Addition to Chapter 28
Making Scientology Look Good
From print pg. 244 on
- Designing Int Management Events
- Deputy to Diana Hubbard
- Super Power Debacle
- Film Lab Debacle
- Another Surprise Promotion
DESIGNING INT MANAGEMENT EVENTS
GONE WERE THE DAYS of holding an event with a simple podium and an LRH photo hanging in the background. Cindy designed the stage to hold layers of illustrious set walls, dramatic lighting, and props that enhanced the executive’s messages. The events usually featured new releases of Scientology materials or videos of Scientology accomplishments, around a specific theme. Miscavige and his team were always the featured speakers and thus required speeches, videos, songs, props, and photos as part of their presentations. The IMPR Events Unit coordinated seven events per year under intense micromanagement by COB.
Every event production might have looked spectacular from the audience side, but brought an internal debacle of some sort—whether the speeches were a major flap, or the products weren’t produced by Gold in time to be announced, or my husband Peter and the Golden Era Musicians hadn’t written good enough music for the videos. Those were the three biggies for internal event-related engrams that repeated like clockwork for each of the events: March 13 for LRH’s Birthday, May 9 for the anniversary of Dianetics, June 6 for the anniversary of the Freewinds Maiden Voyage, Auditor’s Day in August, IAS annual event every October, and New Year’s Eve. Int base staff who worked on event-related posts, as well as staff who got pulled off their regular jobs to work on event tasks, ran like squirrels on a wheel in a cage, usually without sleep for several weeks before each event.
Thousands of Scientologists would pack the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles several times a year for these events, which, after adding the cost of sets, props, lighting, Int execs’ dress, etc., each cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars of church funds. Anyone who looks at back issues of the International Scientology News (produced by the IMPR Office and our marketing unit) can see how the sets became increasingly elaborate and ostentatious, to make Scientology look increasingly successful and wealthy.
Miscavige personally reviewed, revised and approved every one of our set designs. Cindy worked out the original concept; I helped her work out certain design details and helped rendered the color version before she submitted the work to COB. We would always design a backdrop situated directly behind the podium that would highlight COB’s blue eyes. And each podium was built in scale to his short stature, in proportion to his body size.
Working with outside vendors to produce photo transparencies, painted backdrops, light boxes, flags, trophies and awards gave me opportunities to go to Los Angeles to do quality control on the production of the items at their shops. This was a favorite part of my job. I had loved doing this throughout the UK, and was very good at quality control and troubleshooting. This work kept me sane and probably even saved my life. Had I not been able to get off the base and connect with the outside world, and engage in pleasant conversations with real people, I probably would have gone through a mental break much earlier. Or, I would have totally lost myself like Peter did.
I loved taking care of the Int execs’ dress for their on-stage appearances. COB posed the idea that he and the other speakers should appear in black tuxedos instead of their full regalia Sea Org uniforms dripping with gold stripes, campaign ribbons, and lanyards. I agreed that tuxedos would help them look more approachable by general public. COB approved my plan to get silk ties and cummerbunds made in my choice of fabrics by his personal tailor, Mr. Lim, in Los Angeles. The colors and fabrics were coordinated with Cindy’s set designs. I ended up finding comparable formal wear accessories in Beverly Hills, and got them approved by COB, which cut that budget in half. Another feather in my cap.
Designing the Dianetics awards, FSM trophies, Auditor’s Day lion, and other awards given out on stage was intensely creative for me. I’d source materials and vendors, then took care of quality control and production oversight to ensure they came out perfectly. Trips to LA also kept me out of some of the explosions in the Events unit. I was under my own heat to get these awards perfectly made without flaw, subject to COB’s scrutiny and approval.
The Maiden Voyage Anniversary event, celebrating the Freewinds as well as the IAS for a four-day event, took the greatest amount of preparation. COB and certain Cine and Audio crew would fly to Curacao, Venezuela or the town nearest the port where the Freewinds was docked somewhere in the Caribbean. COB would hold different events every day for the wealthy Scientologists who were able to attend and stay on the ship for a week. He’d deliver hard-hitting messages to inspire them to donate for various causes, including to the IAS. The Gold Musicians would perform nightly, sometime as background music for a presentation, but usually to entertain.
