I had a splitting headache, one of my knock-down, please-cut-my-head-off migraines. I could barely see straight as I coiled electrical cords and carried them to the waiting truck. I just wanted it to be over, so I could sleep. It was about two in the morning, and we were breaking down after the 2000 New Years Event at the LA Sports Arena. It had been an unmitigated disaster. The Gold crew were working doggedly to break down the event, but the scent of raw fear was in the air – there would be hell to pay for this.
Planning for events was always late, and it was always a massive emergency to get everything done in time, but this event had taken the cake. Miscavige had decided that this could not be like any other event. After all, it was the dawning of a New Millenium. It had to be the biggest, baddest, most spectacular event ever held. Miscavige’s vision was truly awe-inspiring. He, David Miscavige, would be the one and only speaker. He would tell the story of the history of Scientology, of Hubbard’s life and breakthroughs. He would trace the history of Scientology through the 60s, 70s and 80s, showing expansion after expansion, win after win. And finally he would show his own triumphant victories – the brilliant management reorganization, the Golden Age of Tech, the unprecedented expansion of the Church under his direction. It was to be a brilliant tour de force, a defining moment in Scientology’s history, with Miscavige as its glittering center.
Behind him, on huge screens, there would be constant pictures, illustrating each point of the history. There would be video presentations of key parts of the narrative, about 20 videos in all. The problem was, someone would have to find all those photos. Someone would have to write all those scripts. Someone would have to edit them all. It was massive – and only a few weeks to prepare everything. The event would go out live to all orgs.
The entirety of the Base was mobilized to make it happen. As I had some video editing experience, I was sent down to LA with a team to edit one of the videos. The Commanding Officer Gold, Steve Willett, bless him, assigned Cathy and I to the same team. It was broadly known now that we were engaged, so the wagging tongues were stilled for the moment.
We spent a week in an editing bay in Hollywood, putting together a complex video presentation that would represent about five minutes of the two hour presentation. The other videos were being done at editing facilities all over Los Angeles. We were up day and night, taking turns on the reception couch for a few hours nap. On Christmas Day, I went out to Canters and got our "Christmas Dinner." And we carried on. But Cathy and I didn’t care. We got to be with each other constantly. It was, in fact, the only Christmas we would spend together in our five years of marriage.
We rushed our finished video down to the LA Sports Arena, to the editing trailer. Other videos were arriving right up to a few minutes before the event, with editing staff working frantically to get it all loaded and programmed. There was an atmosphere of barely controlled panic as the minutes counted down to the start of the event.
Cathy and I found seats on the upper level. By now I was well into a screaming migraine after a week with virtually no sleep. We watched as Miscavige strutted onto the stage to thunderous applause and began his presentation, all lights and eyes upon him. It soon became obvious that something was terribly, terribly wrong. The pictures on the screens were not matching what he was saying. Sometimes they would inexplicably go black. I covered my face. Oh, this was going to flap.
Somehow the event limped forward, the visuals struggling to keep up. And finally it was over. The audience filtered out, and the Gold crew mustered down below and were told to break down the event, taking down the huge set, the lights, the audio equipment, and loading it into trucks. As the night wore on, I felt worse and worse, my head pounding.
Suddenly, Cathy was there by my side. "Come on, get your stuff, I’m taking you home. I’ve cleared it with the MAA." The Master at Arms was the Sea Org term for the Ethics Officer, who was in charge of crew mustering and schedules. Cathy was my angel of mercy. I collapsed into the car and she drove me back to the Base.
As predicted, the wrath of God, or at least Miscavige, descended on the Base. The entire Base was out-ethics and criminal. Everyone was to do "lower conditions." All liberties were cancelled. All leaves were cancelled. All holidays were cancelled. And these rules stayed in effect until I finally left the Base five years later.
And our marriage was one of the last – if not the last – marriages to be performed on the Base. We had planned to have a nice ceremony out at the Castle and invite friends, but that was not to be, given the current atmosphere. In fact, we were repeatedly discouraged from going through with it - it was "not a good time." But we got married anyway, by the simple expedient of grabbing a minister, Ken Hoden, and two witnesses late one night and holding the ceremony in Ken’s office.
