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Bull baiting and so much worse: Margery Wakefield on surviving Scientology

It’s great to hear from Margery Wakefield again. After some time away from the fray, Margery is back with another book about Scientology, and this one is very personal. For our ‘Scientology Lit’ series, she pulled a gritty chapter out of her new book, I Survived!: Overcoming Abuse, Scientology and Life in General, which went on sale this week.

As my plane made its descent into Los Angeles, I looked out the window at the pea soup smog we were plunging through on our way down to the sprawling city below. I had heard of the smog in LA and now I saw it for myself.

After we landed, I made my way to the buses outside the terminal and found one headed into downtown Los Angeles. I looked again at the note Jenny had given me. It read: Mario, Celebrity Center, 8th and Burlington Streets, Los Angeles. He was my contact person in the mysterious group. I don’t say the word cult at this point because that was a word I was unfamiliar with at the time. With my sheltered upbringing, I had actually never heard the word cult.


Somehow, I found my way to Celebrity Center. A charming woman met me at the front door. Her name was Yvonne and I soon learned that she was the head of the Celebrity Center.

“Welcome, Margery,” she greeted me effusively. “Jenny has told us all about you. Come right this way.”

I made my way into the long, low building, which was very dark inside. It took my eyes a few minutes to adjust from the bright California sunlight outside. Slowly I made out a classroom but it was unlike any classroom I had known at the University. There were people sitting at long tables, quietly studying packets of typed materials. Other students were seated at other tables listening to tape recorders, all in use. There was not a sound in the classroom. Everything was deadly silent.

A woman in a uniform with a braid at the shoulder was walking around the classroom carrying a clipboard. Occasionally, she stopped to observe a student. Sometimes she handed the student a pink slip. I noticed that many of the students were working with dictionaries. But what struck me the most was the quiet.

In the back of the room, other students were working with clay to form elaborate scenes, and I was curious about this. Other students appeared to be paired up and were doing drills quietly in the back of the room.

On the wall was the same Grade Chart I had seen on the wall at the house in Ann Arbor, printed in red ink. It was a map of all the levels to be done in Scientology. And in the front of the room was a bronze bust of a man whom I assumed was the founder of the organization, L. Ron Hubbard. I later learned this to be correct.

Yvonne steered me to a desk at the side of the room. Seated there was a short man with gray hair, reading a book.

“Mario,” Yvonne interrupted him. “This is Margery, and she has just arrived from Michigan. Jenny’s friend,” she added.

Mario motioned for me to sit down in the chair next to him.

“Welcome,” he whispered. “I’m so glad you’re here. Anyone who is a friend of Jenny’s is welcome here.” And he shook my hand.

His next question surprised me.

“How much money did you bring with you?” he asked me.

I told him I had brought $500, my entire savings.

“That’s great,” he enthused. “Just enough for you to begin the Dianetics Course. It happens to be exactly $500.”


“But what about a place to stay, and food?” I asked him. “This is all the money I have.”

“Don’t worry about a thing,” he told me. “That will all be taken care of while you are here.”

So, I handed over my savings.

The next thing I knew, I was handed a packet of “bulletins” (in red ink) and “policy letters” (in green ink). In the front of the pack was attached a “checksheet.”

“You just need to read the materials, and initial the checksheet after you finish each item,” Mario instructed me. Then I was seated with the other students at one of the long tables.

I was tired from the long flight, but this didn’t seem to matter to anyone. So, I began to read the materials.

The bulletins were somewhat scary. They were written by Hubbard and they all seemed to say that we (in Scientology) were in a race with the atomic bomb, and that the future of the planet was in the hands of the Scientologists and what they did here and now in Scientology. The gist of it all was that we didn’t have a lot of time. There were also some welcoming bulletins, stating that Hubbard was a good man with great ideals, and that we were needed in Scientology to help Clear the planet. And after we had Cleared this planet, we would be needed to Clear all the other planets as well. Furthermore, that this was a deadly serious activity.

The green policy letters were filled with more propaganda about the role of Scientology in saving the planet. I read these materials with a sense of wonder. This was definitely different from anything I had ever known. I began to feel reassured that perhaps I had come to the right place, and that this was much more important than going to the University right now.

Eventually, a break was called.

