Xpress Magazine May 2020

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Editor-In-Chief Amy Bigelow

Contributing Writers:

Clara Applegarth Art Director Amy Bigelow Malakai Wade Diani Ellis Sam Joson Photo Editor Paul C. Kelly William Wendelman Anne Lima Managing Editor Fernando Martinez Wilson Gomez Ryce Stoughtenborough Shelley Wang Copy Editor Andrea Williams Patrick Tamayo

Letter From The Editor


unning a magazine is a lot like managing a band. One that consists of 14 members, several managers and one phenomenal record producer - thanks Joanne. Releasing our fourth and final album, I mean digital magazine, of the semester has been both a challenging and rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world. In our short time together as a staff, we have created such a powerful bond that might even make The Rolling

Multimedia Editor Paige Acosta

Online Editor Sam Joson

you’ll come across erotic literature, a guide to safer party drug sessions, concerts, tattoos, satanism, and much more. Like any great album, behind every great magazine is a dedicated team who helped accomplish something extraordinary. I would like to thank everyone who made this May 2020 Xpress Magazine issue possible. Y’all are true rock stars.X

Stones envious. During our weekly meetings, instead of tuning our instruments, we fine-tuned our stories. The production that went into this fourth magazine issue was no small feat, especially with the pandemic throwing us a curveball. Still, while the world may have hit pause, we persisted and wrote stories that embody the theme of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll beyond conventional thinking. In this issue,


Contributing Photographers:

Paige Acosta Saylor Nedelman Maddison October William Wendelman

Special Thanks:

Joanne Derbort Kim Komenich Laura Moorhead Rachele Kanigel Amber M. Weher &


Find our playlists on Spotify at Xpress_Magazine



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THE DEVIL YOU DON’T KNOW By Ryce Stoughtenborough On the cover: Photo Design by William Wendelman & Malakai Wade 3


fucking ourselves over with sex Story by Fernando Martinez Photo by Maddison October


hen we don’t know how to deal with ourselves and our feelings or with others and their feelings, we each seek refuge differently. Some people splurge their money online shopping in the name of “Treat Yo Self.” Others plan an epic night out or night in with their friends, laced with the substances we are supposed to denounce,

legalize, decriminalize and consume with caution, if consumed at all. But some seek solace from using the bodies of others — literally. Yours truly, formerly included. Sex was an experience I often utitlized as a means to boost my self confidence when it was at its lowest. I used to think that if someone wanted to hook up with me, then I must have some worth, but

any and all of that worth would evaporate the moment the sex was finished. What should have been experiences of consensual pleasure devolved into regretful mistakes. Not only was I using sex as a tool to stroke and soothe my ego, but I was also using it as a way to avoid dealing with myself. Sex became an event and an escape. Having nothing and no one to do back then

hey u up? can i use your body for sexual validation? Read 1:21 a.m.


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meant I had to be left alone with my thoughts of discontentedness, insecurity and anxiety. I was trying to fuck myself into obvilion. This is how sex can have a lasting impact on its participants long after the involved parties bid each other adieu and a job well done. A person who is sexually active acknowledging their intentions going into a sexual encounter is what can make all the difference. Keely Rankin, a sex coach in San Francisco, works with her clients to help them find pleasure in their lives, which often means erotic pleasure. Rankin notes that there is no one reason why people choose to have sex. Rankin said people have sex for a variety of reasons and sometimes feel pressured by their partner’s wants churning up validation and self-worth. “People have sex for all sorts of reasons. They feel pressured to have it because their partner wants it, validation and self worth can get really tied up in that,” Rankin said. “And there are some people who ... can remove the emotional component of typical intimacy and just be in the sensation experience, But then that question really becomes: is that a theme in someone’s life?” Having such a theme in one’s sex life can be a red flag for deeper, internal issues. While they might be enjoying the sex in the moment, they could be using it to avoid addressing said issues.

try to distract myself and move towards something that might make me feel better. ... It’s kind of what the body does when the seeking behavior happens,” Rankin said. “It’s just trying to sooth itself and the pattern that’s been set is not working really. Like, it’s a bandaid, but it’s not fixing the problem.” It’s this behavior that

“When humans experience difficult feelings and they aren’t taught as young people how to deal with those feelings … there can be systems that get set up within the psyche of the individual that everytime they feel something that’s uncomfortable, they move towards something else,” Rankin

“People have sex for all sorts of reasons. They feel pressured to have it because their partner wants it, validation and self worth can get really tied up in that.” - Keely Rankin can eventually lead to sex addiction, Rankin said. In a person’s quest to find pleasure and relief from themselves, they might actually be compounding their unaddressed pains. This compulsive and addictive tendency has much to do with attachment theory. A theory that focuses on the importance of relationships that humans share and develop with one another, as well as how someone develops when there is a lack thereof. “[Attachment theory] all revolves around how people feel a sense of wholeness and

said. “Sometimes what can happen is someone starts to feel an ow inside” for the simplest of reasons. Rankin said that this is when someone begins seeking. “Seeking” is the act of searching for that one willing person at a local bar, in your phone contact list or on a dating app to hookup with. Rankin suggests this “seeking” impulse stems from the need to avoid emotional pain. But avoiding emotional baggage may not be the best coping mechanism. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I don’t wanna feel the ow, so I’m gonna 5

a sense of ‘I’m okay in the world,’ and that in the clients that I’ve worked with who are struggling with sexual compulsion and it really comes down to this area of how they feel welcomed on this planet as an individual,” Rankin said. It’s in these sexual encounters where someone can finally feel like they are attached to something or to someone. To feel like they belong to someone else other than themselves. If someone notices this type of sexual compulsiveness and wants help, it all starts with self reflection. Sex is something we might think we become completely knowledgble of and better at the more times we have it. Somewhat similar to getting better at packing for vacations after each trip, cooking to perfect a recipe until your inner chef is content or learning the fastest morning routine for when you wake up late. However, sex is complicated. And so, sex deserves constant assessing and reflection not only for its havers’ pleasure, but for their well being, too. “It’s not about shaming people and saying you should have sex under these contexts, but rather, is this what you want to be doing? And not that there’s a right or wrong reason to want to have sex ... if there’s at any point a moment when that yes turns into a no, or a I’m not sure, it’s okay to slow down ... and wait to figure out what you might need.”



