Woman in yellow tank top
Kelly Johnson (Hella Yoga)

Berkeley yoga instructor fired for links to ‘Goyim TV’

Updated March 1 at 10:20 a.m.

With press attention increasing on Goyim TV, a hot yoga studio in Berkeley last week fired one of its most popular instructors because of her relationship with Jon Minadeo Jr., the co-founder of the antisemitic website linked to an ongoing nationwide flyer campaign.

Kelly Johnson, Minadeo’s girlfriend, “is no longer associated with Yoga Hell Petaluma or Hella Yoga Berkeley,” the company wrote in an email to thousands of customers. “We are a firm believer in diversity and inclusion,” the email said, continuing to charge that “Kelly seems to share in Jon’s beliefs” and “had assisted him in his business of hate.” 

“We were devastated to find out that someone so close to us could be so far from our values,” the statement read.

Goyim TV is a video-sharing site that hosts a number of independent streamers. Its mission is to spread propaganda defaming Jews; its “About” page says it is for “Naming the JEW,” “Goy Power” and “Empowering Jew Namers,” or people who publicly “out” Jews or identify what Goyim TV considers to be nefarious Jewish control over world events.

Until two months ago, Minadeo hosted a four-hour program on Goyim TV multiple times per week under his online handle “Handsome Truth.” He trucked in obscene slurs and a host of conspiracies, attempting to convince viewers and his 3,000 followers that Jews are responsible for 9/11, spread disease, molest children, “want a race war” in the United States, and much more.

Minadeo and the group he leads, the Goyim Defense League, have also engaged in attention-grabbing propaganda displays, such as hanging a banner that said “Vax the Jews” on a highway overpass in Austin, Texas, in October, and touring around Florida in a white van in May of 2021 plastered with swastikas and statements like “Jews are sodomites.” On Feb. 20, hundreds of Goyim TV flyers blaming Jews for the pandemic were found in Berkeley, while others were left in Marin County, Palo Alto and San Francisco.

Yoga Hell and Hella Yoga were founded by Jeff Renfro, a Jewish businessman and fitness enthusiast whose father, Ed Renfro, was a famous cartoonist who gave the studios their distinctive look. The companies meld yoga and fitness in a nightclub atmosphere, offering hot pilates, a hybrid class called “Bikyasa” that combines Bikram (hot yoga) and Vinyasa, and “Bikram Beats,” a class that combines hot yoga and music.

Renfro also owns Funky Door Yoga in Berkeley, a popular studio that saw up to 500 customers per day before the pandemic, Jeff Renfro said. 

In the roughly six years Johnson worked for Renfro, they developed a close relationship and she became one of his most trusted employees, he told J. He knew that Minadeo, who would often visit the studio, had “extreme” views. But when he learned what they were, it came as a shock.

“I thought he was into QAnon” or something of that nature, Renfro said.

In late 2021, Renfro said he noticed a change in Johnson, that “bigoted” comments were coming out of her mouth about Black Lives Matter protests. He alleges she made a comment about sitting next to “smelly Jews” on a plane. He wasn’t sure what to make of her comments, but suspected Minadeo was influencing her, he said, and gave her the benefit of the doubt because of their longstanding business relationship and friendship.

About two months ago, Renfro finally decided to Google Minadeo. He found a host of news coverage about him, including in J., and discovered the Goyim TV website. 

“I can’t find the words to tell you how bad it is,” Renfro said. As a Jew, it’s as if “he’s calling me a dirty kike, an evil kike. And that I should be killed.”

Around the same time, Renfro said he found evidence that Johnson helped Minadeo with paperwork for Goyim TV LLC on her work computer. Minadeo formed the business entity last year. Renfro also alleged Johnson helped her boyfriend improve the technology on his livestream.

Renfro said he contacted “every Jewish organization he could think of,” including the Anti-Defamation League and this publication, in an effort to put a stop to Goyim TV. He is continuing to work with ADL, which follows Goyim TV closely. 

Renfro and his wife and business partner, Lynn Whitlow, said they would be making a donation to the Auschwitz Memorial Fund out of profits from the Berkeley studio.

Renfro stressed that firing Johnson represented an ugly end to a significant business and personal relationship. Johnson began as a receptionist and worked her way up to becoming an instructor. Eventually she, Renfro and Whitlow became business partners.

“She’s a very valuable member of our team,” Renfro said, adding she’s “like a sister” to him.

“I told her I’m Jewish, I explained to her that my mother was Jewish,” he said. “This is something that is not OK, no matter how good of friends we are. This overrides our friendship.”

Johnson did not respond to a phone call from J. seeking comment. But in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle two days after J.’s story ran online, she said she does not share in Minadeo’s antisemitic beliefs.“I am really hurt that they have gone this far to lie about me and say these things about me that are untrue,” Johnson told the Chronicle. “I am a very loving person and have relationships and friendships with all kinds of people. It’s really hard to read this. It’s all lies.”

Said Minadeo, “This is the most slanderous, lying, evilest thing I have ever seen someone do to anyone else,” adding, “Goyim TV is about uniting all races against the Jewish supremacy.”

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.