Zoe Woodcraft Interview, Part
Interviewer: Stacy Brooks, Lisa McPherson
Voice-Over: Zoe Woodcraft grew up in Scientology. She recently
sat down with her family and spoke with Stacy Brooks.
Zoe Woodcraft: We went to Florida when I was two years old,
joined the Sea Org, and I was raised in the nurseries in Florida from ages
two to four.
Stacy Brooks: Do you remember that at all?
Zoe: I can't remember that much, but I remember the cockroaches,
actually! That's kind of my main memory of Florida, was
Stacy: When you were that young?
Zoe: Yeah. 'Cause there were a lot. And then, I went to LA when
my whole family moved. We went to LA, and I went...
Stacy: And how old were you then?
Zoe: I was four now. And I lived in something called the CEO,
which was... I think it was the Cadets' or Children's Estates Org? And I
just lived in dorms, basically. I mean my mother and my father would come
pick me up late at night and drop me off in the morning. It
Stacy: Didn't CEO stand for Cedars Estates Org?
Zoe: Yeah, I'm not sure. I mean, we just called it CEO.
Astra Woodcraft: Cadet Estates Org.
Stacy: Cadet Estates Org.
Astra: ... for children.
Zoe: And we slept on, like, cots. [speaking to Astra] Like, I
think we had those same cots that you had. And, sometimes they just didn't
have enough blankets, no matter how small. They would cut them up in two
or, or buy them, or how cheaply... they just didn't have enough, so we
would just lie there in cots in crowded rooms, and some of us would sleep
there all night, and some of us would be picked up by our parents. And
then when I was six years old, my mother had been promoted by this time up
to higher management up in this secret location called Gold, up in, like
north of LA I think.
Stacy: That's in... east of LA. It's in Gilman Hot Springs. It's
Zoe: Oh, OK. Yeah. So my mom said "How would you like to come
with me," and I said, "OK." So I moved up there and it was kind of like
this top secret ranch, and my father had divorced my mother by this time,
and I'd been told never to tell my father where this place was. Of course,
I'm so young I didn't even remember how to get there.
Stacy: And how old were you at this point?
Zoe: Six. And, oh God, it was so regulated there.
Stacy: Well, now... where were you? Were you out at the part
that's called Happy Valley?
Zoe: Yeah. Is that... I think that's like half an hour away from
Stacy: And what was it called?
Zoe: It was called the INT Ranch.
Stacy: So this was the INT Ranch for the kids.
Zoe: Uh-huh. Yeah, for like upper management kids. And it was
supposed to be like a place like we should be thankful for getting there,
you know? 'Cause it was supposed to be like one of the greatest places for
kids on Earth.
Stacy: And what was it really like?
Zoe: Well the rooms were better. They were renovated and
painted. But it was like being raised in the military, or worse. Like all
our rooms were done in navy blue. The carpet, our beds, the curtains. And
we had dressers... we weren't allowed to have anything on the dressers. So
it was like kind of impersonal... like where we lived was kept really
impersonal. And cleanliness was so important that... like I remember when
I got there I did the Make... the How to Make the Bed course. And you
drilled like having every sheet folded perfectly, you know like the
sailors with those fitted corners on their sheets, like that?
Stacy: This is... You're six years old then?
Zoe: Yeah. We learned the names of sheets. You had, like, the
fitted sheet, and then you have, like, the top sheet, and then we had a
blanket, and then we had the bedspread. The bedspread was, like,
embroidered with the Sea Org symbol. And yeah, at the end of that, the How
to Make the Bed course, you had to drill making a perfect bed in under
five minutes... and we had bed inspections. And...
Zoe: And we had like an exact schedule that we had to follow...
like exactly. And we weren't allowed to bring our shoes into the room,
like into our dorm. We weren't allowed to bring food into the dorm. And I
only got to see my dad every other weekend for a few hours, because we
would get something called CSP on Saturday morning.
Stacy: And that's Clean Ship Program, isn't it?
