Originally posted on February 9, 2016
By Gannon Reedy
From March 24th through March 27th, 2016, 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.
I was introduced to the D’Dyas Space Cult on a trip to Northern California last July. A family member (we’ll call her Laura) told me about a recent high school reunion she’d attended. Her graduating class of 1965 made a habit of meeting up once a year for the last four years, so she knew everyone at the gathering pretty well— except one attendee. We’ll call him “Tom.” She hadn’t seen him since she was seventeen years old; tuns out past fifty years had changed him considerably. He spent the whole night with an uncomfortable smile on his face, hardly saying a word. His hands shook so badly that he dropped a glass of wine on the host’s carpet. He apologized profusely, poured himself a new glass, and promptly dropped it on a different carpet.
Laura noted that as an adult he was strikingly different from the boy she’d known in high school. By her description, he’d been the proverbial “bad boy”: he’d bothered adults with his defiance of social norms, and won over the kids with his charisma (and access to marijuana). He’d worn paisley shirts with the first four buttons undone, and plain black boots perpetually spattered with mud. Sometimes he’d take his father’s Oldsmobile and drive Laura and her friends around. He’d show off by smoking his father’s cigarettes and expounding passionately about his life as a self-proclaimed “outsider.”
Talking points included the clarity tripping on LSD had given his life, the brutal truth of Machiavelli’s The Prince, and, most notably, the teachings of local spiritualist Frank Golbotti.
But near the end of Laura’s Junior year, Tom vanished. His disappearance caused a huge stir in the community. Students were questioned, search parties were organized, but no one, not even Tom’s closest friends, had a clear indication what had happened to him. In the months before his disappearance he’d been distant, avoiding social interactions and taking any opportunity to spend time away from people, presumably alone and tripping.
His disappearance had left Laura heartbroken. She’d fostered an unrequited crush on Tom. The last interaction she had with him before the party was signing his yearbook in ’64, weeks before his disappearance. She’d written him a long, earnest message, hinting at her feelings. His message to her was more succinct, though cryptic. When I saw what he’d written, I got chills. Surrounded by the crisp, clean penmanship of the other students, his stands out as perverse, nervy, and spider-like: somewhere between a childlike scratch a prophetic scrawl.
“NIHIL ET AMPLIUS
Four days later, I sat in Tom’s living room, in a house he built with his own hands— situated in a clearing far displaced from humanity. He brought me a cup of mint tea that he held with both hands.
Since reading this entry in Laura’s yearbook, I have been consumed by the history of D’dyas and its founder, Francis Andrew Golbotti.
I wasn’t anticipating writing the history of The D’Dyas Space Cult; I am neither a historian nor a writer by trade. Considering the nation’s love of weirdo cults and their disastrous fallouts, I assumed the information would be easy to find online. To my surprise, my searches turned up nothing but shadows of D’Dyas’ influence.
It has been brutally difficult to eke out a narrative from this source material. I’ve interviewed a number of its members, past and present. All requested anonymity, much to my frustration. However, I must respect their wishes. It’s strange – even people who only had a passing encounter with the cult or with Golbotti have been profoundly affected, seemingly convinced that speaking about it publicly would lead to a horrible fate. The truth of the history of D’Dyas is elusive in nature.
To that point: I have noticed that when discussing the supernatural or strange, there tends to be a knee jerk reaction of cynicism, eye-rolling condescension, and demands of proof or scientific validity of spiritualist claims. People are inclined to feel skeptical of things that cannot be proven. That’s a good, healthy impulse.
Unfortunately, the nature of the history of D’dyas is nothing but questionable claims, gossip, and hearsay. It is one of the rare histories undocumented by the internet era: its relics and artifacts exist solely in the physical realm, in overexposed photographs, in hissing tape, and in the stories of its shell-shocked former members. Most of what I’ve discovered is based on accounts from sources that are likely not entirely reliable. I wish I could give more clarity to their wild claims, but unfortunately I lack the resources. However, what drew me to this cult was never the facts, but the feeling, the philosophical promise, and the pragmatic psychedelia of its worldview.
To those skeptics, I invite you to put yourselves in the place of these D’Dyas initiates (or acolytes) and consider what would bring a person to seek out a similar cult. Embrace those feelings, and open yourself to the promise, the fear, and the ecstasy of The D’Dyas Space Cult.
Nihil et Amplius,