Lisa Marie Presley grew up in the Church, but after her passing we’re being reminded she was actually one of the most ardent forces against Scientology.
The Underground Bunker’s Tony Ortega revealed back in 2016 that the singer was fighting a war with the organization behind the scenes, helping stories come to light that exposed the most despicable practices of her former faith.
Related: News Anchor Allegedly Fired For Saying Lisa Was Planning Scientology Takedown!
Now Ortega has released the definitive interview with Lisa Marie on the subject of her involvement with the Church. And as she says, “it’s a f**king hell of a story.”
The King’s Daughter
She began by explaining:
“I got in right after my father died.”
Apparently Elvis Presley was a big target for Scientology; they regularly sent him books and other materials to try to get him on board. But after his death in 1977, it was his ex-wife Priscilla Presley who found all of the books and got curious. She reached out to John Travolta, who got her in touch with the right people who got her right in — her and her daughter. Lisa Marie was just 9 years old. And she says while her famous mom was treated like a VIP, as a kid she was treated like a bother. She said Priscilla “would dump me off at Scientology” bases:
“My mom was always trying to figure out what to do with me. I had watches on me. I thought at one point that I wanted to join the Sea Org just to get out of my mom’s house.”
Whoa! For those who don’t know, the Sea Organization is the group of super-dedicated workers who allegedly work non-stop for $25/week and have to sign billion-year contracts that say they have to come back in subsequent lives and continue to serve. Cray.
As a teen she was looked after by the then-captain of the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida, a woman named Debbie Cook. She said:
“I loved Debbie. And what happened to her really wrecked me.”
Debbie was involved in a legal battle with the Church in 2012. They sued her for speaking out to other members against some of leader David Miscavige’s practices — apparently she “won,” scoring a settlement after going public with descriptions of “The Hole,” an alleged prison where Miscavige was illegally detaining people. Eventually Debbie told Lisa her “whole life has been a manipulation.”
But what really opened Lisa’s eyes happened a lot earlier. When she turned 25 years old (this would have been in 1993), she qualified for her inheritance from her father’s enormous estate. Suddenly Scientology was much more interested in her. She recalled bitterly:
“At 25, after I got the inheritance, they started grooming me to be this person who would go out and get everyone else in.”
“Out to get” whom? Well, they wanted the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Of course they wanted the King of Pop, too.
Yes, Scientology was quite keen on Lisa Marie bringing Michael Jackson into the fold. Their controversial 1994 marriage was not staged, she maintained; she wasn’t just there as a honeypot for the Church. But the organization did try to use their union as a way to get him.
MJ famously grew up a Jehovah’s Witness, but they saw what they thought was a vulnerable celeb they could manipulate. Instead, it turned out he was a force they couldn’t control. Lisa Marie says “they realized he was getting too much bad press” and decided to give up on trying to recruit him. Surprisingly, Lisa Marie explained, Scientology didn’t push her to marry the Thriller singer in the first place, but they did pressure her to leave him! She told Ortega:
“I was in love with Michael, believe it or not. I didn’t want to leave him. He was in trouble and I wanted to help him. And they made sure that I left him.”
She said Miscavige himself, as well as lawyer John P. Coale, convinced her to file for divorce when things weren’t going well between them. They told her if MJ filed first he’d have a huge legal advantage. She recalled:
“One morning I got a call from John Coale. He said, ‘Michael’s going to make a move. He’s going to file.’ So I filed.”
Coale denies this, saying he not only “never told her to love or unlove Mr. Jackson” but also that there was no legal reason to file first because there were no children or financial stakes to fight over.
But Lisa said she thought her situation was akin to that of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. She says of the movie star couple:
“I know how in love they were. But they were driven apart.”
Operating Thetan Level 7
When asked about how far up in the org she and her mom got, Lisa explained that Priscilla never got to the higher levels:
“My mom’s not Clear. She takes courses and reads books, but she’s not involved.”
Lisa on the other hand got up to Operating Thetan Level 7, the second highest auditing level. It apparently takes a long time, sometimes years to finish — but it was the wall that Lisa hit with the religion. She finally learned enough to realize she was out:
“I never finished it. I quit after three months. It was bulls**t. It was just about control. It was just a way of getting more money.”
And when was it that they got interested in her? Mm-hm.
Ortega asked Lisa about her relationships with some of the more famous Church members. She said she detested Tom Cruise from the start:
“I f**king hate Tom. I met him 20 years ago. I said I never want to be in a room with him again.”
Well. What about John Travolta, who first ushered her family into the Church in the first place? There are no hard feelings on that score, she says:
“John is my last Scientology friend. Kelly [Preston] kind of monitors us. John and I get unruly if we’re together. John is renting my house in Hawaii right now.”
[BTW, this interview was a few years ago, before the passing of Kelly Preston in 2020. RIP.]
She revealed she and John would have long late night conversations about what the rest of the world was saying about Scientology, something which was forbidden. According to her, Travolta was basically completely oblivious to all of that:
“I told him about the HBO thing. He had no idea. I told him that Debbie Cook was gone. He had no idea. He has no Internet or email. He’s so sheltered. All he knows is what they tell him. He’s smart but sheltered.”
Where Are The Miscaviges?
Shelly Miscavige, wife of the Leader David Miscavige, has apparently been missing for years. And David himself has disappeared recently as well. Lisa didn’t know for sure where they were, but she gave her best guess. She agrees with vocal ex-Scientologist Mike Rinder that Shelly is being held against her will at a compound in the San Bernardino Mountains. She stated matter-of-factly:
“She is at that place at Arrowhead. She’s under 24/7 guard.”
She even asked David where she was after she first disappeared so many years ago, and he told her simply, “Compilations.” That meant she was doing some kind of special mission. But he didn’t say what. And apparently it’s never been finished…
As for David, she said the last time she saw him was around 2011. She already had a foot out the door but it sounds like this made her decision more clear, no pun intended…
“While I was beginning to realize how f**ked up everything was, and how many criminals there were, I had dinner with him at Nobu four years ago in London. Listening to him talk about how great Scientology was doing was like hearing Hitler talking about how he has chimneys and smoke coming out of everywhere. All he could talk about was Tom or buildings. A four-hour dinner.”
Geez. Lisa mentioned how Leah Remini very publicly defecting in 2013 changed everything. She said David basically disappeared after that, let alone all the child-trafficking-lawsuit subpoena evasion:
“My mom is still friends with [a Scientology attorney who] told her that Dave is so paranoid now, nobody sees him. Nobody sees him. He’s going into an underground bunker period.”
Ortega mentions she laughed as she called back to the name of the publication she was speaking with. She was witty like that. But she wasn’t joking about him going into hiding. She reiterated:
“He’s going into that bunker phase.”
That was years ago. It’s only now that he’s really being looked for that anyone on the outside realized, we guess.
So how did Lisa come to leave Scientology herself?
She realized she was done many, many years ago, but she left very carefully. She started gathering ammo in 2007, asking questions and gathering info. A lot of what she found ended up in the Going Clear documentary. She said in 2015:
“For the last eight years, I’ve been putting together everything that was in that special.”
Wow! Her name wasn’t closely associated with the film, which was made by director Alex Gibney.
She isn’t mentioned in the credits or on the IMDB page. But she was helping from behind the scenes the whole time, getting info from David’s father Ron Miscavige and friend (and escapee) Roanne Horwich. She said:
“While I was questioning Ron and Roanne, my mom and daughter were still in. I had to be real careful. I didn’t want to get them in trouble.”
She started asking all these questions years before leaving, speaking to members who knew about the unsavory things the organization was doing AND were willing to talk about it. And it was what she learned from them that drove her to leave the Church. Ultimately it was learning about The Hole.
First revealed publicly in a Tampa Bay Times exposé in 2009, The Hole is allegedly a set of offices in Int Base, or “Gold Base,” near Hemet, California. According to those who have spoken out, David Miscavige had created The Hole in 2004 as a place to punish disobedient underlings. They are allegedly imprisoned there and forced to “accuse each other of disloyalty” in bizarre “seances.” It was when she learned about the imprisonment of Church members that Lisa Marie decided:
“No way, that’s not why I joined this.”
She had her final stand with the organization in 2014. She took her son, Benjamin Kough (who was never a Scientologist) and then-husband Michael Lockwood down to Florida to confront David Miscavige, whom she had once legitimately considered a friend, about the worst things she’d heard:
“I was just going to go there and see if it’s as bad as everyone said. So I went to the headquarters in Clearwater.”
Ron Miscavige called her when he found out, asking what she was planning.
