Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chapter Thirteen: Attacks and Infomercials

Time Magazine attacks!

I had never been this close to a real cobra before. As it rose up and spread its hood, I could feel my hackles raise and a primordial fear tickle some primitive level of my brain. The handler said we were perfectly safe, but even so, I didn’t want to get too close to the thing.

It was hot in the small room, with bright photographic lights illuminating the tabletop set. The props department had made a large replica of a Prozac capsule, a couple of feet long, with the blue and white halves pulled apart. The snake lay coiled in between the halves, now raising its head and spreading its hood as the handler goaded it. The photographer, Ted Horner, was peering through the viewfinder, waiting for the right moment to hit the shutter.

Suddenly and without warning, the snake struck out blindly, scattering the Prozac halves and falling writhing onto the floor. Ted and I had a race to see who could make it out the door first. We regrouped outside while the handler collected up his snake. We looked at each other’s pale faces, then burst out laughing at the insanity of it all.

It was about three in the morning, and we’d been flat out, day and night, preparing a series of full page ads to run in USA Today. In early May, 1991, Time Magazine had run a cover story on Scientology – "Scientology: The Cult of Greed, How the Growing Dianetics Empire Squeezes Millions from Believers Worldwide." The cover showed a many-tentacled octopus with a volcano exploding out of its head. Staff were discouraged from reading the article as it "contained OT data." But vetted copies were made available to certain staff on a need-to-know basis.
Staff were made to read a Hubbard issue called "Signs of Success." In it, he said:

"Whenever we’re really winning, the squirrels start to scream. You can tell if somebody is a squirrel. They howl or make trouble only when we’re winning."

Technically, a squirrel was someone who practices an altered version of Scientology outside the Church. But, by extension, this was taken to mean any Suppressive Person. That was the message from the top – we were successful and winning, therefore the SPs were screaming and yelling. It was just a sign of our success! So we needed to continue and be more successful, while handling the lies the SPs were spreading.

To handle this negative article, we were going to run daily full page ads in USA Today for two weeks. It was assumed that Scientology would not get a fair shake in the media – everyone knew that the media was biased against Scientology – Hubbard had said so. Therefore we would get the word out by placing our own ads.

And the strategy – attack, of course. Hubbard had said, "never defend, always attack." So the ads would not talk about Scientology or try to correct what was said in the article, they would attack Time Magazine. CMU was given the job of designing and laying out these ads, which had been written by the Office of Special Affairs. Two of the ads attacked Time for having "supported" Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini. That was a bit of a stretch as Time clearly says their "Man of the Year" does not represent an endorsement. But a picture of a Time Cover with Hitler on it and the legend "Man of the Year" was a powerful negative image. And it was all about image – positioning "the enemy" with negative images and ideas. Other ads attacked them for supporting LSD (in the early days of its research) and psychiatric drugs, and for their supposed ties with drug giant Eli Lilly, maker of Prozac. The Scientology article, we asserted, was supposedly engineered by Lilly as payback for the Church exposing the dangers of Prozac. A series of ads were also made attacking Eli Lilly, including the one showing a cobra coming out of a Prozac capsule – which we were finally able to capture on film.

We followed it up with an 80-page booklet, laying out the whole conspiracy. Our former PR firm, Hill and Knowlton, were also mixed up in it. They had also been pressured by Eli Lilly, the booklet asserted, to drop the Church account. The booklet was called "The Story Time Couldn’t Tell: Who Really Controls the News at Time Magazine and Why" and the cover featured a photo Steve and I had set up showing an old-time glass paneled office door with the word "Editor" on it, and silhouettes of a big, beefy guy with a cigar browbeating a weaselly-looking little editor. The booklet was printed up and inserted as a supplement into USA Today. The whole campaign cost millions of dollars – not to mention weeks of sleepless nights.

