'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle': Life at Scientology's Secret Headquarters

The author of a new book on Scientology reveals to the Village Voice details of his experience being "audited" by Tom Cruise, who asked him to talk to a book, a bottle, and an ashtray for hours at a time in order to perfect his "upper indoctrination."


Marc Headley's remarkable account of his 15 years as an employee at Scientology's formerly secret international headquarters east of Los Angeles, Blown for Good, officially goes on sale Thursday. He sent the Voice a review copy, and then in a telephone interview provided additional details that aren't in the 383-page book, which will be available for sale at his website, blownforgood.com.

In 1990, not long after he was assigned to the sprawling Scientology compound at Gilman Hot Springs, near Hemet, California, Headley was told that he would be excused from his normal duties so that Tom Cruise -- fresh off his most recent success, the movie Days of Thunder -- could practice auditing on him.

Headley writes that he was selected for two reasons: although he'd already spent several years at Scientology schools and working for the church, he had participated in little auditing, and had completed few of the courses that Scientologists pursue as they travel "up the bridge" to a higher status. Also, because he was still only a teenager, Headley was thought to be a minimal security risk.

"[Cruise] was going to do his auditor training and he needed someone to audit and this person had to be low on the bridge. That was me," he writes. Cruise had arrived at the base with his then-girlfriend, Nicole Kidman (they were married later that year), and Headley writes about what a thrill it was when Cruise took him on an impromptu ride on his motorcycle.

In the book, however, Headley doesn't go into any real detail about what transpired during the three weeks that he spent with Cruise as the actor went through his training, using Headley as a guinea pig. What actually happened?

Headley says that Cruise took him through something called the "Upper Indoctrination Training Routines," or "Upper Indoc TRs," in the abbreviation-filled jargon of Scientologists.

And what did those entail?

"You do a lot of things with a book and a bottle," Headley says. "It's known as the book-and-bottle routine." Cruise, he says, would instruct Headley to speak to a book, telling it to stand up, or to sit down, or otherwise to move somewhere.

"You do the same with the bottle. You talk to it. You do it with an ashtray too," he says. "You tell the ashtray, 'Sit in that chair.' Then you actually go over and put the ashtray on the chair. Then you tell the ashtray, 'Thank you.' Then you do the same thing with the bottle, and the book. And you do this for hours and hours."

Let us get this straight. Tom Cruise, who had already starred in Risky Business and Top Gun and Born on the Fourth of July and Days of Thunder, the man who, at the time, was 28 years old and perhaps the biggest movie star in the world, spent hours and hours of each day, for three straight weeks, instructing Headley to speak to inanimate objects, requesting that they get up and move on their own, and when they didn't, told Headley to move them anyway, and then thank them?

"For hours and hours," Headley says.

In God's name, why?

"It was to get your intention over to the bottle."

Your what?

"It was supposed to rehabilitate your ability to control things. And to be controlled," he says.

And there was more. It involved doorknobs.

My Voice Nation Help

President George W Bush said that Islam was a RELIGION OF PEACE!


Worry about JIHADIST MUSLIMS in America!


I have read these exact stories from ex-scientologists on the web...more than once and from many many people.  Amazing that this went on under the radar of the public.  


Jenna baby, come back to me!! Bohdi is brainwashing you!!!!

Mike Mora
Mike Mora

I had no idea Cruise was such a douche.

The Scientologist
The Scientologist

I would say that "book and bottle" and Upper Indoc TRs are no stranger or unusual than the average acting exercise. Read about how Stella Adler trained Marlon Brando and Robert de Niro and what they did. Can you imagine Marlon Brando strutting around like a chicken, making clucking noises like a chicken?


Well, well, well. I did all these drills and processes Headley touches on in the '80s.  Might seem odd to many  super bright, but super materialist East Coasters but it is all about looking clearly at any object....(bottle or book ...he picked everyday object to drill with.....a rock or  anything would work..... "THIS IS A MATRIX man"  (as in anyone who digs the flicks deeply for some reason might feel?!) you are creating this solid world by agreeing with it and  God and you made this world you see in this solid dream.. ..the "Theta/M.E.S.T. Theory"  Hubbard explained in Scientology 88008, is what is being worked on. Along with COHA book.

