Interview with Margie Hoffman

Published in The Heretic, February 16, 1988.

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Q: What was your role in the Avatar organization?

A: It was sales. I was also a trainer, but mostly sales. I was the one who opened up the West Coast from Elmira and I got people from all over to come to Elmira.

Q: Why did you leave?

I received in the mail an anonymous warning:

"Maybe the world should know what kind of person you really are".

Attached were 4 or 5 pages of Xerox copies of overt write-ups from my ethics folder.
A: It wasn't like I thought it was going to be. I started speaking my mind and it was unpopular and Harry and his wife Avra, were extremely rude to me.
But most of all, there were many people in Elmira who were quite upset because they had paid thousands of dollars for services that no longer were going to be delivered to them. They were still paying loans, and some were having to file bankrupty. I didn't think it was right.

Q: Have other staff left?

A: Yes. There were three other people that left. He was paying them 100 to 150 dollar per week -- if that, I'm guessing high. I personally was paid well, but it is because I demanded a raise in April.

Q: Are these people speaking out about Avatar?

A: Nobody is really speaking out about Avatar; it's a very workable tool. It's just we object that the only one who profits is Harry Palmer. Some have gone to labor boards, some to the local newspaper. But you have to understand that we were very loyal to Harry, and that was why we got paid so little, because we were loyal to him.

Q: What was Palmer's response to people going to the newspaper?

A: He told the reporter that the reason that he let all of us go --we quit, he didn't let us go-- was that we had drug problems. And he referred to us as "bleeding hearts" and "puppies that are weaning". He also said that he made a lot of money with other companies and that his staff had nothing to do with him making money. (See Elmira Star Gazette, Feb 2,3,4 & 7).

Q: How succesful was Thoughtstorm?

A: I don't have statistics but he had been saying that the people that he went into the Thoughtstorm business with, people who were with the Creative Learning Center, didn't support him and so he lost $40,000 on it. I don't know of anywhere the Thoughtstorm is being used besides Avatar centers.

Q: Is Avatar a replay of Scientology and is Palmer a replay of Hubbard?

A: It certainly does have shades of Scientology.

When avatar came out he said this is going to be the only course you're ever going to need and if there's anything new that comes out we'll just include it in the materials, you won't have to buy anything.

And then the Masters Course came out and there were things that were exclusive as far as case handling. And now out comes the $20,000 "Wizards'' course. [Trivia note: Avatar was the chief character in the animated movie Wizards.]

As far as him being like Hubbard, let me read this thing he just put out to promote the Wizard course:

" On a somewhat grimmer note, I know this world has some bent pieces that compulsively create demons of fear and hate when they imagine your power to free good people from their paranoid webs of intrigue....

From the tangled human wreckage that laughingly passes for a civilization you are salvaging some of the most beautiful, incredibly creative beings in the whole galaxy... So let them snarl and complain... and I'll keep them busy while you continue to pick the flowers...

As many of you know, the rapidity of Avatar's growth has often left me spinning... and while I certainly am not complaining... the eye of the storm has thaught me lessons... and [bas] absolutely blown the lid off creating prediction algorithms exceeding 90% plus probability in broad areas of physics, socio-civics, economics and project management. Fate is beginning to resolve into predictable cosmic logic sequences...

This is heavy stuf. It can drive someone who is in power shy and preaching all sweetness and light into a real snit... So don't loose sleep over the $20,000 price being bantered around. With the heavy Avatar traffic ahead, by the time Wizard is released in February or March '89 that will be pocket jingle. "

Now if that doesn't sound like Hubbard.

Q: To the best of your knowledge how many people have completed the Avatar course?

A: Harry Palmer, on many occasions, has said that there are about 1200 to 1500 Avatars. When I left November 7 there were 408, and anywhere from 75 to 100 Avatar Masters. It's most ex-Scientologists. Harry made some inroads with some psychologists in Portland, but most of these people had previously been involved in "New age", occult things.

