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Brad Pitt’s Scientology adventure: The sauna, the auditing, the… lizard?

[Juliette Lewis and Brad Pitt in 1991]

Sunny Pereira asks how we’re going to angle this story, and we tell her that it’s really up to her. It’s something she experienced — how would she angle it?

“Oblivious Brad,” she says.

Meaning what, exactly?

“He had no idea how much trouble people got into because of him.”

We’re talking about Brad Pitt, the very talented actor and culture icon known for looking like the women he’s dating. In this case, we’re talking about Brad in his Juliette Lewis period in the early 1990s.


Juliette grew up in Scientology. Her father, the late, great character actor Geoffrey Lewis, raised her in it. And one of Scientology’s own publications shows that she and her boyfriend Brad both completed a “Therapeutic TRs” course by July 1, 1991.

“At that point I was still in the RPF, and the Hollywood Celebrity Centre was undergoing renovations,” Sunny says. She didn’t see Pitt at that time while she was serving in the Sea Org’s prison detail, the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF). The Celebrity Centre on Franklin Avenue had been built in 1927 in French chateaux style, and Scientology had owned it since 1969. But it needed major work done, which the 200-plus prisoners of the RPF were put on.

“If Brad did that course in that time, May or June 1991, he might have done it in a trailer in the CC parking lot because that’s where courses were being done during the remodel,” she adds.

We asked her about the course he took, Therapeutic TRs. What was in it? “It’s the whole set of TRs, but at a basic, more simple level, not the TRs that auditors get. ‘Life TRs,’ we called it. TRs you might need in real life.”

Training Routines (TRs) are the initial exercises a new Scientologist goes through, and they involve hours of staring and not flinching that puts a person in a semi-trance state.

Sunny says Brad must have stepped away after that 1991 course completion, and then he returned in early 1993, which was when she first ran into him.

At the time, Sunny was a Staff Section Officer, which we described in a previous article about the time Michael Jackson came to the Celebrity Centre. It was Sunny’s job to ride herd on the staff members delivering courses and counselling sessions to celebrities and the general public.

This time, in 1993, Brad was in for the Special Course in Human Evaluation. “I think they sell the course to actors by telling them reading emotions on the Tone Scale will help them with their acting,” Sunny says.

“It’s a thorough study of Hubbard’s ‘Tone Scale.’ You read the first ‘book’ of ‘Science of Survival’ in that course, which teaches all about the Tone Scale,” she says. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard had proposed that all human emotion could be rated on a graduated scale, and that if you could peg someone’s ‘tone level,’ you could help them raise it to something more productive. The 1951 tome ‘Science of Survival,’ meanwhile, makes ‘Dianetics’ seem like a masterpiece of clarity.

As part of the course, Pitt might have sat on a bench with a Scientology “twin” while they tried to read the emotional tone of people walking by, as Tom Cruise did with Tommy Davis while sitting in a car outside the Celebrity Center a few years later.

Sunny remembers that there was a big problem — a “flap,” in Scientology parlance — over Pitt’s completion of the course.

When the May 1993 Celebrity magazine came out, it listed Pitt’s name among those who had recently finished the course.

We checked with another source who said it was standard practice for all of the names of people who had completed a course to be listed in proofs of the magazine, and then it was job of the president’s office to take out any celebs or others who, for whatever reason, didn’t want their name to be listed publicly.

Someone had forgotten to take Brad’s name out, and a head had to roll.


A staffer at the magazine was chosen, and Sunny was assigned to interrogate him. By then, the 21-year-old was already known as a brutal questioner. She put the staffer through such a tough time, he left the Sea Org entirely within a month.

None of Brad’s Scientology completions were listed in the magazines after that.

“After that he started doing the Purification Rundown,” Sunny remembers. “That’s when I really started hearing about him.”

In the “Purif,” Scientologists sit for hours in a sauna after ingesting ridiculous amounts of vitamins, an increasing amount each day. We’ve talked to former Scientologists who said it took them two months to complete the regimen. Hubbard claimed that it not only cleansed the body of toxins, but also the spirit, known as a “thetan” in Scientology.

As a celebrity, Pitt would be allowed to drive into a parking garage under the building and then up a separate entrance so that he wouldn’t have to interact with less worthy Scientologists. But Sunny admits that at the time, she didn’t know who he was.

“I really started to hear about him because the Purif I/C would tell me he was there.” The I/C — “in charge” — was a woman named Vicky Young, who was assigned to oversee the celebrity Purif.

“She called him ‘Shoulders’,” Sunny says with a laugh. Pitt was in the celebrity sauna, with someone assigned to stay with him (his “twin”) and Young would go to tell Sunny. “She would go on about how great his neckline was. She would come to see me because she needed to cool off.”

Sunny still didn’t understand who this Brad person was, so Vicky told her that he had starred in an episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV show which aired in 1992. Sunny heard he was also in something called Kalifornia, but as a Sea Org worker, she didn’t get out to see movies much.

Brad Pitt’s Scientology adventure got more personal for Sunny when the actor moved on from the Purif to getting “professional auditing” at the Hubbard Guidance Center, another section at the Celebrity Centre.

His auditor there was a woman named Tara Kitt, Sunny remembers. And she knew Tara well because Tara’s husband, Andy Kitt, was her senior at the Celebrity Centre.

Sunny didn’t work in the president’s office, where all of Brad’s auditing was done. But she was qualified for an important job: Examiner.

At the end of any auditing session, an examiner is called in to verify that the subject (known as a “preclear”) is demonstrating a “floating needle” on the E-meter device.