  These simple drills can really wake one up and the Book and Bottle is famous for making the spirit pop out of the body or see through walls ..much more. (out of body is extremely common for kids and anyone if you ask the general public...(not east coasters though .. dey got a solid tough realistic front to uphold eh?)  Pickup the book ...describe the weight and color and temperature and put it down. The constant duplication of this pops a being out of the body often or quite lightens him up..bringing back extremely childlike perception ability etc. IF it is DONE THE RIGHT way with TOTAL INTENSITY of INTENTION INTO THE OBJECT (not often) it will create fun results. Shuts all but perception of present time and the real time object in front of you instead of all you neurotic thinking about a millions stupid things!

   I do not blame Marc Headley for his not understanding ANYTHING much of what he signed up for .. he knows naught of what he signed up for at 15! HE NEVER READ A BOOK .. those SEA ORG RECRUITERS got paid real hard cash for scoring one. HUBBARD said he made the SEA ORG for O.Ts in 1967 to then help with his game. NOT YOUNG KIDS who knew not wot of the subject really except MOM OR DAD SAID IT WAS THE WOW!!!!!!

BUT most staff  of locals dislike the Sea Org as they boss them around and treat the highest O.T. in the org like a serf. And demand the names of all the local kids of any family to raid for S.O. sign up.

They love to sign up the gullible kids of Scientologists that know not wot of it really .. HE WAS TOTALLY RAILROADED INTO SIGNING HIS CONTRACT and his Mum would get her ass kicked by "HCO", now made into a scary thing... if she complained... they raid the kids of any Scientology family and come back daily to your house until parents submit or be threatened with not being able to do the Secret O.T. levels to be a GOD on earth! O.T. 8 used to be a state in the 1967 Gradation and Awareness Chart of the Bridge over the Chasm of Doom listed as:  "TOTAL CAUSE OVER MATTER, ENERGY, SPACE AND TIME" ie GOD.

 These hidden, secret things to work on for you advancement to a God again are very tempting and drive people to severe actions. I am sorry but O.T. 8s.. as usually KNOW the next SECRET LEVEL with BE IT! O.T. 15 is supposed to be written and only given out when the existing OTs donate mega time or mega money to prove they deserve it and are good enough to not destroy the world with such POWER and FORCE!

There is a great deal to mine of true revelations and innovations in Hubbard's works but .. he was a VENGEFUL, SPITEFUL, SPLIT TEMPER ANGER RED HEAD! Satanism via / Crowley  study at 16 will pump you up and tap you into great power all based on YOU and your total AGREEMENT BELIEVERS!

He demanded total obedience as a good slave eventually and ESPECIALLY once you were trapped onboard his ship the Apollo!

 In his policy .. ...ONE WIT OF A CRITICAL and YOU WERE EVIL! ONLY RON COULD BE SNIDE, JOKING OR CRITICAL (as in all his taped lectures)  Policy prevents any such in his orgs. ALL the embarrassing lying about his past is proven .. but if you look you will be checked on the meter and not be allowed the SECRET DATA TO MAKE YOU A GOD! Tricky tricks.

All his 3 wives and kids, close friends ALL OVERBOARDED like John McMaster 5 times .. the gay guy who was the first Clear, Pope of Scio-Logos, and boomed St Hill from 6 to 166 staff and got many Celebs in .....stole too much lime light and had to go.

Lafayette was above any Ethics or Auditing C/Sing and did not abide by his own rules...only created them ..much of which was channeled via a broad from this cat Luficer.. more of his gaming..........off his own rails........and so with all the evidence he was a failed anti-Christ again along with Stalin and Hitler and Napoleon who all believed the where saving the world by any means necessary! BUT DOESN'T MEAN THERE ISN'T SOME POWER TRUTHS THERE.. LOOK if you know philosphy

human rights gal
human rights gal

i guess its only a matter of time before we see a class law suit by ex-members?


Headley is an asshole, untrained stupid punk. By his own admission he was mostly un-trained. So for him to give an opinion about something without knowing the full data on the subject is just plain stupid. I left the church in 1997 because of the ABUSES not because of the technology. I have used it for 36 years and I am still very happy and live my own life very successfully.


