It’s the fantasy of every hardcore pothead—to be on the cover of High Times magazine. It’s a dream that very few will ever achieve, and then only by paying some serious stoner dues. Well, my Blackolytes, it might surprise you to know that back in 1995, at the tender age of 22, I fulfilled that dream. Well, kind of…
Here’s how it happened: The editorial department had decided to do a UFO/conspiracy-themed issue, and art director Frank Max had the idea to have an alien smoking a joint on the cover. He went and got a rubber Grey alien mask and hands, along with a shiny silver shirt, and cast about for someone that could fit into them. Being a small-framed, eager new employee thrilled at the prospect of being on the cover, I immediately volunteered.
In retrospect, volunteering for an anal probe would have probably proven far more enjoyable.
The shoot took place at the photographer’s apartment in the East Village. Upon arriving there, I learned that she had no air-conditioning— a fairly relevant bit of information, considering it was the middle of July and a humid 95 degrees outside. Nevertheless, we smoked a big joint, Frank put a creepy 1950s alien-invasion soundtrack on the stereo, I got into costume, and we got started.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay in costume for long—Frank had to keep removing the mask every few minutes to prevent me from passing out. As you might imagine, it was very difficult to breathe inside the thick rubber mask, especially since Frank had jammed a T-shirt between the back of my head and the mask to keep it from wobbling. In addition, within seconds of being inside the mask, my breath would fog up the plastic eyes, making it impossible for me to see and inducing a mild claustrophobic panic.
Of course, being stoned didn’t help the situation either.
So basically, I was allowing myself to be smothered repeatedly for five-minute intervals in order to get the shot. Which I was willing to do… except there was another problem: the photographer had filled the palms of my rubber alien gloves (which were taped to my wrists) with weed and was asking me to hold them up under my chin. She kept telling me to bend my hands down further so she could see the buds better, and I kept telling her my wrists couldn’t bend back any further. Then she tried to force my fingertips down, which aside from being rather painful, was totally ineffective because I had absolutely no control over the artificial digits.
As the shoot progressed, she grew more and more frustrated, and I grew very close to losing consciousness altogether. All the while, Frank—to his credit—acted as a buffer of sanity between us, continually asking me “Are you OK in there?” and “Do you want to stop?” Finally, after an hour or so of aggravated asphyxiation, Frank pulled the plug and called it a wrap.
Despite the trauma involved, the next week when the photos came in, we all agreed it had been worth it. After some quick Photoshopping to the eyes and some silver metallic ink around the logo, we had what was potentially one of the most eerie and unique covers in High Times history. All it needed now was an equally out-of-this-world coverline. While out at “Area 51” for a brainstorming session that afternoon, the staff batted around numerous UFO puns and variations of “Pot in Space,” none of which seemed to garner much enthusiasm. Then suddenly, like a zap from a laser gun, it hit me:
“Take me to your dealer!” I shouted. And at that moment, time froze and a bright white light engulfed me, levitating me into the air and up towards a glowing disk hundreds of feet above me, and…
Oh, uh—sorry about that. I should really lay off this space cake…