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August 1997 | Updated Monthly
Special Summer of Drugs Triple Issue


If you're the right sort of person, one who travels in the right circles (and by right circles we mean those circles that frequently experiment with hallucinogenic drugs), you may have noticed a strange trend in the homes of your partners in crime: reef aquaria. Fishtanks dedicated to keeping alive corals and sea anemones (you know, those squishy things attached to rocks in aquariums, with the undulating, stinging tentacles). While it's certainly cool to watch an anemone send a fish in thrashing seizures with a few touches from its disconcertingly alien tentacles, these aquaria have a nobler purpose: drugs. Free drugs. Somehow, some lunatic discovered that the sting of a reaonably common sea anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni, the saddle carpet anemone), when combined with low doses of dextromethorphan (the stuff in Robitussin) provokes dramatic hallucinations, qualitatively different from those produced by acid or mushrooms. I can just imagine some poor stoner, long after the dextromethorphan has splattered his brains all over the walls, sticking his hand into the anemone because it 'looked cool', and spending the next seven hours talking to the Assistant Appointment Secretary to Baxtolnaa, Chairman of the Galactic Council.

User reports are reasonably consistent, for hallucinations: minor euphoria; strong sensations of color distortion -- as if new colors were always trying to bubble through the surface; the bass end of sounds is emphasized. Veteran trippers say that while acid and 'shrooms usually provoke some sense of a journey, of either corporeal or ethereal momentum, the anemone sting provokes more of a sensation of rocking in place.

It sounds a little out there, but not impossible -- certainly no stranger than Bufotoxin. Most naturally occuring drugs were orignally intended as poisons to disrupt potential predators, and the sea anemone's poisonous sting is its traditional protection. Fortunately the saddle carpet's sting isn't too painful, although it does cause swelling. In some alternate universe where the Summer of Love plays the same role the winter in Valley Forge plays in ours, or maybe just in Holland, there's a PhD thesis waiting to be written. For now, there's only one way to find out for sure.

As of yet, the anemone is legal, and found in many pet stores. Free drugs for all, or so it would seem. The rub is, however, keeping it alive. Marine fishtanks are finicky, and anemones themselves are especiall twitchy, requiring specialized lighting and filtering systems. Plus, the effect is reportedly tied into the anemone's zooxanthellae (photosynthetic algae that live in symbiosis with the anemone) -- these are usually expelled during the stress of shipping, and not regenerated for a few months, so it's hardly an impulse buy.

Still, there has been a steady trickle of stoners into the expensive hobby of reefkeeping, as issues of _Marine Fish Monthly_ pile up next to copies of _High Times_ and protein skimmers and trickle filters go onto Christmas lists next to double-chambered bongzillas. Does it really work? We don't know. But we've got a friend with a hand too swollen to masturbate and a perennially dazed expression who bets it does.


I bet you thought chemical castration was just for rapists and child molesters, right? Guess again. The best and the brightest want their crack at it too. This is how we imagine this whole crazy mess starting: some junior in the fishbowl Athena cluster at MIT (we know this started at MIT) watched one last delivery of the Wellesley meat wagon saunter by, her feminine charms distracting him from an urgent problem set. "Just think," he mused, "I'd get alot more done if I didn't have this urge to fuck everything that moved. Hey-- aren't there drugs for that?" One quick conversation with a medical student later, and, in true MIT style, problem solved. The student gets a prescription for Depo-Provera (it's used as birth control for women), injects himself with a somewhat larger-than-advisable dose, and voila -- no pesky sexual desires until finals are over. The women of Wellsley can flaunt their collective wantonness up and down the infinite corridor and the collective nerddom of MIT won't bat an eyelash.

Those on the drug swear by it -- "It's like discovering an extra arm," one said, "Now that I don't think with my dick, my grades have gone way up." "It used to bother me that I couldn't get a date, now I just don't care. I really don't."

A test was conducted, where a panel of seven MIT students were videotaped while exposed to escalating levels of pornography. Here's a list of said pornography, along with a few of the more humorous comments:

Porncon 5: pictures of Teri Hatcher, Gillian Anderson, and the Spice Girls in various states of semi-nudity.

Comments: "Nope, nothing." "Gee, I used to think Gillian Anderson was cute." "Teri Hatcher has nice hair." "Which one is Psycho Spice again?"

Porncon 4: Issues of Playboy and Hustler, including the Maddona, Jenny McCarthy, Pamela Anderson Lee, and Vannessa Williams issues.

Comments: "I'm sorry, man. It's just not working like it should." "Hey -- there's a Ray Bradbury story in here." "At least the cartoons are funny."

Porncon 3: Excerpts from "Showgirls", "Basic Instinct", and "Wild Orchid".

Comments: "Man, this is boring." "Can't we watch Babylon Five instead?" One participant idly leafed through an issue of _Linux Journal_. "Most of those women aren't really very good dancers."

Porncon 2: Issues of _Taste of Latex_, Dutch _Hustler_, _Barely Legal_.

Comments: "They have the same ads in the American _Hustler_!" "That woman's breasts frighten me." "Ah-- very clever. They're using the principle of the cantilevered bridge.", "Legal where? Alabama? Thailand?"

