Hugh Holmes Norton,
Eleanor Katz, Elliott Macis,
Mary Sue Valenti,
INT: But did it release you, did it make you sexually liberated? Or did you have many..??
MARY SUE: Well, yah, because I probably would have done it anyway, and then I would have ended up having abortions or something, or else an awful lot of children. Because it just seemed like the thing to do, thank heavens AIDS wasn't around yet either, because I did get a couple of other unpleasant things, that you go down and get a shot for! And the, the danger, the things that can happen to you, through pregnancy, various things was not really foremost in my mind. I was having so much fun, that I am just really glad now, that the Pill was around, that AIDS had not been in existence, I guess yet, or at least here, and that I was able to do all that and get away with it. Live through it....
INT: And the sexual revolution, was that part of the business of sexual freedom...? How did you want to express your personal freedom, how did you go about doing that?
MARY SUE: Expressing personal freedom was very important, and I think people did it in a lot of ways. One was certainly the clothes that we wore. I stopped wearing a bra back there some time. I am not built very large, and never probably really needed it, but decided it was uncomfortable and I was doggoned if I was going to wear it anymore! So I haven't owned one since probably I was 20 or something like that. So clothes was part of it, and then not only not wearing girdles, bras and uncomfortable things like that, but wearing..there were some positive things so..things that I did do. Like I have, I still have, a pair of jeans, with something like 79 patches on them, all of them are made of velvet, and some of them have pictures of ..one of them is a Grateful Dead patch, and there is lace and hearts and stuff like that. So there was a creative, creativity in clothes, crazy blouses with long pointy sleeves and lots of fringe. Long straight hair we did not curl our hair or cut it or anything like that, it was almost religious, however your hair grew that was the way it was supposed to be. If you had curly hair it came out like that...if you had straight hair it was long like that... Many of the men I knew just grew their beards however they would grow, just completely natural, others maybe you know shaved 'em or grew this kind of a beard or that kind of a moustache, but natural was kind of the focus and, and being outrageous. It was fun to make people say "oh, look at the freaks!" or "Is it a girl or a boy?" and things like that, unless it was some kind of place where people were really hostile and wanting to beat you up. It was kind of fun. I to this day think that it's young people's job to horrify older people. I have friends who are former hippies, who cluck, cluck and tut tut about the way punks dress now, or the way they have their hair. I just have to laugh and say that is what youth is for, to horrify us, you know! It is fair, we did it. I wonder what their children will do to ours by then? But ...
INT: How much did music sort of make the group cohesive? What was the role of the Grateful Dead and all the bands like Jefferson Airplane and so on..?
MARY SUE: The music that was popular in the Sixties really tied everything together. Sometimes it was the lyrics, people like Bob Dylan, or the Grateful Dead, would have messages in there. Sometimes the messages were serious, like Masters of War by Bob Dylan, sometimes they were just 'let's all have fun.. let's dance and rock and roll all night long, and make love all day' But you could dance to it, you would go and listen to the music and it would be a total abandon people didn't dance with each other. You didn't dance and hold hands and dance like in the Fifties or something. People just danced by themselves, you didn't even need a partner, the whirling around and throwing their hands up in the air, just an orgiastic relationship with the music, almost. And it really was the soundtrack to the movie that our life was then - was this music.
INT: Yeh, Great. Now you went off to Big Sir. Can you tell me what the whole...there was a sort of romantic movement if you like to get out and go to the countryside. Can you tell me why you went off and did that and what your life was like?
MARY SUE: Most of the hippies I knew, for want of a better word, actually we didn't mind being called hippies at the time; at one point or another flirted with the notion of going back to the land. Sort of ignoring the fact that many of them did not come from the land, but grew up in the City, but anyway, the idea was going to the land, and then you wouldn't have to pay PG & E, and you wouldn't have to work for the Man, and you could be independent, and,, the men could chop wood. Some of it was very sexist actually, the women could bake bread, and, I did a little bit of that. I moved to Big Sir, with a man I had just taken up with, after breaking up with my husband and father of my two children, and deciding that I am a hippy now and we are going to dash off and be natural, and long haired in Big Sir - throw away our underwear..And, we didn't try to farm, it was a rocky place up on top of a hill. You could actually look down on airplanes, buzzing the coast. It was absolutely beautiful, a big old five sided house called the Stonehouse, and there were 5 goats on the property and to live there we did not have to pay rent, but we had to milk the goats. The two of them had to milked. I felt like Heidi, tripping around on the mountains milking a goat, sitting around in the outhouse, stoned on acid, looking down at the coast and at the top of the airplanes down there. You know when you weren't on acid Big Sir was like being on acid, when you would see the sun go down over those rocks. I could hear a symphony just sitting there. It was very romantic, it later became a bit more popular and I understand very crowded, and people kind of trashed some of those places. But when I was down there in 1966, it was very magical, and once Country Joe Macdonald came down and was going to play at some little place that was down there. He ended up on the cliffs overlooking a little town, overlooking the ocean at a little town called Gorda, and had to bring generators from Monterey or someplace nearby, and did some of that first album he did, the Electric Music one, and I still remember that standing there on a cliff, in Big Sir, with Country Joe Macdonald playing that Electric music. It was a very magical time. I stayed there six, eight months and then moved back to San Francisco.
