Lords of Acid

How the Brotherhood of Eternal Love Became OCs Hippie Mafia

Every time she and her housemates drove to Mystic Arts, they re-painted their Volkswagen minibus to avoid police detection. "Now it seems silly," she says, "but back then it seemed serious."

Her commune collapsed when some members moved to Hawaii and others headed north to Big Sur. She went to work in a San Francisco soup kitchen called The Living Room, where she met a wild-eyed man who thought he was god.

"Charles Manson came into The Living Room every day for a week," she says. "He was on his way to the desert and I had just come from there, so we had a lot to talk about. He was already out of his head, but so were a lot of people. He didn't stick out until we saw him on the cover of some magazine."

THISGOOFY WORKETHIC

Not long after moving in with his sister, Thumper lost his virginity to a 23-year-old woman. There was no shortage of free love. He figures he had sex 100 or 200 times with various, more-than-willing female partners. "It was a pretty wild time, a promiscuous time. There were things a 14-year-old shouldn't know and shouldn't do.

"Here you had a bunch of kids doing such crazy things as selling all the pot in the world, all these commercial kilos that they would wrap up and sell as four-finger lids," he says. "They would get the money and go buy, like, a new surfboard. Everything was so innocent. They were literally making LSD in some laboratory by Mystic Arts. They made thousands and thousands of these tabs called Orange Sunshine."

Thumper says the Brotherhood kept him and other kids away from LSD. He talks about Leary as a kind of father figure. It was Leary who gave him the name "Thumper"—after the hyperactive rabbit in the Disney movie Bambi—for his nervous habit of tapping his foot. And it was Leary who gave him his first joint—not to smoke, but to sell.

"Tim was very kind to me," Thumper says, but also told him he'd have to work for his cash. As Thumper describes him, Leary, in the vanguard of the counterculture, was puritanical when it came to money. Leary "gave me this paper bag," Thumper says, and told him to go down to San Clemente, find Marines on leave from Camp Pendleton, and offer them four "fingers"—rolled-up packages of marijuana—for $10.

"And I'm literally, honest to God, going, 'Are you kidding? Fingers?' And he goes, 'Not anatomical. Just tell them that and, trust me, you'll get your money.'"

"So I went down there and waited all day long until I saw some jarheads I thought I could outrun," Thumper says. "I had hair down past my shoulders, and they were fighting each other over who was going to give me the money first. And not only did they not beat me up or call me 'fag' or 'girl,' but they thought I was cool. And I got $10."

The next day, Thumper says, he asked Leary for four more fingers. Leary agreed and Thumper made another deal. "I did this pretty much five times a week for several months." Usually Griggs or another Brother would hand him the paper bag. When Thumper asked if he could have several bags at once, they told him that wasn't the agreement: just one lid at a time—which would give Thumper and his stepbrother just enough money to buy lunch at Taco Bell or Orange Julius. "Right then," he says, "I was learning this goofy work ethic."

AVATARS PLAYING GOD

Everyone has their stories, and the notion of Leary or anyone else handing a 14-year-old marijuana didn't sound right to Robert "Stubby" Tierney, one of the original members of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. "I never seen him do that—ever," he insisted. "Timothy was pretty high-strung. And we didn't have 14-year-old kids on the front line."

A Buddha-shaped, baby-faced man with a gentle smile and quick laugh, Stubby speculates that Thumper could be one of the countless people he's met over the intervening decades, people who claim to be part of the Brotherhood but weren't really involved. "Everyone says they were part of the Brotherhood," he says. "And in reality, that's what we wanted—we wanted everyone to feel part of it." On the other hand, he points out, it would be impossible for everyone to remember those days the same way.

"We're all just sitting around a big campfire," he says. "He might have seen the campfire from a different angle than me. There were branches of our family that I didn't know. I'm not going to completely deny what the guy is saying. I just know I was there. I was one of the officers of the Brotherhood. I was third in command on the FBI's flow chart. What I'm saying is, some of it doesn't match up with what I remember, but I can't discredit the guy either."

Stubby is used to hearing stories that don't quite add up, and says nobody was guiltier of self-aggrandizement than Leary. "I could never figure Tim out," he says. "He would always take credit for our experiences and talk about them in the first person."

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