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Tory ‘Magoo’ Christman, and how Anonymous went from online war to in-real-life pickets

[Tory Christman and Mark Bunker at the February 10, 2008 picket in Los Angeles]

We’re continuing to mark the 10th anniversary of a stunning series of events that changed Scientology watching forever.

On January 14, it was ten years since Mark Bunker first posted a 9-minute Scientology video interview of Tom Cruise to YouTube which went viral. When Scientology’s legal corps tried to get it yanked down, the Anonymous movement declared war on Scientology in an infamous 2-minute video of its own, posted on January 21. And six days later, Mark Bunker made a small bit of history again when he posted a video counseling Anonymous to drop its attacks on Scientology which were illegal or counterproductive. Bunker was dubbed “Wise Beard Man” for that wisdom, and Anonymous and its “Project Chanology” looked for more traditional ways to get its point across.

In fact, by the time Bunker posted his Wise Beard Man message, Project Chanology had announced on January 24 that it was declaring February 10 a day of protest.

Gabriella Coleman, in her excellent book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, describes what a heady time it was over those several days a decade ago…

As Chanology grew in popularity, its bustling IRC channels #xenu and #target became unsuitable working environments for the publicity stunts and outreach to which it aspired. Three people broke away and started an IRC channel #press. Soon after, it grew to include eight members who worked one evening until daybreak to create what still qualifies as Anonymous’s best-known work of art. (Eventually, the team grew in size, #press became chaotic and members split off yet again. They called themselves marblecake, after one of their own found inspiration in the baked item he was eating.)…. These Anons — tainted, somehow, by an accidental taste for justice — effectively catalyzed one of the most potent protest movements of our times. The accidental train of events went like this: The video unexpectedly sparked a debate as to whether Anons should hit the streets to protest the Church of remain faithful to their madcap roots in raids and lulz. The timing helped make the decision for them, tipping things in favor of street demonstrations.


And now, we’ve learned some additional details about how Anonymous and Chanology went from online activism and its memorable video, to the idea of holding demonstrations at Scientology facilities.

Delightfully, it turns out to have involved, at least in part, our old friend Tory ‘Magoo’ Christman.

Recently, we were talking with one of those Anons who was part of the group that eventually became marblecake. And she tells us that a key part of their decision to hold pickets was talking to Tory Christman the night Anonymous put up its famous video.

We hadn’t heard that story before, so we decided to ask Tory about it.

She reminded us that for her and Mark Bunker and some other old-time critics, their main motivation that January was to help promote Andrew Morton’s book about Tom Cruise, which was coming out January 15. As we explained in our story about the Cruise video, Patty Moher, who had obtained the DVD of the interview, wanted Bunker to get the video online so NBC could copy it and use it for their story about Morton and his book.

Tory tells us she was actually concerned when the video then blew up and Anonymous arrived on the scene. When Anonymous put up its manifesto on January 21, she admits that her first reaction was that it was taking away from Morton’s publicity, and she suspected that it was actually a Scientology plot.

She posted that suspicion online, and later that night, she was surprised to get a call with about five people on the line claiming to be from Anonymous. (Our acquaintance who was a member of marblecake tells us she was one of the people on the line.)

“I was scared shitless. I was in my bedroom!” Tory says.

She says that the group assured her that they were serious about taking on Scientology, and that their manifesto video was not a plot by Scientology’s dirty tricks department, the Office of Special Affairs.

They then told her their plans for further attacks on the church, but she told them what they had in mind was unwise (and just the kind of thing Bunker would warn them about six days later with his Wise Beard Man video).

When Tory told them they shouldn’t pursue their scheme, they asked her what they should do as an alternative.

“Let’s just do a picket,” Tory told them.

A few days later, Tory met with some Anons to show them where a picket might take place on Sunset Boulevard outside the “Big Blue” Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles, known as “PAC Base” to Scientologists.

“There’s video of me showing them where the picket should be,” Tory says. “And at the end of it, a 21-year-old kid said, we’ll see you on February 10 with 500 people here.” (You can see that video here.)

“I thought, sure they will,” she says.

On February 10, 2008, Tory met up with Mark Bunker and they took the new subway to get to Big Blue. On the subway there were a dozen or so young people with Guy Fawkes masks holding signs. “I thought, OK, that’s cool. Ten or 20 people is more than we usually get,” Tory says. And she spoke up to calm down the other subway riders that the protesters were peaceful.

They then walked over to the Scientology headquarters from the subway stop, and she was stunned to see that there were, in fact, about 500 protesters on hand — and protests were also going on around the world, from Sydney to Europe to other parts of the US.

“It was huge. It changed everything. A&E would never have done a show with Leah and Mike if it hadn’t been for Anonymous,” she says.

“Before Anonymous, there were only four or five of us the media could call for statements about Scientology. But after Anonymous, people like Marc Headley could speak out who were just posting things anonymously. At that first picket, Marc Headley walked up to me and said, ‘I am Blown for Good’,” she remembers. Headley had been posting amazing insider knowledge about the church with his anonymous handle. But now, he and others began to step out in the open. “It was safety in numbers,” Tory says.

Tory will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of that event with a protest tomorrow at the Scientology testing center a block east of Hollywood and Highland. If you head on down there, make sure you say hello from the Bunker.



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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,020 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,623 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 166 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,229 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,003 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,777 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,123 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,617 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,657 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,369 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 895 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,984 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,124 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,444 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,419 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 775 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,077 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,183 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,586 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,458 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,040 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,545 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,789 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,898 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on February 9, 2018 at 07:00

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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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