Peter Gorman

Investigative journalist Peter Gorman has spent more than 20 years tracking down stories from the streets of Manhattan to the slums of Bombay. Specializing in Drug War issues, he worked for High Times magazine for 14 years, during which time he was a Senior Editor, Executive Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He is credited as a primary journalist in the medical marijuana movement, the hemp movement and in property forfeiture reform, where his early 1992 series came to the attention of Senator Henry Hyde and was a catalyst in Sen. Hyde's fight for forfeiture reform. His groundbreaking story on a missionary plane shootdown in Peru in 2000 led Congresswoman Cynthia McKinny to call for congressional hearings which led to a reform in way the US identifies suspected drug planes in Colombia and Peru.

But Peter Gorman's body of work is not restricted to the Drug War. He has also written about the Amazon jungle, ayahuasca, art, architecture, bars, camel fairs, crocodile farms, Dallas nightlife, education, environmental issues, Earth First!, floating slums, frogs, immigrant smuggling, indigenous peoples, Moroccan hashish harvesting, Plan Colombia, plant medicines, poverty, prison sentencing, rat catchers, sculpture, sharks, snake charmers, sports and street artists, among a host of other topics.

Peter Gorman's love affair with the Amazon jungle is well-known to people in the field. For nearly 20 years, he has worked with ayahuasca, the visionary vine and Master Plant Teacher of the Amazon. Since 1984 he has made a point of spending at least 3 months annually in the jungle around Iquitos, Peru, and at least part of that time with the elderly curandero Julio Jerena. The visits with Julio and ayahuasca have been fun, startling, frightening, enlightening, mystifying and thrilling—often in the same evening. They have also been an opportunity for personal growth that have seen Mr. Gorman through career changes, a courtship, marriage, fatherhood, illness, a difficult separation and finally to acceptance of the world the way it is, though a very different world than the one Mr. Gorman was brought up to believe in.

Peter Gorman has published three lengthy pieces on his ayahuasca use in Shaman’s Drum during the past 12 years, with a fourth due for publication in 2005. Together, they form a unique compilation of one person’s experiential ayahuasca use over a 20-year span. That span might be seen as a coming of age in healing. His work in the Amazon has also included collecting botanical specimens for Shaman Pharmaceuticals and herpetological specimens for the FIDIA Research Institute of the University of Rome. He was the first person to ever work with the medicinal knowledge of the remote Matses Indians of the Peruvian-Brazilian border, and his description of their use of the secretions of the phyllomedusa bicolor frog has opened an entire field devoted to the use of amphibian peptides as potential medicines in Western medicine. (His initial writing on the effects of the secretions are the first known description of a human taking an animal substance directly into the bloodstream ever recorded.) His work with the phyllomedusa bicolor has been the subject of an article in Science magazine and several scientific journals; his work in Peru in general was the subject of a Newsweek feature and numerous other newspaper and magazine articles.

He has also collected artifacts from the Matses for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, several of which are on permanent display in that museum's Hall of South American Peoples.

In 1997, Mr. Gorman and his wife Gilma discovered the only fossil bed ever found in the Iquitos area. Their preliminary dig exposed three identifiable animal fossils dating from 3-30 million years old when examined by the Department of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History. They are currently working on funding to have it properly explored.

To do his work in Peru, over the years Peter Gorman has rebuilt several boats, traveled thousands of miles of jungle waterways, hiked across the Peruvian jungle on numerous occasions, suffered from malaria and a botfly infestation, been bitten by ants, rats, spiders, vampire bats and other scary things, and generally had a rollicking good time with it all. Penthouse magazine once referred to one of his expeditions as rivaling "a real Indiana Jones' adventure."

Mr. Gorman's feature writing has appeared in dozens of major national and international magazines, including Airone (Italy), Americas, the magazine of the Organization of American States, Buzzworm, Elle, GEO (Spain), Geographical (England), Geo Mundo (Mexico), Modern Maturity, Omni, Panorama (Holland), Penthouse, Playboy, Sette (Italy), Shaman's Drum, Spy, Suisse Familia (Switzerland), Trip (Brazil), VSD, Wildlife Conservation, World (England), Zeit Magazin (Germany) and ZOOM (France). His newspaper features and editorials have appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, New York Newsday, The New York Daily News, the Times of India, the Fort Worth Weekly, the Earth First! Journal, the Orange County Register, the Santa Fe Reporter and elsewhere. He has also written a number of video pieces, including work for the United Nations and the Salvation Army. He has consulted for both National Geographic's Explorer series and the BBC's Natural World.

As a speaker, Mr. Gorman has lectured at the Boston Museum of Science, the New York Open Center, at Axion and Mind/Biz/Spirit conferences, at the Gathering of the Minds and elsewhere. He has appeared as a guest on numerous television shows, in several documentaries and on hundreds of radio shows, including an all-nighter with Art Bell.

Mr. Gorman is a former recipient of a Blue Mountain Fellowship in investigative journalism and a grant from Conservation International (then-headed by Mark Plotkin) to do a study of indigenous peoples on the Napo River.

Peter Gorman currently lives in Texas on a small ranch and when not there can be found investigating Drug War stories or out in the Amazon.

Peter Gorman is the author of Ayahuasca in My Blood--25 Years of Medicine Dreaming.

More info at: his website and at The Gormanblog, a collection of articles written by Peter can be found at the Peter Gorman Archive

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