The USA Today campaign was just the first of many projects Bill had me supervise. After Bill went back on the post of CO CMU, I had wanted to go back on my previous post, Director of Advertising and Promotion. I had been successful there and knew what I was doing. But Bill would have none of it. He appointed me to the post of Quality Control Exec under him. It soon became apparent that he wasn’t so much interested in quality control as having a spare body around that he could toss special projects to. In addition to the massive USA Today campaign, our marketing releases in 1991 included an encyclopedic twelve-volume set of Hubbard’s Technical Bulletins, as well as a huge collection of every lecture he had given to the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course – over 400 lectures on cassette.

I still had my hand in the Dianetics Campaign. Now, it was being looked on as a "failed campaign." Sure, we had sold millions of books, but those millions hadn’t come in to the orgs. Why sell more books? What we needed to do was get those millions of book buyers into the orgs! It reminded me of a story I’d heard about Milton S. Hershey, the chocolate magnate. Supposedly he was traveling by rail when a reporter asked him, "Mr. Hershey, your product is so famous, why do you bother to advertise?"

"How fast is this train going," Hershey asked.

"I guess about 60 miles an hour," replied the reporter.

"Then why don’t we unhook the engine."

Well, we had unhooked the Dianetics engine for sure. After years of "reorganization," budget cuts and useless sports sponsorships, sales had declined to a few thousand a week. But it didn’t look like that engine was going to get hooked up again anytime in the foreseeable future, and meanwhile we could still polish the silver in the dining car, so to speak.

I did a series of surveys to find out what was happening with the people who had bought Dianetics. Some had never even read it. Others had started to read it but had gotten bogged down with it. When asked why they weren’t using it, applying the "auditing" techniques, many said they had never understood that Dianetics was a system of "do-it-yourself therapy." Or they had found it too complex.

I conceived the idea of producing a film called "How to Use Dianetics." It would explain the basic principles of Dianetics, with a lot of visual examples and diagrams, then would show the steps of a Dianetics session, so simply presented that anyone could do it. I set to work writing the script.
My office at the time was in the CMU "executive trailer." I banged away at the script, carefully following the book. I also coordinated with RTRC staff – Ron’s Technical Research and Compilations. They were all trained auditors and helped to check over my technical points. Finally it was completed and approved, and went into production in Gold’s Cine Division. My old friend Mitch Brisker, who had directed some of my TV ads in 1985 and 86, had been subsequently hired by Gold as a film director. He was not Sea Org, but was paid a substantial salary as he was a "professional." I still enjoyed working with Mitch – he hadn’t lost his wry sense of humor.

In early 1992, the third floor space in Building 36 was completed and ready for us to move in. We toured the space and could hardly keep a straight face. It had been designed by someone as a non-artist’s idea of the kind of space artists would like. It was hideous. It was a huge attic space, about 11,000 square feet. It had been originally designed as a warehouse, so was completely windowless. The roof sloped in on four sides, giving it an enclosed, claustrophobic feel. False walls and soffits tried to disguise the sloping roof, and as an "artistic" touch, someone had decided to run pink fluorescent lights all around the roof above the soffits. After the first month up there we turned off the pink lights – permanently. Although once for a laugh late at night, we turned off all the lights except for the pink fluorescents, and put on some heavy 1970s disco music. It made the perfect night club.

The space was divided into cubicles, but there was a concern that cubicle walls would "cut communication," so they were reduced to waist-high pony walls. They made an almost incomprehensible maze. My friend Charlie Rush came to see me once, when my desk was right next to the front entrance. But to reach my desk you had to go way to the back and then wind your way forward again through the maze of pony walls. Charlie eventually found his way to my desk and asked brightly, "Where’s the cheese?"

Swirly abstract patterns decorated the pony walls and carpet, completing the look of sheer gibbering insanity. With the lack of windows and clocks, it was like a poorly designed Vegas casino. This is the space I would work in, sixteen to twenty hours a day, seven days a week, for the next twelve years.

My Dianetics film, "How to Use Dianetics: A Visual Guidebook to the Human Mind," was released with fanfare at the Dianetics event on May 9th, 1992. It was a big hit with Scientologists, and we began to sell copies from the Org bookstores. But I wanted to get it into the hands of the Dianetics book buyers. That was who it had been written for. To do that, I started on the second part of my plan, to write and produce an infomercial we could put on TV. An infomercial, or "long-form advertising," would give us 30 minutes to explain and sell the product.