INT: Was there like, was there a real belief that you were going to revolutionize the world, revolutionize the way people were living their lives. Break out of the sort of suppressive mood that had gone before you?/
MARY SUE: I fully expected, if you had asked me, I fully expected that by now, by 1996 the world would be totally different. Of course it is in some ways, but, and some of the things happened a little bit. Certainly, some of the things are better for women than they were before. But not what I thought. I really did think the revolution was going to happen. Not necessarily guns and blood. If pressed I might have had a hard time saying just what I thought was going to happen. But as I have mentioned before, the one thing I was fond of saying was "there are more of us being born, and more of them dying all the time.." and I really thought all we had to do was show them, and once people realized "oh, yeh this is a much better way to life, love is much better than war, and people who don't have enough to eat should be given some. And there is enough to go around.." And once people realized that it will happen. The music, the, I certainly thought elections by now, all the good guys would have been elected, the bad guys would give up and blow away eventually.
INT: There was a whole sort of philosophy about changing the structures of society as well, I mean it had been very rigid and hierarchical and dominated by men, to more communal type living. I mean you lived in a commune for a period of time, and presumably you had very different relationships with the people with whom you were living. They must have been very much more flexible than the way you were brought up.....
MARY SUE: I am not sure that I.....
INT: Well, shall we just pause there for a minute...
MARY SUE: Yeh, I know what you are saying, but I could not think of anything to say..
INT: Yeh, that's fine. I'll just have word with James as well, to see what he is thinking. This is really a great story.....I'll just ask you the questions, and it will prompt you and set you off...
MARY SUE: I tend to lose track of where I am going sometimes.
INT: No it's fine. It's actually pretty coherent. So could you just start me off by telling me what you really thought about conventional politics, and some of the major figures like the Kennedy's, and Eldon Jay, and so on and so forth.
MARY SUE: Politics in terms of candidates and presidents and, people for whom we can vote and so forth started taking on a different meaning for me around the Sixties. For one thing at that time you had to be 21 to vote, so I could not vote until my 21st birthday, and all that had just happened. So that's it I was let's see... 21 in 1964..so, it was my first time to vote. I got into an argument, this is going back a little bit, this is while I was still at home with my parents who had Nixon bumper stickers and I wanted to put a Kennedy one on my car. I didn't get to vote for Kennedy, I was not old enough there, but I did vote for Lyndon Johnson, and then shortly after that became really aware of the Vietnam war and stuff, and I have to admit, not admit, I am actually proud of it, I was picketing the Opera House in San Francisco because Lady Bird Johnson was coming, and I had my I guess about one and a half year old son on my shoulders holding on to his feet, like that, marching around the Opera House chanting "hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" So I wasn't feeling real great about the fact that I voted for this guy, although before that I had had a poster on my wall that you may have seen that was real popular, and real famous then, it was a mushroom shaped cloud and it said "Go with Goldwater!" So obviously I had thought that would not happen with Lyndon Johnson. But I became very disillusioned with those guys, they were all pigs. One of the first things my son learned to say when he was about two was "Power to the People" and the second thing was "..Off the Pigs." and we weren't really going to go shoot anybody, but "...Off the Pigs" was kind of metaphorical, we talked about "Kill the Pig within yourself," and so on and so forth. But they were all Pigs in some way. They were all ripping off the people for money or oil, I guess oil wasn't the thing so much then, but money, power, so on and so forth... I didn't have any faith in them. I am trying to remember when was the first time when I was re-enchanted with a politician and it was a long time after that...
INT: It is a really interesting article....
MARY SUE: It may be something on the local level....
INT: Okay, the other question we wanted to check out with you was "All you Need is Love" the Beatles album, "All you Need is Love" and if that had any personal meaning, and what kind of personal resonance that had?
MARY SUE: The Beatles song "All you Need is Love" really did resonate with me, not just the song itself, although I liked it very much but that attitude. I certainly thought that, i really thought all you needed was love. And said it, had things that said LOVE, I don't think I had a car then, so I didn't have a bumper sticker on my car, but I had buttons and pins and clothes that said LOVE on them, would write LOVE on walls, and things like that. I still think you couldn't have too much LOVE around. It is a pretty great idea. At that time I interpreted it in personal ways, you know, love to me is, to me then, anyway especially, a lot of it was romantic love, love between another person and me. , romantic and sexual love, but there was the love of,, it sounds so corny, but loving each other. Loving your fellow man, loving your friends, love animals, love people, don't kill them,, that was really the way I felt. I still feel most of the things I talked about, I still feel that way, and to some extent act on them. I maybe a little less naive than I was and I know that all you need is not LOVE, you also need to pay the rent, and you need a job, and frankly I need electricity, and things like that, I have decided, but we certainly do need a lot of love. Just we have..I think that's all I want to say about that..