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Louis Theroux’s showdown with Scientology over a public road: The nutty new chapter

One of the best things about Louis Theroux’s funny 2015 film, My Scientology Movie, was how unflappably polite he was while he argued with Sea Org official Catherine Fraser over a frontage road at Scientology’s secretive “Int Base” and whether it was a public street or not.

A couple of times, Theroux visited the base during the movie, one time with former Sea Org worker Marc Headley, another time with actor Andrew Perez. When Theroux tried to get some footage by parking on the frontage lane — called Sublette Road — Fraser insisted that he was on private property and tried to get him to leave.

It’s Theroux’s manner, of course, which makes it such a great comedic moment, but also the apoplectic Scientologists, who hate having a camera crew so close to their property.

So important is the battle to the film, the very last thing you see in the movie is a statement on screen: “It is a public road.”


Well, we have some new evidence that the Church of Scientology was so incensed over the embarrassment it suffered at the hands of Theroux, it has taken some extraordinary steps to make sure it never happens again.

And for that, we once again must thank Erin Hodges Plumb, the Underground Bunker reader who has visited several Scientology locations recently, with hilarious results.

In this case, Erin had been talking to some protesters who were planning to demonstrate at Int Base, and were counting on being able to park at Sublette Road. But then, Erin herself drove by the base, and was surprised to see that Sublette Road has been torn up, and that some of the houses that lined it have been demolished.

Here’s one photo she took from her car as she drove by.


Later, she checked Google maps street view, and sure enough, as far back as this view in November 2016, the church has been taking the houses out.


She also noted that a metal bar has been set up closing off the road from the highway at the spot where Louis Theroux had filmed his scenes.

Curious about what was up, she called the county, which confirmed that Scientology is removing the houses, and so they’ve been able to turn Sublette Road private.

“They told me the road is no longer even on county maps,” Erin tells us. The same was true for another small road on the other side of the highway, Country Club Drive.

Take that, Theroux!

Amazed that Scientology would go to such lengths to turn a minor road private, we asked Marc Headley for his thoughts.

“I think Claire and I lived in at least four different houses along Sublette Road during our time there,” he says. He and his wife Claire escaped from the base in 2005. (You can read all about it in Marc’s excellent 2009 book, Blown for Good. At his website, every copy he sells is signed by both Marc and Claire.)

“All of these houses were older houses but none of them were abandoned up until 2005. During the late 1990’s and 2000’s, they were buying up all of those houses for way over the market value in order to motivate the owners to sell. I would say they spent at least $15 million buying up all those houses on Sublette Road and Country Club Drive. And don’t forget, they also bought the trailer park next to the golf course club house.”

Marc pointed out which of the houses he had lived in when he made his escape. He says it’s a hole in the ground now.

“I think that they’re trying to build a buffer around the Int Base property, and the incident with Louis and myself is being used as a reason for Dave Miscavige not to come back to the Int Base,” he says, referring to recent news that Miscavige has not been at the base in four years.

“Dave Miscavige used to do that all the time while we were there. He would make up imaginary reasons why certain things could or could not be done and then levy punishments or threaten punishments for these things not getting done. A list of these things would then be issued to the crew and everyone would lose their minds trying to get these things done over a period of weeks or months. I’d bet big money that Sublette road getting closed was on that list and getting all those houses removed is also listed,” Headley says.

“The highway being closed was also a standing order that Dave Miscavige ordered. Muriel Defresne or Ken Hoden would get up in front of all of the staff at Staff Meeting each week and update the crew on all the work they were doing to put the puzzle pieces in place to get that road closed. Miscavige’s house used to be right next to the highway, and he complained that the morning traffic was so noisy that he could not sleep. This was one of the threats that he used to use to move all of RTC to LA or Clearwater. If the highway could not be closed, then he would not stay at the Int Base.”


Bonus items from our tipsters

Tomorrow night’s New Year’s Eve celebration at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles is so big, they’re comparing it to an L. Ron Hubbard congress. Ha.


There’s now a large temporary structure out in front of the Shrine for all of the security stuff going on tomorrow night…



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,964 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 110 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,173 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,947 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,721 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,067 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,561 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,601 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,313 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 839 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,928 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,068 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,388 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,363 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 719 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,021 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,127 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,530 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,403 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 984 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,489 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,733 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,842 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 15, 2017 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, 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 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


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