We all got up from the tables and headed outside to sit on the logs placed along the driveway.

I began to meet some of the other students. “Is this for real?” I asked a young female student who looked to be about my age. She nodded. She told me her parents were in Scientology and that it was, indeed, for real. Other students nearby who overheard her nodded.

Later, at the dinner break, Mario came and told me we would be eating next door in one of the community houses. Yvonne presided at the table, and the conversation was lively and animated. But it seemed to me that they spoke partially in another language, and one with which I was unfamiliar. In time, I would come to know the Scientology jargon, but for now it was disquieting.

The class, known as a “course,” ended at about 10:00pm that night. As the students gathered around one of the long tables after course was called, we were asked to give our “wins”.

Mario looked at me, obviously expecting me to speak up.


“Well, I am new to all of this,” I began shyly. “It seems so different. I had never thought about the world like this. And I never thought that what I did was so important. I just want to keep reading.”

The other students clapped. One of them, a young man sitting next to me, put his hand on my shoulder. I felt good, and I felt validated.

That night I slept in a cot in the second floor of the house next door. In the room were two other cots. When I woke up the next morning, a young, tan man was waking up in one of the other cots. He told me that his name was Lance and that he was in the Sea Org, Scientology’s elite organization.

“I didn’t hear you come in,” I remarked. “It must have been late.”

“There is no time to sleep,” he answered me. “We have to Clear the planet, and sleep is counter-intention.” He used a phrase I would come to know later.

After a quick breakfast and seated in the course room, I finished reading through the first section of the materials in my course pack. I came to a section called the “TR’s,” or “training routines.”

In these drills, it stated, I would learn to communicate. Little did I suspect I was being brainwashed and groomed for life in the group.

The first TR, TR-0, consisted of me sitting across from another student, knees almost touching, staring at him in the eyes without moving, blinking, or without any other “vias.”

If I moved or blinked, the other student promptly flunked me. “Flunk for blinking!” he told me in a loud voice. “Start!” And I would re-start the drill.

This went on until I could stare into his eyes for two hours without a flinch or blink. What happened, I realized many years later, was that I became dissociated until I could do the drill. I experienced some odd sensations at this point. I was seeing an aura of colors above my coach’s head, eventually expanding out into the room. I felt like I was indeed “blissed out.”

We proceeded to the second drill, called TR-0 Bullbaited, which consisted of me doing TR-0 flawlessly while the other student “bullbaited” me until I no longer reacted to anything he said or did. He would “push my buttons,” until they were “flattened.” Sexual buttons were included. The process went something like this:

(The coach and I are sitting, knees almost touching, and staring into each other’s eyes.)
Me: (eyes tearing and blinking).
Coach: “Flunk for blinking! Start!”

Me: (Staring)
Coach: “So your name is Margery, is it? That’s an old-fashioned name. Are you an old-fashioned girl, Margery?”
Me: (I twitch).
Coach: “Flunk for twitching! Start!”
Me: (regaining my composure).
Coach: “So Margery, are you an old-fashioned girl? Or are you a modern girl? Do you like to do it? You know what I mean.”
Me: (starting to smile).
Coach: “Flunk for smiling! Start!”
Me: (staring again).
Coach: “You know only modern girls do it. Are you a modern girl? Aren’t you going to answer me?” (Poking me in the arm). “Margery, do you like to do it? You know. Are you an easy lay?”
Me: (looking away briefly).
Coach: “Flunk for looking away! Start!”
Coach (continuing): “So, come on, tell me, are you an easy lay? I’ll bet you are. People underestimate you Michigan girls, don’t they? So, you’re not going to tell me if you’re good in bed?”
Me: (staring and not blinking or flinching).


This goes on until I can sit there for two hours through the “bullbaiting” without any movement, blinking, twitching, smiling, grimacing – without any reaction at all. Other “buttons” are probed – how much you weigh, what you are wearing, pimples on your face, anything the coach thinks might bring a reaction – until the two hours are successfully passed. When I achieved this goal, I had once again become fully dissociated.

Did I know I was being brainwashed? No. The word was not in my vocabulary.

After I completed this TR to a “win,” I did the other TR’s as well. They all seemed to have something to do with communication, but mostly with control. I was learning to control and to be controlled. I was being carefully trained to become an unthinking robot, known to ex-Scientologists as a “Rondroid.” This would prepare me for my future career as a Scientologist.

