My Evening with Scientology
My friend, Chris, called me today and told me how he was waiting in line at some actor thing when he got hit up by a guy from Scientology for an evening seminar of sorts for actors.
As it was my day off from the sex joint, I thought, hey… why not!
Now, before some of ya’all lose your minds… yes, I know about Scientology. I’ve watched some documentary stuff, seen Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch, etc.
But I’m brain-unwashable.
Or… so I thought.
Traffic sucks ass. So, the 9.4 mi. trip takes me almost an hour. Scientology is literally a compound. It takes up an entire block in Hollywood.
I had promised myself before I left my complex: no joining the cult!
(I also mentioned to more than one person where I was going… just in case I never came home. Damn. I just realized I’m writing this at a 24 hour diner in LA–Fred 52 or something in Los Feliz–so I still haven’t come home.)
Chris and I walk in together. The guy outside the compound sees us and asks what we’re coming in for. We tell him it was some actor’s seminar. He leads us in to a huge building that looks like the Waldorf Hotel in NYC, just not nearly as fancy and a lot older.
We get to the front desk. The receptionist seems a little ditzy. She asks us where we’re from, and then tells us she’s been in LA her whole life. (My guess is that she grew up in the “Sciences.”)
A very attractive white woman named Jenny comes down and walks us down a couple hallways to another reception area to we could sign in. Upon advice from a good friend, I made up most of the background info on the card.
So far, so good, Alex… just remember not to give in to the Dark Side.
I see some pastries and coffee, but before I can grab anything, we are whisked away to another room because we’re late and they’re about to begin.
It’s a smallish room with about 12 chairs in two rows, separated by a middle column. Chris goes right up to the front and I sit down next to him.
The people in the “audience” were all black, except for me and an Asian dude. Mostly in their twenties.
The first speaker was cool as shit. I’ve forgotten her name, but she cussed repeatedly–and for me, that’s a great start toward reversing some of the place’s initial cult status in my mind.
The convo is mostly about acting, how it works and how to set yourself up, including the “tricks of the trade,” like using IMBD Pro to get to the contact info that would help. I also learned that I should always use landscape for my VLOG, that you should get professional head-shots (not your best friend to do it for free) and that you really need a demo reel.
Now, I’m not really thinking about acting…
or am I?
I start to wonder: why did I end up in LA of all places?
Then, she introduces the “heavy hitter”–who brings in the Scientology stuff.
Now, I’ll just say I had an immediate crush on “Jenny.” She had cute little curls, light brunette hair and a kick’n bod.
She was all smiles, and she was there to tell us the real “secret” to being successful. Let me tell you, she had her presentation polished–but without seeming polished. I’d call her passionate.
We went around the room and her question to everyone was this:
Besides money and time, what’s the reason you’re not as successful as you want to be in your life?
You can imagine the variety of reasons:
- not focused
- not disciplined
My own was “lack of clarity.”
Jenny wrote all of these down, and she worked with some of the people to get to what was really going on.
Now, I’ve done a lot of other cult-ish stuff in my life, so I could smell where all this was going. They show the problem and then offer the solution.
I jest. It’s not exactly cultish to do that, just a little… predictable? It leaves you with that slimy feeling you get after a night at the brothel–not that I know anything about that.
Then, she hand-selects which Scientology workshop would be best suited for each of us given our unique “issues.”
My Course: How to Get Motivated.
Each were abbreviated into three letter acronyms. HGM.
(God only knows how I lack motivation in my life.)
Then things got interesting.
She hands out cards for us to fill out to sign up for the workshop which she has deemed necessary for our success in life.
I take the card and the pen, but do nothing. Everyone else is filling out the card. I’m not. (I know… such a rebel!)
She says, in a slightly flirty way, cocking her head to the side, Alex, what are you waiting for–get signed up.
I say out loud, I’ll talk to you about it after. Not budging.
I then put the card in the empty chair next to me. Chris and I start to talk. It’s not that we don’t think we’ll get value for this $25,000–oh, I mean $88 course. We’re both interested in learning, and there is no doubt we’d learn some great stuff.
But neither of us fills out the paperwork.
Then, we notice other people in black and white to come help us fill out the paperwork. Many people in the room are excited and filling theirs out.
I walk to the back of the room to get some free coffee and pastries–finally!
Jenny comes back and talks to me, personally. I told her that I’ve done a lot of Landmark Education, and that I really came in just to check out the seminar and see what this place is all about. Plus, I add, I also am a little turned off by some of the stuff I’ve read/seen online about the place.
I know they do personality tests, though, and my Psychologically-inclined self can’t resist! Before I know it, we’re led into yet another room–this time to fill out a 200 question survey.
Chris doesn’t have time for it, so he just bubbles in randomly. I take my time because I’m genuinely interested in what would come back!
I finish, but it takes time for them to analyze. In the meanwhile, I am whisked–yet again–to a movie theatre holding about 20 seats. I am the only person in the theatre. She turns on a flick for my private showing all about L. Ron Hubbard.
Now, I remember being a young child and hearing about the phenomenon of Dianetics. I remember nothing, other than it was pretty big shit back in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
The film was pretty lame at best. It was a very biased history of the whole movement, proclaiming that Hubbard’s mind work helped heal everyone whom they encountered. It was super-elementary, and it wasn’t a turn-on.
So, I walk out, and see Jenny.
Chris is now getting his analysis done, and I just hang out and talk to some of the folks who were in our cohort.
Jenny is back to try to convince me to take one of the courses. To be fair, I was interested. I am the kind of person who gives everything (within reason) a look. I believe in gathering truth wherever it is, and for $88 I’m sure I could learn something valuable for my life from these people.
But not working for the past few months other than a few side gigs, I don’t have the $88. So, she sells me a $5 pamphlet that includes an online course. I’m game for a $5 investment.
Then, I go in for my analysis, and here we have the thing that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Jenny gives me my chart, which has a range of “healthy-ish” (gray area)–and then unhealthy below and really healthy above.
I was in really bad shape.
Aggressive and lacking self-confidence was my diagnosis.
Ok, I’m open to that.
But the chart has very little information on it. I start to ask her how this chart shows that I’m lacking self-confidence. It was obvious I wasn’t getting a real answer to this question.
I was lacking self-confidence; active, but all over the place.
I said, “Hey look… I don’t believe in only looking at results. I believe that we need to be active in life, but that it’s also important to be passive–and let life come to me.”
She nodded without saying anything–then asked me if I did drugs.
I can’t really judge Scientology on this brief experience. Jenny and her assistant were sharp, passionate, seemed really genuine and had some valuable information to share. I’m sure I would learn something if I did the workshop.
In the end of the day, they were quick to ask some of us if the reason why we weren’t succeeding in our careers was because we had negative people in our lives–i.e., people who didn’t believe in us or support us.
And in this last act of my self-analysis, Scientology had become, for me, precisely what they were advocating against: negative.
Basically, my life was a mess and I needed something to fix it.
And that something was Scientology.
Thanks, but no thanks.