Interview in Palo Alto, Ca – 1986
Palo Alto, California, 28 August 1986
David Mayo spent 25 years in the Church of Scientology, making him one of the most experienced people to have served in that organisation; most do not stay longer than 3 years. His long experience as auditor to the most senior Scientologists, including L. Ron Hubbard and his wife, gave him considerable status (as shown in the 1980 advertisement on the left). Following factional infighting in the early 1980s, he left (or more accurately was expelled) in 1983 and was subsequently denigrated as a “squirrel” par excellence. He nonetheless remained loyal to Hubbard’s tenets and started an “Advanced Ability Center”, using Hubbardian techniques and derivatives thereof. The AAC now appears to be defunct. Mayo was interviewed in 1986 by Russell Miller, the British writer and journalist, for his unauthorised biography of Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah. In the course of the interview, Mayo gave an intriguing account of his experiences in Scientology, the transcript of which follows below.
My first contact with Scientology was through a High School teacher who loaned me some of the books. This was in Auckland, New Zealand. I joined the org as an employee in late ’59. I was a student at the time. The org was in two parts, HASI [Hubbard Association of Scientologists International] and HCO [Hubbard Communications Office]. HCO was Hubbard’s own office within the org. I worked for HCO starting from end ’59 and I started having correspondence with him. The lady who had hired me, Betty Turnbull, was in charge of HCO and her husband, Frank, was in charge of the HASI. LRH was displeased with Frank and Hubbard started sending me letters expressing displeasure and asked me to do an investigation. They ended up quitting or were fired. He accused them of being Communists and they were in the org to try and destroy it and sabotage his plans.
I thought this org was supposed to be about improving people and helping mankind and all of a sudden, my opening correspondence with the founder was about plots and Communists. He sent me handwritten letters and telegrams and cables. It was quite a shock. I just figured I couldn’t understand these things. I just tried to rationalise the paranoia, after all he was a brilliant man and had written all these books. I had to do a security check on Betty Turnbull and my recommendation to LRH was that they weren’t Communists and had worked hard to try and keep it going. I said they were perfectly OK and he fired them.
I first met him at the beginning of ’62 when I went to Saint Hill to do the Briefing Course. He was friendly, down to earth and quite personable most of the time, though he would have occasional flare-ups. In later years he changed dramatically. Then he was one of the boys, would chat over breaks, insisted everyone called him Ron. Deification had not yet begun. I finished the course in late ’62 and went back to Auckland until the end of ’67. I made one more trip back in ’65 to Saint Hill. Then at the end of ’67 I transferred to the Sea Org and to Va1encia where the Royal Scotman was in Jan 68.
The literature I’d received prior to going was quite misleading. It described an OT base and talked about a land base in some foreign country. It sounded exotic and exciting, where LRH was going to be doing upper level research and a few, select, highly trained people were working with him and participating in it. Instead, when I got to Valencia I got in a taxi and was told to go to the port. The instructions were brief and mysterious. I went to the port in a taxi and saw this dirty rusty old cattle ferry tied up there. I kept trying to tell the driver we’d made a mistake. He kept insisting it was [correct]. I got out of the taxi, went over to the ship and realised, “My God, this is the place!”
LRH wasn’t aboard at that time. He was off doing the Mission Into Time cruise. He was off with metal detectors, trying to find buried gold. The ship was rusty and dirty and they were still chipping manure out of the holds, trying to clean it up. It certainly wasn’t this exotic OT base! Within a few weeks LRH arrived back and was extremely displeased with the Royal Scotman. The Avon River came back into harbour and everyone was very excited – they were going to see him. He sent over half dozen Sea Org people in uniforms, looking extremely stern, with clipboards. They were under instructions not to talk, they just walked round interrogating the crew and ended up telling everyone that they were in various lower conditions. It was very grim and unpleasant. After a few days LRH came over, also extremely grim.
