Operation Midnight Climax

The bizarre but true tale of how the CIA dosed unsuspecting citizens with LSD at a swinging pad on Telegraph Hill.
  1. It's been over 50 years, but Wayne Ritchie says he can still remember how it felt to be dosed with acid.

    He was drinking bourbon and soda with other federal officers at a holiday party in 1957 at the U.S. Post Office Building on Seventh and Mission streets. They were cracking jokes and swapping stories when, suddenly, the room began to spin. The red and green lights on the Christmas tree in the corner spiraled wildly. Ritchie's body temperature rose. His gaze fixed on the dizzying colors around him.

    The deputy U.S. marshal excused himself and went upstairs to his office, where he sat down and drank a glass of water. He needed to compose himself. But instead he came unglued. Ritchie feared the other marshals didn't want him around anymore. Then he obsessed about the probation officers across the hall and how they didn't like him, either. Everyone was out to get him. Ritchie felt he had to escape.

    He fled to his apartment and sought comfort from his live-in girlfriend. It didn't...

The complete text of “Operation Midnight Climax” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on www.sfweekly.com.

Originally published in SF Weekly, March 2012

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