WATCH: When Laguna Beach Was the LSD Capital of the Universe

Timothy Leary, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, Dodge City, Mystic Arts World, and a Laguna Beach history some would prefer to forget.

In these exclusive videos, writer Nick Schou, author of Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and its Quest to Spread Peace, Love and Acid to the World (just released in paperback), takes Patch readers on a tour of several key locations from Laguna Beach's late-'60s/early-'70s heyday when the city became the international capital of LSD trafficking.

Hey—why isn't that in the tourist brochures?

Maybe it should be, it was quite a time. A time when a gaggle of surfers barely out of their teens formed the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, which started out as a quasi-spiritual group but eventually evolved into a notorious drug cartel—nicknamed the Hippie Mafia—that made regular runs to Afghanistan, smuggling hashish in hollowed-out surfboards.

Laguna Beach was the Brotherhood's epicenter, in places like Laguna Canyon's Woodland Drive (dubbed Dodge City on account of all the police raids that took place there), South Laguna's Monterey Drive, where a Brotherhood member was fatally shot during a police raid (which made members realize just how dangerous their enterprise had become), and Mystic Arts World, a head shop on Coast Highway that was its defacto headquarters.

Then there was the Gathering of the Tribes rock fest over Christmas 1970, a Brotherhood-sponsored acid-washed (literally!) extravaganza held in the canyon about where the 73 toll road now runs. According to rumors, quite a stash is still buried there beneath the dirt ...

If you want more details—on how Jimi Hendrix got involved with the Brotherhood, on Timothy Leary's Woodland Drive bust that made the career of a future Laguna Beach police chief, and on why the mere mentioning of the name John Griggs is still a conversation-stopper in some Laguna Beach circles—you'll have to pick up Schou's book.

But meanwhile, check out these clips, which include four extended-length videos of Schou providing narration at several sites that you won't read about in most Laguna Beach travel stories.

Unless it's a piece in High Times magazine ...

ALSO: How famous was the Orange Sunshine brand of acid? Famous enough to get name-checked in a Saturday Night Live sketch some years later ... click it up above ...

Rich Kane February 13, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Wow, thanks for your comment, Brenda! If you're ever interested in sharing more about growing up in Laguna during those times, email me at rich.kane@patch.com.
McG October 16, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Nice Rich! Man did this bring the memories flooding back. I lived in Newport Beach at the time but Laguna is where we hung out. My first acid trip was in Mystic Arts. It was such a special place. And seeing photos of the Christmas Festival (as we called it), WoW! my friend and I heard about it early on the first day and drove over to check it out. Laguna Canyon Road hadn't been closed yet. The first thing we noticed was the police weren't hassling anyone. Well, it just so happened that the day before we obtained a couple hundred hits of really good mescaline. We realized this was the place to sell it so we went back to Newport to get it. By the time we got back to Laguna the canyon was closed to traffic. We ended up going way out to what is now Laguna Hills and driving our VW Bus offroad to the site. Hundreds of people were walking in and we gave as many a ride as possible. Once we got there it was an amazing scene. The peace and love vibe was so strong. I only remember Buddy Miles playing but I know there were lots of local bands. Needless to say our mescaline was a big seller. We sold it 2 for a dollar (our cost) and sold out in less than 30 minutes. Oh, and Neil Purcell. I actually had the.. ahem... pleasure of being being harassed by him a few times when he was a Newport Beach patrol officer. He hated longhairs. Anyway, thanks again Rich for the great video. Nice to see some local history preserved. Peace!
sallymander November 01, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I remember the daze... sunshine for $2 a hit behind the Taco Bell. The dealing that went on at Taco Bell was very blatant, surprised more people didn't get busted. Went to the Xmas Festival but left early, too cold. Also remember The Who & Leon Russell concert at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, June 1970. Stage was at home plate, there was a guy in a leather suit with Sunshine Express embroidered on his back with orange beads that looked like tabs with a leather bag full of orange sunshine. He was standing on the pitcher's mound giving them to anyone who wanted them while Orange County officials looked on in horror from the press boxes up above. This was the first rock concert at Angel Stadium but needless to say rock concerts were banned for a long time after that great day.
Rich Kane November 01, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Thanks McG and Sally! Love hearing these stories from an era gone by ... my oldest sister was at the same Who show ....
Warren Allen January 25, 2013 at 08:28 AM
According a a friend who would know... The fellow in the Sunshine Express jacket was John Gale, who was part of the 'second wave' of Brotherhood business operations. "He wore the same jacket at the Laguna Festival [the 1970 Christmas Happening]. His hand was orange"


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