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


Scientology watchers, start making your plans for HowdyCon 2018 in the Windy City!

It’s awfully cold here in New York for the new year, but we want you to start thinking about the summer solstice and consider joining us for our annual meet-up!

In 2016, we held our first “HowdyCon” meeting, and this June we’ll be going for convention number three in one of our favorite cities on the planet — Chicago!

But let’s back up, for those not sure what we’re talking about. At some point during our book tour for The Unbreakable Miss Lovely in the summer of 2015, one of our readers said she was surprised how many cities we were visiting. We joked that it was the only way we’d figure out where to have our first convention. Readers then ran with the idea, and decided to hold a vote about where such an the event should be held. Cleveland won out, and that was the last time we let readers make that decision. Ha!

In the meantime, the question of naming the thing came up, and we then suggested that it might honor Captain Howdy, a/k/a Steven L. Cox, a singular commenter who used the cover of L. Ron Hubbard’s book The Creation of Human Ability as his avatar, and whose passing we noted in 2015. We suggested that the meeting be called HowdyCon, and now it had a name. (We also dedicated our meet-up to another beloved commenter we lost in 2016, Sugarplumfairy, a/k/a Mary Marinelli.)

Our expert illustrator, Observer, came up with a fun poster for the first HowdyCon as well as last year’s HowdyCon 2017 in Denver. And now we’re starting out 2018 with Observer’s new poster for this year’s gathering in Chicago.


We’re especially happy that it features Chicago Fire star and Underground Bunker loyalist Christian Stolte, who has agreed to emcee our main event on Saturday night, June 23.

“Chicago – Always rewarding to visit in June, never more so than this year,” Christian says. “I’ll be taking a break from fighting fake fires and performing acts of fake heroism, just in time for HowdyCon 2018! Let’s swap some stories, take some pictures, toss back some cocktails, and celebrate the Golden Age of Scientology Criticism! I look forward to meeting you! If I don’t see you at HowdyCon 2018, I will regard your absence as a Suppressive Act!”


We couldn’t put on HowdyCon without a lot of help — TexasBroad leaped into the breach for our first convention, and last year Kim O’Brien did an amazing job for us in Denver. This year, the Bunker’s Chee Chalker is our helper in Chicago, and you’ll be hearing a lot more from her in coming weeks.

What we can tell you at this point is that we have a hotel lined up and a great venue for the main event, and we’ll tell you more about that when we can. To get some idea of what a great time we had this past year in Colorado, please check out some of our dispatches from 2017’s party.

Please start thinking about coming to Chicago in June. By then, the Church of Scientology is going to be in all kinds of trouble, and we want to talk about it with you over drinks!


Scientology’s claim about recognition in Mexico now on the record

We had a correspondent at the taping of Scientology’s New Year event, which actually took place on December 16 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Last night, video of that lengthy address by church leader David Miscavige was shown at Scientology facilities around the world and became an official event.

And so now Scientology’s own website is proclaiming what our correspondent leaked a couple of weeks ago, that Miscavige is claiming the nation of Mexico has recognized Scientology as a religion.

Says the church’s official press page this morning…

“This unrelenting wave of expansion generated continuing recognition of the religion in nations around the globe. Indeed, crowning a 2017 of immense achievement, Mr. Miscavige announced to the roaring crowd, an epic accomplishment and one coming in the wake of religious recognitions in the Republics of Macedonia and Colombia. Because, on October 30, 2017, the nation of Mexico awarded the Church of Scientology full religious recognition—a landmark triumph for Scientology and religious freedom.”

And Scientology’s social media accounts are posting this image from the show…


We still have no confirmation from the Mexican government on this. Perhaps one of our ink-stained counterparts in Mexico City could make an inquiry.

A few New Year’s shots from the church website…



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,981 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 127 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,190 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,964 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,738 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,084 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,578 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,618 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,330 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 856 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,945 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,085 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,405 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,380 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 736 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,038 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,144 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,547 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,420 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,001 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,506 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,750 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,859 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 1, 2018 at 00:00

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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email