When Scientology Was Hip: E-Meters in the Village
Drop out, tune in, and turn on the e-meter
Last week, we started a new feature on Tuesdays. We've asked freelancer Antoine Oman* to write us stories that look at things from Scientology's perspective. This week, he takes a look at Scientology in the 1960s -- ed.
I had the distinct pleasure last week to speak with a singular man named Roger Weller. I wanted to share with our readers what no one, in my experience, has explained with more perspicacity and feeling: what it was like to be in the Village in the 1960s while young people were thrilling to a new understanding of the cosmos.
"From 1965 to 1967 I did so much acid, I was a fucking wreck," Roger told me by telephone from his current spiritual oasis near Asheville, North Carolina.
He says that he started his spiritual awakening in 1965 when he left Greenwich Village to spend time in Berkeley, where living the proto-hippie life came with its austerities. "I fell into a commune on Spaulding Street. There was a bed in the basement. No shower, but there was a bathtub. I was taking a bath and this hot chick came and took a dump and I was trying to cover myself up. It really freaked me out."
Further travels to Provincetown on the Cape, to Florida, and another trip to Berkeley deepened Roger's immersion in America's counterculture. But by 1967, by his own admission, he was burnt out and looking for an escape from the drug culture.
"In 1967, Scientology was a natural to go to from the drug culture. The New York org, it was a cool thing," he says. "There was something interesting about it. Here I was, all freaked out on acid, and here were all these people who seemed so focused. I told them I wanted to go to India. They said I needed auditing."
He was brought into the org by a good looking girl. "The chick is looking at the e-meter, the needle going back and forth. 'Do you do any drugs?' she asked me. I said, 'Not really, I smoked a little pot this morning.'" Roger was told he'd need to be off drugs for six months before he could get any benefit from Scientology. He decided he could do that.
Weller sent this photo of himself with Mick Jagger at a 1972 forum, where he said he gave the singer a Scientology book
"There were all these hot chicks. I bought this book 88088. It had all this out-of-body stuff. 'This is cool,' I thought. I can fly around the universe and not have to take any drugs."
The young men, meanwhile, also struck him in interesting ways. "There were guys a few years older, wearing ascots -- Hubbard wore an ascot. I thought it was odd, but they were really friendly to me. They were listening to me. It was just a very cool experience," he says. "Haight Ashbury had been all about crabs. It was not as great as everybody thinks it was."
Roger became an ardent member of Scientology and would stay in it for another 19 years. "I disseminated Scientology to so many people in the 60s, and the whole time I was in Scientology I was in the counterculture," he says. "I did have fun, going to lots of parties, and it wasn't so expensive when I was in. I met lots of people in Scientology in the 19 years I was in. Most of them are out now," he adds.
Roger himself left Scientology when L. Ron Hubbard decided to change planes of existence and left his body in 1986.
"I'm still a hippie today. I don't smoke pot or take drugs, and my hair is short, but I still do my own thing. I meditate. I'm still living outside society," he says.
Well, I for one am thrilled that Roger has given me that glimpse of what the Scientology experience was like when the whole world was in spiritual fluxion. Just talking to him has raised my vibration to 295.
Until next time, fellow seekers!
* Any resemblance of Antoine Oman to another writer who turned out to be an alter ego for a certain wiseass named Ortega is purely speculation on your part.
Previous stories by Antoine Oman:
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- NYU Student Employees Say the University Hasn't Paid Them in Months
- Here Are the Early Frontrunners for Worst Halloween Costumes for Sale in New York
- How Does the DEA Determine the Value of Confiscated Marijuana?