Lords of Acid

How the Brotherhood of Eternal Love Became OCs Hippie Mafia

Gale would eventually gain a reputation as one of the most successful drug dealers affiliated with the Brotherhood, but Wright considered him a hanger-on. "There were a lot of obnoxious people around, and Gale was just one of them," he says.

Wright says the Brotherhood's glory days ended less than a year later, when Griggs died after overdosing on psilocybin. "By the time he died, he was ready to die, because if he didn't, he would have had to face the reality about Tim," he says. "It was the end of the era as far as I'm concerned. He was the true believer. When he died, the chance of his vision becoming reality was gone. People like Gale didn't have any vision. He didn't have the message at all. An exploitative criminal with the trappings of psychedelia is all he was. I would say Gale is the guy who turned the Brotherhood into the Hippie Mafia."


Before Purcell busted Leary, Thumper says, police raided the house on Bluebird Canyon. "There was a cave out near El Toro Road," he says. "And we went down the canyon and wound up living in the cave for a while. "There was about 10 of us: me, my sister, Cocaine Carol, Tipper and Beaver and Johnny Gale, who didn't really live there but thought it was cool."

Living in a cave didn't mean an end to responsibility. "There was a sense that if you needed money, if you wanted to buy a surfboard, you had to earn your money," Thumper says. "That was totally the Tim Leary edict. Another edict of his was you had to go to school. Beaver always seemed to get out of it. Leary always used to be yelling, 'Where's Beaver? Where's Tipper?'"

At the mention of those names, Thumper pauses for a moment. "If you ever bump into somebody that claims they were there back in those days, and you want to know if they're the real deal, you have to ask them: 'Where's Tipper and Beaver?' If they don't know, they weren't really there."

After staying at the cave, Thumper moved into a house with Cocaine Carol, Tipper and Beaver. He says John Gale drove him to school every day after discovering that he was playing hooky to go surfing. "John Gale became my designated driver. He would sit there pestering me to get my ass in school."

After Leary's bust, Thumper noticed the vibe changed. "There were a lot more psychedelics, and there were a lot more cops. And at that point, I really didn't want to be around there anymore."

But because he needed money, Thumper continued to hang out with Gale, who, like Stubby, had become a major smuggler.

"As a kid of about 18, I had the job of going to every bank in Laguna, Dana Point and San Clemente to exchange fives, tens and twenties into $50 bills and most preferably $100 bills in $9,000 increments; that was the most you could do without having to fill out some forms," he says. By then, the Brotherhood had all but ceased to exist. "They were running their own Amway. The Brotherhood was nothing more than a pyramid scheme. Guys like Gale had money like you wouldn't believe."

At one point, Thumper says, Gale and a friend went surfing in Sri Lanka and discovered the villagers grew a powerful variety of marijuana. Gale offered to buy their whole crop. But the villagers didn't want money; they wanted Levi's jeans. "They headed back [to Laguna] and made everyone go to every Sears, looking in the paper for a cheap pair of Levi's," says Thumper. "And they shipped them over there and bought all this pot. They called it Mars pot. It was high-grade pot; it put Oaxacan, Michoacan and Colombian Gold to shame. And we drained Orange County of Levi's. And that's cool, you know, that's entrepreneurial. What wrecked it was coke."


With the possible exception of John Gale, nobody grew richer—and ultimately lost more—from cocaine than Robert "Stubby" Tierney. At one time, Stubby had millions of dollars, all the beautiful women he could want, and friends in high places. Now he has nothing but memories and mementos: a signed photo of late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, a faded picture of Timothy Leary in Algiers, and a photo of himself with director George Lucas. He lives off a Social Security check of less than $900 each month in a Newport-area senior citizens' home, doesn't drive a car, and eats at a Costa Mesa soup kitchen.

"Cocaine destroyed our scene," he says. "Brothers started taking opium and doing cocaine and amphetamines. That took all the spirituality out and made people selfish. We took so long to destroy the ego. We were a Brotherhood, a family beyond family. In the beginning it was really strong, and later the coke would make everyone paranoid. Some of the Brothers got turned around," he says, meaning they became police informants. "Others got into worse stuff."

Stubby left Orange County within months of Leary's arrest and headed to San Francisco, where he enjoyed music and dealt marijuana. "Then I got into cocaine, because it was a small package with a big profit," he says. He helped arrange the sale of a Brotherhood-owned ranch in Oregon to raise cash to bust Leary out of prison. "We took $50,000 or $60,000 and gave it to this guy saying he represented the Black Panthers and that the Weathermen would get the money."

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