Anyone who had anything to do with the Maiden Voyage event knew that they wouldn’t get to sleep for about two weeks prior to the event. Video scripts and multiple speeches had to be written, videos had to be shot by Cine and music scored by the Musicians. I had been on two too many Maiden Voyage event cruises. Granted, it was fun to fly to Curacao and hope for a few hours off when we could go snorkeling, or go ashore and do some shopping or tour the island and enjoy some local seafood. On the days that happened, life was good. When it didn’t happen, that meant that the Gold crew had screwed up and several staff had probably been either sent to the bilges for punishment or were thrown overboard. After the Maiden Voyage events were over, the evolution began for producing hundreds of video copies that would get sent out to every org in the world. All the individual orgs were ordered to hold a Maiden Voyage event and get all their customers to come in and watch the videos. Can you imagine the joy of doing this?
While working in Exec Strata, it wasn’t all bad. We went through phases of good times occasionally, which tended to happen around major holidays like Christmas and New Year. COB had organized a trip for everyone to go to Big Bear for two days and stay in the ski-lodge hotel over Christmas. We did everything from romping in the snow to tobogganing and skiing and downing lots of beer. These were times when we got to know each other as people versus as Sea Org members. The base also went through a few phases when seniors granted liberties and we could actually take a day off every other week for a few months, if our stats were up. Libs were set up with Port and Starboard watches. Of course the Audio Division was on Starboard watch, and Cine was on Port watch, so Peter’s and my libs days were the opposite! We would have to write a special request and get this signed by a whole string of seniors to ever get the same day off, which was rare.
In 1996, LRH Personal Public Relations Office and IMPR Office collaborated in a major event commemorating the naming of a Los Angeles public street after L. Ron Hubbard. Our office ran the celebratory events dedicating L. Ron Hubbard Way in the Big Blue complex (PAC) in Los Angeles, since COB was to be the featured speaker and this would be on video. We organized parades, multiple stages and backdrops, a ribbon cutting with city officials, media coverage, celebrity involvement, music performances by the Golden Era Musicians on stage, lots of photo ops, and of course the main staging for the speakers using teleprompters. Our call-in had been effective; thousands of guests filled the streets surrounding PAC’s blue buildings.
Anyone would have called the day of events a massive success. But because our Art Director did not notice that the sun would fall on the teleprompter screens during the time that COB spoke, and he said he couldn’t read the words through the sun’s glare, he assigned Cindy and I a lower condition of confusion. That was our reward for the hundreds of tasks we completed successfully. In other words, the flaw that stood out for him took priority for discipline versus what we had accomplished.
ANOTHER PROMOTION: DEPUTY TO DIANA HUBBARD
One surprising day, COB Assistant called me to come to the Villas and meet with her and COB. They promoted me to a new post they had created just for me: I would work in the Senior Executive Strata as Commander Diana Hubbard’s deputy. Diana Hubbard Ryan Horwich was the Division Six Internal Executive International (DSIEI), responsible for the recruitment and basic training of new people coming into Scientology around the globe. As her deputy, I would continue doing my staff image projects that implemented Hubbard’s policy about the cleanliness of quarters and the image of staff as being the single-most important factor that would raise the income of Scientology organizations.
Diana Hubbard was exceedingly creative and talented, and loved to write. Her DSIEI role was pivotal to the expansion of Scientology. She wrote programs and enforced their implementation through lower level management organizations, and then evaluated those programs for their effectiveness. She was pounded by ED INT to come up with brilliant ideas for creating new routes onto Scientology’s Bridge so that wogs could come in and learn about Dianetics and Scientology. Routes included activities like Book One courses and auditing, lecture series, films, purification programs, and the like. The last thing Diana needed on her hands was me as a clothing designer.
Working under Diana had its advantages as well as unusual elements to it. As L. Ron Hubbard’s daughter, she had ethics protection in the eyes of most people on the base, so no one ever messed with her, except COB. By that time, it was commonly known that Diana was the last of Hubbard’s children to remain the Sea Org; everyone else had fled years ago. Her brother Arthur, who I met only once at the LRH Artist Org in Los Angeles in the 1980s, had gone to the RPF at Int and then left the Sea Org. Her other brother Quentin had died in the 1970s (cause of death as suicide or natural causes was up for debate), and her brother L. Ron Hubbard Junior was a bitter man who changed his name to Ron DeWolf (and, I later discovered, co-authored a portion of “L. Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman?” with Bent Corydon). The last Hubbard to leave was Diana’s sister, Suzette, whom I had met at the Flag Command Bureau in Hollywood. Suzette’s husband, Guy White, also blew the Int base after Suzette gave birth to baby Tyson, concurrent with COB’s sudden new law that babies (and children) were no longer allowed at the Int base, and he also cancelled family time at the Int base. Roanne Horwich, Hubbard’s granddaughter from Diana and Jon Horwich’s marriage, was born into Scientology, lived at the Int base, and worked in CMO Gold until a young adult (and left in 2012).