On my lunch break, I would sometimes wander down to Alvarado Street, a few blocks away, searching for life in the nearby city. MacArthur Park was on the other side of Alvarado Street, and what a scene! Dozens of alcoholics and drug addicts littered the grass and called this park home. This opened my eyes. It was a seedy neighborhood.

I discovered the drug store on the corner, where I could buy an ice cream cone for 25 cents. That was pretty much the only money I had left. I had become completely dependent on Scientology.


When Christmas came, my family sent me a small amount of money. I went down to a Vietnamese gift store on Alvarado Street and purchased gifts for everyone in my family. I carefully wrapped them in toilet tissue – the only material at hand – and mailed them off to Michigan.

On Christmas Day, I had some time off which almost never happened in Scientology. I was lying in my dorm room when I became aware of another student, a young man about my age named Richard. He was a budding artist at Celebrity Center.

To make a long story short, we ended up having sex. Both of us were lonely on the holiday. We didn’t think anything of it. Afterward, I just went back to my cot and fell asleep.

Several weeks later, I began to feel nauseous in the mornings. I told Yvonne, and she sent me to a nearby clinic for a pregnancy test. The result was positive.

“You will have to have an abortion,” Yvonne instructed me. She didn’t want Richard, one of her prodigies at Celebrity Center, to have to deal with the burden of a child.
Yvonne handed me a slip of paper with an address on it. It was to the neighborhood social services office. “You can come back when this is taken care of,” she told me sternly.


I went to social services and told them I had to have an abortion. They gave me a paper with an address on it, and told me to go there the next day.

The following morning, I boarded a bus as instructed and before long I noticed that everyone else on the bus was black. They stared at me curiously. I found the abortion clinic. It was a white building in the Watts district of Los Angeles. I was asked a few questions and then the abortion was performed. At the time, I had few feelings about the procedure. That occurred years later in my life when I came to greatly regret my actions. But at the time, I just wanted to get the abortion over so that I could go back to Scientology and my studying. I wanted the love and approval of Yvonne. Her coldness to me concerning the pregnancy and the abortion had been frightening. She was one of the few anchors in my life at that point.

This abortion was one of several that I had while in Scientology. I think, before it was all over, I had six abortions. I lost count. I was so lonely that I often traded sex for perceived attention and love. Whenever I got pregnant, I had an abortion. That’s just how it was. I was told to do it and I did what I was told to do. I didn’t know any better. Also, we were encouraged to get people into Scientology no matter how we did it. That included having sex with potential recruits.

Later in my life, I came to greatly regret having the abortions. I don’t enter the debate about abortion being right or wrong because I believe it is an individual choice. But, for me it was wrong. At the time of this first abortion, I knew only that I wanted to get back on the course. I had not developed any maternal instincts at that time and I believe that was because of my turbulent family upbringing and my less than positive experience with my mother. But now, I feel that of all the regrets I have about my past, having the abortions is at the top of the list.

Although I went through this procedure six times while I was in the cult of Scientology, I am not going to discuss this in detail in this book. It is enough for me to say now that this was a mistake that I made that I now deeply regret. I was a very good aunt to my nieces and nephews, and I think, had things been different, I would have been a good mother. Of course, at this point I will never really know.

While I was in Scientology, I was sometimes given the precious “auditing” by another student.

I found these processes highly repetitive. But sometimes they were helpful. My biggest “win” was on Grade 0. I was asked over and over who I could communicate with and what I could communicate with them about until I finally realized that “I could communicate to anyone on any subject,” which was the desired end result of Grade 0.

I was then declared a “Communications Release.” I gave the obligatory speech and wrote the obligatory “Success Story.”

I worked for three years as a “gopher” to Yvonne. I did odd jobs within the organization. Often, I delivered packages and communications to one of the other nearby “orgs,” the main ones being ASHO, the American Saint Hill Organization on Temple Street, and the AO or Advanced Organization, which was even closer. There was a great deal of secrecy around these higher “orgs,” and I wondered what was really happening in these mysterious buildings.

