The Latest from Ms. Gavin
Europe: A Hallucinogenic Odyssey
excerpted from the Steve Sullivan interview in Glamour Girls #16 (2002)
One of the most unforgettable adventures for Erica was a seven-week sojourn to Europe from early March to late April 1970. “Elmer Valentine took Bebe and me to Europe, that was AMAZING… We spent a little time in Italy and Austria, but things kind of fell apart between she and Elmer in Munich.” While attending an Arthur Lee & Love concert their first night in Europe, she learned that Dennis, the best friend of her ex-husband, was living in Copenhagen as a drug-dealer. “He had to leave L.A. because he was about to go to jail for selling drugs.” Bebe ran off to visit a photographer friend, and Erica had to tell Valentine that the woman to whom he was engaged hadn’t returned to the hotel. “It broke his heart.” While Valentine moved on, Erica reached Bebe by phone, “and we got the afternoon train back to Denmark. We lived in Copenhagen with Dennis for about a month, and it was great.”
On one occasion, someone sent Dennis a “toy robot with a card saying ‘Happy Birthday, the surprise is in the door.’ We opened the door and inside there were 800 tabs of purple acid, or purple rain. That lasted a week. We sold it all over Copenhagen, and we were also eating it like candy, day in and day out.”
They also spent time in Amsterdam, which proved to be another hallucinogenic odyssey. “One night I really want to score, but I didn’t know the language. I’d seen this guy outside the American Express office, so I walked up to him and asked, ‘do you know where I can get anything to smoke?’ He took me to the Club Paradisio, upstairs to the loft area. It was so thick with hashish smoke you could barely see. There are guys laying on the benches zonked out, and the music’s going on downstairs. He walked me over to this guy, talked to him in Dutch, and said to me, ‘it’ll be 30 dollars.’ I was thinking, wow, that’s really a lot. Then he pulled out of his pocket a cigarette box, and from that he pulled out a perfectly shaped bar of solid hashish. For 30 dollars! I said, ‘I’ll take it!’ I wanted to hurry out of there before he realized he gave me too much, but that’s how cheap it was! All over the club there were signs saying, ‘any drug dealing will be prosecuted,’ and right under the sign, it’s all going on!
“In Copenhagen, you just walk down the street smoking hashish and nobody even bothers you. And you lose perspective. You forget you’re coming back to the United States. Coming though Customs I had LSD in one pocket and hashish in my sock. Lo and behold, they want me to have a further investigation in a private room with a female officer. As I pulled down my pants to be searched, I tried to swallow whatever I could get my hands on , but I was arrested for having four tabs of acid plus the hashish, and they put me in jail.
“When you get arrested in Customs, it’s a federal offense, so an FBI guy came down to question me. He decided to transfer me to state jurisdiction, so they moved me to another jail. By the time they got me to the cell, it was four in the morning and I was flying on acid. It was a cell holding six or eight girls, and it was horrible and disgusting. One girl there said she was in because she’d chased her old man with a butcher knife and stabbed him. Oh God, just a regular Saturday night out!
“I was there overnight, then Elmer called a lawyer to get me out. I went to court four or five times, and every time the one person who had to be here, the lady who’d strip-searched me, didn’t show up. Finally the judge got angry and threw the case out since the state still wasn’t ready. I never asked, but I kind of suspected that somebody had paid off the woman in Customs not to come to court. But God, I was happy!”
A footnote: Years later, Dennis died in a jail in India, apparently in the aftermath of a drug overdose.
I was in the wings with Bebe and Elmer
Everything is cooler in Amsterdam