'Have a Good Trip': A comprehensive guide to psychedelics with first-time experiences from celebs
The documentary is a psychedelic experience on its own, accompanied by vibrant, colorful and trippy animations as well as hilarious stories from A-listers' experiences with various hallucinogens
The media has always portrayed drug use in a terrible light, mostly because it has tried to instill fear in people about the harm it causes. Parents incessantly panicking, children going ballistic, people jumping out of windows, etc have been exaggerated in the mainstream portrayal of the ramifications of doing drugs. A certain class of drugs, however, has been a significant part of popular culture for decades and is well-known to enhance creativity with the high that comes with its use, establishing its prominence among people that are in the creative fields.
Netflix's new documentary, 'Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics', is a comprehensive and fascinating film, which recounts the experiences of celebrated personalities in the entertainment industry doing psychedelic drugs for the first time.
Psychedelic drugs are hallucinogens or psychoactive drugs, which once consumed, send a person into an altered state of consciousness and acts upon your perception, cognition and knowing. From ancient Greeks to the Amazonians, psychedelics have been a part of various cultures around the world for millennia, and even have rituals developed for them that are led by experienced guides.
Psychedelic drugs like LSD, mescaline, DMT, psilocybin and others became a part of the American culture in the 1960s and came with mixed reactions. In a way, it revolutionized the culture, but also came with a backlash and stringent laws against excessive drug use, which ultimately shifted psychedelics into the underground. Once upon a time, these hallucinogens were in fact legal and were also subjects of research, especially for their potential in psychedelic-assisted therapy to treat mental health problems.
Americans would situate themselves in a safe and productive environment to use psychedelics as a means of spiritual growth and psychological healing. In 1965, psychedelics were banned by the federal government, bringing all manufacture and sale of the drugs to a halt.
'Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics' is an attempt to educate audiences about the hallucinogen and dismiss the taboo, rumors, and inaccuracy surrounding its use. The film comprises anecdotes and experiences from various celebrities, which goes to show that the drug has helped ease stress and elevate a person's mood to the extent of psychological well-being. Perhaps that one thing that will take you off guard, and possibly even tickle you pink is Nick Offerman's recurring appearance as a researcher and Adam Scott's hilarious televised PSAs against drug-use, titled 'Bad Trip', where he exaggerated highlights the side-effects of using psychedelics, mocking its portrayal in mainstream media. Furthermore, first-time drug use experiences narrated by late actress Carrie Fisher, and celebrity Anthony Bourdain are also bound to make you feel a sense of nostalgia.
Written and directed by Donick Cary, the film also includes vibrant animations that are trippy in nature and a montage of various clips from the '60s, reinstating its wide use and prominence in the hippie culture at the time. Celebrities also fondly recall their time attending a 'The Grateful Dead' show and explaining how the concert-going experience would be incomplete if there were no psychedelics involved. The psychedelic rock band had the power to engage their fans with their music, and the consumption of the drug would just heighten their sensory and auditory receptors enough to give them a wholesome and trippy concert experience.
On the other hand, the 1-hour 25-minute documentary also sheds light on the negative repercussions that the use of psychedelics can have on the brain ie, spiraling into a 'bad trip'. Celebrities put forth their experiences from taking the drug and how preexisting thoughts prior to reaching a high can only heighten and cripple a person with a 'bad trip.' The film also brought in the professional perspective from Dr Charles Grob, Director of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Harbor, UCLA Medical Center. As a researcher, Dr Grob has been investigating the potential for a hallucinogen treatment model to heal psychiatric illness and addiction. He even attested to the experiences of some of the celebrity anecdotes, by backing them up with medical statements and psychological evidence.
The film is also a guide in a way, for people that experiment with psychedelics and highlights the key dos and don'ts when you consume a psychedelic drug, like 'do not drive while on acid' or 'do not look in the mirror when you're high'. While we don't condone the use of drugs, here are a select few ludicrous and colorful testimonies from when celebrities first tried psychedelics.
Sting: 'The universe cracked open'
Sting's first experience with psychedelics is something out of the ordinary. The British musician and actor was given some dried peyote by a friend when he lived on a farm in England and the effects of the drug were almost instant. He felt like everything around him was coming alive and the grass has begun to talk to him. He entered a psychedelic realm where the trees started waving at him.
