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For decades he made Scientology look good. Now he’s out and telling the ugly truth.

Over the years, we’ve become very accustomed to Scientology’s “look.” You probably know what we’re referring to. The style and dressing of Scientology videos, the pacing and extravagance of Scientology events, and lavish attention to detail at Scientology facilities.

In some ways, it can be very impressive, but it’s also usually strained and over the top as it tends to reflect the ambitions of Scientology leader David Miscavige.

Often over the years, whether we were looking at Super Bowl ads, or new Ideal Org grand openings, we couldn’t help wondering who was helping Dave design and articulate Scientology’s vision.

Recently, we got an eye-opening answer to that question when a man named Mitch Brisker defected from the church and claimed to be responsible for Scientology’s look and feel.

Brisker first showed up at the YouTube channel of Janis Gillham Grady and Mark Fisher, but we’d been talking to him for quite a while before that, trying to help him as he attempted to re-adjust to life outside of Scientology.


We knew right away that he was a remarkable figure to have left Scientology, maybe the most notable person to leave since the exodus of executives like Mike Rinder and the Headleys in the mid-2000s.

And now, Brisker has published a book about his adventure as the man who gave Scientology its public appearance, and we can tell you that it’s a ride worth the price of admission.

But before he takes us into his church years in Scientology, The Big Lie: How I made an evil cult look good, available today, he first wants us to know about his upbringing as a kid in Hollywood who watched the Sixties happen on his front porch.

But if young Brisker found himself seeing Dylan at a club on Sunset Boulevard, and experienced being in the first class at the new Cal Arts as he pursued a life in film, his early plans were all subsumed in a serious heroin addiction.

A friend recommended Scientology, and Brisker found that not only were the Scientologists at the Celebrity Centre eager to help him with his habit, but they also seemed to genuinely care about him.

As a result, although he was becoming a skilled filmmaker, he also felt an obligation to Scientology, and one that would put him in one of the most unique positions in the organization.

Brisker gained access to some of the most sensitive locations and projects in Scientology working closely with its leader, David Miscavige, but Brisker’s position as film director and not a “Sea Org” member meant that he was still, on some level, separate from the dedicated troops he was tasked with turning into film crews.

This gave him access that few have been able to talk about, not only seeing Scientology’s projects put into action, but also being witness to how they were planned at the highest level.

Much of the time, Brisker explains, this meant that he was pulled into one impossible situation after another and was expected to “make it go right” on insane schedules. But the result was that familiar landmarks we associate with Scientology in Hollywood today, such as the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition on Hollywood Boulevard, or CCHR’s museum, “Psychiatry, an Industry of Death” on Sunset, were projects that he brought to fruition.

And along the way, Brisker worked closely with David Miscavige and now brings us one of the most informative and nuanced portraits of the diminutive man who runs Scientology. Brisker portrays a man who was a ruthless micro-manager, as others have. But Brisker’s Miscavige could also be supportive, clever, and even fun to be around.

Eventually, though he had felt some obligation to Scientology for helping him with his addiction decades earlier, Mitch begins to wonder about his dedication to the organization and how it had affected his life and his career. But getting out is not so easy, as so many have found out.

We know from our own interactions with Mitch that starting over after 70 has been a tough task for him. But if this fascinating and well-written book is any indication, he’s making the most of his new life.



Technology Cocktail

“Exactly where are we technically, personally and organizationally? It may be of some surprise to you that we have just about arrived. We’ve been so long on the road that some fainter hearts have begun to despair and less high case levels have begun to gloom. Since last October I have been cracking through trying to get there before we were got. It now is obvious that we have made it and even if we were hard hit socially or politically we would still make it. For we have the data.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1963



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?