A Raunchy Romp Through Literature

Story & Illustrations by Paul C. Kelly


ntering that balmy room on the fifth floor of the Rue de Montreuil from the novel cold always proved uncomfortable. My glasses fogged and my face warmed to a horribly Celtic shade of carmine. Evé Tournier’s, with whom I shared an odd

and placed, what I believed to be, white wine on the kitchen counter. I checked my father’s wristwatch — only four hours left in 2018. Touriner sat hunched over my recently purchased copy of “Une Saison en Enfer (A Season in Hell)” by Arthur

relationship at the time, brown-back was bare and showcased the fresh ink of the Eastern-style dragon she had capriciously gotten tattooed three days beforehand, somewhere in the Parisian suburbs. Removing my glasses, I regarded her in my half-vision

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Rimbaud. She turned to me and uttered in thick, tivid words, “How he paints his sins! How he speaks of Satan! Cher Satan (Beloved Satan).” This refrain, charming in its reverent decadence, proposed a question, daunting and intriguing, which per-

MAY 2020 sisted unanswered until 2020 — how did these writers write about their sins, especially those of a sexual nature and how do they now? “I think every generation of writers approaches it slightly differently than the preceding,” said Alvin Orloff, employee of Castro’s Dog Eared Books. Orloff believes that the current vogue is to treat sexuality as a matter of fact. “Not sensationalized as opposed to back in the 1990s [when] everyone wanted to be edgy. I think that the pendulum has swung about as far as they can go in the opposite direction and people aren’t really interested in [sexual sensationalism], they’re interested in just sort of integrating it into their everyday.” Boston-based writer, Amittai F. Aviram, Ph.D., discusses the generational literary approach toward sex in the literary movement of French Symbolism in his essay, “Rimbaud: Sex, Verse, and Modernity.” Wherein he states that libertine poet Arthur Rimbaud, along with many of his symbolist contemporaries, such as Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine (with whom Rimbaud shared a violent, sexual relationship), worked within a burgeoning literary sphere that sought to philosophize sensuality and sexual desire. “[To] cross the biggest metaphysical gulf of all, that between “l’esprit et les sens (Spirit of the Senses)” Aviram writes. “Between nature and consciousness — between the innocently necessary and the morally troubled, they must perforce demonstrate that the orders of the senses correspond so closely with each other as to give rise to a magically charmed synaesthesia.” Aviram also states that the written technical manner in

I think that the pendulum has swung about as far as they can go in the opposite direction and people aren’t really interested in [sexual sensationalism], they’re interested in just sort of integrating it into their everyday.” - Alvin Orloff standing for its voice. “In Rimbaud’s poems, as in poetry generally, imagery reflects upon the power of rhythm” writes Aviram. “Like the reflective noyé pensif (thoughtful drowned man) ... it is already afloat in rhythm and must give way to its powerful unimaginary currents. It is in this way that Rimbaud’s

which sexual topics were discussed within Symbolism also expressed a certain level of literary radicalism. Whether those techniques present are deliberately dissonant poetic images or meters, or as in the case of Baudelaire, mythological or created figures being used as a mechanism to discuss and understand sex by

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poems offer a truly radical sexual politics by means of its revolutionary poetics.” Summer Star, Ph.D., professor of literature at San Francisco State, discussed how the radical approch of the Symbolists to sex held long-lasting effects for future literary movements. An echo of the Symbolists can be heard within Irish playwright Oscar Wilde’s 1840 novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” A novel considered the zenith of literary Aestheticism, Star said. The novel was seen as an assault on the prevalent repressive morals of Victorianism. The novel, released in chapters in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, was heavily censored and controversial leading Wilde to write a

XPRESS MAGAZINE preface to the novel upon its full publication, addressing the controversy surrounding the work. According to Harvard University Press, British critics described the work as, “vulgar, unclean, poisonous, discreditable and a sham.” As the original uncensored text featured explicit references to homosexuality/bisexuality. “The vast majority of Stoddart’s deletions were acts of censorship, bearing on sexual matters of both a homosexual and a heterosexual nature,” The Harvard Press wrote in their article “A Textual History of The Picture of Dorian Gray.” “Much of the material that [Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine’s editor] Stoddart cut makes the homoerotic nature of Basil Hallward’s feelings for Dorian Gray more vivid and explicit than either of the two subsequent published versions, or else it accentuates elements of homosexuality in Dorian Gray’s own make-up. But some of Stoddart’s deletions bear on promiscuous or illicit heterosexuality too.” The preface, a manifesto of Aestheticism, is in many respects reminiscent of the Symbolist’s desire to meld spirituality and sexual sensuality.

the French school of Symbolistes,” Wilde wrote. “The life of the senses was described in the terms of mystical philosophy. One hardly knew at times whether one was reading the spiritual ecstasies of some medieval saint or the morbid confessions of a modern sinner.” This trend in explicit sexual discourse and thematics persisted to the Modernists of the early 20th century. Although, as with the Aesthetes, Modernist content was typically viewed as obscene by critics, according to the article “Changing Views of Sexuality In the Modernist Era” published by Keene

“Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art … Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital,” Wilde writes. The novel itself also alludes directly to the french symbolists in Chapter 10. During one of the book’s most self-referencial moments, the titular protagonist, Dorian Gray, reads a “poisonous book” that Wilde intimates is not dissimilar to the one the reader is presently reading. “Technical expressions and elaborate paraphrases that characterized the work of some of the finest artists of

State College, sex and sexuality remained a “a consistent topic nonetheless.” “Early modernist novels were obsessed with escaping from the confines of society’s expectations of relationships,” Keene State College wrote. “Virginia Woolf wrote stories which explicitly include sexuality (although it may not be the focus) including “To the Lighthouse,``’’Between the Acts,” “Mrs. Dalloway” and “Orlando.” X

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What’s Wrong with Weed? Exploring the stigmas attached to marijuana Story by Shelley Wang Photos by Paige Acosta


ithin the state of California, marijuana has been legalized and decriminalized for years, yet still, the stigmas that come with this controversial plant are what many still choose to believe. In 1996 California became the first state that legalized the use of medical marijuana, but it was not until 2016 that it became legal recreationally within the state. With any “drug” comes a list of stereotypes that makes users feel stuck under. Leafly, one of the internet’s largest cannabis sites, had a list of stereotypes connected with the cannabis community. Some typical stereotypes, like all stoners listen to reggae and wear tye-dye, can stigmatize cannabis users as lazy and unmotivated couch potatoes. “The stigmas I hear about weed smokers are that they can’t be productive. I think it’s important for people to be more open about smoking weed. There are doctors, lawyers, college students that are extremely successful and smoke weed every day,” said San Francisco State University student Desirae Zuniga. “The social stigma that is attached to weed smokers is just not accurate” said San Francisco State University student Desirae Zuniga. Just earlier this year CBS rejected an advertisement that ad-



vocated the benefits of using medical marijuana, yet the iconic Bud Light commercials are the ones many viewers anticipate watching. The commercial showcased different individuals that used medical marijuana for various reasons and how it increased the quality of their lives. The clear rejection of the commercial shows that there are still so many people who do not see any benefit with the plant. Luis Hernandez who has been a marijuana user for the past 14 years explained the immense pros that have come from using. “It helps me a lot with my anxiety and actually does with my concentration as well,” Hernandez said. The benefits of cannabis have been proven through much research. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), “cannabinoids, primarily CBD, have been studied for the treatment of seizures associated with forms of epilepsy that are difficult to control with other medicines.” In addition to its benefits for people suffering from epilepsy, marijuana has been known to increase appetite which also assists individuals with cancer and HIV/AIDS. It has also been said by the NCCIH that states with medical marijuana laws were


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found to have lower prescription rates for both opioids and all drugs that cannabis could substitute for people on Medicare. Cannabis users start using for a plethora of different reasons. Zuniga explained that people from her family, including her father, have anxiety and it has helped them ease that issue. “He’s the main provider of my family and with that comes a lot of responsibility and pressure. He smokes weed to help him relax and get away from those pressures,” Zuniga said. “He also grows weed for a hobby, he loves the process.” Despite the ease and relaxation that comes from using cannabis, comes a lot of secrecy too. A daily marijuana user and college student, who would like to keep her identity hidden due to potential job prospects and family ties, explained how marijuana plays a role in her daily life. “Weed has really changed my life for the better. I think that once you start using it, you realize it isn’t as scary as it sounds. I remember my high school self would have been appalled knowing I do use weed daily,” the anonymous college student said. “It really has mentally allowed me to relax, especially with the anxiety-ridden times of adulthood.” X



A Party Animal Guide to Safer Sessions Story & Photo by Sam Joson

ell, the 2020 fesW tival season is cancelled.

