Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How I got Made...an Acid Freak!

I have already had published 2 different versions of this story, the first called "Alec Farthing" in "Being Different", an anthology of gay memoirs edited by Gary Wotherspoon in 1985, and then a comic book I drew entitled "No Future" published by Headmaster Press back in the early eighties, and I also have in my laptop a 700 page manuscript, "The 7 Lives of Toby the Punk Poofy Cat", wherein I give a full explanation of my sordid adventures ever awaiting a publisher to discover me, (like, where are THEY?) But some friends of mine, who work for "User News", a drug addicts' magazine, find my story fascinating and have asked me to write it out once more as they've had confessions from all kinds of druggies but never from an LSD fiend, so here we go again.

In 1969 I was 19 and suffering intense angst at being homosexual in a world that saw my kind as lowdown dirty scumbags fit only to be tortured, gaoled, hospitalised or murdered. I was studying to be a nurse and an older nurse, Keith, who came onto me as a patronising brother figure, got me to admit my 'gayness' and convinced me I was indeed mentally ill. He told me he was once 'homo' himself but had been cured with 10 sessions of LSD therapy and now was happily married and the father of a baby boy. I had never had any drugs, not even pot, but had heard all about LSD from the media, Ken Kesey's "Merry Pranksters and the Magical Mystery Tour", Timothy Leary's "Politics of Ecstasy" but most especially the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", and I was intrigued, wanting so badly to escape the horrors of mundane Melbourne and the less than zero life of a homo. LSD promised other-worldly adventures, enlightened self-knowledge, colourful fun and ultimate ecstasy, but as a boy from a Housing Commission ghetto, the Olympic Village in West Heidelberg, there was no way I could score the drug, I was not hip and had no connections.

Keith told me his saviour was a shrink who promoted Jungian pscho-analysis, delved into the Collective Unconscious with the aid of Lysergic Acid and unearthed the traumas, fixations and compulsions lurking deep within, and I should consider giving it a go. Off I stumbled to a private psyche hospital in Kew that looked like a witch's gingerbread cottage hidden in it's overgrown gardens, and there I was interviewed by the psychiatrist, a Dr. Mackay, who seemed to me to be wise, paternalistic, even out of this world with his strange parchment like skin and piercing eyes. I got it in my naive head he was from a UFO sent to lift humanity up into it's next stage of evolution, and I impressed him also with my sexual anxieties, intelligence and sincere desire to "improve", and so I was admitted into the programme of LSD aversion therapy.

I was to have the requisite 10 sessions of pure LSD25, shipped in from Sandoz laboritories in Switzerland under the guise of " therapeutic purposes" and at the end of the dark tunned I would emerge an outstanding, righteous citizen fit to join the human race. All paid for by my Health Fund, I was admitted into the private hospital, put into pyjamas and locked in a small room with bars on the window. The maggii-like shrink came in and shot me up intra-muscular, also giving me a small white pill, one was the LSD, the other a muscle relaxant, which was which I'll never know, but it did take about an hour to come on and I got quite impatient waiting for the blast. And BLAST it was, suddenly my universe melted and rained down upon my head, super-novae exploded, black holes sucked my soul from my heart, volcanoes erupted, amphibians slithered forth, dinosaurs tore apart mammals and apemen raped me mercilessly.

Every war ever fought in history battled for my consciousness, corpses piled up around my hospital bed and the walls cracked into myriad tableaus, every one of them depicting some crude, sleazy sex act, then blood seeped thru the cracks and poured down upon me till I thought I would drown. My body contorted into grotesque, deformed postures, I gagged, throttled and retched, I thought I was going to die, oblivion threatened to overwhelm me and blot me out of existence and I fought off the impending doom with all my strength, pushing my foot down hard as if on imaginary brakes during a head-on car collision. The shrink came into the room and sat by my side watching me contort, moan and dry-reach, his big comment, "looks like a huge penis trying to insert itself into a small mouth, I think you were molested when you were a child, maybe it was your father, try to remember it!" (YUK! This shrink was really a Freudian wolf in Jungian sheep's clothing!)

Whatever the bad memory was, I fought it off, it was too horrific, like some H.P.Lovecraft monster crawling up from the deep, I did'nt want to know about it. The shrink left and was soon replaced by the head nurse, Anne, a Germanic matron, like a Valkyrie with a blonde bee-hive hairdo, who sat beside me and repeated like a mantra, "vomit it all up, remember the horror, get it out and over with, vomit, vomit, vomit!"

