Paul Krassner: Life Among the Neo-Pagans

Posted on: Thu, 08/25/2005 - 13:56 By: Tom Swiss

For those of you who've been to Starwood, neither it nor Paul Krassner needs any further introduction - enjoy his take on it.

For those of you who've heard me talk about it, here's a little insight into the Starwood Festival from one of its treasured speakers, Paul Krassner. (I sat next to Paul at the "Shamans and Drugs" workshop he mentions, and briefy talked to him afterwards about this article.)

Life Among the Neo-Pagans
Paul Krassner

As a stand-up commentator, I rarely work the comedy-club circuit, preferring to appear at more offbeat venues. Several years ago, I performed at the Starwood Festival ("a Magickal, psychedelic & multi-cultural event") in Sherman, New York--Amish country on the border near Ohio and Pennsylvania--on private campgrounds, where clothing was optional. Many women were bare-breasted, and several men and women were fully naked, a practice known as "going skyclad."

On the outdoor pavilion stage, my opening line was: "I'm gonna start with two words that have been thought year after year at these festivals, but which have never actually been utterred out loud, and those two words are, 'Nice tits.' " The audience hesitated a nanosecond, because in that context this could be a politically incorrect observation--I had deliberately taken that chance--but then they laughed and applauded, because they knew it was true.

The annual Starwood Festivals have been presented by the Cleveland-based Association for Consciousness Exploration, a group of about thirty friends. ACE's co-directors, Jeff Rosenbaum and Joe Rothenberg, were both raised in traditional Jewish homes. Rosenbaum's parents were Holocaust survivors. He calls himself a pantheistic social libertarian with a psychedelic spiritual orientation.

"Everything is explored by altering it," he says. "The way you explore temperature is by seeing how different temperatures affect something. The way you explore pressure is by changing the pressure to see how that affects different things. The way you study consciousness is by changing your consciousness." ....

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