But will that stop true party animals from doing their thing? Probably not. While it’s important to take necessary precautions to avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19, it’s equally important to remember a few things that won’t disappear with the rise of coronavirus: No one is invincible, it’s still flu season and partiers should keep these harm reduction tips in their back pockets for when festival season comes again. Full disclaimer: No one can be 100% safe when taking drugs. Whether it’s during the session or something more long term, there’s always an inherent risk. But that doesn’t mean people can’t take precautions. This is where proper harm reduction, a practice that recognizes humans will inevitably engage in risky behavior, comes into play. “Harm reduction seeks to meet people where [they’re] at with their chosen health behaviors and to offer interventions to

mitigate potential risks based off of their personal decisions [and] what they choose to do with their own body,” said Kristin Karas, director of operations at DanceSafe, a public health non-profit that promotes health and safety within the electronic music and nightlife community. Here are a few harm reduction tips for some popular drugs in the party scene. Whether you partake or not, take a look. It never hurts to learn. You know, for a friend. MDMA Also Known As: Molly or ecstacy •Health Risks Short term risks: Heat stroke and hyponatremia, a condition caused by drinking too much water causing blood sodium levels to drop too low. MDMA increases water retention, so drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia. Long term risks: Building a tolerance to MDMA’s effects and exacerbated symptoms of depression. Lab studies have shown taking too much too fre-

quently causes neurotoxicity in rodents, but there have been no studies to investigate this outcome in humans. •Before the sesh Make sure it’s actually MDMA using a reagent test kit. Test kits determine what substances are in drugs using a solution that changes color depending on what it interacts with. Generally, this is done by scraping off a small sample of the substance, dropping the test liquid onto the powder and observing the results. Vitamin supplements can counteract some of MDMA’s side effects. Magnesium can help with jaw clenching and there’s evidence that suggests alpha-lipoic acid and vitamin C help with neuroprotection. Consider not using MDMA if you take prescription medication or have any pre-existing health conditions. •During the sesh Don’t take too much. Remember, you can always take more but you can’t take less once you’ve already taken it. According


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to Rollsafe.org, an MDMA education website, here’s a good rule of thumb for dosage: Your weight in kilograms plus 50 amounts to the number of milligrams of MDMA you should take to experience maximum positive effects while decreasing negative effects. Stay hydrated by drinking water, but be cautious of drinking too much. Electrolyte drinks such as Gatorade are a good choice as well. Take frequent breaks from dancing or any activity that increases temperature and heart rate. “Often there are misnomers in headlines surrounding MDMA. You’ll see things about overdoses. These are actually cases of heatstroke that have taken place on MDMA. It has to do with the fact that an individual’s body temperature was not being

regulated,” Karas said. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking MDMA. Know the symptoms of heat stroke and watch for them in your friends who are also taking MDMA. •After the sesh Vitamin supplements may reduce the effects of MDMA comedown too. 5-HTP is popular for this. Try to wait at least 5-6 weeks between sessions, but 3 months or longer is preferred to reduce the chance of long term health risks. Cocaine Also Known As: Coke or blow •Health Risks Cocaine’s potential for addiction is moderate to high, so it’s extremely important to pay attention to

the individual’s frequency of use. High doses or frequent use can cause heart attacks, strokes or aneurysms by damaging the heart and blood vessels. If users are snorting cocaine, they can possibly transmit and contract diseases like Hepatitis C if they share a snorting device. •Before the sesh There’s been reports of people dying after using cocaine laced with fentanyl. Karas said drugs laced with fentanyl are more common in opioids such as heroin, but it doesn’t hurt to test cocaine using fentanyl test strips. •During the sesh Avoid drinking alcohol and using marijuana or other drugs at the same time as using cocaine. Use your own snorting


device. Know the signs of cocaine overdose. These can include difficulty breathing, seizures, unconsciousness, vomiting or pale or blue face. •After the sesh Cocaine in particular can have unpleasant after-effects. People might be tempted to use more frequently to avoid them, so it’s important to pay close attention to the frequency of use. Lysergic Acid Diethylamide Also Known As: LSD or acid •Health Risks It’s important to test LSD using a test kit because it might actually be a compound called NBOMe, which has been linked to a


few deaths. Anyone who has schizophrenic relatives should avoid taking LSD. •Before the sesh Use an Erlich’s reagent test kit. Pick the people and the location for the session carefully, as any feelings of discomfort can be magnified when taking psychedelics. Understand that psychedelics should be treated with respect, Wait until you’re in a good mindset to take LSD. Any negative emotions

can become overwhelming during an LSD trip. •During the sesh Consider having a “trip sitter” you trust in case the experience starts to go sideways. If you’re having a bad trip, remember it’s the effects of the drug and not necessarily just you. Move to a different location where you’ll feel more comfortable, or if you have a trusted trip sitter, let them know so they can help you. “When people are engaging in psychedelic use,


that means acknowledging that there’s a possibility of difficult things coming up and being in a setting [where], if you’re having a difficult time, you are able to change your setting – your physical environment,” Karas said. •After the sesh Be kind to yourself after an LSD trip, particularly if it was difficult. Negative emotions or memories may have come up during the trip, which is normal and totally OK. Consider not tripping

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again until you’ve fully processed your previous trip, especially if it was difficult. Here’s a harm reduction tip that encompasses all drugs: Be aware of your mindset, setting and most importantly, your intention if you decide to take recreational drugs. “Having self-awareness of why you are choosing to engage in this drug use goes a long way in preventing drug misuse,” Karas said. Reagent test kit care is important too. The solution usually comes in a drop-

per bottle. It’s crucial to hold the bottle far enough away from the sample when dropping the solution onto the sample. If some of the sample gets sucked back into the bottle, the rest of the solution becomes unusable. If you store the test kits in a cool, dry place, and otherwise take proper care of it, its shelf life should be about one year. Lastly, party animals should also pay attention to the frequency of drug use and if the doses are increasing. “Those are all different

things that I would be monitoring as an individual who is consuming drugs while trying to maintain a healthy relationship with drug use,” Karas said. For more information, check out Dancesafe.org, Tripsafe.org and Rollsafe.org. X

