From March 24th through March 27th, The Runaways Lab Theatre will be presenting The Doing Drugs And Dying In Space Ritual: a psychedelic compilation of fourteen short plays of depraved psychedelia. In honor of this momentous occasion, The Runaways is proud to present a true-life account of The D’Dyas Space Cult, its history recorded here for the first time.
Tom told me at the beginning of our interview that the time he spent with the D’Dyas space cult during the years at the Home compound was difficult for him to think about. He said that accessing those memories was traumatic, and that at best he could outline what had happened, but would refrain from details. However as we discussed the cult’s history, our conversation unraveled organically, and when the Home Compound came up, he did not hesitate to go into detail. In fact, he became so impassioned that I stopped speaking altogether and let him loose his account of this history that had caused him much turmoil. Though I’ve edited slightly for clarity and included pictures of the compound in its current state, below is a mostly word-for-word transcription of his account of the days of the D’Dyas’ Home Compound from their peak to their downfall:
(The D’Dyas Home Compound)
“The first year and a half was easy. Wonderful even, most times. We’d get up early, get out of our tents, set around the center campfire and eat breakfast. At first it was mostly canned provisions, but a few months in Gabrielle, one of the acolytes, drove into town and bought some chickens, and the twins built a coop. The twins were two brothers, not actually twins, both had grown up on a ranch, like me, so between them and me and a few others, we were pretty handy, handling the nitty gritty of living in relative comfort on the compound. It’s how I learned how to take care of myself they way I do now, out on the Home compound.
By midday we’d go to Ritual, taking LSD or what-have-you. At first it took place at a clearing nearby where High Speaker Golbotti set his camp, then eventually we built a cabin to have it in. He kept to himself to elevate his thought. Kramer also camped pretty close to Golbotti at first, though they kept good away from each other in the morning, they liked to keep to themselves the start of the day. The Rituals became less hallucinogenic experiments and more spiritual, structured affairs. Where before Golbotti would guide us through our experience with his thoughts on life or philosophical tenets, now all of these ideas were presented as foundational concepts of D’Dyas.
(Photograph of the ritual hall: now overgrown and inaccessible. Note the deer antlers nailed above the door.)
The rituals themselves even had structure now, with all of us dropping the tabs at the same time, Kramer banging a gong after each of Golbotti statements, and the rituals would end with a call and repeat of ‘Nihil Et Amplius.’ He told us what it meant, ‘there is nothing and there is more.’
Golbotti started referring to D’Dyas as a ‘space cult.’ I think it started as a joke, because we all knew people must think we were very odd, the strange organization of the group. So he called us a space cult, because we were aware of our outsider thinking and we embraced it because we knew it was going to lead to something bigger.
It was like we were building something with our thoughts with these rituals and these meditations. We didn’t know what we were building, but we were sure all of our thoughts were breaking the human pattern of thought and advancing it. Golbotti would often speak of the need to expand thought from an X and Y plane to a three dimensional plane, saying his excursions had taken him to a mindset where he could conceive of any concept in five dimensions. He told us that these Rituals were shifting our frame of thought, shifting our mode of human thought, and through this work, we would psychically manifest The Prophet, a coming of power that would bring us to realms of perception.
We’d eat dinner at the end of the day, sometimes eggs from the coop, sometimes venison, mostly cans of soup. At that point of the night, I’d drop another tab and try to stay up as long as I could, talking to any of the other acolytes but anything. Some nights I’d only get 2-3 hours of sleep but the next day I felt like I’d slept for days, I felt great.
By the end of the first year, the we’d built the two cabins, one for eating and sleeping, one for the daily rituals. In two years, we had a well out front and didn’t have to walk all the way up the hill for water. We lived a very spiritual, intellectually intimate experience those first two years. Not everyday was a sunny day – literally, the roof leaked. But we were so united in spiritual thought, it all felt pure.
(Cabin on the left is the mess hall and sleeping quarters. Note the abalone shells stuck into the cement next to the ramp, put in by Kramer himself – a symbolic reminder of the ocean.)