Q: How similar is Avatar to the CofS in terms of attitudes and values?

A: Pretty similar. The attention on money was really a big deal. If somebody didn't "get it" they would get a little special attention to see if they could get it, then it was just kind of dropped.

And recently I received in the mail an anonymous warning: "Maybe the world should know what kind of person you really are. Clean up the third party on H or they will". Attached were 4 or 5 pages of Xerox copies of overt write-ups from my ethics folder. The police went to the Center to compare type between the Center's typewriter and the blackmail note and were told that the ethics folder and the typewriter were missing.

Q: Was the Elmira Center run the same as an Avatar center as it had been run as a Scientology center?

When avatar came out he said this is going to be the only course you're ever going to need and if there's anything new that comes out we'll just include it in the materials, you won't have to buy anything.
A: We were still handing in our stats on Thursday at 2:00 up until June of 1987. It wasn't until Harry and Avra went to L.A. that the staff at home stopped doing that.

The pay was the same, too.

We never had a chance to deprogram from Scientology the way the rest of the field did. In Portland when I was speaking my mind about the situation in Elmira, Harry asked me if I had a withhold. He also asked me if I was doing drugs.

He insinuated that it was all my illusion --mind you, we had about 50 people in our Elmira field-- that these people were upset.

A big flap followed us from L.A. to Portland because we would leave town without completing people, I said we should complete them and he said I was "forwarding the enemy line".

Also, when something did not go the way he wanted, he always looked for a Who.

Q: Is he still withholding the money from the people in Elmira?

A: He is starting to give half of the money back. He considers that the people in Elmira invested in something along with him called the OT Levels. His words are "the ship sank". He didn't think that they had any right to ask for their money back. He thought that they should "share in the loss." I'd like to know why they don't share in the gain.

Q: Do they practice disconnetion in Avatar?

A: There was a woman in San Fransisco, an Avatar Master, that kept calling me when she heard that I left staff. She said how much that she wanted to help me and how much she cared. After Palmer was in San Fransisco I got a carbon-copied letter from this woman which was a disconnection notice. She wanted nothing to do with the people in Elmira because they are "draining."

Q: Do you have any criticism of the Avatar technology and material?

A: The only criticism I have is the way that the Masters Course is administered. This may have changed, but at the last training I attended their technique was to call people "dodo heads", "bird brains" and "stupid" and basically insult the person.

Q: Do you still believe that there is a be-all/end-all state called Avatar that this rundown will produce?

A: Maybe for some people for a certain amount of time, but as far as forever and ever, and the person never has to do another thing ever in his life, that is misrepresented. If you're constantly growing, the same tool can't be used forever. What you use as a child is not necessarily going to work as an adult. Avatar is a useful tool for those who want it. The first session I had was the ultimate key-out!

Q: Discreate means to as-is. What could be so special about another technique to do that?

A: Well sometimes people do the "Emperor new clothes" thing, like "don't the Emperor's new clothes look wonderful!"

Q: What was the last straw for you with the Avatar organization?

A: When I was in Portland and I was ready to resign, Harry and I, using the Avatar materials, reached an understanding, and I felt wonderful and that I was re-aligned with him. Then I saw the instructors treating another person the way I was being treated, with intolerance and rudeness. I thought, hey, I can discreate anything, but there is no way I can make certain things, like their rudeness, disappear. I had a brand new perspective. It wasn't all me. Harry does not believe in co-creation.

Q: What do you know about the origins of Avatar?

A: Harry has always done a lot of reading. He studied a lot of Hubbard when he was in Scientology, and other things, like yoga. He was intensely interested in Bashar. He bought all his tapes and videos -- $900 worth. He read that Ramtba book -- all-white with "Ramtba" embossed on it.

Q: Do you have any regrets about missing out on the Wizard Course?

A: Fuck no! Can you print that? Fuck no!