Journalist Tony Ortega’s Scientology Gathering Began as a Joke

Second edition is happening this weekend in Denver

Headshot of Richard Horgan

Festivities for HowdyCon 2017, an event spearheaded by Church of Scientology watchdog journalist Tony Ortega, kick off tonight in Denver with a Q&A screening of My Scientology Movie featuring Marc Headley. At a locale where alcohol can be consumed while watching the documentary. Smart move, Ortega.

In a post celebrating the start of the event, the second HowdyCon following an initial one in 2016, the journalist recaps how it all started:

Back in 2015, we were on a barnstorming book tour, visiting cities all over the place in support of our book about Paulette Cooper, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely. At some point, one of our commenters asked why we were stopping in so many places, and we quipped that we needed to see them all before choosing one for holding a convention. That joke took on a life of its own, and soon our readers were voting for where they wanted a convention to take place. Cleveland was chosen, and that’s where we got together last year. About 50 regular readers of the Underground Bunker toured the town and talked and laughed, and on Saturday night we had our big catered dinner, and brief addresses from several invited guests.

We named the gathering “HowdyCon” in remembrance of Steve “Captain Howdy” Cox, a beloved commenter who died in 2015. We also dedicated it to Mary “sugarplumfairy” Marinelli, another favorite commenter who had recently passed away.

Ortega also includes some photos from last year’s event. To the gang in Denver this weekend, we say: break an E-meter!

Previously on Fishbowl:
Tony Ortega’s Challenge to the Sundance-Enthralled Media
Tony Ortega Pens Another Open Letter to Tom Cruise
Tony Ortega Puts the Skids on Tom Cruise TMZ Item

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.