Stacy: That's when you're supposed to be doing your laundry and
Zoe: Yeah, we're supposed to be doing our cleaning. So we would
have to, like, figure out how to do that and see our parents. So my mom
would come pick me up at night, and I would go spend the night at her
place, her berthing, and we would spend the morning together until like
11:30 and then she would have to drop me off in her car, and then... But
on the other weekend, when I went to see my dad, I would start driving
with mom's friend... one of my mom's friends, named Paul. We would start
driving down to LA at like four o'clock in the morning. He would come wake
me up and we would go down... four o'clock in the morning. I would get to
my dad's place by like... maybe eight or something?
Lawrence Woodcraft: Mm-hmm.
Zoe: And then I would have to sleep normally a few more hours...
Well sometimes. It depended. I tried to stay awake but... and then I would
have to leave again at 10:30! So it would be like two and a half hours.
Because then we had to make the long drive back to the INT ranch by twelve
o'clock. You know, every weekend, I would spend like two, two and a half
hours with him and Astra, and maybe my brother...
Stacy: Every weekend, or was it every other?
Zoe: No every other, but every weekend I went to see
Lawrence: Well, there were a lot of gaps when I would see her
for maybe six weeks...
Zoe: Yeah there were.
Lawrence: ... because the guy, Paul, who was giving... he was
coming down to see his family...
Zoe: Like he couldn't drive or something.
Lawrence: ... and then he would be doing something else, and
then he couldn't come, and I remember like once five or six weeks passed.
And he would call me to say, "I'm sorry, you're not going to see Zoe this
week," and I'd say, "Well wait a minute. This is the agreement. This is my
kid, my six year old kid. I want to see her." And he'd say, "I understand
your frustration, but it's just not possible." And I just wouldn't know
when I'd see her again.
Zoe: He was nice to just to drive me down, like that
Lawrence: He was... he was trying to be nice about it. He was.
And he felt sorry for me, but I was like, "When am I going to see my kid?"
Zoe: Yeah, so it was kind of like this starting of like always
having to say goodbye to my dad. I mean, I remember that. And so it got to
the point where like every time I had to say goodbye to him, I'd be
crying, like not just... not just in this but like, later in my life, I
would say goodbye and it would just be so hard on me.
Stacy: How much did you get to see your mom when you were at the
Zoe: Every other weekend.
Stacy: But... but wasn't she there?
Stacy: She was at Gold.
Stacy: But I mean...
Zoe: But she never came to see me.
Stacy: ... Gold is only twenty minutes away from Happy
Zoe: Yeah, but she was on a strict schedule, too, and no parents
ever came to see their kids during the week... that was... that was like,
"What?!" That would be weird.
Astra: Not part of the schedule.
Zoe: Yeah, not part of the schedule, not part of the
Stacy: So, who was taking care of you, then?
Zoe: So, we just had nannnies. Actually, I was like the middle
age group, and I was taken care of by like a 16... 17 year old guy named
Sterling Thom... Thompson?
Stacy: Foster Tomkins' boy.
Zoe: Yeah, so like we would wake up, and we would have like half
an hour to get ready, and then we would eat meals, and our table was
completely regulated... table captains, a new steward each week, like, a
member of the table, and clean up time. And it was totally military. And
then we'd have cleaning stations, and then we did have school,
Stacy: What's a cleaning... what's cleaning station?
Zoe: A cleaning station... that would be like... well say there
was like a... there was around a hundred kids there, so we would just have
like a cleaning job... like "sweep this", you know, "mop this area," and
we had to have it done in 20 minutes. And then we would go to school, and
most of it... well not... it varied. It would be like 20% up to... at one
point in my life it was 90% of my schooling was religious studies in
Stacy: Well, where did you go to school?
Zoe: Out at the ranch. We never left the ranch, except once I
left to go to Gold, the one time I went to Gold, for Sea Org Day. It's
like a holiday sort of thing. And one time... well, besides the CSP but...
And then another time I went down to see my dad at Christmas time, and I
was only supposed to stay one day and I stayed about seven days, which was
way against the rules. I should not have done that!