Jan Gildersleeve, who had been my media director since 1986, had a lot of experience with infomercials. She had worked extensively with Ron Popiel of Ronco fame and knew quite a bit about producing and running infomercials. Although Jan was not a Sea Org Member and lived in LA, I was still in touch with her by phone and occasional trips to LA. With her assistance, I started studying up on the subject, how they were written and structured.

There were several different styles on infomercial being done, and I settled on one called a "documercial," something that looked like a documentary but still hard-sold a product. It also sounded less commercial, something we always had to maintain a sensitivity to as we were a "Church." Jan hooked me up to some top infomercial people – Greg Renker, Tim Hawthorne and others – and they were able to give me some of the do's and don’ts. They recommended that the half hour program contain three "calls to action." That was a two-minute segment where the product was shown and hard sold. This was interspersed with the "program," composed of three eight minute segments.

What product to advertise was the subject of a lot of research and planning. Eventually we decided on a "complete Dianetics kit" including the book, the "How to Use Dianetics" video and four of Hubbard’s lectures on Dianetics.

The "Dianetics Kit" - book, video and audio cassettes

I completed the script and it went into production. Again, Mitch directed. As the main spokesman, we hired a Scientologist actor, Michael Fairman. Michael was one of those hard-working character actors that everyone recognizes but no one remembers his name. He had been a regular on "Hill Street Blues" and "Cagney and Lacey" and had done a zillion other TV shows and films. He was wonderful to work with, bringing a sense of both authority and warm friendliness to the part. For the "calls to action" we used a young novice actress named Kelly Yaegerman. She was a real live-wire, and managed to make the Dianetics Kit sound both essential and sexy.

When we completed the half hour program, I arranged to have it tested with a focus group. I probably have the distinction of being the only person in Scientology who has ever actually tested something out with a focus group. We used a company in LA, and they had two separate groups tested. They watched the program holding little dials that they moved to indicate how interested they were, then there was a discussion afterwards. This was fascinating. One of the things we discovered is that they simply did not believe it. They did not believe that a person could have a situation handled so rapidly with Dianetics. On the program, it looked like it had been handled in a few minutes. We re-edited it, dissolving between a series of sessions to show passage of time. With this and a few other tweaks, it was ready to go on the air.

Interestingly, the Cine staff resented having to re-edit the program. They were done with it, and for me to ask for a re-edit indicated I had not done it correctly the first time. I was therefore "out-ethics" and was imposing on the "upstat" Cine staff to correct my error. I tried to explain the concept of focus group testing to them, but they just didn’t get it. You were supposed to get it right the first time. After all, Hubbard always did, didn’t he? Who could argue with that sort of logic?

To handle the media placement, we hired Williams Television Time in Santa Monica. Katie Williams, who ran the place, was known as the "queen of infomercials." She was a fireball and had built her company into the largest and most successful infomercial media buyer in the US in just a few short years. When we first started using them, they were bursting the seams of a small office building off Santa Monica Boulevard, and had set up several trailers in the parking lot to handle the overflow, while they planned their move into a huge office building nearby. Katie was enthusiastic about the Dianetics project. They would handle both the media booking and the reporting and analysis of the results.

To handle the calls, I retained West Telemarketing in Omaha, Nebraska. I was repeatedly challenged on the point of hiring an outside phone service – "Why can’t we just direct the calls to the Base and set up a few staff to take the calls?" I had to explain that when the infomercial aired, you could get 100 calls in a few minutes. When it wasn’t airing, operators would be idle. Calls could come in any time of the day or night. After I presented the facts, people could see the point – it was the only way to handle that volume efficiently. I went out to Omaha and met with the people there, and saw how they were set up – a huge space with row after row of operators. As soon as the phone rang from our infomercial, our script would pop onto the screen, so any operator could take the call. A key point was that there was no selling needed – the person was calling to order, so all that was needed was order takers. I was impressed with the operation.

