Identify this 1960s counterculture book
December 19, 2013 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to identify a book I once encountered on the shelves of the father of a friend. The father grew up in the 1960s in the UK. I think the book was also from the 60s, and it was a shockingly underground artefact of the 60s counterculture. As I recall, it was a mixture of a guide to counterculture life, and fiction. The guide provided practical information on countercultural necessities, such as squatting, drugs and possibly theft. The fiction part included the indelible description of a someone cutting a hole in someone's scrotum, and inflating it with a drinking straw (as part of a sexual encounter, I think). As you can imagine, googling this has been an unpleasant experience.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (7 answers total)
I was going to suggest Steal This Book or The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, but the fiction part doesn't sound like either book. (Though I can see Wolfe using an anecdote like that, and his style can definitely read like fiction.)
posted by Sara C. at 3:06 PM on December 19, 2013

You had me until "scrotum". I thought it might be The Robin Hood Handbook, but pretty sure I would remember your drinking straw anecdote. So that probably isn't it. It sort of sounds like something Edward Abbey might have written, but I can't be sure, since I haven't read everything he wrote-- not really to my taste.
posted by seasparrow at 3:32 PM on December 19, 2013

What came immediately to mind was Richard Neville's Playpower, though I don't remember there being any fictional inflatable scrotums in there (I've just spent a few minutes leafing through my copy and haven't come across a single one...). But definitely lots on survival in the Underground, and drugs, squatting, and living by one's wits.
posted by tenderly at 3:48 PM on December 19, 2013

The Last Whole Earth Catalog definitely tilted counterculture, and included an entire novel entitled, IIRC, Divine Right's Trip. I read it enough times that I think I would have remembered the scrotum bit if it were in there, so that probably wasn't it, either.
posted by Bruce H. at 3:51 PM on December 19, 2013

I located the scrotum (on page 133)!

This is not fiction, but quotes a letter sent to the Hip-pocrates agony column, by Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld, in the Berkeley Barb:

Dear Dr. Schoenfeld,

A couple of weeks ago my girlfriend and I got loaded and were making love. She told me she wanted to show something new that would be a real thrill to me...

What she did was to stretch my scrotum out tightly, then she took a pair of finger nail scissors and cut a small hole in the sac. I began to get scared but she said not to worry, it was fun and didn't hurt much. Next she stuck a small plastic straw into the hole in my sac and started blowing air into it.

So, Piaypower it is!
posted by tenderly at 4:15 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yay, Playpower!

You kids, yeah you on my lawn. Get home and read this for some counterculture history.
posted by Kerasia at 2:01 AM on December 20, 2013

Oh tenderley, thank you! I have wondered for decades where I read that. I knew it came from my teens but I assumed it was in the Happy Hooker...
posted by Kerasia at 2:11 AM on December 20, 2013

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