Stacy: How did that happen?
Zoe: Because I just... I was like, "I'm here, and I'm kind of
staying here." It was Christmas time, and it was really... I really wanted
to stay with my family. But, so yeah, we never left. We never got to go to
Stacy: You never went into town?
Zoe: No! I didn't even know there was a town there! I only found
out recently that there was a town nearby. Um... [laughter]... yeah, I
stayed on this ranch, and it was my life.
Astra: It's not even funny.
Stacy: This is not funny at all.
Zoe: At one point... Oh yeah, so we would do schooling and then
we would do like outside work in the afternoon... like, most of the time
it was weeding. Like I said before, cleanliness was really important, and
so was like... all the gardens had to look perfect. Because that teacher
was always like we were "so lucky to live there," we had to "keep it
perfect," and you know, we should do our best because "it humbled us to be
there." And even at six years old, I was like, "Wow, I'm so privileged to
be here." You know... Oh... the first day I went there I had lice, and I
started crying because I felt like, "Oh I've humiliated myself in this
great place!" That's really what my attitude about it was.
Astra: The children there regularly got lice. They couldn't do
anything. They kept trying to get the kids to get rid of it, but they
couldn't. Kids would have the job of picking lice out of other kids'
Zoe: Yeah. And they would get scabies, and... bedbugs?... and
things like that.
Zoe: Yeah. Oh, and some like... diarrhea conditions. At one
point in Florida that was going around, and... oh and if one kid had the
flu, they wouldn't really treat it properly, so he could have the flu or a
bad cough for a long time, and it would spread to the other kids. So,
there was a lot of bad living conditions. And, um... And then there was a
chairman of the board... he had a niece and a nephew, and his niece was my
Stacy: Now, what were their names?
Zoe: Jenna Miscavige and Justin Miscavige.
Stacy: So these are David Miscavige's niece and nephew?
Zoe: Uh-huh, yeah. They were the son and daughter of Ronnie
Zoe: And Jenna Miscavige tended to get more... like, she was my
friend, but she would get better things than the other kids and the adults
treated her with more respect, like they didn't order her around meanly,
like as much they would the other kids. And Justin Miscavige... There was
something about a half mile off from the major buildings of the INT Ranch.
It was this house... that it was like a rather new house, and it was
nicely done up, and whereas our rooms were all monochromatic, I guess you
would say... and they were done up really kind of severely?...
Zoe: This was like a nice house, which had like a dance room in
it with like mirrors and bars, and it had art paintings all over the
place... and we were only allowed pictures of the Apollo ship and LRH in
our rooms. So that was... I mean we couldn't... We weren't even allowed
personal stuff on our dressers. But here it was all nicely done up, and
there was pictures of all this different stuff, and there was a paint
room, and all this kind of art stuff.
Stacy: And who lived there?
Zoe: The big boys. We called them "the big boys." It was Justin
Miscavige and other boys his age. But there was no "big girls' house." I
mean maybe they would make one when Jenna Miscavige grew old there. But,
yeah, so we just called it "the big boys' house," and actually later...
one afternoon a group of us at the INT ranch were kind of rounded up, and
we were sent there, and we kind of hid in that house for like an
afternoon. And I asked, you know, why were we there? I mean, I didn't mind
being there because it was nice... and some... one of my friends told me
there's a health inspec... or, I think actually the teacher like announced
it to us in there, that there was a health inspector, or childrens
inspector?... I think it was like a health inspector. He had come to
inspect the ranch, and there was too many children there legally until
they finished renovating this other building there called "the big house."
So they were hiding us away until they finished renovating that and it was
legal for all of us to be there. Another thing with "the big house"...
there was something called "pig's berthing"...
Stacy: What is that?
