Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology Celebrates its Legal Defense Slush Fund, and What a Party!

There it is! Finally! The elaborate set-piece for last night’s International Association of Scientologists annual gala under the big tent in Clearwater, Florida.

We leaked plans for this globe-and-flags backdrop more than a month ago, and it’s fun to see it in its full glory, thanks to some nameless Scientologist who broke the rules and snapped a photo of it and posted it on the Internet for WWP’s indefatigable Black Rob to snag for

Thanks, Rob!

A few more images from the party that ended up online…


A new wrap for the big tent…


Why a guy on a horse serves as the symbol for the IAS we’re just not sure…


The folks are all in their finest as they wait to get in!


Mike Bennitt’s Flying Circus

In case you missed it yesterday, late in the day we posted photos of the latest coup pulled off by Mike Bennitt and Mike Rinder. Two weeks ago, they rented a helicopter so they could get accurate photographs of the actual crowd at Scientology’s Super Power opening. This weekend, the church is having its big International Association of Scientologists annual gala, and Rinder and Bennitt had another surprise up their sleeves.

They had noticed that at the Super Power event, Scientology had hired a small plane to tow a banner with the message “San Diego is Done!!!” — an announcement that fundraising was completed for the Ideal Org in that city.

That gave the Mikes an idea. They hired their own small plane to tow a message over the well-dressed folks who were lined up to get inside the IAS party last night…



And here’s a video put together by Mark Bunker, who was on the scene!



Jon Atack Tells Us About His New Book

VoodooChildJon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and on Saturdays he’s helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.

On this holiday weekend, we have quite a departure for you. Jon Atack has a new book out, and we’ll let him explain how he came to write it.

JON: A couple of years after the expurgated original version of A Piece of Blue Sky was published, in 1993, I finally met the late, great Margaret Singer. I decided that for the first time in the decade since I’d left the dread cult, I would let someone ‘counsel’ me (Margaret had ‘therap’d’ over 2000 former cult members, by this time, to use her own expression). When I was next in the Bay area, I visited her Berkeley home, again. We walked up a long flight of wooden steps to reach her front door, and she explained that in the past, when she was active against Scientology, she came home to find rats nailed to these steps. The Church of Hate, indeed.

To my own surprise, I opened by telling Margaret that the death of Jimi Hendrix still upset me. It happened when I was fifteen, and two weeks after I saw the first part of his gig at the Isle of Wight.

A few years later, at last out of the daily harassment rota of a certain despicable organization, I decided to stop whining that I’d had to compromise my artistic vision, and write a novel about ideas that fascinate me, including the brief life of James Marshall Hendrix, more usually known as ‘Jimi.’ I spent two years reading books and articles about Hendrix, listening to the lesser known gigs, reading about the blues and about the Cherokee. At the same time, I was developing an already lively interest in the idea of exploitative persuasion, as it is used in contemporary cult groups. And, to top it off, I had been studying the techniques of sales and advertising. All part of my quest to understand influence in its many guises, but all of this poured into a new mould where Jimi Hendrix could speak as a mature adult brought forth from the ether of imagination, but imagination firmly based in Hendrix’s own utterances and expressed opinions, which I carefully gleaned.

Hendrix himself was a believer in voodoo. He kept a talisman with him, often in his shoe, where there might also be a few dollar bills, a leftover from the grinding poverty he had experienced for most of his life. During Haitian vodou ceremonies, participants believe that they are taken over by a voodoo deity. During possession the individual’s character changes completely to that of a well-known loa. The believer is ‘mounted’ by this deity-cum-Christian saint. Hendrix when interviewed was shy, courteous and charming, but became outrageously extravert when he performed. Just watch the Monterey or Berkeley gigs. It certainly looks as if he was possessed.

Hendrix was fairly credulous. He believed in a mixture of spirituality and science fiction not too far distant from Scientology. He only really started putting his riffs into song form after he’d reached England, at the end of September, 1966. He wanted to record the soul standard Land of a Thousand Dances, on the flipside of Hey Joe, but Chas Chandler explained that he had to write his own material, if he wanted to make any money. Chandler had walked away from the highly successful Animals with nothing much to show, because he had no writing credits. So, there followed three albums of mainly remarkable original songs, beautifully arranged and perfectly performed. Spurred by his love of science fiction stories, Hendrix wrote futuristic scenarios, and his longest studio work, 1983…a merman I should turn to be coupled with moon turn the tides, gently, gently away is a Noah’s Ark narrative of escape beneath the waves, from a surface world engulfed by war.

Hendrix also generated his own cultish following. He was part of the hippie era, although he did not associate himself with hippie views. Indeed, in 1967, he told a journalist that US involvement in Vietnam was necessary to stem the ‘yellow peril.’ Most people don’t realize that he had served in the 101st Airborne as a paratrooper before embarking on his musical career. He hung out with other musicians, most of whom identified themselves as hippies, but he never did. He is still the most imitated electric guitarist, in a generation of superb players. Still the most perfectly aligned in emotion and technique.

In my novel, Hendrix appears to a jaded ad-man, whom he calls ‘Big’ at their first meeting. I had been reading about the Saatchi brothers — whose influence is already in the history books — and I wanted to look at someone whose character was formed during the last wallop of that excessive boom.

Hendrix was an eighth-blood Cherokee, so could legally claim membership of this remarkable people. He said that his grandma taught him the beat to I don’t live today, so I reincarnated a lost tribe (and, yes, there really was one), which had supposedly followed a sort of Pied Piper through a gateway hidden in the side of a mountain. I transmogrified them in the English Home Counties, around the time of the Millennium. And, boy, were they mad!

It allowed me to indulge in a variety of thought experiments. Follow that ‘what happens if?’ line of enquiry and the responses of your characters, which do rather spookily take on lives of their own. My story models included Woody Allen’s lovely Play it Again, Sam, and Milan Kundera’s captivating Immortality. I’ve long been taken up by Dennis Potter’s rendering of the imagination through popular song, and by the magical realists and surrealists who guard the threshold of imagination. This is my homage to Hendrix, to the blues, to the Cherokee and to the life-affirming ideas of the sixties. I hope it will amuse and edify, in equal measure. And, if you do decide to read it, please, please, please post a review on Amazon and anywhere else you can find, and give it to your friends for Xmas!


Posted by Tony Ortega on November 30, 2013 at 07:20

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email