The (Fake) Free State Project of 1970: Turn a Texas Town Into a Haven for Every 'Wholesome Vice Known to Modern Man'
Welcome to Mad Dog, Texas.
Over at Historia Discordia, an entertaining blog devoted to those anti-authoritarian pranksters known as the Discordians, Adam Gorightly has posted one of the hoax articles that the Discordian crew inserted into the press—in this case, the November 1970 edition of Playboy. The piece describes a libertarian "corporate commune" called "Mad Dog, Inc." that plans "to buy a small town they can call their own and rename it, predictably, Mad Dog, Texas." The town's laws "will endorse gambling, saloons, prostitution, marijuana, dueling, spitting in public, lascivious carriage, cohabitation and every other wholesome vice known to modern man," though this code will "not, unfortunately, supersede existing state and Federal laws." Several famous figures are identified as alleged participants in the project, including underground cartoonist Gilbert Shelton, Pulitzer-winning journalist David Halberstam, former Kingston Trio banjoist Dave Guard, and Sports Illustrated writer Bud Shrake; Shrake is quoted proposing that the group purchase the town of Shafter, on the grounds that its border-adjacent location will be good for a "heavy tourist trade in expatriates, the smuggling of Chinamen and extensive trade with the Far East in jade, fine silks and frankincense."
The unsigned piece was written by Robert Anton Wilson and/or Robert Shea, two Discordians who worked for Playboy at the time. (They would later produce the cult novel Illuminatus!, which features a rather different Mad Dog, Texas, in its pages.) The first page of the article is posted here, and the remainder is here. And as a bonus, here's a piece that a Discordian (probably Shea, though Wilson may have had a hand in it) inserted into Teenset magazine. This one exposes the nefarious conspiracy known as the Illuminati, whose puppets turn out to include Lyndon Johnson, Ringo Starr, and Bob Hope.
Advertisement: These hoaxes were part of a larger project called Operation Mindfuck. You can read more about that in my book The United States of Paranoia or, if you want the short version, right here.