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Outtakes from the 1997 ‘Secret Lives’ doc — an eyewitness at the Jack Parsons house

ParsonageWe have another treat for you today as we continue to get leaked original interviews that were filmed for the excellent 1997 Channel 4 documentary, Secret Lives — L. Ron Hubbard.

Up to this point, we’ve provided you with extended interviews of a number of people who showed up in the Channel 4 film. But now, we have an interview that was never included at all.

Previous segments have featured Hubbard’s literary agent, Forrest Ackerman, his press assistant and lover, Barbara Klowden, one of Hubbard’s fellow science fiction colleagues, Arthur Jean Cox, the former mayor of Clearwater, Florida, Gabe Cazares, Hubbard’s former medical officer, Jim Dincalci, and archivist Gerry Armstrong.

Now we have for you a relatively brief interview with someone who not only didn’t get into the film, he also isn’t named. (But our commenters, naturally, tracked him down immediately — he’s former Los Angeles Times reporter Nieson Himmel.) He’s only identified in the video clip as a “resident” of the house in Pasadena owned by legendary rocket engineer and occultist Jack Parsons. Himmel claims to be an eyewitness to the arrival of L. Ron Hubbard in 1945.

Parsons is a fascinating figure. He not only helped found the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and was associated with Caltech, he was deeply into the occult ideas of English eccentric Aleister Crowley. With Hubbard’s help, Parsons tried to create the antichrist on earth by performing sex magick rituals with a woman named Marjorie Cameron. (Parsons later died in an explosion in his home lab in 1952.)

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Our witness today, Himmel, says he was there when Hubbard arrived and then promptly stole away Jack’s girlfriend, Sara Northrup. That little triangle put the house in an uproar, and at that point, he says, Parsons decided to bring in a bunch of other renters to fill more rooms of his large house. When Jack put out an ad for his rooms, he said in the ad that potential renters “must not believe in God, or something like that.”


“Thousands of people applied who were not religious,” Himmel says.

As for Hubbard, Himmel says he was already well known as a science fiction writer. He also was a tall tale teller, and regaled the house with unlikely tales from his war experiences, like one about a polar bear on a destroyer.

“He would always adapt other people’s stories as his own,” Himmel says.

Himmel adds that Hubbard and Sara were both curious about local metaphysical or religious groups, and they would visit them, like they were doing research. (We found this particularly interesting.)

As for the sex magick rituals that Parsons and Hubbard got up to, Himmel says he only glimpsed a few of the goings on. He says that people wore long robes and wore “dunce caps” — wizard caps, apparently.

Asked for his opinion of Hubbard, Himmel says that he didn’t like him. “I didn’t believe a word he said.”

Here, watch the video for yourself and let us know what you think…



‘Going Clear’ and your proprietor

We want to thank our readers who have been posting their thoughts about ‘Going Clear’ after seeing the film in LA, SF, and New York.

Yesterday, producer Kristen Vaurio was kind enough to invite us to take part in the Q&A following the 7 pm showing at the Francesca Beale Theater at Lincoln Center, which also featured editor Andy Grieve, who did such an amazing job piecing together the film. We really enjoyed helping to answer the questions of audience members, which were great. And hey, somehow it got us on Page Six! Now that’s sort of mindblowing.

Afterwards, we discovered that Kate Bornstein and Barbara Carrellas were in the audience, and we shared a cab with them back home. We also got to meet some interesting former church members, and we’re sorry we had to skeedaddle so quickly. Drop us a line — we’d like to hear more about your experiences.


Mike Rinder answers Scientology’s smears

Our readers know that we have a policy of not helping Scientology spread its smears by writing about its slanted slams against the people in Going Clear and other supposed enemies of the church. But we know that our readers are generally aware of the clownish smears that Scientology posts at its Freedom magazine website. Some of it, particularly the material aimed at Mike Rinder, Marty Rathbun, Paul Haggis and some others, is very old material that the church had previously posted on anonymous attack websites. By moving that material over to its Freedom pages, Scientology dropped all pretenses that it wasn’t behind those slanderous sites. Of course it was.

Anyway, Mike Rinder has decided to provide a detailed response to the “lady killer” slander that Scientology continually aims at him. He has done so with facts, and in great volume. It’s a shame that Rinder has to do this at all, but he’s done it with humility and class. Give it a look.


Bonus photos from our tipsters

LRH birthday madness tonight in Clearwater! Here’s Grant Cardone, ready for action at the Fort Harrison Hotel today…


Photographer Thorsten Overgaard is rocking a pirate look for the Commodore!


Joy Villa is ready for the red carpet treatment outside the Fort Harrison!


Portland is hoping it wins another of these tonight at the Birthday Game!


Let the party begin!


Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 14, 2015 at 07:00

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.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA 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

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
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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