As the high intensified, a guy named John who worked on his farm called him up in urgent need of his help, and while Sting tried to tell the guy wasn't exactly in the condition to render his help, it was in vain. Turns out, one of his cows was having a problem birthing and John asked for Sting to help birth the calf. Even though he wasn't completely in his right state of mind thanks to the drug, Sting managed to help, and with the calf's birth, he realized that the "universe cracked open" and gave him the meaning of life.
Sarah Silverman: 'The tipping point'
Sarah Silverman was just started out as a young comedian in New York City when she had the first run-in with psychedelics. After their shows, Silverman would hang out with her fellow comics at a restaurant, which had an old hippie visitor, who provided them with a 'substance like white pieces of paper'. About 45 minutes later it was 'the tipping point' for her where she started to question what she was feeling and if she was actually feeling anything.
Inadvertently, she was tripping on acid. She recounts feeling like she floated to Washington Square Park with a gaggle of people and hanging out with homeless people. "And we found ourselves feeling each other's faces and laughing and crying and realizing huge things," said Silverman. When they decided to head back to her apartment, she said the driver, who was also high, drove up to the nearest traffic signal, and they didn't even know how they got there. Then the traffic lights began to switch colors, and the trippiness of it all rendered her companion useless at driving. "He has forgotten how to drive for the life of him. He doesn't know how he even pulled out. Just muscle memory and then he doesn't know what he's doing," she added.
Carrie Fisher: 'Normal on Acid'
Back in the 'Star Wars' days, Fisher did a whole lot of psychedelic, which was her ritual drug. For Fisher, who achieved imminence with her portrayal of Princess Leia, taking LSD or acid was what made her feel normal. "I would organize trips around to places in the world simply to take acid there. I would do these things and forget that I looked like someone named Princess Leia or whatever I was for people," she added.
She explained an incident where she consumed acid and got really high when she was in Central Park. She held onto the ground because she felt it was hard to stay on the planet. She noticed an acorn in the grass, and as she observed it, she felt like it was moving around a lot and began misbehaving. It grew hands and legs and even recognized her while proceeding to belt out a self-composed jingle. "I never saw anything. That wasn't there. I just saw things that were there, misbehave," said Fisher.
Nick Kroll: 'I love my friends'
Nick Kroll had a hilarious first-time experience with mushrooms when he attended his friend's bachelor party in Malibu. The group of friends had rented a house for the weekend on a private beach on Malibu. They all took mushrooms, Kroll a little more than the rest, and began to feel the effects immediately. "These are good. It's fun. I love my friends," he said. "We're all having a good time. I'm thinking I'm in the water. I'm tripping. There's a 90% chance I'm gonna drown but it's feeling good to be one with the Earth." Then he headed back on the beach and sat down, feeling the high really kicking in when he notices his friends gather a bunch of sea kelp.
"I see this and I'm like, I understand what's going on. They've come out of the water, they are emerging with about 40 to 50 pounds [of kelp] and I just see them lifted and just put all the sea kelp on my body and I was thrilled and this", he recalls. "The sea kelp starts to move on me and I'm like, I am the kelp monster. I couldn't even fathom I wanted to remove this f***ing detritus from the sea god. The next day, I woke up covered in red welts because I had been covered in sea f***ing kelp for 45 minutes."
Paul Scheer: 'Mushrooms don't work'
Paul Scheer's first psychedelic experience took place on a trip to Amsterdam with a bunch of his friends. He had realized marijuana was legal and you can even do mushrooms. They went to a shop where they had different kinds of mushrooms on sale, and he remembers picking a 'Hawaiian something' and his reaction was "That's cool. Yeah, like surfing that's the kind of trip I want." They decided that the best place to do this would be the Van Gogh Museum and five minutes pass by without any high kicking. "Oh, these mushrooms don't work at all" was what he had thought at the time before taking more mushrooms.
Soon after he began admiring the art and stood in front of painting with crows over a cornfield. It really entranced him, he was sucked into it and he found it very interesting, so he kept looking at it. "I'm convincing myself that I'm seeing parts of the painting that don't really exist," Scheer explained. "Holy shit. Yeah, look at all this corn, huh? All of a sudden. I feel like these birds are coming out at me. I'm in the middle of this cornfield. Wow."
Scheer stood literally four inches away from the painting, his head turned sideways to the point of being upside down because he was tripping on it so hard. It was morphing and moving and he was enjoying every bit of it.
'Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics' premiered on 11 May, on Netflix.