At the end of 1992, we began piloting the "Dianetics Documercial." The results were not as good as I had hoped, but still, we were selling the Dianetics kits by the hundreds each week.
The final piece of the puzzle was our own internal "Dianetics Hotline." A key part of the package, in addition to the book, video and audio lectures, was the promise that buyers of the kit would have access to a toll-free Dianetics hotline, where trained Dianetics consultants would answer questions about Dianetics and help them with their Dianetics auditing. A glassed-in area had been created at the back of CMU (with, of course, an "artistic" squiggle across the glass), and there were two full-time operators posted there. One was Caroline Mustard’s son, Josh Charbonneau, a very funny and intelligent young man, and Pat Gualtieri, a veteran old-time Public Divisions staffer. Pat’s good humor was matched only by his girth. He genuinely cared about people and loved to talk, so he was perfect to man the phones. For any overflow, we had the rest of CMU staff, and a yell from the "1-800 Unit" would send everyone scrambling to the phones.

I enjoyed talking to people on the phones. These were people who had already bought the Dianetics Kits, so they were already interested and involved. And I felt like I was really helping people. These conversations with real people, helping them with their lives, seemed to make it all worthwhile.

They had a lot of intelligent questions about how to audit Dianetics. Their most common difficulty, it turned out, was finding someone to audit with – as they had to have another person. So we started a referral system. The names were all on computer, so it was simple to match them up with someone from the same ZIP code. This aspect of the campaign grew like wildfire, and soon we had hundreds of these "Dianetics Co-Auditing Groups" springing up.

Bill liked to micromanage the infomercial placements. I would go through the results every week and do a fairly detailed spreadsheet analysis of where we were getting results. Based on this, we would work out a strategy, and then Bill and I would race down to Santa Monica and go over the results with Katie. Bill liked to micromanage Williams Television Time as well, and we would often spend hours down there, going over their buys in detail. Katie was amazingly tolerant of this sort of thing, although I’m sure it drove her staff crazy.

The Dianetics Documercial was a constant flap. The results were never good enough, and any "downstat" was a calamity. Since joining Golden Era Productions, we would attend the weekly staff meetings held every Friday night in MCI. We would clear the tables out and set up the chairs theater-style. At that point there were between 400 and 500 Gold staff. The meetings followed a set formula – dictated, of course, by Hubbard. The first section was called "flaps and handlings." Each area had to get up and announce to the group what "flaps" (disasters, emergencies, downstats) they had in their area and what the "handling" was for the flap. The atmosphere was more Roman circus than business meeting, however, and the crowd wanted blood. They wanted all the gory details of the flap, and most importantly who had goofed and what the "Ethics handling" was going to be on that person. Any attempt to play down or justify a flap was greeted with jeers and catcalls. The crowd demanded ruthless justice on anyone who had slipped up.

Quite often, it fell to me to announce CMU flaps, particularly if it involved the Documercial. I found after a while that if you were at all hesitant or seemed unsure, the crowd would pounce like jackals on a wounded antelope. What worked, interestingly enough, was to appear to be angry – not at the crowd but at the situation. If I appeared to be angry and emphatic when I delivered my flap and handling, the crowd would go with me. I got pretty practiced at this. Others were not so lucky and it was common to see some luckless staff member dissolve into confusion or tears and get hauled away while their senior took over the announcement. It was brutal, and I came to despise the staff meetings.

"Lower Conditions" were also a part of daily life at Gold. Hubbard had devised a system of "conditions" (states of existence) and "formulas" (what you do to handle). These were rote and unalterable, and always followed in a set sequence. As you went up the conditions, carefully following each formula, you ascended from Normal to Affluence to Power. But as you went down the conditions, you descended to Emergency, Danger, Nonexistence, Liability, Doubt, Enemy, Treason, and Confusion. To ascend out of those conditions, you had to rigorously follow their formulas, and the application of these formulas was monitored by seniors and Ethics Officers.

The most difficult condition to get out of was Liability. You were supposed to "deliver an effective blow to the enemies of the group," then "make up the damage by personal contribution far beyond the ordinary demands of a group member." This consisted of an "amends project" on your own "personal time." As we were already working seven days a week, 16 or more hours a day, "personal time" was a bit of a joke. That meant sleep time.

