By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
By Joe Eskenazi
By Erin Sherbert
By Erin Sherbert
Smith was paralyzed. Latimer says that he and Sirius and Queen Mu attempted a peyote healing ritual in Smith's hospital room to lift her out of her coma.
"We brought a Native American Indian in," Latimer remembers, "and brought Smitty in on a bed. We did a prayer ceremony, did channeling things -- they brought witchcraft and crystals."
To this day Smith remains brain-damaged and bedridden, cared for by her family in Texas. When Queen Mu offered to buy Latimer's shares, he reluctantly accepted and left the magazine. (Some months later, he would begin working with me on the concept of a rude little magazine called The Nose.)
Not long after, new Art Director Adam Zakin celebrated the completion of High Frontiers No. 4 by traveling to Tibet with his wife, where both died in a freak accident when their bus went over a cliff. Meanwhile, back in the States, the High Frontiers office was broken into twice under mysterious circumstances. In 1988, Sirius and Queen Mu renamed the magazine Reality Hackers to reflect the drugs-and-computers fusion they had been writing about and moved the operation to the Berkeley hills, where Mu rented a big wooden Maybeck house and stocked it full of Victorian furniture.
Vowing to make the magazine a moneymaker, the pair wrote a business plan, but their meetings with potential investors ended in frustration.
"There was definitely no advertising," says Sirius. "Acid dealers don't advertise."
Although Reality Hackers appeared more frequently than High Frontiers, Sirius and Mu could only afford to publish biannually. Sirius says he made the sacrifice of cutting back on psychedelic use to get more work done. Unix champ Jude Milhon signed on after meeting Sirius at a party, mutating into the sharp-tongued St. Jude. The staff bumped into Michael Synergy, who was working for AutoDesk down in Silicon Valley, and he agreed to write up some subversive articles about cyberpunks overthrowing the government. After a serious bicycle accident left Synergy temporarily laid up, Mu and St. Jude rescued him from the hospital and moved him into the house in the hills.
Reality Hackers offered the most diverse and interesting mix yet, with articles on computer viruses, virtual reality, psychoactive designer foods, high-tech paganism, alleged AIDS biological warfare experiments, Brian Eno, chaos theory, Hakim Bey, and a lengthy exploration by banker acidheads Gracie and Zarkov on Blue …yster Cult. In addition to Leary, Herbert, and McKenna, new contributors included isolation tank expert Michael Hutchison, drug authors Peter Stafford and Bruce Eisner, drug architect Alexander Shulgin, smart-drug pioneers Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw, and computer whiz Eric Gullichsen, one of the original VR developers. To corral the whole concept, a new subhead was composed: "Information Technologies & Entertainment for Those on the Brink."
But the name Reality Hackers remained a problem. Reports came in from national distributors: Retailers don't know whether to stock it next to Guns and Ammo or D-Cup Beauties.
"One distributor told them that everybody east of the Rockies thought it was about hacking people up, and that it was a Mansonite cult magazine," cackles Sirius.
Kevin Kelly, then editor of Whole Earth Review, wanted to hire Sirius as a writer to help him produce a new magazine called Signal, which would cover digital technology and the cultural impact of computers. Sirius said no, that he had an idea of his own.
With the next issue containing a big scoop on the heretofore ignored subject of cyberpunk, R.U. Sirius and Queen Mu wanted to change the magazine's image and make a big splash. Sirius flicked on the television.
"There were all these commercials for this-2000 and that-2000. Furnishings 2000. All this really banal stuff with the name 2000 after it. Finally this show came on, which was like Future 2000. It was like an Omni magazine kind of pop-science show. I stumbled into Alison's room and said, 'We've got to come up with a name with the name 2000 on it, because everybody's using it to sell shit.' "
"Mondo," replied Queen Mu, explaining that the lettering would look great on the masthead, and that it had a delightfully fashionable yet decadent sound. The name was changed.
Mondo 2000 reached newsstands in 1989 with a unique new logo designed by German graphic artist Brummbär, each letter of "Mondo" containing its own separate personality. Todd Rundgren was the cover boy, the only male to grace its cover in masculine clothing (drag queen Jade made an appearance years later). Readers were treated to articles by Gibson, Shirley, and Sterling, as well as several pieces on hackers and crackers, Internet viruses, conspiracy theories, cyberspace, and cutting-edge technology nobody had heard of.
The inclusion of Gibson in particular struck a chord with readers. In many circles his seminal 1984 book Neuromancer was referred to in hushed tones, like a sacred scripture containing secrets of the future. "He was writing about us," says St. Jude. "Drug-taking, intellectual scum."