Zoe: Like I said, cleanliness was so important and image was so
important, that if someone had a dirty dorm for, I think it was like for
more than a day, they got [??????] pig's berthing... it was also... you
could also call it the punishment pig's berthing. And you know, in
different cadet orgs in different orgs the punishment varied, but normally
it's like you have to clean your room and do amends. Here because they
had, like... it was a ranch and they had... they could do all this kind of
cool stuff, they had the people, the kids, sleep at night in the big
house, which was this two-story old house with rats and insects, and it
had just been abandoned for the longest time. It was really dangerous. We
were told never to go in there. On normal days we were told never to go in
there because, you know, you could trip, fall through some boards, you
know, get a nail stuck in your foot. So this girl I knew named Lindsay,
who was probably a little older than me... she was like nine... and
another, a dormmate of hers had pig's berthing one day, and they were made
to sleep in the big house one night, and they ran out in the middle of the
night, screaming because some bats had terrified them. They'd walked
around or something, or some bats flew by their face, and they freaked out
and they ran screaming out of there. They weren't made to go back in. I
guess, you know... In fact, I even heard someone say, "Well, I guess they
learned their lesson."
Zoe: Yeah, that's how it was there. We were like told that we
should be adults, and we were given jobs like, if there was ever a fire,
like I was in charge of a fire extinguisher in a certain area, and I would
be the one putting out the fire instead of adults... Because we didn't
have a lot of adults there. There was like seven...
Stacy: And how old were you at that point?
Zoe: I was probably around seven. I lived on the INT Ranch from
maybe like six to seven.
Stacy: And you were in charge of putting out a fire...
Stacy: ... with a fire extinguisher?
Zoe: Yeah. And if we came across a rattlesnake... If there was a
security guard nearby... Of course, we had adults, but some of them were
like security guards to make sure no one came onto the ranch that wasn't
supposed to and no one left that wasn't supposed to...
Stacy: Were you guarded all the time?
Zoe: Well, we were run all the... like I... my... I was watched
by Sterling Tomkins all the time...
Stacy: How old was he?
Zoe: Sixteen... Seventeen. But...
Stacy: But, were there adults?
Zoe: Yeah, there were some. My teacher was an adult. But not a
lot of others. Probably about... There was a governess. There was a
laundress. There was at least one security guard. There was a guy in
charge of the whole ranch, and maybe like one or two other people?
Stacy: And this was for a hundred kids?
Zoe: Yeah, about a hundred. But, we were told, like if we came
across a rattlesnake, and there wasn't a security guard around, then to
back up slowly, but if he was in our way... in the way of something, then
to chop off his head with a shovel. So we were supposed to kill
rattlesnakes that we came across. In fact, we were told there was... Gold
was giving out an award of like ten dollars, or fifteen dollars... no,it
was... at one point it got to twenty dollars for anyone turning in a
rattlesnake tail, so we would try to. At one point, I was... I would kind
of look for them, like oh, I want ten dollars, I want fifteen dollars! And
some kids did. I probably would have not been brave enough to...
Zoe: ... actually kill one. Yeah, exactly. But some other kids
Stacy: So, how long were you at the INT Ranch?
Zoe: Until I was almost eight. And then, uh... my mother had
been on mission in New York at this time, and she said, "Do you want to
come over here?" And I said, "OK."
Stacy: Come to New York?
Zoe: Yeah, so I went to New York. I lived there for eleven
months. It was supposed to be like a visit, but I lived there for eleven
months. I didn't go to school at all. My mom actually, at one point, she
said, "Why don't you go to the public school?" But I had been taught that
public school was a bad thing... that like psychiatrists were constantly
dragging off kids to drug them, like... honestly this is what I believed.
I believed Scientologists... I mean psychiatrists were dragging kids off
without their parents permission to drug them, and do weird things to
them, and cause them pain, and that you didn't really learn anything, and
once you walked in there, people made fun of you. So she asked me once to
go to public school, which some of the other kids in New York did, and I
said, "No! No!" And she said, "OK." And I don't know why she let me make
Stacy: So, what'd you do instead?
Zoe: So, I kind of hung around all day. Hung around at the
Stacy: At the org?
