http://www.dcist.com/archives/2004/11/30/raiding_l_ron_hubbards_office.php November 30, 2004 Raiding L. Ron Hubbard's Office
The Fraser Mansion at the corner of Connecticut Avenue at 20th and R streets stands out, as you can see in this DCist photo. In a sea of older and newer commercial buildings a few blocks north of Dupont Circle stands the distinguished red stone mansion, its giant porte-cochere meeting the sidewalk with a majestic portal leading inside. Itís also Washingtonís Scientology House, and while Clearwater, Fla., might be a more important Scientology center, Washington is where L. Ron Hubbard started Scientology when he was studying at George Washington University. We arenít sure to call it a religion, cult or a pyramid scheme (feel free to post your thoughts in comments), but thatís not the point of this post. When DCist was in New York before Thanksgiving, we got a chance to interview a former Washington resident, who, on a whim, decided to go on a tour of the Fraser Mansion with friends when they were recovering from a tough hangover.
"It all started with a Dos Manos at Baja Fresh," says DCistís source on the tour. Letís call him Rob for the sake of this exploration.
Recovering from a night of drinking, Rob and a three friends were walking past the Scientology House when they saw the sign: "Let Scientology detoxify yourself from drugs and alcohol." It seemed like a perfect excuse to take a look inside one of the cityís more mysterious places. And to our knowledge, the Masons and Nicholas Cage are not involved.
They went in as a joke, as a challenge, if you will. They walked in and were greeted by a bunch of Hispanic men dressed in nice suits. Rob signed in under an assumed name, putting down the name of a friend who he thought itíd be funny to have Scientology marketing materials sent to. Robís group was escorted down to the basement to a screening room, where their guide, a man by the name of Moses, showed them the introductory Scientology video program.
"The first thing we saw was Kirstie Alley saying how ĎScientology saved my life,í" Rob recalled, referring to the former "Cheers" actress and former Pier One television personality. Then came on some "ĎChildren of the Corní-type characters ... who werenít WASPy, but more Aryan."
John Travolta made an appearance in the film and then it highlighted the Clearwater-based Scientology cruise ship.
Rob said that when the introductory movie ended, Moses didnít realize that his potential recruits were sitting in a pitch black room. Rob said that his group got scared, as they sat in the darkened screening room in the basement.
"We thought they were going to release the sarin gas," he joked. "We were pretty freaked out. We thought Moses wanted to kill us."
Moses soon appeared and sincerely apologized for leaving them in the darkened room. The tour continued. Next stop, the spiritual auditing station. Rob described it as a table with a control panel with thingamabobs you grab on to have your "spiritual wellbeing" measured.
Robís buddy, who weíll call Edward, wasnít doing too much to hide his skepticism. He said to Moses: "Iím looking for a job, how do I become an auditor?"
Moses said that by joining Scientology he too could become an auditor some day, but sensing that Edward was half joking, became defensive. Rob said Moses countered with this serious response: "I was healed on this machine."
Before the tour continued to the replica of L. Ron Hubbardís office, Moses offered to sell the crew a plastic-wrapped package of Scientology information, including L. Ron Hubbards "Dianetics," for $50. They turned down the offer.
Then it was time to see L. Ronís office. Apparently, every Scientology house has an exact replica of the founderís office. As Moses was trying to win Rob over as a new recruit, the rest of the crew went wild in L. Ronís office when Mosesí back was turned.
"They were pulling books off the shelves," Rob said, adding that he thought that Moses may have known they were screwing around and was putting on a good "gameface" as Rob pretended to be interested in Mosesí Scientology spiel.
Then Edward began spinning L. Ronís globe, which dated to pre-war colonial times when Africa was largely divided among the European powers. He then played the childhood game of stopping the globe by putting your finger on a random spot to determine future global adventures.
"Look," Edward exclaimed, as Rob recalled. "Iím going to live in Siam!"
Then trouble came in the form of a woman associated with the Scientology House asking what was going on, shocked that outsiders were playing around with the sacred replicated items from L. Ron Hubbardís office, as if they were using the Shroud of Turin as a handkerchief.
The tour ended and Robís crew was escorted out, but without escaping one more sales pitch. The woman who scolded Robís group then offered them the information package for $25, half off of what Moses was offering it at."
Z-blade (has a sustained record of abusing the hospitality of a harum-scarum world where shadow and substance have undefined borders)