Lee B Croft is a Professor of Russian at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, who, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, became concerned about his students' use of drugs to the point where he researched the subject of drug use and began to teach, in 1981, a controversial course entitled "Marijuana and Man." This course became the basis of a separate career for Professor Croft as an anti-drug crusader, substance-abuse counselor, and workplace drug-testing pioneer. In all these aspects of his activities he was asked to explain how a human behavior that was empirically proven to damage the human organism and diminish human potential could be interpreted by a human to be a positive and pleasant thing that the human would want to repeat. This is the central question to all harmful addictions...and to "Toxicomania" in American society: "How are people motivated to behaviors that harm them physically and destroy their dreams of positive achievement?" In Croft's "explanation," a university professor (as he is) is ensnared in Satan's scheme to add a self-destructive behavior to the human repetoire--the licking of bufo toads to hallucinogenic purpose. Satan comes to this professor, named Judson Farr, in his office and transports him psychically to ancient Mexico, where he witnesses himself as a key participant in a sacrificial ritual wherein young people are given up by their parents to have their hearts cut out by the priests' jade knives while everyone present is under the spell of bufotenin, a psychoactive substance obtained by the licking of the indigenous bufo toads (Sakua) sacred to their rain god. This "illustrative experience" is given to Prof. Farr by Satan's personification Lucifer, a gray-suited businessman with a black face, so that he will desire similar power over his contemporary Americans. When Prof. Farr asks Lucifer how he will convince so many Americans to lick toads, he is told, "We will create a demand, and you will satisfy it." And this demand is then created by associating the licking of toads with all manner of positive cultural figures and phenomena using a kind of propaganda Croft later termed "media hypnosis." As strange as this hypothesis seems, TOADIES makes it seem plausible...the point being that the licking of toads is not really any stranger than the deliberate ingestion of opiates, amphetamines, or cannabinoids...all similarly toxic substances. This is the lesson Croft provides us. In the narrative are many recognizable figures from our society's recent lamentable fascination with drug use. Despite the use of anagrammatic names to mask their identities we know who they are. But Croft tells us on the back of the title page: "Although this is a work of fiction, similarities to actual characters and past events are strictly intentional
. The author is protected by the truth."
Croft wrote this bizarrely edifying work in Ablah Library at Wichita State University in 1979-80 while he was on a sabbatical leave from Arizona State and living with his wife-to-be, Dr. Lesley Hoyt Croft, who was a professor of sociology at Wichita State. When he finished writing it, he asked his Cut Bank (Montana) High School classmate, R. Dean Hendrickson, to illustrate it with his wonderful line drawings. Then he tried to get it published by sending to more than a hundred publishing houses and literary agents. All reactions were negative...though definite glimmers of its underlying theme, bufoglossation, subsequently appeared in more than one television program or hip-culture news article. But a colleague in Russian, Prof. Delbert D. Phillips of the University of Arizona in Tucson, found an opportunity in 1992, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, to publish the work in Russian in Russia. This was because the Russian population, in the opinion of the editors to whom Prof. Phillips submitted the work, saw its "media hypnosis" theory of negative behavior propagation as analogous to the negative political propaganda they had endured for the past seventy-five years. Ably translated into Russian, the work sold well in Russia at a time when people there were selling their books in order to eat. The publisher could not find a way, given the wild currency-rate fluctuations between the ruble and the dollar at the time, to pay Prof. Croft for the copies sold. So an agreement was negotiated wherein the Russian publisher, Sintaksis, would print English hardback copies and send them to Prof. Croft in a proportion to the Russian copies sold. One day in 1993, Prof. Croft received in the mail 269 English copies. He still has most of them in the shelves of his garage, though many colleagues, drug educators and Slavic-studies professionals alike, have praised it and declared that it "would make a great movie."