An event that I have been anticipating for many weeks finally came last night, I got to fan girl out over one of my literary and activist heroes at the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Adelaide, Scientology expert, editor extraordinaire and all round cool guy: Tony Ortega.
I have been obsessed with Scientology on an intellectual and voyeuristic level since I walked to work in Adelaide one sunny morning to a row of protesters with Guy Fawkes Masks lined up in silence in front of the creepy book shop I always passed near my office. I went home and googled ‘Guy Fawkes’ and found articles on the world wide protest set up by Anonymous directed at Scientology. ‘Scientology?!?!?’ I thought….’The Tom Cruise thing?’ I was hooked.
I came to the night with high expectations. I was riveted by ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ and have seen every episode of Tony on The Lip TV, and had envisioned an evening of dissecting Paulette’s story and the current state of COS in Australia and the world. The Wheatsheaf hotel is a really cool, retro Aussie pub that supports social causes and has yummy pizza and cold beer. I was a bit taken aback however when I asked a bar staff member which area Tony Ortega would be appearing in and she said ‘I’m sorry – I don’t know who that is. Try the garden’.
The crowd was a decent enough bunch, but clearly had only a passing interest in Scientology, and were more invested in sharing their brushes with the COS, or their first year Sociology thesis on group hysteria and the need to ‘belong’. Nick Xenophon was also in attendance to supply a parliamentary angle to all the questions about tax exemption, freedom of religion and charity status. Impressively, Tony got each of the political references that the crowd chuckled over and Nick was able to add perspective to the incredulous continuation of tax exemption for the COS in Australia.
I was not familiar with the Channel 7 Australia reporter Bryan Seymour – who acted as a moderator and Australian Scientology font of knowledge (I’m a bit of an ABC snob) but when I heard him say ‘The Tech…’ he won my heart.
I had so many questions! I was all ready to get my Allison Hope Weiner on, but unfortunately I was out of the view of the moderator, and my little hand flapped in the breeze all night. My most burning questions for Tony-
What is your take on Nibs and his tragic tale? Does Paulette forgive him?
Have Nancy Many and Paulette Cooper ever met/spoken?
Were you ever just a little upset with Paulette during the 1980 incident?
LRH’s treatment of Paulette smacks of sexism and anti-semitism – is there any LRH writing on either of those subjects? The whole calling women ‘Sir’ always struck me as an attempt to be progressive.
Was Nicole Kidman really unable to remove her kids from the church? Homegirl’s a bazillionaire with the world media at her fingertips…
Can you write Tory Christman’s story next?
Leah Remini’s book will contain KRs?!
Do you have any juicy gossip on Matthew Weiner’s relationship with Elisabeth Moss given the popularity of The Lip TV?
Does Clamato Juice really have clams in it?!?!?!?!
I had to settle for a 2 minute gush fest whilst Tony signed my brand new hardcopy of Miss Lovely. I got to tell him how beautifully restrained and respectful his coverage of Cathriona’s passing was – and that I had tremendous respect for his handling of her beliefs. He shared with me the moment he found out she was a Scientologist and we commiserated over her vulnerability to the COS.
Tony still has a few stops on his tour – if you are a Miss Lovely fan I definitely recommend you go and sit front and centre, and I for one, will be checking out Bryan Seymour’s body of work whilst I count down to Troublemaker.