Host: I'm excited about this one. This is going to make history. Our next guest, a poet, writer, filmmaker, educator, photographer. I'm leaving stuff out. Brother is amazing, and you are in for a treat. I'm in for some trouble, and you're about to find out why. Mr. Jamie DeWolf.
Jamie DeWolf: Every family has their black sheep. On my mother's side, our black sheep was a shepherd who enslaved his own flock, the king of cons, a man who made himself a messiah even though he never called himself a god. Even tonight, his words are written in steel, in titanium capsules, in a nuclear reinforced bunker miles underground. So if our whole species goes extinct, his words will still survive. He was a subject we never talked about at the kids' table at family reunions, but he was my great grandfather, L. Ron Hubbard.
Lafayette Ron Hubbard, he was born a storyteller, a science fiction writer, a golden tongued grifter who could write a book in any genre while the publisher waited downstairs in the hotel lobby. Just another name on dime store pulp mags paid only $0,01 a page until 1949 when he said, "You want to know how you really get rich? You start a religion."
A year later, he kept to his word, wrote "Dianetics," transforming science fiction into fact until you could pay to flat line your mind for a fee. Overnight, he went from pennies to a prophet until the world demanded to see his evidence. But L. Ron knew if you don't have facts, all you need is faith. So he transformed his science into a religion, and Scientology was born.
A few years later, his son arrived, a baby who survived an early abortion attempt, born premature at two pounds, two ounces, abandoned by his father as he sought fame and fortune. Now he emerged to take his part of the new family business. He was my grandfather, L. Ron Hubbard Jr.
Carrying his father's name and his red hair, Junior became his right hand man and was a devout disciple and a believer, helping them to construct the church. It took him years to realize he was only another accomplice. Trained in the arts of electrified hypnotism, blackmail and beat downs, he learned to hide his crimes behind his charisma. And it took him a decade to see the holes behind the holy, the man behind the myth, his father, stuffing thousands of dollars in a shoe box he kept secret underneath the bed. His father, burning incriminating documents before dawn. His father, escaping criminal charges as he ran from state to state as Junior watched his family and friends, brains washed, banks broken.
Sickened by what he had seen behind the curtain, in 1959, Junior left. But his Father always understood retribution better than redemption, and he stalked his son with wiretaps, break ins and death threats, my grandfather coming home to photographs of his children in his mailbox playing on playgrounds alone and unguarded to remind him the eye of the pyramid never blinks. While every one of my aunts and uncles were taught how to use a gun, the son forced to live like his dad, permanently on the run until he changed his last name from Hubbard to DeWolf, a lie to protect him from every having to tell the truth.
When your father has created a religion in your lifetime, there's no sun big enough to ever escape his shadow. But there's a thin line between prophecy and psychosis, and the bare faced messiah run from countries and criminal charges, an international outlaw on a ship escaping extradition, his sanity slipping as he started confusing his past from his fiction. Until one day, he vanished before a courtroom or a jail cell could ever make him real again.
Junior, now buried under debt, tried to flush his father out of hiding to write him a check. So he litigated the holy ghost to prove he still had flesh. The son took his war public, scraped the idol's gold down to rust. Junior, now a dying diabetic with an amputated foot, buried and battered from a decade of lawsuits against the man who carried his same name until the day his dad died in hiding, cremated the next morning, leaving only a legacy of ashes.
The church gave the son on final offer. Arrest your tongue, swallow the truth for one final check, or you and your next of kin will suffer a lifetime of threats. So he signed away his silence and took his secrets and two heart attacks to his grave, another victim the church stopped pretending to save.
On Thanksgiving in a house a self-made god paid for, his grand children never said his name. He was the one god we never gave grace to. One day, my grandfather led me to a bookshelf and showed me his father's works. And he said, "Your mom says you want to be a writer. Well, don't believe everything you read, but believe everything you say."
I never met the man who gave me my red hair. The manic depression is still twisted in the strains of my DNA. And the first time I saw a psychiatrist. when he asked me if mental illness runs in my family, all I could say was, "Yes. Yes it does." When I told him my great grandfather was a cult leader that enslaved the minds of millions, he accused me of having delusions of grandeur. What can I say? It runs in my veins.
I've been, in secret, to L. Ron Hubbard Hollywood Life Exhibits, where his latest victim leads me on a tour of a life he never led, my family written out of existence. And this disciple will never know the legacy of lies that I still carry in my last name. DeWolf, a cover story to protect us from my great grandfather's true children, the army of empty who greet me in train stations with an E-meter and a personality test. And they ask me if I've ever heard of L. Ron Hubbard. And I want to ask them, "Which one? The son or the father? The god or the man?"There may be small errors in this transcript.