A Review: Pt. I, Lick Me by Cherry Vanilla, Great Groupies Of The Sixties Series

August 11, 2011

Great Groupies Of  The Sixties Series

A Review

Cherry Vanilla: Lick Me

by

R.E. Prindle

Part I

Drug Culture

Vanilla, Cherry: Lick Me, How I Became Cherry Vanilla, 2010, Chicago Review Press

The sixties were the first period of excessive drug use.  Nearly everyone carried something, whether prescription or street.  How influential drugs would have been without psychedelics is questionable.  Psychedelics were legal for most of the sixties while enjoying great cachet.  LSD led many a poor boy and girl into drug use.  Live Better Through Chemistry was the parody of the motto.  LSD stories are legendary, people taking thousands of mics.  People dropping LSD daily for months on end.  Doug Dillard of the Dillards Band according to legend dropped daily for a couple of years or so.  Hendrix found in the desert crawling around on his hands and knees.  Incredible stuff.

Cherry Vanilla, nee Kathy Dorritie, certainly qualifies as a heavy drug and LSD user.  Staggering amounts.  She tells of a friend of hers who had a vial of what she believed to be pure liquid LSD.  She describes him saturating sugar cubes with it until the cubes began to disintegrate, then swallowing the cube.  I can’t comprehend the dosage.  After one massive dose she experienced a white out of her mind during which she went blind experiencing only a sense of blinding light.  She doesn’t say, probably doesn’t know, how long it lasted.  Life changing though.

Kathie was already an accomplished writer before beginning her autobiography so needed no co-writer.  I had recognized her style of writing before I read the account of her LSD intake.  LSD has an amazing effect on the mind which produces a very distinctive writing style.  Very clear, very organized, written at a very intense level with the little variation in dynamics that inevitably becomes a numbing bore, but so well constructed that it reflects the blinding light that Kathy experienced.

Tim Leary who was a major acid freak wrote some truly amazing books reflecting the LSD experience while if you want to read an amazing virtuoso performance find a copy of Stephen Gaskins Haight Ashbury Flashbacks.  These authors write with such amazing clarity and precision as to astound.

But, LSD is a totally inward experience, a complete divorce from the outside world which ceases to exist or becomes a sort of movie set.  There is such an intense preoccupation with self that even though the writing is crisp and exciting the tone becomes boring as the inner self isn’t that interesting.  The writing is on such an intense, unvarying level that there are no dynamics.  (That I’ve repeated myself means I mean it.)

The dissociation from external reality is so complete that one loses all self-consciousness, thus Kathie, or Cherry Vanilla, is able to copulate in public without any sense of embarrassment, indeed, even with a sense of liberation.  One might think she was an exhibitionist except that she is so preoccupied that she is almost unaware.

In time the inner world takes such precedence that one is unable to distinguish between the inner world of wishful thinking and the outer world of appearances.  Thus Tim Leary could imagine shrinking a few acres of earth into a small size to take with him on a space trip to other planets and believe it possible.  As if he wasn’t spaced enough.  His final fantasy was incredible enough and he was actually able to realize it.

When he died he willed that he be cremated and his ashes put in a real space ship and rocketed into space.   He’s up there now orbiting the planet every couple hours.  As his orbit degrades he will one day reenter the atmosphere as a shooting star.  Just absolutely incredible.

I don’t know how far out Kathy is but I imagine she finds it quite easy to draw a straight line from Point A to Point 9.

Now, not only did Kathy do amazing amounts of LSD but she was on the money on other drugs  too provided they gave the proper result.  She rejected heroin after a few times because it didn’t take her where she wanted to go.

She was a perfect child of the sixties even having a fine Dr. Feelgood.  One finds her memoirs less than trustworthy because she feels compelled to change names, not all, but some, we just don’t know which ones.

For instance she calls her Feelgood, Dr. Bishop.  That good doctor is the same as Dr. Roberts in Jean Stein and George Plimpton’s book, Edie about Edie Sedgwick.  Dr. Roberts is also a false name so we can’t be sure.  Perhaps Dr. Bishop is his real name but I can’t be sure.  Jean Stein and George Plimpton also quote Kathy under the name of Cherry Vanilla concerning an encounter with Dr. Roberts/Bishop that Kathy repeats here but quite differently.  Kathy’s memoirs were published in 2010 while Edie was published in 1982 so Kathy has had plenty of time to think about Dr. Bishop;  while on the other hand Stein and Plimpton appear to have used a heavy editing hand.  All of the dozens of people they interviewed sound remarkably alike so the interviews may reflect more of Stein and Plimpton’s modes of thought.  Perhaps they edited to make the text more exciting.

