Addition to Chapter 13
Joining the Sea Org
Continuing from print pg. 109, after opening paragraph:
I HAD NO INTEREST in the Sea Org until the Portland Crusade when I worked with Sea Org members from Gold/Int base. Those Sea Org crew moved from points A to B completing tasks with such speed that Peter and I found ourselves working at the same pace. “Speed of particle flow determines power” was the mantra. SO members worked together as units of power rather moreso than as individuals. Everything and anything could be achieved. A problem led to a solution, often to a greater idea, to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number.
While I admired the group synergy, I didn’t like giving up my independence or melding into the fold to function as a unit that lacked individuality like a band of communists. I had watched friends join the SO and transition from “normal life” to taking on the identity and beliefs of a fanatical group member. I wondered whether they were under the influence of thought control. Does it take brainwashing to get people to function like that? Or do the rebels come out of the closet to achieve the undoable when circumstances give them the opportunity?
On one trip to Flag for an event, I walked through downtown Clearwater from the Fort Harrison to other Scientology buildings. I watched uniformed Sea Org members moving along swiftly with fixed, dedicated looks on their faces. Other Scientologists filled the sidewalks, many carrying their Halliburton E-meter case in one hand, though they walked with a more casual gait and chatted with others on the sidewalk. The distinction between the public Scientologist and the dedicated Sea Org member struck me with such an intensity; I had never seen the level of dedication in Sea Org members as I had at the Crusade. They exuded purpose, competence and solidarity that drew me like a magnetic pull. Despite my fears and misgivings about Sea Org life, it nevertheless beckoned to my desire to stand for something bigger than me, something that mattered.
An urge swept over me to be inside this group, all risks aside. I walked into a Sea Org recruiter’s office at Flag, requested a billion year contract, told them I wanted to join the Sea Org at Celebrity Centre, and signed the contract. I headed to the Sandcastle, my favorite of all Scientology buildings that was light and bright and on the water, also where the wealthiest Scientologists stayed to do advanced Scientology services. Outside on the waterfront patio, I ran into my friends Diana Dubin and her husband Dennis. I chatted with them about my plans, scarcely believing what I had just done. I hadn’t yet told Peter.
Scientology and the Sea Org are full of paradoxes. While the church hard-sells auditing and training, members become ensnared by burgeoning financial debt to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars it takes to move up its pay-as-you-go bridge. Many Scientologists join the Sea Org as a means of receiving Scientology services without using personal cash, credit cards, or getting loans. This influenced me somewhat, but I had other reasons.
How did I feel after signing away all future lifetimes? My contract stayed tucked within my travel bag until I got back to the Celebrity Centre. I walked into the office of my friends, Pat and Sarah Gualtieri, who headed up the Celebrity Centre Network, and told Pat I signed a Sea Org contract.
“You did what, KK?! You’re coming into the Sea Org! What about Peter?”
“I don’t know when I am going to route in. Peter and I have to talk.”
“Well, you know that this is your home, and we want you here. I never tried to recruit you because of your careers, I mean, some people do a lot of good for Scientology outside the Sea Org, like you and Peter. So I didn’t think you’d even consider it,” Pat said.
“It’s what I want to do.” My decision to ditch my design career a few years ago to work as a music publisher had left me without an intense-enough personal game. So Peter and I would have to work this out.
SEA ORG BOOT CAMP
The rite of passage into the Sea Organization is the Estates Project Force, a militaristic boot-camp process. I started the EPF against Peter’s wishes; he did not want me to join the Sea Org. I believed that since LRH was gone, we were all responsible for Keeping Scientology Working. Peter and I also felt a lot of tension after the Crusade, not working for more than a month with a checking account in a deficit, floundering about the direction of our lives. Peter wasn’t eligible for the Sea Org because he taken LSD. Otherwise, I think he would have done it.
The big blue Scientology buildings on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood served as the EPF headquarters for the Pacific Area Command, the PAC base, for the Sea Org in southern California. Lieutenant James Byrnes controlled the PAC EPF, and ran it like a military drill sergeant. Every morning, lunch, and dinner, I mustered with the EPFers wearing a blue zip-up polyester jumpsuit and black combat boots. We worked about six hours per day on manual labor, and six hours on our Sea Org “Product Zero” training program.
This rigorous regimen includes a series of courses that prepared us to think and function as a Sea Org member, not as a wog, not as a public Scientologist, but as an elite breed of homo sapiens and dedicated members of Hubbard’s elite corps. The first two required courses were the Student Hat and Scientology Ethics course, which I had already done. This eliminated nearly two months of EPF time for me. That left me to complete the Basic Cleaning Course, the Welcome to the Sea Org Tapes course, the Basic Sea Org Member Hat course, and the Keys to Competence Course.
