Skunk is a strain of cannabis with notorious origins. Skunk #1 is credited to a breeder referred to as Skunkman Sam, although, Roadkill is an even older Skunk phenotype bred by the much more mysterious, Uncle Fester. (1)
In the 1970s, in Santa Cruz, Sam (David Watson) began breeding Skunk phenos under the nickname, Jingles. Skunk is simply a term for dank cannabis popular during the era. Meanwhile, his supposed friends R. and J. were living a few hundred meters down the road had Original Haze. (2) This was after he returned from the Hippy Trail a few years after Sam left Hollywood Highschool not listed as a graduate in his class yearbook. (3) Sam had begun smoking weed before he tried hash around then, (4) evident by his class photos.
Festering from New Orleans into a Bucket O’ Nasties – 1959-1969
Rumours exist that Roadkill Skunk, a different strain, was around before Watson left high school. Part of the early story is a breeder known as Master Thai who claims his old-school Skunk pheno comes from Uncle Fester. Without known connection, a Prankster born in 1914, New Orleans also went by the name Uncle Fester. A webpage authored by Tony Van Dorsten holds the only historical account of the man, though. (5)
Dr. Fester was born Hermes Labeouf and was credited as living in California from 1959 to 1969, before leaving for somethingfestering in New York. Following many reports that recall old-school Skunk in the East Coast during the 80s. People still blame Sam for the loss of Skunk’s pungency. Rather, no one wanted weed that stunk like a siren. And if the origins of Roadkill Skunk are with this Uncle Fester, then it is possible he simply took the old-school stinky genetics East.
Fester first acquired his nickname early in childhood, given to him by Louis Armstrong after a prank Lil’ Fester pulled on the jazz musician. Dr. Fester eventually became involved with a hippy commune in California known as The Hog Farm which was affiliated with the Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead Crew.
Hippies and bikers – Roadkill and a strange saga
Despite misconceptions, Steve Preisler – also known as Uncle Fester – has no involvement with Skunk. The still-living Preisler was a former LSD and meth-cook, and occasional author. He also tended to make bombs which granted him the nickname Uncle Fester after the character of the same name appearing on The Addam’s Family. That said, Roadkill Skunk is often referred to as a Hell’s Angel’s strain.
Master Thai’s O.G. Skunk is credited to a chapter of the Angel’s alongside the days of Orange Sunshine and beatniks. Similarly, the late Dr. Fester survived only by Van Dorsten was less affectionately involved with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. And when where there were acid and bikers on a single Californian property in 1965, it was certainly hosted by Kesey.
Hunter S. Thompson attended one of Kesey’s legendary parties for his first project, Hell Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga. 30 or more Angels from the Frisco Chapter partied with the Merry Pranksters at Kesey’s cabin and acid-testing grounds in La Honda. Unlike marijuana, LSD was legal in California and the USA in 1965.
And whileno man named Fester was mentioned by Thompson, countless individuals were in attendance from Professors and criminals to Ram Dass and Allen Ginsberg. The epitome of the Electric Kool-aid Acid Tests. La Honda quickly became the Angels’ sole source for LSD, a new drug for the normally more violent bikers until Kesey fled on marijuana charges the next year. (6) Thompson, however, remembers little marijuana on the 7000th block of La Honda Road during the two-night affair.
Uncle Fester’s motorbike
Van Dorsten claims Fester might have also met or influenced Addams Family cartoonist, Charles Addams earlier in life. (3) Fester was only two years younger than Addams. While it still seems like a fantastical tale by a past legend’s friend, we have to remember an episode from the Addam’s Family. Uncle Fester, the cartoon character who was finally given a name in 1964 for television, was also given a motorbike.
More importantly, Morticia Addam’s uncle was given a motorbike by a beatnik in an episode that aired in 1965, filmed in Louisiana. (7) If not the culture in general, the director could very well have been paying homage to a beatnik biker known to him rather than Charles. After all, the director was one-time jazz musician, Sidney Lanfield, who could have easily known Louis Armstrong.
*No one by the name of ‘Fester’ or ‘Lebeouf’ was found in the Meeting Notes from Stanford for the years of 1958, 1959, or 1960 for any newly appointed Professor or member of the University listed with any credible degrees (on or off salary.) No proof of Van Dorsten’s accounts have yet been found. That said, ‘Lebeouf’ and ‘Hermes’ were names frequently used in Louisiana.
Mel Frank comes to Cali with Afghani #1 – 1976
Little is known about the Skunk strain for a few years after Dr. Fester allegedly left the West Coast; after Sam traded seeds with the Haze Brothers. But Mel Frank travelled to California in 1976 after completing a degree in biology in New York. Mel went West with the successful intention of documenting cannabis cultivation. (8) That’s the year that Sam claims he preseved Haze and began selling seeds of Skunk for the first time. (2)
A short while later, Blotter Magazine published an article in 1979 penned by Skunk’s adoptive breeder (David Watson) under the pseudonym Sam Selgnij. (9) If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that Skunkman Sam simply reversed his former nom de plume, Jingles. Sam did eventually flee to Europe but not until the early to mid-80s. The pressure was mounting by then as the DEA started closing in on breeders and growers in California and Hawai’i by 1979. The origins of a phenotype, Skunk #1, are therefore nestled in amidst a torrent of raids on California’s cultivators. (8b, 12)
So stay tuned for the next part of Skunk’s story when Sam formally bred his authentic Skunk #1 phenotype before a mysteriousDEA bust.
1959 – Dr. Fester (Hermes) Lebeouf, born in New Orleans, begins teaching at Stanford University in California.
The 1960s – Skunkman Sam, already a bud smoker, tries hash.
1965 – A beatnik gives The Addams Family’s Uncle Fester a motorbike during season 2 episode 15.