Cathy and I managed to get a room at the Kirby Apartments. All of the Base crew had been consolidated into that one apartment complex, and there were no "wogs" living there any more – and so the apartment complex could be guarded at night. The two-bedroom apartments had been made into three-bedroom apartments by the simple expedient of walling off the living room. So we shared a small apartment with two other couples. As I now had money, thanks to Mom, we set about furnishing our room, setting up an ideal nest, a haven. We had a wall of books, a nice sound system, a huge bed, big closets. Cathy had great taste in clothes, but rarely got to wear them. We stocked the refrigerator with food that we liked, so we could always have a meal when we came home.
Cathy hated her job in Sales – it was not what she wanted to do. She loved PR and was very good at it. She had been the "Port Captain" on the Freewinds, dealing with all the "shore" people – merchants, government, local dignitaries. She was friendly, outgoing and caring. But here she was, stuck behind a desk, trying to make money for Gold. Meanwhile I was still on Dianetics program execution under Michela, and hating that. The room became our refuge. Once a week, on Saturday night, we tried to have a romantic evening, with candles and wine.
We also got a new car, a 1998 Honda Accord. It was everything I wanted, a dark luminescent green with leather seats. We had to dash out to Palm Desert one Sunday morning when we were supposed to be on CSP to pick it up, racing madly back to the Base to make it in time for muster at 12:30.
But conditions on the Base continued to deteriorate. It was like an armed camp. Gold had "betrayed COB" and therefore the whole Base had to "make amends" to Miscavige. We worked for hours and hours on his new office building, on the grounds around the building and around Hubbard’s mansion. Often these "all hands" would go late into the night, and finally, sometime in the wee hours, we would get the OK to "secure" (go home), and the buses would roll out. Then we would be back on post first thing in the morning, tired and sore. These became more and more frequent.
Building 50, the RTC building, with Bonnie View behind it
Staff musters and meetings got more and more vicious, with people being called up in front of the group and their transgressions and crimes read aloud. You were expected to shun anyone who was "in bad" and you could get in trouble for even talking to "downstats."
In late 2000, Miscavige did a series of "evals" – evaluations. These were done according to a formula laid out in Hubbard’s policy letters. You were supposed to find a Situation, and then, following a rote analytical procedure, discover the Why for the situation and the Who. These evals came out with great fanfare – all staff had to study them intensively, as well as a long list of Hubbard references. These evals were supposed to be the thing to turn the Base around and get it in-ethics and productive.
As Miscavige was doing the evaluation on Marketing, I came under intensive investigation, and found myself in a "gang-bang" Security Check, with the Chief Master at Arms, Gerald Duncan, grilling me on an E-meter, and Marty Rathbun, Inspector General RTC, standing behind him, shouting accusations.
"What was that? What was that?" he shouted, pointing at the dial of the E-Meter. "That read on the meter. What is that? What’s your crime, Jeff? Come on, spit it out!"
This went on and on. The only thing my mind went to the time when Hubbard had written an ad about "get rid of your reactive mind," in 1982, and I had surveyed it and found out it was negative – people didn’t want to get rid of their reactive mind. At the time, Hubbard had been pleased with the surveys.
"So what’s the CRIME?" Marty shouted. "What did you DO?"
"I don’t know, maybe we should have tested the ad itself…" I was grasping at straws.
Marty rushed out. The next day, the Marketing Eval came out. Foster and I were the Whos. We had "lied to LRH" about a survey, presenting "fabricated survey results" to prevent LRH’s ad from being run. We had then "wasted over 70 million dollars" on ineffective ads and thus had sabotaged Scientology Marketing for all time. We were the reason why Marketing was bugged. The handling was to bring me before a Fitness Board and offload me from the Sea Organization.
I was outraged. After 30 years service in the Sea Organization, they were just going to cast me out because of a bunch of lies in an eval? It was insane!
When I was called to appear before the Fitness Board, I had my documentation. I had the actual survey I had presented to Hubbard, as well as his correspondence back to me, showing I had not made up the survey or lied to him, and in fact he had commended me for the survey. I presented the actual statistics for the Dianetics Campaign showing the sales, and the results in terms of Org income. During the period of the campaign, I had not wasted money – in fact the campaign had made on the order of 200 million extra income for the orgs, over and above what they were making. I produced the commendation from Hubbard for the campaign, as well as earlier commendations from Hubbard for Advance Magazines I had done. I presented my 30 year record in detail.
