Friday, March 17, 2006

The belly of the beast

Over the past few years I've made intermittent noise about going undercover in the Church of Scientology, fantasizing about emerging with an expose that would finally give me the fame so long overdue. Either that or I'd end up on one of those Scientology cruise ships, headed to some distant planet, forced to reject the advances of a certain closeted celebrity (or two ... read below).

I came across this under-reported lawsuit back when I worked as gay gossip columnist Romeo San Vicente (the psuedonym was not my idea, and I was as ill-suited for that job as you'd expect). My spineless editor wouldn't let me even mention it; "You're not going to get me sued. Now write me up something about Bette Midler's new movie."

Who knows whether there's truth to this suit, but I can't resist anything that might bring embarrassment to a Scientologist:

John Travolta has been dragged into a court battle between a gay artist and the powerful Church of Scientology.

Michael Pattison says he turned to the sect to "cure" his homosexuality after it used 44-year-old Face/Off star Travolta to illustrate how the church could turn gay people straight.

Now Pattison is suing the church and 22 of its members for fraud, claiming he spent 25 years and half a million dollars trying to deal with his own homosexuality-but is still gay.

Pattison, a Beverly Hills artist, claims in court papers that he was seduced into joining the church in the early 1970s-around the same time Travolta became a member- because it promised a cure.

He became more convinced of the church's supposed powers when Travolta married his pregnant bride Kelly Preston in 1991. The marriage came after a male porn star had given graphic details of an alleged two-year gay affair with Travolta.

What would Mr. Kotter say?

Anyway ... I never made my undercover foray, though I did venture into the "church's" Celebrity Centre once (I lived right across the street, in Hollywood). Beautiful place, built by real-life Citizen Kane William Randolph Hearst in 1927. Everyone wore khaki pants and blue Oxford shirts, very reminescent of the pool party scene in the original "Stepford Wives."

But if you're curious as to what it's really like inside L. Ron's temple, read this hilarious dispatch from writer Harmon Leon: "My Life as a Celebrity Scientologist" (thanks to Night Planet landlord Stanely Roper for passing this along).

And I promise, no more Scientology posts. At least not today. I just can't resist the moral superiority.

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