Freeman, Jonah and Justin Lowe


This is the setting of a psychedelic group-therapy session that took place late one evening at R.M. Schindler's Buck House in West Hollywood. The building, an early example of California Modernism, is owned by Natasha Friedrich (pictured on the left reclining with a cigarette), a rifle-manufacturing heiress who devotes a sizable portion of her fortune to the promotion and facilitation of alternative entheogen-based therapies. She is the center of a close-knit network that uses psychoactive substances as a kind of industrial sacrament. Some view it as degenerate, illegal drug activity, others as a bona-fide religious experience. In any case, this trend was popping up in the most unlikely of circles—from run-of-the-mill techno hippies to Beverly Hills socialites, even in locker rooms of pro ball-players. It was the summer of 2010 and our first month in Los Angeles. Our interest in the underground spiritual scene had started with a neo-Marxist group in Echo Park that was practicing in what is known as the "golden-coated darkness," the West Coast's version of the elemental death trip. One of the participants, Julius Dean who worked at a juice bar in Sunset Junction, told us of similar activities occurring in aristocratic circles on the west side of town. Through a circuitous email exchange involving an art dealer, a video-game producer, and finally the son of a famous Hollywood actor, we were able to get in touch with Ms. Friedrich. Although initially suspicious she invited us to observe one of her clandestine sessions. This particular evening centered on the use of an obscure psychedelic drug called Marasa, named from the Haitian Voodoo term for "Twin." We did not take the drug that evening but several of the people in this picture had imbibed and were in the throes of what is referred to as "the mirror" or "riding the double," in which deep hallucinations give one visions of their doppelganger.