Paul Krassner has lived a remarkable life, with singular experiences including publishing The Realist, acting as editor of Hustler, becoming a “one-man underground railroad of abortion referrals,” testifying at the Chicago 7 trial while tripping on acid, co-founding the Yippies, and so forth.
Not the least of his adventures was the time he acted as “sort of a guide for Groucho Marx” for Groucho’s first acid trip.
As he wrote in the February 1981 issue of High Times, “We ingested those little white tabs one afternoon at the home of an actress in Beverly Hills.” At the end of the anecdote, Groucho says that he is looking forward to playing “God” in Skidoo, the legendary cult movie from 1968 directed by Otto Preminger in which Groucho smokes pot, so the timing of this acid story must have been late 1967 or early 1968. Wikipedia asserts that Groucho took acid to “prepare” for Skidoo, but Krassner’s article definitely does not say that. In fact, Krassner’s article is something of a mishmash, covering 3-4 different stories, and he doesn’t really explain anything about what led to his acid trip with Groucho. Here’s a little bit of what they did do, though:
We had long periods of silence and of listening to music. I was accustomed to playing rock ‘n’ roll while tripping, but the record collection here was all classical and Broadway show albums. After we heard the Bach “Cantata No. 7” Groucho said, “I may be Jewish, but I was seeing the most beautiful visions of Gothic cathedrals. Do you think Bach knew he was doing that?”
Later, we were listening to the score of a musical comedy Fanny. There was one song called “Welcome Home,” where the lyrics go something like, “Welcome home, says the clock,” and the chair says, “Welcome home,” and so do various other pieces of furniture. Groucho started acting out each line as if he were actually being greeted by the duck, the chair and so forth. He was like a child, charmed by his own ability to respond to the music that way.
He also says, remarkably, that “the acid with which Ram Dass, in his final moments as Dick Alpert, failed to get his guru higher was the same acid that I had the honor of taking with Groucho Marx.”
There’s a lot more in the article, so read the full thing here.
Interestingly, in his account Krassner mentions the tour buses of Haight-Ashbury hippiedom of the late 1960s, which DM covered just a couple of weeks ago.
It’s not acid, but here’s a little clip from Skidoo with Groucho smoking reefer:
Hat tip: Showbiz Imagery and Chicanery