I went into the large room used as his office and didn’t see him much, except when he walked round ship once a day. He was extremely angry, walking around yelling and barking orders at people. No one knew what was the matter – they just tried to stay clear of him.
Myself and others did question it to some degree with people you thought you could really trust. Expressing anything like that was an offence. Most of the crew were very afraid that if they expressed any disagreement or questioning of what was going on that they would be kicked out of Scientology, which was to most people at that time an untenable thing – you could not consider that. Most people were terrified of that. Hubbard ordered everyone to be put on the E-meter, asking if you had any doubts or disagreements with use of ethics. If the meter read, the person was to be put in a condition of doubt and possibly expelled. That was done in February ’68.
The liability cruise was a couple of months later. I was transferred to the Avon River and the first advanced org was started on the Royal Scotman in February or March ’68. Before the liability cruise, the advanced org transferred to Alicante on land. I went from the Avon River to Alicante and at some point the liability cruise happened. It was in Alicante to May/June ’68. Then the Avon River picked us up (LRH was on the Scotman) and we went across the Med to Tunisia and met the Royal Scotman there and then I was transferred to the Scotman.
I used to see him every day on the Scotman in February ’68 when he did his daily rounds. Then he went on to the Avon River and within a few days I was transferred to the Avon River. When we arrived in Bizerte in Tunisia, I worked as an auditor on the Royal Scotman. In ’62 he was very genial and personable, very friendly. In ’65 he was somewhat sterner. In ’68 he was angry nearly all the time. No one really knew why. I think he had gotten into a lot of trouble – though I didn’t know this at the time – he was both PTS [Potential Trouble Source – a threat] to various governments, but primarily he had gotten himself into so much hot water with different countries, he was running out of places to go. He’d dodged paying taxes in the US and bankrupted orgs in the US and skipped the country; he ran afoul of the Home Office in England, I don’t believe there was a shred of truth in the persecution of Scientology; then he went off to Rhodesia and tried to overthrow Ian Smith, who was trying to secede from the Commonwealth, and was kicked out of Rhodesia; he was told his visa wouldn’t be renewed in England; he couldn’t go back to the US because he was wanted by the IRS. He had no country he thought he could live in – that’s why he started the Sea Org. We used to check into which countries had extradition agreements with the US and UK, and those that didn’t, he didn’t want to live in – they were mainly Third World.
In mid 68 I was transferred to the advanced org in Edinburgh to the end of 70 when I went back to ships. From January 71 I was on the ships until the Sea Org came ashore.
His behaviour varied. He was really angry a lot in ’68. In the early 70s it varied, he was sick a lot. Sometimes he’d be bedridden and the place was a lot quieter. In the mid to late 70s, he started coming out of it and got pleasant again. Then it really blew up in ’81 – he regressed into irascibility. A meeting was held in Clearwater [Florida] by a lot of mission holders at Flag [Land Base, in Clearwater] and they started complaining and protesting about the management and were advocating reform. When Hubbard learned of it he described it as mutiny and after that he got much worse.
He withdrew more and more as the years progressed.
On the ship I would often be called into his office for a technical conference. I had a lot of participation in research with him from ’73 onwards. I did C-Sing [Case Supervising] his auditing from ’73 or so on.
He used to play Master Mariner and he’d make an appearance on the bridge – everyone would shake and quiver and usually heads would roll. The helmsman would be worried he was not on correct course, the navigator would have to know precise position, and so on.
He did do a lot of research and had a lot of other people doing writing and research for him. A lot of his research was done in solo auditing. He would try ideas out on himself and pass them on to me to run on other people.
In Hemet in 79 I’d watch TV with him and he’d reminisce. He talked about time when he was a troubadour in the Blue Mountains and went around, playing the guitar, singing hill-billy songs and earned his living that way. I didn’t know whether it was true. I think he made it up on the spur of the moment because I’d never heard that before. He had a guitar there and sang some songs. He could play to some degree, but he seemed pretty amateurish. I think he made up the songs as he went along, but they sounded like hill-billy songs. I was auditing them, and had an apartment next to him.
