By R.U. Sirius
Another outtake from the upcoming MONDO 2000 History Project book: Use Your Hallucinations: MONDO 2000 in the Late 20th Century Cyberculture
R.U. Sirius: One evening not long after the move to Berkeley, we went to see a Terence McKenna talk at the local new age venue, Shared Visions. Terence was still relatively unknown and he would sit there talking for hours about aliens and mushrooms and eschatology and shamanism and philosophy with such gorgeously poetic language — and with then-trendy philosophic references like Foucault and Derrida and semiotics (and with a serious Wittgenstein fetish tossed in for classical cred) — that one didn’t care that his overall weltanschung was ultimately based on hallucinatory channelings and unprovable assertions. It would just carry one away.
An attractive couple, seemingly in their 30s, stood out during the q&a session that evening by matching Terence’s eloquence, albeit in a more down-to-earth fashion, with references that probably went over just about everybody’s heads, mine included.
Afterwards, a group — this hypersmart, attractive couple among them — gathered to chat, and Nose and I suggested that everyone might like to come back to our place for some light psychedelic dosing. This would be, in some sense, the first small glimmer of a Berkeley-based party scene that would move on to more elegant surroundings and one day earn comparisons to Andy Warhol’s factory.
Aside from the couple — who called themselves Zarkov and Gracie — this was our first meeting with Apple Computers original (Steve Jobs’ former best friend) Dan Kottke, his best friend — the psychedelic “hindu” hacker and jokester who called himself SteveAnanda, and Francis Jeffries — AI researcher and literary partner to the psychedelics-and-dolphins legend, John Lilly.
After taking moderate doses of something or other, and just as the effects were starting to appear, a heavy set woman psychologist with a loud voice shared her theory that a lot of men have castration anxiety and hate women because their mothers had allowed them to be circumcized right after birth, which traumatized them. The next half hour or so was spent with about half the males at the party — myself included — crossing and uncrossing their legs and occasionally cupping their balls, but aside from that the evening was uneventful.
We soon learned that Zarkov and Gracie had written a series of free broadsheets vividly detailing and analyzing their hallucinogenic experiences. Dedicated to precise experimentation, they would use variations on (Aleister) Crowleyan magickal techniques of invocation and evocation in their high dose explorations. They were highly-defined rare characters who let it be known to all and sundry that aside from being megadose, high risk trippers, they were also sexual swingers who had run Chicago’s most popular swingers club; committed libertarians, and — in a separate life, lived by their actual names — successful investment bankers.
At that time, I’d never met a libertarian; an investment banker; or a married couple into “swinging.” In a funny way, these new arrivals from Chicago would come to represent the California-ness of the “Mondo” scene as much as any of the Californians who would join the tribe.
Some amongst us would find G&Z — with their Crowleyan sex magick and apparent expertise in absolutely everything — a bit demonic. Indeed, we probably found their association with investment banking to be the prominent reason to suspect a satanic undertow. In point of fact, they were pretty much always sweetly reasonable and intelligently amused by the unique counterculture we gathered around us, although they certainly tried — and occasionally succeeded — in roping some of us into their sexcapades.