After that, they could not offload me, not if they had any conscience at all. So I was simply removed from post and put onto deck work. The eval still stood – no one was about to contradict Miscavige or tell him that his eval was wrong.
I was restricted to the Base. I lived, with a group of other "deckies," in a rundown trailer parked up in the "OGH" compound. We worked on the grounds, weeding, trimming, cleaning gravel paths. Steve Willett, the former CO Gold, was one of my fellow "deckies" and we became good friends. Cathy smuggled food to me whenever she could.
Finally, I was deemed sufficiently rehabilitated to again join the rest of decent humanity, and went back into CMU, as a copywriter. But it wasn’t a triumphant return – anything but. I sort of crept in the back door and tried to keep a low profile. I was still treated like dirt by the rest of the Gold crew.
Manu was now running the Dianetics Campaign, and she wanted to do a new infomercial. She asked me to write it. I contacted some of my old infomercial people, specifically Tim Hawthorne, author of The Complete Guide to Infomercial Marketing. He gave me some data about current infomercial trends, then hooked me up with one of the most successful infomercial writers in the business. I put together a script under her direction, which she finally pronounced as excellent. I submitted it to Miscavige.
The next day, we were all called up to the CMOI trailers for a meeting with COB. CMO Int was housed in a big doublewide prefab office trailer. It had been surrounded with pathways and plants to make it seem less transient. In the middle of the trailers was a large conference room, surrounded by cubicles. When I arrived, the space was filled with 30 or 40 people – all of WDC, all of Exec Strata, and key Gold Execs. One side of the table was empty, for Miscavige. Everyone was crammed on the other side or at the ends. After a nervous wait, Miscavige strolled in and threw my script on the table.
"Did you see the crap this guy’s writing?" he announced. Then he picked up the script and began to read out sections of it, in a voice laden with sarcasm.
I wanted to say something about why I had written it the way I had, some of the research that had gone into it. I stood. "Sir, if I could just…"
That was as far as I got. "You see how he talks to me? This is the kind of crap I get from Gold." He turned on me. "All I want from you is what your crimes are. Why don’t you just confess right now, in front of this group, what your crimes are."
I said nothing. I was frozen again.
"Look at him!" Miscavige yelled. "See how he looks at me?"
Then to my horror, he leapt up on the conference table and launched himself at me, shoving me back against the cubicle wall behind me, grabbing my shirt and half tearing it off me, striking me in the face again and again. Then he shoved me onto the floor. My feet ended up tangled in his. "Let go of my feet!" he shouted. I complied, terrified. Miscavige turned and stalked out of the room.
No one else had moved, they all sat like so many frozen statues.
"Get up, get up," someone hissed. "Don’t just lie there – don’t make him wrong for hitting you!"
Don’t make him wrong. Was that all they could say? I staggered to my feet and somehow managed to crumple into my chair. Miscavige came back in and ordered me to stand up. I was escorted out by the MAAs and into a room, where I spent the next several hours on an E-Meter, confessing my crimes. Then I went back down to the basement rooms of Building 36, the HCO offices, awaiting reassignment to the decks. An envelope arrived for me. In it were the buttons from my shirt and some loose change that someone had found on the floor. Then an RTC messenger arrived – with a shirt, sent down from COB. How thoughtful. Except the shirt he had torn had been a $50 shirt I had paid for myself. The replacement shirt was a used shirt from Costumes that looked like it had been made in the 70s, stained and worn, with a button down collar. I put it straight into the trash.
I never told Cathy about what had happened. She asked me why my face was scratched, and I told her I had fallen down. Cathy would hear no ill about Miscavige. She had worked for him for a while, making all of his travel arrangements, and she had even traveled with him and Shelly. She had pictures of the three of them together. Even her dismissal from RTC hadn’t tarnished her opinion of him.
After a few weeks on the decks, I was again deemed fit company for honest people, and rejoined CMU as Copywriter. But I felt even more broken and despondent. Everyone assumed it was my fault, something I’d done, that had enraged COB. And I half believed it – but I had no idea what it had been. My attitude?
