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Pete Goes to Hollywood: The grim reality of Scientology servitude in La-La-Land

It is September 1987 and I have just spent the past few months at Saint Hill Manor near East Grinstead in West Sussex, former home of noted conman L. Ron Hubbard, studying his Organization Executive Course.

As a graduate of this course I can now go to the International Training Org (“Org” is Scientologese for organization), in Los Angeles, as I am qualified after completing the OEC and also, as I am not on post, in that I do not really have a job or position within my local org, except for Deputy Public Executive Secretary, or Deputy Pes (pronounced Pez). I mention this, as to remove a person from their post in a Scientology org without a proper, hatted (trained), replacement is a big no-no.

My wife is due to have our first child in early November and so I insist that I be back in time to witness the birth, who would want to miss that? I get told by the Executive Director, “That should be OK.”

The org is paying for the course and the airfare, and I will stay at the Manor Hotel and eat at the Big Blue canteen while away. I don’t feel too bad about this as I have received about £30 in pay since I started on staff back in April. I had been promised £200 a week.


At least I will be getting something out of it and a trip to LA too! I don’t know if it was because Scientology involvement or not but I went through a phase of buying shoes a size too small. I have no idea why I did this. On the plane my feet were so uncomfortable in my size 8s that I had to remove them. What was I thinking?

I get to LAX and hang around the airport wondering what will happen next when a young lad aged about 14 or 15 comes up and asks if I am “Peeder.” He gives a brief smile as a greeting and indicates that I follow him. This I do, dragging my case, to a shabby old van with an older beardy guy in the driving seat and we climb aboard and head for LA. Busy roads, nodding donkeys, not much conversation, it is late at night, I think, jetlag?

My suite on the fourth floor of the Manor Hotel consists of a fairly large room with a half dozen bunk beds and a shower room. I grab what looks like an unowned bed and crash out. Even though it is nearly midnight nobody else is in the beds. Next day I get a ride to the Big Blue and I grab breakfast in the huge canteen, consisting of sausages, rashers, eggs, toast, cereal, standard stuff. Then when leaving get accosted by a Mexcican guy demanding, “Votes, Señor!” Everybody attending the meal has to vote from zero to 5. This is his statistic. He is apparently head chef. It feels like hundreds of people milling around the place all looking busy and preoccupied. Sea Org members appear to eat in shifts. Some of them seem to be cleaning the place up as well as eating. Next I check in, promise to bring my passport later in the day and get routed onto course. But first we muster in the car park for a “locational.”. This consists of one person telling the rest of us to look at or touch various objects around the place.

“Look at the cross,” indicating the cross on the roof. “Look at that red car.” Then we form a circle and rub the shoulders of the person in front as the one behind gives you a neck rub. Everybody is in a good mood after this. In the course room the usual stuff. Reading L. Ron Hubbard policy letters. Chinese School which is chanting lines over and over like, “Number of times over materials equals certainty and results!”

The supervisor asks me if if I have filled in a Life History. I have no idea what he’s talking about but soon enough I am filling it in. The section that stands out is the one demanding details of every sexual partner, ever, what was done, and when, how often, and so on and so forth.

The day goes pretty quickly. Evening meal is in an area a bit like a cloister with seats and tables, a buffet, Mexican, tortillas, fillings, yogurt. Lots of people. Back at the hotel I have no sheets for my bed and ask at reception for some. I am given an armful. No blankets however and I am too nervous to ask for any as everyone seems too busy and reluctant to get involved helping some greenhorn English guy.

That night I get eaten alive by some insects that I can’t see. The window is open and it needs to be, it is so hot. The next night I drape sheets from the bunk above so that they dangle and tuck them under my mattress, thereby creating a kind of mosquito net and the biting stops. I also bought a crappy polyester blanket from the supermarket using what little money I had. Nights are a little more bearable.

I borrowed a bicycle and went riding down Sunset looking for a place to get a haircut when a guy started chasing and yelling at me so I just pedaled madly and escaped. He was a kind of drunken, druggy lunatic. Another time I was followed back to the Manor. Am I being followed? Is he following me? I made the decision to confront the guy and turned and stopped.

“Do you want something?”

“Have you got any money?”

I had absolutely nothing and I was able to turn both my trouser pockets inside out. The guy cursed and turned away muttering, “Are they all as broke as you where you come from?”

Yes, especially when you never get paid. I was never sent any wages the entire six weeks I was in LA. Could I have enjoyed Hollywood if I had more time off and money at my disposal? I don’t think so. The place was pretty bad to be honest. Derelicts, drunks, drugs, down-and-outs, and off in the distance the white painted Hollywood sign on the hillside.

Back at the Big Blue I get introduced to False Data Stripping or FDSing. This is simply having somebody who is in some difficulty with the subject at hand and asking, “Have you been given any False Data regarding this?” The girl I am doing this with says that she has indeed been given false data. I ask her when was this?

Growing up, she says. Who gave the false data? It was her dad, says she. Finally when I ask her for the false data she says, “He told me that Jesus Christ was the first communist.” We look at each other for a second before bursting out laughing.


The days go by. Breakfast. Muster. Locational. Study. Chinese School. Lunch. More Study. Evening meal. More study. Cleaning stations. If we do not pass the inspection, a guy wearing a white glove runs his finger all over the place and if any dust or dirt shows, we have to clean the entire place again. Very often we miss the bus to the Manor. Back to bed and sleep. Wake up.

There is never anyone else in the room when I go to bed but in the morning the place is jam packed. At 7:50 one morning the Whittier Narrows earthquake strikes. I am already showered and dressed and on my way down to the lobby using the service elevator. I didn’t like using the main one since I shared it once with Jeff Pomeranz who just grinned at me, ultra cheesily with a maximum smearing of smarm.

I step out of the elevator as the building lurches from side to side. I found out later that the Manor Hotel was built on rollers to cope with such earthquakes. I just race to the stairwell and leap down the flights, clearing each of them in two bounds. The sleeping guys from my room are ahead of me, amazingly. Hiya Chris! And into the lobby as a plaster bust on a plinth crashes in slow motion, leap over it, and then into the car park. Sigh of relief as the quake stops. It lasted 8 seconds. The dust settles and normal service resumes.

I am having trouble assimilating some the dense L. Ron Hubbard policy and the supervisor asks me if I have done my Purification Rundown, the sauna-and-vitamins regimen. I say, no. I get routed off course and interviewed by a couple from the org who try to get me to pay for my Purif. No can do. I am broke. Outer Org staff in training, after all. They come up with a solution. I can do the Purif and work for them in exchange. Scientology is big on the subject of exchange. Fair exchange, partial exchange, exchange in abundance and rip-off are the four conditions of exchange. One scheme is to fly me to Kansas and do my Purif there with a Kansas doctor who has paid for his Purif but not done it yet. The idea being that I report back on a daily basis on what is going on. Sort of a remote Purif. This idea is scrapped as an unusual solution. So I find myself driving around LA going from one Scientology school to another, carrying boxes of leaflets.

As we are leaving one school, the guy I am with says, “Did you recognize that girl on reception?” I was carrying boxes and saw nothing. He tells me to go have a look. I peep round the corner and know instantly that I am looking at Lisa Marie Presley. She couldn’t be anyone else. So Elvine. Wow. She didn’t look up and I just left the premises feeling kind of starstruck.

Eventually it is decided that I have got my exchange in and I start my Purif in LA and it takes three weeks to complete.

By now it is getting very close to my wife giving birth and I need to find a way to leave. I have a return air ticket. Nobody wants me to leave. Surprise, surprise. I am supposed to do the Staff Leaving Routing Form but can’t find any help getting started. I promised my wife I would be there and nobody here seems to care. Nobody wants me to leave. What would Ron do? What would he do? At least I still have my passport. Hmmm…

I dare not tell anyone that I am planning on just going as they would be obliged to write a Knowledge Report and I would find myself a virtual prisoner, perhaps never to get away again. We had already had a student who had blown twice and each time brought back to further disciplinary actions. The airline was very helpful in allowing me to reschedule my flight. It was fine and would cost $100. I just said, yes, OK. I didn’t have $100.

Luckily enough I bumped into the lad who had met me when I first landed and he was going to the airport that very morning. “I need a ride to the airport!” He said OK and I got in the van, and hid, hoping that nobody would see me as I was blowing the org, after all.

At the airport I didn’t mention the $100 and neither did the airline. I just waited until my plane was due to leave, anxiously scanning the doors, and it was with some relief that I took my seat.

Back to the UK. A hurricane had just destroyed half the trees in southern England. One had flattened the Saint Hill canteen, an old ramshackle prefabricated shack. Somebody must have had overts on storms, or canteens, or trees. Back to the birth of my first child. Happy days.

Back to a further six years of Scientology. Not so bloody happy.