He was ill in late ’78, September, and I was transferred to La Quinta when he was ill. He thought there was going to be an FBI raid and in early 79 he left La Quinta and ended up in an apartment complex in Hemet. Later I was transferred to audit him on NOTs and then he went on to doing Solo NOTs in mid ’79.
After the Sea Org went ashore I went to Daytona. LRH was there living in a separate building. We took over a motel and he lived virtually next door, although it was supposed to be a secret. None of us were supposed to know where he was, but we used to see him. The Sea Org had these big secrets, but from the balcony of our motel you could look across to the hotel where he was living. We were given a false reason, a weird reason, that no one was to go to that hotel, even for a drink in the bar, because they were SPs [Suppressive Persons] there, so we should stay away. Nobody believed that, it was too outlandish. Then he would come to the motel and give us a lecture almost every day for a couple of weeks. He would arrive in a car which we had seen drive out of the motel, turn in the opposite direction and go round the block and come to us. Some of messengers lived with him; we used to see them come out of the hotel and walk to our motel. We all used to pretend not to know where he was.
Then we moved to Clearwater and Hubbard lived in an apartment in Dunedin, 10-15 minutes’ drive away. It was still supposed to be secret. The crew that went back and forth was sworn to secrecy. We got a tailor to come in and make suits for him, and Hubbard told him who he was, and the tailor told one of the local newspapers.
Then he left and went to California to La Quinta. After La Quinta he went to Lake Paris briefly and then in early 79 he went to Hemet.
I was in Clearwater in September ’78 and I was told to go to La Quinta. He was very ill. Dr [Eugene] Denk was there and trying to find out what was wrong with him. He was very weak, had low blood pressure, pulse rate, low temperature. He was lying on his back in bed, almost in a coma for a week or two. He talked a little but not very much. He talked very slowly and quietly. I didn’t know what was wrong with him. One of the things established was that he had blood coagulation problem, but that wasn’t why he was in bed. Denk prescribed anti-coagulant for his blood but that was to prevent a stroke. He was in a Spanish-style bungalow at La Quinta. He had an office in his bungalow, it was on a property with other buildings. Mary Sue was in LA in another secret location.
I was surprised and shocked at his condition. It was a telex message addressed to CMO [Commodore’s Messenger Org] that transferred me, but gave almost no info. It was extremely urgent and said it was important that I was to be put on the next plane to LA. It was top secret. I didn’t know what it was for, how long it was for. So I grabbed a few clothes in my suitcase, I had 20 minutes to get to the airport, and I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone I was going. I couldn’t even see my wife. People were supposed to pretend I hadn’t gone anywhere. In LA I was met at the airport by someone who knew me. I got in the car at night, was driven to a parking lot and switched cars – this happened 2-3 times in LA in case we were being followed. Then in the last car I was blindfolded and told that I wasn’t allowed to know where we were going. I’d asked everyone what it was about but they said they didn’t know. The last driver told me LRH was sick and that’s why I was there.
I was given his PC [preclear] folders and told to solve it. I started looking through folders and started auditing him the next day and audited him from then on. Can auditing cure illness? In the Scientological environment that existed in La Quinta the answer would be 100% yes. For legal reasons the answer was no. They deny it is intended as a physical cure, whereas in the First Book [Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, pub. 1950] Hubbard claimed it would cure everything from diabetes to psychosomatic illness. Hubbard considered the cause of illness to be some bad auditing he’d had just prior, so the idea was to find out what had gone wrong in the auditing and correct that – it would be a spiritual cure. Denk said, when I arrived, that he thought he was close to death; he didn’t know whether to move him to hospital. His concern was that the ride in ambulance would finish him off. He was getting ready to restart his heart with an electric pulse thing and started moving some medical equipment in there.
