"Tom Cruise Worships David Miscavige Like a God": A Scientology Insider Gives First Full-Length Interview to the Voice
|John Brousseau, with an early catch|
For the next six years, until his death on January 24, 1986, Hubbard would be tended to by the Broekers and a few other people, and the rest of Scientology -- and the public and press -- never knew his whereabouts or his condition. But word did pass back and forth between Hubbard and Scientology, and Brousseau was part of that, too.
When Hubbard had information to pass to Scientology's international management, Pat Broeker would notify David Miscavige and John Brousseau by paging them.
"It was usually in the middle of the night. We had to then be at a predesignated pay phone -- there were seven of them, depending on the day of the week, in places like Riverside and San Bernardino," he says.
At the pay phone, a coded conversation would take place. "Baseball" or "football" were words that indicated a certain all-night restaurant or parking lot. And then Miscavige and Brousseau would go there and wait for Pat Broeker to show up with a man named Steve Pfauth, who was known as "Sarge."
"Sarge and I were excluded. Broeker and Miscavige would spend hours talking," Brousseau says.
By the time of the secret go-betweens with Broeker, Brousseau and Miscavige had become brothers-in-law. Brousseau had met Clarisse Barnett in La Quinta in 1978. Clarisse's younger sister, Michelle, was known as Shelly. "We got together two years before Miscavige and Shelly did. Shelly seemed like a nice, smart girl."
At their secret meetings, Pat Broeker and David Miscavige would talk about Hubbard's instructions for people in international management, and Broeker would bring a ream of typewritten instructions.
"I'm wondering what they were talking about. I'm falling asleep. Sarge and I are on our ninth cup of coffee, about to puke from the acid. What the hell are they talking about? I didn't know."
But occasionally, there would be instructions for Brousseau.
Brousseau was faithfully taking care of Hubbard's cars at Int Base. "He had a 1964 International Scout that I bought for him at X. He really dug it. He said it reminded him of the old Land Rovers he'd driven in Africa. He had a '68 Cadillac DeVille convertible. He really dug cars. And guns. He mostly had little hand guns. Gold filigreed and engraved. They were collectors' pieces.
"I would package them up and Pat Broeker would take them. I was getting communications from LRH from Broeker. I had this little secret line from LRH. I was taking care of his vehicles and taking care of his guns. And I was a nut case, arriving with Miscavige at all hours to meet Broeker, two or three times a week."
Then in 1983, he remembers, word came from Broeker that Brousseau needed to get some special vehicles ready.
"They wanted a big ass motor home to put together a convoy for the road. I had to pay $125,000 cash for a Bluebird motor home and customize it. I also had to buy a Datsun 4-wheel pickup, with a camper shell and with a mobile kitchen, so the cooking for LRH would not happen in his bus. The motor home was for LRH to live in, towing the 4-wheel drive. Annie was supposed to drive that. For Pat I bought a big dually pickup, a 1983 white cowboy truck. Then I had custom made a 40-foot fifth-wheel trailer. It was literally a rolling wardrobe. It was a whole convoy of vehicles. I spent six months getting the trailer custom made in Indiana, at Kountry Aire RV. I ended up putting it all in storage units in the Redlands area. I would have to go every couple of weeks and wash them and wax the motor home. I'd have to start them up and drive them around the block to keep them alive," he says.
Then, one day, he was told it was time to mobilize the convoy. Broeker came and picked up the Bluebird with its Datsun pickup in tow, and then the next day came back for the dually with its trailer.
Brousseau was then given another mission. Broeker told him to find a ranch property as a backup plan to whatever Hubbard was doing in seclusion.
"I looked all around Southern California, talking to realtors. I found some nice prospects. But then Broeker said he had found something. It was in Newberry Springs, near Barstow. It was a perfectly square, flat piece of desert, 12 and a half acres. Isn't this great, he said? I was looking at places backed up against mountains, really nice places. This place had a house and some falling-apart trailers. A little lake with some catfish. Well, we bought it, and I became the caretaker. From 1983, I lived there as 'Jim Dudley.' Clarisse became 'Claire'."
Never knowing if the Broekers might suddenly show up with Hubbard, the "Dudleys" built up the ranch near Barstow.
"Pat Broeker started bringing up horses and chickens, and I got used to building ranch buildings and corrals. I had almost no connection with the church. I hardly ever went to Int Base. I was just living out in yahoo land under an assumed name. I was given cash to buy things. I learned to slaughter a steer and pigs, and how to pluck chickens. I didn't know what this had to do with the Church of Scientology, but it was kind of fun. I was a rancher in the Mojave Desert, and I really made the place shine."
