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Tom Cruise benefiting from Scientology Sea Org slave labor: The photographic proof

Talking to a source about some Sea Org matters recently, we happened to notice that one of our most important stories about the Sea Org at the Village Voice is now missing a set of very important photos. So, as we have done with some other older stories at the Voice that have lost media, we thought we’d repost that story and bring those images back in our archives.

These were crucial images that helped prove what John Brousseau was telling Lawrence Wright for his amazing 2011 New Yorker article, “The Apostate.” Brousseau had escaped Scientology with a set of photos which he said proved that Tom Cruise knew full well that he was benefiting from Sea Org labor, workers who were being paid pennies an hour and who had signed billion-year contracts. Wright referred to the photos in his story, but the New Yorker issue didn’t show any. So that week we posted a set of the images to show what Brousseau was talking about. More than a decade later, the story is still on the Village Voice website, but the photos are gone.

We thought it would be a good idea to post them here on our Substack (and later, at, especially at a time when Tom Cruise is so much in the news again, and just yesterday we posted a podcast episode with Claire Headley discussing this very issue: Cruise and his knowledge of Scientology abuses.

Oh, and also it turns out that Tom turns 60 years old today. (Or, at least the vessel he’s walking around in is now 60 years old. Tom Cruise, thetan, is actually 76 trillion years old, give or take.) So we’ll consider this our birthday present to him. Hip, hip, hooray!


Here’s the text and photos from our 2011 Village Voice story…

One of the many accusations made about Scientology in Lawrence Wright’s masterful piece in this week’s New Yorker is that the organization’s “Sea Org” members — who sign billion-year contracts — work for a measly $50 a week and do hard labor that benefits top members like Scientology leader David Miscavige and church icon Tom Cruise.

In particular, Wright interviewed a recent Scientology defector, John Brousseau, who says that he and others at Scientology’s desert headquarters expended enormous effort customizing a Honda Rune motorcycle for Tom Cruise and also a Ford Excursion.

Wright quotes church officials who deny that Brousseau and other Sea Org members worked on those projects, saying that contractors did. But Wright mentions in his article that he had seen “dozens of photographs” that backed up Brousseau’s claims.

Well, now Brousseau has made those photographs public to back up his side of the story, and they provide a fascinating look into the world of menial labor for the benefit of Tom Cruise.

Wright’s story explains how Brousseau, once he finally decided to leave Scientology after 30 years, went to see Marty Rathbun, a formerly high-level member of the organization who maintains a blog, “Moving On Up a Little Higher.” This morning, Rathbun posted a pdf of Brousseau’s photos that back up what he told Wright for his New Yorker story.

In the first one, Brousseau explains, he’s holding a model of a P51 Mustang that will be a gift to Cruise. The photo was taken at the Gilman Hot Springs highly secretive Scientology headquarters in the California desert.


In this photo taken at the base, Brousseau shows two of Cruise’s bikes (the one in the middle was customized for church leader David Miscavige) which he and two other Sea Org members painted while working for $50 a week. The one on the left is the Honda Rune which Cruise was given by Steven Spielberg for the War of the Worlds premiere, and that Brousseau had to disassemble to give the new red paint job Cruise wanted.



Brousseau: “Here’s Tom and Katie at the opening of War of the Worlds in Los Angeles on the Honda Rune”


Before he could give the Honda Rune a paint job similar to the one on a David Miscavige bike and the P51 Mustang model, Brousseau first had to strip off the parts of the bike that had a custom War of the Worlds paint job. Brousseau says he refused to paint over this fine work and instead had new parts ordered. The old parts in this photo sit in the Scientology headquarters.


In this photo, Brousseau can be seen setting up a truss system in “Tom Cruise’s hangar at Million Air aviation services in Burbank, California.” (Tom Cruise has an airplane hangar? Yowza.) Cruise paid for the materials, Brousseau says, but “99 percent” of the work was done by Sea Org members, who are paid $50 a week.


The finished result of all the truss work: custom signs and drapery in Tom Cruise’s aircraft hangar. “No contractors were enlisted in the manufacture of the signs or draperies,” Brousseau writes. Also, note the Ford Excursion in the foreground. This is the automobile that was mentioned in the New Yorker article, Broussau says, and he provides more photos about the massive amount of custom work that went into it.



Here’s another shot of the Excursion in the airplane hangar. As Brousseau notes, you can just see that P51 Mustang model in the background.


Inside the Excursion, showing the custom work in progress. “The metal contraption in the foreground is supposed to be a mount for a baby seat that goes between Tom and Katie’s seats.”


For wood highlights in the car, Brousseau recovered this eucalyptus burl from a tree that had blown over at the Scientology base.



The result: gorgeous wood highlights all over the place. “Tom loved it as it had come from a tree at the Int base, where he had achieved the state of Clear in the early 90’s. DM let him know that it was a special piece of wood from the Int base and Tom raved about it.”


Brousseau says that he even went so far as to create a custom Mont Blanc pen with the eucalyptus wood, and a secret compartment for it in the car. “DM went nuts when he saw this and so did Tom,” Brousseau writes, referring to church leader David Miscavige. “It was completely over the top.”’


Another highlight in the Excursion: an aluminum step that bears the Tom Cruise logo (“TC”). Cruise had paid for the aluminum stock, but the work that went into it was provided by the Sea Org, Brousseau says.


Scientology told the New Yorker that all of this work was done by outside contractors, not Sea Org members. But Brousseau told the New Yorker that the work was being provided by workers making almost nothing: “I was getting paid fifty dollars a week…And I’m supposed to be working for the betterment of mankind.”



Technology Cocktail

“FALSE PICTURE IMPLANTS: There are several of these, the Darwinian Implant being the most notable in recent times. The earliest Implant found yet is ‘The Story of Creation’ which contains multiple endings and false durations (it is about 7 1 / 2 weeks long) and some purposefully indecipherable pictures. It is around 70 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years ago. The best current data on the length of the time track is estimated at about one trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion or less. The earliest date yet found is ‘The Story of Creation,’ but an earlier incident is known to exist.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1963


Part 2 of ‘Scientology Files’ is up

Says our man in Hungary, Péter Bonyai: “A very disturbing and tragic story will be presented in this episode, that can only be told now by the sister of the victim. The story is new evidence of the dangers of Scientology. You can understand what exact danger Scientology poses to the members who want to leave the organization, what sort of threats they receive and the grave consequences of mental and spiritual abuse prevalent in cults.”



Bonus items from our tipsters

Week 2 standings: It’s a shakeup!




Source Code

“We had a gentleman who was suffering from Buerger’s disease, which has to do with one’s legs rotting off. The case was merely opened, not diagnosed. Had the case been diagnosed, it would have been discovered rather rapidly that nobody could help him. That was one of the computations, and it would have become apparent the moment work was started on the case because the person would have run in auto. This preclear had a self-control mechanism of ‘I can handle this myself,’ or ‘I have to handle this myself.’ So he would not have worked well. But you could have discovered this right at the outset by asking him questions in present time about his parents, about what they used to do, what they used to say, what kind of people they were and so on. It must have been a very difficult case to get up and down the track because a case which runs in auto always will be difficult. The next step that should have been discovered about this case was the reason why his legs had to come off. One would have discovered then the fact that Papa died in a railroad accident where both his legs had been cut off!” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 3, 1950


Avast, Ye Mateys

“QUAL: 175 auditing hours a week is now expected from Processing Section. Quentin being gone exposed that he mainly with the help of Liese and Tommy do the larger share of the Ship’s Auditing.” — The Commodore, July 3, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The tech works and it was meant to be applied. And books are a very secure route onto the Bridge. Another point worth mentioning is that there is a whole generation of young people, say between the ages of 18 and 35 who are severely unemployed, more questioning of authority, and not so sure those running the show know what the heck is going on. Some similarities to the cultural scene back in ’69 — a generation much more open to Scientology than in the recent past. The org at the time was a vibrant and happy place with lots of new people finding out about the subject and using it. Don’t underestimate books and book auditing!”



Past is Prologue

2000: Hartley Patterson and Dave Bird protested the Birmingham, England org this week. “Jens, Dave Bird and myself were joined by four local SPs for a peaceful picket. I chatted briefly to one handler who promised to send me proof of the Church of Scientology’s 8 million members and continuing expansion. It was evidently a good day for canvassing, besides the body routers there was Oxfam, Animal Rights and several others. Roland’s new leaflet has sides three and four on how to get money back and get family out, with contact details for ‘Escape’, ‘Catalyst’, and ‘Leaving Scientology’. I had a considerable amount of old & new style leaflets. We set up with placards and leaflets around the top of Ethel Street; no amplification, but my voice carried pretty well in a no-traffic area. We kept it basic down to ‘scam operating in this area, don’t be fooled by the personality test clipboarders, it’s a scam to extract money’. Our leaflets were well received, and quite a few people stopped for a chat. Over time the phones must have been ringing to summon various other body-routers into the Org, as by the time we finished at 1600 the number had just increased to four with their own counter-leaflets.”


Random Howdy

“Can any Scientologist point specifically as to how Scientology or Dianetics has improved world conditions in its 60 years?”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference June 30. Trial scheduled for October 11.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury. Additional charges also referred to grand jury after January 5 assault while in jail.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.

Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Readiness hearing scheduled for August 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for September 19.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Valerie’s motion for reconsideration denied on March 15. Nominated Elisabeth Moss to be an arbitrator in July 1 letter. Next hearing July 6.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place, next status hearing October 25.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Scientology ‘Hogwarts’ in Oregon has Covid outbreak: 43 students, 8 staff
[TWO years ago] Tom Cruise at 58: Scientology’s biggest asset continues to avoid the tough questions
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s answer to Garcias’ appeal sets a new record in cynicism and legal depravity
[FOUR years ago] When Scientology’s toxic policy of disconnection is forever: Saying goodbye to Angela Paris
[FIVE years ago] Five years ago: Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ and the death of Alexander Jentzsch
[SIX years ago] Scientology has a plan to rescue the U.S. military, and it involves ‘Battlefield Earth’
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s billion-dollar slush fund, its slick operators, and how it gets around regulation
[EIGHT years ago] German media: Scientology is essentially dead in Berlin
[NINE years ago] Will Smith-Backed School That Used Scientology Materials Closes Its Doors
[TEN years ago] Tom Cruise is 50: It’s Time To Grow Up
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology’s Cover Story for Harassment: ‘We’re Making a Documentary!’


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,714 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,219 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,769 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,759 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,650 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,956 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,825 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,599 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,930 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,403 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,719 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,285 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,204 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,372 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,952 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,214 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,250 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,965 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,490 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 845 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,020 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,571 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,720 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,040 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,895 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,014 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,370 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,673 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,779 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,177 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,053 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,636 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,131 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,385 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,494 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 3, 2022 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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, 15 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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