The Messengers who were looking after him figured they had to get an auditor there. Paulette Cohen had been auditing him but he got dissatisfied and upset with her and wanted someone else. They wanted to get Jeff Walker, and I was senior case supervisor at Flag and they didn’t think they could take me away. Jeff Walker started on the route but Hubbard heard and said, “no way, send Mayo,” so they sent me. Walker arrived in LA and was on his way back by the time I was on the way.
Initially I gave him assist auditing to help him recover. We had several short sessions a day until he recovered about a month later.
His personality was initially pretty much the same, alternating between extreme violence and angry and being quite cheerful and pleasant. On one occasion he was in a good mood and decided I should have the use of his private swimming pool. He yelled at one of the crew members to get into a car, go into town and buy me some swimming shorts. I was presented with them as gift from him and was more or less ordered to swim in his pool. If he bellowed an order to go to town, it had to be done instantly.
He was trying to start in the movie business and the org was called Cine, the Cine Org, and they were supposed to make films. He was writing scripts, but the crew could never do anything right. It was a very, very violent period for the people working for Cine. They’d have to stay up all day and night trying to do something and him being dissatisfied. He would walk around with electric bullhorn to yell orders through, even if the person was only a few feet away. He’d tell them to build the set, describe the set. They’d build the set and were going to shoot. He’d arrive, decided he didn’t like it, scream that they had altered it, he wanted it blue, not green! Some of the crew would be sent to the RPF [labour force] and others were running round quickly, trying to find blue paint. Then he’d want to know why it was blue, not yellow.
One of the main reasons why he got sick, I think, was that he had so many failures and so much frustration and was so upset over the movies that that’s what he broke down and collapsed on. That seemed the most highly charged area.
After he recovered and got up, he never got back into movie making as much as he had previously. He made me an actor in one of the movies. Sometimes I’d have to do the same line over and over again and it would never be right. Too loud, too quiet, not intense, too intense, why aren’t you doing it enthusiastically? He might end up stamping off, away from the set, and screaming that all was impossible, no one would duplicate what he said. I’d be told to practice a line and get it right for tomorrow. Everyone was tiptoeing around, waiting for explosions.
One incident was quite dramatic and revelatory. The crew were in a constant state of fear. Every order that came from him, they would work in a frenzied state to get it done, often through the night, not stopping for meals, praying it would be right and they wouldn’t get into trouble. It was very hot area. The temperature when I got there was frequently 120 to 130 degrees in the hot desert. It was extremely dry and you can dehydrate very easily. There was one period when things had got very, very bad. Some of the crew thought it got too serious and tried to lighten things up. They did a little video recording intended as a joke, a little humourous sketch that they thought would amuse him. The theme was to do with something that happened day or two earlier, a big upset. They re-enacted it as a little skit to make it funny and sent him the video. He started playing it and because they were being funny he took offence and took it to mean they didn’t take what he said seriously, and were mocking him, ridiculing him, making him subject of the joke. He sent them all to the RPF. It was very, very heavy. They were assigned to the RPF, never this, never that. There was a tremendous explosion and a big committee of evidence [Scientology trial] over it. I was standing outside his office waiting for him when he was looking at the tape, then he was going to see me. I never did get to see him. I heard yelling and screaming and messengers running in and out of the office. He was yelling that they were mocking him. He was shouting at the TV. He sent messengers to find the names of everyone involved. Then he thought there might be people not involved but who knew about it – then he wanted their names and sent them to the RPF as well. I thought it was wise to slide off somewhere else and wait for him to calm down. He had a local RPF; he had them everywhere.
I stayed with him at La Quinta until he moved to Hemet in the early part of ’79, I think March ’79. It was because of the threat of an FBI raid. He was screaming about it for days, before it happened. There had been an FBI raid 3 years earlier, but just before this he had heavily mistreated a couple, Ernie Hartwell and his wife. They left and went back to Vegas and subsequently a car showed up and someone was taking photographs from it of the property. The GO [Guardian’s Office] got news relayed to Hubbard that the Hartwells were talking to the FBI. Then the GO sent a message that FBI were taking interest and that triggered his departure.
