Avid psychonaut and mad scientist Hamilton Morris is in the thick of it as he indulges his fascination with exploring psychoactive drugs around the world, sometimes acting as a willing guinea pig.
As you’d expect, things get mighty weird. And by weird, we mean peak weird. Cannibalism, reanimating Mandrax, a PCP penectomy, and the orgasmic ecstasy of chewing on salvia divinorum leaves are just some examples of the startling experimentation and madness of SBS Viceland’s Hamilton's Pharmacopeia.
Warning: the following contains some disturbing content.
Rapper Christ Bearer lopped off his penis on PCP
In Los Angeles, Morris visits Wu-Tang Clan affiliated rapper Christ Bearer (real name Andre Johnson) who tells him of his startling episode with the potently dissociative drug PCP. The rapper infamously performed a penectomy on himself before attempting suicide jumping off a two-story balcony.
Christ Bearer says he had an epiphany on the drug, realising that he’d been lead far too much by his penis.
“Women say men think with their little head too much, they always think with their little heads,” he says. “So I said ‘You know what? I got something for these bitches. I’m cutting off my little head and [I’ll] be forced to only think with my big head’. That was as clear as day to me and I acted upon it. I went to the kitchen with a kitchen knife and I chopped it off.”
He says he has no regrets about what transpired.
“I really loved my 9 ½ inches that I had. [By] the same token, manhood is not determined by what’s between your legs and that’s my mission to show [that]. Sentient thinking [and] being’s what makes you a man. We don’t live in a society, we live in a sex-ciety. You feel me?"
Falling down (and up) on Mandrax
Mandrax or Quaalude, a potent sedative and hypnotic, remains one of the most widely used synthetic drugs in South Africa. It comes in tablet form and is then crushed and smoked in a dagga pipe.
Morris sits in with some hardcore users and witnesses an astonishing kind of reanimation effect of the drug. Mandrax takes effect rapidly, then causes the user to briefly lose consciousness (one man falls into Morris’ lap). Recovery is swift and within minutes users can smoke more which makes it heavily addictive.
Visiting Hout Bay South Africa, Morris sees just how potent Mandrax can be.
“I’ve seen people collapse after smoking five or six consecutive hits but that was only one hit so this seems like some really strong stuff,” Morris says to camera.
He’d just witnessed a long term user violently face-plant into the concrete floor straight after a hit, then become rapidly alert and ready for round two.
“Less than three minutes ago, he was borderline unconscious, bleeding on the ground,” says Morris. “Now he’s singing and dancing and seems completely fine. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.”
Hamilton sees the light on salvia divinorum
In Oaxaca Mexico, it’s our host’s turn to get high as he partakes in a traditional salvia ceremony lead by a shaman. It’s an ecstatic and psychedelic experience as he chomps away on juicy salvia divinorum leaves.
“I can feel it now. It’s a very good, beautiful feeling, it’s a beautiful sensation,” says Morris rocking back and forth, his vision “dominated by a singular intense light source” that envelops him.
“There’s light in the sea shell that I was given,” he says pleasure washing across his face. “And these leaves, every sensation is as if it’s pulling me back into my chair and the sound of the music is turning into waves, lips that are then pouring over me and everything is very hot and it’s truly amaaaazing!”
Morris says he “reached a state of bliss I never knew possible,” and his demeanour is almost orgasmic.
“Oh, it’s coming over me!”
It’s no wonder that salvia creates such a powerful high. It contains a resin known as Salvinorin A, the world’s most potent naturally occurring psychedelic.
But most who use it don’t have the blissfully serene experience that Morris has. While the drug’s potency can cause hysterical laughter, it’s a frightening ordeal detaching users from reality, causing coordination loss and difficulty speaking, as well as a “fight or flight” response. One YouTube video shows a man frantically trying to escape a room by crashing through a window while under the influence.
As of 2016, Salvia has been prohibited in 26 US states.
PCP cannibal episode
In the contrarily named episode A Positive PCP Story, Morris recounts the horror story of rapper Big Lurch (real name Antron Singleton) who allegedly went insane on a five-day PCP binge in 2002. He killed his roommate Tynisha Ysais during his psychosis, allegedly mutilating her body while she was still alive, chewing on her cheek and ripping out her lung and eating it.
He was found walking down a street naked and covered in blood, mumbling and chewing. One report alleged he was carrying Ysais’ heart under his arm.
Big Lurch explained his state of mind to talk show host Geraldo Rivera in an interview from prison.
“I mean, all I can remember, you know, the world was going to end. And I had to find the devil and kill the devil, before the world ended. That’s the last thought that I had.”
Awaken your mind to Hamilton's Pharmacopeia, airing on SBS VICELAND every Wednesday night at 9:20pm. You can also stream episodes at SBS On Demand: