SIDEKICK: Dr. Gonzo
FAITHFUL COMPANION OF: Raoul Duke
In the spring of 1971, journalist Hunter S. Thompson made two short trips to Las Vegas with his activist-attorney friend Oscar Zeta Acosta. Those trips yielded some astronomic hotel tabs and an epic (and loosely autobiographical) Rolling Stone feature-turned-novel called Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Lacking much in the way of a narrative structure, Fear and Loathing plays out as a pharmaceutical-fueled phantasmagoria of wrecked cars and talking lizards. Thompson gives the (thinly veiled) protagonist the name Raoul Duke, the lawyer companion he turns into a 300-pound Samoan called Dr. Gonzo. This characterization didn’t sit well with Acosta, and he grudgingly consented to grant clearance to the publishers only after they promised to run his picture on the book’s dust jacket.
INTERESTING FACT: Acosta, something of a wild personality himself, disappeared in 1974, while traveling through Mexico. “One of God’s own prototypes,” Thompson would later write. “Too weird to live, and too rare to die.”