Andrew Nicastr o
Long before Charlie Sheen traded fame for infamy with his claims of
Tiger Blood, Adonis DNA, and goddess-worshipping, another Angeleno
was "winning" in a similar but far more expansive scale. Father Yod,
the spiritual father to "The Source Family", a 1970's love cult that
engaged in free love and chemical expression, set a standard for
hedonism that even Charlie Sheen (should he continue on his current
trajectory) find difficult to surpass.
Jim Baker, an ex-marine and vendantic monk, moved to Los Angeles
almost four decades ago and founded the country's first vegetarian
restaurant on the Sunset Strip, which soon after it's establishment
was raking in $10,000 a day. Called The Source Restaurant, it
quickly became a hotspot for many of Hollywood's top 70's
talent: Marlon Brando, John Lennon and Warren Beatty were among the
restaurant's regulars. Baker began offering classes in his own
brand of spiritualism to his employees in the evenings, and soon
traded in his name for the more mystical-sounding Father Yod. His
employees soon grew devoted to him, and he became what they called
their "spiritual father." Purchasing a mansion in Griffith Park,
Father Yod invited his new family, which soon numbered closed to 200,
to come live with him. Within a year of moving into what they called
"The Mother House", this group of free-loving, drug-experimenting
and rock-and-roll-playing free spirits had become widely known as The
"We were beautiful, wealthy, kind people who ran one of the most
famous restaurants on Sunset Strip," says Isis Aquarian, a member of
the family who has recently published a comic book about the group.
"We had long hair. We wore robes. We were not hippies or yogi, even
though most of us had come into the family that way. We evolved to a
mystery school. We took sex, drugs rock-and-roll and added spirit to it."
The Source Family moved to Hawaii in 1974, and in 1975 Father Yod,
despite having no experience with the sport, attempted to hang-glide
off a 1,300 foot cliff on the eastern shore of Oahu. He crashed onto
the beach, and nine hours later, died. The Source Family, deprived
of their spiritual leader, soon dissolved, despite several attempts
over the years by members to reconstitute it.
As we watch Charlie Sheen and his brazen proclamations of pride in
his seemingly outrageous lifestyle, it would be wise to take a moment
and consider The Source, if we are to put this ongoing episode into
appropriate Hollywood perspective.
Note: The building that housed The Source Restaurant still stands
today at 8301 Sunset Blvd., at the corner of Sunset and
Sweetzer. The restaurant, which was the epicenter of the 1970's
health food craze, was the location of the Los Angeles outdoor cafe
scene in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall."