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|Leader||None. Pigasus used as a symbolic leader.|
|Founded||December 31, 1967(as Yippies)|
|Headquarters||New York City|
|Newspaper||The Yipster Times
Youth International Party Line
|Political position||Post-left (unofficial)|
|Colors||Black, green, red|
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The Youth International Party, whose members were commonly called Yippies, was an American radically youth-oriented and countercultural revolutionary offshoot of the free speech and anti-war movements of the 1960s. It was founded on December 31, 1967. They employed theatrical gestures, such as advancing a pig ("Pigasus the Immortal") as a candidate for President in 1968, to mock the social status quo. They have been described as a highly theatrical, anti-authoritarian and anarchist youth movement of "symbolic politics".
Since they were well known for street theater and politically themed pranks, many of the "old school" political left either ignored or denounced them. According to ABC News, "The group was known for street theater pranks and was once referred to as the 'Groucho Marxists'."
The Yippies had no formal membership or hierarchy. Abbie and Anita Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Nancy Kurshan, and Paul Krassner founded the Yippies (according to his own account, Krassner coined the name) at a meeting in the Hoffmans' New York apartment on December 31, 1967. "If the press had created 'hippie,' could not we five hatch the 'yippie'?" Abbie Hoffman wrote. Other activists associated with the Yippies include Stew Albert, Ed Rosenthal, Allen Ginsberg, Ed Sanders, Robin Morgan, Phil Ochs, Robert M. Ockene, William Kunstler, Jonah Raskin, Steve Conliff, John Sinclair, Dana Beal, Matthew Landy Steen, Judy Gumbo, Ben Masel, Tom Forcade, David Peel, Tuli Kupferberg, Jill Johnston, Daisy Deadhead, Bob Fass, John Murdock, Alice Torbush  and Brenton Lengel.
A Yippie flag was frequently seen at anti-war demonstrations. The flag had a black background with a five-pointed red star in the center, and a green cannabis leaf superimposed over it. When asked about the Yippie flag, an anonymous Yippie identified only as "Jung" told the New York Times that "The black is for anarchy. The red star is for our five point program. And the leaf is for marijuana, which is for getting ecologically stoned without polluting the environment." This flag is also mentioned in Hoffman's Steal This Book.
Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin became the most famous Yippies—and bestselling authors—in part due to publicity surrounding the five-month Chicago Seven Conspiracy trial of 1969. They both used the phrase "ideology is a brain disease" to separate the Yippies from mainstream political parties that played the game by the rules. Hoffman and Rubin were arguably the most colorful of the seven defendants accused of criminal conspiracy and inciting to riot at the August 1968 Democratic National Convention. Hoffman and Rubin used the trial as a platform for Yippie antics—at one point, they showed up in court attired in judicial robes.
We needed a name to signify the radicalization of hippies, and I came up with Yippie as a label for a phenomenon that already existed, an organic coalition of psychedelic hippies and political activists. In the process of cross-fertilization at antiwar demonstrations, we had come to share an awareness that there was a linear connection between putting kids in prison for smoking pot in this country and burning them to death with napalm on the other side of the planet.
Anita Hoffman liked the word, but felt that the New York Times and other "strait-laced types" needed a more formal name to take the movement seriously. That same night she came up with Youth International Party, because it symbolized the movement and made for a good play on words.
Along with the name Youth International Party, the organization was also simply called Yippie!, as in a shout for joy (with an exclamation mark to express exhilaration). "What does Yippie! mean?" Abbie Hoffman wrote. "Energy – fun – fierceness – exclamation point!"
The Yippies held their first press conference in New York at the Americana Hotel March 17, 1968, five months before the August 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Judy Collins sang at the press conference. The Chicago Sun-Times reported it with an article titled: "Yipes! The Yippies Are Coming!"
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The Yippie "New Nation" concept called for the creation of alternative, counterculture institutions (food co-ops, underground newspapers, free clinics, etc.). Yippies believed these cooperative institutions and a radicalized hippie culture would spread until they supplanted the existing system.