The Sea Org materials covered Hubbard’s development of the Sea Org flotilla of ships since the 1960s, why he formed the Sea Org, and how to adopt a Sea Org attitude. The training scratched the surface about seamanship, just enough to learn the basics of naval terms, parts of a ship, and how to tie different knots. The rest of the material provided history of Hubbard at sea, and established a philosophy of being a Sea Org member. The basic spin is that Hubbard established it in the 1960s with a flotilla of ships that operated outside of the control of any particular government. Hubbard needed a secluded place to do his research into the OT levels so he could remain fabian. The enemy’s intent to bring down Scientology—mankind’s only hope—would not be able to reach its founder on international waters and interrupt his research developing Scientology levels.
Hubbard set up the Sea Org with the most highly dedicated members in Scientology who mostly came from the early days at Saint Hill. He said that Sea Org members “alone would excite great admiration but who together, well organized, can actually get the job done” (Scientology Management Dictionary, p. 464). Hubbard told the earliest Sea Org members that being fabian, mobile and separate from the pull of land was a necessity in order to accomplish the plans and purpose of the Sea Org. In the eyes of dedicated followers, humankind could only be turned into ethical beings by “getting in the tech” and converting Earth to Scientologists.
Thousands of pages of Hubbard’s writings can fuel the fire in any Sea Org member’s heart simply by reading his Flag Orders about status and dedication, such as: These “aristocrats of Scientology alone and on their own are all stars in the sky of their areas. It is like one of the old regiments of gentlemen where any private would be, in another but common regiment, a colonel.” Hubbard says the Sea Org is composed of the aristocracy of Scientology. Its members are trained to operate at a high level of confront, and are thus defined and expected to live in the same way as an Operating Thetan, or OT: to exist as an ultimate authority, “at cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space, time and form (MEST).”
Sea Org members are trained to believe that Scientology is an ongoing victim of attack by enemies who do not want Scientology to flourish as the world’s solution to mental health. No authority or responsibility for getting anything done or achieving any goal is outside a Sea Org member’s realm of control. This begins the mindset of being above the law of the land.
DOWN AND DIRTY: ESTATES PROJECT FORCE
For my six hours of manual labor on the EPF, we’d work in Big Blue, cleaning out the Car Pool area, cleaning the dumpsters, washing sidewalks, cleaning “pot land” and the galley that provided food to all the PAC Sea Org members. I learned to swab a floor with a giant string mop as if swabbing a deck of a ship—a rough exercise that I mastered. We cleaned up the dishes after Sea Org crew finished eating, set up tables for the next meals, and set up chairs in Lebanon hall for graduations and other events.
Peter and I didn’t like the fact that I had to stay in the EPF quarters, away from home. I didn’t like sleeping in a metal bunk bed, triple-stacked, in a crowded, slovenly dorm room of an un-renovated old hospital building with about twelve other women. Having no privacy, and carrying my toiletries in a plastic bucket to the shower down the hall, was not my idea of decent living conditions for members of the aristocratic, elite corps of Scientology.
Why I didn’t turn around and run when I realized the impoverished conditions of Sea Org living is beyond me. But this lifestyle would prove to be the mode at every Sea Org base I would enter, with the exception of the more lavish conditions of the International senior executives of Scientology. Why didn’t I realize then that the lowly treatment of SO members was a reflection on our leadership?
THE POWER OF SEA ORG SYMBOLS
Historically, the laurel wreath represents victory in many cultures that use it to crown champion athletes, conquerors, and poet laureates for physical victories, so it’s not exclusive to Scientology. Sea Org members believe they are part of a galactic, back-on-the-time-track group whose individual power transcends mere earth matters. Wearing a Sea Org cap means, this symbol holds (subliminal) power and authority over you, so you will do what I say you will do. I will get your ethics in and you will comply, or I will handle you to the best of my ability to achieve the purposes of the Sea Org.
The billion-year contract signed by any Sea Org recruit features a Sea Org symbol within the Sea Org coat of arms. The laurel wreath symbolizes the spirit or “a series of inner victories achieved by the individual, and the clarification and purification of his inner aims and purposes which lead to the outward victory” (Scientology Management Dictionary, p. 467). Hubbard’s version derives its power and authority from its association with the “symbol of a Galactic Confederacy far back in the history of this sector” (p. 467). The Sea Org’s laurel wreath adds the ascending star, or “the confederation and each of those leaves is counted, it’s the number of stars” (p. 167). The star ascends freely through the open laurel branches, not trapped in its victory, representing the freedom of a spirit. The star rises above, ascending toward “Source.” Source refers to Hubbard, but also refers to his tech.
The Sea Org emblem or coat of arms includes a small, folded ribbon bearing the word “Revenimus” with a seahorse on each side of the word. Revenimus means “we come back.” Sea Org members believe in living countless lifetimes, past and future. These billion-year contracted staff will come back to work for Scientology, ad infinitum. The seahorses symbolize “standard technology,” protected by Sea Org members as the most prized element of Scientology. But the highest aim is to protect the Scientology bridge for all mankind to attain a higher spiritual state. Self-appointed world guardians, so to speak. Any threat to our goals made us think that Scientology’s bridge was at risk for mankind. That’s why any threat is perceived as a deadly serious attack, requiring a deadly serious response.
