Compared to the cultural revolutions of LSD and marijuana, Ketamine's social impact has been miniscule.
Accordingly, Ketamine's few cultural champions were hardly mainstream icons. They included Marcia Moore, the heiress to the Sheraton Hotel fortune and world famous writer on astrology and 'hypersentience.' Her 1978 book, Journeys Into The Bright World, recounted surreal Ketamine trips into abstract, occult freak-scapes.
"If captains of industry, leaders of nations could partake of this love medicine the whole planet might be converted into the Garden Of Eden...At no time did it seem possible that I or anyone else could become a 'ketamine junkie' " Marcia Moore, Journeys Into The Bright World
But one cold, winter night in early 1979, Moore disappeared from her home. Two years later, her skeleton was discovered in a local forest. She had climbed into a tree, injected Ketamine, fallen unconscious and frozen to death. She was 50 years old.(1)
In the late 1980s, Ketamine broke out of its West Coast ghetto of esoteric academia and parapsychology and went up the nose of New York City's Club Kids, a narcissistic, drug-heavy, gay scene. And for the first time it started appearing in low-dose powder and pill form.
As a trippy dance club drug it soon crossed the Atlantic and surfaced in the UK media as the menacing coda for a generation getting bored with Ecstasy.
Dubbed 'Special K', it was quickly demonized as a low rent and dangerous 'psychedelic heroin.'
This didn't stop Madonna from name-checking Ketamine - her 1998 'Ray of Light' album reputedly contains tracks which describe the Ketamine experience.
"Madonna once commented that she couldn't believe UK clubbers still preferred E to K. To sample the narcotic zeitgeist according to Maddie and many others, we must visit Manhattan's fabled club scene " Andy Crysell, Muzik
Closer to home, the Chemical Brothers' late 1990s best-selling album, 'Dig Your Own Hole', featured the track 'Lost in the K Hole'.
1. Ketamine: Dreams & Realities p.54