One Saturday, I was out on Renos, clearing away weeds around the half-finished Berthing Buildings, when I was called up to see the CO CMO Int, Marc Yager. He explained that the woman holding Audiovisual Exec Int, Laura Marlowe, had just blown. She had left behind a huge undone project, which he wanted me to complete. It had to do with the release of Hubbard’s lectures on CD.
As usual, Scientology was about ten years behind the industry. With a typical mistrust of anything not blessed by Hubbard, we had waited until 2001 to get into CDs – all of Hubbard’s lectures were still on cassette. We had released one set of lectures on CD – a "Special Edition" of the Philadelphia Doctorate Course – 72 lectures. Only 1000 sets were made, specifically for "the most dedicated Scientologists" – which was Miscavige’s code for "richest.’ I had written the copy for it. The special release was to raise money for the project of releasing Hubbard’s lectures on CD. Now Miscavige wanted to get into it big time, converting the entire Hubbard lecture catalog to CD. The problem was, no one really knew what that catalog contained. Hubbard had given over 2000 lectures, and no one had ever heard them all. They all had to be counted and cataloged. We had to know which ones went together in sets, what they were about, whether they were for advanced students or for "raw public." We needed to know the date, the length of the lecture, the sound quality. It was a mammoth project.
After explaining the scope of the project, Yager leaned towards me and added, "by the way, I’m proposing you for Audiovisual Exec Int."
I was dumbfounded. "But… Sir, I was just…on the decks…" I wanted to say I was just beaten up by the Chairman of the Board RTC.
He dismissed my concern with a wave. "We all have our ups and downs." He looked at me thoughtfully. "I always wondered why you never became a player."
A player. Yes Sir, you’re so right Sir, I’m an idiot Sir. That kind of player?
For the project, I was to have an assistant, Yael Sherlock. Yael had been in CMU since the LA days, about 13 years. We called her "JVA" for Jewish Venezuelan Princess. Her family was from Caracas and were well-to-do. She had a Latin temper and a Jewish sense of humor, which made her charming and funny. I liked to practice my high school Spanish with her. As she was my daughter’s age, I called her hijita, "little daughter," and she called me jefecito, "little chief." We made a good team: I was a fast reader and knew Scientology pretty well, and she was methodical and precise. We set up an office in a corner of the CMO Int trailers. She set up a massive spreadsheet and we began filling it in. There was no time to listen to all the lectures of course – that would have taken over a year, time we didn’t have. So I mostly skimmed transcripts to get the sense of the lecture, listening to only a few. We had a matter of weeks to get it all done.
Miscavige wanted to set up a CD manufacturing facility in Gold, and this was being masterminded by Russ Belin, the CO of CST (Church of Spiritual Technology). Russ was Miscavige’s go-to guy when it came to research and technology. His organization, CST, had figured out all the technology to put Hubbard’s work on archival gold discs and platens and seal it in underground chambers hidden around the world. Miscavige had called on Belin to design the new E-Meter, the Mark VIII. Now he had charged him with putting together the CD line. Russ needed our data, and he needed it fast.
Yager rarely came to see us. I began to realize that I was, once again, the buffer. This was a hot and potentially flappy project, so Yager needed to distance himself from it, put someone in charge who could take the fall if anything went wrong. Laura had copped out on him, he had to get another body in there fast. Base Survival 101. But his proposal to post me as Audiovidual Exec Int never went anywhere, and he gradually lost any interest in the project.
Regardless, we did get all the information to Belin, and he was very pleased with its completeness and accuracy. But our project wasn’t done. The next part was to find all of Hubbard’s public lectures – lectures to non-Scientologists. They were all to be released as his "Classic Lectures" – and Miscavige wanted them released at the New Years Event, just a few months away. It was a near-impossible task, and once I realized the scope of it, a totally impossible task. It would require finding all of the Classic Lectures, designing packaging, working out a full mail-order subscription plan, and setting up Gold as a mail order operation. The professional mail order people I talked to estimated six months to get Gold set up as a mail order operation – we had less than two months. As we approached the end of the year, it became clear to one and all that the release would not make it. The solution? Someone had to take the fall for it. Guess who.
