When John Travolta first opened up about his Scientology involvement
One of the casualties of the pandemic appears to be Scientology’s Celebrity magazine, which has not, as far as we can tell, put out an issue since late 2019. And that’s a shame, because the magazine over the years has provided some interesting insights on Scientology’s obsession with its famous creative types.
We have long tried to caution journalists who breathlessly gush about Scientology’s celebrities: The actual number is modest, and always has been. But sure, it does have some stars in its stable.
Anyway, we thought we’d go through some back issues of Celebrity, some of which we haven’t really taken a close look at before. And we’re going to start way back.
In 1975, Celebrity featured an interview with burgeoning television star John Travolta, who had just booked his famous run as Vinnie Barbarino on the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter.
What we really like about interviews in Celebrity is how much the subject is Scientology itself, and Travolta here doesn’t disappoint, liberally sprinkling his comments with “tech” jargon.
Travolta in more recent years has endured tragedy with the loss of his son Jett (2009) wife Kelly Preston (2020), and some have wondered if he might move away from the church. But we haven’t seen any evidence of that. And here, in 1975, you get a sense of how deeply Scientology had set the hook.
Celebrity Magazine, 1975
John Travolta: Scientologist shines in the new TV hit, ‘Welcome Back, Kotter.’
Celebrity: Let’s start with how you got into Scientology.
John: Last December, no, last January I was offered a movie called The Devil’s Rain.
Celebrity: That’s the one Joanie Prather was in, right?
John: Yes, and that’s the reason I’m in Scientology. I met Joan before we went to Mexico to do the film, but it wasn’t until we got on the plane that she started talking about Scientology. Well, she told me all about Scientology and it sounded really interesting, so I brought up certain things about my case and asked if that could be handled. And she said it could. I said, ‘Come on…could THAT be handled? You know, I couldn’t believe it. So she said, ‘Listen, why don’t you just read the Dianetics book.’ We were going to be down there about six weeks and she gave me the Dianetics book, and the dictionary. She was very patient, and I finally understood everything so it was great. I couldn’t wait to come back and start course. So, I came back and she took me out to CC and I signed up for HQS and that’s how I got into it.
Celebrity: And how did you get the part in Welcome Back, Kotter?
John: The day I got back from the movie, I auditioned for Welcome Back, Kotter and I think it was the very next day I started HQS. Then I got called back for a screen test and that’s how it happened. I was quite keyed out from Joan and the Dianetics book and all the things I had learned. That’s what did it. I came back ready to start a new career. When I met Joan, I was really way down south. I mean I didn’t believe there were answers to anything. And then her telling me about Scientology and reading Dianetics gave me hope again. By the time I came back I was raring to go for my career and I had a new friend that was terrific, and it was very exciting. We had done TR’s in Mexico. Joan told me what they were about and I didn’t quite know everything about it but it was helping me. So when I came back, I could concentrate better on what I was doing and I really gave a dynamite audition.
Celebrity: How else do you use the Tech in life or in your career now?
John: Well, that question is so hard to answer, because it’s like saying, ‘How many buildings are in New York City?’ you know, because the ways I use it are endless. I think mainly my knowing what’s bank and what isn’t helps me tremendously, and I know when people invalidate me now. I know a little bit more about how to handle them when they do and I know not to cave in when it’s done. That used to be my major problem — being caved in when someone invalidated me creatively. Now what I do is just say, ‘Those are just words, man,’ and if anyone ever does try to cut me down, it’s so funny how I handle it; I just go, ‘Thanks.’ You know, no malice. Or someone says snidely, ‘Why do you always fool around like that? You’re really silly sometimes.’ I just say, ‘I feel good when I do that. But I’m sorry you feel that way.’ It’s incredible, because I used to get so despondent when people did that. I’d go, ‘Oh, really….well, why do you think I’m like that?’ Some guy says, ‘You know, you think everybody’s going to laugh at you all the time and you’re always trying those new ideas and stuff and boy it’s really annoying sometimes.’ And I’d think, ‘Oh yeah, you’re right. Oh, it’s terrible, I’m terrible,’ you know, and cave in. Introvert totally. Now, when people say to me, ‘What’s wrong with you today, John?’ and I know now when I’m really being creative there are a certain few people who will say, ‘What’s wrong with you today?’ And I’ll go… ‘Nothing. What’s wrong with you? I feel really good.’ So,
that’s one little area besides a million others. But I think that’s a good example only because that was a real button with me. I could cave in really easy on invalidation and evaluation. Now that I know what it is I can handle it. Sometimes people will do it so slick that I will buy it, and then it will take an hour or so, and I’ll think, ‘What am I doing? I’m caving in!’ Then I can realize that they’re just words. Sometimes people say the most incredible things in the world to me that last year would make me suicidal, and now I just say they are just words and go to the next thing. People have a way of getting your buttons and twist me them like crazy. And boy the difference between last year at this time and this year at this time is like night and day.
