Russell Peters Joins the Psychedelic Renaissance | Turn 420
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Russell Peters Joins the Psychedelic Renaissance

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NWA may have mentioned something about not getting high on your own supply in the song Dopeman, but when you’re the chief creative officer (CCO) of Red Light Holland, a brand of magic truffles, all late ’80s rap song advice goes out the window. 

Red Light Holland is an Ontario, Canada-based psilocybin truffle company that produces and sells magic truffles on the Dutch market. While the Netherlands banned the sale of hallucinogenic mushrooms in 2007, many smartshops still sell magic truffles. Both contain the active psychedelic component, psilocybin, but grow differently. Magic truffles grow underground, and mushrooms grow above ground. 

When CEO and former broadcaster Todd Shapiro started Red Light Holland, he assembled a knowledgeable team. This included a wild card, his comedy veteran friend Russell Peters. When he joined the team, Peters had not tried microdosing with psilocybin truffles before. Apparently, instead of partaking in psychedelics, Russell was busy putting out comedy specials, touring his punchy observational stand-up worldwide, acting, and winning countless awards like a Peabody and an International Emmy for the documentary series Hip-Hop Evolution, which he co-produced, and was named Canadian Comedy Person of the Year. No biggie. When Peters stepped into his role at Red Light Holland as CCO, he soon realized there was no time like the present and became a client of the psychedelic experience.

High Times: How did you and Todd hook up for Red Light Holland?

Russell Peters: Todd Shapiro is a friend that I’ve known for a while from when he did radio. I’d do radio with him when I could, and we just kept in touch. He asked if I wanted to get involved, and I told him I didn’t know much about it all. I really never looked into it because I had never done it. He told me that’s why he wanted to get me involved and that I could use my creative mind with the marketing. It sounded exciting and interesting, so I wanted to learn more. It was as simple as that. 

What made you want to try magic truffles for the first time at this stage in your life?

Being that I’m the CCO of Red Light Holland and people had been asking me so many questions about the product that I had no answers to, I felt like a fraud and didn’t want to be the guy like, “Oh yeah, this is great,” without being able to back it up. It seemed a little “money grab-ish” to me, and I don’t like how that looks, sounds, or seems. I needed to make sure I knew what the fuck I was talking about. I still don’t claim to be an expert, having only done it once. At least I can say I tried it, I enjoyed it, and I’m willing to do it again. We’re placed in Amsterdam, so you can get our stuff there. It’s really starting to move, and I’m hoping more people get on board!

Did you go into it looking to get something specific from it? 

It’s funny because I expected way more. Eddie (assistant/tour manager) did it with me, and he got way more out of it even though we did the same amount. For me, I knew I was high, but it’s a strange thing because you’re aware that you’re high. Like, “Oh! I’m high!” It’s not like a goofy thing though, where you are like, “Hey dude! I’m so high.” More so like, “I’m high and none of this is real.” It was wild. I’m not much of a smoker or drinker, and this was the first time I tried something other than weed, so I think I was expecting all of these crazy things to happen. I did giggle a lot.

For newbies who want to giggle too, would you say being monitored is the way to go when you try microdosing for the first time? 

I think a monitored experience would be a really smart way to start. At least that’s what I did. I did mine, for lack of better terms, with a shaman when I was in Amsterdam. We used Red Light Holland products, and he gave me fresh truffles that were literally picked that morning. Truffles grow underground, and throughout Holland, cultivation is legal because you can control the product’s growing process. (Europe is bound by a “single market act,” and there is no specific order against psychedelic truffles, making sale, transportation, and possession legal.) For whatever reasons, they make their reasonings. The earth grew it, but we’re telling you no! Anyway, Eddie and I both mashed up our own truffles, we poured this portobello mushroom broth he made over it, and then we drank it. It was like eating a really good mushroom soup. 

Sounds like a nice start. How’d your trip go from there? Any stand-out moments? 

I’ve always been highly self-aware, and when I did my trip, there was one part where I saw myself dead. But it wasn’t a scary thing or an epiphany or anything. It was just like I was floating above and below I could see all of my friends and family crying and upset. Then I see me dead, but I don’t actually see my face. I just knew it was me. Same thing with my family and friends; I couldn’t see their faces. The one face I could see, which I thought was a little trippy, was Crazy Legs from Rock Steady Crew. Crazy Legs and I are very good friends now, but when I was a kid, I completely idolized him. I had posters on my wall, and to me, he optimized what cool was because I was a break dancer. So here we are, 40-something years later, and we’re friends. It’s a bizarre thing. Anyway, I see myself dead and Crazy Legs is running away from my body trying to get someone to help me. As I’m floating away, I’m like, “What are you doing? I’m already dead! Stop crying. It’s not that bad! I’m OK!” 

Do you think your subconscious was telling you that you’ve accomplished some cool shit and if you should die, your family will be taken care of by Crazy Legs? 

Yeah, right? The shaman said, “You seem very comfortable with death.” I’m like, yeah, it doesn’t bother me. I’m laughing like, see you guys later! It was pretty wild. I had a great trip. I really did have a good time.

OK, so your truffle experience was awesome, yet milder than what you imagined. What was your expectation the first time you smoked weed versus how it really went down? 

The first time I smoked weed was in the mid-’90s. I thought, “Oh man! I’m going to smoke some weed and see all of these little green men, and it’s going to be wild and holy shit!” I remember taking a drag off of my friend’s joint outside of a restaurant, and all I did was cough. I was like, “Well, this sucks,” and I went home. I didn’t realize I was high when I went home. I put on the TV and stared at it for many hours. When I snapped out of it, I realized that I had been watching a commercial for Dr. Ho’s Muscle Massager. I watched an infomercial for like three hours! 

Did you eat anything while watching TV high and not knowing it for three hours? 

No, but another time, maybe three years ago, Raekwon was hanging out at my house. He was like, “Yo Russ, I need to go to the studio with the Game. You wanna come?” I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll go!” I get there, and Raekwon and Game are in the studio, but there are all of these other people hanging out in there too, and the room was fucking thick with smoke. I got hotboxed but didn’t realize it because I was just sitting there. Then Raekwon gets in the booth, and I have this moment where it’s like, you forget they’re legendary because they become a normal person to you. Then they go and do what makes them legendary, and you’re like, “Oh shit! That’s Raekwon from Wu-Tang Clan!” 

Please tell me that you were so high that you asked to spit a couple of bars. 

Yeah, no. But I thought about it! What happened is that he finished, came and sat down, I told him how dope it was, and then I had to go to the bathroom. As I’m walking down the hall, I see this catering room with three pizzas there. I ate all three fucking pizzas. I just stood there eating it like, “Is this the best pizza I have ever had in my life?” Then I realized after, “Holy shit, I’m high!” People started coming out of the studio, and I’m like, “Oh fuck, I need to hide these boxes!”

I can’t wait for Game and Raekwon to read this article because, of course, they will and then send you a pizza bill.

Worth it. It was really great pizza. Or I was accidentally high. 

russellpeters.com

This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue of High Times Magazine.



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