I was on the decks again through Christmas and New Years. Not that anyone else had any time off. After a few months of "mest work," I was once again deemed fit for human company. In spring I went back to CMU. I found out that I was to be the "Lecture Marketing Manager," with Yael as my assistant. Why? The Freewinds Maiden Voyage was coming up in June. Russ Belin was just about finished installing a massive CD production line in Gold. Miscavige wanted to announce the first broad public release of LRH lectures on CD with a big fanfare. He wanted to know which series to release. No one knew what to propose to him. No one wanted to make a decision, stick their necks out. The solution? Get Hawkins off the decks. Get him to make the decision. Perfect. I was on the hotseat again.
One could say I never learned. But I got impatient with all this waffle and prevarication. A decision had to be made. You gathered all the data, worked out a plan as best you knew how, and presented it clearly. As Hubbard had said once, "why is your neck so precious?" What was the worst that could happen? I’d be back on the decks.
Miscavige was in Clearwater at the time – had been all year. We held phone conferences with him from there. After I’d had a chance to work something out, I was called up to a little room in CMO Int where there was a conference phone – the senior execs were already there. I was seated right next to the phone. After a minute, Miscavige came on the line.
"OK, what have you got for me." All eyes swiveled to me.
I laid out my plan. We would do a broad release of the Philadelphia Doctorate Course for all Scientologists. This had been released in a limited edition the previous year, so expanding to a full release made sense. This was also one of Hubbard’s most famous and popular series. As a second series, I recommended The Phoenix Lectures, a good series on basic Scientology principles recorded in 1954. And for Advanced Scientologists, a series of Saint Hill Special Briefing Course lectures dealing with broad society and governments. After I finished laying it all out with my rationale, COB said that the proposal was approved, and we could go with it. There was a collective sigh of relief around the table.
We prepared the release – all the packaging and promotion. The Copywriter now for CMU was Dan Koon. Dan was a highly trained auditor and had been an executive in the Senior C/S Int Office under Ray Mithoff. I never knew what happened, but he was no longer "on tech lines." He was also a good writer, so had been posted in CMU. Dan and I got along well, and Miscavige was happy with the campaign and the promotion once we had it all done. It launched on the Freewinds in June at the Maiden Voyage Anniversary Event, and was a big hit with Scientologists. There were record sales.
We followed it up with the release of the Classic Lectures in September, at the Auditors Day Event. Yael and I had completed much of the campaign in 2001, and while I had been on the decks in early 2002, Yael and completed the computerization of Gold’s mail order lines. It was a subscription system – Scientologists signed up to receive one a month for four years.
Just prior to the release, a group of us were ordered to Clearwater to meet with Miscavige on marketing. The group included me, Dan Koon, the Senior Magazine Editor, Anne Bradley, the Director of Advertising and Promotion, Helen Pinder, and Marketing Exec International, David Bloomberg. Bloomberg had taken over after Ronnie Miscavige, DM’s brother, had left the Base with his wife Bitty a few years prior. We never knew exactly when Ronnie had left – in typical Base fashion, he simply disappeared, and nothing more was said. He became a non-person, as if he had never existed. Dave Bloomberg was a big, dynamic Australian. He had been a top moneymaker for the Sea Org in Australia, and had been promoted to Author Services, where he had been Executive Director. I found Dave to be intelligent and likeable, and enjoyed working with him.
We arrived in Clearwater, and met with Miscavige in the West Coast Building on Fort Harrison Avenue. There was a big conference room on the ground floor. He told us that he had a series of drills for us to do. The first was to go into the nearby Flag buildings and sell the new CD series to public Scientologists. We were to report back at the end of the day that we had sold something – he said that anyone who couldn’t sell anything didn’t deserve to be in marketing.
I have never claimed to be a salesman – in fact, I’ve always been lousy at it. I tend to talk too much. I spent the whole afternoon talking to different Scientologists, telling them about the CDs, but with no luck. Finally Dave Bloomberg took pity on me and set me up with someone he knew would buy.
We reported back to the conference room, and I was able to report I had sold something. Anne and Helen hadn’t sold anything. Miscavige immediately said they were offloaded from the Base, and sent them to work in the galley (kitchen) at Flag. I never saw either of them again. He then met with Dan and I over the next few days and we went over future plans for lecture releases. At the end, he looked at me across the conference room table.
"I bet you’re glad I didn’t offload you," he said.
I held his gaze for a second, then just smiled.
The release of the Classic Lectures was that weekend, and Dan and I stayed for the event. I saw a number of things that had to be handled right away on the campaign and called Yael in CMU. She put me on the speaker box, and I started rattling off instructions, rapid fire. Yael told me later that one of the people listening in at her end asked, "who’s that?" Yael said it was me. "That’s Jeff?" they said.
It was true, I was re-energized. I was no longer the shadow that had been moping around CMU. Dan and I fed off each others enthusiasm. On the way back to the Base, we stopped by several of the LA orgs and did inspections of their address lists. We had all kinds of ideas of how to improve the campaign.
When we hit the Base it was like, as I told Dan at the time, a bullet hitting a pool of molasses. Suddenly everything was serious again, everything was impossible, and there were dire consequences for the slightest misstep. I felt all that fire dying.
Cathy was happy to see me, and proud that I had done well. As always, she had faith in me and my ability even when no one else did.
Within a month or so, the sales of the CDs had started to slip, as we went over the bell of the sales curve. Most active Scientologists had purchased at the event or shortly after. It became harder to get new sales. We switched to mail order promotion, sending out a series of three mailings to the active lists. There were only about 200,000 names on the list, which supposedly represented everyone who had ever taken a course or received auditing in Scientology – including beginning courses. It was a small list to begin with, but there were a high percentage of names with unknown addresses, and a lot of names of people "not currently on lines." How many active Scientologists there really were was a matter of conjecture, but I estimated maybe 40,000 or 50,000 max.
The result of the mailings was predictably poor. Once again, I was a "downstat," and it was Ethics Conditions, penalties, investigations, and abuse. Miscavige made it known that he and he alone had created those initial sales with his brilliant event, and now Marketing had dropped the ball by failing to produce any results. Soon I was once again a pariah, a failure.
Miscavige also wanted to produce a comprehensive chart, showing all of Hubbard’s Lectures. I had done a chart when I was first sorting out the lectures in 2001, but he wanted something permanent, something Orgs could display. I did a number of different versions – but nothing was ever right.
I once again became the target of Miscavige’s wrath – and violence. In the midst of a meeting in CMU, he suddenly started slapping me in the face, and knocked me onto the floor. When I got up, I had a cut on my cheek. Miscavige turned to Laurisse Stuckenbrock, his Communicator. "Lou," he said.
She dug in her purse and produced a bottle of antiseptic and daubed it on my cut.
"Do you know why I beat you up?" Miscavige asked me.
"No, Sir," I said.
"To show you who’s in charge," he said.
There were certain staff who were Miscavige’s "pets." One of them was Henning Bendorff, the Art Director Gold. When I first met Henning, he was a quiet Swede, talented and diligent in his work. He designed the big, ornate sets for Miscavige’s events, and was soon in his favor. As his favor with Miscavige grew, his arrogance and ruthlessness seemed to grow as well.
Taking his cue from DM, Bendorff began to get physical with me. He would come up behind me and forcibly shove my face into my computer keyboard. Once he threw me so violently to the floor that my nose began to bleed. I was filth and he was the golden boy – so he could do what he liked with me.
Eventually I was found guilty of crimes – wasting money, neglect of duty – and I was removed from post in disgrace and sent back on the decks. My friend Foster was also on the decks, and the two of us began working on the Berthing Buildings. Yael was also assigned to the same worksite.
The foundations of the Berthing Buildings had been started eight years prior. After the buildings had been redone and fixed many times, they still stood as empty shells. The latest "flap" was that it had been discovered that the floors had not been properly attached to the walls, and it would take millions of dollars to correct. Meanwhile, we cleaned the grounds around them, and worked on some exterior stone masonry.
One afternoon, Matt Butler, "Murphy," the Security Guard, drove up in the Security truck and told Foster and I that we were going to the RPF in Los Angeles. We were being offloaded from the Base.
We weren’t particularly shocked or upset. We weren’t anything. Deck work, RPF, whatever, it was all the same. By this time, Foster and I were just resigned to whatever fate had in store for us. We grabbed a bag of clothes and headed down with Matt. Amazingly, we talked him into stopping at an In-and-Out Burger on the way down as we hadn’t eaten.