Photo by Saylor Nedelman



Spiritual Holistic Medicine What you don’t know about magic mushrooms Story & Photos by Andrea Williams

“Nature is alive and talking to us. This is not a metaphor.”- Terence McKenna Humans have had a sacred relationship with nature for thousands of years. Nutritious plants, fruits and roots kept our bodies strong. Few things feel as sweet and grounding as relaxing with sunshine on your skin. Prior to modern life as we know it today, filled with concrete ground and convenient running faucets and McDonalds drive-thrus, humans relied fully on nature for sustenance and survival. And we still do, but there is

also disconnection from nature in everyday life. Time passes, empires rise and fall, global ice ages come and go — and through it all nature continues to thrive on Earth in innumerable shapes and forms. There are over 200 species of mushrooms on Earth that produce psilocybin, a psychedelic compound. These fungi and others with similar psychedelic properties, have a long history of ritual, ceremonial and spiritual uses among humans. Ancient cave paintings featuring these sacred plants are


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found in several different countries, the oldest dating back 7,000-9,000 years, according to artepreistorica.com. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, these mushrooms have been used for thousands of years among indigenous peoples across multiple continents. Today, these sacred fungi are still widely used but they are illegal and considered dangerous drugs by many governments. Psilocybin and psilocyn, another psychedelic compound found in wild fungi, were designated under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 as Schedule 1 drugs. This means that there is high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Other Schedule 1 drugs include heroine, cannabis, LSD, peyote and ecstasy. The Controlled Substance Act was passed by the Nixon administration. Before 1968 there was a rise in interest and scientific study of psychedelic mushrooms, but after these laws passed all research stopped and didn’t emerge again until the turn of the century. In 2019, Denver, Colorado and Oakland, California decrim-

inalized psilocybin mushrooms. According to the Global Drug Survey of 2016, magic mushrooms are the safest “recreational” drug people use. Only 0.2% of people who take mushrooms end up seeking emergency medical treatment. LSD and cocaine measured at 1%, amphetamine (Adderall) at 1.1%, alcohol at 1.3% and methamphetamine at 4.8%. This means psychedelic mushrooms users are at least 5 times less likely to go to the ER than these other drugs. A Guardian article discussing the survey said, psilocybin is not very addictive and is non-toxic to humans and bad side effects are typically psychological and usually wear off within hours. The DEA lists a danger to the drug being death by accidentally eating a different, poisonous species of wild mushroom. It is important to remember that there is some level of risk in everything we do. According to the Drug Policy Alliance “bad trips” can result in panic attacks and paranoia, extreme confusion and accidental injury. In cases with pre-existing mental illnesses, like schizophrenia,



psychosis has been reported but is extremely rare. Bridgette Mars is a medical herbalist and licensed psychedelic sitter in Boulder, Colorado. She is a very experienced sitter and was friends with TimothyLeary Ph.D., the researcher behind the well known psilocybin studies at Harvard in 1968. Mars believes that no one should do psychedelics without knowing how to experience them safely first. Mars explained that above all one’s physical environment and headspace influences their trip. What music you listen to, what mood you are in before ingesting, who you talk to, whether you’re outside or inside are all things that affect how you experience your trip. Having a bad trip can be a scary experience, but many people also report profound and positive spiritual experiences that can change their life. “Setting an intention before your trip is very important, it can act as an anchor,” Mars said. She explained how prior to ingesting mushrooms, she meets with her clients at least one time before to get comfortable with one another and to discuss their intentions. During the trip, she is sober and acts as their guide, helping them and reassuring them as needed. After the trip, she meets with them one more time to revisit their intentions and help them process their experience. Her clients range from

seeking spiritual or emotional rejuvenation, healing from past trauma, self exploration and even help with addiction. Decriminalize Nature is an educational campaign in Oakland aiming to teach the community about the value of entheogenic plants and fungi with the purpose to “decriminalize our relationship with nature”. According to lexico. com, an entheogen is a chemical substance usually found in plants that is ingested to produce a “non-ordinary state of conscious for religious or spiritual purposes.” The term was coined in the ’70s and comes from Greek, literally meaning “become divine within.” Larry Norris, a board member of Decriminalize Nature and executive director of Entheogenic Research, Integration, and Education (ERIE) was part of the team of people fighting for decriminalization in Oakland. Norris said people have an “unalienable right to have a relationship with nature” and that is why he and these organizations are focusing on community education and decriminalization. Medical research takes a long time. Everything about studies are closely monitored and happens in a controlled environment. There are currently research trials on the effects of psilocybin on patients with depression, however Norris believes these trials are still about five years out from finishing. But decriminalization is happening now. Norris explained that mushrooms


“People should agency in choo to healing. Even and isn’t accept medicine … yet.” - Larry Norris

have their own osing their path n if it is holistic ted by Western ”

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being classified as a Schedule 1 substance just because of the lack of traditional medical research leaves out a long history and narrative of powerful, transformative experiences. “People should have their own agency in choosing their path to healing,” Norris said. “Even if it is holistic and isn’t accepted by Western medicine … yet.” The Dank Duchess is a local Hash consultant, writer and educator based in Oakland, California. She personally tries to micro-dose psilocybin mushrooms 2-3 times a week. Duchess became convinced to try micro-dosing three years ago after seeing a story from Business Insider about how Silicon Valley runs off micro-dosing LSD. Duchess started actively speaking out about psychedelics in 2019. She feels that there is definitely an inaccurate public perception of plant based psychedelics that creates a barrier for people. “It is through education that we can change their perception. Education and art, because sometimes people don’t want to be lectured to,” Duchess said. “Social proof is necessary to rise above the social programming.” Micro-dosing mushrooms and LSD have extremely similar effects, but Duchess prefers the holistic nature of mushrooms. Micro-dosing about .2-.3 grams of psilocybin mushrooms about twice a week is the sweet spot for her. If you


are unfamiliar with the term micro-dosing, no she does not trip or hallucinate, she actually just takes barely enough to promote a slight but profound effect, called a flow state. When in a flow state, users can feel more grounded and experience heightened mental clarity among other things. Duchess said she feels more regimented, productive, efficient and less emotionally attached to things. “I see straight lines more. Where I am and where I’m going. It feels like several cups of coffee without the jitteriness,” Duchess said. “It cuts out a lot of unnecessary rumination on things we can spend a lot of time on throughout the day.” Duchess micro-doses very small amounts, but taking a slightly bigger dose of around 1.25-1.5 grams is a different story entirely. Duchess said this dosage is the perfect platform for self exploration and breaking open mental blocks. “The self realization that comes from these psychedelic practices are invaluable,”Duchess said. But unlike micro-dosing, which eliminates unnecessary emotions, with larger doses one’s emotions can take front and center. “Kleenex has to be close,” Duchess said. X


Athletic Pe

What’s Weed Go

Story & Photo by Diani Ellis


just love weed man!” said former NCAA college athlete Nate Jacob. Like many other college athletes, Jacob was once part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association at his school. The NCAA, according to their website, is a non-profit organization “dedicated to the well-being and lifelong success of college athletes.” Since 1910, the NCAA has overseen sports programs at nearly 1,098 colleges and universities in the United States. According to the NCAA commitment rule guide, college athletes must follow strict regulations to play and maintain participation in a specific collegiate sport. This includes maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA. Student athletes are encouraged to refrain from getting paid or receiving special treatment because of their sport capability. They must also obey the “discouraging alcohol and other drug abuse” rule set by the NCAA. Each student athlete is required to sign off on these rules before the start of every new season. “I knew what the rules were,” Jacob said. No smoking, no drinking — while in season. But I don’t understand why, if I’m of age I was randomly chosen from my team to take a drug test, at

the end of my season back in 2018, and I did not pass.” According to the NCAA Division II, which San Francisco State University is part of, marijuana is considered a performance enhancement drug. “The NCAA Sport Science Institute hopes to foster a healthy and productive experience for college athletes. In addition to performance-enhancing drugs, alcohol and other recreational drug use can impact the health and well-being of student-athletes. The SSI encourages college athletes to be aware, ask questions, make safe choices and to stay healthy and drug free.” the NCAA Sport Science website states. Although marijuana is legal in certain states, it is also completely illegal in others. According to the D1 Sports and Athletics website, in the USA marijuana is fully illegal in 11 of the 50 states. “Weed isn’t legal everywhere,” said Vanessa Jimenez, Division II softball coach at Salem University. “So when I hear students who come from California talk about how they think the NCAA should change their rules for legalizing marijuana, they have to understand the NCAA is across the board, and if certain schools can’t do it, then none can.” But according to the 20

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ot To Do With It?

NCAA website, of “Health and Safety,” marijuana isn’t the only banned substance for collegiate athletes. The NCAA also does not allow stimulants, anabolic agents, alcohol and beta blockers, narcotics, cannabinoids or peptide hormones, growth factors related substances and mimetics. “I want my athletes in the best health, so they can perform at their very best. And doing any kind of drugs is not going to help them get there. I am very against the use of drugs, no matter if it’s legal or not,” Jimenez said. Coaches and the NCAA allow certain over the counter drugs to be used, such as anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil. Even if an athlete has a legitimate medical card for marijuana, the NCAA forbids the athlete from smoking weed. “We go by Federal laws,” NCAA worker Nancy Rogers said. “Even though you are able to buy weed in certain parts [of the country] now, you still can’t take it to certain places such as airports, and we go by that as well. If you want to smoke, you can. But you can’t smoke and compete for the NCAA.” However, some student athletes seem to think otherwise. “So I believe that in the state of California [where weed is legal] athletes should be able to smoke it if they 21

are of age, and shouldn’t be penalized for having weed in their system,” Sophia Stephen, Track and Field runner at Cal State Pomona, said. “I do however believe that there should be consequences taken if an athlete is showing up to practice high, and it’s becoming a problem with the way they are performing.” According to the NCAA, it has been proven that the intake of marijuana can, and will affect the way you are performing in school, at work and while competing. “We want our students in the best shape and form they can be, and no drug, legal or not, is going to help them get to that point. That’s why we don’t allow smoking, even if a student has a marijuana card. There are other ways of dealing,” said Rogers. Despite efforts to decriminalize and legalize weed gaining steam, there are no signs that the NCAA is willing to reconsider allowing student athletes to consume marijuana. Jimenez feels there is no reason to change the rules as there is nothing wrong with the current system. “Why try to fix something that isn’t broken?” Jimenez said. X


Give a girl a motorcycle

Story by Clara Applegarth Photos Provided by Kimmie Herrera

Photo by William Wendelman 22 20

MAY 2020

for "Mymotoexcitement comes from the adrenaline,” said Tish

Yodatee, co-founder of the all-female motorcycle collective Bay Area chapter “The Litas.” “The power, the freedom. Being in the open. Feeling the wind push against my body. Being able to crank the throttle and take off.” This is the story for many female motorcycle riders, as women continue to find their place in historically male-dominated industries. “I went riding on the back maybe like four or five times,”

South Lake Tahoe Lites, Katya and Jade at “Babes Ride Out” 2019.

said Kimmie Herrera, legal The Bay Area is full of secretary living in San Jose. female motorcyclists and fe“But just my personality kind male/non-binary motorcycle of wanted to be in the front.” riding groups and collectives. Kimmie is one of thou- There are the Valley Vixens, sands that are embracing Dykes on Bikes, Devil Dolls their love for the thrill, for the and more. Yodatee, England exciting calm she describes and Herrera belong to the inwhen riding. ternational female motorcycle “I feel like the biggest dif- collective, “The Litas” created ference, pardon my language, in September 2015 by Jessica was that it’s just a dick measur- Hagget in Salt Lake City, Utah. “I started out riding with ing contest with guys,” said Amanda England, preschool men,” said Yotadee. “For the teacher and founder of the most part regardless of genSacramento Litas. “They’ll der, motorcyclists have each just be full speed ahead like other’s backs, but as a female weaving in and out of traffic.” biker I feel I am often sexual23

ized. It can be discouraging when my male counterparts don’t see me as a rider or acknowledge my skill, but rather objectify me.” In 2018, the number of female riders nationwide reached 19%, according to Ultimate Motorcycles, but it’s not just the thrill that people chase. In Herrera and England’s case, it’s also the sisterhood. “I was always a bit of a loner,” said Yotadee. “But with the Litas SF I found my pack. We support, encourage and inspire one another.


Photo of Katya (left), Heidi (middle), Tish (right) at “Babes Ride Out” 2019. Photo by Heidi Zumbrun

We all ride our own ride, but together. I know that I have a sis in front of me leading the way and I have a sis behind me watching my back, always.” Initially, Herrera was dating someone who rode a bike, and England’s good friend asked her if she wanted to go dirtbike riding. Yotadee started riding scooters with a rental service in San Francisco called “Scoot” where she worked. A small dose of two wheels marked the beginning of all the women’s journeys. “I was always peeking over asking questions like, ‘What’s shifting?’ or ‘What’s the difference if you do this?’ or ‘Why does it make this noise or what happens if you do this?’” Herrera said. “Then maybe like three weeks later, out-of-the-blue, I signed up for the motorcycle safety foundation course.” England remembers her first experience riding a motorcycle. “A friend of mine had dirt bikes and asked if I wanted

to come out riding with her,” England said. “We went to the park, and she said, ‘Here’s the clutch, here’s the brakes. Good luck.’ I got it on the first

of Craigslist and rode around neighborhoods. It wasn’t long after England and Herrera bought their first bikes that they came across The Litas on