I listened to Diana bitterly comment more than once after her sister left that Suzette had no right to her own life. Clearly, Diana had no personal life either. She was kept under lock and key protection as the last Hubbard in the Sea Org. She sacrificed her marriage to John Ryan, a record producer in LA, to maintain her Sea Org position. Living at the Int base was an Orwellian picnic—life under authoritarian control—so unless a woman was successfully clandestine on rare trips off the base, sex did not happen outside of marriage. Diana’s temperament seemed to fluctuate from bitter to angry to numb and apathetic.
I would turn in my weekly battle plan to Diana, but apart from a short and casual conversation about my plans, she had little time to go over anything with me. This arrangement was fine, because I preferred more independence.
Although my post was D/DSIEI, there wasn’t room in Diana’s office for me. I worked in a little cottage in the Ranchos behind Del Sol with Cindy Rainer. Since Cindy was no longer senior to me, and I had not been replaced as her assistant, her resentful tone toward me was barely tolerable. Cindy needed my workspace for her event design projects, and I needed more work space for my design projects.
INT LANDLORD’S OFFICE: INTERNATIONAL PROPERTIES & STAFF IMAGESUPER POWER DEBACLE
I could see that the Super Power concept was still being developed and no one understood it fully, not even COB. He had been ordering the Senior C/S Int’s office to develop the Super Power rundowns, but the process of Super Power that had been in pilot mode off and on for ten years or more, was still ongoing. Thus a budget was impossible to do for the Super Power building because no one knew exactly what was going to be built, what was really needed, how the Super Power processes were going to be delivered, or how other spaces were going to be used and what was specifically needed in them. This was a complete wing-it, discover it as you go project.
Designs would get submitted, revised, rejected, redone. This went on for months. A professional interior designer, a Scientologist named Shari, was paid tens of thousands of dollars to develop the Super Power building design, assisted by all the Int Landlord design staff. Even Shari would submit designs to COB that got revised, rejected and redone, repeatedly.
Meanwhile, a project was ongoing at the Flag Land Base to collect donations from Scientologists to build the Super Power Building. Little did any Scientologists know that, while they were donating millions of dollars to this project, Super Power wasn’t even finished being worked out as a technical program, nor were the facilities even worked out that they were donating money for. I visited Flag many times for various uniform projects or Int events, so I often saw Laurie Webster, the Super Power Project In-Charge, who spearheaded the donations at Flag. I would ask her how the project was going, and she would tell me “fantastic,” in the millions of dollars collected already. She acted as if the Super Power Project was moving along for everyone, but had no idea that I knew that nothing had been resolved at the Int level about the Super Power program, nor the Super Power building designs, and that she was basically carrying on a front for a project going nowhere fast.
Around 1991 and 1992, I knew various Int base staff that had received some of the Super Power processes that were being piloted for the program. For example, one of the Art Department staff, Don, had received numerous Super Power rundowns. The content of the rundowns were confidential, but we could at least observe some of the results of these miraculous processes. Sometimes Don would come back to the office and share a win, indicating that he got something out of the session. Other times he’d seem to be introverted and incapable of holding a position in space, when other more assertive staff would confront him about something on his post.
One of the more bizarre parts of the Super Power pilot was having staff run around a pole outside in the desert heat. I heard stories of people passing out, getting bad headaches and pains in their legs, only to be told that they had to keep pressing through, i.e. “the way out is the way through.” Some people shared spectacular wins from running around this pole with realizations about their own ability to overcome anything. I was never made to run around the pole, but I remembered over-stretching wins like that after receiving other auditing process. Finding something positive in auditing made me feel better about what I had paid for or spent my time doing.
