when they get soggy. It reminds me of the 70’s. I love rock n roll!

  4. This proves that Owen Benjamin lied in his testimony to the P&Z Board that he does not charge customers a monetary fee to camp on his land.

    Will the newly proposed amendment for enforcing P&Z violations as a misdemeanor crime have the “teeth” to stop the Big Bear in his tracks?

    1. He told several lies while addressing the P&Z meeting. I could tell because his lips were moving.

  5. For the life of me I cannot understand why big IQ bear has not sold this piece of property and refunded all 700 people who trusted he would do as he promised. Even his bear cult members, Bearapalegic Bear, made a video asking why he did not sell the Idaho fake campgrounds land and put it towards his new MO property portfolio.

  6. Thank you so much for writing an article about this deranged cult leader who hypnotized me into selling my childhood home for a dream of being with like minded fellows in the hell of impoverished Missouri. Leaving behind my home of 35+ years that’s now worth $1.2 million, a very affluent neighborhood and the safest city in California four years in a row all because I needed to prove my “Bear worth.” The home I purchased in Missouri has lost nearly $50k of equity in addition to the $30k of upgrades I put in. I didn’t feel like a dedicated enough “Bear” unless I left the suburbs behind for his dream in addition to donating $1,000 to the MO land. I wish I listened to my children who never wanted to move in the first place. I, like so many others he preys upon were in a very dark and vulnerable place at the time. Once I spoke out about him, all the local bears I moved here to start a fellowship with either blocked or deleted me as if I never existed.

  7. I was visiting my grandma a few weeks ago, and she mentioned “the compound the cult leader Owen Benjamin was trying to build down the road.” Honestly, I had no clue what she was talking about, then she sent me your article! Wow people are crazy, and these California transplants are next level!! Things have changed a lot since my childhood. I hope my grandma is right and he eventually leaves town. We don’t need that riffraff in our wonderful community!

  8. Awesome journalism! Keep the pressure on this psychopath. He needs to be held accountable for this words and actions. Idaho isn’t Hollywood, your money and flashy BS doesn’t impress us!

  9. The comment from “Joseph Gaggen” perfectly illustrates the depravity and moral degradation of the followers of Owen Benjamin. That poor soul has no comprehension of how to interact with the public in decency and order. As a life-long resident of Bonner County I do not condone or approve of this bear cult setting up shop in my backyard. Well done Weland. I hope this guy gets sued back to the stone age.

  10. “Owen Benjamin’s illustrious Hollywood career ” hahahaha!

    Mike Weland you just might be funnier than this supposed comedian! Your choice of words was perfect! I can’t believe people fall for this locow grifter.

  11. Great article Mike! If he were a “comedian,” then where is the punchline? I am doing my best to hold him accountable for his hurtful and hateful “rhetoric.” This lying grifter needs to be stopped. Thank you for your forgiveness and for supporting my lawsuit. I have met you and Owen and I can honestly say that you are twice the man Owen will ever be. And a way better writer. #stopowen

  12. In light of recent events surrounding Owen Benjamin’s legal troubles, it’s becoming increasingly evident that there’s a darker side to his online persona—one that should warrant more attention and concern from his followers and the broader public alike.

    When Owen first veered into the fringe alt-right territory, his rhetoric took a disturbing turn. He casually mentioned to his followers the notion of “Kill Everybody” if he were to give “the Nod.” This kind of incitement to violence, even if seemingly in jest, is alarming and should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, it’s not just empty words—individuals like myself, who have dared to poke fun at Owen’s antics, have received death threats from his fervent followers. It’s a chilling reminder of the toxic environment that Owen fosters within his online community.

    What’s perhaps even more concerning is Owen’s manipulative behavior towards his followers, particularly vulnerable young men seeking purpose and belonging. He preys on their insecurities and leads them down a path of self-destruction and isolation. Through various shame rituals, including handwritten vows of admiration, confessions of homosexual acts, and even tithings in the form of cash or precious metals, he maintains a disturbing level of control over his followers. The ritual of relinquishing their identity to become part of Owen’s “bear cubs” should not be dismissed—it’s emblematic of the cult-like dynamics at play.

    Moreover, Owen has actively sought out and embraced the most extreme members of fringe online communities, ranging from flat earthers to turpentine enthusiasts to moon landing deniers. He’s drawn in individuals from all corners of the fringe alt-right spectrum, including Nazi sympathizers and Islamic extremists. This deliberate recruitment of the most unhinged voices only serves to further radicalize his already susceptible audience.

    The lawsuit filed against Owen by Adam Camacho is just the latest example of a pattern of behavior that has been unfolding over time. Similar allegations have been made by others, including Ty Richards, who claims to have been defrauded by Owen in a similar manner. Owen’s narrative of being a victim of cancel culture, preventing him from performing as a stand-up comedian, is a smokescreen. In reality, he cancels his own gigs with venues, only to spin the story to his followers as another instance of persecution, eliciting sympathy donations in the process.

    In conclusion, Owen Benjamin’s actions and rhetoric should serve as a wake-up call. It’s time for his followers to see beyond the facade of comedy and recognize the real harm and manipulation at play. The lawsuit may be just the beginning of Owen’s accountability for his behavior, but it’s high time we all take a closer look at the darker side of his online empire.

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