And for Brad Pitt’s auditing, Sunny was selected for the job.

“They would just grab me and I’d have to go down to the celebrity area. I did a lot of exams on Brad. Every day, for about three weeks.”


It was late in 1993, and she says Brad at this point had his full Legends of the Fall beard.


“He was all beard. Between his long hair and the beard, you couldn’t even see his face,” she remembers.

“He would stay in the chair and I would be brought in. He’d still be holding the cans,” she says. “He could say something if he wanted to, but I don’t remember him actually saying much except a thank you at times. He was very polite.”

She would examine the needle to make sure it exhibited the correct floating action. “It only took 30 seconds to a minute,” she says.

We asked what kind of auditing it was. “They were objectives sessions. You know, ‘look at that wall.’ ‘Go touch that wall.’ ‘Give me that hand.’ ‘Turn around.’ And ‘thank you. Thank you. Thank you.’ Endless.”

(This sort of activity, known as objective processing, was captured very well late in the movie ‘The Master,’ when Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd character has Joaquin Phoenix’s Freddie Quell go back and forth touching a window and a wall until it turns Quell into a dissociated vegetable.)

We asked Sunny, if someone has progressed up the Bridge so that they are on the ‘objectives,’ wouldn’t that normally indicate someone who’s pretty serious about Scientology?

“I can’t say much as to his state of mind, but normally, yes, that’s someone making real progress on the Scientology grade chart,” she replied.

Sunny doesn’t think Pitt ever finished his objective processing, and he drifted off from Scientology at that point. But not before getting his auditor, Tara, in a lot of trouble.

“We have what’s called a ‘Comm Center.’ I went down there and there was a goldenrod on Tara Kitt,” she says. A “goldenrod” is a telltale document on goldenrod paper listing someone as being under justice action in Scientology. “She was being given a Committee of Evidence for ‘squirrelling the tech.’ A Committee of Evidence is the most severe justice step in Scientology. But it didn’t specifically say what she had done.”

She later found out from her senior, Andy Kitt, who was Tara’s husband.


“Brad had concerns about one of his pets. So Tara asked him to bring the pet in.”

A People magazine article from the time confirms that at the time, Pitt not only had dogs at home, but also chameleons and iguanas.

“He brought a lizard down to the Celebrity Centre. I think it was an iguana, not a chameleon. He was worried about it, so Tara gave it a nerve assist.”

To the… iguana?


A “nerve assist” is described this way by Scientology’s own handbook: “The Nerve Assist consists of gently releasing the standing waves in the nerve channels of the body, improving communication with the body and bringing the being relief.” And this is achieved by running your fingers over a person’s spine and down along their sides.

In other words, it’s faith healing with a very light massage.

And Brad Pitt’s auditor performed it on his iguana.

“She was being given a Comm Ev because you can’t do a nerve assist on something that doesn’t have a spine,” Sunny explains.

But lizards do have spines, we pointed out.

“Yes, I know that. That is all the more reason it was ridiculous. I remember thinking at the time, if Hubbard can audit a tomato why can’t Tara give a nerve assist to a lizard?”

But it was no joke, Sunny says. “Tara almost lost all of her certificates. She was definitely put through lower conditions. And she had to do retreads — taking checksheets you’ve already completed and you go through them to see what you need to restudy. She was in big trouble.”

Meanwhile, Pitt was reassigned to another auditor, Dan Woodruff. But soon after that he drifted away from Scientology.

“They tried to recover Brad a few years later. Around 1999 or 2000 they sent Dan to Brad’s house. He opened the door and they had a friendly conversation, but that’s the last contact he had with the church that I know of,” Sunny says.

And what about that assessment she had of him, “Oblivious Brad”?

“He was involved on and off from 1991 to 1994, and he did several courses, but he never really seemed to buy in. He seemed to be taking it in with a raised eyebrow, like he was amused, but he didn’t want to criticize what he was seeing. He came across as politely amused about Scientology.

“I believe he was oblivious to what happened to Tara and the person who published his course completion. Tara tried to do something for Brad to ease his concerns, and that’s all he would have known about it. But she got in a lot of trouble. She was in the doghouse for weeks because of it,” she says.

“This was not uncommon when dealing with Scientology celebrities. Any Celebrity Centre Sea Org member involved in training or processing was commonly in deep water for something or other. The biggest sin? Not applying L. Ron Hubbard’s tech exactly as written. When it is applied 100 percent, they believe that it will retain all its members. Any flub or flaw? It was the administrator’s fault.”

Brad Pitt slipping away could never be blamed on Hubbard or his nutty courses. That just wouldn’t do.


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!

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

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] It’s only April, but we already have a leading contender for Scientology mother of the year!
[TWO years ago] Scientology loves to gladhand Florida politicians, even though it usually has little effect
[THREE years ago] Why Scientology’s inability to pay its tax bill in Montreal is not a sign that it’s struggling
[FOUR years ago] See ‘Going Clear’ star Hana Whitfield describe L. Ron Hubbard in a leaked 1997 interview
[FIVE years ago] NARCONON EXPOSED: Scientology’s flagship drug rehab facility is struggling, records show
[EIGHT years ago] Michael Fairman, Familiar TV and Film Actor, Makes Public His Expulsion from Scientology


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,425 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,554 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,058 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,538 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 601 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 489 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,796 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,664 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,438 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,212 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,558 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,124 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,044 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,211 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,792 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,053 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,092 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,804 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,330 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,419 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,559 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,879 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,735 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,854 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,210 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,512 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,618 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,020 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,892 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,475 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,970 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,224 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,333 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 23, 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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