Ecstatic hysteria

Godfather of E doesn't trust it

In the last few months I have received more phone calls from panicked readers about bad drug experiences than in all of the three-and-a-half-years-combined since I started writing this column.

Some readers have boyfriends in the hospital (usually because of GHB) and want to blame me – because they say I glamourize the club scene too much.

Others want to complain about certain drug dealers, security staff, or give me “the real dirt” on several promoters’ connections with drug dealing.

On top of all this is the recent mainstream media hysteria on raves and drug use in this city, which will probably result in a provincial crackdown and ruin dance culture in Toronto.

Toronto has now become the largest dance/rave scene in North America. More than 100,000 people a week take Ecstasy in Ontario alone, according to the latest police estimates.

If I seem a little too excited about certain DJs or clubs, it’s because I’m very passionate about music. Anybody who has ever witnessed my eclectic music style DJing Saturday nights at Sissy knows that I’m a freak when it comes to music. I’m not against drug use and I’ve certainly done some experimenting. I think the problem lately is that people are not educated enough about what they take – and also media have done a poor job about giving the facts.

That’s about to change with a new CBC Radio One documentary on the award winning Ideas program, produced by the legendary Max Allen.

Jeff Moore, a gay filmmaker and former anti-censorship activist, has co-produced with Allen a three-part series called Demon Drugs airing at 9pm on Mon, Dec 6, 13 and 20 on 99.1FM.

Moore documents and compares the progressive drug scene of San Francisco with Toronto and has interviewed some of the world’s leading specialists on drug culture, especially related to psychedelics.

I recently talked with Moore about his research and was shocked that he was able to get an interview with the very famous godmother and godfather of psychedelic drugs, Ann and Alexander Shulgin at their ranch in California. Read anything credible on psychedelic drugs and the Shulgins will be mentioned. In fact in 1967, Alexander Shulgin is credited with re-synthesizing MDMA and introducing it to the world.

MDMA is what E used to be in its purest form. E can now be compared to candy because it can be made up of almost anything – just like candy can be chocolate, gum, lollipops or dozens of other sweets. Rarely is the Ecstasy of the late 1990s made with pure MDMA. Usually 10 percent are fakes with no effect and at least 40 percent contain speed or caffeine.

Alexander Shulgin has published several books, including one with a recipe for E. He is a radical chemist who doesn’t work for anyone. The Shulgins invent psychedelics and then they try them at extremely low doses. MDMA was invented in 1912 but never came to market. Alex re-synthesized it in his lab.


A few years later in the ’70s, he gave it to a therapist known as “the Secret Chief.” He was so impressed that he integrated MDMA (which was originally known as Adam) into his practice of psychedelic therapy. A book by Myron Stollaross chronicles this therapy.

This therapy continued until the mid ’80s when it broke out into the dance clubs of Texas and at Grateful Dead concerts. (Rine-stoned Cowboys? yummy.)

Up until ’85, Adam was still legal in the US, and in 1983 an MDMA consortium was formed and started legally marketing it to bars in Dallas, Texas alongside beer and smokes. To make it easier to market, this consortium decided to change the name to Ecstasy. This was the first place in the world where E became popular.

So that explains why Sue-Ellen Ewing was always so moody on Dallas – she was coming down from E.

When the therapeutic community found out that E was being used for recreational purposes, there was major drama, which included the US government banning E in ’85. It resurfaced two years later at the Spanish resort island of Ibiza – home to some of the world’s biggest and best dance clubs.

E was done by a few people in the know, including the gay band Soft Cell (of “Tainted Love” fame). Their hugely successful album Non Stop Erotic Cabaret (from 1981) was all done on E, years before it was a trendy club drug. They somehow stumbled upon one of the few sources of it in the world.

Fags! Always wanting to be trend setters!

Jeff Moore says that Shulgin is significant because he is the man. He made it and tested it with Anne and then they had an experimental user group where everyone wrote about what they felt. Remember that this is a pure source.

People in the rave scene look to the Shulgins as a model and the Shulgins are saying that they aren’t talking about recreational use. They contend that it’s for therapy only, and at extremely low doses (probably only 1/10 of what was in a real E tablet) and only doing it once or twice in your lifetime.

Moore asked them at most, how much MDMA do they think the brain can tolerate. They said at most – with the small doses they were dealing with – once a week. With the amount in a regular E tablet, five or six times a year is the most our bodies can handle without major damage.

Moore asked what they thought of people who regularly take E and they just shook their heads. They said that you can’t ingest that much without doing damage. These are the people who invented this and champion consciousness exploration – and they say that regular recreational use is extremely dangerous.

Have you been to a good therapy session lately?

Part two next issue: the gay club and drug scene in San Francisco, including the Circuit Scouts and E-Testing Kits.

Leave me a message at (416) 925-4515 ext 426.

Xtra’s guides to safer drug use can be found in the on-line archives on this site.

Read More About:
Music, Health, Culture, Drugs & Alcohol, Toronto

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