Steven Mango Exposes What It's Like Inside Hollywood's Scientology Celebrity Centre

Malaysian Digest/January 29, 2014

Steven Mango arrived in Los Angeles as a fresh faced aspiring actor looking to jump start his career.

Instead he got sucked into what he calls "Hollywood's most dangerous, secretive and famous cult".

In his four years as a Scientologist he donated over $US50,000 ($57,069) to the church.

Mr Mango has since made a documentary about his time as a member of the Scientology Celebrity Centre in order to expose the way they allegedly financially exploit their members.

These are the most interesting insights from the two and a half-hour long film.

How they got him

In August 2009 Mr Mango was reading Backstage newspaper when he saw an ad promising to help him break into the industry.

It said that for $US20 aspiring actors would be able to learn how to get an agent, get a manager and get in front of casting directors. It also promised a book by L. Ron Hubbard.

"I didn't know much but I knew he ran the church of Scientology," Mr Mango said.

"I knew that Scientology had a very large celebrity following and I was kind of curious."

They want money

"You have to have money to be a Scientologist," Mr Mango said.

"[They ask] 'Do you have any investments … Do you have any gold bullion?'

"They wanted me to call my grandmother and ask my grandmother to donate $3200. They got my social security number. They got all my financial information."

They target aspiring actors

Division Six of Scientology is the "new people department". One of the places they often go to recruit is the line outside Central Casting - the leading casting agency for new actors who are looking for extras work in Los Angeles.

They promise to help with people's fledgling careers.

"They say 'You don't have to be in the background you can be the star. And we can give you the tools so you can become that star. We have a workshop tomorrow night at 7.30, can we sign you up and we'll expect you there?'

"So that's kind of the way they try to recruit new people totally fresh. Because that's their prime candidate: the wannabe actor, the wannabe model, the wannabe musician. They want to catch them at their most vulnerable point where they're willing to do anything."

At the Celebrity Centre they use the star power of high profile members to keep amateur actors coming back. That's how they lured Mr Mango.

"I stayed in because I was like 'Look, there are these celebrities and these famous faces who seem like they're doing quite well in life and they're attributing it to Scientology. Maybe I'm not seeing what they're seeing so let me give a little bit more of a shot. Let me see what these people see in Scientology. And that's how they trap you, that's how they get you to stay in Scientology."

They "audit" you

According to Scientologists there are two parts of the mind. The first is the "analytical mind" which is the part of the mind that computes and stores data.

The "reactive mind" is what you are trying to get rid of in Scientology.

"It stores your pains, fears and upsets," Mr Mango said.

"If you don't have that you're going to be a much more capable person."

You get rid of your reactive mind through a process of "auditing". An auditor helps you pinpoint upsetting or stressful incidences in your life. Through auditing one is able to look at their own existence and supposedly discover past experiences that are "holding them back against their will".

Auditing is purchased in 12-and-a-half-hour long "intensives", which cost $US3200 each when Mr Mango left the church.

"To go clear you need 40 to 50 intensives of auditing so it's not cheap. And that's only the first half of the bridge to total freedom of what L. Ron Hubbard's path to enlightenment is."

You have to do a "purification rundown"

The first major step you take in Scientology is a purification rundown. Scientology is very anti-medicine, so the point of this process is to "sweat out of your system" any drugs you have ever taken.

Scientologists believe drugs and toxins store in the fatty tissues of your body. If you are able to cleanse your body you can have spiritual gains.

During the rundown you take a "mega dose" of vitamins and you drink a calcium magnesium drink. You exercise for 30 minutes then get placed in a sauna for hours. This happens for days.

Mr Mango remembers one particular experience which felt like torture.

"I started feeling kind of strange at about hour three in the sauna," he said.

"I'm basically almost scared for my life at this point because I'm not sure what's going on with me. I'm dehydrated …. I couldn't even walk. I can't talk. It's scary when you're inside your body and you're like 'why aren't I talking?'"

One of the women supervising took him out of the sauna and into a cold shower, but then returned him to the sauna.

"[I was] in this state of delusion and craziness to sweat out the drug. I just felt like I was being tortured. I was in the sauna for about six hours," Mr Mango said.

The Sea Org recruitment process is intense

The Sea Org is the religious order of Scientology. Members are what a priest would be like in the Catholic Church. The auditors are like counsellors.

"Until you're ready to sign the contract they will go for hours and hours and hours until they reach that end product which is you joining the Sea Org," Mr Mango said.

"[They] locked me in a room for hours, abusing me emotionally.

"They would say 'This is the most elite and important mission that you can undertake in this lifetime … It's just your reactive mind that's holding you back … And your silly goals to want to join the entertainment industry'."

Why he left

Mr Mango's main reason for leaving was the church's stance on the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexuals).

"I couldn't put up with being in an organisation that just suppresses people and tells them not to be who they are and tries to audit it out of them," Mr Mango said.

"Then I started getting all the stalking behaviours of them showing up at my house, calling me, mailing me, trying to make me come back."

But he is much happier now he has left. Since leaving the church Mr Mango has married lawyer Jeff Myers. He is now a small-business owner and is still pursuing an acting career.

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