Monday, January 15, 2007

Timothy Leary was alive and well and living in Laguna in 1969

Timothy Leary was alive and well in Laguna in 1969

Sometimes when HAIR! had intermission and I lived in the apartment that backed right up to the backstage entrance of the Aquarius Theater I would wander to the theater and mingle with the audience members. Then when the “intermission is over” lights blinked, I’d just wander into the theater with the audience, and find an empty seat. There was always at least one empty seat after the play had run for a year or so.

I got to know a lot of cast members and during the last number I sometimes was on stage with them belting out “Let The Sun Shine,” and I’d join the cast during the part where we ran all through the audience singing “Glibby glop glooby nibby nobby newbie, lalalalalala.”

Well, you had to be there.

Such spontaneous audience participation was alive and well in a Broadway musical only during that small period of time when HAIR! was happening. I’m sure there were other hippie kids who would get up and run around the theater with the cast during that song and then get on the stage, I wasn’t the only one. The point is the last line of the musical HAIR! is “answer for Timothy Leary, dearie. Let the sun shine, let the sun shine. . . .” I was still searching for religion and I found it here.

I had Timothy Leary prayer and mystical books in my little one room apartment on Leland Way and as my acting career was self-destructing I was using another maniacal behavior mechanism that ties in with child molestation and the resulting effects on a person’s life, today known as PTSD.

I ran away. I put it behind me and embraced something else with so much passion and fanaticism that I couldn’t stop to think about what really had just happened.

But God and those special agents he’d dispatched were there all the time. As I was hitchhiking on an onramp somewhere along what was then called the Santa Ana Freeway a guy in a big old van picked me up and as it turned out he was part of the Timothy Leary “brotherhood” that was populating the hills that were then Laguna Canyon.

Laguna was all canyons and untouched beaches back then, beautiful rustic canyons, from about six blocks in from the beach all the way to the Santa Ana Freeway, winding canyon roads, so beautiful, so destroyed today, but I digress.

I found a population of people in Laguna Canyon and blended in.

I want to write here about the Mystic Arts Bookstore. A lot of the brotherhood activity went in and out of the back rooms of this part bookstore, part organic grocery outlet. As you drove through Laguna Beach on the coast highway in what was then the north part of town about midway up one of the hills, was the Mystic Arts, on the east side of the street. You could easily find it because of the beautiful paintings on the walls outside and the daily growing number of outrageously looking hippie freaks who were showing up there. The Timothy Leary brotherhood was pretty much headquartered there.

Since I rode into town with this bearded angel who knew Leary, I ended up getting to live in the brotherhood’s commune, where he dropped me off. It was this street off Laguna Canyon Road, a little street that about half mile in became more of a foot path. There were some ordinary looking middle class houses on the street but as you got farther back it was more like little huts where hermits lived. You could actually go hiking up the canyons and find people living in tree houses, going back miles into the canyons. Somewhere in there was at least one chemical manufacturing hut where they were making LSD. Most of the LSD coming out of Laguna then was called orange sunshine and it was really potent, even too potent for me. I’d take a tiny little nibble at it like Alice in Wonderland. . .

We tripped almost every day there. I’d wake up walk outside, run into people, go with them or stay where they were, someone would hand me a pipe with hash in it, or someone else, always someone else would have some kind of acid to hand out. Or mescaline. A lot of the guys at the Mystic Arts only took mescaline because it was organic. . . .

This made sense back then. It was the times. In fact Timothy Leary was even running for governor of California in a kind of imitation of life campaign to take attention off his legal defense problems, or maybe to raise money for its fund. Actually that's the reason I ended up getting to know Leary a little bit, because one time in this house in town when he was there and we were all sitting on the floor passing a hash pipe, I said.

“Why don’t we start a cara-van? I mean, you know how all the freaks ride around in vans all the time, and pick each other up, and there’s already vans going up and down Highway One every day full of freaks. Why not organize a cara-van for Tim Leary for Governor? We'll get a long line of freak vans all painted up and drive all over the state campaigning for Timothy Leary.”

Leary listened, thought a moment, and said, “Yeah. Why not?”