I think he left in a motor home with Mike and Kima Douglas. They drove to Lake Elsinore, a resort area not far away. They stayed there for a month or so and then went to Hemet. While they were in Lake Elsinore everyone moved from La Quinta to Gilman Hot Springs and in April ’79 I was transferred from Gilman to Hemet. It was off Florida St – there were two main streets, one State and one Florida. Sunny something was an apartment building behind an acupuncture clinic. We had to take circuitous routes to and from the apartment. I had to continue auditing him.
The reason they sent me there? He didn’t want too many people at Hemet – he was still worried about an FBI raid. I was told he had had a cancer removed from his cheek [actually his forehead], a tumour, and as result of that I was sent to audit him, initially for day or two at a time, then after about a week I moved into the apartments. I stayed there until after he left in February 1980. I went back home to New Zealand in February ’80 for a week, and it was during that week he departed with the two Broekers [Annie and Pat].
The inner circle at Hemet was Pat and Annie Broeker, Clarice Rousseau, Mike and Kima – there until they blew [defected] – Warwick and Annie Allcock, Merrill [Mayo] and me, his cook, Sinar Parinan, a cleaning girl called Juanita; all Sea Org members. We had about five or six apartments.
In Hemet on a typical day he would wake up late in the morning, it would vary. It was usually about 11 or 12, sometimes 2-3 in the afternoon, sometimes 8-9 in the morning. He’d get up in the morning and take a nap in the afternoon for 3-4 hours and work lot of the night. He’d do office work after he got up, managing orgs, looking through telexes and compliance reports and sent out new orders, some dictated to messengers or by telex. Then he might have auditing session, then he did more admin handling. He would spend several hours a day doing what he called music or recording. He would either play music and record it or mix tapes of his, his taped lectures. He used to do lot of mixing tapes. He had somewhere there, a recording engineer called Steve, who was supposed to be mixing tapes, but Hubbard was never satisfied. He’d spend hours doing that each day. He’d watch a couple of movies, watch a bit of TV, maybe read a book.
In summer, sometimes in the winter if it was a good day, but not much in hot weather, he’d go out in the afternoon taking photographs. It was a great palaver, with half dozen people involved, one or two getting cameras and film. He had to have all his cameras and accessories, all the different types of film – everything possible that he might need. It all had to be refrigerated and carried in cooler packs. They drove him in a special van that had to be cleaned immediately before he got into it, the minute before he got in. It had special air conditioning and air filters. He would lie in a bed in the back, on a couch-bed. People would stake out the outside, posted at vantage points to make sure no one was around. He’d be whisked down and into the back of the van. He’d be dressed in a weird disguise. One was a baseball cap with false hair sewn into it, one had long black shoulder length hair, one had brown hair. He used caps and wigs. His clothes were very different from what he normally wore. They’d even go as far as putting make up on his face. One time he put actors’ plasticine on his skin and face and had other rubber and plastic gadgets to stick in his cheeks and change his face shape. Sometimes he wore them. He had various names; people with him normally called him Uncle. He had a different shore story [alibi] – the most frequent one was that they were geothermal engineers, looking for geothermal activity. The van had smoked windows and curtains. Hemet is in the country, you can drive a matter of a mile or so and be in the country. A lot of the time he would drive up into the San Jacinto Mountains, get out and walk around. There was a stream there he liked to photograph and then he’d sell his photos to orgs to use in posters and advertising. I think he charged outlandish sums, one was $5,000 for one usage of one photo. It was a way of getting money from non-profit orgs. Messengers would usually accompany him. Someone would drive a cook out with fresh sandwiches and cold drinks.
