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Michael Jackson and Scientology: When the Hollywood Celebrity Centre went on lockdown

After the airing of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, we’ve been getting questions from readers about one of the odd moments in the film: The Gloved One’s marriage to Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, and whether it had anything to do with Scientology.

When the two got together, Jackson needed to counter his image problems after a 1993 civil court accusation that he’d molested an 11-year-old boy, which he made go away with a $15 million settlement.

“I believed he didn’t do anything wrong, and that he was wrongly accused and, yes, I started falling for him,” Lisa Marie said for a book in 2003. “I wanted to save him. I felt that I could do it.”

Lisa Marie had been brought up in Scientology, and “saving” Michael meant getting him down to the Hollywood Celebrity Centre to introduce him to the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard.


And soon after their marriage, that’s exactly what she did.

Sunny Pereira worked there at the time, and had been stationed as a “Staff Section Officer,” she tells us, which put her in charge of training and processing the Celebrity Centre staff.

“I was supervising people through courses, like a teacher, guiding them through their checksheets and doing auditing sessions on people,” she tells us.

By 1994, Sunny was only 21 but had already spent seven years in the Sea Org after signing its billion-year contract and working around the clock, 365 days a year.

Now she was in a position of some authority at one of the most prestigious locations in the Scientology world, and it was her job to make sure the staff was operating at peak efficiency.

We asked her for an example, and she told us about one of the “registrars” on the staff who wasn’t keeping up with her workload. Registrars, or “regges,” spend all day trying to convince Scientologists to sign up for auditing and fork over huge amounts of money. It’s one of the highest-pressure jobs in the building. And each morning, for a couple of hours, it was Sunny’s job to interrogate this woman to find out why she wasn’t keeping up with her financial quotas.

It was a demanding job, but it gave her a pretty unique perch to see how Scientology was dealing with its celebrities.

“Soon after Lisa Marie got married to Michael, she came into the org and talked to the President, Karen Hollander,” she tells us.

“The next thing I know, the Celebrity Centre was on lockdown. And the President’s wing was completely locked up for three days.”

The staff soon came to realize that Michael Jackson himself was in the building, and for three days Hollander and her inner staff took their shot at enlightening him on Scientology.

“Nobody could go in or out of the President’s office. Normally it’s open and I could go in there and talk to President’s Office staff as part of my job. But they have a way to lock down three floors and close the security gate of the parking lot,” Sunny says. “So that would provide a secure path through the underground parking garage directly to the President’s office on the first floor, without being seen.

“It was the only lockdown we ever had for a celebrity in the ten years I was there,” she says.

As part of the normal routine, Celebrity Centre staff were mustered three times a day, after each meal. The purpose was to update the staff on goings on and to give a pep talk to the staff. At one of these, the Commanding Officer Dave Petit informed everyone that Lisa Marie Presley had brought a special guest.

“We all knew it was Michael Jackson,” Sunny says.

Sunny added that under normal circumstances Scientology would have hesitated to allow a member to enroll in services with allegations of the nature that Michael Jackson was facing at the time. Scientology would have considered it a risk to get involved with him. However, she points out, Scientology always has loopholes.

But even with three days to work on him, President Hollander and her staff apparently didn’t have long term success with Jackson, who had been raised Jehovah’s Witness.

Sunny says she she didn’t see any evidence that he returned after those three days, and on January 18, 1996, Lisa Marie filed for divorce — under heavy pressure from the church, our sources close to her tell us.


HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. We have something in mind, but for now we’re not giving out information about it.

Friday night we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22.



Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Alanna Masterson, Terry Jastrow, and Marisol Nichols]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Noted Scientology critic Arnie Lerma shoots and injures wife, then kills himself
[TWO years ago] Scientology goes into full smear mode in reaction to Leah Remini getting 2nd season
[THREE years ago] Monique Rathbun waives a response: Will the TX Supreme Court take up Scientology’s appeal?
[FOUR years ago] Another ‘Secret Lives’ outtake: The neighbor who knew L. Ron Hubbard and his first wife
[FIVE years ago] DOX: Monique Rathbun’s response to bid by Scientology to stop the Miscavige deposition
[SIX years ago] Former Executive’s Tell-All Adds to Scientology Rehab Program Meltdown
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: RON the Encyclopedia — Get Yours Now!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,391 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,520 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,024 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,504 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 567 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 455 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,762 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,630 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,404 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,178 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,524 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,090 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,010 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,177 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,758 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,018 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,058 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,770 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,296 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,385 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,525 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,845 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,701 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,820 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,176 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,478 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,584 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,986 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,858 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,441 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,936 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,190 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,299 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 18, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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