This is Photojournalist Fred G. Haseney with his eye on Scientology. For today’s blog, I visited the Pacific Area Command Base (caption“offenPAC Base” or “Big Blue”), the Church of Scientology’s West Coast headquarters. Specifically, I toured PAC Base on Thursday, March 10, 2016, before 2:00 p.m. This is part of the “Reconnecting the Disconnected and Declared” series.
The Los Angeles Organization (“LA Org”) of the Church of Scientology can train and audit (that is, deliver spiritual counseling) people only to a certain level. From LA Org, they’re transferred for further services to the American St. Hill Organization (“ASHO”). Likewise, ASHO can only train and audit people to a certain level. From ASHO, people will be transferred to the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles (“AOLA”). ASHO and AOLA also train and audit Scientologists from around the country (like LA Org, orgs nationwide can train and audit people only to a certain level, and then they have to be turned to a higher org, such as ASHO or AOLA, for further services). LA Org’s “public” are the residents of Los Angeles. All orgs follow the leader of Scientology, David “Ruthless” Miscavige.
LA Org positions Body Routers on street corners and busy pedestrian thoroughfares. A Body Router (“BR”) is also a Registrar, a salesperson. It’s a BR’s job to get a stranger to Scientology into LA Org for a “free” Dianetics film or Personality Test. For this, they stand on street corners and hand out tickets for that film or test. Once a new person is in their front door, a BR will turn that person over to a bona fide Registrar who is so specially trained in Salesmanship 101 that they know how to squeeze blood from a turnip.
Photo Caption: An exterior view of Sunset Boulevard, facing east, between L. Ron Hubbard Way and New Hampshire Avenue, in Los Angeles. A female BR hands a stranger to Scientology a “free” ticket to see a film or take a test. Normally, BRs seek new people at the corner of Sunset and Vermont, one block east of this location. This stretch along Sunset Blvd. is heavily traveled by Sea Org (“SO”) members, and a BR will attempt to hand out a “free” ticket to anyone they can along the way.
A new person to the org is a statistic (“stat”). The more new people they get through their front doors, the higher their “stat” will be. It’s important to a BR (and SO members in general) to be an “upstat,” that is, get more new people into Scientology this week than they did last week. It is a BR’s goal to get more and more people into LA Org week after week. If a BR got ten people into the org last week, then getting eleven new people into LA Org this week would raise that stat. A Sea Org member has signed a Billion Year contract; being upstat may be the only way they can get a little time off of post (they typically work 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 pm, or later, almost seven days a week and for very little pay; unless you’re a Registrar, that is).
In order to become an effective salesperson, Body Routers and Registrars study the book, Big League Sales Closing Techniques by Les Dane. If you ever find yourself in a Scientology organization, don’t allow yourself to be cornered by a Registrar, let alone two of them. If that happens, the first Reg will begin the task of getting you to buy a book, course or auditing action. He’ll work you for a while, and then he’ll tag the other Reg (the “closer”); that second Reg will wear you down for the close. This is also know as “tag-team” action. As seen on television in wrestling matches, one Reg will start the “match”; if he encounters difficulty or tires, he’ll “tag” the other Reg, who’ll then take over.
Photo Caption: The BR explains to the guy what the “free” film or test will be all about.
In Scientology, the prospect is a game, and Registrars will stoop to anything to get you to sign on the dotted line. You have only one weapon if cornered by a Reg: the word “no.” Use Scientology’s “No Drill” to your advantage. Stand in front of a mirror and say the word “No,” and keep saying it until your confidence builds. In front of a Reg, look at him as you would that mirror, and declare, “No,” until he gets it, and walk away a free man. You have only one weapon if cornered by two Registrars: 1. Never go to a Scientology event (a given) and, 2. Never go to a Scientology event alone. Tag-team Registrars will break your resistance carefully, with tact and finesse; a good Reg will never offend or frighten you.
Photo Caption: As the BR explains the nature of her business, the guy turns the “free” ticket over, and we get to see the underbelly of the beast in his hand: it’s a ticket to attend a Dianetics film. The BR also holds “free” Personality Test tickets (those are the blue ones).
A tag-team is sometimes comprised of one Reg and an authoritative figure. When a Reg tires of you, and has done everything possible to break you, but can’t, he’ll call in his senior. If you’re close to signing on the dotted line, but haven’t (the Reg may have even gotten a pen into your hand), hell escort you to his boss. The Reg will take you to that person of authority, right in front of that person’s desk. If a Reg at a Scientology event ever says, “Come with me,” run the other way.
Photo Caption: By the this point, the BR has gone past the point of effectively getting the guy to LA Org because he’s about to leave. The BR is new to this territory; it may be one of her first days on the job (it may also be among her last days on the job if she can’t get new people to her org).