In the power structure there was Golbotti at the top as high speaker, Kramer as speaker and then all of us as acolytes. They started holding a special ritual for every moon cycle to decide who would become a speaker. We would convene late at night. To become a speaker you were volunteered by one of your fellow acolytes. Once all the potential speakers were chosen, we’d walk with torches over the hills and through a rough path through the woods to a small lake on the other side. Kramer then would give each of the acolytes this LSD he called “Roadkill.” It was mean stuff, probably mixed with something else, very synthetic. Each of the prospectives would take a massive dose, and the acolytes would leave them there. They’d come back the next morning and the potentials would tell them what they saw.
I was one of the first to take the challenge, it was the third or fourth ritual of this kind. I was there by the lake with Lawrence, Michael, Gabrielle, and Noodles*. I sat by the lake and looked out. I didn’t hallucinate, I just had this horrible clawing feeling come up inside of me. Totally hopeless, fearful, like I was being gutted by my own overwhelming black thought. Is was different than that early ‘will I be high forever’ feeling, it was taking my real fears and laying it all out in my body. The others were losing their minds, I think trying to harness the energy the drug gave them, but I sat on the beach and looked out at the lake, though I couldn’t see anything because it was so dark.
When they came back in the morning, they asked each of us what we saw. After I told them, Golbotti came close to me and put his hand on my shoulder and smiled, very caring, very fatherly. He told me that I’d felt the prophet. That phrase meant I was to be a speaker. I was ecstatic.
(Mess hall and sleeping area.)
About two years in Kramer tells us we’ve run out of money, we’re broke. The cans of beans and soup had run out by then. And Kramer broke the gong got dented beyond repair because he was hitting it with a hammer. This was a really expensive gong he’d ripped off from some eastern spiritualist during his days traveling up the coast. So Kramer was furious. Now during moments of the ritual when he’d previously hit the gong, he would smash plates or cups instead. Eventually we ran out of plates, bowls, and cups, so the twins tried to fashion some plates out of wood. But they were terrible, really terrible. We barely had any food to eat in those days, but when I did I swallowed plenty of splinters, I’ll tell you that.
Golbotti was strictly celibate but he gave an all clear to Kramer to incorporate sex magic in the ritual. So now we were performing various sexual acts during these hallucinations, always concentrating on our collective thinking. These rituals were no longer explorations, now they were work, we were actively trying to rewire our brains and find something on the other end. People would speak in tongues, Larry passed out from smashing his head into the wall. And we were all very hungry. One day I just lost my mind and got on all fours and just ate the grass. Things were desperate, though I am suspicious now that food was being hoarded by Golbotti and Kramer to put us in a greater position of need.
Every month, Golbotti would drive into town and buy what little food we could afford and what little LSD he could find. Around this time, maybe because supply was running low, maybe because he was bored, he started bringing back a more diverse selection of drugs. He brought in marijuana, which was harmless, but he also started bringing in speed, which at first was pretty thrilling, but then started making folks very agitated. He even brought heroin one time, but stopped because Golbotti banned it after testing the supply. I asked Golbotti what his problem with heroin was and he told me, ‘Altogether too much pleasure.’ Which I thought was strange because he did nothing to ban the speed that was causing some serious turmoil among the others.
(A peek into the interior of the Ritual Hall)
Golbotti never got over his wife and daughter leaving him. He started to take a less active role, giving room for Kramer to have more control. The daily rituals became less intellectual and more hedonistic and violent. Kramer started beginning the rituals with him calling forward acolytes and speakers he had felt like had slighted him and fighting them in front of everyone. It was never pleasant to watch. Imagine this: Kramer was always stripped down to his very tight underwear, and he’d be up at the front of the ritual hall absolutely pummeling this person he felt like had wronged him – male, female, it didn’t give him one moment of pause. And Golbotti would just sit there on the stage on his throne that The Twins had carved up for him, watching like he was a hundred miles away.
