Would you do drugs with a guy named “Zappy?”
What if you met him through Lamar Odom, or Michelle Rodriguez?
Mike “Zappy” Zapolin is one of the burgeoning crowd of “thought leaders” pushing for the therapeutic use of psychedelic compounds like LSD, psilocybin, ketamine and DMT, which are currently illegal in the US.
After working on Wall Street and infomercials right out of college, Zapolin, 53, made a killing as a domain-name magnate by registering web addresses such as Beer.com and Music.com in the early days of the internet.
He now spends his days taking clients, high-profile and otherwise, deep into their minds and spirits.
“I was having a spiritual mid-life crisis around 2011, where I had done everything society had told me to do, but I wasn’t totally fulfilled,” Zapolin — who does not have a medical background — tells Page Six. “I had always had these good psychedelic experiences when I was younger and I realized in that moment, that I needed to go inside my own mind for some answers and some healing.”
He’s not alone. Clark Gable famously credited LSD therapy with helping him with his alcoholism. More recently, people like Tim Ferriss have helped push for mainstream acceptance of psychedelic compounds such as LSD, “magic”-mushroom-derived psilocybin, and veterinary tranquilizer ketamine as therapeutic tools.
Naturally-occurring plant-based elixirs like the DMT-containing ayahuasca — used for centuries by indigenous peoples in South America — have received boutique makeovers as destination vacations for the affluent introspective, aided by people like Joe Rogan, who has talked extensively about DMT on his hugely popular podcast.
Putting together connections from his background in production and utilizing some friends-and-family acquaintances, Zapolin wound up working with Deepak Chopra and “Fast and Furious” franchise star Rodriguez to turn a trip down to Peru for an ayahuasca experience into a film.
“I went over to her house in Venice, California, and I started talking to her and telling her what we doing, and she was like, ‘I’m in!’” Zappy recalls. “And she like, handed me her passport, and I was like, ‘Holy crap, this is really on!’”
The Peru trip — which included not just ayahuasca but an experience with the mescaline-containing San Pedro cactus on the top of a mountain — turned into the film “The Reality of Truth.”
In the film, Rodriguez sorts through her feelings in the aftermath of her “Fast & Furious” co-star Paul Walker’s death. “My ayahuasca trip made me sad that he left me here,” she says in the film. “It wasn’t a sadness that he’s gone. It was more of a jealousy that he’s there first.”
Though she didn’t comment on her trip or her interaction with Zapolin, Rodriguez later said her comments about Walker’s death were presented out of context in the film. She did not return requests for comment from the Post.
Back Stateside, at a screening of the film in Florida, “somebody came up to me after the screening and said, ‘Hey, I’m good friends with Lamar Odom, and he’s in a pretty bad place, do you think you could talk to him?’ Zappy says. He invited Odom — whose 2015 spiral of drug abuse and subsequent overdose is well-documented — down to Florida for a course of ketamine treatment.
“He was a little nervous, I’m sure, but he also knew he tried everything else and still had anxiety and addiction issues,” Zappy says. He put Odom through a course of ketamine treatments, which helped acclimate him to the idea of psychedelics. “He had always been told, ‘Don’t go inside, because if something happens and you flip out, you could get shot by the cops, or put in a mental institution,” Zapolin adds. “And it’s unfair, because obviously if that happened to a white kid, they’d be in counseling.”
“When Lamar came out of his first ketamine treatment, he said, ‘I’ve never felt this good in my life,’” Zappy says. “After he felt comfortable and stabilized, I said, ‘You should come down to Mexico and do an ibogaine treatment with me. Because you’re an African-American guy, there’s this African root that’s known to break addiction … and he’s such a cool, open guy that he was like, ‘Okay, let’s do it. I’m ready.’”
Ibogaine, isolated from the roots of a West African shrub, has a long history of ceremonial use by African tribes and has gained steam in the States for its efficacy in opioid addiction treatment.
“So we brought him down and he had an incredible experience — we had the doctor and guides there — and quite literally, 24 hours after he had the ibogaine, we were driving, and he said, ‘I feel so good right now — despite the fact that I had 12 strokes and six heart attacks and all that — that I think I could make a comeback in professional basketball.’
“And his manager, bodyguard and trainer were there, and they were like, ‘Take it easy, Lamar, you’d have to work out four hours a day, you can’t be smoking marijuana…’ and Lamar said, ‘I know what I gotta do and I’m doing it.’ And then four months later, he played in a tournament in Dubai, he reconnected with his ex-wife and kids, he brought his father to do ketamine treatments in New York. He came back to his original frequency.” Zapolin has a film in the can, “Lamar Odom: Reborn,” about Odom’s treatments.
In June 2019, Odom spoke at length about his ketamine treatments with Dr. Mehmet Oz on the latter’s podcast, saying, “I tried it and it started to work immediately,” adding, “The first time I did it, it was like I went to heaven, I just felt all this, oh wow, love and emotion.” Reps for Odom did not immediately return requests for comment.
The thrust of Zappy’s current work is an organization he’s calling “The Mind Army,” which seeks to reform legislation around Zapolin’s preferred compounds for mental wellness, via, for instance, a Change.org petition that seeks an executive order from President Trump “making mind-expanding compounds, such as psilocybin, ayahuasca, iboga, peyote, and LSD, legal.”
Zapolin thinks it’s merely a lack of awareness that’s keeping the compounds he works with banned. He suggests that health insurance companies actually stand to benefit by aligning themselves with his efforts — in opposition to Big Pharma — because treatment with low-cost compounds like ketamine can potentially stave off costly mental health crises that could eventually result in ER visits and hospitalizations. He says he’s working with United Health for some exploratory ketamine therapy trials in Austin, Texas.
“We have to be allowed to go inside our own minds for answers and healing, by any means necessary,” Zapolin says of his reform efforts. “Nobody should be able to say in 2020, ‘Hey, alcohol’s good, tobacco’s good but psilocybin mushrooms are bad, they’re off the table for you to help heal yourself.”
“I don’t accept that in this moment,” he finishes. “That’s not my reality.”
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