But I didn’t see that the staff that had run around the pole for several weeks or months made any significant life changes that helped them to do better as a result. I wasn’t impressed with what I had seen of the Super Power pilot on Don or on others at the Int base. So when I was at Flag hearing about how many millions of dollars were being collected in donations from trusting public, I felt that Int Management was betraying the Scientology public. I felt guilty about having this information and not revealing it to anyone. Had I ever done that, and was found out about, I’m sure I would have been shipped to Siberia.
COB visited the Int Landlord’s office several times a week to micromanage the progress of BV, his RTC building, and the Super Power building. An entourage of RTC staff typically followed him around, taking notes of any orders he issued or comments he made. He would pass my desk and see me doing my job without requiring orders, and it wasn’t even my official post. He would come over to look at my design work while asking me to tell him about the project I was developing. We’d usually have congenial conversations; he was not angry, rough, or vicious with me as I had so often witnessed of him with others.
I began to receive written despatches from COB, not telling me to do my job, but letting me know what he needed and wanted for staff image at other Scientology locations. Within hours after his visits, any of us who received orders or comments from him would receive a despatch in writing typed up by his communicators. These “COB despatches” were treated as priorities, overriding orders from our immediate seniors. This put our seniors into a constant condition of being bypassed by him. But it was these written orders directly from COB that kept me on my uniform design projects. No one bothered me or tried to cross-order him to get me to do something else.
I happened to be near COB more than once in the Int Landlord’s office when he started pontificating about the war with the IRS, and what it took to overthrow them. This happened when Martin, Marco, Barry and Carol Stein were around to listen. I watched COB as he talked; he seemed to enjoy having a captive audience, and seemed to like having people to hang out with and talk casually. Or was it just that he enjoyed the admiration, fawning and awe that staff showed him?
I always wondered about his application of one of LRH’s datums, “Never need praise or approval.” My husband Peter had been confronted after performing on the Freewinds or at other events, after he had done a keyboard solo and received audience applause. He’d stand up and would raise his hand to the crowd, acknowledging them as if to say “thank you.” Afterwards, he got knocked down for acting as if he needed and wanted that praise, and was told that all praise for his talents should be given to LRH. He was sent to cramming to find his misunderstood words. Yet I often watched Miscavige soak up admiration and fawning that often came his way. Other times he would hold this IRS victory over our heads: “What’s easier? Overthrowing the IRS or doing your post? Then why can’t you do your post?” would be typical denigrating statements.
SALVAGING THE FILM LAB DEBACLE = ETHICS PROTECTION
For months we heard how our film lab personnel, specifically Ray Reiser, a bent and frazzled man who lived on coffee and cigarettes and rarely slept, continued to make flawed copies of our training films and sent them out to orgs. Hairs on his film prints degraded the quality of the prints. Yet training films were a big source of income for Golden Era Productions; Gold made lower orgs pay several thousand dollars for each copy. But orgs were revolting by sending the film copies back because they were unprofessional, “overt” flawed products.
No one in the film production area had been able to isolate the cause of the problem. I took it upon myself to visit the film lab and see what was going on. In the lab processing area, I saw the staff wearing their regular Sea Org uniforms of blue cotton/polyester long sleeved shirts, black ties, navy blue wool/polyester blend pants, and leather shoes, while processing prints. They wore no protective clothing or head gear at all to prevent hair and lint from falling on the film stock. Any executive doing inspections here also wore regular uniforms with no protective gear either. This simple observation led me to conclude that it was plain old street dirt from shoes, lint from clothing, and hair from uncovered heads that contaminated our film prints. Didn’t really take rocket science to figure this out.
I did some research on protective clothing, suppliers and prices, and proposed a uniform plan for the film lab crew. I sent the proposal to the Commanding Officer of Gold, the person who should handle this, and copied COB on the proposal.
COB responded within hours. He was blown away that I had taken the initiative to look into the problem and solve it, and expressed appreciation for backing up command intention. Golden Era Productions implemented my proposal for the film lab staff, and the problem was solved. No more fiber filaments, hairs, or clothing lint fell on film copies.
