Methaqualone in popular culture

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Main article: Methaqualone

Methaqualone is a sedative-hypnotic drug similar in effect to barbiturates, a general CNS depressant. Its use peaked in the 1960s and 1970s as a hypnotic for the treatment of insomnia, and as a sedative and muscle relaxant. It has also been used illegally as a recreational drug, commonly known as Quaaludes (/ˈkwljuːdz/ KWAY-lewdz), particularly in the 1970s in North America, or as Mandrax (methaqualone 250 mg combined with diphenhydramine 5 mg).


  • In Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City books, the character Mona Ramsay is a frequent Quaalude user.
  • In the book The Wolf of Wall Street, Quaaludes are mentioned as the drug to which author Jordan Belfort is addicted.
  • In Anthony Kiedis's autobiography Scar Tissue, he mentions using Quaaludes during his youth.
  • In Larry Kramer's 1978 novel Faggots, Quaaludes are frequently used by the characters as a party drug.
  • In David Foster Wallace's 1996 novel Infinite Jest, Don Gately's adolescent experiences with Quaaludes and alcohol are denoted by the phrase "The Attack of the Killer Sidewalks."
  • In Cherie Currie's memoir, Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway, Cherie Currie talks about popping quaaludes like they were Skittles.
  • In Bret Easton Ellis' 1985 novel, Less Than Zero, Quaaludes are mentioned in several places.
  • In Keith Richards' 2010 memoir, Life, he tells of the speedboat he bought in 1971 while living on the French Riviera and recording Exile on Main Street. He named the boat Mandrax, an anagram of its original name, saying: "It was irresistible to call it that."[1]
  • In Stephen King's 1986 novel, It, Eddie Kaspbrak takes a great deal of drugs with him as he leaves his wife to meet his childhood companions in Derry, Maine; it is mentioned that Quaalude is among them.
  • The movie The Boost was based on Ben Stein's novel Ludes: A Ballad of the Drug & the Dream


  • In the 1987 film Dragnet, Joe Friday's(played by Dan Aykroyd) badge number (714) was conspicuously the last shot in the opening credits. This was ostensibly a tribute to the original Joe Friday (Jack Webb) from the 1951 TV series of Dragnet--who is the uncle of the film's Joe Friday--but actually the badge number is a reference to what had become an inside joke in popular culture and especially to users of "714's", the Methaqualone pill produced by under the brand name of Quaalude." Friday's character inherited his namesake's badge number and the movie's main plot point is attempting to twart the drug-dealing "P.A.G.A.N.S.".
  • In the 1977 film Jubilee, Jordan's character Amyl Nitrate, an "anti-historian", says it would be great if "all of history could be written on a Mandrax."
  • In the 2000 film Almost Famous, Kate Hudson's character Penny Lane overdoses on Quaaludes before getting her stomach pumped.
  • In the Cheech and Chong movie Up In Smoke, Quaaludes are mentioned in several places. While driving the "van made entirely out of marijuana," which the narcotic Sergeant Stadenko is pursuing, Cheech and Chong pick up two hitchhiking women. One of them, 'Jade East,' offers Chong a 'lude. At The Roxy Theatre, she gives Chong pills she believes are uppers, but which are actually Quaaludes, before he attempts to perform. Chong's stage persona during his band's performance is "Captain Quaalude"; he is dressed in tights, a shirt emblazoned with a huge Quaalude and a cape. The apparent overdose of Quaalude that Chong has received causes him to fall all over the stage and his drums, until he is revived by marijuana smoke being drawn into the Roxy's ventilation system from the van burning in front of the club.
  • In Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, Cheech's ex-girlfriend Donna (Evelyn Guerrero) enters a Chinese restaurant to find Cheech and Chong seated together. Her speech is quite slurred from the Quaaludes that she acknowledges taking.
  • In the movie Wonderland, John Holmes (Val Kilmer) aided and abetted in the theft of $100,000 in Quaaludes from the character Eddy Nash.
  • In the film Blades of Glory, Will Ferrell's character, Chazz Michael Michaels, announces that he was high on Quaaludes at an event.
  • In Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, he mentions to his son, Dewey-Raheem, that "Quaaludes and water-skiing do not mix."
  • In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Sean Penn's character, Jeff Spicoli, states, "People on 'ludes should not drive," as he drives down the street in his friend's brother's car.
  • In the commentaries for the film The Runaways, Joan Jett mentions that Quaaludes were her drug of choice when her character was shown snorting cocaine.
  • In Scarface, Tony says "Another Quaalude and she's gonna love me again".
  • In the 2005 movie The Matador, Julian Noble (Pierce Brosnan) tells his friend Danny Wright (Greg Kinnear) "A Vietnamese girl I once knew had her legs so locked together I couldn't get a whiff of her spring roll. Two drinks, half a quaalude later, I was at an all you can eat buffet. Every lock can be broken. It's just a matter of will and whether it's worth it."
  • In Starsky & Hutch, drug dealer Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn) angers his partner Kevin (Jason Bateman) when he murders one of their subordinates. Feldman callously advises Kevin to take a Quaalude to relax.
  • In The Hunger, a young girl named Alice asks Miriam (Catherine Deneuve) if she can give John (David Bowie) some Quaaludes to help him sleep. Miriam is shocked to hear her even mention the drug, but Alice tells her that she steals the pills from her stepmother, who buys them by the gross.
  • In the 2012 film That's My Boy, Adam Sandler's character's pet snake was mentioned to have died due to a Quaaludes overdose. He defends it by saying that was the only time anybody's ever seen a king cobra laugh.
  • The drug was referred to as 'ludes' in the 2013 Martin Scorsese picture, The Wolf of Wall Street. Jonah Hill's character also finds some old stock of Lemmon, and decides to use it with Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • In the 1981 picture Modern Romance, Albert Brooks' character uses Quaaludes to help cope with a break-up.


