Astra Woodcraft Interview

Part Four

"A Typical Day"

Video Interview - January 20, 2001


Transcript of Part Four

Stacy: (To Astra) Tell me what a typical day was like for you.

Astra: I'd have to get up at about 7:00. Leave at 7:30. Rush and eat breakfast and all the staff ate breakfast at the same time and there was only enough room for the staff, like a third of the staff, at a time to eat. But for breakfast, everyone ate at the same time.

Stacy: Was this at the Complex?

Astra: No. This was at the Hollywood Guaranty Building. They should be…

Stacy: You'd take a bus from the Complex?

Astra: I lived…for a period, I lived at the Anthony Building, which is near the Complex. So, then that's, like, a 15 minute bus ride to the HGB. Then, I lived at the Hollywood Inn, which was on Hollywood Boulevard, which was, like, about 10 blocks down the road. So, then at 8:00, work started. Then we would have half an hour for lunch. At about 11:30 to 12:00. And then we work until 5:30. Our schedule changed but it was always half an hour lunch, 45 minutes dinner. Unless we were in lower conditions or there was something going on. Then our mealtimes would be shortened even more. And, on a regular basis, you didn't take your full meal break. Most people didn't take their full meal break ever or a lot of the time because you…

Stacy: Why?

Astra: Just because your senior says, "You have to work. You have to finish this before you can go to dinner." That was a regular thing. "You have to finish this before you can go to dinner. You have to finish this before you can go home." So…but the schedule was half an hour for lunch, 45 minutes for dinner. And then 10:30, go home. And that was every single day. On Saturday, instead of working our regular jobs, we did renovations, like painting, putting new pipes in, etcetera. For, like, fixing up the building we worked in or we lived in. And then on Sunday, we had until 1:00 in the afternoon to do our laundry and to clean our room. We used to be able to use that time to do other things-we weren't really allowed to but we would. And then they got very strict and made a new, absolutely, you cannot go anywhere, do anything other than doing your laundry. And the parents who had children up the ranch, which was an hour and a half away were using that time to go up and see their children. And they were told "You cannot do that anymore." The only way they could ever see their children is if they got a day off and people would go for a year without having a day off."

Zoe: PAC Ranch.

Astra: Yeah. The PAC Ranch.

Stacy: Where is the PAC Ranch?

Astra: It's in Valencia up in, like, the hills. It's about an hour and a half drive by bus.

Stacy: So these are the parents in PAC, in the LA area?

Astra: Yeah, with children. And that's where the children were taken. This was later, they were taken there.

Stacy: And parents would go for a year without seeing their children?

Astra: People would go for a year without taking a day off and they weren't…sometimes they would bring the kids down to work so, once in a while, they would see them. But parents went for months and months without seeing their children. One lady, when I was the Director of Inspections and Reports, one lady's daughter said she wanted to kill herself because she missed her mom and other things so much. She said she wanted to kill herself. Her mom obviously got very afraid and said, "I need to go up there." Her senior said, "You can't go." She went anyway and got in huge trouble and was sent to me to be handled for doing this…for leaving. And she was told she had blown, which means you leave without permission and that's a big deal…like a huge deal. I thought it was sickening. I thought it was so sickening. I couldn't even…I couldn't even understand it.

Zoe: I just want to say, I, myself had suicide thoughts but I would never, ever say them. You know, it was, like a secret for me. Because, in Scientology, if you think of suicide or think of committing it, you're a very bad person.

Astra: You're crazy.

Zoe: Yeah. You're just crazy. So, I had, like, some thoughts when things were really going downhill for me and I never admitted them. But for the girl to actually admit them-knowing the label that would be put on her. I mean, she obviously had to be going through a lot. And I mean, I wish I had had one my parents come down and talk to me about that. I mean, I could just imagine the situation that that girl was in. I think it's horrible.

Stacy: Yeah.

Astra: So that was our basic day-8:00 to 10:30. But that wasn't really your basic day. Because you're always, almost always worked later. They said that the minors weren't supposed to work past ten. Really, the minors-depending on their age-weren't either supposed to work at all or weren't supposed to work more than three hours a day. But they said, "Okay, well the minors have to stop working at 10:00 and everyone else at 10:30." But really, you could work until 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00. There was one period when I was still…I think I was 16 or 17… And they were doing this whole new thing where they were writing all these new policies and we had to…all the staff had to stay up night and day, making these…printing the policies and putting them in books, etcetera. Because there was going to be a big event where it was going to be released to everybody. And we literally-it's hard for me to even believe-I don't even know how we did it. We did not sleep for weeks…about three weeks from what I remember. The only sleep we got was when we would fall asleep or be allowed to go home for two hours. My job was to go wake everyone up. I was driving around falling asleep in my car. And I wasn't even 18. (laughs) I wasn't even supported to be working, you know, more than a few hours a day. Sometimes we went for two or three days with no sleep and then we would be allowed to sleep for a couple of hours and we had to come back in. And that literally, I got an average of an hour or two's sleep at night. I was delirious, so was everyone else. We would file asleep while we were eating…like, just blabbering. So, but on a regular basis we had to stay up late. Every Thursday night, we had to stay up until 3:00 and then sleep until noon because we had to get all the statistics in.

