The Fugs Rage Against the Vietnam War

The Fugs Rage Against the Vietnam War

“Announcing the Fugs Cross Country Vietnam Protest Caravan, October 8–28th,” trumpeted Ed Sanders’s press release in advance of their 1966 tour. The group planned to promote their antiwar message across America, and the primary destination was Berkeley, California—another site that fostered the emerging peace movement. At the University of California, the Fugs played among the Bunsen burners on the chemistry room’s demonstration table, along with Allen Ginsberg and the first-ever performance by Country Joe and the Fish. Back in New York, the Fugs were banned from their regular venue, Astor Place Theatre, after they burned a flag that was printed with the words lower east side. The point was to illustrate how burning a symbol didn’t actually hurt the thing it represented, but newspapers claimed that the group burned an American flag—which led to an FBI investigation. The Bridge Theatre came to the rescue and gave the Fugs a new home, where they settled into a successful residency that ran for seven hundred-plus performances from late 1966 through 1967. The Bridge was above the Café Au Go Go on Bleecker Street, which benefited from the abundant Greenwich Village foot traffic, so the shows were often sold out. “The theater was filled,” Sanders recalled, “and the shows were fluid, well done, and hot. It was the peak time for the Fugs.”

From Chapter 15 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Bridge Theatre
4 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003