The Brotherhood of Eternal Love and Its Quest to Spread Peace, Love, and Acid to the World
By Nicholas Schou
(Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9780312551834, 304pp.)
Publication Date: March 16, 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Few stories in the annals of American counterculture are as intriguing or dramatic as that of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love.
Dubbed the “Hippie Mafia,” the Brotherhood began in the mid-1960s as a small band of peace-loving, adventure-seeking surfers in Southern California. After discovering LSD, they took to Timothy Leary’s mantra of “Turn on, tune in, and drop out” and resolved to make that vision a reality by becoming the biggest group of acid dealers and hashish smugglers in the nation, and literally providing the fuel for the psychedelic revolution in the process.
Just days after California became the first state in the union to ban LSD, the Brotherhood formed a legally registered church in its headquarters at Mystic Arts World on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, where they sold blankets and other countercultural paraphernalia retrieved through surfing safaris and road trips to exotic locales in Asia and South America. Before long, they also began to sell Afghan hashish, Hawaiian pot (the storied “Maui Wowie”), and eventually Colombian cocaine, much of which the Brotherhood smuggled to California in secret compartments inside surfboards and Volkswagen minibuses driven across the border.
They also befriended Leary himself, enlisting him in the goal of buying a tropical island where they could install the former Harvard philosophy professor and acid prophet as the high priest of an experimental utopia. The Brotherhood’s most legendary contribution to the drug scene was homemade: Orange Sunshine, the group’s nickname for their trademark orange-colored acid tablet that happened to produce an especially powerful trip. Brotherhood foot soldiers passed out handfuls of the tablets to communes, at Grateful Dead concerts, and at love-ins up and down the coast of California and beyond. The Hell’s Angels, Charles Mason and his followers, and the unruly crowd at the infamous Altamont music festival all tripped out on this acid. Jimi Hendrix even appeared in a film starring Brotherhood members and performed a private show for the fugitive band of outlaws on the slope of a Hawaiian volcano.
Journalist Nicholas Schou takes us deep inside the Brotherhood, combining exclusive interviews with both the group’s surviving members as well as the cops who chased them. A wide-sweeping narrative of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll (and more drugs) that runs from Laguna Beach to Maui to Afghanistan, Orange Sunshine explores how America moved from the era of peace and free love into a darker time of hard drugs and paranoia.
NICHOLAS SCHOU is a full-time staff writer for OC Weekly. His writing has also appeared in numerous weeklies over the past decade, including LA Weekly, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Washington City Paper, the Sacramento News & Review, and the Village Voice. Schou is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Epidemic Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb.
“Nicholas Schou manages -- amazingly -- to penetrate four decades of silence….The result is a mind-blowing scrap of found history, like something buried deep in the earth -- and you cannot avert your eyes….With Orange Sunshine, Schou has crafted a definitive history of the dark side of the 1960s.”—Los Angeles Times“'Orange Sunshine,' is as close to an 'authorized' story as there's likely to be. Much of it reads more like fiction than history....the Brotherhood's story reads like some mystical adventure tale from a long-gone era. But for a peek at those heady times, 'Orange Sunshine' is one worthy flashback.”—San Francisco Chronicle
"Journalist Nicholas Schou did yeoman's work digging into the story of the band of hippies that became a huge LSD cartel in the 1970s. He interviewed many former members, some of them not that happy to be found, earning their trust over some four years."—San Diego Union-Tribune
"Schou interviewed remaining Brotherhood members (who, unlike acid-gobbling pop musicians, seem to have largely retained their memories), gleaning impressive amounts of detail for his discussions of the ins and outs of the era’s drug trade and the moving of vast quantities of marijuana and hashish along with the LSD. Loaded with little-known historical mots, this is an excellent chronicle of a piece of history unlikely to be repeated."--Booklist
"A fascinating read for any audience and essential history for anyone interested in the roots of psychedelia."--Kirkus Reviews
"His book is a roller-coaster ride through many of the Brotherhood's biggest smuggling adventures, and also provides hilarious details into daily life in Dodge City. Most important, Schou finally dispels the myth Tim Leary was the leader of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love."--High Times (Four "cannabis" review)“Colorful … the mixture of lively freakery and stoned pomposity gives [Schou’s] portrait of countercultural excess an authentic period feel.”--Publishers Weekly
"OC Weekly reporter Nicholas Schou spent four years uncovering the brotherhood's surreal, largely unknown story, pulling together written accounts of its history and run-ins with the law and persuading brotherhood members to be interviewed decades after its demise....Read Schou's well-researched and compelling book to decide for yourself about the brotherhood's true legacy."--Orange Coast magazine
“His reporting is diligent, and his story comes mostly from the mouths of participants speaking for the first time on the record after decades of hiding deep underground. That story deserves to be told.”--Reason
"Orange Sunshine reads so much like classic Thomas Pynchon—with its mind-bending and hilarious tale of a secret society of mystic surfers who bomb Southern California with LSD—that the reader has to wonder: Is 'Nick Schou' a pseudonym?"—Mike Davis, author of City of Quartz, Planet of Slums, and In Praise of Barbarians
“Nick Schou has uncovered a bizarre, wild ride of a story that seems straight out of Easy Rider or Zabriskie Point—except it really happened. Orange Sunshine serves as a valuable time capsule from the American counterculture. It’s also one hell of a fun read.”—Rob Kirkpatrick, author of 1969: The Year Everything Changed