Once you had completed this "amends project," you had to "apply for re-entry to the group by asking the permission of each member to rejoin and rejoining only by majority permission." Keeping in mind that Gold, at that time, was between 400 and 500 people, this became a Herculean task. What you had to do was write up the steps of your program, and then make about 100 copies of it. At every meal time, you had to pass these out in a flurry, get people to sign them, and then collect them all back up – and deal with the few nitpicking staff who would take you to task over the "effectiveness" of your blow to the enemy or the length of your amends project. It would take three or four days of this to get the majority required. It was an insane waste of time. I suggested several times that people should be allowed to petition only the staff of their division or department, but no, that was not what Hubbard had said.

People in "Lower Conditions" had even fewer rights than the other staff. They could not take breaks. They could not go to the Canteen for coffee or a snack. They were not allowed to drive their own cars. They were expected to work later than other staff.

To add to this already Draconian system of discipline, Hubbard had devised something called the "Team Share System." He said it was to make Gold staff realize that they had a stake in the organization, like a shareholder. Unfortunately it had nothing to do with actual shares. Each staff member was issued five cards, a Social Card, a Bonus Card, a Pay Card, a Chow Card and a Berthing Card. If anyone was guilty of an infraction, a senior or an Ethics Officer could "pull a card." If you lost your Social Card, you could not take any liberties or attend any events or parties. If you lost your Bonus Card, you would not be paid any bonuses. This was kind of a null card as we weren’t paid any bonuses anyway. If you lost your pay card you could not collect your pay. If you lost your Chow Card you had to eat beans and rice only. And if you lost your Berthing Card you had to sleep outside, or in your office – you could not go home. At the end of the issue laying all of this out, Hubbard blithely stated, "A system of awards also exists." Well, that was news to us. No "system of rewards" had ever been issued.

It was not surprising that the Team Share System kept falling out of use. Seniors and staff would just forget about it for months at a time. Then some huge effort would be made to "get it back in." Execs would agonize over "why the Team Share System won’t stay in." Any staff member could have told them, if they had dared. The system was hugely unpopular – because it was nuts.

So between lower conditions and losing cards, the average staff member was being chased through his paces like a rat through a maze.

If all that were not enough, David Miscavige added his own unique games to the mix. At one point, he had a hundreds of black baseball hats made, each one embroidered with the name of a job on the Base, everything from CO CMO Int down to the Gaffer in Gold. In Scientology, a person’s job is called his "hat." Miscavige claimed that he was wearing everyone’s hat, and therefore he had them all in his possession. He had a big shelving system made in MCI where the hats were displayed. To "get one’s hat back," one had to present a petition to Miscavige, showing how one was diligently doing one’s job. This went on for months and months. He loved to rub it in with anyone and everyone, high and low, that he had their hat.

Another time, he went on a kick of pinning big, obnoxious, neon-colored badges on people that said derogatory things on them, like "I am an SP," or "Stat Crasher" or just "Wheeeee!" (his favorite for Marketing staff). Again, you had to wear the badge at all times and petition Miscavige to have it removed. It was just raw degradation – to show he held the power and could make people do what he said.

I was seeing less and less of my family, but still kept in touch. In the summer of 1993, I found out from brother Kimball that he had gotten back together with Cathy Mullins, his college sweetheart. He had gone through a messy divorce with his previous wife, Deborah, years earlier. Then one day Cathy had found him. They had dated in college and in fact it had been Cathy who had gotten Kim into Scientology. She had gone to the Flagship Apollo in 1967 and had worked as a personal steward for Hubbard himself, but had gotten into trouble and had returned to the US and dropped out of Scientology for 30 years. Now she had found Kim again, and they had decided to get married. I was happy for them, and we promised to get together later in the year.

In August, I got a letter from Gwennie, and I was amazed to see that the return address was Dana Point, California – just over the mountains from Hemet! Gwennie had kept in touch over the years, sending me her graduation photos from Rutgers, and then postcards from various exotic locations as she and her surfer boyfriend Ben traveled around the world. They had ended up in Bali, surfing and living in a grass house. But now she was back, and living close by.
Nancy and I managed to get an OK to take a Sunday off and we drove over to see her. We took Highway 74 through the Cleveland National Forest and down into San Juan Capistrano. I found Gwennie’s address in Dana Point without a problem.