Celebrity: Is there anything that you noticed about the way the Bridge is set up — the gradient of courses and auditing — that’s helped you move along?
John: The gradient of understanding is set up so that you get it according to your own ability. I think what’s happened with me sometimes is that I’ve gained understanding that usually comes at a slightly higher level, so then when I got to that level it was even a heavier cognition. The Bridge is set up so that anyone can gain greater knowledge and understanding at his own rate.
Celebrity: Where has your personal understanding of life increased by going on the gradient that is set up in Scientology?
John: Everywhere. I mean, just the knowledge that I have now is astounding, and I know there is a lot more to come. That I can stand back and look at a situation and maybe locate a stable datum in it or know what’s bank and what’s not bank is so important. To know answers for once in my life is a very exciting thing. To finally say… ‘Well, I know what is happening there,’ instead of, ‘well, I think that maybe there is an answer somewhere along the line here,’ that alone is pretty amazing. I feel like I know something, you see. And the gradients used gives you knowledge right from the start, and you are that much better off. I mean whatever you learn in Scientology is going to be that much more helpful, and then it just snowballs. And the only time you really notices it is when you look back on it. Like sometimes I get frustrated — like I don’t know this or that yet, or what it’s like to be Clear, and all that kind of stuff — unless I look back and think of what it was like a year ago as opposed to now. It’s an incredible growth and there’s no comparison.
Celebrity: And how does the analogy of the Bridge apply to you in your situation?
John: Well, I’m on my way across it, I know that much. The way I’ve set it up is that I’m going to co-audit on the training side. And I’m playing a game that if I can get some professional auditing and go Clear right away, that’ll be great. I’m going to be Clear by next July to begin with so that’s no big deal, but what I’d love to do is to get enough auditing professionally right away, and then train. I mean that’s just a game for me to play. But I know I’m going to have it anyway, so there’s not a must-have on it, but there is that little game I’m playing on the side to try to get it, so I’m playing both sides of the Bridge.
Celebrity: So, what does the future hold for John Travolta?
John: My future in terms of Scientology is going to be terrific. Career-wise it’s going to be all up. I’m in a good position now. My stats are going to go up and that’s exciting. It’s just a bigger game. My career has always done well, but now I’m getting into a bigger game. And with Scientology, it’s going to be really a big game because I’m going to have that much less in my way. Those little things that used to stop me before just don’t stop me anymore already, and I’ve had maybe 36 hours of professional auditing, Life Repair, besides my HQS auditing, which is another 10 hours let’s say. but already I can see how just knowing things makes you that much less banky. Its still there until you’re Clear but knowing how to get out of it at times can help you in the long run. Let’s say for an audition, I just give myself a locational and get myself into present time and know that it’s my bank that’s making me feel that way and nothing else. There’s no reason for me to be upset at the time I’m upset. So, I can now be there and handle things.
Celebrity: Is there anything you would like to say to someone who hasn’t gotten into Scientology?
John: If they have read a book or they know anything about Scientology at all and it seems to make any sense, get into it. I mean because it just contains the secrets of the Universe. That may be too steep a gradient for people to handle sometimes, hearing that, but it really does have them. At least, it’s got the answers for me. They indicate to me like crazy, and the idea of going Clear is my game now. I walk down the street and I sometimes think, ‘I wish you knew what I know,’ to a stranger. ‘If you only knew what I knew, and you can know.’ And that’s really all there is to it.
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