Move over, Drunk History, there's a new inebriated storytelling show in town. It's called High Herstory, and features hilarious women telling and re-enacting the stories of unsung women while stoned.
Despite the internet clamoring for a high version of Drunk History for years, creator Derek Waters thought it couldn't be done. But High Herstory creators Annette Mia Flores (New Amsterdam), Jenny Joslin (Money Monster), and Kendall Watkins have been proving him wrong since 2017, when they first dropped a web series featuring the stories of birth control philanthropist Katharine Dexter McCormick, sexually-liberated author Mary MacLane, and feminist publisher Valerie Solanas. The show's hosts tell stomach-stitching stories in laid-back, almost ASMR tones that throw viewers into uncontrollable laughter.
“It is a direct response to Drunk History — a more male focused show that celebrates alcohol,” Joslin told Weedmaps News. “Why can't we get the perspective of funny women using this magical plant (which, like ladies, has also been misrepresented and suppressed) to interpret history from a female point of view?” The response from both viewers and press was enormous. “We felt like women were telling us, 'Please make this, I have a story to tell! I want to watch this right now!'”
In a DIY path similar to HBO's stoner dramedy High Maintenance, the trio shepherded their concept into the big leagues. At first, they tried to sell the show to a network which ultimately felt that it was too risky, so they self-produced. The first episode of the first season premiered on Social Club TV — an age-gated, cannabis-friendly streaming service also hosting the Emerald Cup — on 4/20.
High Herstory is both the name of the show and a brand new media company catering to the growing segment of cannabis users who identify as women, projected to be 50% of the market by 2022. Both are explicit efforts by a robust community to dismantle the racist, sexist, and oppressive attitudes toward cannabis in America. “It seems like it's a boy's club in the cannabis comedy sphere and we wanted to shatter the grass ceiling by joining forces with more women who are funny and witty and ambitious and maybe also consumers,” the trio said.
The story Behind High Herstory
Joslin, Watkins, and Mia Flores grew up in Texas, which has some of the most restrictive legal weed policies in the nation. As kids, they learned to “Just say no” from DARE, the multi-million dollar anti-drug program that multiple studies found was completely ineffective.
They met waiting tables at a Chinese restaurant while studying at Texas State University San Marcos. They were in various stages in their stoner development at the time — while Joslin and Watkins didn't partake until college, Mia Flores tried cannabis for the first time in high school — but it became an important part of their collaborative process. “We have utilized weed throughout every step of our journey,” said Joslin. “It was an instant familiarity upon meeting each other and it's been a blast ever since.”
They founded a production company together and came up with the idea for High Herstory while writing another historical fiction series about sex workers. “We had been writing together all day and were taking a smoke break and venting and asking ourselves the question, 'How do we get people to care about hearing these stories?'” the trio recalled. “It struck us. Just like this. Women consuming cannabis and telling stories about other amazing women whose histories were so suppressed, stolen or colonized out of the history books that many of them only exist orally.”
Who will you see in High Herstory?
Season one is rife with stories from history that are achingly relevant in the modern age. Remember when everyone was up in arms about the Postal Service being defunded? Episode one reminds us of its import with the exploits of legendary mailwoman Stagecoach Mary. Those watching the effort to unionize Amazon can draw inspiration from the story of labor rights activist Lucy Parsons. The tale of Hua Mulan echoes the struggles of any woman who has been told what she isn't capable of. The brilliant leadership of Dr. Sarah Josephine Baker is the kicker amidst a world collectively traumatized by an international pandemic, and as the first director of New York City's Bureau of Child Hygiene, she made public health more equitable for women, children, immigrants, and the differently-abled.
The stories are told and reenacted by actresses from every corner of the stream-i-verse, including Roberta Colindrez (Amazon's I Love Dick, Showtime's Vida, Amazon's A League of Their Own, HBO's The Deuce), Shirley Cruz (Netflix's Orange is the New Black), Luna Tieu (CBS's Elementary), Celia Au (Netflix's Wu Assassins), Pooya Mohseni (Law & Order: SVU), and Cece Suavo (ABC's One Life to Live).
How High Herstory is making a difference
High Herstory is entertaining, but it also represents solutions to the systemic problems facing the media industry. “Mainstream media really shies away from showing female identifying cannabis users, and we really wanted to see ourselves and the cool women we know represented in that culture,” the trio explained. For Joslin, Watkins, and Mia Flores, it goes deeper than destigmatizing cannabis users. “Women love seeing portrayals of bad-ass female characters from a female gaze, because so often from a Hollywood perspective, that hasn't existed. Underrepresentation isn't just a clickbait term. It deeply impacts the livelihoods of many of us. There aren't enough quality roles, which translate to well paying jobs, with good representation.”
Working in the cannabis industry has required the trio to make personal and professional sacrifices, “from not being supported by family, to people dismissing very real hard work because of an association to a plant, to people even questioning our reputation.”
They hope this fun-yet-poignant series will help culture writ large see how normal weed can be. “Some people decompress with a little bit of wine at the end of a long day, and others may choose to have a bit of cannabis,” said Joslin. “We really want to shatter the stigma to show people that they have options and there is no shame in it.'
They've also made creative decisions designed to make their company more equitable, such as casting male characters with female actors. “There's something so cathartic about mockingly playing white men antagonists,” said Joslin.
They've also partnered with the Youth Empowerment Project in New Orleans, which helps formerly incarcerated Americans get jobs in creative industries. “Louisiana has one of the worst incarceration rates in the country because of cannabis arrests, so this is a way for the cannabis industry to provide opportunities in a state where the war on drugs feels very much alive,” she added.
Ultimately, they've adopted the philosophy that happiness is the best revenge. “The very act of portraying diverse women consuming cannabis is a statement to dismantle oppression,” said Joslin. “Rolling a camera on someone who is consuming a substance that for 90 years has been stigmatized, and is still very much federally illegal, is an act of defiance. Every time a woman smokes on High Herstory, a man from history who helped demonize cannabis [ahem, Harry Ainslinger] rolls over in his grave. We hope that more portrayals of cannabis use will go beyond the 'stoner bro' narrative. Seth Rogan, we love you, but what about a female Pineapple Express?”
The creator's favorite weed
There are six weed products that Joslin, Watkins, and Mia Flores cannot live without, making them perfect to pair with the High Herstory premiere on 4/20.
Uff! Moon + Womb tincture from Xula Herbs
“Tinctures from Xula Herbs, but especially Uff! moon + womb blend.“ With 500 milligrams of CBD and 1,000 milligrams of CBG and other sedating ingredients like passionflower, this tincture is best before bed to soothe any cramps, aches or pains.
Intimacy Lubricants from Foria
“Foria's intimacy line is a must have.” Infused with 200 milligrams of CBD and organic MCT coconut oil, Foria's line of lubricants may put you at ease and calm your senses before getting down with your partner. Note: Foria lubricants contain coconut oil, which is not recommended for condoms, as oil-based lubes break down latex.
Prerolls from Lady Jays
“A pack of Lady Jays.” If you're all THC'd out, consider lighting up a CBG preroll from Lady Jays. Made with hemp flower from Oregon's sustainable hemp farm Marshall Farming, each preroll offers a smooth hit after a long day.
Pink Glitterbomb Bong from Chill
“Pink Glitterbomb Chill Bong from Chill - I love how it keeps every hit so icy and you can't break it.” This limited edition bong will be a gorgeous addition to your smoke collection. It stands at nine inches tall, is vacuum insulated, and you won't ever have to worry about breaking it's aluminum downstem.
Bongs and Pipes from Session Goods
Started in 2017, Session Goods offers unique pieces that are both functional and visually endearing. “Any Session Goods piece! Such thoughtful designs with versatility of color and bowl size — plus they make it so easy to clean with custom silicone plugs.”
PAX 3 Vaporizer from PAX
“Pax 3 Vaporizer.” Enough said.
Image courtesy of High Herstory. Graphic by David Lozada/Weedmaps.