Yeah, technology - that's what the story was all about. But if it makes you happy....

Shaun Hart
Shaun Hart like.author.displayName 1 Like

The pen is indeed more mighty than Miscaviges fist.Ironic justice

Marc & Claire Headley are legends.

cheap nba basketball jerseys
cheap nba basketball jerseys

I like this sport. You like it? what you think of it? If you have some time, it may wish to continue your article to share with you the happiness.

Jeanette Boot
Jeanette Boot

Also the $199 iPod Touch is only an 8GB model, the 32GB will cost you $299.

ipod manager
ipod manager

Had a blackberry for years. When iPhone came out I felt lust, but refused to switch to ATT from verizon. After using my iPod touch and feeling total frustration when I thought of the possibilities, and to that I added the over the air sync through mobile me with my mac I ditched verizon and am now th proud owner o an iPhone 3GS.

Madie Leake
Madie Leake

Boating have been a passion of mine for numerous many years, thanks to the post.

Dorine Minihan
Dorine Minihan

Which is an excellent piece, always nice to understand more about boating

intellectualdementia like.author.displayName 1 Like

i didnt know scientology was only running 10,000 members. if you factor out celebrities, that's probably only about 2,000 real people.

good to know america isn't as dumb as i thought. hollywood excluded.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu

Talking to a bottle for hours....Talking to a man in the sky for hours....seems pretty similar to meThe Catholic Church is one of the wealthiest organizations in the world.

Gomer Singer Sergeant
Gomer Singer Sergeant

You have stuck taken some risks informing people over the years, Tony. My deepest thanks.

Mary McConnell
Mary McConnell like.author.displayName 1 Like

Well, I finally got the book via the slow boat to China (USPS) and read it over a weeks time and I must say that Marc Headly has written a book that is knocking scientology off it's high horse but good. I truely think that the contents are such that it would give the IRS very good proof enough to warrant investigating leader David Miscavige for financially benefitting from and wasting church funds.This could cause them to lose their non profit status.

There are even more Tom Cruise stories in there and some very good examples of scientology's greed for money and abuse of staff. It's a book that documents why scientology is a business (a slave labor business)and why it's not a church. A must read for anyone curious about the elite management of scientology.

Anonymous like.author.displayName 1 Like

Sounds strikingly similar in many respects to the Children of Good, aka, The Family.

Human nature is so predictable.

puck like.author.displayName 1 Like

Sorry my mistake. Here's the clip with stories of the old days in the RPF for anyone interested. And Marc, Nancy, Amy, Marty, John Duignan, Hannah Whitfield, Tanya, Jesse, Astra, Mike and all of you who survived some of the worst and had the guts to come forward and tell your stories, I salute you. I hope you all have happy, fulfilling lives.



Below link is to a video where you can hear some of these exercises being taught by LRH himself (auditor training class?) Note after describing something that seems designed to instill obedience, he back-peddles and says of course no one is useful if all they can do is follow orders, but they're pretty useless if they can't. Nonetheless there's an awful lot of emphasis on following orders here, is there not? He also *jokes* at top, that once you're in, you're in for good. ha...ha :o


Below is an old 20/20 clip on Scientology's RPF camp where members give accounts of their punishments from back in the 70s and 80s. I think they were mighty brave to come forward at all pre-internet. You can plainly there is a long history of human rights abuse in the org.



I have always wondered what could make Tom Cruise hold so steadfast to this cult, Scientology. His career is OVER, and the world sees him as a complete loon. My feeling is that these high-ranking "celebrities" are paid in some way. They must be receiving monetary kick-backs of some sort. They have to be getting something for this. I also think their marriage has to be a living nightmare. Katie Holmes' family has to see all the craziness and has to be horrified.

TonyO like.author.displayName 1 Like

Not sure where you got that idea, Amy.

The book is about Marc's 15 years working at Gold Base. As I pointed out, the strength of the book is that it gives us perhaps the best sense yet of what it's like to be an average worker in Scientology.