Other times, I babysat for some of the Sea Org members’ children. Or I helped in the community kitchen, helping prepare lunch or dinner for the staff at Celebrity Center. One of my jobs in the kitchen was to strain the maggots out of the children’s milk.

After three years, Yvonne asked me one day if I would like to join the Sea Org. I was uncertain. She assured me that this was the highest honor in Scientology. She pulled out a contract from her desk. I don’t remember the exact wording, but basically I was pledging myself to work for Scientology for the next BILLION years, helping to restore ethics on this planet and then on all the other planets in the universe.

“Sea Org members,” Yvonne told me, “are the cream of the cream. To be a Sea Org member is the highest purpose in this universe. It is better to be a Sea Org member than to be a CEO of any “wog” (non-Scientology) organization.” Wog was a derogatory term for non-Scientologists.

“Mario and I would like you to join us in the Sea Org,” she concluded.

By then, Mario and Yvonne had become like my parents. I often had dinner with them in their nearby apartment. Emotionally, they had adopted me. Mario was a talented pianist, and I would listen to him improvise at the piano with great admiration.


So, to make the story short, I signed my Sea Org contract, and pledged my next billion years to the Sea Org.

A few years passed.

Eventually, I was moved to another staff house on nearby Beacon Street. This house was very dirty and was crawling with roaches. I slept on the floor on a mat like everyone else, with a thin blanket to cover me. Even in the shower, roaches crawled all over the walls. It was disgusting but I felt like I had no options. I just put up with a bad situation like everyone else.

After several years in the Sea Org, I began to experience some unwanted symptoms. I believe I was suffering from a psychosis. I began to have delusions of grandeur. I believed I had to save the world. And I knew how to do it. I hatched a grand scheme. I told Yvonne about it, and she turned me over to the Sea Org leadership who grilled me about my state of mind.

In the end I was sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force, or RPF, the notorious Scientology prison. This was standard procedure for someone experiencing a psychosis. The illness was considered to be a moral shortcoming on my part, and I was responsible. Hard labor would shape me up.

I was sent to a ship in Long Beach, a prison ship where I spent long days cleaning the ship with other unfortunates and doing drills to repel invaders. Often in the middle of the night we were awakened and ordered to sail the ship to nearby Catalina Island for the benefit of the Commanding Officer.

Finally, I was sent back to Celebrity Center. But I was still in a Condition of Liability. Scientologists are assigned various conditions based on their status in the group. In Liability, I had to do work above and beyond normal expectations. I was sent to do filing in the basement of the Advanced Organization for seventy-two hours without sleep. This was supposed to be a cure for my psychosis! All it did for me was to make me more psychotic.

Eventually, Yvonne called my mother, who flew to Celebrity Center to rescue me and to take me back home. I didn’t want to go. It was a fate worse than death to me.

Back in the wog world? It had now become the world of the enemy. I feared I would die there.

I flew with my mother to my parents’ home in Michigan.

I was alone in the dangerous wog world, and I didn’t know what was to become of me.

I was alone, abandoned, terrified and discouraged. I had disappointed my group. I felt like a failure and I faced an uncertain future.

— Margery Wakefield


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. Note: You need to ask for the “family reunion” special rate.



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

[Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, and Juliette Lewis]

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] Joy Villa’s Scientologist husband shamed into dropping elephant skin bags from luxury line
[TWO years ago] As Clearwater votes, here’s a reminder of how L. Ron Hubbard had Scientology invade Florida
[THREE years ago] Disconnection, Miscavige style: How Scientology’s most powerful family came apart
[FOUR years ago] AUDIO: Full police interviews of Scientology spies and their stalking of Ron Miscavige Sr.
[FIVE years ago] Easter Sunday Funnies: David Miscavige has risen, & Scientology has more money than ever!
[SIX years ago] African Queen: The Man L. Ron Hubbard Thought He Was
[SEVEN years ago] David Edgar Love: ‘I Think I Have Scientology By The Balls’
[EIGHT years ago] When Scientologists Attack!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,422 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,551 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,055 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,535 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 598 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 486 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,793 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,661 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,435 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,209 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,555 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,121 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,041 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,208 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,789 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,050 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,089 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,801 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,327 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,416 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,556 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,876 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,732 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,851 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,207 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,509 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,615 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,017 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,889 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,472 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,967 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,221 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,330 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 20, 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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