Amanda Palmer Loved Kate Bornstein’s Memoir So Much, She Crashed the Book Party


Tuesday night, we were invited to play a small part in Kate Bornstein’s book party at the experimental theater Dixon Place, to celebrate the release of her memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger.

Earlier that day, our cover story about Kate had popped up on the website, and the print version of this week’s Voice had also started showing up around town.

Kate is not only a well-known performance artist, she’s also a familiar face among the many commenters at this blog, and we’ve enjoyed learning about her experiences as a Scientologist on the Apollo with L. Ron Hubbard back in the early 1970s.

So we were happy to be a part of the celebration, which was supposed to begin with a reading from the book. But instead, Kate announced a surprise guest: Amanda Palmer had crashed the party and would be starting the evening off with a song in Kate’s honor!

Palmer, one half of the musical duos The Dresden Dolls and Evelyn Evelyn, belted out a smart and funny song while strumming a ukelele in her stocking feet.

Before she began, however, she said that Kate had mailed her an advance copy of the book, and since she was in town, she couldn’t help but show up to celebrate the moment, even though the two of them had never met. It was really something.

And for Scientology Watchers, there was an intriguing angle to Palmer’s cameo. Last year, Palmer, 36, made legal her marriage to writer Neil Gaiman, 51, the famous British artist who is responsible for The Sandman comic series, the Hugo-winning novel American Gods, the Hugo-winning novella Coraline, and so much more.

Neil Gaiman is also the son of David Gaiman — who joined Scientology when Neil was 5 years old. David Gaiman rose to be the head of Scientology’s British operation, and was its spokesman there. He died in 2009.

Neil doesn’t talk much about his upbringing in Scientology; in 2010 he told the New Yorker‘s Dana Goodyear that he isn’t a Scientologist, though his two sisters remain in the church. Wrote Goodyear…

Like Judaism, Scientology is the religion of his family, and he feels some solidarity with them. “I will stand with groups when I feel like they’re being properly persecuted,” he told me.

We’d love to know why Neil’s wife, Amanda Palmer, was so inspired by Kate’s book. Perhaps at some point she’ll talk to us about that.

The next night, we joined Kate and her girlfriend Barbara Carrellas once again, this time for Yetta Kurland’s Wednesday night radio hour at WWRL 1600 AM. Yetta kept things lively as we discussed Scientology’s various problematic practices, such as disconnection, Fair Game, declaration of suppressive persons, and more.

I’d also like to give a shout out to our art director, John Dixon, who came up with the idea of a four-panel comic for the cover this week, and worked with artist Eugene Smith to make it happen. David Harrison, Kate’s former partner, told me he didn’t think we could have captured Kate any better.


Nick Xenophon Slimed by the New Straits Times

We’ve written about Independent Australian federal senator Nick Xenophon in the past. He’s known for his attempts to have Scientology investigated in that country, and in particular he is cited for a fiery speech he gave in that country’s parliament in 2009.

Scientology Watchers the world over tend to be familiar with a clip of Xenophon saying these words in the Aussie parliamentary chamber…

Scientology is not a religious organisation. It is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs.

Well, imagine the senator’s surprise when he recently made a trip to Malaysia and found himself quoted this way by the New Straits Times, which is owned by Malaysia’s government:

Islam is not a religious organisation. It is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Xenophon made the trip at the invitation of Malaysia’s opposition leader in advance of elections there, something that might have made the country’s government unhappy and provided its newspaper a reason to slime him by swapping out the word “Scientology” for “Islam.”

The New Straits Times has pulled the offending article.

The NST has apologized, but Xenophon is considering his legal options after what appears to be a pretty straightforward case of mugging-by-newspaper.


Lawrence Wright and the New Yorker Win Big for “The Apostate”

Last night, Lawrence Wright’s epic, 24,000-word story about screenwriter-director Paul Haggis’s defection from Scientology, “The Apostate,” won a coveted “Ellie” for The New Yorker at the gala put on by the Association of Magazine Editors, the annual National Magazine Awards, held here in New York City.