"You have to know that you belong there, and you need to make a space there. If

you doN't do it, who else is

going to do it for you? Who

else is going to do it for the next generation?" - Amanda England

try and then I just followed her social media. England and Herrera around the whole day. After that, I had dreams about pointed out the many differit. I thought ‘I need to do ences when it comes to male this again.’” and female motorcyclists. By One year later, England far the biggest difference bought her first dirt bike off they mentioned was the safe24

ty measures, or lack-of, in male groups. “There’s a pattern here with me, that I feel very comfortable around women,” said Herrera, who attended an all-female college. “It’s a safety thing for me. When I first started and wanted advice, it was only men that were out there on the internet giving people advice, or if I would go to get cycling gear, it’s a guy giving me advice on the gear that I should wear.” Yotadee, Herrera and England both pointed out that in female groups, there’s always someone who is making sure everyone has all the gear they need or is checking in to see if anyone needs gas. If a member breaks down or falls off their bike, the entire group pulls over to make sure they’re alright and helps them in whatever way is needed. There are women who promote wearing gear, who understand how to fix bikes and will always have you covered

MAY 2020 for anything you may need. “The whole time with girls we’re checking on each other,” England said. “Or we’re signaling each other which lanes we are going to go into. But with guys, everyone’s on their own. Like ‘Fuck you, let’s go and die.’” Herrera has also experienced harassment on the road from men. “The ego comes out when they see a woman on a bike,” Herrera said. “They try to show off and do wheelies and split faster. I’ve had people at a stop sign yelling at me, cat-calling, just trying to get my attention.” This is one of the reasons why their all-female motorcycle collective is so important and so powerful to Herrera and England. Both met peo-

ple they would never have known unless they had contacted The Litas. England and Herrera have made profound connections for life and met some of their best friends through motorcycle riding. “I mean fuck it. Most industries are dominated by males, at least I feel like a lot of the good ones are,” England said. “Even when we walk into a motorcycle store with all of our gear on, we still won’t be approached or even said hello to by a salesperson.” The Litas usually schedule one ride per month, gathering together from all over the world. However, since the COVID-19 crisis, the California cities that Herrera and England live in are now on a government mandated lockdown. The Litas have post-

poned all future rides until further notice. “Realistically, I think it would be safe to do because we’re in gloves and helmets and on a motorcycle,” England said. “Nobody’s touching each other. But riding and just being around each other is a big part of who we are and how we relate to one another.” Luckily, England and Herrera communicate through Zoom virtual meetings with their fellow riders and Litas members as the pandemic continues. Moving forward, England and Herrera both are constantly on the search for new riders to join in and tag along. “You have to know that you belong there, and you need to make a space there,” England said. “If you don’t do


it, who else is going to do it for you? Who else is going to do it for the next generation?” X

Below: San Francisco and Sacramento Litas gather for a memorial ride.


Here For The Music, Not Harassment Story by Amy Bigelow Photos by William Wendelman


MAY 2020


ith ticket and ID in hand, I anxiously stood with my feet apart while a security guard patted me down right outside the main entrance. An industry standard, this protocol has become second nature to a concert junkie like myself. Once inside the venue, I took my place at the barricade and watched people trickle in by the bar and near the stage. A buzz of anticipation swept through the crowd as the background music eventually cut out and the lights dimmed. As the band ripped into their first song

of the night onstage, the crowd began to dance and holler song lyrics in unison. This is where I belong. Or so I thought. Even if only for one night, concerts can foster a deep sense of community among music fans. But within the past year, this euphoric environment that I love has become my own nightmare. Instead of singing along with everyone else and enjoying the show, I now find myself apprehensive about who might invade my personal space yet again. Personal space is practically non-existent at any

27 27


given concert, especially when mosh pits are involved. Crowds become rowdier and people often push each other in an attempt to slam dance or get closer to the stage. This rambunctious atmosphere is not unusual to many concertgoers, including myself, but a line is drawn when others are then subjected to unwanted harassment of any kind within this specific environment. In recent months, I have experienced several instances of sexual harassment at different concerts on a pretty consistent basis. Whether at a largescale music festival like Warped Tour or at a more intimate, smaller venue, it seems like I can never escape this nuisance. To some, I’m just another ass to grab or body to grope. Unfortunately sexual harassment can happen to anyone at a concert, regardless of age or gender. In 2017, a sexual assault awareness campaign organization in Chicago — Our Music My Body — conducted an online survey over a two-week period asking concertgoers about music festival harassment within the United States. Of the 509 responses, 379 were from women, 84 were from men and 57 were from non-binary people. From all the respondents who were surveyed, 47% had experienced unsolicited comments about their body or appearance, 45% faced aggressive flirtation and 41% were groped. At a glance, though these statistics only reflect a small portion of the U.S.

“I’m there to see the band and support them. [Harassers] can say all they want, but it’s just words at the end of the day. Now, if they physically put their hands on me, that’s completely different.” - Livia Zuniga

music festival culture, sexual harassment at concerts should not be ignored. “[Music] festivals are one of the biggest breeding grounds for harassment to take place,” said music fan Mechelle Rowell. Within the last few years, Rowell, 31, has both witnessed and experienced harassment first-hand in different concert settings. From her perspective, incidents of sexual harassment are easier for security guards to miss at many outdoor music festivals due to the larger crowds that these events typically attract. At the metal-oriented Knotfest, which draws over 40,000 fans each year, Rowell has watched police officers as-

sist with crowd containment to prevent certain situations from escalating further. From what Rowell has seen, if a more serious situation like sexual assault occurs in such a public space, many music festivals are usually not equipped with proper on-site emergency rape crisis tents. At best, a first-aid tent stocked with limited supplies like bandages, sunscreen and ibuprofen can be found on festival grounds. To address the rampant issue of sexual harassment within its own community, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival organizers implemented an anti-harassment and anti-assault policy in 2019.


As the Coachella website states, to help promote a safe and more inclusive festival environment, the Every One policy is a strict code of conduct against any form of sexual harassment, “be it verbal or physical… any discriminatory act including homophobia, racism, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, or sexism.” Those found in violation of this policy will be thrown out of the festival. As part of the Every One policy, a trained community care team is available to help Coachella concertgoers in distress, including those who have experienced harassment and assault. Still, a recent report from the Desert Sun — a Southern California newspaper — found that 1 in 6 women were sexually harassed at both Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals last summer. When security guards and new festival policies seem like insufficient safety nets, how else can concertgoers combat sexual harassment? “Before the show, scope out a staff member that you can trust who will listen to your concerns, should some issue arise,” said security guard Janice Suess. “If you’re going with other people, check in with each other and make sure that everyone leaves together or knows when someone is departing.” Suess, 27, who is a fulltime college student, has been working security at The Independent in San Francisco for almost two years. In that time, she has seen all kinds of harassment take place. Generally,

