DoubleBlind: Image of Roger Steffens, Timothy Leary, and Roger's daughter, Kate.
DoubleBlind: Image of Roger Steffens, Timothy Leary, and Roger's daughter, Kate.
Roger Steffens, Timothy Leary, and Kate Steffens. Photo courtesy of Kate Steffens.

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out: A Previously Unpublished Interview with Timothy Leary

Roger Steffens and Timothy Leary talk Buddhism, Leary's first trip, and why partisan politics make no sense.

Madison Margolin // June 29, 2020
Updated July 18, 2020

DoubleBlind is devoted to fair, rigorous reporting by leading experts and journalists in the field of psychedelics. Read more about our editorial process and fact-checking here. Editorially reviewed by Shelby Hartman.

It would be inaccurate to call Roger Steffens simply a photographer. Though he picked up photography during his service in the Vietnam War, it wasn’t until the native Brooklynite returned stateside, settling in the Bay Area and then Los Angeles, that he began to capture quintessential California. Through his lens, we witness the birth of modern psychedelic culture, as Steffens captures the magic of the zeitgeist, from the late Sixties through the early Nineties. He chronicles friends and family, and a cast of characters—from Bob Marley to Timothy Leary—who defined the counterculture. For decades these photographs went unseen—and today, they’re widely known through “The Family Acid” Instagram account.

Multidimensional in every definition of the word, Steffens also worked as an actor, author, editor, DJ, reggae archivist, lecturer, and radio producer with LA’s NPR affiliate, KCRW, where in 1986—shortly after news of the Iran-Contra scandal broke—he interviewed Leary. (At the time, Steffens recalls, “Tim was stoked, thought Reagan was going to jail.”) In this previously unpublished radio chat shared with DoubleBlind, Steffens and Leary purvey the spirit of the times, exploring politics and punk, literature and LSD, psychedelic frenzy and the future of it all.

Madison Margolin is DoubleBlind’s co-founder and managing editor.

Madison Margolin is Co-Founder and Managing Editor of DoubleBlind. Having written for Playboy Magazine, Rolling Stone, Nylon, VICE, LA Weekly,Tablet and been featured in High Times among other outlets, her reporting is concentrated on psychedelics, cannabis, drug policy, and spirituality. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School and UC Berkeley, Madison has traveled everywhere from pot farms in the Emerald Triangle to the shores of the Ganges River, and all over Israel-Palestine, exploring the role of plant medicine in religion, mental health, and conflict resolution. She got her start in journalism with a column on cannabis at the Village Voice, after having lived in south Tel Aviv working with Eritrean refugees. With more than 4 years' experience covering cannabis and other drugs, Madison has spoken on topics like social equity, cannabis feminism, cannabis journalism, and so forth at conferences like Digital Hollywood, the Association of Alternative New Media, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, The Rind's Women in Cannabis, Pepperdine's Cannabis Law Symposium, and others. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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