"We are a people. We are a new nation," YIP's New Nation Statement said of the burgeoning hippie movement. "We want everyone to control their own life and to care for one another... We cannot tolerate attitudes, institutions, and machines whose purpose is the destruction of life, the accumulation of profit."
The goal was a decentralized, collective, anarchistic nation rooted in the borderless hippie counterculture and its communal ethos. Abbie Hoffman wrote:
The flag for the "new nation" consisted of a black background with a red five pointed star in the center and a green marijuana leaf superimposed over it (same as the YIP flag).
The Chicago Museum shows a different flag for the new nation. It is not the marijuana leaf. It has the word NOW under what looks like the all-seeing eye on a pyramid seen on the back of a dollar bill.
The Yippies often paid tribute to rock 'n' roll and irreverent pop-culture figures such as the Marx Brothers, James Dean and Lenny Bruce. Many Yippies used nicknames which contained Baby Boomer television or pop references, such as Pogo or Gumby. Pogo is famous for creating the chant "No More Mindless Chants" in the mid-1970s. At demonstrations and parades, Yippies often wore face paint or colorful bandannas to keep from being identified in photographs. Other Yippies reveled in the spotlight, allowing their stealthier comrades the anonymity they needed for their pranks.
One cultural intervention that misfired was at Woodstock, with Abbie Hoffman interrupting a performance by The Who, trying to speak against the incarceration of John Sinclair, sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1969 after giving two joints to an undercover narcotics officer. Guitarist Pete Townshend used his guitar to bat Hoffman off the stage.
The Yippies were the first on the New Left to make a point of exploiting mass media. Colorful, theatrical Yippie actions were tailored to attract media coverage and also to provide a stage where people could express the "repressed" Yippie inside them. "We believe every nonyippie is a repressed yippie," Jerry Rubin wrote in Do it! "We try to bring out the yippie in everybody."
Yippies were famous for their sense of humor. Many direct actions were often satirical and elaborate pranks or put-ons. An application to levitate The Pentagon during the October, 1967 March on the Pentagon, and a mass protest/mock levitation at the building organized by Rubin, Hoffman and company at the event, helped to set the tone for Yippie when it was established a couple of months later. Another famous prank just before Yippie was coined was a guerrilla theater event in New York City in 1967. Abbie Hoffman and a group of future Yippies managed to get into a tour of the New York Stock Exchange, where they threw fistfuls of real and fake US$ from the balcony of the visitors' gallery down to the traders below, some of whom booed, while others began to scramble frantically to grab the money as fast as they could.  The visitors' gallery was closed until a glass barrier could be installed, to prevent similar incidents.
There was a clash with police on March 22, 1968, where a large group of countercultural youths led by the Yippies descended into Grand Central Station for a "Yip-In". The night erupted into a violent clash with police that Don McNeill of The Village Voice christened a "pointless confrontation in a box canyon". A month after the Grand Central Station Yip-In, Yippies organized a "Yip-Out," a be-in style event in Central Park that went off peacefully and drew 20,000 people.
The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) subpoenaed Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman of the Yippies in 1967, and again in the aftermath of the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The Yippies used media attention to make a mockery of the proceedings: Rubin came to one session dressed as an American Revolutionary War soldier, and passed out copies of the United States Declaration of Independence to people in attendance. Then Rubin "blew giant gum bubbles while his co-witnesses taunted the committee with Nazi salutes". Rubin also attended HUAC dressed as Santa Claus and a Viet Cong soldier.
On another occasion, police stopped Hoffman at the building entrance and arrested him for wearing an American flag. Hoffman quipped for the press, "I regret that I have but one shirt to give for my country", paraphrasing the last words of revolutionary patriot Nathan Hale; meanwhile Rubin, who was wearing a matching Viet Cong flag, shouted that the police were Communists for not arresting him also.
