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Joy Villa’s former manager: ‘Scientology destroyed everything’

[Joy Villa and Robbie Olson]

We spoke this weekend to Robbie Olson, 62, a Tucson-based GOP conservative who spent part of last year shepherding political upstart Joy Villa, 31, as she was rapidly ascending the highest levels of the “Make America Great Again” movement and was even endorsed by Donald Trump himself.

Olson tells us he became enamored of Villa after her Grammy Awards appearance last year in a “Make America Great Again” dress, and invited her to speak at a Pima County, Arizona GOP meeting in September. He was impressed by her infectious enthusiasm and her vocal support for the president, and he offered to help manage her budding political aspirations.

Over the next few months, Olson helped her gain access to people like Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, Sean Hannity, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Kellyanne Conway, and helped her get appointed to Trump’s campaign advisory board.

He also guided her as they began to plan her own 2018 run for Congress in Florida’s 27th district in Miami.

But then, just as her star seemed to be burning brightest in late October, Olson says Joy Villa’s Scientologist husband Thorsten Overgaard began to assert himself on the scene, and Joy became more insistent about Scientology’s role in what she was doing.


“Thorsten and Scientology destroyed everything,” Olson tells us.

By the middle of December, Villa was missing commitments because Scientology insisted on her attendance elsewhere, Olson says, and key conservative figures who had initially supported her were turning away.

After Villa failed to show for a December 19 event where she was scheduled to speak, Olson cut ties with her. Since then, he says, her political aspirations have evaporated as more “MAGA” movement people have raised questions about her Scientology background.

“She stood up Franklin Graham!” Olson says.

We texted Villa, asking to speak with her about her split with Olson, but she didn’t respond. She also hasn’t responded to us in the past when we first broke the news that she was focusing on Florida’s 27th district, and when we spoke with her former boyfriend, Cory Duncan, who told us about Joy’s 2007 domestic violence arrest, and about the child they had, which Joy put up for adoption.

Olson admits that when he first invited Joy to Tucson and then began talking to her about managing her career, he didn’t know a lot about her.

“She said she was a born-again Christian and that she had taken some Scientology courses that had given her the confidence to wear the dress,” he says. “She tried to make it sound acceptable, and I got the impression it was like a Tony Robbins thing.” Olson says that he had looked into groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism, but he didn’t have much familiarity with Scientology.

“About two weeks into it, my friends were telling me, you know she’s a Scientologist. But I hadn’t really looked into it.”

To him, it sounded like a self-help group and not something to be concerned about as he began booking Joy at conventions and introducing her to people who could help her reach even higher. “For three and a half months, we were just running. We went to Mar-a-Lago, New York, and DC three times. It was a really fun run.”

His own education into Scientology began with a trip to the Hollywood Celebrity Centre in October. “What a freaky experience. People came out of five different doors to usher her in and ask her what she’d been doing with me,” he says. It seemed odd to him that wherever they went, there was someone always accompanying Joy.

Olson says that Joy made it clear that if he wanted to work for her, he would have to begin his own courses at the Celebrity Centre. “I didn’t do any courses, but I’m still getting messages from them to do them,” he says, and he shared a few of the messages with us. On December 30, for example, after cutting ties with Joy, he was still getting messages like this from a CC official: “You should still do your course. It will help you in life!! Why don’t you come by tomorrow?”

Olson may not have been aware of it when he first met her, but Joy Villa has been one of the most visible and active members of the Church of Scientology in recent years. We’ve been keeping tabs on her since at least 2014, when she continually showed up in church publications and was working with Scientology front groups. In October 2016, Joy and her then-fiance Overgaard became “Patron Meritorious” donors for having given at least $250,000 to the church, and they were married at Scientology’s holiest site, the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, on Christmas Day 2016. Joy has reached the state of “Clear” in Scientology, which can take years of work up the “Bridge to Total Freedom” and requires many hours of “auditing” — Scientology’s form of counseling — which involves having a subject “remember” their experiences in past lives going back millions of years and on other planets. Recently, we spoke with Dani Lemberger, a former Scientologist who still subscribes to the tenets of L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings, and he assured us that someone like Joy Villa attaining the state of Clear would require many hours of whole track auditing going back millions or billions of years. Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, meanwhile, has asserted that any Scientologist who goes as far as Joy Villa has would have been convinced to give up what are called “other practices” as they absorb Hubbard’s teachings that the world’s other religions are all false, and that Jesus Christ, for example, is an invention, a figment of the imagination. “There was no Christ,” Hubbard can be heard to say on a 1968 recording.

But Robbie Olson wasn’t aware of any of that when he made his visit with Joy to the Hollywood Celebrity Centre in October. And during that visit, a woman who worked at the Centre sat down with Olson to explain what the church wanted Joy to do.

The church official instructed Olson to find Joy at least two speech events per week that would pay about $5,000 each, and Olson could keep a certain percentage for himself.

“Sounds good, except she didn’t know what she was talking about,” Olson says with a laugh. While Scientology seemed focused on Joy bringing in money, Olson had been raising her profile higher and higher at non-paying gigs intended to forward her political career. Paying gigs could come later. It was a sign, he says, that Scientology’s interests weren’t really very realistic.