Zoe: Yeah. And this was like in the middle of Manhattan. It
wasn't a very nice area.
Stacy: This was your... You were eight years old?
Zoe: Yeah. So, I didn't really do anything. There was a guy
called Eugene that was supposed to watch us like after three, for when
some of the kids got out of school, and he took us once to Central Park
and... and... I think once he took us to the Empire State Building and...
we did have a little room, and he would help the kids who went to public
school with their homework. So that's kind of what New York was like. Oh,
me and my mom had a nice room, because she came from like top management
to New York, which was a smaller org, so we were given like this nice
room, and we slept in bunk beds, like she was on the bottom and I was on
Stacy: And that was a nice room?
Zoe: Yeah, that was a nice room. We were like, "Oh my God!" But
the rest of the place, like other people had bad rooms. Like no carpeting,
and smelly... it was like an old New York apartment that... Oh, the bottom
area, where the public went was nice, and my mom's room was nice, and
that's all I remember that were... you know, renovated areas. Oh, my mom
also got no time off during this. She would take me at the end of dinner
sometimes out, like to go buy a slice of pizza just down the block, or go
buy a comic book. I was a comic book collector then. But that was it. She
didn't get any other time off.
Stacy: So, I mean, what did you do all day?
Zoe: I was...
Stacy: Do you remember?
Zoe: I kind of like... like would hang around. Once Eugene... or
twice Eugene took us down to this park down the street, and uh....
Stacy: So, otherwise what did you do?
Zoe: I was bored. Oh, my mom at one point tried to have me do
Scientology courses, something called the STCCs, Success Through
Communication, and that was boring. I didn't like it. Oh, another course I
had done before at the INT Ranch was called the BSM...
Stacy: Basic Study Manual.
Zoe: Yeah, the Basic Study Manual. And, I had been only six when
I did that, maybe seven. And that's kind of hard to understand when you're
six or seven.
Stacy: Yeah, it's basically a shorter version of the Student
Hat, isn't it?
Zoe: Yeah. Yeah.
Stacy: It's sort of a simplified version of a course to teach
someone how to study.
Stacy: ... in the Scientology way.
Lawrence: It strikes me, though, that it's not designed for
study by, like, a six or seven year old...
Lawrence: I would think it's way... It's designed for
Stacy: Adults take the Basic Study Manual...
Stacy: ... not six or seven year olds.
Zoe: Yeah, so I read through it, and I had like two other girls
I was supposed to study with, and I went to go take the test, and I only
got 30% on it. And I was really ashamed, but I didn't quite understand
even what 30% of the test meant. So, when I brought it down to my teacher,
and she called out in front of the whole class... I walked to my seat down
like at the back of the classroom, and she said, "Well, Zoe, you better
get started in your crams." Oh, my teacher's name was Yolanda Avila, and
she said, "You better get started on your crams," and I said, "OK," and
then she's like, "On second, thought, you don't seem to understand any of
this. You'd better just do the whole thing over." And all my classmates in
front of me gasped, and I was really humiliated. So, my mom... at this
point I could see her health was declining...
Zoe: She got very little sleep, and she would always have these
deep bags under her eyes here, and she started to wrinkle before her time
from all the smoking and coffee she drank. And she wasn't eating properly,
and she'd choke on her food easily. And she just... she got tired really
easily... like the times we would go out, like to walk down to the pizza
place, or... on one CSP, one Saturday morning, we went out shopping, and
she got really irritated with me... she said she was all tired. Because I
couldn't figure out which pair of pants I wanted, she got all irritated,
and then she said, "I'm sorry, I'm just tired." So, already I could see
the strain the Sea Org was having on her. But, later as I grew up, it kind
of became one of my major concerns. I always felt like, "My mother's going
to die! My mother's going to die!" Because she looked so bad! She was
really skinny. She was like five foot eight and 118 pounds.
Stacy: That's very skinny.
Zoe: Yeah. So I was... I started really worrying about my mother, like in New York, and I would continue to.
Transcript continued in Zoe Woodcraft Interview, Part II