Yesterday, we got our first look inside Tom Cruise’s still-under-construction double penthouse atop a building in downtown Clearwater, Florida thanks to a local business owner who took an impromptu tour of the construction site and recorded it for the rest of the world to see.
Clay Irwin is becoming a very visible figure in Clearwater, which has been plagued by its association with the Church of Scientology and its “Flag Land Base” that takes up much of the local property. Because of Scientology’s presence, the downtown area is mostly a ghost town and has had a hard time attracting new business.
But then, in December, Irwin opened The Lucky Anchor, an Irish sports pub right on Cleveland Street in the middle of the base, betting that his watering hole would buck the trend and help bring back some life to the area.
Just down the street from his pub, at the corner of Osceola Avenue, is the Skyview, the condo rehab project we told you about that’s owned by a wealthy Mexican Scientologist, Moises Agami, who submitted new plans for the building that will turn its ninth and tenth floors into a super-deluxe double penthouse. Our sources learned that the Church of Scientology had admitted to a local developer that the penthouse had been purchased by actor Tom Cruise.
Irwin says he was aware of that news, and a couple of weeks ago some of the workers from the project site were drinking in his bar when he asked them about Cruise’s condo.
“I’ll give you a tour if you want to go up there,” one of the workers told him. So Irwin went with the man, who he says had legal access to the work site.
“I got a tour of the whole complex,” Irwin says. “Oh god, he’s got an infinity pool that’s amazing. His master bedroom plans are incredible.”
In the video, you can see him standing by what is going to be the pool, with an impressive view to the west over the intracoastal and the bridge to the coastal strip of Clearwater.
Broadcasting live on Facebook at the time, Irwin walked around the penthouse, pointing out how spacious the rooms will be. He had his dog with him at the time, and he joked about his dog taking the first piss in Cruise’s condo.
“That was just a joke. My dog is very well trained,” he says.
Irwin told us that during the tour, the construction worker told him that one of the bedrooms was set aside for Cruise’s mother, Mary Lee South.
Irwin was unaware that in the time since he had taken the tour, Ms. South, 80, had passed away.
We told him that in our previous story we had discovered plans not only for the infinity pool and other amenities on the ninth and tenth floors, but also a private 9-car garage with car elevator next to the building that will be attached by a private air bridge. Irwin told us he toured that site as well, and that construction was moving quickly. “Work on the garage is going fast now. You can see a big difference almost every week,” he says.
“We’re all excited that he’s coming here,” Irwin says about Cruise. “I’ve never met him but I’m looking forward to it.”
We asked him if he hopes Cruise will stop in at The Lucky Anchor for a drink. “I’m putting a special wine list in for him and the other celebrities. I’ll have some choice stuff,” he says.
Irwin says he has had good relations with the Church of Scientology since he took a chance on opening a business amid the Flag Land Base. “It was a little scary at first. But once I found out they’re good people and the city is excited about me being here, I’ve had no problems. You just have to network and advertise and educate people about the whole situation.”
Irwin’s video sat on Facebook mostly unnoticed for two weeks until one of our readers spotted it yesterday and shared it, tagging us. Soon, another of our readers had posted the video in our comments section here at the Underground Bunker. We then tracked down Irwin’s number and gave him a call.
After our phone conversation yesterday afternoon, Irwin removed the video from his Facebook page. Later, we heard from him through Facebook messenger.
“The church just asked me to take down the video,” he messaged us.
Irwin told us that shortly after our phone call, a man came to his bar who said he was with the Church of Scientology and called himself Patrick. We sent him a photograph of longtime Scientologist Patrick Valtin, and Irwin confirmed that he was the man who came to his bar. Irwin said Valtin watched him take the video down from his Facebook page.
Irwin wondered why Valtin and the church suddenly cared about the video, since it had been online for two weeks. We told him it was probably because the video had showed up in the comments section of this website.
We also pointed out to him that the Skyview is not owned by Scientology. But Valtin made sure that Irwin removed the video anyway.
By the time Irwin had taken down the video, however, it had been mirrored a couple of times. Here it is if you haven’t already seen it.
‘Squeeze My Cans’ hits the road!
The very talented Cathy Schenkelberg is once again performing her highly praised one-woman show about her trip into and out of Scientology, Squeeze My Cans, and she’s building up an ambitious tour that she hopes to extend, with some surprises along the way.
Among her plans are to take Squeeze to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. To help her plans materialize, she started a fundraising effort online, and we encourage you to go there and learn more about her show.
Here’s her schedule so far…
Currently running through March 12
Greenhouse Theater Center, Chicago
March 30-April 2
Stageworks Theatre, Tampa
1120 E.Kennedy Blvd
West Building #151
Bongo After Hours Theatre, Nashville
12 Peers Theater, Pittsburgh
412-626-6784 | firstname.lastname@example.org
May 31-June 4
St Louis Actors Studio, St. Louis
Bunker community note
We have heard from Longtime Lurker, who has had some difficulties but says he is coming back to the site soon.
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
Scientology disconnection, a reminder
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,671 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,268 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,308 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,020 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 487 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,605 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,775 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,095 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,070 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 426 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,728 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 835 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,237 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,110 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 691 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,196 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,440 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,549 days.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield