Although my interests in psychic phenomena were somewhat fundamental -- because of my childhood experiencing of them -- those interests were only academic and, hopefully, leaned toward being at least somewhat scholarly.
I researched psi phenomena and parapsychology by reading about them -- and, within Buell Mullen's crowd, having the opportunity to observe a number of psychics and mediums.
Those psychics and mediums were mostly British ones, mostly derived from the strong spiritualist tradition in England. They were, however, somewhat of a more convincing caliber than their American counterparts, with only a few exceptions.
As of 1971, the only real difference between me and others who might have interests in the topics was that mine were larger and more encompassing, and that I had read a very great deal more than most who usually had only superficially read what was popularly available.
I was completely comfortable with what I had read and studied, with the exception that I thought subjects of the past which had been studied by psychical researchers and parapsychologists had often been studied in a number of counter-productive ways.
But I was still comfortable with parapsychology concepts, and with the existing nomenclature which was used both in a scientific and popular sense. The limitations of the concepts and nomenclature had not arisen in my mind, with the exception that I thought there were several different kinds of telepathy.
You will have to take my word that I had never considered becoming a "psychic" myself, and never expected that I would or even could.
I certainly had never even dreamed that I could be an experimental subject in a parapsychology lab or be INVITED to become one. Indeed, I had reasons NOT to do anything of the kind, reasons I'll review at the end of this chapter.
But then came the month of July, 1971.
During the summer heat of that month, a young couple, Bert and Sherri McCann (since divorced), and a group had come to Zelda Suplee's apartment and office on Fifth Avenue and Eleventh Street near Greenwich Village in New York.
The two had a camera and some infrared film which was a relatively new product back then. They were interested in trying to photograph psychic energies in a completely blacked out room.
Zelda's bedroom was ideal for this because it had only one window with heavy draperies whose edges could be taped down. Zippo -- a darkroom with no light-meter trace of even weak ambient light.
This Zelda was to play a very big and important role in my life and its forthcoming events. And she was one of the truly fabulous people I've had the good fortune to encounter.
I had met Zelda in early 1968 when her boss, Mr. Reed Erickson, a millionaire, had come to my apartment to view a large painting which Dr. Jean Houston had recommended he should see. At that time, Houston was famous for research in psychedelic experiencing.
I had met Houston in 1967 when I had traveled to the Edgar Cayce Foundation (The Association for Research and Enlightenment) in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I had spent three weeks there on vacation from my job at the U.N. to research the famous seer's "readings."
Houston was deeply interested in art, and in "psychedelic art" which had a brief fashionability about then. She was preparing a book on the subject [Houston, Jean & Masters, Robert E. L. PSYCHEDELIC ART. New York, 1968, Grove Press.]
She had been somewhat impressed with slides of my paintings which I had brought along. Many thought that my paintings were "psychedelic," but I explained that they were not painted as a result of such influence, but were "occult" and "metaphysical."
In any event, Mr. Reed Erickson eventually came along. He was a small man with a mustache and elegantly suited out.
We talked, and he bought the large, three-paneled painting in gorgeous colors and gold leaf which I had entitled "Requiem for the Death of a Man." He bargained me down to $1,000 and said his secretary would send a check.
His "secretary" turned out to be Mrs. Zelda Suplee, actually the Director of The Erickson Educational Foundation.
As Zelda later confessed, she was shocked that Mr. Erickson was going to spend $1,000 on a painting and she wanted to come and see if it was worth it.
Zelda thus arrived at my apartment, then in lower Greenwich Village -- and burst into tears upon seeing the painting. I naturally and promptly fell in love with her, a love and a deep friendship which lasted until she died.
Zelda had a remarkable PAST. With her former husband she had owned and managed no less than three nudist camps during the 1930s-1950s, and had the honor of presenting her plump, Mother-Earth body as the first full frontal nude in PLAYBOY magazine (in black and white.)
Zelda knew just about everyone who was anyone, for most of them had come to her camps when it was daring and thus fashionable to do so -- big movie stars, the early TV personalities, philosophers, cutting-edge scientists, physicians, etc.
She had a life-long interest in SEX and was a consulting sexologist, an hypnotist and one of the first to do past-life regressing, and was interested in all kinds of psychic stuff.
I popped a couple of bottles of cheap wine and Zelda and I got drunk together while sitting before "Requiem." She said I had undercharged Mr. Erickson and would write out the check.
The Erickson Educational Foundation funded a program at Johns Hopkins University for transexual research and sex changes, and for a while also funded psychedelic research. So Zelda knew everyone involved in all that, too -- and here we are talking about a cast of really "fabulous" persons.
Zelda and I became the deepest and closest of friends in more ways than one. I spent a great deal of my time at her apartment after her day's work was done. Our favorite thing to do together was to cook, eat -- and play heated games of Scrabble even while eating.
I was thus present at her apartment when the McCanns arrived with the infrared film. A couple of intense psychic types had come along to try to produce energies for the film, and I was mildly amused by all of the carrying on. But then one or two other people wanted to be photographed, and so everyone had to be.
I didn't really want to go into Zelda's blacked-out bedroom because, well, I didn't have the least idea of how to produce psychic energies.
But it was a convivial group. I thought the two McCanns were wonderful and optimistic, and we had gotten a little tanked up on cheap wine. Since everyone was being photographed, I eventually sat in the chair and wondered how to make some psychic energies for the benefit of the infrared film.
"Just do what you want," Bert suggested, and who was trying to manage the camera in complete darkness. The room was hot.
So I said, giggling: "Well, I'll try to make a ball of light about three feet above my head." So I "gathered my energies," or thought I did, above my head. I "pictured" a ball of light about a foot in diameter.
When the film had been developed a few days later, Behold! A TINY orb of light was above my head in three separate film shots. And there were other lights outlining my body that I had not "pictured."
No one else's photos had turned out.
I truly didn't know what to think. But everyone else seemed to know.
"YOU are psychic!" they said.
So more photos were taken -- resulting in more "successes." I have two of those photos in my archives -- but the McCanns kept the best ones and I've lost complete touch with them.
Now, there's that gossip thing -- that "liquid" that seems to seep everywhere almost with the speed of light. Some call it "news." Others call it "up-to-the-minute information" or "jungle drums." Today it can be referred to as "smoking faxes" or "jungle-drum E-Mail."
The McCanns and Zelda had discovered not just a psychic but a "real one" based on the photographic evidence.
I was totally flummoxed.
Unlike Buell Mullen's uptown crowd, Zelda tended to congregate parapsychologists around her, most of them seeming to want funding from her employer, Mr. Reed Erickson. But on the other hand, Zelda was simply loved by everyone, too.
Thus, it transpired that Zelda's next few parties were populated with a few parapsychologists as well as a number of strange people who --called themselves-- parapsychologists.
The first of the legitimate ones the first that I remember meeting was Dr. Stanley Krippner -- and eventually the wonderful Dr. Gertrude Schmeidler, then the heir-apparent to the top of the parapsychological leadership pyramid.
The photos were admired, eye brows were raised.
But they were only "informal evidence" because they had "not been obtained under strict, scientifically-controlled laboratory conditions."
Since my higher educational background had been in a science -- biology -- I knew what the "scientific method" consisted of and completely agreed. I thought that this entire matter would fade away and end.
Zelda and others, however, were having a ball. According to them, they had witnessed the production of a very elusive psychical phenomenon -- the photographing of otherwise invisible energies.
To further complicate the situation, I opened my mouth and blabbered like a knowledgeable parapsychologist. Not for nothing had my many years of reading taken place, and there was a certain fascinating beauty about what had happened -- or what seemed to have happened.
That things could continue building up beyond this amusing and somewhat steamy sequence was beyond my imagination. I did not yet have the sense of being sucked into something larger than myself.
But six months later I WAS media news, and things being reported no longer consisted of just gossip.
In any event, this bit of amusing entertainment is how it all began -- and which was rather quickly to turn into a great adventure which involved, of all things, international espionage of the strangest and most unexpected kind.
One reason why I assumed there was to be no future history as a result of this small event was that I never expected to be invited into parapsychology laboratories. In fact, I understood quite well that contemporary parapsychologists were not interested in photographic phenomena, nor even interested in psychics, real or so-called.
Although the historical basis of parapsychology rested on "testing subjects," hard-core parapsychologists tested their "scientific" theories, and did not, in general, get involved with phenomena.
An elitist system (still presently in effect) had developed between (1) the hard-core parapsychologists, who considered themselves as scientifically legitimate, and (2) a large variety of soft-core "parapsychologists" who were interested in phenomena -- with the hard-core elements sneering at the soft-core ones.
In some instances this division was deserved. But in others it was counterproductive and entirely inimical to the whole field of inquiry parapsychology was supposed to take on.
I'm not attempting to be deliberately caustic here. But the above represents a situation vastly misunderstood by the public. For it is generally assumed that parapsychologists are all rowing the same boat in the same direction and that the substance of their interests regards Herculean effort of identifying the nature of psi phenomena.
Unfortunately, the sands of parapsychology shift around a lot, and so the whole situation is blurred and foggy. But it is not unusual, for example, for parapsychologists to try to condemn the work of other parapsychologists -- and so we are in the familiar ballpark of behind-the-scenes stuff.
Something of this snarl will become clearer as I narrate through some of the events ahead -- which, if painful, has to be done in the contexts of the real story of remote viewing.
You see, when the intelligence community DID become interested in certain bio-mind phenomena, that community did NOT become interested in parapsychology or parapsychologists.
Why that was so needs to be understood -- and above I have just laid the initial ground work for that understanding.
As it was, back in mid-1971 I neither dreamed of what was shortly to come, and I resented being called a "psychic."
So I began a backflow of protest into the gossip lines emanating from Buell-central and Zelda-central.
"I am not a psychic!"
I was to lose that protest entirely -- mostly because of the avalanche of confusions perpetuated by those whose knowledge and vision is limited by a rather narrow and simplistic nomenclature.
Everyone knows what a psychic is, right?