Have you ever heard of 'Drunk History'? If not, it’s a popular tv show that features a very drunk person attempting to tell the story of a forgotten or little-known piece of history. As you may imagine, drunks tell great stories. Mostly, it’s due to their conviction. Now imagine the same set-up: an inebriated amateur historian tells the tale of a little-known woman from history. Oh, and swap the booze with buds. Voila! You just invented the new series 'High Herstory'.
Instead of a fat-tongued drunk slurring their way through history, High Herstory is like the edited version of someone super-high in a dorm room doing their best impression of their favorite history teacher. This new series of parody vids is the brainchild of creators Annette Ma Flores, Kendall Watkins, and Jenny Joslin.
As the High Herstory creators explain it, “We love 'Drunk History' but noticed that the majority of the stories, just like the history books, featured men. Our team (Kendall Watkins, Annette Mia Flores and myself) are big history buffs and strive to tell unexamined tales of women in our other, more serious, projects.”
The reason they swapped tequila for cannabis is equally straight-forward, “We also love weed so it's a parody of DH that very much fits into our personal niche as creators. The stories of women have largely been left out of the historical dialogue and we wanted to shed some light and help tell more inclusive versions of history.”
Curious to know more about the team, their process, and what it takes (other than copious amounts of cannabis) to create an episode of 'High Herstory' we asked Watkins, Flores, and Joslin a few questions about what it’s like getting stoned and talking about great feminists of the past.
How did you decide that cannabis and historical badass women were such a perfect fit?
We'd been researching and reading a lot of non-fiction accounts of women during the turn of the twentieth century for a historical fiction drama pilot we are writing together. We spent three years reading old newspaper clippings and out-of-print biographies collecting stories about women. We were smoking and talking about these badass ladies and we realized that we needed an engaging way to tell these stories to reach a mass audience. Newsweek recently wrote that the marijuana could be the first billion dollar industry not dominated by men, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
How do you determine which women's stories to tell?
The women we chose for the first episodes were all controversial and their stories had impacted our lives as women in the United States. For future episodes, we are looking into our own research and we encourage our hosts to pitch females in history. Mary MacLane was a national best-selling author at the age of 18 and influenced writers like Ernest Hemingway. Valerie Solanas, a radical feminist, fought the patriarchy with her manifesto and plays. Katherine Dexter McCormick put her money where her mouth was and funded every penny for the development of the birth control pill. All of these women were trailblazers.
When one gets high they're smoking or vaping or ingesting flowers, or their essence. According to Chinese medicine, pot has yin energy (female), while beer and alcohol have yang energy (male). There is something very clearly feminine about smoking cannabis. Did you see this as a clear connection? Like, "if we're getting high...we have to talk about women, duh!"
The yin/female energy from marijuana is fascinating. We've never consciously considered that perspective from Chinese medicine but it does inherently feel connected. The connotation of drinking leading to fighting and marijuana leading to sedation also feels very masculine vs. feminine. Though we know women who drink like sailors and men who get high and chill so I think those energies are not just gender-specific. The connection comes from us all really liking pot and women and history and thinking maybe you do too...
Everything and everyone should be feminist, and her name is Mary Jane, so yes. There is definitely a clear, growing connection for women to marijuana. Women are beginning to take ownership of cannabis culture and with that leave behind the stereotype of the lazy, parent's basement dwelling stoner dude. We've discovered and spoken to so many professional, successful women who are openly embracing weed in an intelligent, stylish, positive way and are building communities around the cannabis industry. Marijuana and women's history have both been misunderstood and on the fringe of culture but to us they feel like a natural pairing that many people, both men and women, are ready to embrace. With history shows in general, we don't see women of all colors represented, so we wanted to add something positive to the mix. You can expect inclusion and diversity in future episodes.
You've completed three episodes so far. Which one is your favorite, or perhaps not your favorite, but do you have a particular affinity for one episode? Maybe it's due to a story of how you filmed it, or perhaps the woman who is the subject of the story.
Mary MacLane is one of our favorites because we have been obsessed with her for years. She just was a narcissist but also brilliant and was the first person to write from the "I" perspective. The reenactment scene we filmed when she returns to Butte, Montana is so funny because even though we paraphrased, Mary really did think everyone was dumb and "probably slept with goats." It's absurd but historically accurate and we think that’s hilarious.
Which historical badass women are you looking to feature in upcoming episodes?
There's a feminist anarchist and a Mexican singer on the slate for sure. We have plans to create a ten episode season later this summer so the rest of the historical women will depend on who the women are that we interview. Any takers?
Time to be real, what are some of the challenges you've found working with on-camera talent that's high AF?
It's pretty much impossible to get any high person to tell the story in a cohesive way without rigorous editing, even with off-camera prompts.
There’s gotta be some classic material that doesn't make the cut. How much fun do you have in the editing room?
We laugh a lot in the editing room. Mispronounced words, making-up of words, burping on camera, blank stares, off-track ranting, coughing, giggles (so much giggling) and even emotional outbursts were all over our raw footage. Our amazing director of photography/editor Chase McDaniel's humor saves us by weaving a sensible narrative from a lot of high rambling and by being sober the whole time we film. We're just thankful the edits he puts together with us make sense because sometimes our hosts don't.
You can go check out HighHerstory.com for a hit of feminist-minded herstory for yourself. And be sure to check back for upcoming episodes.
BANNER IMAGE: From left to right - Annette Mia Flores, Kendall Watkins, Jenny Joslin.