Sometimes they would go to a shopping mall and he would walk round in disguise. He would buy odd things, he came back once with a bunch of little plastic animals. There was a mall in Hemet but I believe he mostly went to San Bernardino. He’d bought a shopping mall somewhere in California and I suppose he wanted to find ways of making it more profitable. Or maybe he just wanted to see what a mall was like.
TROUBADOUR STORY. He called me up to his apartment. I went in there to see what he wanted. He told me to sit down and started reminiscing. The next thing, he gets out his guitar. Another time he had the TV going and he asked me what TV programme I was interested in. I didn’t know what was on TV, never got time to watch it – I wondered at first if he was checking up on me to see if I’d been watching TV. He went flicking from channel to channel. He didn’t seem to like too many and would watch 5-l0 minutes and try another. He would spend the evening watching snippets of TV. The troubadour story wasn’t particularly convincing. Usually he was just full of orders and work, he would usually give me a rapid string of things to do and wanted them done very quickly. When he was talking about his hill-billy days, quite frankly for me it was a moment’s respite from work, I didn’t care if it was true or not. I wasn’t going to argue. After he finished the story we all clapped – there were two messengers there – no one wore uniform at Hemet. He had already done some singing when I arrived. I sat on the floor at his feet along with the two messengers. He’d finished the song and the two girls clapped so I joined in. Then he’d tell a little bit about the mountains of Tennessee, then sing another song. They were strange songs, but had a hill-billy ring. Mostly they rhymed. but one didn’t and it sounded like some strange tuneless prose. It crossed my mind at time he was ad-libbing.
When I went back to NZ I didn’t know that the day [of Ron going into seclusion] was coming close. He was always worried about raids. There were buzzers and warning systems all over the place, and a back escape route. We were drilled what to do if anyone came to the door that could be a marshal or process servers or FBI agents. They had a buzzer system, one where he could push a button by his bed and a buzzer and red light would come on. It was linked between apartments. You could ring it from another entrance. The entrance to the apartment where the messengers stayed had a buzzer that would sound in his bedroom. If someone pushed the button it would wake him and the other messengers. At the front entrance to the apartments onto the street, there was also a back way through a door into the parking garage. You could get into a vehicle there that went onto a different street. A vehicle was kept in readiness always. Also in La Quinta, we always had one or two escape vehicles ready. We were drilled what to do if someone came to the door. First, don’t answer the door if it looked like someone suspicious. If you were asked anything about LRH or where he was, or what was your name – we were all given aliases, mine was Dan Majors, it had to be similar sounding and similarly spelled so if later challenged for giving false name could accuse person you had given it to of misduplicating [mistaking] it. You were trained to sign so that it would look little similar to D. Mayo. You were never to reveal anything about Hubbard or your correct name. You had to sound the alarm if you could, but your main duty was to delay or, if possible, get rid of the caller. But you were at least to delay until the alarm could be raised and LRH could be got out of the building. You could hear one in living quarters and saw the red light go on. We were supposed to drill and at the same time be acting normal in the apartment complex. We were supposed not to attract any attention to ourselves.
We tried not to think about his behaviour because it wasn’t rational, but to even consider it wasn’t rational would have been a discreditable thought about LRH and you couldn’t allow yourself that. The Jo’burg Sec Check – one of misdeeds on it was, “Have you ever had any unkind thoughts about LRH?”, and you could get into very serious trouble if you had. So you tried hard not to.
At time I thought, this is an anomaly, but he is also a genius and has done so much for mankind that I was in awe of, so it was like these other things in apparent contradiction, but who am I to judge? If he has faults they are minuscule compared to his other deeds.