Hey, we already knew the piece was all that. And we are salivating for the book that is growing out it, which we hear Wright is still reporting. Let’s go, Larry! We need that book!

Also, don’t forget to read, if you haven’t already, our followup to one of the biggest revelations in Larry’s story, the FBI investigation into Scientology’s alleged abuses.


Scientology on the High Seas

In November the Voice obtained hundreds of copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s previously unpublished “Orders of the Day,” which he gave to crew members as he sailed the Atlantic and the Mediterranean on the yacht Apollo. Our documents cover the period from late 1968 through 1971, and this time we’re looking at what was happening the week of April 29 through May 5 during those years.

This week, the Commodore is manic as all get out…


May 1: Does the Commodore have to do everything around here?

1. Ship Condition

I am waiting, not altogether patiently, for the individuals aboard to realize that they are a ships company and responsible to each other for the survival of the ship and each other.

Until this company insists to one another that each do his duty and that crazy outnesses are threats to survival and must cease the ship is at risk.

This ships company has no right whatever to dump on me the arduous task of catching dropped balls and single-handing this vessel over the top of wild goofs in food, fuel, security, repairs and maintenance, and appearance.

It is up to each crew member to generate an insistence on competence by others and to perform his own duties.

Working only to orders, tolerating wild stupidities and letting things drift are practices which must cease.

Until I see a distinct change of attitude and increased awareness in efficiency,

1. There will be no allowances.
2. There will not be any shore liberty.
3. There will be no leave.
4. And you will see Ethics as heavy and unpredictable as the goofs that are being handed me to handle.

Deficient in emergency drills good sense and hard work, the survival of this vessel and its crew is being fought for only by myself and a very few others. As long as the ships company remains this irresponsible and idle and refuses to insist on smart competence amongst themselves, this ship is in grave danger of catastrophe.

You better wake up before you wake up dead.


2. Goofs Caught Today

Security was being breached continually to Corfu and elsewhere by this ship by both mail and telex (see debriefs of OTLs).

Fridge repairmen sent back ashore with no order because Div. 3 dumped its hat on the Chief Engineer.

No. 1 Hold large frig (ordered repaired) was falsely reported as all fixed, whereas its bearings were shot and about to leave the company with no meat in the coming summer weather. My Repair order shunted aside saying the E/R would replace bearings. No mention of the unventilated condition of the frig’s motor compartment which would be 120 degrees in summer and no air.

Ship bumping dock, Con oblivious. When I ordered remedied, E/R didn’t put any juice on the capstan for 20 minutes as “they’ve waited before”.

Radar current regulator in motor room improperly written up for repair. It’s the resistors in the rheostat in the motor room that are gone. The current can’t be further reduced. Lack of current regulation is blowing out the range rings. QMs aren’t watching it. It can’t be reduced now due to resistor fault.

There were probably 40 or 50 other big goofs. I didn’t catch more than above.

Who mans these posts? Zombies?



May 5: Brace yourself — Hubbard rants about poor pay.


I wish places like DK and OTLs and Pubs Org would PAY their people their pay and allowances.

The first AOSHDK C/O was removed for failing to do so.

I know they were on a low allocation for many weeks. But in Feb DK was given a fat allocation scale and should have caught up their arrears easily.

For Pubs not to pay their staff is silly.

Hey, how about somebody grabbing a hat I have — a welfare hat with a loud clear purpose to feed well, clothe properly and pay promptly allowances due to crews and staff.

The coin has two sides: On one side you make lots of production economically and flood the joint with lucre, largess and loo-loo-loot. On the other side you pay, feed, clothe people, put out the promo, provide the facilities and pay the bills and bank reserves for a rainy day.

When execs and staffs do not CAUSE enough production, the other side of the coin gets defaced and hard to handle and become the EFFECT of problems.