— Pete Griffiths



Technology Cocktail

“Scientology is a workable system. It white tapes the road out of the labyrinth. If there were no white tapes marking the right tunnels, Man would just go on wandering around and around the way he has for eons, darting off on wrong roads, going in circles, ending up in the sticky dark, alone. Scientology, exactly and correctly followed, takes the person up and out of the mess. So when you see somebody having a ball getting everyone to take peyote because it restimulates prenatals, know he is pulling people off the route. Realize he is squirreling. He isn’t following the route. Scientology is a new thing — it is a road out. There has not been one. Not all the salesmanship in the world can make a bad route a proper route. And an awful lot of bad routes are being sold. Their end product is further slavery, more darkness, more misery. Scientology is the only workable system Man has. It has already taken people toward higher I.Q., better lives and all that. No other system has. So realize that it has no competitor.” – L. Ron Hubbard, 1965


Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 8 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers, and it’s a conversation with Patty Moher about her amazing career as a Scientology spy and then her years leaking great info about the church. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 7 available to everyone, with Geoff Levin on Scientology’s celebrities, Pete Griffiths on running a mission, Sunny Pereira dishing secrets of Scientology’s Hollywood Celebrity Centre, Bruce Hines on the crazy life in the Sea Org, Jeffrey Augustine on recent Scientology court cases, Claire Headley exposing Tom Cruise, and Marc Headley on what it must be like for David Miscavige living in Clearwater, Florida.. Go here to get the episodes!


Source Code

“Some prenatal engrams (you find this out when you are clearing a case) will have slumbered 20 or 30 years with no reactivation, yet will be vicious engrams. For instance, in one case there must have been about 110 engrams, each one of which called for an enormously powerful migraine headache, and not one of them reactivated until the person was 22 years of age. Then, chain fashion, they all reactivated. The mysterious cause of the migraine headache was evidently an airplane crash where the person got a headache. Actually there was not even a head injury in the airplane crash, but there were about three words spoken while the person was unconscious which reactivated the chain.” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 15, 1950


Avast, Ye Mateys


“The recovery of personnel sent out is a primary duty of the Action Bureau. It is not true that the US and Europe are full of unrecalled missionaires but they sure leave their missions out long enough. Now our Brian Charlton is trying to set an all time record. A 2 day hat check out of Athena on PR became weeks. Recall at once and assign Mission Ineligible.” — The Commodore, August 15, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Only PTS people are susceptible to catching diseases, according to LRH.”


Past is Prologue

2001: The Los Angeles Times published an interview with Scientology celebrity Chick Corea. “Q: How did you make the decision to move to Clearwater? A: The main draw was the fact that Clearwater is the largest religious retreat in Scientology. It’s called Flag Land Base, the place where L. Ron Hubbard put the highest level of training and courses and study, and it’s turned into a totally international spot for Scientologists. Q: About 10 years ago, maybe around the time of your 50th birthday, you described the extent to which Scientology had impacted you as person and as an artist. Does that still hold? A: Not only does it still hold, but it has expanded. I first got interested in Scientology for pretty personal reasons. I wanted to clean
myself up, I wanted to tweak my awareness, I wanted to learn about the nature of the spirit. I wanted to learn about things like immortality, about detaching oneself from a body, about the philosophy and the nature of life, and so on. But what the subject very naturally led me to is that life is made up of people. And the very first thing I started to look at was others – not even myself. My whole life is about my relationship with people.”


Random Howdy

“Oops, sounds like Marty had what they call in A.A. a ‘slip.’ Hopefully it doesn’t turn into a full blown relapse.”



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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Trial scheduled for October 11, pretrial conference August 17.
‘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, Scientology moving to compel arbitration. Plaintiffs filing amended complaint on August 2.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: February 2, 2023.
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. Scientology petitioning US Supreme Court over appellate ruling.
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] Underground Bunker readers assemble, and Scientology spies freak out
[TWO years ago] The Top 25 People Enabling Scientology, No. 22: Graham Norton and other celebrity strokers
[THREE years ago] ‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath’ will end with a 2-hour special August 26
[FOUR years ago] A life connected to some of our biggest Scientology stories ends in a terrible way
[FIVE years ago] Leah Remini goes there: Child molestation in Scientology for tonight’s ‘Aftermath’ premiere
[SIX years ago] Former Scientology mouthpiece Tommy Davis is settling into his new role as Hollywood exec
[SEVEN years ago] Why no one should ever join Scientology’s ‘Sea Org’
[EIGHT years ago] Ryan Hamilton files 19th lawsuit against Scientology’s drug rehab network
[NINE years ago] Scientology is Obsessed with Getting Books in Libraries — Here Are the Real Stats!
[ELEVEN years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 21: Kendrick Moxon


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 2,757 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,262 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,812 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,802 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,693 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,998 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,868 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,642 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,973 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,446 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,762 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,328 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,247 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,415 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,995 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,257 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,293 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,008 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,533 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 888 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,063 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,614 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,763 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,083 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,938 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,057 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,413 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,716 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,822 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,220 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,096 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,679 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,174 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,428 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,537 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 15, 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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