Stacy: Is this so that they could be sent up to the Senior Management?

Astra: To the executives, yeah. Exactly. And we had to compile them all. And that was another time where I got yelled and screamed at because every week, the…we had to get about 300 different organizations to report and they each had to report, like…

Stacy: This is from all over the world?

Astra: Yeah. And they had to report, like, 50 to 200 statistics! And every week, of course, someone didn't report, someone went home without reporting, someone forgot, someone was late. And it was just unbelievable what would happen to us. We had this system where every week we had to do something that was like instant messaging back and forth with the executives up at Int. And it would get to the point where they would be saying, "F - you this." You know, saying every swear word you can think of, telling me that I was counter-intention. Telling me that I was stopping it from happening. That they were going to send me to ethics. They would then call down and scream, you know? And it was, it was really, really hard to deal with.

Stacy: Can you recreate one of those screaming telephone calls?

Astra: (laughs) Well, I can't do the girl's accent because she had a foreign accent but she was, like, (yelling) "Astra! What the fuck are you doing?! Get these statistics! You're stopping COB!" You know, things like that.

Stacy: COB is David Miscaviage.

Astra: Yeah. (yelling louder) "You're stopping COB. I need the statistics for him!" You know? I don't know what she looked like. I never met her. In the morning, she would start off really nice, "Hi Astra. How are you doing?" You know, "Good morning! Let's get this done on time." As soon as it wasn't on time and on time…

Stacy: But you know she was getting screamed at.

Astra: She was getting screamed at, of course. And the other thing was, there was nothing I could do. This is another thing of, like, where you go around in a circle. I was not allowed to call…(interviewer laughs) to call them. So we had another division that was sort of allowed to call per one policy but not really. They called. But there was never enough money to call. They didn't want to call. They called but they didn't send them so they said, "Oh," you know. It was just unbelievable! I'm being, like, screamed at, sworn at, called all these names, told, you know, I'm stopping it. But there was nothing I could do. I could send a telex, which they may not even get. I could tell someone to call them and then they'd call them. So everyone was just yelling at everyone.

Stacy: And all of these statistics were going up to COB, which is David Miscaviage.

Astra: Yeah. Yeah, so they could see how much money was made total every week, how many staff there were every week. You know, monitor it. We had to compile everything to make graphs on the computer. We had to print them all off. We had to do all kinds of stuff.

Zoe: I just want to say that statistics in all Scientology organizations are important. Even in the Cadet Org, which you would think would not be that important. I mean, it was, like, this little league children's org. We would get yelled at, like, if…the Cadet coordinator would say, "We have to impress! This is ________ to Int!" Or it's at her org FLO and they would get angry because I wouldn't have the statistics. We kept counting them wrong. You know, we didn't even know proper math (laughs) to figure them out and do the graphs. So, statistics are a big deal.

Astra: It's because there's a policy from L. Ron Hubbard saying, basically, you know, "If your statistics are up," you know, if they are…each week, you are supposed to do more than you did the last week. And you're in big trouble if you didn't. So, if you write letters, every week, you have to write more letters. And you get to a point where you can't write more letters but that doesn't matter. So, when I first went into the Sea Org when I was 14, school was on Saturday. And it was about six hours a week on Saturday and that was it. And they knew that the minimum requirement for school was 20 hours. But it was just ignored.

Stacy: Six hours a week?!

Astra: A week. Six hours a week, on Saturday. That was it. That was the only school you got. And we were all in one room and we had a supervisor. He wasn't a teacher. He wasn't trained at all as a teacher. He was just trained as a Scientology supervisor and we didn't have materials. We didn't have enough books. We just literally, like, sit around read books, talk, do nothing really. And I started going to school less and less because on my job…first, I was a receptionist. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere without someone, you know, covering the receptionist post so I had to find someone every week to do that. And that was hard. Then when I was the Director of Inspections and Reports, I would go to school and people would say, "Well, who's covering your post?"

Stacy: Yeah, right.

Astra: You know, "Who's doing your job for you while you're at school? You have to figure it out."

Stacy: Of course, nobody was able to do that.