It is quite possible that Dr. Roberts/Bishop may have been with the CIA doing drug experiments.  The CIA was certainly active in the field at the time.  Bishop was even happy to participate as his own guinea pig.  This is an interesting topic so I am going to quote Kathy extensively as she repeats and edits her account from Edie.

By the summer of 1963 (when she was twenty) I had already become quite familiar with booze, grass, hash, coke, speed, opium, uppers, downers, and hallucinogens like mescaline, peyote and psilocybin because they were my favorites.

 

Those were just her favorites.  So in two years since she left home she had really been doing some living while at the same time performing well at her advertising job on Madison Avenue.

And then, pp 50-53:

I’m in with the in crowd;

I go where the in crowd goes,

I’m in with the in crowd:

And I know what the in crowd knows.

By Billy Page as sung by Dobie Gray

c. Warner/Chappell Music

The Jet Set and the In Crowd

Two sixties institutions

     Keeping up with the schedule I was on back then would have been impossible were it not for the drugs.  And in 1966 I got introduced to the in crowd’s newest  elixir.  Dr. Bishop’s vitamin shots.  At thirty-five dollars a pop, they were pretty expensive, but one or two a day would keep you up forever, and keep you looking fresh and vibrant the whole time.  I forget who first introduced me to Dr. Bishop.  It might have been Joel Schumacher (one of the original designers of the Paraphernalia store), whom I’d recently met at the Pines (Fire Island homosexual hangout), or Wally Clapham, a friend of Joel’s I knew from Mad Ave.  Anyway, someone had to bring you there.  You couldn’t just walk in off the street.

Dr. Bishop’s office was located on the ground floor of a highrise near First Avenue and later in a mansion at 53rd and Madison.  It was a scene so quintessentially sixties you couldn’t even imagine a doctor’s office like it today.  The clubby drug buzz in the waiting room was so dense and intense, you got high on anticipation just walking in there.  The “nurses” (none of us knew or cared if they were really nurses or not) wore seductively modern sportswear and often pulled down your pants and gave you your shot in the hallway, while the examining room might be occupied by Dr. Bishop giving someone the sixty dollar special and/or somebody “having a bad reaction.”   Everyone was always in a rush, wanted to be seen first, had somewhere to be, had a taxi waiting, whatever.  But then once they got that shot in the ass, they often couldn’t tear themselves away from the clinically and socially charged atmosphere and would get caught up in the speed rap session that was always going on among the patients.

When the taste of the iron, or whatever it was, hit your mouth, you started getting off on the shot.  And as long as the soreness in your ass lasted, your stamina pretty well lasted too, a good six to eight hours anyway.  The first half hour after the shot was dangerous, because you often got a sudden urge to shop, buy someone a gift, spend the rent money on something pretty.  And right across the street from the 53rd  Street office was a shop called Hunter’s World and, oh my God, how many elephant hair bracelets and zebra skin notebooks could anyone possibly need?….The other temptation was a nearby crystal and rock shop, where it was especially hard to resist the colorful sparklers.

Dr. Bishop had his favorite patients, especially the one male and one female he’d singled out from each sign of the zodiac.  I was his Libra girl.  I can’t believe I had a huge sense of pride about that.  It meant that, along with the vitamins and speed, my shot might get an extra dose of whatever he was experimenting with that week- things like adrenaline stimulants, niacin and even LSD.  And he’d have his favorites call him about an hour after getting a shot to let him know what we were feeling.  The guy was using us all as guinea pigs, and I thought he was some kind of savior, freeing us all from the need for food and sleep.

One night Dr. Bishop came by Aux Puces while I was spinning and offered me a free shot of something special if I’d come to his office after work.  All night at the turntables my mouth was watering at the prospect of what was to come.  And as soon as we closed I ran the two blocks over there to take him up on his offer.  As his building’s open-sided elevator rose through its day-glo painted, black-lit shaft, I felt positively dizzy with excitement.   A minute later I was alone with Dr. B. in his fabulous office space, with it high ceilings, mahogany paneled walls, dance studio, and all those delicious drugs in the cabinets.  He loaded the needles and instructed me to slap his ass, poke him fast, and slowly push the plunger on the first one.  And then he shot me up on the second.  A few minutes later, he had his fingers up my pussy and I was rushing beyond belief.