MAY 2020

from her experience, most altercations happen when an individual becomes inebriated. As a team, Suess and her colleagues are vigilant about deescalating any potential situation to ensure that patrons are safe and having a good time. When an altercation occurs — whether physical or verbal — in such a stimulated environment, remaining calm and assertive, while compassionate, can be a tough balancing act for both concertgoers and security guards. It takes practice to master, but these are important tactics to remember when assessing any potential situation at a concert. As a security guard, Suess has learned to approach patrons with respect instead of aggression to quickly diffuse any risky circumstance. Collectively, The Independent staff makes every effort to be visible and accessible in all areas of the venue. Should patrons have questions or need assistance, especially when being harassed by someone else, Suess encourages concertgoers to seek out a staff member for help. No single music venue is exactly the same and when security guards are inaccessible, the next best possible safeguard against harassment often falls upon concertgoers themselves. “But this is not a foolproof or acceptable standard to which inclusion should be held,” Suess said. While this alternative cannot always guarantee a person’s safety, there are

usually a handful of concertgoers in any crowd who are willing to help others when necessary. One such music fan, Livia Zuniga, found herself in a similar situation at the Aftershock festival last year. During Korn’s performance, Zuniga sprained her wrist while protecting her friend from crowd surfers that flung themselves toward the stage. “I try to make sure everyone around me is having a good time and I try to help anyone I can before myself, which is sometimes my downfall,” Zuniga said. As an avid concertgoer, Zuniga has cultivated a support system for herself and other music fans at every concert she attends to help minimize harassment. “I’m there to see the band and support them. [Harassers] can say all they want, but it’s just words at the end of the day,” Zuniga said. “Now, if they physically put their hands on me, that’s completely different.” When subjected to harassment at a concert, if all else fails, try to find a safer space if possible. This could mean standing by the merch table or finding a designated concert buddy who shares a similar taste in music. After all, concerts are a cause for musical celebration, not an open invitation to violate someone’s space without their permission. X



The Story Behind the Ink: How tattoo artists foster community through their work Story by Anne Lima Tattoo art can be as exciting as it is addictive. While versatile in technique, it is beautiful in appearance. The tattoo industry is a fascinating one, with a history that dates back over thousands of years to ancient Asia and Africa. Drawing from individual inspiration and artistic expression, most tattoo artists come into this industry by a variety of means, but their goal is all the same — to be an artist. “The personal motivation for me was a lot of my homeboys from the crib. We’re artists and we all could draw. We pushed each other a lot back then with friendly competition, but we really all were trying to be some of the dopest guys in our school. Well a few of them became tattooers as well and I was like ‘Yo hold up! I wanna get down too!’” said Brandon Bean, 41, tattoo artist at Artisan Body Piercing and Tattoo in Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk has an interesting history within the tattoo industry. The city council approved a citywide ban on tattoo parlors in the 1950s. They were described as being “unsanitary and generally undesirable, even vulgar and cannibalistic.” Seven cities in Virginia took the same initiative. But as this art continued to mark cultural significance throughout decades to come, tattoo

Photo of Galen Leach provided by Galen Leach


enthusiasts in the ‘90s challenged bans and regulations of the industry within the state. Bean’s career started back in 2006 while he was in the Navy stationed in Manama, Bahrain. He reflects back to his hometown in central Illinois where, growing up as black kid, tattoos were looked at as trash and as rudimentary art, a sign of rebellion. Widely renowned tattoo artists like Shige, originally from Yokohama and a pioneer of Japanese style tattooing, and Miya Bailey, from Atlanta, Georgia are some of the most renowned black tattoo artists in the world, who display their work in museums, speaking at schools and opening art galleries. “It’s a full 180 from back when I was a kid coming up. Tattooers went from being dropouts, outcasts and tradesmen to [having] degrees in fine arts and [becoming] savvy businessmen and women,” Bean said. “We all helped make body art respectable and the norm along the way, artistic skill got heavy into the trade and it kicked the doors off the hinges,” Bean said. Tattoo art has evolved over the course of its history. Now, these permanent ink designs are recognized more for its artistry than ever before. For these ink masters, flesh is their

MAY 2020 canvas for artistic expression. “I am interested in absurdism, mortality, iconoclasm, subversion, cave art, bathroom art and the underdog among other things. I don’t think I go for a certain style or anything, I just do whatever comes to mind,” said Galen Leach, 41, a San Francisco based tattoo artist who currently works at UNDRGRND SF. “I’ve heard people who are new to tattoo culture say they were drawn to its traditional nature and people who are steeped in tattoo culture liked it because it’s new and fresh so fuck if I know what that means.” Fellow UNDRGRND SF tattoo artist, Tanya Wischerath, describes her style as illustrative realism. “Tattoos are a visual signifier, so I imagine that it relates to the community the same way that clothing choices, hair styling or piercings would. It’s easier to find your people

“The great advantage to the mainstreaming of tattoos is that each facet and style has grown into its own unique branch of the tattoo tree, complete with its own culture that is continuously evolving.” - Tanya Wischerath


when they offer visual cues that they’re part of your social culture,” Wischerath said. When asked how these artists got into their line of work, many point to friends or family members who helped make the connection they needed to follow this specific career path. “I used to get all my tattoos in my cousin’s kitchen because tattoos are sick and I couldn’t afford to get them from shops,” Leach said. When his cousin moved away she still pursued tattoos by doing them on himself. “There was also the notion that if I got good enough, maybe I could do it for a living one day.” For Wischerath, she discovered her love for tattoos during her adolescent years. By the time Wischerath entered her 20s, she’d almost given up on the idea of being a tattoo artist because, to her, the industry felt inaccessible. “As a queer androgynous woman I didn’t see myself

Tanya Wischerath by Sunny Smith

XPRESS MAGAZINE represented in a way that made me feel like I could participate,” Wischerath said. Feeling discouraged, Wischerath found inspiration from her older mentor Suzanne. Wischerath describes her mentor as a chubby, punk butch dyke just covered in tattoos. She rode a motorcycle and had the coolest Victorian dandy meets Folsom Street Fair style. “I had a painting studio

upstairs from her small tattoo shop. I admired her right away, and she was also a painter like me. She asked to see my work and I guess my drawings made a good impression because she invited me to apprentice under her. It was like fate, to this day I’m still astounded that our paths crossed. We were together for about 10 years, we opened a beautiful shop together, Modern Electric Studio,”

Wischerath said. Since her departure from Modern Electric last April, Wischerath has found a new home at UNDRGRND SF. She described the foundation of the shop as a harmonious and well run establishment seeped in camaraderie and affirmation. “It is a little bit magic when you land in a place with such a balanced ecosystem of personalities, I feel deeply grateful and absurdly fortunate to

Photo provided by Tanya Wischerath


be there,” Wischerath said. For Bean, his shop appears to expand the same essence of gratitude to the community it’s established in. “We do things like toy and food drives, also our shop is military friendly, the shop also does several events for law enforcement. Us artists in the shop, though we do art nights every now and then and they’re open to whoever, we really need to do more of

MAY 2020

those though, and help boost that community even more,” Bean said. Tattoos are more than just a trend — there’s also a unique, layered experience. Wischerath said the subcultures that exist within the tattoo community are categorized by aesthetics and their respective histories. With tattoos being as popular as they currently are, he thinks that artists will finally get the recognition they deserve. “The pure talent that’s overflowing in tattooing right now is undeniable and it is so popular it made folks that normally wouldn’t otherwise, recognize and respect the artists in the game and what we bring to the table,” Bean said. Bean said that in light of COVID-19, tattoo shops in Norfolk are being put on serious pause. “The limited number of people in spot, the curfews and or the forced closings of businesses and establishments has definitely slowed things