So I took my duffel bag with the little portable typewriter and wandered through the town of Laguna Beach up into the hills just in from the coast, those beautiful homes, and found a house with a real estate for sale sign. It looked like no one had been around the house for a while, it looked neglected. So I found a way to get in through an open back window, moved into the furniture-bare master bedroom, set up my typewriter, hash pipes and joints, little bottles of pills, and my sleeping bag.

And I began sending out press releases for the Timothy Leary for Governor Campaign Cara-Van project typing on my little portable typewriter on the floor of the house for sale in Laguna Beach -- I even got mail delivered there, from the HAIR! production offices as a matter of fact, saying they might be able to put together a band from among the cast members to join the cara-van.

One morning about a week or so later, maybe longer, I woke up and took a tab of acid, as that is what I did most days, then went into the master bedroom shower, as I usually did, and got ready for my day. The acid was just coming on as I got out of the shower and unfortunately I also heard the sounds of people coming into the house. What was apparently the real estate lady with a potential buyer was coming in the back door and I could hear them saying things like, What? Has someone been in here?

I grabbed my duffel bag and stuff and high tailed it out the front door, down the hill, and out of sight, and never went back. I wonder what the future residents thought when they later got mail addressed to the Timothy Leary for Governor Campaign?

Again, like I said, this really happened.

Thing is there is a tie-in here with the priest rape and my resulting maniacal behavior for more than 40 years. First, I was certain that LSD and Leary’s interpretation of the trip were part of man’s destiny to expand consciousness and yada yada yada. . . .

Wait. I don’t dismiss it totally today. I think some of the sensitivities I have, some of the spiritual passion I still have, is tied to this time I spent with Tim Leary and his brotherhood.

For example the Mystic Arts Bookstore.

In the back room way down a long corridor, past several signs that said, “Employees Only” etcetera, none of which ever stopped me -- Little Annie Fannie barreling through on a Mission from God, you know -- way in the back you went through an empty office, through another door, and you were in the prayer room.

It was dark, there was a fountain with continuous water flowing to mellow the sound, and a large Buddha statue on an altar spanning one whole side of the room. It was an elaborate altar, the fountain, sometimes music, the plants, the sculptures, the incense burners.

And in the room almost every time I came in, there would be three or seven people sitting legs crossed, eyes closed, in deep meditation. Some would stop to smoke on a hash pipe then call out “Om” and go back into a trance.

Me being on my mission from God I walked right in and took my seat cross legged on the floor and assumed their personae and pretty much wormed my way in with them. I had to get to Timothy Leary, and believe me I was screwing a lot of the men there along the way.

Enough about that.

There’s always that confusion of sexuality with spirituality. These weeks in Laguna Canyon with Tim Leary’s crew of people were only the beginning.

It was the times. It’ll never be like that again, I don't think. One day out of the blue as all these people kept pouring and pouring into Laguna and just living on the streets and in the canyons, the fall of ’69, we all just merged and formed a crowd at the Mystic Arts one day. There was something real tense happening in the news that day too, having to do with the Vietnam War, I’m sure, and these passionate hippie drop-out people were just trying to find each other and find some sense of order somewhere. . . it’s hard to explain.

The crowd just got larger and larger. It started was inside Mystic Arts store and it poured out into the streets. I started singing, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” I started it, and the rest of the people there started singing it and soon all those hundreds of people were all chanting “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

On that particular day the huge “Om” painting in the main room of the Mystic Arts Bookstore was pushed aside so all could see the meditation room and the Buddha fountain behind it, and from inside the store to the outside hundreds of people meditated for peace together there.

We all chanted, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

Like I said I started the chant, and maybe that was my mission from God or maybe after that I’d just taken too much acid even for me. One day I was standing in the middle of the street, Laguna Canyon Road, which could be a very quiet street on a winter weekday back then, and I was near the intersection that led into the brotherhood commune. Cops as always were parked outside the entrance. I stood in the middle of the street and starting going around and around and around and around in circles because I had no idea where to go or what to do from there, and this guy who was with me and on leave from the Navy, said, “Why don’t you go home.” He hitchhiked with me to my parents’ little house in Temple City.

For a long time I could not eat with a metal fork or be near anything metallic -- my nervous system was so fried from all those psychedelics that I was electrified and almost put out sparks.

But I recovered

and moved into Integral Yoga Institute in their ashram for the stars in Burbank.