Astra: Nobody! You know? Yeah, exactly for a whole day. I mean, everyone's being screamed at for not getting their stuff done. They're not going to go off and do someone else's stuff for six hours. And so…and it was pointless as well because we weren't actually doing school. We were just kind of, you know, it was so disorganized that it's unbelievable. I kept going, they changed it several times. We moved…for a while, we up to the PAC Ranch where the kids are so that meant an hour and a half there and an hour and a half back, so three hours were taken out of the school that we did get. Because our school would be from, like, 9:00 in the morning until, I think, like, 4:00 in the afternoon. And then part of that was driving up there. So, it got to be even less. And then they moved it. Then they decided, "We have to have the school in the building where you work." So all of us were in one room with another supervisor, not a teacher at all, never taught in her life from what I know. And she had nothing for us to do. She had no idea what to do. So all of us, you know, kids from the age of, like, 12 to 17, were doing spelling bees, math bees, just sitting around. And then we'd go to the park. Just killing time. Just killing time for a legal requirement that wasn't even being met…not even close, six hours when you're supposed to get at least 20!

Stacy: And Scientology can get away with this because nobody is going to go report anything to the authorities because they'll be declared suppressive.

Astra: Because you'll be instantly declared! Instantly! I wondered so many times why is no one…why aren't people from the Labor Department coming here and inspecting? Why aren't, you know, why are we only getting six hours of school? The people from OSA, the legal department in Scientology, were saying, you know, "We know it's illegal for these children to be working this long and we know it's illegal for them not to be getting 20 hours of school and they really should but it's not being done."

Stacy: How do you know the people from the legal in OSA were saying that?

Astra: Because when I was the Director of Inspections and Reports, in ITO and the FLO, part of my job was, like, the legal…

Stacy: Rudes…

Astra: Yeah. I had, I was…

Stacy: Rudiments. The basics.

Astra: Yeah. I was, like, the liaison for any legal points between my organization and OSA. Not all the time because they kept reorganizing. But some of the time. Didn't mean I could actually do anything but it meant I got told these things. But they were just discussed with no…

Stacy: You just heard…

Astra: One time the only…well, they did the thing where they said all the minors had to leave at 10:00 instead of 10:30 (laughs). I mean, it's completely irrelevant. And then, the kids that were really young - there was a boy in it who was 12 and a girl who was, like, 13. And a couple other kids who were 12 or 13 were sent to the PAC Ranch, but then one of them was brought back anyway. But this didn't, you know, it was just a couple kids who were super young. And they looked really young, too. Like this little boy was, you know, like, this tall (indicating) and he worked at the computer all day. So they finally decided they could get in trouble for that and they sent him away. But he was going to be brought back a year or two later. So I went to school less and less and less until I finally stopped going and no one cared.

Stacy: Why do you think the Labor Department never came? Do you think it was just covered up so well?

Astra: Because no one ever reported it. I just don't think anyone has because the kids I know who have left who would report it are still in Scientology.

Stacy: So they won't be going to the authorities.

Astra: They're not going to report it, no.

Zoe: There was an inspection in Florida way before I even went to the Cadet Org where they went and they inspected the kids for bruises because someone had told them. One person had told them. So they went and they inspected them all and they questioned them all.

Stacy: Somebody had told them what? That they were being abused?

Zoe: Yeah. Some children were being abused. But the people had already kind of, like, made sure the kids knew what to say to anyone that asked. So, the kids were, like, "Oh, no!"

Astra: They were drilled.

Zoe: Yeah, totally.

Stacy: What if you had been asked?

Zoe: I would have been, like, "What??? Oh! The school is great! Yeah, I go to school all the time. I'm learned such new subjects…"

Astra: There was also…there was no real way to handle harassment. Because harassment was very common being, you know, people yelling at you and swearing at you is harassment. But that was the way things were done so you couldn't say, "I'm being harassed" from that point of view.

Stacy: There was no place to go to report it?

Astra: No, no. When I was about…when I was first in the Sea Org, I think I was still 14. one of the long term staff members named David Russo, he's been in the Sea Org since pretty much the beginning of the Sea Org…

Stacy: I know D.R.

Astra: Yeah. He slapped me on the butt. He said, "How are you doing?" Or something like that. And I was, like, "Oh my God." But there was nothing I could do. He was an officer with rank. I had to call him sir. And there was nothing I could do about it and I was 14 years old. And he's, like, smacking my butt. And then, later on, a couple years later, there was a man named Jeff Porter who is the security chief international and he is a very angry person. And several times, he just yelled and screamed at me. I was terrified of this person. One day, he came and told me to do something. He told me I had to get a bunch of staff to do security for an event. That wasn't my job. So, he came back a few hours later, he said, "Did you do it?" And I said, "Well, you know, it's really not my job." He held me up against the wall, screamed at me…he was right here (indicating) in my face, screaming and swearing and spitting in my face and holding me up against the wall. Then, I complained to the staff chaplain. All the staff chaplain did was sit us down in a room and say, "what happened?" And I told my story and Jeff Porter said, "She didn't do this. I ordered her to do it." And it just went nowhere and it was dropped.

