I am a grown-ass adult, and I need my digital pacifier.

I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be bored. To do nothing. To stare into the void and daydream.

Instead, I reach for my pacifier. It’s always got something to distract me.

  • News (always outrageous, always apocalyptic).
  • Notifications (someone’s thinking of me, someone likes me — they really do, even after eight months of isolation).
  • Emails (make feel important because I get emails at all hours and check these work emails at all hours for I am an important boss who works hard - aka has no boundaries or…

Hello family! I hope you are as well as can be right now.

I’m sending this to my family members who I’ve shared a table with at holidays, and danced to Motown music with post-dinner, and opened White Elephant Christmas gifts together, and known my entire life.

I know some of you may be planning to vote for Trump. I realize any email starting out with that sentence probably makes you not want to read the rest of what I have to say. I get it.

So, I will try to keep this email as much to the point as…

This is the story of the second time I smoked the venom of the Bufo-Alvarius toad. To read about my first experience, click here.

The impetus to retake the most powerful hallucinogen on Earth was two of my closest friends who’d observed changes in me after my first trip. They’d independently noticed that I’d seemed less anxious — less of what they referred to as “Little Phil” (the needy child in me sulking for attention or feeling sorry for myself when life doesn’t go my way) showing up socially.

I thought — well, bottom’s up! Here we go again!


I paid for the dream with six nightmares in a row in a haunted hotel in Reno.

Reno can be a sad place to return to after an ecstatic experience at Burning Man. The sunken faces of chain-smokers starring into the voids of glittery slot machines themed around magical animals, Ancient Gods, or just Lucky Number 7. Punctuated every now and then by a random alarm going off indicating one of the lost had scored a reprieve from the steady drip of pennies disappearing. In Vegas, I could imagine being swept up by the glitz and glamour of over-the-top heterosexual…

Note: This story is NOT safe for work or for those uncomfortable with graphic descriptions of male-on-male sex.

“Red blindfold or white blindfold?” asked the bouncer wearing assless chaps and a T-shirt with a logo of a horse’s ass above the name ‘Fickstutenmark.’ “Red means bareback is ok. White means condom only.” This was the second thing asked of me at The Horse Fair — the kinkiest, craziest, sexiest, scariest thing I have ever done in my life. The first question the bouncer asked me was, “Have you read the FAQ?”

Daniel Nardicio, the notorious gay nightclub promoter and self-titled…

The trouble began in Bratislava.

Something in the Slovakian water? The hand-tossed salad I ate at the bus depot? Whatever the culprit, my stomach was queasy by the time my Flixbus pulled in to Prague Central Station on a Friday at 6:00 PM. I wrote it off as travel fatigue, a low-grade cold — something to push through and not slow down my itinerary. I had a whole city to see!

I went to the Airbnb I was sharing with a host named Anna.* We had agreed to meet up at 6:30 PM after I walked over from the train…

This is the story of the first time I smoked the venom of the Bufo-Alvarius toad. To read the story of my second trip, click here.

My ears were ringing and I was rushing away from my body; I was losing control of myself; I was shouting the word “Surrender! Surrender! Surrender!” in my mind — but my mind was being shattered and flung into a nameless void that was infinitely dark and infinitely bright at the same time.

This was the onset of me smoking the crystalized venom of the Bufo Alvarius toad on the floor of a chic…

I participated in an Ayahuasca ceremony in NY with seven other middle-aged woman, one man straight out of the Big Lebowski, and a shaman born in Brooklyn who said the word “coffee” just like you’d imagine he does. I couldn’t wait to “Eat, Pray, and Blow My Mind Apart” with these questers.

The clientele at this shindig featured some of the kings and queens of East Coast psychedelics. One woman I dubbed the queen of the toad. The man was the king of the frog. They both extract a venom from a specific toad and frog and administer it therapeutically…

Philip Markle

Performer, storyteller, teacher - living in NYC and traveling worldwide (www.philipmarkle.com). Artistic Director of The Brooklyn Comedy Collective.

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