Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | August 16, 2013

Naked Waiters, Ken Kesey and the Druids

Time for a break from the dramas of trying to stop this lunatic fracking business. One of the reasons I love Druidry is because it has such an eccentric and colourful history. Here is an anecdote from its more recent history from a review by the member of Killing Joke and record producer Youth of the book Psychedelia: An Ancient Culture, A Modern Way Of Life by Patrick Lundborg.

But first a picture of our reviewer in Goa, ‘Before’, as it says in the caption, ‘the invention of the foot spa.’

youth-in-goaFrom his review:

...There’s also a nice chunk on psychedelic art where he delves into the visionary art of Alex Grey. I remember DJing at an amazing party for Alex in San Fran in the late 90′s with all his art on the walls and naked waiters in bow ties serving cocktails. There’s also a good section on Kesey and his Merry Pranksters who again I met in the 1990′s when he toured the UK in a revamped bus with some of the original pranksters and a Channel 4 daily TV update on his exploits.

I had invited him to a Society for the Reformation of Ancient Enchantment event in the Boscawen stone circle in Cornwall (I was a co-founder of the group). The Society was honouring him as an honorary bard for services to enchantment. It was amazing, with 200 freaks and King Arthur (check CJ Stone’s fantastic book on this ex-Hells Angel and eco warrior, who believes he is the reincarnated future king!) putting various people under his sword to initiate into his war band. Then Kesey turned up with bus and new wife in tow. A druid ceremony was performed and he was presented with a crystal while his wife was presented with an English rose as a welcome by my young daughter. His wife steadfastly raised her palm in refusal stating she was a born-again Christian and couldn’t accept a ‘Pagan’ gift. There was a low mooing moan from the assembled freaks shocked at such outright rudeness and ignorance, Kesey turned beetroot red with embarrassment and we swiftly moved the ceremony on. Afterwards I invited them to a proper acid trance party organised by legendary party innovators Ahimsa that was up the road, it was hilarious.

The bus followed us as we drove into this field where about 200 freaks, tripping off their nuts, gawped as the ‘Further’ Bus circled the field like something from a surrealist dream, the freaks barely  blinked and just carried on dancing, probably dismissing it as an hallucination. The bus didn’t stop and the Keseys wanted out of there fast. I could understand their trepidation; these cats were in their 70′s now and they weren’t going back into ‘the field’ again. Not now anyway. However the most hilarious Monty Python-esque moment occurred as they left. Since they’d appealed to the public on TV to join them in a convoy on their journey, there were about thirty cars and vans following them. Suddenly the bus stopped and Kesey’s wife stepped out onto the rear platform, held her palm aloft and stated to the assembled convoy (who were by now all out of their cars): “Stop! Do not follow us, leave us alone!” Then one lone hippy voice piped up from a young student-type, who said: “But, you said on TV yesterday to follow the bus? We’ve driven 400 miles to be here for you.” She curtly replied: “Well, we have changed our minds… Please just go away” and swiftly turned her back on us, and them, and went back into the bus! The convoy turned around and went back to Ahimsa where a wonderful time was had by all.

There were some lovely people on board that bus that, I realise now, I was very fortunate and privileged to meet, not least Kesey but at that moment I was thinking, ‘Who was it who said  “never meet your heroes’”? Classic…Youth

Read the full review in ‘Classic Rock’ here


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  3. Thanks Phillip, This is a marvelous way to start the weekend. This weekend, here in Seattle, we are Having Hempfest. A weekend tribute to pot that has been going on yearly for several years. This was a wonderful intro to it. I don’t imbibe myself, but the goings on are a joy to watch.


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