I asked him to estimate the livestock on the ranch: 8 to 10 horses, 15 to 20 cattle, 15 to 20 sheep and goats, 12 pigs, 25 turkeys, a couple dozen chicken and ducks.
"It was quite an experience. I don't know what purpose it served. LRH never showed up. I was still taking care of the place when I heard he'd died...I found out later that LRH had been living in the Newport/Costa Mesa area after leaving X, and then they went mobile and traveled a bit. I don't know where they traveled. And then they ended up in Creston. They stayed there until LRH died in 1986."
Hubbard spent the last couple of years of his life at a ranch in Creston, California, inland and north of San Luis Obispo.
"I didn't know he was there until a week after he died," Brousseau says. "I went up to the Creston property. I ended up working both of the ranches. Creston had been undergoing a renovation program when he died. I got roped into helping to finish the place. For three more years, until 1989, I took care of both places. Then Miscavige decided he didn't want me there anymore, and he yanked me back to Int Base Transport."
After six years as a Mojave Desert rancher, Jim Dudley became John Brousseau again, and he was back to taking care of cars at the base. But now, he says, the place was changing.
6. Gilman Hot Springs
"I didn't really like it. Miscavige was starting to wield his Nazi-like hand. There was the big flood, for example, you've heard of that, right?" Brousseau refers to something Marc Headley, another former base worker, wrote about in his book Blown For Good, when a sudden downpour caused a mudslide in the base.
"Everyone was dripping wet, and Miscavige was yelling at everyone that it was their fault it had rained so much and so quickly," he says. "How is this my fault, I wondered. But you struggle in your mind, trying to figure out how he's right. And you don't dare yell out that he's wrong. If you did, you'd get murdered by the rest of them.
"You just learned to shut the fuck up."
To help me understand the David Miscavige that he knew, he tells me a series of anecdotes about the man that he personally witnessed. For the first, he takes me back to 1981.
In July of that year, L. Ron Hubbard had vanished and his wife, Mary Sue, had become a liability to Scientology. She had been convicted for her part in Operation Snow White, and would go to prison two years later. It was decided that Scientology needed to distance itself from Mary Sue and the Guardian's Office she ran, which was disbanded.
It was Miscavige who was selected to deliver the news to her. Brousseau went along.
"I wired him and two other people with radio microphones and sat in a van outside the hotel where Miscavige was meeting Mary Sue. It was very Mission Impossible, sitting in that van with reel-to-reel recorders, let me tell you. And I think it was actually illegal in California, which is a two-party state," he says.
"I had three people wired. I was just sitting there, with my big old headphones with a banana plug, plugging it into one reel-to-reel and then another to make sure they were all working," he says.
"I heard some of it. I remember Mary Sue was vehemently opposed to Miscavige, and accused him of trying to take over. She screamed at him. He told her she had to resign, and she crumbled," he says.
There was little question, Brousseau says, that Hubbard himself had known at least the general outline of what the Guardian's Office had been up to during Operation Snow White.
"Here's this woman, his wife, doing everything she can in his own best interest -- she was trying to get the government off her husband's back. She was trying to be the loyal wife. And she and a bunch of other people got nailed for it," he says.
"I think she was used as a scapegoat, and Miscavige was making sure that was the case."
For his second anecdote, Brousseau skips ahead a year, to 1982.
"I'm at the Int Base, he and I are married to sisters -- Miscavige and Shelly have been married maybe a year. We got a liberty -- this was back when Sea Org members got a day off. Since he's my fucking brother in law, we decide, let's the four of us drive up to Lake Hemet near Idyllwild. Because it's spring, a beautiful day, the air is alive with butterflies and birds and bugs -- let's go fishing," he says.
David Miscavige, announcing the death of L. Ron Hubbard to his fellow Scientologists, 1986
"I get four fishing rods and we go up there. We walk along this little path among the ferns and trees on the shore of the lake. We find a shaded beach area, and I'm showing these guys how to fish for trout. We put salmon eggs on a small hook. I tell them how to cast it out, let it sink, and then sit here and wait. I explained how the trout live, and how they'll eventually come by and swallow the egg and we'll catch them. The girls are laughing and talking, and we're all a few feet apart. But I noticed that Miscavige was sort of sitting by himself.