I left a part out, I need to put it in. This is me, Kay, writing in April 2008. At one point I was almost hired for the cast of HAIR!, almost. It was to me like my destiny, and a lot of the cast members I'd gotten to know felt that way too. I just kind of joined the cast and since I lived right behind the theater they'd come often sometimes. . . Then when I actually talked to "her" this Virgo power wad in smart feminine suits, who actually hired the cast, she said "No." She said, It doesn't matter how talented you are. "You are supposed to perform the lifestyle in HAIR!, not actually live it."

It was a crushing blow. I thought it was a given. I was already doing chorus scenes with the show. Then I was shut out.

That had a lot to do with me ending up in porn, as well. The disappointment that there was something wrong with me, keeping me from doing what I otherwise could do. . .

To be continued. . .

10 comments:

jamee said...

I was so there, but in Haight Ashbery, and then Marin County.
I used to take people on LSD trips as a guide. I used a book titled the Timothy Leary Prayer Book. I came across your blog in my search for that book I lost years ago. Have you ever heard of it, It was a paperback, yellow I think, and the book was designed to guide thru a trip. The chapters took you thru the Cakaras, and the print changed color as you progressed thru the book, honest it wasn't just a trip! I am still looking

lagunamary said...

A high school teacher I used to babysit for had a copy. With a little effort I could get back in touch with him and find out if he still has a copy. My understanding is that the book was based on the Tibetian Book of the Dead. Sounds as if you might be preparing for a journey....let me know if this sounds like your best chance of obtaining a copy and if so I'll follow up on my end.

Chantal said...

Do you remember names of some of the folks who were in The Brotherhood? I do.

aeonsbeyond said...

Hi Kay, far out story especially to a next-gen Leary fan/historian like myself. Tell us more of those days! / The yellow book Jamee mentions must be Psychedelic Prayers: http://www.erowid.org/library/books/psychedelic_prayers.shtml

lagunabeachpch said...

Hi all
Loved the article on Laguna Beach and Timothy leary. I happen to actually have the front door of his old house and I often wondered if anyone would have actually seen or been through it. It is green and black paint with glass panels and a gold metal knob. Just churous if anyone every visited the house in the canyon at the bend. When they tore down all the houses about 8 years ago my mother and I grabbed it because we know the history of the building. Any help would be rad.

lagunabeachpch said...

Hi all
Loved the article on Laguna Beach and Timothy leary. I happen to actually have the front door of his old house and I often wondered if anyone would have actually seen or been through it. It is green and black paint with glass panels and a gold metal knob. Just churous if anyone every visited the house in the canyon at the bend. When they tore down all the houses about 8 years ago my mother and I grabbed it because we know the history of the building. Any help would be rad.

Lynne Whitaker said...

I left before the Christmas happening, but I was there for the Easter concert in the canyon and then to Griffin Park. Also sold brotherhood acid and pot to the marines from Oceanside! Got busted by Babcott and Purcell, but got out of it with a misdemeanor! Hung out at Mystic Arts and stayed for a while at the El Camino Hotel. A former cop named Lyle was the manager and it was full of hippies. Worked at Denny's for a couple weeks but made more selling pot and acid so that didn't last long! Remember how everyone would migrate to the Cleo St beach at sunset with gallon jugs of wine passing around. When you would tip it to take a swig, you could see the bottom of the jug was coated with acid.

Lynne Whitaker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynne Whitaker said...

I left before the Christmas happening, but I was there for the Easter concert in the canyon and then to Griffin Park. Also sold brotherhood acid and pot to the marines from Oceanside! Got busted by Babcott and Purcell, but got out of it with a misdemeanor! Hung out at Mystic Arts and stayed for a while at the El Camino Hotel. A former cop named Lyle was the manager and it was full of hippies. Worked at Denny's for a couple weeks but made more selling pot and acid so that didn't last long! Remember how everyone would migrate to the Cleo St beach at sunset with gallon jugs of wine passing around. When you would tip it to take a swig, you could see the bottom of the jug was coated with acid.

aeonsbeyond said...

Wow HI Lynne MUCH has happened since the last comment I posted to you in 2009 I went out to California and did years of searching for the BEL and made lots of great friends, had crazy adventures like those old days and lived to tell the tale, many of the old original mebers are coming together again, we have a Facebook group page if youd like to visit? https://www.facebook.com/groups/RingBEL/ LovePeace~