According to The Harvard Crimson:
In the fifties, the most effective sanction was terror. Almost any publicity from HUAC meant the 'blacklist.' Without a chance to clear his name, a witness would suddenly find himself without friends and without a job. But it is not easy to see how in 1969 a HUAC blacklist could terrorize an SDS activist. Witnesses like Jerry Rubin have openly boasted of their contempt for American institutions. A subpoena from HUAC would be unlikely to scandalize Abbie Hoffman or his friends.
Yippie theatrics culminated at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. YIP planned a six-day Festival of Life – a celebration of the counterculture and a protest against the state of the nation. This was supposed to counter the "Convention of Death." This promised to be "the blending of pot and politics into a political grass leaves movement – a cross-fertilization of the hippie and New Left philosophies." Yippies' sensational statements before the convention were part of the theatrics, including a tongue-in-cheek threat to put LSD in Chicago's water supply. "We will fuck on the beaches! ... We demand the Politics of Ecstasy! ... Abandon the Creeping Meatball! ... And all the time 'Yippie! Chicago – August 25–30.'" First on a list of Yippie demands: "An immediate end to the war in Vietnam."
Yippie organizers hoped that well-known musicians would participate in the Festival of Life and draw a crowd of tens if not hundreds of thousands from across the country. The city of Chicago refused to issue any permits for the festival and most musicians withdrew from the project. Of the rock bands who had agreed to perform, only the MC5 came to Chicago to play and their set was cut short by a clash between the audience of a couple thousand and police. Phil Ochs and several other singer-songwriters also performed during the festival.
In response to the Festival of Life and other anti-war demonstrations during the Democratic convention, Chicago police repeatedly clashed with protesters, as many millions of viewers watched the extensive TV coverage of the events. "The whole world is watching," protesters chanted. "A police riot," concluded the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence. "On the part of the police there was enough wild club swinging, enough cries of hatred, enough gratuitous beating to make the conclusion inescapable that individual policemen, and lots of them, committed violent acts far in excess of the requisite force for crowd dispersal or arrest."
Following the convention, eight protesters were charged with conspiracy to incite the riots, and there was a heavily publicized, five-month trial. The Chicago Seven represented a cross-section of the New Left, including three Yippie defendants: Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and Lee Weiner. Several other Yippies – including Stew Albert, Wolfe Lowenthal, Brad Fox and Robin Palmer – were among another 18 activists named as "unindicted co-conspirators" in the case. While five of the defendants were initially convicted of crossing state lines to incite a riot, all convictions were soon reversed in appeal court. Defendants Hoffman and Rubin became popular authors and public speakers, spreading Yippie militancy and comedy wherever they appeared. When Hoffman appeared on The Merv Griffin Show, for example, he wore a shirt with an American flag design, prompting CBS to black out his image when the show aired.
The Youth International Party quickly spread beyond Rubin, Hoffman and the other founders. YIP had chapters all over the US and in other countries, with particularly active groups in New York, Vancouver, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Columbus, Chicago and Madison. There were YIP conferences through the 1970s, beginning with a "New Nation Conference" in Madison, Wisconsin in 1971.
On the final day of the Madison conference, April 4, 1971, hundreds of riot police broke up a block party organized by local Yippies to cap the event, resulting in a street clash between Yippies and police. During an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 1969, East Coast Yippies led thousands of youths in the storming of the Justice Department building. On August 6, 1970, L.A. Yippies invaded Disneyland, hoisting the New Nation flag at City Hall and taking over Tom Sawyer's Island. While riot police confronted the Yippies, the theme park was closed early for the first time in the park's history. As many as 23 of 200 Yippies that came were arrested. It was the park's second unscheduled closing, the first being shortly after the assassination of President Kennedy. Vancouver Yippies invaded the U.S. border town of Blaine, Washington, on May 9, 1970, to protest Richard Nixon's invasion of Cambodia and the shooting of students at Kent State. Columbus Yippies were charged with inciting the rioting that occurred in the city on May 11, 1972, in response to Nixon's mining of North Vietnam's Haiphong harbor. They were acquitted. Chicago organized local events and hosted national events well into the 1980s. A frequent complaint was that New York acted as if other chapters did not exist and kept them out of the decision making process.