"He was shaking, and his teeth were gritted. He was looking at me with a scowl, and was starting to shake his head. I wondered if he was having some kind of palsy freakout. But then he started yelling at me. I remember exactly what he said...
"Are you fucking kidding me, JB? This is it? This is how you fucking fish? You just sit here and wait? I feel like jumping in the water and shoving the hook in the fish's mouth!"
Brousseau laughs at the memory. "OK, so fishing wasn't for him. And that's what he thinks about anything in life. You can't just let it do what it's going to do. You have to grab it and shove it down its throat."
For a third anecdote, he takes me to 1986, and the death of Hubbard at the Creston ranch property.
"I was with Miscavige when he went like ballbusters up to Creston. He ordered the Broekers separated, and he wanted to question Pat Broeker. But Pat has this big Akita, snarling and barking and howling at Miscavige and Norman Starkey. I grabbed the dog and dragged it out so they could keep yelling at Broeker," he says.
"Later, I'm walking with Miscavige, just the two of us. He says, 'Broeker thinks I want to be king. Broeker wanted to be king. I don't want to be king. I'm just the guy who has to crack the whip and make people do what they're supposed to be doing.' That's how he sees himself."
(In the early 1980s, Hubbard had ordered a complex reorganization of Scientology's byzantine corporate structure which appeared to put in a series of checks and balances between its top entities. He also appeared to anoint Pat and Annie Broeker as his most trusted aides and the logical successors to run the church after his death. But Miscavige maneuvered the Broekers out of that spot and rules Scientology with unquestioning sole power today, seemingly ignoring the church's corporate structure.)
For a fourth anecdote about Miscavige, Brousseau brings me to 1994. "I was acting as his personal bodyguard on the Freewinds, and we had stopped in Aruba. We had run into a black-skinned Aruban guy who looked like he was blown out on speed. He was six foot tall and just skin and bones. The guy was in bad shape. And Miscavige said, 'Look at that guy, he's in his native state.' If you understand LRH philosophy, you know that 'native state' means 'unencumbered with aberration and engrams' -- in other words, a good thing. But Miscavige thinks 'native state' means the opposite."
If Hubbard believed that all men and women are, at their core, essentially good, Miscavige believed the opposite, Brousseau claims.
"If there's an antichrist, then Miscavige is the anti-Hubbard."
7. Happy Valley
Five years after he'd been a Mojave Desert rancher named Jim Dudley, Brousseau was taken off his job taking care of automobiles at Int Base for a new assignment.
At the time, 1994, there had been a serious security breach involving Scientology's computer systems, called INCOMM, at the big administrative headquarters in Los Angeles.
"My job was to do a lockdown of the INCOMM office. I had to put in all kinds of security measures, and weed through the staff to see who was loyal. Gary Morehead was head of security on that," he says. Morehead ran the Int Base's security for many years, and most people knew him by his code name, "Jackson."
"If there was anyone on the base I could trust, it was JB. That's why I brought him in to that mission," Morehead tells me.
From that job, Brousseau was moved into a job as an internal security officer in the Religious Technology Center -- RTC was the controlling entity of Scientology led by Miscavige, who is known as RTC's "Chairman of the Board," or "COB."
Part of Brousseau's job was to incarcerate people who turned out to be security risks.
"So for example, I was in charge of Maureen Bolstad being incarcerated at the OGH [Old Gilman House, an aging structure on the periphery of Int Base]. I hated that job," he says.
"I did that job from 1995 to 1997. Three years. It was the most painful job I had in the Sea Org. We were keeping people locked up at OGH, having them sec checked every day," he says, referring to "security checking," an interrogation technique that involved using the e-meter as a kind of lie detector while subjects were pressed to make confessions of their "crimes" against the organization -- as well as their sexual transgressions, all of which were recorded.
For some it was too much. And Brousseau and Jackson had to be on the lookout for people who were tempted to blow -- Scientology's word for escape.
"When people would blow, we ran the blow drill. We'd have all their bank account and credit card and debit card information. You knew everything about these people," Brousseau says. "So you'd call Wells Fargo and pretend to be those people, and you'd ask, what was the last use of my credit card? Then you'd find out that this guy had just checked into a hotel room in Sacramento. So you'd call the local office and fax them a photo of the person, then you'd be driving people 90 miles an hour to the airport to get them there," he says. "If you used a credit card, we'd be on you in minutes. They have private investigators who are ex-FBI and ex-CIA who know how to get into systems and track people down. I saw some of it because it was part of my job for some of the time. And I hated it. It tore me up."