I spend an awful lot of time and effort making sure the coin keeps both sides. Whoever heard of a one sided coin?

The FEBC tells you what you need to know about the CAUSE side of the coin so you can handle the EFFECT side easily and pleasantly.

Financing never gets hard until there isn’t any of it.



April 29: An interesting cameo.


David Mayo is assigned as an Ad Course Auditor assisting Bob Guilford, This is in addition to his Flag Interneship.

This post does the incidental auditing and minor repairs and rud flying needed by Ad Courses.

Full checkout on these actions should be done at once. This includes HCO B 26 Apr 71.


May 2: Shush! The Commodore is in session!


There is to be no noise made between the hours of 1230 – 1600. These are generally the COMMODORE’s session hours and on no account may they be disturbed. Anybody disturbing the COMMODORE’s sessions will be docked 2 weeks pay. Be sure to check between these hours, whether or not the session has finished before starting any noisy work within range of A Deck Port, above or below or alongside. Nobody wants to stop any work. But a lot of our survival and expansion depends on those sessions!

Claire Popham
Comdr. Mess.

May 5: Death to splinter groups! And a famous acting teacher makes his debut.


A guy from Dianology set a fire in the Celebrity Center building in LA. It was all handled. I trust the guy will also be.


The top Broadway hit man, Milton Katselas, through Celebrity Centre sent me a screen play that deals with some Scientology materials.

I received it as he requested, went over it. As an old screen writer I found some ways to polish it and telexed him that I would.

He was just telexed back very thrilled. In one week he did Grade VI, went Clear, was taken on at Columbia Pictures to direct his Broadway hit and got my assurance I’d help work on the new screen play. To quote “All in One Week. Wow.”


I am collecting records of mood and light orchestral music. Richard Gorman just gave me one “Money Jungle” with Duke Ellington, Charlie Mingus on the bass fiddle and Max Roach on the drums. Three stars made a fantastique! Richard himself is an old bull fiddle man from way back.

It’s been a day of the arts!



Bonus 1970s Awesomeness

While L. Ron Hubbard was moving HQ from the yacht </i/>Apollo to the Florida coast, Advance! magazine was thrilling Scientologists with its tales of “OT Phenomena.” Those church members who had reached the higher levels of spiritual training shared their stories of superhuman powers with fellow dupes — er, enthusiasts. This excerpt is from Issue 31, May 1975.

About a week after finishing OT III Expanded I “lost” my Clear Bracelet and spent an hour “looking” and “searching” for it. I ended with, “Well, I will have it.”

Several evenings later, while in bed I decided it was time to have it again, so I “moved to it.” I immediately found myself a foot under the body’s back where the bracelet lay — beneath the water bed! It would not have been found otherwise, without draining and moving the waterbed! That was fun.

While laughing outrageously to myself over the win, I then exteriorized over the western hemisphere just to test my cockiness. Amazing freedom. And I’ve always wanted to travel! I can’t wait to do the upper OT Sections. — Dennis Winfrey, OT

Recently my wife and I were driving around Los Angeles and decided to get a bite to eat. We decided to go to McDonald’s Restaurant for a hamburger, but not being from L.A. neither of us knew where there was one. At that moment I exteriorized and let the car right into a McDonald’s parking lot.

After having something to eat I did exactly the same thing to find a theater we wanted to go to.

It felt so natural to just be an OT and do these simple actions. It’s so good to know what I can do and that I can do itPat Quail, OT

Apparently, Dennis Winfrey soured on those upper levels. I find a record of him suing the church in 1984.

As for Pat’s quandary — finding the nearest McDonald’s — there’s gotta be an app for that now, right? Once again, smartphones make OT VIII superfluous.

We hope you enjoyed today’s collection of items. Please check our Facebook author page for schedules and updates, and out-of-left-field things like photos of the sun.

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, 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 is now being 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.