YIP was a member of the coalition of anti-Vietnam War activists who, over several days in early May 1971, tried to shut down the U.S. government by occupying intersections and bridges in Washington, D.C. The May Day protests resulted in the largest mass arrest in American history.
In 1972, Yippies and Zippies (a younger YIP offshoot whose "guiding spirit" was Tom Forcade) staged protests at the Republican convention in Miami. Some of the Miami protests were larger and more militant than the ones in Chicago in 1968. After Miami, the Zippies evolved back into Yippies.
Yippies organized marijuana "smoke-ins" across North America through the 1970s and into the 1980s. The first YIP smoke-in was attended by 25,000 in Washington, D.C. on July 4, 1970. There was a culture clash when many of the hippie protesters strolled en masse into the nearby "Honor America Day" festivities with Billy Graham and Bob Hope. On August 7, 1971, a Yippie smoke-in in Vancouver was attacked by police, resulting in the Gastown Riot, one of the most famous protests in Canadian history. The annual July 4 Yippie smoke-in in Washington, D.C., became a counterculture tradition.
Yippies organized alternative institutions in their counterculture communities. In Tucson, Yippies operated a free store; in Vancouver, Yippies established the People's Defense Fund to provide legal help for the often-harassed hippie community; in Milwaukee, Yippies helped launch the city's first food co-op. Many Yippies were involved in the underground press. Some were the editors of major underground newspapers or alternative magazines, including Yippies Abe Peck (Chicago Seed), Jeff Shero Nightbyrd (New York's Rat), Paul Krassner (The Realist), Robin Morgan (Ms. Magazine), Steve Conliff (Sour Grapes), Mayer Vishner (L.A. Weekly), Matthew Landy Steen (Berkeley Tribe), Tom Forcade (Underground Press Syndicate) and Gabrielle Schang (Alternative Media). New York Yippie Coca Crystal hosted the popular cable TV program If I Can't Dance You Can Keep Your Revolution.
Yippies were active in alternative music and movies. Singer-songwriters Phil Ochs and David Peel were Yippies. "I helped design the party, formulate the idea of what Yippie was going to be, in the early part of 1968," Ochs testified at the Chicago Eight trial. The Youth International Party founded the U.S. branch of the Rock Against Racism movement in 1979. YIP-affiliated John Sinclair managed Detroit's proto-punk band the MC5. Vancouver Yippies Ken Lester and David Spaner were the managers of Canada's two most notorious political punk bands, D.O.A. (Lester) and The Subhumans (Spaner). New York Yippie Tom Forcade was the producer of one of the first movies about punk rock, D.O.A., featuring footage of the Sex Pistols' 1978 tour of America. Baltimore Yippie John Waters became a renowned independent filmmaker.
Yippies mocked the system and its authority. The Youth International Party, having nominated a pig for U.S. president in 1968, ran "Nobody" as its presidential candidate in 1976. The Yippie campaign slogan: "Nobody's perfect." When Vancouver Yippie Betty "Zaria" Andrew ran as the Youth International Party's candidate for mayor in 1970, one of her campaign promises was to repeal every law, including the law of gravity so everyone can get high. That year, Berkeley Yippie Stew Albert ran for sheriff of Alameda County, challenging the incumbent sheriff to a high-noon duel and receiving 65,000 votes. Detroit Yippies went to city hall and applied for a permit to blow up the General Motors building in 1970. After the permit was denied, the Yippies said that it just goes to show you can't work within the system to change the system. "This destroys my last hope for legal channels," said Detroit Yippie Jumpin' Jack Flash.