[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

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond


[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman


Source Code

“Nobody ever objects to anybody in India being found dead. So they’re dead. They’re dead. They get married when they’re 12 or 14, kick the bucket when they’re 21, 28 — real quick. The only trouble with the people is, it’s too hot there and they key in all the prenatals they’ve got. It is about 90. Any time you get a climate which is approaching 98.6, you can get the whole prenatal bank keyed in almost perpetually, because that’s the temperature in the prenatal bank, 98.6. That’s why hot countries turn feminine, so forth, so it’s not a hardy country. But way up north, those boys live with kind of wild abandon, too. They always have.” — L. Ron Hubbard, November 24, 1953


Avast, Ye Mateys

“COMMENDABLE: CS-1 Cmdr Hana Eltringham is commended for getting out and duplicated the CLO org bd and MOs for getting it into action at CLOs in UK, DK and US. A very nice, rapid production requiring no further correction. All who helped her are also thanked.” — The Commodore, November 24, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Scientology is the Science of Certainty. You gain certainty in your ability to audit by auditing. I know most of you have given up on the idea of being able to clear the planet. But with thousands of idle OTs (‘do nothing OTs’) to help us if they would just do something, we might still have a chance.”



Past is Prologue

1999: LA Weekly published an article this week on a campaign to have newspapers and magazines carry quotations from L. Ron Hubbard. “‘Affection could no more spoil a child than the sun could be put out by a bucket of gasoline.’ Don’t go looking for this maxim in your Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations – but you just might find it in your local newspaper, courtesy of Scientology. The IRS-designated religion has been mailing out this and other pearls from the lips of founder L. Ron Hubbard to newspaper ‘Quote of the Week’ sections. The Hubbardisms address Morals (‘The criminal accuses others of things which he himself is doing’), Problems (‘Any problem, to be a problem, must contain a lie’) and, in a masterpiece of mixed metaphor, Marriage (‘Communication is the root of marital success from which a strong union can grow, and noncommunication is the rock on which the ship will bash out her keel’). They run above the tagline ‘L. Ron Hubbard, one of the most acclaimed and widely read authors of all time.’ (Hubbard was a science-fiction writer.)”


Random Howdy

“My take on it is that Hubbard created Dianetics as a ‘short con’ and when it took off on a level he didn’t expect and when everyone by the early 60’s had reached ‘Clear’ and the gravy train started to slow down he created the ‘long con’ of the OT levels. The $64,000 question is whether due to mental illness and perhaps drug use did he start to believe in his own bullshit? When he says at the end of OTVIII ‘now that you know what you aren’t are you ready to find out what you really are?’ I see this as phase 2 of the long con. Hubbard is saying ‘Hey, guess what kids, I took a detour and I was on the wrong road but now I’m on the right one, so lets go.’ The bottom line and perhaps unanswerable question is how much was calculated and how much was crazy.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentenced to 30 years to life on Sep 7.
‘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 October 30.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.


Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, Scientology submitting anti-SLAPP response Oct 26.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Discovery phase.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



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] Special Thanksgiving Podcast: ‘A Billion Years’ author Mike Rinder on Scientology’s epic fails
[TWO years ago] Check out the US government’s new whales: Feshbachs go Diamond Meritorious for the IRS!
[THREE years ago] Scientology predictably trashes Valerie Haney’s request for state supreme court review
[FOUR years ago] Scientologists use faith healing to convince fire victims they’re actually helping
[FIVE years ago] Xenu’s first public outing: Robert Kaufman’s stunning 1972 testament, ‘Inside Scientology’
[SIX years ago] KID CORPS: When a disease outbreak brought Scientology unwanted attention
[SEVEN years ago] Leah Remini’s Scientology series opens with a gut-wrenching story of ‘disconnection’
[EIGHT years ago] Strange scenes from the Moscow hearing that banned Scientology yesterday
[NINE years ago] Jon Atack: At the heart of Scientology is L. Ron Hubbard’s paralyzing use of contradiction
[TEN years ago] Jenna Miscavige Hill on Scientology’s New Dawn: “I Can’t Believe People Still Buy This BS”
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Leader David Miscavige Added as Defendant in Ken Dandar’s Federal Lawsuit


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 3,223 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,738 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,288 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,278 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,159 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,463 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,334 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,439 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,886 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,228 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,794 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,713 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,880 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,462 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,723 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,759 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,475 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,039 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,354 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,529 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,080 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,211 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,549 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,404 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,523 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,879 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,182 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,288 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,686 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,562 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,127 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,640 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,894 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,003 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on November 24, 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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