A few weeks ago, we noted that Amanda Palmer — the musician who performs as a solo act and as one half of the Dresden Dolls and Evelyn Evelyn — made a rather dramatic appearance at Kate Bornstein‘s book party, held at Dixon Place.
Right about that same time, Palmer was also making news for taking her career in a bold new direction — unmoored from her record label, she is releasing a new album the indie way, and launched a Kickstarter project to fund production of it. With an initial goal of $100,000, the project is nearing a million dollars from almost 20,000 contributors.
Despite our story that Palmer had showed up to pay homage to Bornstein — whose book is largely about how she managed to escape from a life in Scientology — there’s been some chatter on the Internet about Palmer, her husband Neil Gaiman, their connections to Scientology, and whether her Kickstarter project was somehow connected to, or would in some way fund, the controversial church. After the jump, see her dramatic answer to that question.
“Nope. Not planning to fund Scientology with my Kickstarter money. That would be dumb. P.S., Smurf-tits, AFP [Amanda Fucking Palmer]”
Palmer posted the image to her blog on May 23, but I just ran across it yesterday while perusing a lengthy thread at WhyWeProtest.net which has been raging for weeks, debating the connections between Scientology and the married couple, Gaiman and Palmer, who are attacked rather viciously as artistic hacks and dupes to the church, funding it with huge donations. The thread is rather outré, even by the (lovable) standards of WWP. (It’s not worth debating their artistic talent, but it seems unwise to deny that Gaiman is one of the most highly decorated artists in his field, and Palmer is certainly one of the most original in hers. That she’s essentially giving the middle finger to a flailing music industry seems the kind of thing that should generate respect from the DIY ‘net world, and it’s odd that instead she’s getting a lot of heat, which she writes about at her blog.)
As we pointed out in our previous story, Gaiman grew up in Scientology, the son of David Gaiman, who became the church’s spokesman in the UK. But Neil himself says little about Scientology, giving the impression that he keeps it at arm’s length, even though his two sisters and ex-wife are still members. (Former Scientologists often keep quiet about the church, knowing that if they speak out against it, their family members will be instructed to “disconnect” from them entirely.)
The WWP thread makes allegations that Gaiman’s ex-wife, Mary McGrath, has made huge donations to the church in recent years. This may be true (though we could find no documentation of this online), but what Neil’s ex does isn’t necessarily a reflection on his own wishes. Palmer, meanwhile, is accused of being part of a Scientology family because her father’s firm was a vendor in the church’s Tampa Ideal Org project. (As we showed with our leak of architectural drawings of the Super Power building in Clearwater, however, Scientology commonly uses outside firms for development projects.) We’re also told that a photo of her father being married in a naval outfit is proof that he was in the Sea Org. (I found the photo not detailed enough to confirm that.)
Repeated attempts to find corroborating information online about Gaiman and Palmer turned up a lot of assertions but little substance. On the other hand, Palmer made a very public show of appearing at Kate Bornstein’s book party, not something a supporter of Scientology would be likely to do. And then this photograph, posted on her blog, seems to be directed right at the rumors at WWP. (And in Chanology terms, has anyone with her visibility ever so epically answered the refrain, “Tits or STFU”?)
I’m on the road, with limited ability to look into this further. But in a few days, when I’m back in the underground bunker, I’ll turn on all the circuits to track down these connections between Gaiman, Palmer, and Scientology. Or better yet, it would be great to talk to either of them about their interest in Kate Bornstein, her book, and what they think about David Miscavige’s church — my e-mail address is at the bottom of this post, just like it always is. Send me a message, AFP.
Birmingham in the House, Again!
The Scientology “org” in Birmingham, England, is already a favorite of ours. Has any org done more to raise money for its Ideal Org project with greater effort, creativity, and just downright jaw-dropping, cringe-inducing bad taste?
We’re thinking, of course, of Birmingham’s amazing beach party, which resulted in a video combining photos from the event with a song created for it.
There was also a leak of a photo showing a staffer holding fistfuls of cash after someone paid an awfully large bill.
But things are apparently getting even more desperate as the org tries to raise cash for the new building and sell, sell, sell books for library donations.
A tipster sent us this latest video from Birmingham’s OT Committee. Now, in the past we’ve seen some pretty young Scientology kids used to help sell the church. I think the youngest we’ve seen being used for that purpose was 3 years old.
Another Billion Years for our Old Friend Mark
This week, I received this e-mail from Mark Miglio, a Scientologist who used to participate in our comments section. Some months ago, he stopped leaving public comments, but he has continued to send me private e-mails — some of which I have shared with readers in the past.
I figured this is another one that our readers would want to see…
I wish I had more time to chat, but I am taking a flight to LA tomorrow to re-join the SeaO.
Yes. It is time for me to do something really big, once again.
Please wish me well; should you care to. I will still view your blog occasionally but obviously not nearly often as I have been doing; what with my new intense schedule and responsibilities.
It was fun writing to you all the time, thanks for reading. I will miss you and your daily dose; well, what was for a while, a daily dose of your fun observations.
Good luck with your crusade for truth, Justice, and the New York way.
So it’s back to the rice and beans for Miglio. We all live only to die. In our ships out in the sky! Warriors for a cause more than life!
Er, bon voyage, Marko.
Hey, remember to check our Facebook author page for schedules and updates. We should be on track to have our regular Friday morning post with dispatches from the yacht Apollo, circa 1970. They’re always a hoot.
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, 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.