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‘Growing Up in Scientology’ project launches with a new tale about John Travolta

[Credit: John Russo]

[Credit: John Russo]

In April, we announced a new project by Aaron Smith-Levin and Nick Lister. The two former Church of Scientology members were planning a YouTube channel that would feature the stories they felt were left out of Alex Gibney’s movie Going Clear — the stories of young people who had grown up in the church.

Smith-Levin and Lister had each featured prominently in stories about families being ripped apart by Scientology’s “disconnection” policy. But they said they wanted to talk with other young Scientologists to get the full story about what it’s like to grow up in the organization.

Now, they have the first video to show at their new channel, which they call “Growing Up in Scientology.” It’s a short portion from Aaron’s interview of Nick, and it features a fun and disturbing anecdote about John Travolta looking for a chiropractic adjustment at 2 in the morning…



Aaron tells us this is just a portion of a longer interview with Nick, and more will be appearing at the Growing Up in Scientology channel.

Aaron also filmed an introduction to the series, where he explains his thinking behind its genesis but also where he thinks it’s going.


Well, that’s a pretty ambitious program he’s set out to fulfill. We agree that the lives of Scientology kids needs more coverage. And soon, we’ll be swimming in it.

When we announced Aaron’s project in April, we mentioned that Nora Crest and her husband Cameron were planning to do post-production work on the series and had launched a kickstarter to raise $30,000 for equipment. That Kickstarter didn’t fund, but Nora tells us she’s still planning on doing her own project, no longer with Aaron and Nick, and she calls it “Growing Up Scientology: From Cradle to Slave.” She also plans on putting out episodes of 5-8 minutes from the interviews she does.

Hey, and speaking of someone who grew up in Scientology telling his story, Derek Bloch reminded us that he appeared recently on the Mentalpod podcast talking about his experiences in the church. Give it a listen if you haven’t already heard it…



PreponCelebrityLaura Prepon gets the Celebrity treatment

We couldn’t help enjoy the small media storm that kicked up yesterday after Gawker labeled Laura Prepon’s interview in the latest Scientology Celebrity magazine “insane,” and then let her Hubbardian word salad speak for itself.

We have a feeling that some of our Underground Bunker readers read Prepon’s interview and thought to themselves “they call that insane?” As Scientology discourses go, Prepon’s utterances were pretty tame. She mentioned some of the early courses — “Personal Values and Integrity,” for example, and “Overcoming Ups and Downs in Life” — which are a lot more normal sounding than stuff she did later, like “ARC Straightwire” or the “Route to Infinity Course.”

Like other younger Scientology celebrities, Laura’s completion list — announcements of her progress which have appeared in Scientology’s own publications — are quite modest. We’ve noticed that Scientology’s young celebrities, particularly those who were brought up in the church, tend not to have gone very far up the “Bridge to Total Freedom.” It’s possible that Prepon has added on to her completions since 2005, but there was nothing in her Celebrity interview that suggests she’s gone Clear or has worked into the OT levels, when things really get crazy.

Still, even with her modest exposure to Hubbard’s hilarity, it’s awfully fun to see a Scientology celebrity exposed with statements like “you really cognate that you are a thetan and you have a mind and body, and that the MEST universe does not control you.”

In fairness, all she’s really saying there is that she’s a spirit and not a meat body, an idea that many philosophical schools of thought share.

But sure, to the uninitiated, she sounded like a loon. And we couldn’t help getting a chuckle from it.


Last chance to see Tony and Paulette together (at least for a while)


On Sunday, Paulette Cooper joins your proprietor as we take our show on the road again, this time to Washington DC. It’s an anniversary of sorts — 40 years ago, in 1975, L. Ron Hubbard hid out in DC after his cover was blown down in Florida while Scientology was beginning its invasion of Clearwater. While Hubbard was living in DC, just blocks away his Guardian’s Office operatives were actively breaking into federal government offices in the Snow White Project and stealing documents by the yard, and up in Boston, other GO spies were breaking into the offices of Paulette’s psychiatrist to steal her private records. It’s all covered in our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, and you’ll get a chance to hear about those days directly from the woman herself. (See the listing, below.)

Also, on Tuesday, your proprietor will be joining his old friend, the cartoonist Tom Tomorrow (also known as Dan Perkins), in an event we’re especially excited about — we were invited by the folks at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut to come talk about our book. And Dan has some interesting new work to announce as well. See you there!

Speaking of Miss Lovely…

Here she is in the Alps!




We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Our upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

July 12: Washington DC, Hill Center DC-Drummond Hall, Center for Inquiry, 2 pm (with Paulette Cooper)

July 14: Hartford, MARK TWAIN HOUSE (with Tom Tomorrow)

July 17: Denver, The Secular Hub, 7 pm (with Chris Shelton)

July 20: Dallas, Times Ten Cellar, 7 pm (with Robert Wilonsky)

July 22: Houston, Fox and Hound, 11470 Westheimer Road, sponsored by Humanists of Houston

July 24: San Antonio, Folc Restaurant/Park Social, 6 pm

July 25: Austin

July 29: Paris, Le Bistrot Landais, 19:00 (with Jonny Jacobsen)

August 4: London, Conway Hall, (with John Sweeney)

August 24: Boston, Boston Skeptics in the Pub, 7 pm (with Gregg Housh)

Sept 15: Arizona State University

Sept 23: Cleveland

Sept 24: Minneapolis

Sept 27: Portland

Sept 28: Seattle

Sept 30: Vancouver, BC


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 8, 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

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


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