Jeff and Nancy visit Gwennie, 1993

The last time I had seen her she had been a 12 year old girl. Now she was a 24 year old woman – and drop-dead gorgeous. She gave me a big hug and introduced us to Ben, her big handsome surfer-dude. We spent a wonderful day together, exploring the beach while Ben surfed with his buddies. Gwennie filled me in on her plans – she was looking for production assistant work in the film industry. I couldn’t get over it, she had grown up so beautiful, talented and bright. We promised to keep in touch and Nancy and I drove back to the Base. In fact, we did meet once more that year, at a big family Thanksgiving. Mom was there, Kim and his new wife Cathy, two of Kim’s kids, Nancy and I, and Gwennie. Although Gwennie and I would keep in touch by letter, we were not to meet again for another twelve years – and then under very different circumstances.

I kept in close touch with Mom. Although we were now forbidden to make family calls without an Ethics Officer secretly monitoring the call, I got around that by calling Mom every Sunday morning from a pay phone in town. It was strictly verboten, but I didn’t care. Mom's older brother, my Uncle Frank, ended up moving to a retirement trailer park in Hemet, just a few minutes from the Kirby Garden Apartments, where Nancy and I were now living. One day, Mom coyly announced that she knew where Golden Era Productions was. She had driven past the Base and had seen the sign. After that, she would mention to me whenever she was going out to see Frank, and Nancy and I would sneak out during our Sunday morning "CSP" time and meet Mom at Frank’s. Again, this was completely forbidden, but I didn’t care. It was a minor revolt and it meant I could see Mom.

In September, we started preparing for a huge, confidential event. CMU got an advance briefing. Miscavige had been negotiating with the IRS in secret and, amazingly, had reached a settlement with them. The word was that we were going to get full religious tax exemption for Scientology. Our job was to prepare a bunch of booklets and materials explaining the tax agreement that would be handed out to Scientologists. It was all very hush-hush – no one was to know anything about it until it happened and was announced. The event date was put off several times, as the final agreement had not come through. Then all of a sudden it was full speed ahead and the event was set for a week later. Orgs were scrambling like mad to get people to the event. The LA Sports Arena was rented for the event, and flights and buses were chartered to bring as many Scientologists to LA as possible. We worked around the clock for most of that week to get everything ready. On the day of the event, we were still at the printers when the event started, packing all of the printed materials into delivery trucks and rushing down to the venue. We delivered the materials to the staff who were to hand them out after the event, then snuck into the arena.

The place was packed. There must have been ten thousand people there, the biggest assembly of Scientologists that had ever been brought together – and that will probably ever be brought together. A mammoth set had been constructed at one end, huge columns and torches. Miscavige was in his element. He stood at a raised podium, every eye in the place upon him, as he rolled out the story of how he and RTC Inspector General Ethics Marty Rathbun had been walking down the street in DC and on a whim decided to stop in and see IRS Commissioner Fred Goldberg, and how that chance meeting had ultimately resulted in complete tax exemption for the Church of Scientology. It was a spellbinding story, with himself as the hero, and he told it masterfully.

"The war is over!" he screamed at the climax of his presentation. On cue, the band struck up triumphant music, streamers showered down on the audience, and the big screens behind Miscavige erupted with the words "THE WAR IS OVER" flashing again and again. The crowd went completely nuts.

It seemed that Scientology had won out at last. No more battles, no more enemies. Now, I thought maybe, just maybe, we can concentrate on disseminating Scientology and forget all the politics and infighting and defensive actions.