One day we come into the ritual and Kramer’s in the spot where Golbotti normally sits and Golbotti is lying on the front of the stage holding his side and panting, looking like he was in pain. Everyone comes in and Kramer stands up and tells everyone that he and Golbotti had a fight the other night and that Kramer had won this time. Kramer holds up his hands to show they were bloody and then he lifts up Golbotti and opens up his shirt to show that Golbotti has a terrible bruise on his lower left ribcage. Kramer tells us he broke one of Golbotti’s ribs, and in doing so received a vision of The Prophet. Kramer claimed he heard the explosion of D’Dyas for himself and declared himself high speaker. He tells everyone that Golbotti is to be exiled, and I volunteered to be the one to dump him in town.
I drove him into town later that day, riding in total silence. I could just tell Golbotti’s spirit had been totally crushed, everything he’d had was taken from him. It was tragic seeing this man I’d admired as one of the greatest men I’d ever met, now so pathetic, totally without hope. I dropped him off at a drugstore and drove away immediately. Out of everything that happened to me on the compound, the times Kramer thrashed me or the times I was publicly humiliated, starving, being cut off from my family and friends, this is the moment that comes back to me that causes me the most pain.
A few months later, Kramer comes back from town with food and speed and a letter. I don’t know where he got the letter, but he told us it was from Frank Golbotti. He had this bizarre reaction of gloating, genuine surprise, even disgust, showing the letter around and proudly reading what had been written inside. It was a poem, and he had us recite it every day during the ritual from then till I ran off.
Let space in,
Space holds you,
Something interior becomes exterior.
No rituals, games.
Space is friend,
Space is enemy
I think the poem meant something different to everyone, but we all knew it meant that wherever Golbotti was, he was dead. I don’t know how we all knew – it was never even spoken, but we all knew.
(The back exterior of the mess hall/sleeping area)
Four months later I had a dream of The Prophet. I saw the space shuttle of flesh for myself and hear D’Dyas, the explosion. It was as incredible, as Golboitti described. I took it as a sign from Golbotti telling me that enough was enough, I was the expression of power, that Home was done and that it was time to split. Things had gotten so extreme with Kramer, but not extreme in the way it was with Golbotti. With Golbotti, I felt like I was accessing new planes of reality. Kramer was dealing in plain human cruelty. So I took off while it was still dark, running about four hours until I hit town. I begged until I had enough for a payphone and called my folks.
A year later I’m in Santa Cruz working construction and I hear someone calling my name. It’s one of the Speakers of D’Dyas. It was a strange moment. I could see she was as affected by me, strange to everyone around her, integrating back into the community with great difficulty. They told me the compound had been busted by the cops, that everyone was separated. She did’t know what happened to the rest of them, but that she heard Kramer was still out there, still living free. I’ve come into contact with a few other former members, but that’s where my interactions with the cult end. I’ve just been pulling myself together since.”
Tom gave me the contact information for a few of the other members, and I managed to talk to all of them, whether by email, phone, or, in one case, in person. Their stories back up Tom’s stories and shed a little more light on the day to day life on the compound, but by far Tom’s account was the most lucid.
I asked Tom if he believes if their rituals were successful. He told me that he believed that the actions opened the door but that the work was not done. The unfinished psychic work of D’Dyas is one of the major influences for The Runaway’s upcoming “The Doing Drugs And Dying In Space Ritual,” a compilation of 11 short plays about doing drugs and dying in space.
I can’t go into details, but through the contacts given to me by the former members, I’ve been in close contact with the cult as it survives today preparing for this one weekend performance. I’ve been given a bonafide sermon and ritual instructions by the Speakers high up in the D’Dyas hierarchy. Kramer St John even submitted the a play (“Space Death”) to the ritual, though I suspect the play was at least partially written by a younger acolyte. From March 24th through March 27th, we will strive to complete D’Dyas’ psychic legacy in a righteous display of weirdo theater. I hope you’ll join us.
THE DOING DRUGS AND DYING IN SPACE RITUAL
MARCH 24 – 27
IRIDIUM CLOTHING CO
*Noodles was the former banker for Golbotti, given the name for a the large collection of Campbell’s Noodle Soup he brought to the compound.