STORIES LEFT OUT

Alice in Blunderland – 1974

Les Nickelettes onstage at The Intersection Theater in North Beach in 1974

San Francisco’s counterculture in the mid 1970s was all about doing whatever you wanted. A seize-the-moment motto prevailed that disregarded mainstream societal rules. With that mindset the members of this underground tribe set out to get as high as possible, and have the time of their lives. Booze was the easy legal way to go, but we also indulged in weed, acid, mushrooms, psilocybin, MDA, and the crème de la crème – cocaine  

In 1974 Les Nickelettes were doing bi-monthly performances at the Intersection Theater in San Francisco’s North Beach. The rudimentary skits were intentionally under rehearsed, but had a compelling energy of anarchistic female humor. 

Alice In Blunderland, Les Nickelettes parody of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, was our contribution to glorifying the drug culture of the time. Did I mention that we also indulged in some of these legal and illegal substances before going on stage?  

Our story begins with Alice (alone on stage) taking multiple sniffs from a mysterious unlabeled tube. Her mother enters, and demands to know what she is doing. Alice goes ballistic with an adolescent “Tantrum Stomp” – I want my own way / I want my own way…  

Alice’s mother yells, “Stop!” Alice looks at her blankly. The mother sings: 

Alice, Alice, you’re such a freak

Your room hasn’t been cleaned for a week

Daddy and I have spent money on you

But you just sit in here and sniff glue

Your father and I had such high hope – but all you do is smoke dope

Cocaine, marijuana, and airplane glue will be the ruin of you.

“Fuck off mom!” Alice defiantly declares, and snorts cocaine off a gigantic mirror. The lights blink off and on, and Alice spirals down into the drug-fog fantasy of Blunderland. 

Alice

A White Playboy Bunny pops in, “I’m late, I’m late!” and dashes out. 

The Mad Hatter uninvites Alice to a dope peddling tea party. The Dormouse confides to the uninvited guest, “There’s no telling what’s in the tea, but it’s so affordable”. 

“Have some,” Mad Hatter says, offering Alice a joint.

“Don’t mind if I do,” says Alice reaching for the weed. 

The Mad Hatter snatches it away, “How rude!” 

The White Playboy Bunny pops in: “Twinkle, twinkle little bat, how I wonder where you’re at. Time, time, time, time, I’m late.” 

“You’re just talking a lot of nonsense.” Observes Alice. 

“Is it?” says the White Playboy Bunny “Or are you just hallucinating?” The Bunny disappears and a Space Kitty appears lounging on a spaceship: “Space is all around you, but it’s also what’s inside you. Outer space is where you’re at.” 

“Where did you come from?” asks Alice.

“From space, of course,” says Space Kitty.

“What sort of people live around here?

“Some live this way, and some live that way, and some others live another way,” grins Space Kitty. “They’re all mad, but you’re the real space kitty.”

“How did you know I was loaded?”

Space Kitty: “You must be, or you wouldn’t have gotten here. Uh oh, here comes the Queen.” (Kitty fades away. White Playboy Bunny toots a kazoo to announce the Queen.)

Queen of Hearts appears and yells, “Fore!” 

The Queen of Hearts (who looks uncannily like Alice’s mother) uses a golf-club to chase Alice back through the mirror, shrieking, “Off with her drug-filled head!” 

Safely back home, Alice vows never to get high again. But the White Playboy Bunny appears, offering her some pills to get small, and some pills to get large. Can Alice resist? It appears doubtful, “I think I’ll take a couple of each.” 

The ensemble sings a finale, glorifying the ingestion of drugs: the nicest part of when you’re getting high / is when you’re floating through the sky…

Queen of Hearts

             Bob Starfire of the San Francisco Phoenix weighed-in on our bi-monthly revues at the Intersection: 

There’s a new-style vaudeville arising now in San Francisco. …’cult happenings’ – this is, events which appeal to a limited, enthusiastic, and uncritical audience. 

…One of the most enduring and popular of these groups has been Les Nickelettes, who have for some three years now been giving bizarre shows at strange times for weird people … most of whom enjoy them immensely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s