But still I resisted the suggested bad memories and after 8 hours of bad-tripping, the drug wore off, dawn called with birdsong and my first session was over. I went home and continued work as a nurse, going back to the witch's cottage in Kew 3 more times over the next few weeks to try and trip out my traumatic past but each time fighting the impending ghastliness off, no matter how much the shrink and head nurse encouraged, wheedled and directed the bummer trips. Throughout the nights I could hear shrieks coming from other rooms and thus realised I wasn't the only one undergoing the radical therapy. During my fourth session I noticed they'd forgotten to lock the door and as I came down from the nightmare I snuck out into the corridor to explore the hospital and find the source of the hair-raising screams.

I met another teenager in his pyjamas who'd come in because of anti-social behaviour, he had an ugly basin hair cut and told me the hospital staff had forcefully cut off his long hair, and I wasn't impressed. He told me They were convinced our traumas were from past life experiences, the countless times we'd been raped, tortured, murdered over many lifetimes, and somehow we were to cleanse ourselves of these horrors and move on. This news weirded me out, what the fuck was going on in this snake-pit dump? But we didn't get long to compare notes as a crabby faced nurse showed up and we both fled back to our rooms.

During this, my fourth LSD session, I had the usual nasty heebie-jeebies, fighting them off like Frodo battling the Orcs but towards the end of the dark night a miracle occurred, the gloom lifted, white light broke thru, the gates of paradise opened up and I ran into a primordial garden of earthly delights wherein I joined a circle of fairy-type souls dancing atavistically around a Pan-like figure, and all was ecstasy, peace and love. The shrink came in and I beamed beatifically upon him, much to his annoyance, he prepared a second, bigger hit of LSD and shot me up with alacrity, murmuring, " go into the horror, remember the pain, relive the DEATH!"

I put my foot down hard on the brakes, forget it DOC, it was too much SHIT! The white light came again, the rainbow colours, the joy, the awe, the stupendous beauty also to be found in the land of the Unconscious, angels instead of demons, I'd climbed from Hell, and Heaven was all around. When dawn came I realised the place was not where I ever wanted to be ever again, 4 sessions were enough, fuck the full 10 where they'd probably fry my brains into sludge. I got dressed, snuck out thru the back door, ran thru the overgrown gardens and climbed the back fence, escape was bliss.

On wobbly legs I walked into Melbourne city where all had slowed down as if I was pushing thru viscous honey, and I had the uncanny feeling that whatever I thought came to pass, if I thought tram, a tram would come, if I thought red car, a red car would pass, the entire universe seemed to revolve around me and do my bidding. It took me weeks to come down, if I ever did, I never returned to that hospital and it's psychedelic programme and I guess they gave me up as lost, unprogrammable, for they never sought me out.

Another year drifted by and I passed my final nursing exams and, freaked out of my brains, I ran away to India, hoping to find an alternative way of Being, maybe get real Self-realisation, at least have the greatest adventure of a lifetime. I was determined to go thru the "acid experience" without being locked into a room, without "therapeutic purposes", to get on top of it and surf it HIGH, and so I took acid on any and every whim, from the heights of the Himalayan mountains to the beaches of Goa, the Ganga river at Shangri-la to the carved temple caves of Mahabalipuram. One of Ken Kesey's 'merry pranksters' had escaped to India with a huge stash of liquid "Clear Light" LSD and he handed the stuff out at Goan parties via an eye-dropper dripped into the mouth, and I did indeed dance naked with the fairies around bonfires in the garden of earthly delights.

I kept having bummer trips tho, all my Aussie/Christian brainwashing oozing out like puss, I was possessed with the idea that Satan was trying to claim my soul and I had to defeat HIM and become my own self. After many 'trips' I finally got on top of the fears, and morphed into my gutsy, exuberant, quirky self, homosexual and glorying in it. Satan was banished and Pan took his place, I grew into an ecstatic pagan, an admirer of the angel of Light, a Luciferian a la Anatole France's "Revolt of the Angels", and thus I became another rebel angel in the war against the evil "Godists" plagueing the planet.