  • Cheap Trick released "Voices" from their album Dream Police as a 45 RPM single. The cover of the single released in Japan and The Netherlands has a picture of the members of the group showing police badges. The badge their bassist Tom Peterssen held had the number "714" on it. ***While this was the badge number of Joe Friday on the series Dragnet it is also the number on the Methaqualone pill produced by under the brand name of Quaalude.
  • During the mid-1970s, when the band The Tubes performed their signature hit song "White Punks on Dope", they threw out imitation "Quaaludes" to the audience. The lead singer of the band, Fee Waybill, took on their stage persona Quay Lewd and performed in platform shoes with very tall heels.
  • On their 1980 album "Inside My Brain" The Angry Samoans have a song titled Gimme Sopor,a reference to the drug.
  • In the Marilyn Manson video clip for "I Don't Like The Drugs (But The Drugs Like Me)", the mother of the family featured on the clip holds up a number of word cards and flicks through them quickly. The words on the cards are "Masturbate – Repent – Dope Star – Suicide – Quaaludes".
  • In Pink Floyd's early days, while supporting Jimi Hendrix on his UK tour, former frontman Syd Barrett crushed a jar of mandrax tablets and put them in his hair, along with an entire tube of Brylcreem. During that show he played one chord the entire night, while the mixture melted under the heat of the lights, making Syd look like "a guttered candle".
  • In the Butthole Surfers song To Parter, the song frequently mentions Quaaludes.
  • In the Lynyrd Skynyrd song "That Smell", Ronnie Van Zant sings, "So they call you Prince Charming, can't speak a word when you're full of ludes", a reference to guitarist Gary Rossington.
  • In the Funkadelic song "Stick Finger", they chant, "I don't want to get up, Quaalude me down".
  • In the 2Pac song "Everything They Owe," he claims that police came into his home and said "Where is the quaaludes?".
  • The Social Distortion song "Lude Boy" is about Quaalude abuse. Also, in the documentary film Another State of Mind, Social Distortion bassist Brent Liles can be seen wearing a shirt displaying a Quaalude reference during the San Francisco show scene.
  • In the Kottonmouth Kings' song, "Johnny's Got a Problem", he states "I ain't got no problems whut the fuck's wrong with you, get me a blue and a twelve pack of brew, some chicks to screw who know whut to do, plus 2 quaaludes for when the night's through."
  • Rapper Mickey Avalon mentions Quaaludes in his song "Dipped in Vaseline" with the lyrics "Hustling gay dude for Quaaludes, out by the pool, in a baby-blue bathing suit. Waiting for Jesus to bring the juice."
  • The Dead Kennedys song "M.T.V. – Get off the Air" has the line "Hi, I'm your video DJ. I always talk like I'm wigged out on Quaaludes."
  • The Minor Threat song "Straight Edge" contains the line, "Laugh at the thought of eating ludes..."
  • On Robin Williams' 1979 record Reality, What a Concept, the comedian continually references the drug in regards to his "stoner character".
  • The David Bowie song "Time" has the line "Time – in Quaaludes and red wine." Also mentioned in the song "Rebel Rebel"; "You got your queue line and a handful of ludes..."
  • The song "Blue Highway" by Billy Idol has the line, "Quaaludes and red wine for love, yes there's a time, a time for love."
  • The Lemonheads song "It's all true" has the line "Sorry 'bout dropping that 'lude, it just seemed like the best thing to do."
  • The John Prine song "Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard" includes the line "Selling bibles at the airports, buying Quaaludes on the phone".
  • Shel Silverstein's album The Great Conch Train Robbery contains a song titled "Quaaludes Again", which is about a woman's addiction to Quaaludes and the fact that she is doing them again.
  • Straight edge hardcore band Gorilla Biscuits take their name from New York slang for Quaaludes.
  • Them Crooked Vultures' use 'ludes' in the title of their song "Interlude With Ludes".
  • Great White had a rare song on side two of their "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" single called "Wasted Rock Ranger". One of the verses said "I had Bennies with my breakfast toast, Quaaludes with my evening roast and assorted snorts of powder in between. I don't think a day's gone by, that I wasn't drunk or high. It's the only way I keep my sanity."
  • The Reagan Youth song "Degenerated" has the line, "Johnny wastes his days eating ludes, he's a teenage vegetable."
  • In Ian Dury and the Blockheads' song "Billericay Dickie", one of the verses states "another thing with Sandy, what often came in handy, was passing her a 'Mandy', she didn't half go bandy".
  • Frank Zappa can be heard asking "Wanna buy some Mandies, Bob?" in the song "Flakes" on his Sheik Yerbouti album. In "Pygmy Twylyte" from the Roxy & Elsewhere album, he sings "Hurtin' for sleep in the Quaalude moonlight".
  • Iggy Pop references "quaaludes" in the song "I Got Nothin'" on the Kill City album (credited to Iggy Pop & James Williamson).
  • The Descendents song "Bikeage" contains the lyric "Take a quaalude, relax your mind."
  • The Screeching Weasel song "Joanie Loves Johnny" contains the lyric "Pinkie Tuscadero's stewed, Fonzie's all fucked up on 'ludes".
  • The Wonder Years's song "Racing Trains" contains a lyric where Dan Campbell sings that "the guy on the train says he split a quaalude with Sid Vicious"
  • The Mac Miller song "S.D.S." contains the line "Take some quaaludes, conversate with Jesus", with "Jesus" being pronounced in the Latin-American fashion.
  • During the Billion Dollar Babies tour in the 1970's, Alice Cooper occasionally changed a line in his song "Dead Babies", which concerns a child overdosing on aspirin to "Little Betty ate a pound of quaaludes". An instance of this is most readily found in the concert film Good to See You Again, Alice Cooper.
  • The Rick James song "Super Freak" contains the lyric "Three's not a crowd to her, she says (menage à trois) Room 714, I'll be waiting."