Tom Cruise takes up only a few pages here and there. And the details about the book, bottle and ashtray aren't in 'Blown for Good' -- they came out in my interview with Marc. (Also, some folks around the web have noted that Marc 'already put all this material online.' That's not really true. Marc says that 80 percent of 'Blown for Good' he's never published anywhere else.)

As others have pointed out, we've known for many years that Scientology's "tech" included such bizarre silliness as talking to inanimate objects. And one would have to infer that the celebrities were doing this. Often, however, we are told that celebrities like Cruise and Travolta are treated differently than average members. So I, at least, have always wondered whether the stars go through such nuttiness as the Upper Indoc TRs. That's what made Marc's words so interesting (to me, anyway). It's a rare first-hand account of a top Scientology celebrity taking part in such bizarre activity as talking to ashtrays.

nate and mona
nate and mona like.author.displayName 1 Like

Marc is a Hero for speaking out...

it is hard for anyone not affected or touched (so far) by this abusive cult to understand the lengths they go too, to recruit their members...

the 1982 SCOTT MAYER & PAULETTE COOPER CLEARWATER FLORIDA CITY COUNCIL YOUTUBE'S are a great place to start learning just what we are dealing with here...

with the national media and former members willing and unafraid to speak out their reign of terror will come to an end soon...

we love you Marc & wish you and your family much happiness..

all out love nate and mona


Yes, we already figured out that Cruise is a prat but is there any space in your book to write about the suffering of non-celebs in the book. Writing about Tom Cruise will get you the hits online but what people need to know are not the shenanighans of Cruise but the suffering inflicted on the men, women and children in the cult. If Mark failed to do this then he is nothing but an attention seeking individual no different from Cruise.

Mark, tell us something we don't know.


Patricia Curtis, we may deplore that unconstitutional ordinance (884) against picketing that the scientology lawyer pushed for, and the Riverside County supervisor`s (except for Buster, the lone dissenter)passed; BUT, it does prevent scientologists from picketing critics, which they have done in Riverside County. The last incident I am aware of was F. Choquette, and 2 scientologists showed up at the rv park where he was residing at sometime around 5 a.m.! The park is private property, and the sheriffs told them to leave. Hah! Scientologists consider themselves above the law, though, and I wouldn`t be surprised to see them picketing critics again.

Rita like.author.displayName 1 Like

I cannot believe that US tax payers are still expected to foot the bill for this so called religion to further their abuse of people. scientology must be stopped and held accountable for these abuses. It is high time for law enforcement and the IRS to step in.Kudos to you Marc and Claire.

Gina Lowenkron
Gina Lowenkron like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is scary! Why would anyone want to join this religion? I don't understand why this is not illegal. Why hasn't law enforcement done anything?

FlaWestGuy like.author.displayName 1 Like

In the article mention was made of the St. Petersburg Times series earlier this year about Scientology. Just this week Part Three of the series was posted on the front page for three straight days. Lots of good video and all three parts of the story can be found at:


Really enjoyed the article and want to read the book. Thanks!!

Tory Christman
Tory Christman like.author.displayName 1 Like

Excellent article, Tony! Two giants in writing :) Marc's book is not only extremely informative, it's also *very* funny! Literally,I can't wait to get back to it.

I also love that it's a very personal account, written as a young man who has literally grown up within this organization.

Great job! Thanks to you both :)Tory Christman---Also escaped out of Scientology in 2000, after 30 years "in".

Patricia Curtis
Patricia Curtis like.author.displayName 1 Like

First, kudos to you, Marc. This book was not only a labor of courageous balls of steel but it is the voice of countless others who have been pressured into silence by the litigious arm of the Church of Scientology.

Second, and for the record, most of the events described in this occurred at Golden Era Productions, located on Gilman Springs Road in Riverside County ---

--- which is where a Riverside County Supervisor by the name of Jeff Stone recently pushed through an ordinance making it nearly impossible for picketers to exercise their constitutional rights to protest the inhumane activities described in this book.

Mary McConnell
Mary McConnell like.author.displayName 1 Like

Terrific report, Mr. Ortega, as usual!

