Home » A People’s Queering of 20th Century Counter Culture » Ken Kesey, The Merry Pranksters Magic Bus Trip and the Acid tests

Ken Kesey, The Merry Pranksters Magic Bus Trip and the Acid tests

Kesey and The Merry Pranksters
The Merry Pranksters were a group of friendly people who promoted psychedelic and hallucinogenic substances who lived with Ken Kesey at his CA and Oregon homes. Kesey was an American Author who had a home in the Bay Area (Palo Alto, CA) on Perry Lane and often gathered his pranksters there during the 60’s. In the Summer of ’64, the group met at one of Kesey’s CA house’s in La Honda and set off on the length trip across the US on the famous Further Magic School Bus. The purpose of the trip, according to Kesey and Pranksters was to see what would happen when the freeing effects of psychedelic drugs were mixed with the conformity of American Society. The group was fortunate enough to bring The Grateful Dead along for the ride across the US, as their superb musical entertainment. Kesey and the Pranksters were introduced to the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang by Hunter S. Thompson. The two parties formed a relationship and Kesey is proud to have turned them on to LSD. Accounts revealing this relationship are Hunter S. Thompson’s book Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of The Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, Allen Ginsberg’s poem First Party at Ken Kesey’s with Hell’s Angels as well as in Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-Aide Acid Tests. The Further Bus as well as the Pranksters attended Woodstock Music Festival in August 1969

original FURTHER bus

The original FURTHER bus which was wanted by the Smithsonian Museum but now rests at the home of Ken Kesey in Palo Alto.

The Acid Tests
The Acid Tests were parties Kesey put together after his experiences with multiplicities of mind-altering substances in his unknowing participation in Project MKUltra. Kesey knew he was participating in something, as he and pranksters were being payed to take such drugs and being observed by medical professionals while feeling the effects of the drugs, however he only found out later when it was revealed that these tests were part of Project MKUltra. Kesey later wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest after being inspired by his participation in MKUltra at the Menlo Park Mental Hospital. (Jones 2013).


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