There were other things I became aware of. Some was information which he revealed during sessions when I was auditing him. Outside of sessions I became aware of other things; there were times when a messenger would arrive with a suitcase full of money, wads of hundred dollar bills. I’ve been in his room on 3-4 occasions at least when a messenger has come in with a suitcase of money, both at Hemet and Rifle [La Quinta]. He would ask to see it. She’d open it and he’d gloat over the money for a bit and have her close it and put it in his bedroom. He didn’t really spend much of it, so I guess it was getaway money. Some of it was being spent, but not the amount brought in. He went out and bought a very fancy camera. They were buying gemstones which he had in his safe. One was a topaz, really huge. He’d go out and look at them in jewellery shops and either buy them himself or send someone to buy them for him. Warwick Allcock would buy for him. He was buying them as a hedge against inflation, he thought the dollar was going down. He kept the lot in a safe in his closet, there was another safe in Pat Broeker’s room. He’d always said and written that he’s never received a penny from Scientolofy, every statement saying he wasn’t collecting large amounts of money. I saw these suitcases arrive and knew it wasn’t true. I didn’t mind the idea of him having money or being rich, I thought he’d done tremendous wonders and should be well paid for it. But why does he lie about it?
He wouldn’t let anyone take a photo of him in those years because he was getting older and insisted on using photos when he was younger. If anyone took a photo of him it was confiscated. That was part of the false PR; he was very concerned than none of the public ever know. I had argument with him about his credibility. I said that what would affect his credibility was when someone discovered that something he had stated about himself was false. That would have far worse effect on his credibility.
He was very concerned if Scientology knew about the cancer / tumour it would ruin his credibility. He thought it would affect the tech and processes he put out.
In auditing there were things he revealed about himself and his past, things that he had done. There were absolute contradictions of his biography and reputation. Revealing things like that was not a great risk to him because I had a duty to keep such things confidential. and I was well trusted as a loyal subject. Had it even entered my mind I would have been kicked out of Scientology and that would have been a serious penalty. Also there was a risk, if I revealed my information, of severe harassment, if not even killed by the GO. I had also audited Mary Sue and supervised both of their auditing; I have read their folders. A lot of the top people in the GO talked to me about things that weighed on their conscience.
It wasn’t just what I discovered. I didn’t care where he was born or what he had done in the war, it didn’t mean a thing to me. I wasn’t a loyal member of Scientology because he had an illustrious war record. What worried me was when I saw things he did and statements he made that showed his intentions were different from what they appeared to be. I began to realise he wasn’t acting for the public good or for the benefit of mankind, it worked partly that way and he may have started out like that, but in later years, in his own words, he had “an insatiable lust for power and money”.
He told me he was obsessed by “an insatiable lust for power and money”. He said it very emphatically. He thought it wasn’t possible to get enough. He didn’t say it as if it was a fault, just his frustration that he couldn’t get enough.
This was at Hemet, one of the times he was having a sort of one way conversation and he commented on the price of gold that day, I forget whether it was up or down, then he started talking about gold and money. I thought, “My God, that’s right.” One tended to try and not believe it.
During Mary Sue’s trial [in 1980] he became very, very upset and angry towards Mary Sue. He called me in and talked about her and he sent me to do something with her and try to persuade her into a different course of action. What he was really concerned about was that he, rightly or wrongly, had decided that Mary Sue was likely to reveal during the case that a lot of these actions that they were being tried for, that he had ordered them. His position was that he knew nothing about it – he not only knew all about it, but he ordered it. Some [orders] were even in his own handwriting. He was worried that Mary Sue might reveal his knowledge and he sent me to “cramming action” to get the idea across that she should look out for his interests. I wasn’t supposed to tell her he was worried that she would rat on him. She kept asking me, “What was he worried about?” I thought, “My God, I can’t tell her.” She was already upset and under strain. I just said he thought it would be a good idea (this was while we were at Hemet). She’d already been in jail once. In conversation between Hubbard and me before I went, he said he’d divorce her to “sever any connection with her”. I was shocked, I remember afterwards thinking, how did he think a divorce would make him any less culpable? Later I heard Pat Broeker saying that Hubbard was talking about divorcing Mary Sue to put himself at a distance from the GO’s actions.