“The event we had just done, the Hispanic 100 in Newport Beach, where she met White House people, was for free. This woman was saying we should stop doing those. I got Joy into the White House, I got her onto the advisory panel, but the Church of Scientology was after me all the time to follow its agenda,” he says.

By October 27, however, Olson’s own plan had culminated with Trump himself endorsing Joy’s political ambition.


“That was through Steve Bannon and Roger Stone. One of those two guys made that happen,” Olson says.

Initially, Joy told him she wanted to run for Congress in the Clearwater area. “Roger Stone told her you have to be out of your fucking mind. The people there hate you,” he says, referring to the town’s longtime and simmering clash with the Church of Scientology, which surreptitiously invaded the town in 1975 and owns a large part of its downtown today.

It was Olson’s idea that Joy should run in Miami’s 27th district, where longtime Republican incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had announced that she wouldn’t seek re-election in 2018.

But increasingly, Olson says he was hearing from other conservative figures who told him that Joy’s affiliation with Scientology was a problem.

“I asked [“Dilbert” cartoonist] Scott Adams about it. No way, he said, it will never fly. You need to get her to disavow it,” Olson says.

Still thinking it was something they could contain by having Joy play down her involvement in Scientology, Olson says he began to arrange for her to meet with evangelical icon Franklin Graham early in December. But by late October, he says, Villa’s husband, Danish photographer Thorsten Overgaard, had suddenly showed up from Europe, and Joy began getting more aggressive about her Scientology activism.

At one point, Olson says, they were in talks with alt-Right figure Milo Yiannopoulos to go on tour together, with Joy singing as an opening act. But three times in a meeting with Milo she brought up English Scientologist John Mappin and his “Camelot Castle,” who had become briefly noted for being a huge overseas Trump fan.

“I couldn’t believe it. I asked her, why did you have to bring him up three times? She said Milo seemed interested, but I told her he wasn’t.”

In November, when Olson arranged for Villa to meet Kellyanne Conway at an event at DC’s Union Station, he says he couldn’t believe it when Villa used the opportunity to hand Conway a copy of the movie “In Search of Liberty,” a notorious production that had been made by Scientologist Norm Novitsky.


[Joy hands Kellyanne Conway a copy of “In Search of Liberty”]

“I couldn’t believe it. She was using the opportunity to connect the church to everyone she could,” Olson says. “I kept telling her, don’t mention it. Don’t try to recruit people.”

It also infuriated him when Joy announced that she was getting campaign advice from Scientology’s DC lobbyist, Greg Mitchell. It bothered Olson that Mitchell had done work not only for Scientology but also for a George Soros company, which was poison to conservatives.

“While she was working with me, she kept working with him. But then, even worse, on December 5, when we were supposed to sit down with Franklin Graham, she stood us up.”

Olson explains that he was hoping that meeting with Graham would tamp down increasing concerns about Joy’s Scientology involvement from conservatives. “I just wanted to cast doubt on the naysayers, but maybe it’s best that she no-showed,” he says. (Another longtime Scientologist, former cable television news host Greta Van Susteren, has a very visible relationship with Graham.)

Two weeks later, on December 19, Villa was scheduled to appear at Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach.

“She stood us up there, too. She was supposed to sing and open up for Donald Trump Jr.! That was the last straw for everyone at Fox,” he says. “I heard a few days later from Seb Gorka that she will never appear on Fox News again.”

Olson was finished with her. She later sent him this text: “Hi Robbie, as of Jan 1st, 2018 Joy Villa Productions will no longer be needing your assistance or services. Thank you for your signed NDA, which can be mailed to you by my lawyer, at your request. I wish you immense future success and thank you for your past work. Sincerely, Joy Villa.” Olson posted the message to Twitter, and then he tweeted this message to the president: “Please accept my sincere apology for introducing you to Joy Villa.”

Three days after her no-show in West Palm Beach, Joy was suddenly in the news again when Politico reported that during a November event, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had slapped Villa twice on the rear end. She eventually reported the incident to police. Meanwhile, she left the Trump campaign advisory panel and has now taken the words “Fox commenter” off of her Twitter page.

Olson predicts that Joy won’t run for Congress after all now that she’s rapidly losing support from the people he had helped her meet. And he blames the church for meddling.

“The church didn’t like the lack of control they had over her. They were making sure that she was still the poster child of Scientology. They’re the ones who are responsible for imploding this whole thing,” he says. “She was staying at the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater and the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood, and she was using it as a mailing address. Who made that stupid decision? A PO box three blocks down the road would have been better. But it’s the ego they have. I think she’s under a lot of pressure to push the church. Her handlers are the ones who told her to blow off Franklin Graham and Donald Trump Jr.”

Olson says Joy insisted that Scientology was going to have its own public relations push. “She said they were coming out with their own television channel, and it was going to normalize the church. Joy, I told her, they’re never going to be able to normalize it,” he says. “She also said she wanted us to meet with Scientology’s PR person in Clearwater, Pat Harney. Have you seen her? She’s terrible, and that’s the best they have.”

But even as disappointed as he is, Olson says he still wishes the best for Joy, and says he was glad he got to spend the time with her that he did. “What a blessing it was to be around her. It was magic. The doors were all opening wide. She has a special gift. But Scientology, they want to control every aspect of her life.”


Make your plans now!



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

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Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 750 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,052 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,158 days.
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Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,433 days.
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Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,873 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 15, 2018 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, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), 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 | 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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