If my critical thinking skills had been in gear, the Sea Org materials would have driven me out of, not further into Scientology. During Sea Org training, the recruit is in a completely vulnerable position of replacing one’s most personal beliefs with the perspectives of L. Ron Hubbard about this extremist group.
There were few rewards for our extreme dedication, apart from the ultimate—a cleared planet. Once a year, all Sea Org units around the world hold a Sea Org Day celebration to honor its members and to give recognitions and a day-long party. Sea Org day is a big deal in a Sea Org member’s life. We applied for a promotion in Sea Org rank, and earned Sea Org campaign bars for special projects, like the fruit salad worn on U.S. military uniforms. Petty officers strive to earn an officer rank, thereby replacing one’s lowly silver chevrons worn on one’s sleeves with gold officer stripes on black shoulder boards, and a gold banded Sea Org cap. A promotion is given with expectations of increased responsibility. It earns not only a spot at the officer’s table at mealtimes, but yields increased ethics presence and other rare perks.
SEA ORG GRADUATE
Most EPFers complete the EPF in a few months. I flew through it in three weeks, thanks to being Fast Flow and already completing two of the requirements previously. Peter did not attend my EPF graduation, which I took as an invalidation. Instead, he went up to Golden Era Productions to work on the new Road to Freedom album with Scientologist musicians and singers. Being the “make it go right” Sea Org member I now was, I got special permission to go up to Gold the night I graduated. A regular Sea Org member would never have received this permission, since the base location was kept secret. My permission was granted because Peter and I had “celebrity status.” Or at least he still did; I had relinquished that identity once I joined the Sea Org.
I walked into the Golden Era music studio wearing my new, pseudo-military Sea Org Class A uniform, complete with my navy blue skirt and jacket, black Sea Org buttons and black pumps, white shirt with a black cross tie, and my white military-style Sea Org cap. Peter and Leif Garrett, and many of my friends were there including Raven Kane, Harriet Schock and David Pomeranz. As I entered the room and headed toward Peter at his keyboards, my friends stepped aside as if making way for a dignitary, making me feel totally awkward, almost freakish. I had read that the Sea Org uniform exudes ethics presence from the symbology and formal militaristic dress, but I felt separate from my friends and husband from the obvious new difference between us.
Everyone congratulated me and told me how proud they were of me. I felt like two different people within my own skin: my true artistic self, and someone who had taken a step to become a role model as a Sea Org member, expecting my friends to follow. I mark this as the beginning of what became two identities: my cult identity versus my authentic self-identity.
Peter looked me up and down, as if I had stepped out of my identity as his wife. I sensed a distinct gap between us. He just didn’t have a Sea Org viewpoint. We stayed in the Lower Lodges that night, when I burst into tears over his not coming to my EPF graduation. He was defensive that he had the opportunity to be at Gold to work on this album. My gut churned with doubt about my decision to be a Sea Org member.
I was now in a role where I would be called “sir,” as we had no feminine titles for female members. And wearing a Sea Org uniform every day, complete with a man’s military shirt, is enough to make any woman lose her panache.
GIG NUMBER ONE
My first Sea Org role was a short stint working in the Celebrity Centre International Network office under Pat and Sarah Gualtieri. As Commanding Officer, Sarah managed the satellite CC’s in Paris, New York, Dallas, Nashville, Las Vegas, London and the like. As the Deputy CO for Expansion, Pat opened new CC’s.
My first post title was Deputy Commanding Officer for Public Relations Celebrity Centre Network. It was an odd post for me as someone who wanted to be on front lines developing events to bring new people into Scientology. My first task was collecting donations to fund the new CC sign facing the 101 Freeway. I hesitated to ask people for tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a sign when I knew how Scientologists had to max their credits to pay for Scientology services. I continued to do my own thing of making celebrity contacts or recruiting people to join the Sea Org at Celebrity Centre.
The external Celebrity Centre Network office was disbanded a few months later, when Pat, Sarah, and I were merged onto posts within the Hollywood CC. Pat headed up Axiom Productions, named after the original Axioms under Yvonne Gillham, known by friends as Wing-It Productions for producing events. Sarah headed up Celebrity Public Servicing Division Six.
CC Captain Val Garcia told me that I had been selected for executive training at the International Training Organization. ITO trained Sea Org members for specialist skills; in my case, to become an executive. Knowing I would be stuck in a classroom for more than 10 hours per day, for at least a year, totally off my activity lines at CC INT, I pleaded to not be sent to ITO.
In better circumstances, I would have jumped at the chance for more education. But my true interests were deeply embedded in Celebrity Centre’s purpose of the arts, celebrity contacts, recruitment, and events. I did not see myself as a future hammer-and-pound executive, ruthless and pitiless, demanding products from staff to drive up the stats. The Sea Org group think won. I needed to support command intention, period.