Marc Headley has helped alot of former and current members by virtue of him speaking up on the internet. And while so many members, former and present, have been shuttered into silence or anonymity by the threat of losing ones eternity, Marc added fuel to the fire by suing Scientology for their multitude of crimes, violations and civil rights abuses against their employees.

Enforced abortions, low to no pay, inhumane treatment and conditions - essentially slave labor. You can read his CA Civil complaint which is now being heard at the federal level:http://www.scribd.com/doc/1256...

Suing scientology is generally seen as David vs Goliath but with the expertise of lawyer Barry Van Sickle and intricate knowledge Marc and others have provided, these lawsuits are the biggest threat to scientology's existence.

Marc did this at great personal risk, and has encouraged others by his actions. Not only is his wife Claire suing in a separate case, another former member has filed suit for being forced to abort her pregnancies.

Under the guise of the Sea Org staff being'religious workers' exempt from labor law, scientology keeps it's ongoing slave labor and human trafficking scam going.

Generally, no one wants to sue scientology because they have an endless trunk of cash to spend in order to stop people like these from exposing THEIR crimes. Headley and his lawyer is not giving up.

The book is necessary and it's no wonder why it's so highly anticipated. I await my recently ordered copy of the book and hope others order their own copy, too.

Goldbase local
Goldbase local like.author.displayName 1 Like

I live near that creepy place in Hemet called Goldbase.

You can see what the top of the fence looks like here:


They have security cameras mounted on public light poles and on top of a nearby hill.

We steer clear of that place.

THC like.author.displayName 1 Like

I told the dish to run away with the spoon and then I put all the inantimate objects into time out when the pot called the kettle black. Great piece


My respect for Tom Cruise is GONE. I am not the only one who remembers Katie appearing 'drugged' during interviews when she was pregnant. Shame on him and his cult. This has got to go down, and quickly.

leslie like.author.displayName 1 Like

I was one of the lucky ones to get Marc's book already, and I could not put it down. He's an amazing storyteller and his story is incredible! Marc and Claire deserve every happiness that comes their way after the hell they endured. Everyone should read this book and find out what the CULT of $cientology is really about.

Nancy Many
Nancy Many like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am ordering mine today, though Marc and I have spoken about the differences between our two books, and it's not and either or, each covers different areas, sometimes during the same time period. I am most proud of Marc and Claire making it work and to be able to leave the Sea Org TOGETHER and go on to have children and a real life.So rarely do couples make that transition, it is always heartwarming to know the depth of their love that made it happen. KUDOS to Marc Headly Another voice from the crowd.Who's next? Where is the next Memoir coming from, this dragon has many pieces and the head does not know the tail, so we need to get more stories out. I have learned the hard way how to do this and am willing to help anyone be the Next One... Nancy Many

Anonymous like.author.displayName 1 Like

Way to go BFG! Glad to see the truth can be printed and not silenced by cult lawyers and dirty tricks anymore.

Paul like.author.displayName 1 Like

I can't wait to read this book!! Sounds fascinating - I live in LA and pass by the Scientology churches all the time. Already being someone who dissents from all religion, I've always hated Scientology the most... that Celebrity Centre over on Franklin is RIDICULOUS!!!

Jeanne B - Orr- Sam- HannahP
Jeanne B - Orr- Sam- HannahP

I'm not a big fan of Scientology but I think people who are against talking to bottles are just trying to hid their crimes.

R. Hill
R. Hill like.author.displayName 1 Like

Gay Movie Fan, the key thing regarding the bottle/ashtray/book is less the craziness of talking to them, and more as Marc said, the "ability to control [...] and to be controlled." It's only one drill here, but there are many others like this, essentially accomplishing the same thing: Controlling others and not accepting dissent, and accepting to be controlled by others without dissenting, however silly the requests may appear. This way, eventually, the members do only what Scientology superiors want them to do, without daring to dissent.

Claire Swazey
Claire Swazey like.author.displayName 1 Like

Marc Headley is indeed a person of great courage. I bought his book and am really looking forward to reading it.

The cult has spent many years trying to cut off any critical publications or movies. They cannot stop the tide of these anymore. I just bought three other critical books besides this one- all of which were published in the last year or so.

Viva Freedom of Speech...

Now Trending

New York Concert Tickets

From the Vault