Lisa Marie Presley Says "So Long" to Scientology
Last month, we noted that Lisa Marie Presley's single "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," which she released ahead of her new album, Storm and Grace, came with lyrics that read like a kiss-off to the Church of Scientology, even using some of Scientology's jargon -- like the very telling word suppressive. (For several years there have been rumors that Presley was disillusioned with the church.)
This week, the rest of the album comes out, and we got our hands on the lyrics to the rest of the tracks. After you read the words to the song "So Long" we have a feeling you'll agree with us that there's no longer any doubt how Presley, 44, feels about Scientology.
We managed to find a partial video of the song, which you can see above, but it doesn't contain the crucial opening verse. Here are the lyrics of the song in their entirety, as they were supplied to the Voice by Presley's label (Presley has previously indicated that she wrote the lyrics to all songs on the album, with some help from others)...
This here is a city without lights Those are all the people without eyes Churches, they don't have a soul Soup for sale without a bowl Religion so corrupt and running lives Farewell, fair weathered friends I can't say I'll miss you in the end
Chorus: So long, seems that I was so wrong Seems I wasn't that strong Dead wrong, and now I'm long gone Wrong side, I've been sleeping on the wrong side Stains all over my soul I can't hide Nothing's more clear than goodbye
These roads they don't lead to anything These people they talk, they say nothing Actors who don't have a part Heartfelt people with no heart I'll find a new crowd Make a new start Farewell, fair weathered friends I can't say I'll miss you in the end
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, say nothing at all if you've nothing nice to say
We've made multiple requests to Presley's publicist for an interview with the singer. This week she begins a push for the new album, including appearances on Good Morning America on Tuesday. She'll show up on American Idol Thursday night, and on Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel's shows the next week. What are the chances that one of them will actually ask her about these lyrics?
We turned once again to Jefferson Hawkins for his thoughts on the song. Hawkins was once responsible for selling Scientology to the masses, and knows a thing or two about media messages. He left the church in 2005 and wrote a book about his experiences. He's especially good at describing what Scientologists go through when they leave the church.
"Wow, that kind of says it all, doesn't it?" he said when I first showed him the lyrics. Then he sent this lengthier assessment:
I think it expresses how a lot of people feel when they leave Scientology -- they have realized that it is a corrupt church, and is trying to control its members, micromanage their lives. They realize that it is a church without a soul. That is, it tries to present itself as a religion but has no compassion or tolerance or real care for people -- it's just all about money and control. I like the lyric "heartfelt people with no heart." Scientologists are so seemingly sincere and earnest, but the bottom line is they just don't care about their members or anyone else. They have no heart. It's an empty shell, and I think more and more members are coming to that same conclusion.
I also called up Jason Beghe, the Californication actor who became well known for very vocally defecting from Scientology in 2008. While he was still in the church, he was a favorite at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre, and he knew other famous Scientologists -- such as Presley and Kirstie Alley -- very well.
He too said there is little question, looking at Presley's lyrics, that she is making a public disavowal of the church.
Jason Beghe has become a regular on Californication
"The honesty and the passion are clear, and it seems as though she's woken up," he says.
"It's what I would expect, having spent time with her," he goes on to explain. "Some people, when they leave Scientology, get very sad. Some get scared. But some, like me and apparently like Lisa, get fucking pissed. It has the same tone as my own thing, when I said publicly, show me a motherfucking 'Clear'."
Beghe is referring to one of Scientology's bedrock principles, that if you engage in the arcane and increasingly expensive rituals of church founder L. Ron Hubbard's "technology," you will eventually unburden your mind of distracting clutter and go "clear" -- and become somewhat superhuman. Scientologists spend years, and increasingly expensive rates, chasing the state of clear (and beyond), telling each other that just one more level, one more training routine, will get them to superhuman status. It never comes, and eventually, longtime members tend to drop out from sheer exhaustion. Beghe says Presley has obviously reached that point. (Records show she was attested "clear" by Scientology in 1980, when she was only 12 years old.)
"My heart goes out to her. It's not an easy moment. But it seems that she's seized control of it and used it artistically. I think that's the strongest artistic communication I've heard her make," he says.
"Coming out of Scientology has freed me up, artistically," he adds, and his career does seem to have benefited from his decision to defect in 2008. He's now a regular on Californication and is just wrapping up his involvement in an Ayn Rand movie. When I interviewed Beghe after he first went public with his defection, he really wasn't sure how it would affect his career.
"You put a clamp on your soul and it affects everything," he says, explaining that it isn't easy to break out of that confinement.
"It takes guts, it takes courage. Lisa was in forever, since she was a little kitten. I don't know where her mother's at, but I'm moved, frankly."
When I asked Beghe if he thought Presley would take another step and speak publicly about her decision, he said it might not happen.
"Everybody's got their own process. But it seems to me that at least she's found a way to express herself that's penetrating, to say the least," he says.
Like Hawkins, Beghe says he was struck by the line, "Heartfelt people with no heart."
"These people in the church are decent people. And the fact is, their hearts have been taken out of them. That's how I read that. They're heartfelt, but it's not their fucking heart," he says.
I also pointed out a line that, to me, seems an obvious slap to the church: "Nothing's more clear than goodbye."
Beghe explained that many longtime Scientologists are being driven away from the church because of the way current leader David Miscavige has tinkered with L. Ron Hubbard's "technology" -- at one point telling advanced, longtime members that they would have to redo expensive levels of training and, essentially, go "clear" all over again. It made no sense to Beghe, he tells me, and started him on the road to breaking free. Many other veteran members now coming out of the church make the same complaint.