Mary Sue was in LA when I went to see her. She had a house off Mulholland Drive overlooking the valley, a fairly posh area. There was a point earlier when she had been told he was going to divorce her and she was extremely upset. The fact that after all she had done for him and the fact that there had been numerous opportunities to betray him – she had already covered up for him – and she had taken so much brunt, she couldn’t even believe he would think that was letting her face the music. That had an eye-opening effect on me.
He could be capable of incredible cruelty. On the ship there was an old man on the Royal Scotman who he made push a peanut round the decks with his nose. He had to get down on his hands and knees, he had to go round the deck, quite a long distance in a race with one or two others also in trouble. The first one back got let off and the last one got a double penalty. It was really tough on this old guy, Charlie Reisdorf. The surface of the deck was very rough wood, prone to splinter, so after pushing peanuts with their noses, they all had raw, bleeding noses, leaving a trail of blood behind them. I not only saw it but the entire crew of the ship was mustered – a mandatory attendance – we were required to watch this punishment, to make an example of it for the rest of us. Reisdorf was in his late 50s probably. His two daughters were messengers, they were 11 or 12 at time and his wife was there also. It was hard to say which was worse to watch: this old guy with a bleeding nose or his wife and kids sobbing and crying at being forced to watch this. Hubbard was standing there calling the shots, yelling, “Faster, Faster!”. It was indignity, degradation and breaking a person’s will, and making people watch. It was disgusting.
They used to have people locked in the chain locker, including small children. It was very dangerous because if the anchor started to slip and start running out, it would turn a body into pulp in no time at all. I saw children locked up in the chain locker.
He had a birthday party on March 13 1968; there was a woman who he ordered locked in the chain locker. During the party he had her brought out. She was filthy, covered with dirt and rust, and had not been allowed to wash or change clothes – she had been in there a week. She was pretty dirty – he brought her out to the party, he said he was giving her a reprieve and permitting her to come to the party, as if that was a nice gesture. She still wasn’t allowed to wash or change, so she was brought to the party and had to stay and later she was returned [to the locker]. He said he was giving her a reprieve but it was just flaunting her degradation. It had looked like things were lightening up a little, people thought maybe things were getting better, then this happened and people were shocked and it gave us a sinister chill. She was in a dress.
Why did people stand by? Another common reason was that if a person doesn’t make waves they hope to rise up high enough in the org to get to a position of authority, to the top of the org board and “I’ll be able to change it.” A very high percentage of staff hoped that one day they would be able to change it.
From time to time, Hubbard would cancel such activities, like the chain locker, and blame it on someone else. He said that no one was to be put into the chain locker by his order or decree, and Baron Burez was an evil monster for having chain lockered people. Baron was a US crew member and went into disfavour. He would start such pronouncements with, “It has just come to my attention that…”
The length of time for children would vary, but no one was there less than a day. The average was a week or two. Three weeks was about the maximum. Age didn’t matter. The youngest kids were 5, 6 or 7. Old, young, men, women, big, little; it wouldn’t matter because to Scientologists the being is ageless so you don’t think in terms of how young or old someone is.
Reisdorf affair – if someone tried to do something it would have been worse. Hubbard said that maritime law prevailed, like in days of Hornblower, when the captain of ship has the power of God Almighty. He said under maritime law he had total power over everyone on the vessel.
The idea of being overboarded or beached was terrible. People were beached in sometimes fairly hostile countries, like Algeria and Tunis, Beached meant put ashore without passport or money, just the clothes you stood in and you were on your own. When I joined the Sea Org I often considered returning to NZ but I was a little naive at the time – the idea of being beached was very formidable. I didn’t know how to go about earning money and getting home. The other part was being out of Scientology forever and cast into alien world of “wogs”.
Scientology can’t be run like the AA [Mayo’s breakaway Advanced Ability Center] because Hubbard didn’t set it up to run that way in his policy letters. In the early days some wits described his first Dianetics book as “A Womb With a View”.