Years later I discovered that the private hospital in Kew was a front for a CULT called 'The Family' and having worldwide connections, at the head of it the nurse with the beehive, Anne Hamilton Byrne, a Swiss-German, who had convinced a whole bunch of fuckwits she was the new Messiah, the great Aryan Godwoman for a New Age, doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, all sucked in, she fed them copious amounts of LSD over the years and thus had them quite addled. Eventually she was discovered on a farm in the Victorian bush with a group of children aged from infancy to teens, all of them with blue eyes and bleached white hair like Aryan godlings, and no explanation of where she got the kids from.

One teenager escaped and told the police she'd kept them all enslaved, up before dawn for cold baths, gruel for food, harsh work disciplines all day, no education, no contact with the bigger world, and fed on LSD of which she had a huge stash. One day at the Piccolo Cafe on the Cross I was told the horrible urban myth that she'd forced blood transfusions from the kids and shot it into herself in the hope of retaining eternal youth and, what's really weird, in photos of her in her seventies she actually looked to be only in her forties.

I realised THEY had plans for me also with my bright blue eyes, hoping to straighten me into a Het, marry me to one of the nursing staff as they'd done for Keith, and get me to pump out blue-eyed kids, which she'd then grab as true Aryans. Keith, my wonderful best friend and and supposed big brother, had connived with the Cult all along to have me brainwashed and one of the kids she'd enslaved was probably his, (what a true-blue friend he was!) I don't know where the old bag is now, I think the Law is chasing her around overseas and still having a hard time trying to bring her to justice, she ripped off lots of money of course and still has some zealous zombies supporting her. I know the private hospital got closed down by the cops and the good Doctor Mackay disqualified as there were too many teenage kids going home with fried brains making for a huge, juicy scandal.

As for me, the next fifteen years had me rushing about dropping Acid like Aspirin, unable to party unless I was well and trully tripped out. And back in Auz for the '77 new years party I dropped Golden Sunshie and cavorted with Bon Scott and his AC/DC at a free concert in the old Haymarket, and like a fish flapping on an alien shore I washed up permanently in Sydney. At the horror movies, rock concerts, hippie gatherings, new years eve freak shows or romps thru the Auzzie bush, I just had to psychedelicise my universe with ACID, rubbing the genie's bottle, riding the magic carpet and weilding the sword of Excalibur to claim the Holy Grail. I never actually did come back to reality and have been semi-mad all my life, unable to hold down a job, have a viable relationship or deal with ordinary people rationally, I seem to be permanently hallucinating, which is not too tragic considering I hope to be a visionary artist.

This said and done, I would never recommend Acid to anyone as it's a dangerous drug, for those with a weak link it breaks them irrevocably and a normal life sought after recedes like a mirage. Real LSD is almost impossible to come by these days, as if it's intense efficacy evaporated with the times of the sixties/seventies, once Known, like virginity lost, it's never to be re-established, the morphic resonance fading away, the headspace maybe evolved to other dimensions up the time-line to us ecstatic cyberpunks. What passes for Acid these days is adulterated rubbish, glorified Speed, poison to addle the system, and I avoid it like the plague.

For those who just have to KNOW there's always the pure, natural psychedelic of psyloscibin found in Goldtop mushrooms, and many is the time I've eaten of Pan's fruit up around funky Nimbin and danced with the Green One in ecstacy, but I do this only on sacred occassions, as a celebrant of the glories of being alive in an awesome Universe, like at the Spring Equinox or Mid-winter's solstice, it's not just for cheap thrills and can poison the feeble-minded as badly as any backyard lab chemical.

(If one is still hellbent on doing drugs, no matter what the proscription against it is, then I would advise to follow the Timothy Leary directives, as mad as he was, the grandfather of all "acid-casualties" : consider dosage, set and setting. 1) Make sure you know what the drug is and it's strength by taking advice from a close and trusted friend who has already tried it. 2) Be with the right set of people when you trip out, friends you love and trust, all looking out for each other. 3) Choose the right setting, an environment or site that makes you feel safe, happy and comfortable, what doesn't freak you out, what encourages your high.)(For me, being a freak, it was most often wild rock'n'roll parties!)

And, hey! There's nothing like drug free, clear, lucid consciousness to feel truly high.

If you enjoyed this story please go to the WEB address above and consider buying my book of tales about growing up anarcho-queer, rock and roll punter and mystic adventurer in Australia and India of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.