Cocaine is a drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant, and acts as a powerful stimulant when ingested. It derives from users either a) feats of artistic genius, or b) dancing, whoring and shame. Guess which one happens more often?
Cocaine, both highly intoxicating and refreshingly addictive, had been used for thousands of years like chewing gum by South Americans, finding coca leaves gave them that extra push to eke out the terrifying reality that was daily life - and to party like it was 1499.
Helpful scientists in the 19th century isolated the alkaloid responsible for the intoxicating effect, and thus cocaine - in its white powder form known to small plastic bag enthusiasts everywhere - was born.
The chemical structure of coke, 120 years before Ziggy played guitar.
Ever hopeful of the miracle drug that would cure all who suffered in those times (read: everyone), cocaine was used as an anasthetic. That was, until those marketing geniuses at Parke-Davis kicked it up a notch, adding it to anything they could get their shaky hands on and boasting that cocaine would "supply the place of food, make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and...render the sufferer insensitive to pain."
They would have added, "and turn them into jabberjawed whores who would sell their own mother for another sniff faster than their hearts are beating", but it didn't look good in the copy.
You could buy a small box of cocaine for ten cents at the local drug store; Sigmund Freud used a lot of it to come up with bullshit theories; and it was in the original recipe for Coca-fucking-Cola(!)
Of course, the lawless good times of the 1800's had to end sooner or later, and cocaine - along with everything else enjoyable in life before the internet - became illegal in the 20th century. Which, aside from making it outrageously expensive, also made it for the cool kids: Ozzy Osbourne, Elton John, David Bowie - hell, even the Beatles were doing it!. Sure, Richard Pryor set himself on fire freebasing the stuff, and it killed John Belushi and Chris Farley, but you gotta keep the funny going somehow (this isn't called Cracked for nothing, after all).
Word spred, and by the 1980's cocaine use in America was at an all-time high. By 1982, a study showed 22 million people had used cocaine at one time or another, many of them not Steve Rubell.
Considering the rather awesome effect nose candy had on musicians during the 70's, in the 80's we could just call it blow. For example: almost everybody who made music in the 80's. I mean, just look at the music produced then:
That's fucking terrible - but so were Dayglo, Miami Vice and Top Gun, all fondly remembered by people who are old now.
Fortunately everybody was apparantly too hopped up on the Columbian marching powder to either notice or disagree. Despite what the ads said, Coke was definately the choice of a New Generation. It was a drug for the go-go fuck-it-and-spend-it-all 1980's America! And the good times were never gonna stop, goddammit!
You know when you start listening to a new band that nobody's ever heard of, and you turn a few friends onto it and you're all just enjoying that smooth, unrefined rush only elitism provides? Then one day you turn on the radio and the band you like so much is suddenly devestating inner cities across the country? Well that's what crack did to cocaine.
Suddenly, in the early 90's, cocaine became rather uncool thanks to its retarded stepbrother, crack.
Now instead of residing in upper-class shatyls of the well-to-do and drug-fueled, cocaine was The Monster that Ruined Lives That Already Sucked. Cooked into smokable rock form, coke's street value (and cred) dropped a billionth and suddenly even the homeless could enjoy the good times...
until they needed more crack. Which was always, since crack cocaine was also one of the most addictive substances ever created on Earth. And things aren't so cool anymore when terms like "Crack Baby/Whore" get tossed into the discussion of whether an 8-ball would be fun for the weekend. And really, once babies and whores start finding things fun, you may as well start driving a minivan and wondering which John Tesh album to buy next (which both babies and whores find equally enjoyable to crack).
crack whores: use as directed.