‘Shrooms! Shamans! Kosher LSD! Why Los Angeles Is Suddenly Tripping Out is the headline atop a Los Angeles Magazine cover story written by journalist Peter Kiefer based on his investigation of the city’s current craze in all things mind-altering.
“Los Angeles is currently in the grip of a psychedelics fervor not seen since Jim Morrison ambled his way down the Venice Beach boardwalk in the 1960s. Every weekend, dozens, possibly hundreds, of ayahuasca ceremonies take place in the hills, valleys, and strip malls of Southern California,” Kiefer writes in the piece that features interviews with trend insiders while also detailing drug history, culture and how it became a trend in the first place. “So many people are now experimenting with ayahuasca (a psychoactive brew long used by South American indigenous tribes as part of ceremonial spiritual healing) that there’s concern the ingredients required to create the potion are being over-harvested. But it’s not just ayahuasca — there are events for psilocybin, DMT, ibogaine, LSD and MDMA.”
The cover story is now in development as a small-screen series (and more) as veteran producer Scott Steindorff and his Stone Village Television acquired the rights in a competitive situation, it was announced Monday. In a release, Steindorff confirmed that he acquired film and TV rights on behalf of Stone Village’s sister company, Higher Frequency Media. Steindorff is set to executive produce the project, titled Psychedelic City, in partnership with Zhara Astra and Dylan Russell with Astra also taking producer credit.
But perhaps more interesting than the credits are what those names plan to make of Kiefer’s reporting. Keeping true to its source materials, Higher Frequency Media, which specializes in digital art, NFTs and immersive projects, will shepherd ancillary projects based on Psychedelic City including the creation of a metaverse platform that focuses on crypto, digital and immersive art, music components and experimental therapies. Further, the Psychedelic City metaverse is being developed with an eye on a complete virtual-reality space that will allow people to interact with a computer-generated environment and other users.
Much of that will require a studio and/or other partners and Steindorff is said to be fielding interest as they push forward with development. “The show will be very much a combination of Silicon Valley meets Limitless,” says Steindorff in a statement referencing the HBO comedy series and the 2011 film starring Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro. “We are creating a show that will have the most expansive new world, that will stimulate, entertain and inform people on the deepest levels. It’s like an expanded living Burning Man experience and the next level of Station Eleven — in regards to their pursuit of art.”
Added Russell, “It’s fascinating to witness and to tell the story about how psychedelic culture is now intersecting with psychology, digital culture, and even finance — to evolve these in a way we’ve never seen before. And LA is becoming the epicenter for this.” Station Eleven refers to the upcoming HBO series from Stone Village. Premiering Dec. 16, that series is described as a post-apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines as it weaves together the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world. Written by Patrick Somerville, directed by Hiro Murai and Jeremy Podeswa, it stars Mackenzie Davis, Himesh Patel and Gael Garcia Bernal.
As for Kiefer, who has covered everything from politics and culture to real estate and entertainment for The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Sun, L.A. Mag, and other outlets, he says he’s thrilled to be collaborating with the Stone Village team on the adaptation. “The movement surrounding psychedelics touches upon universal themes that date back to the dawn of civilization. It’s such a rich topic and there are immense opportunities to explore fascinating worlds and characters,” Kiefer says. “It’s such wonderful fodder for a series and what’s more, I think it’s an extremely important topic that is only going to become more so in the coming years.”
Kiefer was repped in the deal by his lawyer Eric Spiegelman. The psychedelics feature marked the native Angeleno’s second high-profile feature story for Los Angeles Magazine in 2021. Kiefer previously wrote about Yashar Ali, a mysterious Twitter personality who has largely disappeared from online activity since the publication of the story. He served as THR‘s Real Estate and City Editor.