I carried on working on the Dianetics Campaign, trying to codify exactly how to get people using Dianetics, forming groups and eventually coming in to the orgs. We had sold 40,000 Dianetics Kits, and had managed to create nearly 1,000 Dianetics groups. This latter fact caught the attention of the senior execs, and it was decided to do a video about these groups and show it at the May 9th Event for 1994. A small film crew was sent out from Gold all over the US to film these people and their "wins" with Dianetics, and the footage was brought back and edited into a half hour documentary about Dianetics groups springing up "just like 1950." The film actually ended up being poignant and down-to-earth, unlike a lot of Scientology productions, which tend to be super-glossy and over-the-top. The people were very real, and their descriptions of their co-auditing and their wins were from the heart. The Musicians scored it with a lot of country fiddle and acoustic guitar. Ronnie Miscavige narrated it. The "Grassroots Dianetics" video was shown at the 1994 May 9th Event and was a big hit.

Getting people from their little Dianetics groups into the Orgs was the final step, the final link. Phil Anderson, one of my original staff from the Strategic Book Marketing Unit, was in charge of the Dianetics Campaign, and he and I decided to tackle the matter of Dianetics Seminars once and for all. These seminars had been tried many times over the years, some successful, some not. We researched it out and found out what made them successful when they were. We did a lot of surveying. And we carefully worked out a turnkey Dianetics Seminar – three promotional mailings to Dianetics book buyers in an area, phoning to the Dianetics Book Buyer list a week prior to the event, and a complete script for the seminar event itself, including showing the "How to Use Dianetics" Video and splitting them up for co-auditing. We had it figured out right down to the name tags.

Phil and I flew out to Atlanta and piloted the whole thing there. The org was thrilled that we were actually there to help them – I gathered that they mostly got stat and money demands from Management, not much hands-on help. We held the seminar in a nearby hotel and had almost a hundred people in the room. By the end of the seminar, most of them were excited and winning. It looked like we had a great formula.

We piloted it in about twenty other locations, all over the country. Phil would go out and do them, sometimes with Pat Gualtieri. We were pulling in an average of 50 people over a weekend, just like clockwork. Often it was 100 or more. And these people were coming in BMWs and Mercedes – intelligent, college educated people, eager to find out about Dianetics.

It was a turnkey seminar package, and it was ready for implementation. The problem was, I could not get anyone interested. In fact, my proposed Dianetics Seminar package was rejected by Exec Strata. Why? I was holding the seminars in hotels. Therefore the orgs could not count the attendance on their "Bodies in the Shop" statistic! I am not kidding, this was the objection. The seminars had to be held in the org, period. I pointed out that our seminar pattern was drawing 50 to 100 people on a weekend, and most orgs did not have space for 50 to 100 people. Atlanta Org, for instance, would have been hard pressed to fit 15 or 20 people in their Division 6 area. "Well, then, they’ll just have to hold smaller seminars," they said. It was final, they had to be held in the orgs. And by org staff, not by some outside marketing tour.

We tried to get orgs to run them, but little actually happened, and the "perfect" Dianetics Seminar pattern died a quiet death. Once again, everything had been in place for a boom. And once again, it had been dropped.

The Base continued to expand. With the completion of Building 36, the Base security perimeter had been enlarged. A massive project had been done to fence the property in with razor-wire fences, cameras, and motion detectors. A new central guard booth was constructed next to Building 36, with Security headquarters set up in the basement of that building. Next to Building 36, a huge new film lab had been constructed, so that Gold would no longer pay exorbitant lab fees to have films developed and printed. Sea Org crew were trained on how to process film and maintain a dust-free environment. The Film Lab was a huge investment in money and time. Unfortunately, it would end up being used for only a few years, until the industry went digital – something one would have thought the "powers that be" should have predicted.

Beyond the Film Lab, the foundations were being laid for the "Berthing Buildings" – four huge staff apartment buildings.

One day after the evening muster, we were all ushered back inside MCI and given an urgent survey to fill out. One of the questions, seemingly innocently asked, was "Would you rather live in town or on the Base and why?"

I knew there was no such thing as an innocent question. There was no doubt that we were going to be moving to the Base so the only possible reason for such a question would be to ferret out and handle "counterintention." We had to put our names on the surveys, so I knew the wrong answer would inevitably get one in trouble. So I answered that I would rather live on the Base (of course!) and gave all the reasons I knew they wanted to hear. I had gotten pretty good at surviving.

Many people unfortunately missed that point and answered candidly. One of them was my wife.