I had shown that I wanted to support command intention without requiring orders, but I had specifically removed a problem from COB’s plate. This accomplishment generated huge benefits for me. First, this experience showed me that the path to a few rare privileges on the Int base came by taking initiative and responsibility—common sense, of course. But in the atmosphere of the Int base, anyone who did such a thing truly stood out as a rarity, since so many staff approached their posts rather robotically or defensively. And the greatest benefit of being acknowledged by COB for doing well on post was the ethics protection it gained me. People such as Jason Bennick, Jennifer, Karsten, Darlene, Nancy, who seemed to enjoy gunning for me, backed off. The Scientology theory about high production levels is that you can get away with just about anything if your “stats were up,” but if you also had COB’s favor, life became even better.
For example, having ethics protection helped me to deal with a personal crisis that I otherwise don’t know how I would have handled. My beloved dog Toby started showing signs of aging when he was fourteen, which required me to take him to the vet. I was able to get off the base with just permission from my senior and then through one security guard. Otherwise, departures from the base during working hours required a bureaucratic nightmare of several approvals and even a sec-check before being able to just get in my car and drive to handle a personal matter. I took Toby into Hemet to see a vet who kept him overnight for some tests. The next day, I was able to go see Toby again with only my senior’s and a guard’s permission. The vet informed me that Toby’s kidneys and several other bodily functions were shutting down. It was his time to go. I was devastated but had no room to deal with my emotions or grieve. I had to make the impossibly difficult decision to have him euthanized. However I couldn’t do the procedure at that time because I was required to come back to the base immediately.
Delaying the procedure actually extended Toby’s suffering. I made a third trip back to put my Toby to sleep. Without having ethics protection, I wouldn’t have been able to take care of a personal matter like this off base during working hours. I could have been told to just deal with it and let Toby die in pain in his dog house. I consented to having Toby cremated because I had no home where I could bury him on personal land, as I would have otherwise done. Losing Toby was more traumatic than it should have been, because death is part of the circle of life, and I knew his time would come. But not having the freedom to take care of personal matters properly and according to my own terms added insult to injury.
ANOTHER SURPRISE PROMOTION
Because I was officially still Exec Strata staff, but working in the Int Landlord’s Office, I started receiving hand-written despatches from Captain Marc Yager, CO CMO INT. He once sent me a message, “Karen, I know that you have been squatting in the Int Landlord Office, so you need to get your post sorted out.” In the context he used it, squatting is occupying property that belongs to someone else. The CO knew I was doing good work, and told me to carry on meanwhile. But ED INT came to see me personally.
“Karen, COB has named you to be the IMPR Officer.” COB was promoting me to the position of IMPR, International Management Public Relations Officer? I was shocked. Working hand in hand with COB and the most senior execs in Scientology?
“Thank you, Sir. But what is needed and wanted regarding this uniform design post? It keeps me busy full-time, and I am always going away to do these projects.”
“Karen, COB wants you as the IMPR, so you just need to suck it up. We’re all up there doing it. You think we like taking all the heat?”
I finally saw a side to Guillaume Lesevre that I imagined existed, but never had the opportunity to learn before. Then he started to get a little rough with me when he saw that I was not too willing to just walk up to Del Sol to take this post. He got indignant with me. “You have other FISH TO FRY, man. We can’t always do what we want to do. You can DO that IMPR post, COB says he WANTS you there, so YOU NEED TO DO IT.” His French accent put heavy weight and volume on the verbs. The look in his eyes told me that he had been sent down to see me by COB and he was supposed to get a result. Oh man—how do I non-comply to ED INT and COB?
“OK Sir, I’ll do it. I just have to turn my hat over to someone who will take care of staff image first.”
“Okay. But you need to get on post.”
A few weeks later, ED INT came down to see me again. “Karen, we’re up there taking the heat for the IMPR hat that is floating all over the place with no one on the post, and you are named for it. You need to get your CI off the line (counter-intention out of the way) and do it.”
Argh. I could no longer dwell within the job I loved. I had forged my way deeper into the group, according to my 1993 plan to be the best version of myself I could be within the Sea Org. I thought that dragging my feet before taking the IMPR post made it clear that I didn’t want to do it. This conflict demonstrated my usual problem: personal desires colliding with my Sea Org purpose, my outer shell supporting command intention when the real me wanted something else.
I also knew that the one and only way to experience any level of control at the Int base was to hold a higher post. This meant there would be fewer people to whom I would be subservient. Had I been in an outside corporation where people treated each other with more civility, I would have been celebrating. Although this IMPR post was a promotion, I saw it as being wedged into a cadre of people where misery loves company.