“‘I don’t f**king know,’ I told him. ‘I’m here with a wand checking for bugs in the hotel room. I don’t know.’ … I just know that I started to self-destruct because this thing [Scientology] is corrupt. I needed closure.”
Ron told her she’d never be allowed in to see his son, not anymore. She recalled:
“Dave is too f**king scared to talk to me. I’m in the belly of the beast. It was his terrain, but I was obviously not afraid. He’s afraid.”
She was let into the Flag Building by a Sea Org officer, but David wasn’t there. There were cameras, though. She deduced this was the closest she would get. So she picked a camera and said her piece to it:
“I don’t know what’s wrong with you. Are you throwing everyone in The Hole? You just made the biggest mistake of your life, you just broke up your own family. Somebody needs to stop you.”
She says when she was back at her hotel she got called back in. The officer told her she wasn’t allowed to be in touch with “SP,” or “suppressive person,” Ron. They asked her to come in and speak to David’s sisters, Denise and Lori. So she went back, once again into the room with just cameras, she assumed streaming straight to David’s bunker. It wasn’t exactly a conversation:
“Denise starts screaming at me. I’d met her before. I wouldn’t say we were friends. She’s screaming about how Ron had beat her mother. How he would drink when he was looking over the kids.”
“I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I remained completely unemotional while Denise was screaming all kinds of crazy s**t. It was all a show for Dave. I kind of had a smile on my face the whole time.”
She eventually screamed at her that it wasn’t her business and to stay out of their family affairs. Lisa responded:
“‘I’m done, Denise. Good job.’ I tried to be as calm as possible.”
Lisa remembered turning to the Sea Org officer:
“I looked over at his little henchwoman. ‘That was not a two-way conversation,’ I said… ‘That was supposed to handle me? If that was on YouTube, do you think anyone would ever walk in here again?’”
Damn! Lisa was smooth!
She said she went back one more time, the next day, attempting to speak to David about what had happened the day before. This time she had Lockwood and Ben with her — safety in numbers. She remembered telling the officer:
“I at least need you to acknowledge the fact that was a tiny iota insane. This is the SS, Dave is Hitler. I didn’t join this. I want nothing to do with this. My family will have my back.”
The officer told her:
“You need to go into confessional now and get your overts off.”
Lisa was not having that! She was done with Church mumbo jumbo:
“I told her ‘F**k you. You’re trying to shut me the f**k up and you’re not going to do it.’ She told me that I could leave. ‘Fine, I’m leaving. And when I walk out that door, you’re never seeing me again.’ As I stood up and walked out, she said she would let me know if they declared me. ‘I’ll let the whole world know if you do,’ I said.”
She says everything was civil. Scientology members helped her and her family pack, but not in a threatening way. She noted:
“But I’ve had PIs on me ever since.”
Lisa Marie Presley was in fact declared SP. She says that means the Church immediately started making up lies to spread about her:
“I’m a suppressive person, and I’m the reason my dad died and MJ died. That’s what’s being said inside Scientology.”
How the heck would she be the reason Elvis died? She was 9!!!
She went and talked to her mother and to eldest daughter Riley Keough, who had been part of the Church. She says she told Priscilla:
“Mom, I know you love doing your courses. But you’re going to have to have my f**king back.”
Thankfully they both listened. When she left the Church in 2014, she said, “They walked when I did.”
After that Lisa hired a “bad ass lawyer” who was able to get the police report about the private investigators who were following Ron. But she kept clear of it while it all surfaced. She stayed a silent partner in the war on Scientology. Why? She explained:
“The actual reason is, I have two nannies. They’re both Scientologists. My children are so in love with them. And I have a security executive guy who works with me, and he’s a Scientologist.”
She thought her young kids would be “destroyed” if they lost their nannies. She said:
“That’s the only thing holding me back. Believe me, when I want to go, I go.”
But she was still scared about what the Church might do to retaliate — or keep her quiet. She said about her old friend Dave:
“He gave me all that information about his family and then let me walk out? You have to be joking. I’m being followed. I don’t know what he’s going to do. He’s going to lose his s**t at some point.”
Asked if she thought Miscavige was scared of her, she replied:
“He should be. I have a hell of a lot of information on him.”
What do YOU think of Lisa Marie’s untold story of her experience with Scientology??
[Image via Nicky Nelson/DJDM/WENN.]