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PODCAST: The three lives of Dennis Erlich, Scientology’s original Internet nemesis

November 1966. February 1995. December 2021.

Those are the three epochal turning points in a remarkable life that is the subject of this week’s podcast.

Last week, we were in Los Angeles to cover a couple of hearings in Leah Remini’s lawsuit. After the first one, we got a message from a surprising source. It was someone, a legend really, whom we had admired and written about for many years.

It was Dennis Erlich, inviting us to lunch.


This was the “OG” we mentioned in the Group Therapy podcast over the weekend, that we were so excited to meet, finally.

For the newcomers: In 1995, a spectacular battle occurred between Scientology and the Internet as the church and David Miscavige attempted to strangle an information revolution as it was just beginning.

The first and most shocking battle in that war broke out on February 13, 1995 when Scientology agents, accompanied by police, raided Dennis Erlich’s Glendale, California home and seized his computers because he had been quoting Scientology policies in online debates. More people were raided later that year in the US and Europe as Scientology tried to kill the discussion of its secretive policies on the early Internet.

Scientology lost that war, and we all owe Dennis a debt of gratitude that he went through years of legal battles so that the rest of us, nearly 30 years later, can write freely about Scientology’s controversies and abuses on the web.

But as you’ll learn in today’s podcast, Dennis has influenced our culture in other ways as well, which we talk about as we discuss the three epochal eras of a fascinating life.

November 1966. February 1995. December 2021.

We hope you are as enlightened and moved as we were to discuss this with such an important figure.



Technology Cocktail

“The insane is not just a bad off being, the insane is a being who has been overwhelmed by an actual SP until too many persons are apparent SPs. This makes the person Roller Coaster continually in life. The Roller Coaster is even cyclic (repetitive as a cycle). Handling an insane person as a Type Two might work but probably not case for case. One might get enough wins on a few to make one fail completely by so many loses on the many.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1965




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

“There was a tribe of Indians in the United States, some say before the arrival of white men, but they should re-classify that and say before the arrival of Pilgrims — before 1602, or something on that order, 1608, whenever they arrived — because that whole coast was in good communication with Europe for many centuries. Fishing boats from northern Europe used to come over to the grand banks all the time. As a matter of fact, the fishermen called it America, and we read a big fog about Columbus and all the rest of it. I’m sure Columbus came over, but Columbus never got to America. But anyhow, this is all very confused, but that’s history.” — L. Ron Hubbard, January 27, 1954


Avast, Ye Mateys

“CONDITIONS: Arthur Hubbard is assigned N/E for being non-existant on cleaning stations for the last 3 days.” — M. Spence, for W/O Des Popham, January 27, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“A natural clear is a baby OT and it has no pictures so a Natural clear must have come from the future created NEW with no MEST (matter energy space and time) memory system. SO this makes me untraceable since they can’t hook a beam onto a static but they can hook a beam on to a physical universe (MEST) memory system. So I assume Natural Clears are the first REAL OT’S because we don’t have to erase pictures does this make sense?”


Past is Prologue

2001: An article from Source magazine, issue 100 [from 1996] was posted to a.r.s this week which lists some of the goals of Flag for the year 2000. “1. The new Flag building opened and Super Power released to the public, thus bringing world clearing within reach. 2. With the new building, there will be over 260 posted public auditors, and an additional 90 staff staff auditors. 3. A Hubbard University of Standard Tech, with over 10,000 students in training on any given week, and 500 auditors being made per week. 4. Flag-trained Class VIII Senior C/Ses, KOTs and Qual Secs in every Class V org on the planet, with Flag-trained Senior Sec Checkers, Cramming Officers, Supervisors and Word Clearers in every Class V org courseroom and HGC. 5. 100 Class XII auditors in the chair delivering Ls in every major language of earth, including Russian, Chinese and Japanese. 6. An ability to deliver up to Clear in the top 50 most spoken languages in the world. 7. A Flag Service Consultant in every major city in the world. 8. Over 3,500 Sea Org staff at the Flag Land Base. 9. Every executive of the Flag Land Base OEC/FEBC trained, and operating in a model OEC/FEBC Esto Tech org. 10. All Flag public through their prerequisites and prepared for the release of New OT IX and X. 11. Clearwater known as the first Scientology city in the world. 12. An established, active and fully functioning OT committee in every org in the world. 13. Over 100 Clears and 150 OTs being made each week at Flag. 14. The Dianetics Documercial translated and being shown in every civilized country in the world, in sufficient quantity to capture 5% of the world book market.”



Random Howdy

“Ever read any of the crap the conspiracy cult followers believe in? And they number in the millions, not tens of thousands. Remember in The Mist where the people trapped in the supermarket immediately start their own cult ? That’s how most people think.”


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 January 29, 2024.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, motion to strike/anti-SLAPP motions by Scientology to be heard January 9, 2024.
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] 37 years ago: The eerie Hollywood Palladium sendoff for Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard
[TWO years ago] Academics bleat over Scientology’s loss in appeals court, and here’s what they’re missing
[THREE years ago] Scientology takes boards down after Inauguration riots failed to materialize
[FOUR years ago] Scientology clown Joy Villa got glowing press again, and here’s what it left out
[FIVE years ago] Oh, come on: Scientology ‘detox’ quackery now being touted for miraculous cures
[SIX years ago] His words are wise, his face is beard: 10 years ago, Anonymous got some good advice
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology, why are you keeping a cancer patient from seeing his only daughter?
[EIGHT years ago] 30 years ago today: ‘L. Ron Hubbard discarded the body he had used in this lifetime’
[NINE years ago] Why Alex Gibney’s ‘Going Clear’ is scaring the crap out of Scientology
[TEN years ago] More fallout in France: Scientologist who asked for damages ends up paying instead
[ELEVEN years ago] Sunday Funnies: Africa is Done!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Tammy Synovec has not seen her daughter Julia in 2,792 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,287 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,802 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,352 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,342 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,223 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,527 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,398 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,950 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,292 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,858 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,777 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,945 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,526 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,787 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,823 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,539 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,103 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,418 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,593 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,144 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,275 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,613 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,468 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,587 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,943 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,246 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,352 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,750 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,626 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,191 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,704 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,958 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,067 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 27, 2024 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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