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.
Frank Golbotti held “trip sessions” in his lab from the hours of 9 pm to 2 am four nights a week. The evenings quickly grew from Golbotti and his assistant Kramer St John to a diverse group of their combined friends.
Golbotti and Kramer would preside over these gatherings, both occupying their own important roles therein. Golbotti would provide Kramer with enough money to purchase copious amounts of acid, psychedelic mushrooms, and mescaline. When the psychedelics were ingested, Kramer would stalk the lab keeping tabs on the guests, making sure no one was having a “bad trip.” Golbotti would guide the trip, reading koans, reciting scientific concepts he found inspiring, and eventually inserting his own spiritual theories into the experience.
It only a few months before the purpose of the trips changed from drug experimentation to a “spiritualist club” dedicated to “discovering the truth of human thought,” and that those who attended were “acolytes” to the teachings of “High Speaker” Frank Golbotti. What is most surprising is that attendance did not waver after these bold proclamations, showing just how trusted Golbotti was to those who knew him. It was around this same time Golbotti would refer to these meeting as “The convergence of The D’Dyas.”
We know Golbotti named the cult after a hallucination of the sound of an explosion bursting from a space shuttle made of flesh. He determined the explosion was a pure expression of power, or “D’Dyas.” Up until this point in his life, he admitted to feeling as though his life was meaningless. He would later tell acolytes that the first moment his life felt like it had purpose was the first time he took acid with Kramer. Naturally, Golbotti came to the conclusion that in order for his life to continue to be meaningful, he had to continue to challenge the void with actions of absurdity. For Golbotti, taking hallucinogens was this absurd action.
“The D’Dyas is the expression of power. The expression of power ripples through the perversity of nothingness. This perversion of the perversity of nothingness can only be known as ‘truth.’”
– Frank Golbotti on The Purpose of D’Dyas
This base thesis of the society is what initially bound the group of middle aged professionals and teenage dropouts to the psychedelic ritual. The more conservative of Golbotti’s followers were seduced into the fold by the intellectual excuse that experimenting with psychedelics was not for fun, but a means for better understanding the world around them. Likewise, Kramer’s young beach bum friends were drawn in by the promise of free drugs, and stuck around for Golbotti’s teachings that validated their outsider, anti-societal tendencies.
Around November of 1964, Golbotti’s non-D’Dyas friends noticed a change in him. Golbotti had picked up a few new off-putting habits and showed an open hostility to anyone he did not consider his intellectual equal. He became vocally passionate and intense in his work. Before he was a man who rested and observed from a place of intelligence, now he was driven, often getting into loud arguments with his coworkers. He would arrive at the lab soaked in sweat, shaking with energy, but in his words, “raring to go!” In a few months, he’d alienated himself from contemporaries had previously revered and respected his work.
Golbotti’s wife Arlene was well aware of his activities in D’Dyas. He’d invited her to a number of the Convergences, but she only ever came once. According to Golbotti’s journals, she was “disturbed and upset” by the hallucinating acolytes and his intense, impassioned preaching. He is heartbroken as he describes her “excusing herself from the room sit to the in the hallway and cry.” He felt ashamed of himself, but remained determined that his work was a part of something greater, and had to continue to push against the void.
In February of 1965, Frank Golbotti’s wife and daughter and left the state of California without warning. Some suspected they may have left the state, maybe even changed their names for fear of any connection to Golbotti. Though Golbotti claimed that his life was void of meaning before forming D’Dyas, the fleeing of his wife and daughter was devastating.
In the spring of that year, Golbotti took his followers north from Santa Cruz to a piece of countryside recommended to him by one of the D’Dyas acolytes. Tom had befriended Kramer St John and had been attending the convergences for a few months before the exodus. When the opportunity came to travel with this group of spiritually enlightened, Tom took it.
Golbotti, Kramer, and the D’Dyas acolytes all left early in the morning to drive over one hundred miles up to Petaluma county, meeting first at an abandoned gas station a few miles up the Highway 17. Golbotti stood on the roof of a Volkswagen van and gave a brief, impassioned speech framing this journey as “an Exodus,” and that their work on this new compound would “beget real, radical truth” and “power from beyond the traditional scope of humanity.” After the speech, Kramer placed a tab of acid on the tongue of the three dozen acolytes to better “engage with the journey.”
The former acolytes I interviewed all described being absolutely thrilled to leave for the compound, how the lush countryside of rolling, green hills seemed to welcome them as they approached their destination. Tom himself describes this shift from a weekly get together to spiritual commune as “a moment where I truly felt connected to something greater than myself,” and that “it was the greatest feeling he’d ever experienced.”
Tom tells me that when they arrived, he was unloading camping gear with the rest of the acolytes and saw Golbotti leaping out of his convertible and running through the field, thrilled, manic, “like a child after eating too much chocolate.”
“We’re here!” Tom could hear Golbotti screaming. “We’re Home! We’re Home!”
This is a photograph of the two cabins of Home: the compound that housed The D’Dyas Space Cult from 1965-1969. My mother took this picture two weeks ago after I received the exact location from one of the former members.
I sent Tom an email a few days ago with the pictures of the compound. His reply:
“Im sorry to see that again. lot of hard times on the home. the drugs changed. when they changed it changed everything. [Home] is where it all got heavy.”