Porncon 1: Two hours of hardcore pornography, featuring excerpts from "Anal Intruder VI: Return to Roswell", "The Red Ass Diaries", "Ali Baba and the 40 Facials III: The Return of Hawkeye", and "The Magicial Fist-ery Tour".

Comments: "Good God, that's disgusting!", "Whoa -- look at that fly! I don't get that kind of acceleration at home.", "That's not realistic. Any idiot knows that coefficient of drag rules that out.", "Hey, isn't that going to cause structural damage?"

Apparently it's a simple equations: chemical castration = freedom from sexual urges = higher efficiency. The desire to trancend 'the meat' has strong roots in hacker culture -- partly caused by the dating traumas that litter the adolescence of most hackers like so many overturned police cars in _The Blues Brothers_, partly because of the arrogant disdain hackers feel for those who are hits with the chicks, and partly because it's just so fucking inconvenient to pop a recalcitrant woody when you haven't tracked down that C++ memory leak yet.

Go back to the hacker lifestyle Old Testament -- Apostle William's _Neuromancer_ -- it's there. We have to admit, Case did get to nail Molly, although at least he had mixed feelings about it.

This trend is spreading, but slowly -- there aren't a lot of colleges where male students voluntarily remove the means and desire to take advantage of a drunken freshman coed at a wop-drenched frat party -- but the kindred spirits in women-challenged and teraflop-blessed places like Caltech, CMU, and the U. of Chicago seem to be stumbling onto the bandwagon.

It's only a matter of time, I suppose, before _Hard Copy_ puts this in the 'what are those crazy kids up to now' bin, or maybe the 'see, computer people really are ugly nerds' bin, and the trend begins its full roll-out into the dens, basements, and computer rooms of suburban America that house the MIT students of tomorrow. At least teen pregnancy might go down. Or, considering which 17-year old males will sign up for this, maybe not.


Sex and drugs. These twin pillars of the id cry out to be combined and, oh, how I've tried to oblige. But my experimentation yeilded only bitter fruit.

Acid makes sex difficult and just too weird for words. How can you keep a stiffy when naked skin is a squirming yellow mass of half-visible shapes? Pot makes sex feel great, but one little moment of paranoia can ruin the whole thing. X makes me want to teach the world to sing, not to shoot a slippery load across its chops. Speed had potential, but the deathless, diamond-etching erections aren't worth the jitters and sixteen hours of stomach cramps that come along with them.

By my senior year of college I'd given up on my quest for the ultimate sex drug. It wasn't until I'd moved to Houston and made friends with the drug-crazed drag queen who lived next door that a possible holy grail was given to me and my quest resumed.

Like every other drug, it came in an unassuming package. A handful of something that looked like cedar bark in a ziplock baggie. Krys handed it over with a smile but refused payment. "I got it free, honey, and I'm just passing on the good fortune."

His instructions for preparation were easy enough -- brew it like tea and drink the liquid -- but along with these instructions came a bizarre list of forbidden foods. No alcohol or pills, she said, and no caffeine, no chocolate and no cheeses. No cheese?

M any days later, I found out that this bark -- yohimbe -- inhibits the production of an important enzyme and eating certain foods or taking certain medications while under the influence can kill you. I didn't know this frightening factoid at the time but innocently took Krys' word along with his drug.

The shreds of bark smelled of dust and the forest floor and the resulting tea tasted downright foul. Like stewed dirt mixed with vomit and a tablespoon of fine grit. My girlfriend and I choked down two mugfuls each after mixing it heavily with honey and lemon. We sat on the back porch and sipped orange juice, waiting for the effects to settle in.

The yohimbe came on like any other stimulant: a tightening behind my stomach and tingling in my fingertips. Nothing special. It wasn't until nearly a half-hour after drinking the tea that I noticed I had a hard-on. It was only a run-of-the-mill, sitting-in-math-class, tent-pitching chubby, but I was thrilled.

"It works!" I cried out, and pointed out my swelling shorts to Sarah. She was unimpressed.

And that, in a microcosm, is how the whole experience played out. Sarah enjoyed the speedy effects of the tea but didn't gain any "aphrodisaic" advantages. I'm glad she still held enough affection for me to submit to my desperate rutting, or I would have spent the next four hours in the bathroom, jerking myself raw. Because, yes, the tea DID work for me.

Although no more interested in sex than I ever am, I was certainly able to have sex for longer -- and more times -- than usual. How long? How many times? In pursuit of journalistic credibility, I know I should quote numbers, give times and generally brag. But some part of me thinks that's, well, a bit crude.

But that's exactly what this drug is like: it's crude. It's a fierce injection of Hardness that increases the quantity of sex, but without affecting its quality. I didn't become any more sensual or affectionate -- there is no personal transformation in this drug -- I just had the Stiffy That Would Not Die.

So, for the record, I came four times in as many hours. My final orgasm was a painful release, a shuddering punch of teeth-gritting fire that left a taste of metal in the back of my throat and made me more glad it was over than happy it had happened. And, yes, this last spasm went unnoticed by Sarah who had fallen asleep, sore and exhausted, an hour before.


Copyright 1997
James D Thomas