Stacy: And yet Scientology staff members and all Scientologists are always told you have to handle it within the organization.

Astra: Yeah.

Zoe: Mm-hmm.

Stacy: The worst thing a Scientologist can do is to go outside the organization to handle anything.

Astra: I couldn't even tell my dad, let alone the authorities, you know? I would have been in huge trouble for saying to my dad or saying to anybody…

Stacy: Right. And yet within the organization, there is no place to go?

Astra: Right.

Stacy: There's no recourse.

Astra: Yeah. I mean, you can write reports but you've got to be careful how you word them.

Stacy: Because you'll get in more trouble then?

Astra: Yeah. Yeah. One girl wrote a report. One…a friend of mine, she…a mission was fired in and a mission is fired in when an organization supposedly isn't doing well. Then they send people from a higher organization in to handle it and then everyone in the organization is in ethics trouble. They are all made to work late, etcetera. It's like this, you know, terrorization thing. She didn't agree with something one of the people on the mission did. She wrote a report on it. She went to the RPF-the Rehabilitation Project Force imMediately.

Stacy: Just for that?

Astra: A year later, they said, "Oh, that was a mistake." And they let her off. And she then got pregnant and left. But that's, like, the kind of stuff that could happen. So you had to be really careful. Like, you couldn't dare write a report on a senior executive.

Stacy: And yet policy says…
Astra: Yeah. And I did once write a report because…for the year before I left, I was in data and I was in charge of the statistics. My senior…

Stacy: And data is one of the departments, isn't it?

Astra: Yeah. Yeah, it's all for…they make a copy of every letter that comes into the Sea Organization and put it in the computer. That means personal letters, any letters. Every letter that comes in gets opened and put in the computer, a copy of it. And people can read it. My direct senior's name, he was, like, my boss right over me. His name was Wayne Furness. Well, he didn't like me. As soon as I started working there, it just, he didn't like me. I had a friend there and we worked together and one day he started calling us lesbians for absolutely no reason. He's like, "You guys are lesbians." And for the next few weeks, every time he saw us, he referred to us as lesbians. And I kept telling him, "Don't do that. It's not okay," you know? And he wouldn't stop. He thought it was really funny. So, I finally did report it and I reported it to his senior. And he did get in trouble for it. She told him, "You can't call her a lesbian. Don't do that anymore." So, for the rest of the year that I worked there, he called me every other name other than a lesbian. He called me…he said, okay…first he started off saying I had soft skin. And there were about ten other people in the department or about eight. And he told all of them I had soft skin. And it became a big joke, "Astra has soft skin. She can't take being teased." Then he told me, he called me "Two-Ton Tessie" for no reason because I'm not overweight but he decided to call me "Two ton Tessie." He had just come up with names to call me and come up with arguments. And every time I would get upset, he would say, "You're getting upset because of your overts and withholds. Go to ethics."

Zoe: And your soft skin…

Astra: I couldn't do anything about it because, in our department, we were producing a lot. And our statistics were going up. And the policy is that if your statistics are up, you can't get in trouble. So, he couldn't get in trouble for it. And there was…someone finally did an investigation where they asked questions about it because I got really upset about it but nothing was done. So, he continued until the day I left making fun of me and calling me names. And there was nothing I could do. I would cry. I would get upset and then he got the other staff to agree with him and call me names. So, he would say, "Oh, Two-Ton Tessie." And I would say, "Don't call me that." And then the other staff would go, "You have soft skin," you know?

Zoe: Yeah. I just want to add that being, like, a lesbian or gay in the Church or especially in the Sea Org, is considered a really bad thing. Like, you are considered sexually weird and you must have done horrible things to now have changed yourself so weirdly to become gay. So, it wasn't only, like, that you weren't gay, it was, like, that it puts such a horrible…

Stacy: It was a very bad name.

Zoe: Yeah. Very bad name to be called because everyone looked at you like, "Oh my God! Could she be gay?"

Astra: You have to write up your whole life history information and a lot of people have access to that. And your senior would have access to that. It implied, even though I didn't…

Stacy: That he had seen something.

Astra: It implied that he had seen something…he knew something about my prior history. Because you write up your life history, you go in session. You write up your overts and withholds. These go in your ethics file. They go in your personnel file and they go in your PC (preclear) file. People have access to these. Anyone, pretty much, can read them. They're not kept locked up hardly. Some of them are. But anyone…your senior can get into any of them. People from ethics can get into any of them and anyone senior to you can get into any of them and read any of them. They can go into your PC folder and read your most intimate thoughts that you told your auditor that are supposed to be kept confidential. Yeah, so there was nothing I could do about him. So, I just kind of lived with it. And that drove me crazy for a year. I was just being insulted, made fun of and harassed for no reason. And there was nothing I could do.


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