Some Yippies, including Robin Morgan, Nancy Kurshan, Sharon Krebs and Judy Gumbo, were active in the guerrilla-theater feminist group W.I.T.C.H. (Women's International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell), which combined "theatricality, humor, and activism." Others had their start in early performance art with the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Diggers.
On November 7, 1970, Jerry Rubin and London Yippies took over The Frost Programme when he was the guest on the popular British TV program. In all the chaos, a Yippie fired a water pistol into host David Frost's open mouth, the broadcaster called for a commercial break and the show was over. The Daily Mirror's banner headline: "THE FROST FREAKOUT."
Pie-throwing as a political act was invented by Yippies. The first political pieing was carried out by Tom Forcade, when he pied a member of the President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography in 1970. Columbus Yippie Steve Conliff pied Ohio Governor James Rhodes in 1977 to protest the Kent State shootings. Milwaukee Yippie Pat Small was the first person to be arrested for a pieing, following a hit on a Miami alderman prior to the convention protests in 1972. Aron "The Pieman" Kay became the best-known Yippie pie-thrower, with his targets including Sen. Daniel Moynihan, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, ex-CIA head William Colby and conservative columnist William F. Buckley.
Perhaps one of the swan songs of Yippies was a groundbreaking effort to place a new voting option, None of the Above, on the election ballot in Santa Barbara County, in California, by the Isla Vista Municipal Advisory Council in 1976. This represented an incipient libertarian impulse of Yippies and the first example in the United States of this election ballot alternative, in what one of the resolution's two co-sponsors, Matthew Steen, described as an "anti-institutional Yippie up-yours." Years earlier Steen had been a Yippie activist, with Stew Albert, as a reporter with Berkeley Tribe. This novel motion was adopted unanimously by the Council, having a ripple effect across the country, with voters in Nevada approving this option in a change to state election laws in 1986. And in 2000 a citizen initiative to place None of the Above on the official state ballot in California was qualified although the proposition was voted down 62% to 38% in the general election that year. The most recent addition, internationally, are for state elections in India where this option must be made available in electronic voting machines.
In 1976, Yippies took a cue from Isla Vistans, running "Nobody" for President. Meanwhile, in a strange twist of Yippie fate, Steen had become treasurer of the student campaign to elect Jerry Brown for President, competing against "Nobody" and Jimmy Carter during the presidential campaign that year. And, so, from the experimental political workshop of Isla Vista spread across the nation the name and spirit of this unexpected ballot initiative in the form of None of the Above musical festivals, radio and television shows, musical groups and other social phenomenon associated with the counter-cultural youth movement into a new century and succeeding generations. Political theater would live on into the 21st century with newer activist groups such Code Pink.
"An exegesis on women's liberation" by the Women's Caucus within the Youth International Party was included in the 1970 anthology Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings From The Women's Liberation Movement, edited by Robin Morgan.
In June 1971 Abbie Hoffman and Al Bell started the pioneer phreak magazine The Youth International Party Line (YIPL). Later, the name was changed to TAP for Technological American Party or Technological Assistance Program.
A YIP-related newspaper, The Yipster Times, was founded by Dana Beal in 1972 and published in New York City. It changed its name to Overthrow in 1979. The Open Road, an internationally known journal of the anti-authoritarian left, was founded by a core of Vancouver Yippies. Milwaukee Yippies published Street Sheet, the first of the anarchist zines later to become so popular in many cities. Tom Forcade founded High Times magazine. The New Yippie Press Collective published Blacklisted News: Secret Histories from Chicago to 1984 in 1983. It is still in print.
The most famous writing to come out of the Yippie movement is Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book, which is considered to be a guidebook in causing general mischief and capturing the spirit of the Yippie movement. Hoffman is also the author of Revolution for the Hell of It which has been called the original Yippie book. This book claims that there were no actual yippies, and that the name was just a term used to create a myth.