Photo of Brandon Bean provided by Brandon Bean

“The pure talent that’s overflowing in tattooing right now is undeniable and it is so popular it made folks that normally wouldn’t otherwise, recognize and respect the artists in the game and what we bring to the table.” - Brandon Bean

” 33

down for a lot of people. If we don’t work then we don’t eat so a lot of people are feeling it right now,” Bean said. Wischerath expressed the same concerns. As all tattoo shops in the city are closed she currently isn’t working like many in the service industry who don’t know when they’ll go back to work. Even when her shop reopens, it is uncertain who will be able to keep their appointments after such an extended period of unemployment. “Everyone is broke and the idea of charging people seems callous,” Wischerath said. Bean encourages people to check out and, if possible, buy the work being sold by artists. “Everybody is gonna be tight with spending but, if you got it, man, it definitely helps you know?” Bean said. “Hopefully, we all can get our heads around this and get a handle on this thing in the very near future.” X


Story by Ryce Stoughtenbourough Illustration by Patrick Tamayo


e’s been tied to hundreds of heinous crimes throughout history, often pinned as the alleged influencer. Hollywood has profited heavily off his presence in films like “The Witch,” “Rosemary’s Baby” and William Friedkin’s 1973 horror classic “The Exorcist.” He goes by different names to some — Baphomet, Beelzebub, Lucifer or Satan — often depicted as a crimson-colored creature with horns atop his head. Yet, to practicing Atheistic Satanists and members of The Satanic Temple, Simone Lasher and Daniel Walker, who’ve chosen to use pseudonyms due to personal safety, Satan isn’t real; nor do they worship him. In fact, according to The Satanic Temple, the name Satan means embracing “rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions.” “The analogy that I like to make these days [is that] religion is supposed to give you certain things — it gives you guidance, values, structure, personal fulfillment [and] common ground with other people and a sense of your place in the world,” Walker said. He said that in almost all cases, religions get their values from a common foun-

dation of myths created through storytelling. “[Whether it’s] from the Gospel or the Vedas, or the short fiction of L. Ron Hubbard,” Walker said, receiving a giggle from Lasher. “For us it’s no different, our myth is the myth of Satan as it exists in art, literature and pop culture. ...The only difference with us is we say, ‘We know our myths are myths.’ Nobody believes these things literally, but they hold the same place in our lives like other people’s religious mythology does and they’re just as important to us.”

assumptions built into that were a divine, all-powerful being [was] supposedly the source of all good, and this revolutionary was the source of all evil. I’m very, very suspicious about the motives of whoever put that story together originally. I’m just going to put that out there.” That story, often based on the book of Isaiah in the Christian Bible, has been told for centuries, taking on many different interpretations depending on the religion. In Buddhism, Satan is known as

The man? The myth? The legend? “He’s an archetype, he’s a metaphor [and] he’s an aesthetic,” Lasher said, referring to the horned monster in red. Walker explained how The Seven Tenets of The Satanic Temple, a list of beliefs upheld by the religious group, are a great way to interpret the myth of Satan. He said the ideas the tenets promote — compassion, empathy, reason and human fallibility to name a few — are what The Satanic Temples idea of Satanism all about. “There are also other ideas too, like this idea of Satan as a revolutionary. The first person to say, ‘This isn’t good, it should change,’” Walker said. “And then the cultural 34

Mara, a demon that tempted Buddha away from his path of enlightenment. Similar to Christianity’s belief of Jesus, who resisted Satan, Buddha also resisted temptation, defeating the demon. Though this demon may represent the root of all evil to some, to Atheistic Satanists, Satanism has become a place of refuge for people who’ve felt outcast from mainstream society. “We have the Christian majority in this country, so if you go against those teachings and you get ostracized — this

MAY 2020 could include ... queer people, femininsits, people who have abortions,” said Lasher. “It could be because you like heavy metal and Dungeons and Dragons. So, all these people [who are ostracized] get told, ‘Well, you’re of the Devil. You’re a Satanist,’ but we’re just saying, ‘Yeah, OK. We’ll take it.’” Panic! Although Satanism has gradually become a modern day religion publicly practiced by thousands, despite the hav-

oc caused by the infamous “Satanic Panic” from the 1960s through the late 80s. Megan Goodwin, a lecturer in religion at Northeastern University, explained how a fabricated “Michelle Remembers” ignited a nationwide hysteria of Satanic abuse in the childcare system. According to Goodwin’s website, “Michelle Remembers” — a book, now proven to have been fabricated, consists of one woman’s recovered memories of Satanic abuse. The authors of this book promoted it across North America, leading seminars with law enforcement, mental health providers, as well as social workers on how to look out for Satanic abuse. Joseph Laycock Ph.D., an assistant professor of religious studies at Texas State University mentioned the McMartin Preschool Trial, one of the longest and most expensive trials in American history, costing the government $13.5 million. In 1983, a woman called the Manhattan Beach Police to accuse Ray Buckey, the son of the preschool’s owner, of molesting her 2-year-old son during a Satanic ritual. “People said that this family … who ran a daycare center were secretly Satanists and were abusing children in secret dungeons hidden under the daycare center,” Laycock said. “And of course none of this was true. If you ask a [child] over and over and over again about Satanism, they will tell you a story like this.” Walpurgisnacht Night Satanism isn’t as primordial as Christianity or other mainstream religions. In fact, it wasn’t a real organized religion until the formation of the Church of

Satan in 1966 by founder and writer, Anton LaVey. LaVey, who originally established the church in a black, Victorian home in the Richmond District of San Francisco, is also the creator of LaVeyan Satanism — an individualist social darwinist philosophy.

Lasher and Walker are also members of Satanic Bay Area — an independent local chapter separate from The Satanic Temple. They explained how their Bay Area chapter is specifically a leftwing political group. “There are so many kinds of Satanism, and [The Satanic

“For us it’s no different, our myth is the myth of Satan as it exists in art, literature and pop culture. ...The only difference with us is we say, ‘We know our myths are myths.’ Nobody believes these things literally, but they hold the same place in our lives like other people’s religious mythology does and they’re just as important to us.” - Daniel Walker

“Anton LaVey didn’t mind being a black sheep, he wanted to kind of spook people a bit,” Laycock said. Lasher and Walker agree that LaVey’s followers, also known as LaVeyan Satanists, follow a narrow and othrodox idea of Satanism. Lasher said that Satanism to LaVey’s followers means strictly following his most famous written piece, “The Satanic Bible.” “If you ask them, they would say we are not Satanists,” Walker said. But, as with many religions, Satanism has branched out into different sects from The Church of Satan —The Temple of Set in 1975, the First Satanic Church in 1999 and The Satanic Temple in 2013 — whether from different interests, more beliefs or new ideas. 35

Temple] is just one,” Lasher said. “And we are much more inclusive … just a bunch of people with similar interests, not necessarily similar beliefs, coming together to discuss and bond with each other.” Lasher explained how regardless of their differing views from other religions, they’re still members of American society. “We’re just normal folks who have opposite ideas about the book we like to read,” Lasher said. X


Photo by William Wendelman 36

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