Late that night, the entire Base was called to an emergency meeting in MCI. There was no time to set up seats so we all stood. RTC staff lined the sides of the hall like riot police. After a wait, Miscavige came in and took the podium. He was furious, and began screaming and yelling, his face turning practically purple. Some people had dared to answer the survey that they would rather live in town! What out-ethics criminals! What degraded dilletantes! These people had "other fish to fry." They wanted to be able to get to shops on Sunday morning. They didn’t want to be woken up at all hours of the night to handle some emergency. They wanted personal time away from the Base. These people were obviously off-purpose scum.

Then he singled out one person for special abuse. Nancy. He read her survey in full. One of the reasons she had given was that she wanted to be able to decorate her apartment the way she wanted, not according to some "enforced Scottish motif." A gasp went through the hall. Everyone knew the "Scottish motif" had been dictated by Hubbard himself! This was the worst sort of heresy!

Nancy was removed from her post - she was writing ad copy at the time - and sent to do menial work, what they called "deck work" as a holdover from the ship. She had to do her lower conditions and petition to come back to the group. When she returned to CMU, she started working answering the phones in the 1-800 Unit. But she was broken, she wasn’t the happy, funny Nancy I knew. She became withdrawn and didn’t want to talk, even to me. Give her time, I thought. She’ll spring back like she always does.

One Saturday in May 1995, Bill called me into his office. There was a big event being held that night, the May 9th Event, and Nancy and a bunch of other people had gone down to LA to print up the promotion and get it to the event hall. Nancy had taken our car, the Mazda RX7.

Bill had me sit down. It appeared he had something serious to tell me, yet he seemed oddly smug.

"Nancy has blown," he said.

9 comments:

Cathy said...

I see now why Nancy left. I hadn't heard the story before. That is unbelievable -- Miscavige is so far gone, and has been for a long time. I imagine that everyone who's ever been near him at that base would love to beat him to a pulp.

Cathy said...

Hell, I've never been near him and I'd like to beat the crap out of him.

Brother said...

moar.

chuckbeatty77 said...

I knew Nancy before and after. Today, she has about the funniest story, her leaving story from her viewpoint, not the denigration she went through, but the additional behind the scenes events, there is a whole hilarious comedy play that went on that beautiful hilarious ironical ending. Getting out, in truth, is a good thing. How she was inspired to get out, that part of the story I hope she someday allows become public, it's comedy movie material.

Of the "escape" stories, there are some doozies. Hers is one!


Jeff, this book blog is the best.

thanks!

Chuck

David said...

Jeff,

I think I can speak for most of Anonymous when I say thank you for writing this. This is more important to us than you probably know.

The overwhelming majority of us have never been scientologists, and will never be able to see firsthand what it's like on the inside. Your well-written story gives us a glimpse of how "the other side" reacts to attacks, and how the lives of individual scientologists are effected. "Know thy enemy" as they say, and it never hurts to be reminded that we're against the malicious management structure, the average SO seems to having a rough enough time going through ridiculous ethics conditions.

It makes me sad every time you write about a promising publicity plan that gets shot down solely because it doesn't coincide completely with Hubbard's rants; but then again I can't help but be a little thankful. If you had been able to promote Dianetics and Scientology unrestrained, the cult may not be crumbling the way it is today.

Thanks again for making this all public, this is big stuff.

raggedclaws said...

Fantastic writing! Keep it up! Your insights are truly priceless.

nefertitiantico$ said...

As usual you excel in the art of telling a story vividly, interestingly and getting it slowly to the "chute finale".
That is what writers do when they write a book and even them have a hard time doing it.
Congratulations.
As far as the absurdity of ethics conditions and handlings leading to "blows" well ,it is unfair and painful for the person but it drags him or her out and away from the cult.
I think they are legion to blow and aren't replaced.
Internet is slowly killing cults.
Nefertiti

LightPath said...

Fantastic!


"Remember...Remember... The Fifth of November... " :)

More!

--
Best Regards,
Konstantin


PS I agree with Cathy! I've never met the man nor am I a Scientologist, but boy do I hate bullies.

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