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Chick Corea’s glib revelation to the New York Times about Scientology’s ‘Maiden Voyage’

Alfreddie_Johnson_Chick_Corea

[Chick Corea and Alfreddie Johnson, both Freedom Medal winners]

Chick Corea is turning 75 next week and to note the milestone the New York Times yesterday gave the jazz great a glowing tribute in the form of a Q&A about his ambitious plans later this fall to celebrate turning three quarters of a century old.

For eight weeks — from October 19 to December 12 — Corea will be performing with more than a dozen different lineups at one of jazz music’s cathedrals, the Blue Note club in New York. As Times writer Nate Chinen points out, Corea marked his 60th and 70th birthdays with similarly audacious performance runs. Will Chick Corea ever run out of energy? The man is a marvel.

However, what stunned us was the final response Chick gave when Chinen asked him what he would be doing on his actual birthday, on June 12. And kudos to the Times for including his answer…

I’m actually going to be out on a ship called the Freewinds, doing an event that we do yearly in Scientology called the Maiden Voyage. A while back I did two recordings — one called “To the Stars,” and the other called “The Ultimate Adventure” — based on fiction works by L. Ron Hubbard, who is my favorite fiction writer. So one thing I’m going to do onboard is keyboard improvisations to go along with the text of those books. That’s where I’ll be on my birthday.

If you’re a regular Scientology watcher, it’s not news to you that Chick Corea — Scientology Clear #3,000 — has been and remains one of the organization’s most dedicated celebrity members. As far back as 1977, Scientology was showcasing Corea’s dedication to L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology” when he took part in a pretty legendary “OT Symposium” with other major thetans of the day.

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And more recently, we’ve shown that Corea is happy to be included in Scientology’s promotional materials, and particularly when it comes to the church’s annual summertime event, “Maiden Voyage”…

 
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But for our newer folks, and particularly for those New York Times readers who may have been a little blindsided by Corea’s glib revelation at the end of his interview, we thought some of you may be wondering, what the heck is he talking about?

The gathering that Chick is referring to, where he’ll be performing on his birthday next week, is actually a pretty big deal in Scientology. Here’s how we described Maiden Voyage in a story last year

It’s a weeklong event to commemorate the first voyage of Scientology’s private cruise ship the Freewinds after the church purchased it and put into service in 1988. Jason Beghe, the actor who left Scientology and was recently featured in Alex Gibney’s documentary, Going Clear, told us that he made multiple trips to Maiden Voyage…He said that one of the reasons he hated Maiden Voyage was having to don formal wear on a ship in the Caribbean in June or July. The heat and humidity was brutal, and the last thing you wanted to be wearing was a tuxedo. Beghe was invited because he was one of Scientology’s brightest stars at the time — a celebrity who was racing up Scientology’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.” And the other invitees are also very special. They are the “OTs,” the wealthy church members who have spent anywhere from half a million to a million or more paying for expensive levels and donating to various causes over their church careers. Over that week, Miscavige gives the glittering crowd of OTs briefings about Scientology’s various initiatives, but he also previews new releases. The wealthy in-crowd gets a sneak peek of what everyone else will hear about a few weeks later, when video of the Maiden Voyage nights are played at Scientology’s “orgs” — churches — around the world.

 
So Scientology’s most wealthy and dedicated in-crowd will be in attendance as Corea tickles the keys to celebrate his terquasquigenary milestone. But more than that, the Freewinds has other connotations for the Church of Scientology. It’s also the place where Tom Cruise celebrated his 42nd birthday in what has become a pretty notorious 2004 party. Not only are best friends Cruise and Scientology leader David Miscavige seen letting their hair down during a rousing rendition of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll,” but we now know, thanks to a recent ABC 20/20 episode, that leading the band and playing trumpet was Miscavige’s father, Ron, who has now escaped from Scientology and revealed what a tyrant his son is in his book Ruthless. And if you look carefully, in that video from the 2004 party, you can also see David Miscavige’s wife Shelly, who a year later vanished in 2005 and hasn’t been seen publicly since, except for a brief appearance at her father’s funeral in the summer of 2007.

And the Freewinds has also been the setting for some of our most popular and most brutal stories about Scientology, the Sea Organization, and the use of underage labor in the church. The most-read story about Scientology that we ever published at the Village Voice was our lengthy interview with Valeska Paris, who said that she was held as a virtual prisoner on the Freewinds for eleven years so Miscavige could keep her away from her mother, who had sued the church.

And another harrowing Freewinds story was told to us by Ramana Dienes-Browning, who knew Valeska Paris, but had her own disturbing tale about what it was like to be a child executive on Scientology’s bizarre floating church. The Tampa Bay Times also published another frightening story about imprisonment and escape from the Freewinds when it wrote about a man named Don Jason.

For those reasons, we were pretty surprised to see Chick Corea tell the New York Times that he’d be playing piano for the assembled thetans and whales (wealthy Scientology donors) on the aging barge that has such unsettling connotations for people paying attention to Scientology’s many controversies. The Freewinds, looking more battered and bruised all the time, gamely plies the Caribbean as Scientology itself continues to take on water and sink into oblivion.

Will Chick Corea be the last to abandon ship?

Give him a thought as you watch this first portion of a rare video from a Maiden Voyage celebration. David Miscavige, decked out in his full Captain of the Sea Org regalia, does his usual rousing rendition of Scientology’s victories for the glittering crowd assembled in the ship’s ballroom during this event a decade ago, in 2006…

 

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on June 6, 2016 at 07:00

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 and Kindle editions. 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.

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

 

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