The Acid Eaters

Photo: Poster for The Acid Eaters 1968 American Anti- Drug Film.

A Film of Anti-Social Significance!
An Adult Happening in Psychedelic Color!

"[Irwin Allen Ginsberg] insisted that there had been a journalistic exaggeration of the dangers of LSD, and he warned that laws enacted [in the Spring of 1966] in a climate of ignorance and hysteria would almost certainly create more problems than they solved.
Certain government officials also expressed reservations about new legislation to ban LSD. "I have a strong feeling," said Dr. Stanley Yolles, former director of NIMH, "if if we make the possession of LSD illegal, it will drive it further underground and make what perhaps the beginning of a flaunting of authority... a more pathological process and a more strongly accented act of rebellion." Yolles believed that punitive measures would actually spur the growth of the illicit drug market- which was exactly what happened.
Historically in the United States repressive controls have been targeted at drugs identified with the poor, the underprivileged, and racial minorities; often such controls were enacted in times of social crisis (the reefer of the black and brown ghettos was outlawed during the Depression, for example). During the 1960s psychedelic drugs became associated with cultural and political rebellion, but in this case the user population was composed primarily of well-educated white middle-class youth. As a symbol of generational conflict acid provided a convenient scapegoat for the guardians of the status quo, who embraced the anti-LSD crusade as a high-consensus issue in an era otherwise riddles with political schisms. By invoking the specter of hallucinogenic drugs, conservative politicians implicitly attacked the groups that opposed the war in Vietnam. Certainly it was a lot easier to discredit the radical cause if the rest of society could be convinced that those uppity radicals were out of their minds- and the LSD craze was touted as sure proof of that." (pp. 153- 154)

"Leary not only hyped LSD as a shortcut to mystical enlightenment but also fused it with something that had proven mass appeal: sex. In his 1966 Playboy interview he discussed psychedelics in the broad social context of "erotic politics" and "hedonic engineering". Acid was portrayed as a "cure" for homosexuality and a means of inhabiting a supremely sensual reality. "in a carefully prepared, loving LSD session," Leary states, "a woman will inevitably have several hundred of orgasms. The three inevitable goals of the LSD session are to discover and make love with God, to discover and make love with yourself, and to discover and make love with a woman... That is what the LSD experiences is all about. Merging, yielding, flowing, union, communion. It's all love-making... The sexual impact is, of course, the open but private secret about LSD."
Leary had a knack for telling his audiences exactly what they wanted to hear. He could b all things to all people; whatever guise he chose, the gist of the message was essentially the same. "It's all God's flesh,", he insisted. "LSD is always a sacrament: whether you are a silly thirteen-year-old popping a sugar cube on your boyfriend's motorcycle, or a theatrical agent giving pot to a girl to get her horny.... or even a psychiatrist giving LSD to an unsuspecting patient to do a scientific study." " (pp. 113- 114)

" For some people Leary's brief sermon at the be-in marked the highlight of the afternoon. It didn't matter that they had heard it all before, they accepted as gospel every word he'd uttered since he came out of the academic closet and turned into the Pied Piper of the acid generation...The Pope of Dope was trying to symbolize in a rather outmoded ways a religious revival that defied traditional categories. After all, why invoke catechisms and commandments when the sheer fact of being alive in that corner of time and space was sufficiently intoxicating?" (pp. 161- 162)

- Excerpts from Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond by Martin A. Lee & Bruce Shlain. Second Edition (1992)

Related Reading:

Acid Eaters