A BR works the same way; nothing a BR does is “accidental”; their plans are precisely choreographed. BRs are the Scientology staff members who stand on street corners handing out “free” Personality Test or Dianetics Film tickets. BRs often work in pairs, forming a tag-team. When BR #1 entices a prospect to their org, BR #2 will start walking to the org. The prospect will follow because humans are polite creatures. The prospect may not really want to do this, but he’ll find himself drawn. BR #2 won’t stop, either; he won’t slow down. And they’ll march you right to their org, where they’ll plant you in front of a seasoned Registrar who hasn’t had a good lunch in weeks. You will become his next meal. Two BRs working together are a double-team: two will do a better job than just one. BRs make it a rule to double-team whenever possible.
Photo Caption: As the guy turns to leave, the BR descends into overkill in an attempt to get him to the org.
When LA Org sets up a double-team of BRs, they’ll never team a BR with someone he doesn’t like or is uncomfortable working with. In Salesmanship 101, BRs are people who are comfortable with each other, people who’d enjoy doing lunch or sharing a coffee break. A BR active in animal rights will not be double-teamed with a BR who enjoys a big game safari hunt. Like a narcissist, a BR is working a con, and in a double-team, CON-fidence in each other is key.
Photo Caption: Wallowing in the depths of despair, the BR tries to hook the guy; he turns to her, most likely out of sympathy.
Perhaps you’ve given the Reg a run for his money, and in all his years of experience, he’s never run into the likes of you. You’ve effectively stopped the close. After all his years as a salesperson, he realizes that he’s not equipped to deal with you. At this point, Salesmanship 101 tells a Reg to admit he’s run out fuel and can’t handle you alone. An unseasoned Reg will crank a dead engine, which will accomplish nothing. A seasoned Reg will tag someone, perhaps his boss, with more ability and experience. His boss is Salesmanship 101 itself, and he probably wrote the book on it.
Photo Caption: Since the guy is inherently polite and knows by now that he’s hurt her feeling by not doing what she has suggested, the guy turns to shake the poor gal’s hand.
Sometimes, when a Reg runs out of fuel in his attempt to bag you, he’ll call in another salesperson. The Reg may even have a hidden buzzer under his desk for such calls; something he’s spent weeks or months perfecting by using just his knee to summon for such help. Your “objection” to the sale is considered a “problem” to a tag-team, but they’ll never admit it (to you, that is). In this case, a good closer is the trick, someone to bag you in short order and with little conversation. In this case, you won’t know what hit you (and your wallet will be a lot lighter as you return to your car). A Registrar’s tag-team partner will be someone who operates as he does; a person he knows, someone with whom the Reg works well with; someone he can anticipate, because they’re going to work you over together.
Photo Caption: Even as the guy explains the nature of his business and where he must go to next, the BR is on her cell phone, most likely calling into the org to report the fact that I’ve been taking her picture.
The Registrar’s tag-team partner will be casual and cool. Reg #1 will be demoted or downgraded by Reg #2. Reg #1 will become the new salesperson on the block; the “bad cop.” Reg #2 will become the seasoned pro; the “good cop.” Reg #2 may even act upset or angry at Reg #1 or call him stupid (and Reg #1 will even sit there, all sheepish while looking as dumb as can be). Reg #2 will carry the ball and Reg #1 will follow his lead. This is the tag-team’s subterfuge, they’re just two guys who want your money; they’ll cooperate to get you to sign on the dotted line (and they’ll share you—their catch—when it comes to divvying out the sales commission; they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank).
Photo Caption: The guy celebrates his freedom as the BR makes her call. As the guy passed me, I pointed at the “free” ticket still in his hand, telling him that it’s for Scientology, the big blue building a block away from us. I told him not to go there because all they want is your money. The guy acknowledged what I said, offering further that he had been keeping an eye on them for a few years. As I explained how they’ll take new people for every penny they have and then throw them to curb and trample over their body in order to get to their next victim, I heard, then saw, him rip that ticket to shreds. Well Done, Citizen!
In Salesmanship 101, a Reg will humor you, flatter you, agree with you; he’ll love bomb that sale right out of you. Before you’ve even arrived for the event, Registrars at that org have developed and perfected their own approach. Their plan will be detailed and concise even before you walk in the front door. Such a Reg lies in wait for his next victim. If you ever see a Reg or a BR, imagine his lips smacking and, afterward, a toothpick in his mouth whittling away at what’s left of your carcass.
Photo Caption: Exterior shot of Sunset Blvd. facing west, between New Hampshire Ave. and LRH Way. Defeated, the female BR returns to LA Org, empty-handed. The Scientology sign in the upper, right-hand corner reads “Open House—All Are Welcome,” and the same message in Spanish, “Casa Abierta—Todos Son Bienvenidos.” There used to be two of those signs at either end of the parking lot facing Sunset Blvd. (one facing Sunset from LRH Way looking east; the other on Catalina St., facing Sunset Blvd. to the west). It’s interesting to note that weeks ago, after a powerful storm, both signs were gone and their frames battered. Since then, only this frame has been replaced with a new sign to replace the old.
All images (unless otherwise noted) © 2015—2016 Fred G. Haseney. All rights reserved.