Welcome to Negril, Jamaica, where the water is clean, the girls are pretty and a never-ending supply of bud is available right outside your hotel room.
By Chris Simunek
Photos by Chris Eudaley a.k.a. Pot Star
The concept was very simple: Pluck eight nubile girls from the heartland of America, watch them smoke all the weed they could possibly smoke, make them wear the least amount of clothing that common decency allows, and turn them loose in a country with the third-highest murder rate in the world. Then have them sign some sort of Faustian release form and make a movie of it all.
Looking out from my airplane window at the clear, cerulean waves of the Caribbean below, knowing that my job down there will be to follow the escapades of a group of women who were all born around the time I was graduating high school, fills me with cold, dark dread. In such circumstances, where a man is granted his every indulgence, he is often reduced to a gelatinous blob of burned-out dopamine receptors—Marlon Brando drowning in a sea of ice cream and megalomania.
“The horror, the horror … ”
The day the girls arrive, they are hustled up to HIGH TIMES editor-in-chief Steve Hager’s palatial hotel suite overlooking the beach. Palm trees droop lazily in the waning afternoon as dancehall music thunders from the bar below. There’s Sonya, a Persian-princess party promoter from Los Angeles; Crystal, a go-go dancer and model, also from the City of Night; Sarah, a dreadheaded hippie-surfer chick from Corpus Christi, TX; and Samantha, whose wholesome girl-next-door good looks has the potential for making us all look like criminal reprobates if, God forbid, something goes wrong and her picture is run on the front pages of tabloids across America.
Hager is directing the action with messianic intensity. He’s telling the girls that, unlike other pageants, this is not a competition, but a spiritual venture wherein they are encouraged to harmonize with each other on some higher celestial plane. When he gave this rap to the HIGH TIMES staff back in New York, we all accused him of trying to orchestrate some kind of ganja-beach-party helter-skelter, but the girls dig it. They don’t want any drama. No Tonya Hardings welcome here.
It’s telling that the two pieces of literature that Hager brought down are Viola Spolin’s Improvisation for the Theater and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. “Just call ‘Action!’ and make your own movie” became his rallying cry throughout the week, and it had both a literal and a philosophical meaning. On an immediate level, it meant that since we had a camera crew following us around, one could capture any vignette he chose just by saying the word. In the bigger picture, the movie was an allegory for life: The world’s a stage, you’re the director, get an idea and start shooting.
Seeing me moping around the periphery, Hager tells me that I am indeed part of this movie, so I should get in there and introduce myself to the ladies. I fall right into the trap, explaining that I’m writing the article and judging the event, so hey—if there’s anyone around here you guys need to be nice to, it’s me. A nervous chuckle, then that look—the one that says, Who’s the creep?
Action. My movie is Lolita. I’m James Mason, trying to convince Shelley Winters that my intentions toward her daughter are as pure as the driven snow.
The girls set to the task of judging the two cannabis strains that have been presented to them, Pineapple and Lamb’s Breath. Night descends as Bobby Black fills the air with nervous banter about the BBD—a Fonzie-esque theory on the nature of cool, the particulars of which I’ve never been able to grasp. It’s looking like two girls have already bailed on the trip. We’re all dancing as fast as we can.