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 25 mg).


  • In Stephen King's novel, It (1986), Quaalude is one of the numerous drugs Eddie Kaspbrak takes with him as he leaves his wife to meet his childhood companions in Derry, Maine.
  • In Larry Kramer's novel Faggots (1978), Quaaludes are frequently used by the characters as a party drug.
  • Nick Talevski's Rock Obituaries - Knocking On Heaven's Door (2010) describes the toll that Richard Carpenter's addiction to Quaaludes and his sister Karen's anorexia had on their health and careers.[2]
  • In David Foster Wallace's novel Infinite Jest (1996), Don Gately's adolescent experiences with Quaaludes and alcohol are denoted by the phrase "The Attack of the Killer Sidewalks".


  • In the film Jubilee (1977), 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 Cheech and Chong movie Up In Smoke (1978), 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. Chong's apparent overdose on Quaaludes 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 (1981), Cheech's ex-girlfriend Donna (Evelyn Guerrero) enters a Chinese restaurant to find Cheech and Chong seated together. Her speech is slurred from the Quaaludes that she acknowledges taking.
  • In Scarface (1983), Tony accuses his wife of abusing Quaaludes, and at one point says: "Another Quaalude and she's gonna love me again".
  • In The Hunger (1983), 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 film Dragnet (1987), Joe Friday (played by Dan Aykroyd)'s 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 eponymous 1951 TV series—who is the uncle of the film's Joe Friday—but actually is a reference to what had become an inside joke in popular culture, especially to users of "714's", the Methaqualone pill produced 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 thwart the drug-dealing "P.A.G.A.N.S."
  • In Starsky & Hutch (2004), 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 Matador (2005), 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 the commentaries for the film The Runaways (2010), Joan Jett mentions that Quaaludes were her drug of choice when her character was shown snorting cocaine.
  • In the film That's My Boy (2012), Adam Sandler's character's pet snake was said to have died from a Quaaludes overdose. He defends it by saying that was the only time anybody's ever seen a king cobra laugh.
  • In the film version of Behind the Candelabra, Scott Thorson is prescribed Quaaludes as part of the plastic surgery carried out on him on Liberace's orders.


  • The Godz - "714" pays" homage to Quaaludes. 714 was the number on a Rhoer Quaalude.
  • In his song "Everything They Owe", 2Pac claims that police came into his home and asked: "Where is the Quaaludes?"
  • The David Bowie song "Time" has the line "Time – in Quaaludes and red wine." The drug is also mentioned in the song "Rebel Rebel": "You got your queue line and a handful of ludes..."
  • The Dead Kennedys song "M.T.V. – Get off the Air" includes the line, "Hi, I'm your video DJ. I always talk like I'm wigged out on Quaaludes."
  • The Descendents song "Bikeage" contains the lyric "Take a Quaalude, relax your mind."
  • In the Funkadelic song "Stick Finger", they chant, "I don't want to get up, Quaalude me down".
  • One of the verses in Great White's rare single "Wasted Rock Ranger", on the B-side of "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" (1975), says: "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."
  • 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".
  • Billy Idol's song "Blue Highway" includes the line, "Quaaludes and red wine for love, yes there's a time, a time for love."
  • Iggy Pop references "Quaaludes" in the song "I Got Nothin'" on the Kill City (1977) album (credited to Iggy Pop & James Williamson).
  • The Kottonmouth Kings' song, "Johnny's Got a Problem", 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."
  • The Mac Miller song "S.D.S." contains the line "Take some Quaaludes, conversate with Jesus".
  • 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".[citation needed]
  • 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 Minor Threat song "Straight Edge" contains the line, "Laugh at the thought of eating ludes..."
  • 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".[citation needed]
  • John Prine's song "Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard" includes the line, "Selling bibles at the airports, buying Quaaludes on the phone".
  • The Reagan Youth song "Degenerated" has the line, "Johnny wastes his days eating ludes, he's a teenage vegetable."
  • The Screeching Weasel song "Joanie Loves Johnny" contains the lyric "Pinkie Tuscadero's stewed, Fonzie's all fucked up on 'ludes".
  • The Social Distortion song "Lude Boy" is about Quaalude abuse. Also, in the documentary film Another State of Mind (1982), Social Distortion bassist Brent Liles can be seen wearing a shirt displaying a Quaalude reference during the San Francisco show scene.
  • The Lemonheads song "It's All True" includes the line, "Sorry 'bout dropping that 'lude, it just seemed like the best thing to do."
  • 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 band's lead singer, Fee Waybill, took on their stage persona Quay Lewd and performed in platform shoes with very tall heels.[citation needed]
  • On Robin Williams' record Reality, What a Concept (1979), the comedian continually references the drug in regards to his "stoner character".
  • The Wonder Years's song "Racing Trains" contains a lyric wherein Dan Campbell sings that "the guy on the train says he split a quaalude with Sid Vicious"
  • In Frank Zappa's "Pygmy Twylyte" from the Roxy & Elsewhere (1974) album, he sings "Hurtin' for sleep in the Quaalude moonlight". In the song "Flakes" on his Sheik Yerbouti (1979) album,Zappa can be heard asking "Wanna buy some Mandies, Bob?"


  • In an episode[which?] 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 asphyxiates and dies.
  • In Childrens Hospital: "That 70s Episode", the entire hospital staff is shown to have had a soft spot for 'Ludes during the 1970s.
  • In the Desperate Housewives episode "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 bed.
  • On the HBO show Entourage, talent representative Ari Gold states: "The last time I blacked out, I took four Quaaludes and fucked Chantelle Luttenberger."[citation needed]
  • In Denis Leary's Showtime special No Cure for Cancer (1992), 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 season 6 Parks and Recreation episode "Anniversaries", the character Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins) takes uppers and 'ludes before hosting her TV show.
  • In the Quincy, M.E. episode "Walk Softly Through the Night", Dr. Quincy confronts an unethical physician who prescribes Methaqualone to addicts for a profit. Quincy sees to it that the physician is investigated by the local chapter of the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance.
  • In an episode[which?] of The King of Queens Doug's boss requests "Mexican Quaaludes" in exchange for hiring Doug's cousin, Danny.
  • 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.[3]
  • In the Weeds season one episode "Lude Awakening", Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins), claims to have in her possession the "last pharmaceutical Quaalude in the world". The last scene 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.
  • In an episode[which?] of Will & Grace, Grace jokes about the drummer of one's prom band putting a "Quaalude in your Fresca".
  • In "King of Queens" Doug puts in a good word for his cousin Danny for a job at IPS where Doug works, his boss Mr. O'Boyle jokingly asks him for "a fist full of Quaaludes" in return for the favour.
  • In a prank phone call, "We Get to Drink," recorded by the Touch-Tone Terrorists and later broadcast on the Comedy Central program Crank Yankers, a supposed disgruntled parcel service employee tells a disgruntled customer to "Chill out and a have a Quaalude."


  1. ^ Richards, Keith & Fox, James (2002). Life. Little, Brown and Co. p. 292. 
  2. ^ Talevski, Nick (2010). Rock Obituaries - Knocking on Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. 
  3. ^ "The Rockford Files: Three Day Affair With a Thirty Day Escrow". IMDb.