Jerry Rubin published his account of the Yippie movement in his book Do IT!: Scenarios of Revolution.
Books on Yippie by Yippies include Woodstock Nation and Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture (Abbie Hoffman), We Are Everywhere (Jerry Rubin), Trashing (Anita Hoffman), Who the Hell is Stew Albert? (Stew Albert), Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut (Paul Krassner) and Shards of God (Ed Sanders). Some other books about that era: Woodstock Census: The Nationwide Survey of the Sixties Generation (Deanne Stillman and Rex Weiner), The Panama Hat Trail (Tom Miller), Medicine Ball Caravan (Tom Forcade), The Ballad of Ken and Emily: or, Tales from the Counterculture (Ken Wachsberger).
Buy This Book, written and illustrated by political cartoonist and post-'60s Yippie activist Pete Wagner (ME Publications, 1980) who distributed copies of the Yipster Times on the University of Minnesota campus in the mid-1970s, was promoted by Hoffman, who said the book "manages to reach to the limits of bad taste." Buy This Too (Wagner, Minne HA! HA!/Brain Trust, 1987) recounted efforts by the guerrilla street theater gang, the 1985 Brain Trust, a group inspired by a series of meetings and interviews between Wagner and Krassner in May 1981, when Krassner was in Minneapolis to perform standup comedy at Dudley Riggs ETC Theater, to fight the New Right with Yippie-like myth-making tactics in the Midwest during the early 1980s.
In 1983, a group of Yippies published Blacklisted News: Secret Histories from Chicago, '68, to 1984 (Bleecker Publishing), a large, 'phone-book sized anthology' (733 pages) of Yippie history, including journalistic accounts from both alternative and mainstream media, as well as many personal stories and essays. Includes countless photographs, old leaflets and posters, 'underground' comics, newspaper clippings, and various other historical ephemera. The editors (often doubling as authors) officially called themselves "The New Yippie Book Collective" but some signed their names inside, including Dana Beal, Steve Conliff, Grace Nichols, Daisy Deadhead, Karen Wachsman, Ben Masel and Aron Kay.
The Yippies have continued as a small movement into the early 2000s. The New York chapter no longer publishes a newspaper, but is known for their annual marches for decades in New York City to legalize marijuana. Dana Beal, of New York City, started the Global Marijuana March in 1999. Beal also crusades for the use of Ibogaine to treat heroin addicts. Another Yippie, A.J. Weberman, deconstructs the poetry of Bob Dylan and speculates about the tramps on the Grassy Knoll through his various websites. Weberman is also active in the Jewish Defense Organization.
Two of the best-known original Yippies are now deceased. In 1989, Abbie Hoffman committed suicide with alcohol and about 150 phenobarbital pills, while Jerry Rubin became a stockbroker, and in 1994 was fatally injured by a car while jaywalking. By the age of 50, Rubin had broken with many of his previous countercultural views; he was interviewed by the New York Times, which described him as a "yippie-turned-conspicuous-yuppie." In the interview, he stated that "Until me, nobody had really taken off their clothes and screamed out loud, 'It's O.K. to make money!'"
In 2004, the Yippies, along with the National AIDS Brigade, purchased 9 Bleecker Street for their headquarters in New York City for $1.2 million. It was converted into the "Yippie Museum/Café and Gift Shop". It housed an independently operated café that featured live music on scheduled nights. Performers at the café included both nationally known figures and local bands, including Roseanne Barr, Ed Rosenthal, The Fiction Circus, and Joel Landy. The museum is chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. According to the curator's message at the official website the museum "exists to preserve the history of the Youth International Party and all of its offshoots." The Board of Directors consists of Dana Beal, Aron Kay, David Peel, William Propp, Paul DeRienzo, and A. J. Weberman.
As of Summer 2013, The Yippie Cafe is officially closed, but the Yippie building (Museum) at #9 Bleecker, remains. The future of the enterprise remains unclear going forward.