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Watch The Wolf of Wall Street Online When Jordan Belfort – played by Leonardo DiCaprio in a truly masterful moment of full-body acting – wrenches himself from the steps of a country club into a white Lamborghini that he drives to his mansion, moviegoers – having already watched some two hours of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street – are meant to be horrified. His addiction to Quaaludes (and money, and cocaine, and sex, and giving motivational speeches) has rendered him not just a metaphorical monster but a literal one.
Watch The Wolf of Wall Street Online Free He lunges at his pregnant wife and his best friend, played by Jonah Hill, and equally high; he smashes everything in his path, both with his body and with the aforementioned Lamborghini. He gurgles and drools and mangles even monosyllabic words. He’s Frankenstein’s monster in a polo shirt. But what of the movie’s glossier scenes? The one where Belfort and his paramour engage in oral sex while speeding down a highway? Where he and his friends and colleagues are on boats and planes and at pool parties, totally free of the inhibitions that keep most of us adhering to the laws of common decency? What about the parts that look fun?
Watch The Wolf of Wall Street Movie Online Everyone I spoke to post-Wolf (at least, everyone who liked it) rapturously praised Terence Winter’s absurd dialogue, DiCaprio’s magnetism, Scorsese’s eye for beautiful grotesquerie. Most of them also included a half-whispered, wide-eyed aside: what exactly are Quaaludes, and where can we get some?
Watch The Wolf of Wall Street Megavideo Often prescribed to nervous housewives, a Quaalude was something between a sleeping pill and a sedative. First synthesised in the late Fifties, by 1965 ‘ludes were being manufactured by William H Rorer Inc, a Pennsylvania pharmaceutical company. The name “Quaalude” is both a play on “Maalox”, another product manufactured by William H Rorer Inc, and a synthesis of the phrase “quiet interlude”, a concept so simple and often so out of reach. Just whisper “quiet interlude” to yourself a few times. Seductive, no? It’s the pill in the “take a pill and lie down” directive that thousands of Don Drapers gave their Bettys.
Watch The Wolf of Wall Street Online Of course, housewives have children who grow into curious teenagers, and medicine-cabinet explorations led the children of boomers to discover a new use for the drug. Most sedatives are designed to take you away within 15 minutes, but – as Belfort explains in a lengthy paean to ‘ludes – fighting the high leads one into a state almost universally described as euphoria.
“It was hard to imagine how anything could feel better than this. Any problems you had were immediately forgotten or irrelevant,” says one person who came of age when ‘ludes were still floating around. “Nothing felt like being on Quaaludes except being on Quaaludes.”
William James, the American philosopher and psychologist, thought the world was made up of two halves: the healthy-minded, or those who could “avert one’s attention from evil, and live simply in the light of good… quite free of one’s melancholy self”, and the sick-souled, or morbid-minded, “grubbing in rat-holes instead of living in the light; with their manufacture of fears, and preoccupation with every unwholesome kind of misery, there is something almost obscene about these children of wrath.”
In the end, to be of morbid mind is, according to James, the better option – the harsh realities that the healthy-minded cheerily repel “may after all be the best key to life’s significance, and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth”. Still, it’s not easy, being a sick soul. James is one of the first people to pop up in a search of “neurasthenia”, the catch-all term for those who suffered from nervousness, exhaustion and overthinking in the 19th century.
Maybe William James needed a quiet interlude. Maybe something like a Quaalude; something that makes you feel like yourself without any of the stress of actually being yourself, can be – for a healthy mind looking to spice up a Saturday night – something that enhances dancing and drinking and sex and honesty. But for someone like Jordan Belfort, whose desires beget more desires until he isn’t sure whether they’re real or if he’s wanting just to want, Quaaludes were probably more an occupational necessity than a recreational getaway.
To stay home feeling ecstatic was one thing, but imagine being out! Music! Lights! Sweaty, writhing bodies! Of course, Quaaludes were at the centre of the Seventies disco movement. Manhattan was littered with “juice bars” – nightclubs where no alcohol was sold but Quaaludes could be had for a song. (Speaking of songs, here’s an incomplete list of musicians who wrote songs referencing ‘ludes: David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Cheap Trick and The Tubes, whose lead singer’s stage character was called Quay Lewd.) As with all fashionable drugs, Quaaludes make countless appearances in the diaries of Andy Warhol who, for the sake of verisimilitude and sheer meanness, took great pleasure in documenting the rumoured quantities ingested by his Studio 54 chums… January 3, 1978: “Liza said to Halston, ‘Give me every drug you’ve got.’ So he gave her a bottle of coke, a few sticks of marijuana, a Valium and four Quaaludes.”