We routed in to the RPF in the Big Blue building, and were assigned a bunk bed in a crowded, cluttered dormitory that held about 40 men, floor to ceiling. We were told we had to wear black jeans and a grey T-shirt or sweatshirt at all times, the "uniform" of the RPF. There were about 200 people on the RPF at the time, men and women. We were not allowed phones of course and could speak to no one outside the RPF. We began work in what they called the PAC Mill, a huge furniture shop in the bowels of the Complex. There, hundreds of RPFers worked, making furniture for Scientology organizations. We were assigned to work crews. Foster and I resolved to make the best of the RPF and graduate as soon as we could.
The next day, we were called to the RPF In Charge’s office and he handed us the phone. It was Murphy. "You guys aren’t on the RPF," he said. "You need to report to Pac Base Crew for posting." Foster and I just looked at each other in disbelief. It was probably the shortest RPF stay in history.
PAC Base Crew was the organization that took care of all of the maintenance of Big Blue – mechanical, electrical, construction. They also ran the galley (kitchen) and the motor pool. And they ran the PAC Mill. Foster was assigned to the Mill, I was assigned to Finishing, where they stained, painted and lacquered the finished furniture. That evening after work, Foster and I found ourselves walking the streets of Los Angeles, laughing about the odd turn of events and our sudden relative freedom. It was Christmas.
Jeff in the PAC Mill Finishing area
I learned all about furniture finishing, mastering brush and spray techniques, as well as faux finishes. I also ran a furniture upholstery shop and learned how to do it. My friend Caroline Mustard, now on the RPF, ran a crew in the upholstery shop. Foster, with his computer savvy, took over a new CNC (computer numerical control) router and got it into operation. We lived in a crowded dormitory in the main building.
I wrote to Cathy every week. Sometimes she’d even come down to the PAC Base for events and sales conferences. Whenever she was there, I tried to see her. It was awkward. If we were seen too much together she would get a Knowledge Report. She told me later that she was under constant pressure at the Base to divorce me. But she refused.
In January 2003, the Int Management Public Relations Officer, Jean Michele Wargniez, came down from the Base to the Mill. I knew JM well, but of course had to call him "Sir." He wanted to find out if the Mill could make trophies. They needed a huge trophy shaped like Saint Hill Manor in England, to award to Scientology organizations who had reached "the size of Old Saint Hill." This was an ongoing incentive game for the Orgs. Hubbard had built up the Saint Hill Organization to hundreds of staff in the mid-1960s, so any organization that could expand to that size would get one of these "Saint Hill Size" awards. They had contacted various trophy firms and had been told each trophy would cost $10,000. Foster and I told them we’d make it for a lot less.
Foster used architectural elevations from the Manor itself, and programmed them into the router. Then he etched them onto Formica, the windows, brick texture, everything. Meanwhile I had a team of RPFers modeling things like balustrades, columns and vases. We then assembled all the pieces into an exact scale model of the Manor. The whole model came apart into 30 pieces, and we made rubber molds of each part, then cast each part in resin. I learned a technique called "cold metal casting" where we mixed copper and brass flakes into the resin. We then assembled the resin pieces and polished them up to a high sheen. It looked exactly like a bronze casting of Saint Hill Manor. The model was then mounted on a shiny black base with a plaque. It had taken us seven weeks – including learning how to do it. And we had done it for about $500. I preserved all of the molds and documented exactly how to do it for future trophies.
Our finished project - the Saint Hill Size Trophy
In March I was promoted to Director of Art and Signs, where I designed and manufactured all of the signage for the new Applied Scholastics center in Missouri – on time and under budget.
In April, I was in my office when the door opened, and David Miscavige walked in, with Shelly and Lou. He was on an inspection of Big Blue.
"Jeff, what are you doing here?" he asked.
I tried to explain my promotion to Director of Art and Signs, but it turned out he had no idea I was even in the Complex. I don’t know where he thought I was – or if he even gave it any thought.
But something had been set in motion.
A couple of weeks later, my phone rang. It was Murphy, the Gold Security Guard.
"You’re to take the next van back to Gold," he said.