"A lot of people are waking up because of that thing," Beghe says. And then he added something that really surprised me.
"I also think Kirstie has one foot out the door. And Kirstie and Lisa are two hearts with one beat. They're close. They're good friends," he says.
We'll be paying attention as Lisa gives interviews this week. Will a reporter please ask her about these lyrics?
Scientology Sunday Funnies!
Just about every day, we receive the latest wacky and tacky fundraising mailers put out by Scientology orgs around the world. Thank you, tipsters, for forwarding them to us! On Sundays, we love to reveal them to you.
When we think of the Phoenix org raising money for a new building, we naturally think of the fabulous Dede. But in this flier, the Arizona folks are trying to class things up a bit.
Never been a better time? Well, you can't fault this South African flier for trying.
OMG! Catch the fever as the OC org ropes you in for Central Files work needed for the new building! As we've seen in videos, you can help out even in the middle of the night!
As usual, we look forward to your illuminating comments about these mailers.
Commenters of the Week!
Last week, we started things off with some delicious Sunday Funnies, including a flier that promised after listening to Rick Alexander you'd be able to convince anyone -- even those in no "need" of it -- to put down hard earned cash for Scientology training.
We enjoyed MarkStark's syllabus for Rick Alexander's seminar...
The 12 parts of Mr. Rick's dissemination course:
1. How to get relatives to report to an Org on command, using Tone 40. 2. How to deal with relatives who threaten to kill you or themselves, if you mention Scientology or L. Ron Hubbard one more time. 3. How to disseminate onto newspaper, when no relatives are available. 4. Inseminate and disseminate: The 2-pronged approach. 5. Disseminating from 3 feet behind the head. 6. Disseminating up the rear. 7. Full-frontal disseminityness. 8. Finding their ruin, and going in for the kill. 9. It's like Disneyland! Selling kids on the Sea Org, even when their parents are against it. 10. Disseminating as if your life depended on it. 11. Disseminating to the dead. 12. Disseminating after you're dead.
BroekerBroekerBroeker, meanwhile, saw a mention of Kate Bornstein's memoir in last week's Commenters of the Week, and added his own impression of the book...
I finished reading Kate's book the other day, and I can't recommend it enough to any Scn watcher. It's much less about Scn proper than many of the other exes' books -- because Kate has been out (of CoS) for three decades and lived a number of fascinating lives since -- but it still provides riveting first-hand detail of life on the Apollo. And that's something relatively new.
Rolotomasii noted something about the layout of the page in last week's post...
Don't now if this is purposeful, Village Voice you scoundrels, but next to the Rick Alexander promo and the testimonials is a sex toy ad for something called Smitten Kitten and a sex toy that looks suspiciously like a demonic carrot. It juxtaposes nicely with M.B.'s comment in the Rick Alexander nonsense regarding learning a new tool that is great and useful. I would like to believe that this is circumstance or karma, but one thing it is damn funny. Bravo, Village Voice, bravo.
Well, we do try!
Monday evening, we took a close look at the sex-assault lawsuit filed against John Travolta and found many dream-like elements in it.
mirele was quick with an apt judgment on the lawsuit...
This has the whiff of Eau de Ambulance Chaser...you know, the heady mix of hot asphalt and freshly-printed tabloid.
MarkStark, as usual, made us nearly spill our coffee...
Travolta wouldn't touch this guy with an 8-inch pole.
And Jonathan W. Hendry added this jab...
The plaintiff should have held out for a really talented attorney, like Orly Taitz.
And then Miles Biondo had us nodding with this perceptive read of the situation...
John Travolta's self-imposed Scientology Prison has always made him a tragic character to me. An eminently likable man who, in interviews, exhibits a warmth and humanity that would be difficult to fake, I've always been pulling for him to see the light and make the brave escape. Tom Cruise, on the other hand, comes off as an arrogant, delusional, brainwashed tool. Perhaps it's as they say -- that Scientology makes you "more of who you are." I would be happy to hear that Travolta has finally parted company with these slithering criminals, as I would be happy to see Cruise go down with the sinking ship.
I couldn't care less about Travolta's -- or any celebrity's -- sexuality; it is categorically none of my business. But everything about John Doe's complaint smells like bullshit. I've heard dozens of rumors about Travolta's alleged proclivities. It is only the looming presence of Scientology, and L. Ron Hubbard's brutally bigoted anti-gay doctrine, that gives these rumors any significance.
On Friday, we brought more analysis to the Travolta lawsuit, courtesy of our legal expert, Scott Pilutik. We also got a look at the rambling, loony statement from John Doe #1, who wished Travolta well even though he was suing him for $2 million.
We liked this characterization of that message, by Noah Miller...
Translation of John Doe's statement: "Please stop calling me a liar. It is really hard to get paid to go away when everyone is calling me a liar."
We had to smile at this bit of honesty by scnethics....
I read about the case here and I know it's bullshit. Then I read about it somewhere else, and it seems plausible. Damn, I'm impressionable!
And finally, we couldn't help laughing at this jibe from LoyalOfficer...
Why does John put himself in these types of situations? He should just do what the rest of us do when we feel that urge to tickle another's pickle. Just go exterior and zoom off to the Throbbing Thetan Bath House. Tom C. gets greeted there like Norm from Cheers.
Well, this was a wild week. The Travolta lawsuit came out of nowhere, and I know it wasn't everyone's favorite subject. We're working on several very meaty new investigations, and should be able to start unveiling them soon. In the meantime, send in those fundraising mailers and any other tips! Our tipsters are the very best!
And please remember to check our Facebook author page for schedules and updates.
********** Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at email@example.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.
As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.