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PODCAST: Mark Ebner joined Scientology for two weeks and we’re still recovering from it

[From Ebner’s 1996 Spy magazine feature]

Way back at the turn of the century, your Proprietor and Mark Ebner were both slaving away for a newspaper that no longer exists that was called New Times Los Angeles.

We both took on Scientology as a subject, and we’ve been good friends ever since, with Ebner contributing some unusual and hilarious items for us here at the Bunker over the years. (Remember Gay Ribisi’s Scientology plaques, for example?)

Ebner has done some terrific work on Scientology, but the one piece we admire most was his first: His epic 1996 article for Spy magazine about the time he actually joined Scientology for a short time to learn what it was like. Titled, “Do You Want to Buy a Bridge?” it’s a classic.

And we thought it was time to have him on the podcast to revisit that work, and ask him about the newest book he has out now, Off the Deep End: Jerry and Becki Falwell and the Collapse of an Evangelical Dynasty.


But be prepared, this is Ebner we’re talking about, and there’s rough language ahead! [Listen to the podcast here.]


Technology Cocktail

“A STABLE DATUM is necessary to the alignment of data, and if a stable datum can be pulled out of an area of aligned data with the result of confusion, we have to have a better understanding of what we mean by confusion. If we’re going to process it we certainly had better understand it. It better be a nice, clear thing to us, because we are likely to look at a preclear and consider that he is under a confusion. When as a matter of fact, he might be in a MINUS RANDOMITY.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1956


Jon Atack and Chris Shelton




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 as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.



THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

— The Underground Bunker Podcast

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— SPECIAL: Your Proprietor’s updates on the Danny Masterson trial

[1] Sep 21 [2] Sep 28 [3] Oct 4 [4] Oct 10 [5] Oct 11: Day One [6] Oct 12: Day Two [7] Oct 13: Day Three [8] Oct 17: Day Four [9] Oct 18: Day Five [10] Oct 19: Day Six [11] Special interview with Chris Shelton, Oct 19 [12] Oct 20: Day Seven [13] Oct 21: Day Eight [14] First week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [15] Oct 24: Day Nine [16] Oct 25: Day Ten [17] Oct 27: Day Eleven [18] Oct 28: Day Twelve [19] Second week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [20] Halloween special [21] Nov 2: Day Thirteen [22] Nov 3: Day Fourteen [23] Nov 4: Day Fifteen [24] Third week in review [25] Nov 5, Saturday special [26] Nov 6, Sunday special [27] Nov 7, Day Sixteen [28] Lisa Marie Presley breaking news [29] Nov 8, Day Seventeen [30] Nov 9, Day Eighteen [31] Nov 10, Day Nineteen


Source Code

“I just had a phone call from California, by the way: A girl who was on the handbook — fifteen hours, really, on the handbook, running it through — went down to a secretarial course (never seen a typewriter before), sat down and read the chart, spent ten minutes reading the chart, sat down at the typewriter with blank keys and started writing at twenty-five words a minute. Here sits an atom bomb. That atom bomb is a complete threat to this whole society, culture, your body, your civilization.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 18, 1952



Avast, Ye Mateys

“REGRET: I am sorry that Ethics has to be stepped up. But each day a few more omissions land on my desk. The FSO and FAO have not formed up and the FB and myself are having to carry the load.” — The Commodore, February 18, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“LRH cared a lot. He had four staff answering his letters in accordance with his instructions — I knew them and saw the confidential issues. I remember one thing particularly that showed his caring. A staff member was in love with a girl and went psychotic when she married another man. He started sticking his fingers into electric sockets until he collapsed. The Guardian’s Office had him offloaded and put into a psychiatric hospital in the USA. LRH heard about what they had done and ordered them to have him extricated from the hospital and brought back to the Apollo. When he arrived back LRH C/Sed his case daily ensuring that he was brought back to sanity. He was given a simple job for a while after he was sane again and then chose to leave the Sea Org.”


Past is Prologue

2000: The proceeds from planned Battlefield Earth action figures have been identified as benefiting Author Services, a part of Scientology. From Variety: “The most intriguing aspect of the toy line based on summer sci-fi epic ‘Battlefield Earth’ may not be the ‘Ratbastard’-spouting John Travolta doll. It could just be the millions of dollars the Church of Scientology stands to earn from the playthings. Though the church did not participate in the making of the Warner Bros./Franchise Pictures project, it was included in the merchandising agreement, according to Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder. Any deal for merchandising automatically includes Author Services, the agency that handles all of the works of late writer and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The toy assembly includes Strike Jets, Psychoblasters and Thunder Battletanks alongside 11-inch figures of Travolta as Terl, the villainous warlord. The Terl doll borrows Travolta voice snippets from the film, including these lines: ‘Exterminate all man animals at will,’ ‘You wouldn’t last one day at the Academy,’ ‘Man is an endangered species’ and ‘Ratbastard.’ Trendmasters, the company responsible for the line of toys, says these types of movie-driven toys can earn as much as $50 million in sales. Exactly how much will the Church of Scientology recoup from the toys? No one seems to know.”



Random Howdy

“I was just ruminating that Manson probably got the idea for ‘creepy crawl’ from some Scientology experience.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Mistrial declared November 30. Retrial scheduled, jury selection begins March 29. Next pretrial hearing: Feb 16.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing Feb 13.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for March 1 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next status conference Feb 13.

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 filed amended complaint on August 2. Hearing November 17 to argue the arbitration motions, awaiting ruling.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: March 15, 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 at least through February 7.
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.



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] Clearwater deal: Scientology leader David Miscavige will finally get parcel he covets
[TWO years ago] Scientologist and accused Ponzi schemer learns government has 13 MILLION documents on him
[THREE years ago] In Scientology’s Sea Org, the terror originates inside your own head
[FOUR years ago] Is Beck divorcing Scientology along with his wife? Here’s the evidence for and against.
[FIVE years ago] Scientology opened an ‘Ideal Org’ in Salt Lake City yesterday. We have its secret plans.
[SIX years ago] Augustine: Why is it so hard to find a Scientologist in good standing?
[SEVEN years ago] David Miscavige wastes no time once the stay is lifted in Monique Rathbun’s lawsuit
[EIGHT years ago] TAMPA SHOWDOWN: Scientology’s religious exception faces mini-trial today
[NINE years ago] Going three feet back of your head: Scientology’s Original Operating Thetan Level Six!
[TEN years ago] Tom Cruise Under Oath: We Have His Deposition Questions!
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Campout: Commenters of the Week!


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 2,944 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,449 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,999 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,989 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,880 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,184 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,055 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,160 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,637 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,949 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,515 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,434 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,602 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,183 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,444 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,481 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,196 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,760 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,075 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,250 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,801 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,932 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,270 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,125 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,244 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,600 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,903 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,009 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,407 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,283 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,866 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,361 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,615 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,724 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 18, 2023 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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