Pretty soon, I was going numb all over, even in my brain.  Then all of a sudden there was blood everywhere and Dr. Bishop just laughed and said rather flippantly, “My dear, you’re bleeding.  Maybe you should see a doctor.”  I knew I didn’t have my period and I didn’t feel any pain, but the shock of seeing the blood running down my legs made me come to my senses.  Even though the bleeding seemed to be subsiding, I just wanted to get out of there and get away from him as fast as I could.  It wasn’t easy, since he’d become perturbed and paranoid about the fact I was leaving.

I went back to Aux Puces, where the new maitre d’,  David Smith, was tripping after hours with Jay Martin and a couple of friends.  I banged desperately hard on the locked front door and, luckily, they heard me above the loud music they were playing.  My shaken state and gory story must have been a real bummer for them on their LSD high but they snapped into action immediately and got a limo to take me to the emergency room.  Turned out I had cuts and scratches inside my vagina made by a ring or more sinister object, though the doctors said no major damage had been done.  By that time the bleeding had stopped and I still wasn’t feeling any pain.  Though questioned I refused to rat out Dr. Bishop and was quickly released.  I went back to join the gang at Aux Puces, where we opened a few bottles of Chateau Lafitte Rothschild ‘60, smoked some hash-oiled joints and partied until dawn.

Let’s examine the above.  As I said Stein’s Edie was about twenty-eight years old when Kathy wrote this.  She undoubtedly read Edie so was familiar with her testimony then and as the account combines  and adds to Joel Schumacher’s and her own story it is possible she had a copy of the book before her and wrote from it.

The time she is writing about is 1966 which was the heyday of the Doctor Feelgoods.  I don’t know that a study has been done on them yet but there were apparently dozens of these guys practicing dope medicine beginning in approximately 1960.  As is well known a Dr. Max Jacobson was operating in the early sixties with an extensive elite clientele that included then President John F. Kennedy.  Dr. Jacobson even accompanied Kennedy to the  Khruschev summit meeting where he kept Kennedy loaded on these shots.  So for roughly six years New York City had been speeding along and whatnot.

At the same time the uptown Doctor, E. 87th, that the Beatles refer to as Dr. Robert was managing an extensive clientele.  Kathy refers to her guy as Dr. Bishop who is the same guy Jean Stein refers to as Dr. Roberts.  We may assume that neither name is correct.  Both Dr. Robert and Jacobson were Jewish, I believe Bishop probably was also.  In fact all, or nearly all, of these doctors were probably Jewish.

Now Kathy believed Dr. Bishop was experimenting on his clients.  If he was shooting them up with unknown drugs without their knowledge that was at the very least unethical not to mention shooting them up with amphetamines at all.  To say that no one knew the effects of amphetamines at the time is nonsense.  Amphetamines had been around  since 1887 while every army of WWII issued tablets to their troops.  Hitler’s own Dr. Feelgood kept him filled with amphetamines for years and his deterioration was obvious.  But, perhaps, more clinical observations were wanted or a more precise understanding of how large numbers of people reacted and could be controlled was needed.  Maybe they wanted to know how easy it would be to control and direct populations on drugs.

It is well known that the CIA and other governmental agencies experimented with drugs on soldiers and even to unknowing members of the civilian population.  Extensive experiments with LSD were carried on by the CIA in the late fifties and early sixties.  Stanford and UC Berkeley for instance were running programs in the mid-sixties running ads in the newspapers for volunteers as this was happening in NYC.

So who would have been the beneficiaries of knowledge obtained by these Jewish Dr. Feelgoods who had very large supplies of amphetamines, cocaine which wasn’t too common in ‘66 and was definitely illegal, LSD was just being made illegal, and who knows what experimental drugs?  It could have been conducted under the auspices of the US Government agencies who were researching mind control.  But the information most likely was going two ways- one to the US authorities, the other way to Jewish psychological ops who could draw their own conclusions for their own purposes.  Let’s face it old drugs have been made available while new drugs are invented everyday and find easy distribution so every young person has had his or her consciousness altered beyond recognition.

At any rate with all those doctors with crowded waiting rooms the buzz over New York City must have been audible for miles and miles.  And all that didn’t include freelancers like Brigit Berlin of the Andy Warhol crowd.

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