  • In Season 4 episode 3 of the HBO series Sex and the City, Samantha Jones (played by Kim Catrall) discusses using Quaaludes during threesomes.
  • In Denis Leary's 1992 Showtime special No Cure for Cancer, Leary makes reference to ludes as a drug he did in the 1970s, claiming that they were "the only possible explanation" for the prevalence of bell-bottoms during that era.
  • In the first season of the Showtime series Weeds, Elizabeth Perkins' character, Celia Hodes, claims to have in her possession the "last pharmaceutical Quaalude in the world." The episode was called, "Lude Awakening". The last scene of the episode shows the character exposing her breasts to a teenage boy. When the boy's mother walks in, "I took a Lude" was the woman's excuse.
  • On the HBO Show Entourage, talent Representative Ari Gold quotes "The Last time I blacked out, I took four Quaaludes and fucked Chantelle Luttenberger."
  • In the "Walk Softly Through the Night" episode of Quincy, M.E., Dr Quincy confronts an unethical physician who prescribes Methaqualone to addicts for a profit. He sees to it that the physician is investigated by the local chapter of the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance.
  • In an episode of Desperate Housewives ("The Game") Tom Scavo asks Stella Wingfield (Lynette Scavo's mother) if she had put Quaaludes in the cocoa she gave his children before putting them to sleep.
  • In an episode of Will & Grace, Grace jokes about the drummer of one's prom band putting a "Quaalude in your Fresca".
  • In the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "The Gang Reignites The Rivalry", at the Frat house, Frank (Danny DeVito) asks if the fraternity brothers have any ludes.
  • In an episode of The King of Queens Doug's boss requests "Mexican quaaludes" in exchange for hiring Doug's cousin, Danny.
  • In an episode of 1000 Ways to Die there was a hairstylist known for seducing women with quaaludes and vodka. After being under the influence of quaauludes and a cocktail from an earlier fling, he passes out with his neck landing on top of a curling iron. As the curling iron burns through the hairstylist's neck, the dead tissue blocks his trachea and he asphyxiated and died.
  • In the Childrens Hospital episode "That 70s Episode," the entire hospital staff are shown to have a soft spot for "ludes" during the 1970s.
  • The Rockford Files: Season 5, Episode 7 Three Day Affair with a Thirty Day Escrow (10 Nov. 1978) Richard Moll plays the character "Ludes". Ludes is paid with Thai sticks to frighten away further investigation by Jim Rockford.
  • In the season 6 Parks and Recreation episode "Anniversaries", the character Joan Callamezzo (played by Mo Collins) takes uppers and ludes before hosting her TV show.


  1. ^ Richards, Keith and Fox, James "Life". Little, Brown and Co. 2002. p.292.