By then, he had been divorced and remarried. "Clarisse and I got divorced in 1993. I don't blame that on the church. That was our own personal thing. We were married for 16 years, and then we ended it amicably."
Then, while he was still in the RTC, he met Deidre Assam.
"We were both in the RTC, and Miscavige's rule was, if you were in the RTC, you could only marry someone else in the RTC. Deidre was Polynesian. She was tall and gorgeous," he says.
If his marriage was solid, his confidence in his job wasn't. The incarcerations were getting to him, and then he made the mistake of saying something about it. As punishment, he was sent to the Old Gilman House for a three month stay.
"It was atrocious. People were getting busted out of RTC and sent to the OGH all the time. You had to admit that you were a Suppressive Person. And you had to admit that anything you had ever done in your life was crap. Then you could reeducate yourself as a real human being. That started with stupid courses on stuff like personal grooming, how to tie your shoes," he says.
Brousseau says he hated the reeducation courses, but he got through them passably so that he could leave the Old Gilman House and made it back to the base's motor pool.
"Then suddenly, Miscavige wanted a bulletproof van. He has it to this day. A white GMC Savanna van. [It was later painted black.] I spent time making it bullet and bomb proof. We totally decked this thing out. It looked like an executive limo, even though it was a van. It weighed 15,000 pounds because of all the bulletproofing," he says.
"Miscavige was coming down every day to see it, and he didn't understand that when you do a job like that, you tear things apart to put them back together again. He would say, 'This looks worse than yesterday!' Um, yeah, we were tearing it down. Well, he sent Norman Starkey down to check on me. I got sec checked, and I really unleashed about how I was treated at the Old Gilman House. I just cut loose. And that was it," he says.
It was early 1998, and for the next three years, John Brousseau became a prisoner of the Rehabilitation Project Force.
He was physically escorted to the Happy Valley ranch property, which was about nine miles away. He asked to speak with his wife, Deidre, but was told that she was busy.
"Three fucking years," he says. Happy Valley's RPF was "like a concentration camp," Brousseau says, but he adds that it wasn't all bad. Although he was isolated from his wife, he spent much of his time reading.
"I read the LRH books on RPF. Once you're on the RPF, you're out of Miscavige's mind. So I thought, OK, I'm finally going to learn Scientology. I learned how to audit."
The schedule at Happy Valley was strict, he says. "You slept in a dorm. Meals lasted 15 minutes. You ran everywhere. You couldn't originate any communications with regular staff. It was like a Marine Corps boot camp. You can't read newspapers or magazines. There is no television. You'd have five hours of study time at the end of each day, then boom, time to quit. Five or ten minutes for a smoke, and then lights out. There were two RPF guys assigned to security to make sure nobody blew. You're just living this kind of puritan life and you're there to toil and atone. We were building sets for the Cine Org. I learned how to make a floor or a wall look like rock. It was Hollywood stuff," he says.
"For three years, I never saw Deidre. I wrote her letters. They were censored, so you could only write happy talk. I'd ask if she could send a Christmas card to my mom and dad for me. If you actually wrote that you weren't doing well, it wouldn't get to her. You had no privacy," he says.
"I spent Y2K on the RPF," he remembers. On that momentous New Year's Eve, he says, everyone had to be in bed by 10 pm.
Then, in 2001, helicopters started showing up. Someone was trying to get a look at the conditions in Happy Valley. Was it reporters? No one was sure.
"Miscavige put out instructions to disband the place."
There had been about 70 people on the RPF at Happy Valley, Brousseau remembers. "Maybe 12 went back to Int Base. I was one of them. Then they told me they wanted me back in the RTC."
Brousseau was shocked. But Miscavige had another big project that wasn't going well, and it was the kind of thing Brousseau had handled in the past.
He was made estates manager for Building 50, where RTC's own offices were.
"I got checked out on an e-meter to make sure that I had no animosity for Miscavige or Shelly. Somehow I got through that. Then boom, I'm back."
Tom DeVocht, another how-to guy management relied on, showed Brousseau what he needed help on -- signage at the new building. Brousseau handled it so well, soon Miscavige was relying on him to keep Building 50 itself in top condition. Brousseau trained up two assistants who are taking care of Building 50 to this day.
And now, Brousseau was so completely back in Miscavige's good graces, he once again was trusted to help out Tom Cruise.
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Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.
As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.