“So, what are you doing here?”
My first thought was, "That's a great question." My next was, "What the hell are any of these people doing here?"
But, when you're invited to party with the Dan Bilzerian of the weed industry, you say yes. Which is exactly what happened on Saturday night.
Driving up to the home of Michael Straumietis (otherwise known as “The Marijuana Don”) is a feat in and of itself.
I, like all the partygoers, was asked to park somewhere along the Sunset Strip before being bused up to the house.
Driving up the winding roads in a huge passenger van made me feel more than paranoid, and I hadn't even smoked yet.
The road seemed to keep going and going until finally, after twisting around the last curve in the mountain, the huge house presented itself.
The home of marijuana was lit up from all sides in green and blue, the colors of the Don's company. It was clear we were in the right place.
“Who are you with?” A burly security guard asked me before taking my ID. For a second, I forgot.
“Ahhh, I was invited for, Elite...” he found my name in the RSVP list before I could even give a shout out to my company.
I walked through the huge, white doors held open by two pretty ladies only to be met with two sights for sore eyes: more pretty ladies rolling blunts and a huge buffet.
I first went for the buffet because, like I said, the journey was long.
I stopped for a second, looked around and took it all in. There were young people, old people (really old people), black people, white people, industry dudes and one of the guys from the "Jersey Shore" (I couldn't remember his name). It was by far the most eclectic group I'd ever lit up with.
And while undoubtedly everyone was here to get blazed, I did notice one peculiar thing throughout the evening; nobody was really fucked up. Everyone genuinely seemed to want to interact.
My boyfriend struck up a conversation on my left with a doctor and distributor from Denver. He and the good doctor traded stories about possum attacks (the doctor found one in his office, while my boyfriend shared a bad experience in Australia).
I talked to another guy about what it's like to smoke and sell in Canada. Pretty normal party chatter.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like this house didn't also have some other weird shit going on.
As I walked down the steps, past several more security guards, I spotted a tarot card reader. "The last thing I need to know is anything about my future right now," I thought to myself.
I rounded the corner, into a nearly empty room with a pool table, only to see a giant fish tail being carried off.
"That's...odd," I thought.
I stepped outside for a little Hollywood Hills fresh air. My new Canadian friends were out there vaping.
One mentioned he worked for the Don for nearly a decade. We discussed how the industry has changed over the years and expansion plans for Europe.
"Geez, weed conversations have become so...corporate. It almost makes it feel normal," I thought.
After a few moments, the fish tail was back. I realized it was attached to a half-naked woman who was then gently placed back in the pool, almost as delicately as a real goldfish back into her newly-cleaned tank.
“She must be freezing,” my new neighbor from the north commented. He was right. It was no warmer than 55 degrees out. For her sake, I hoped her tank was heated.
I took the outside stairs around the back to the top porch. This house just felt right for a party like that. And, according to its history, it was basically made for it.
In fact, up until the Don's presence, the house had never been legally occupied. As The New York Times reported in 2011, the 9,800-square-foot mansion is home to hauntings, satanic rituals and perhaps a curse or two.
LAPD officer Ralph Sanchez told The Times, "You would not believe it: from gang members to Satanic worshipers. You name it. The doors were pried open, no matter how many times we nailed them shut." (I'm glad I didn't learn this before the party.)
Still, the multi-million-dollar price tag and a few ghosts are likely nothing to the man who runs an estimated $50 million a year nutrient company.
I found my boyfriend again, chatting with the Don and a tall blonde woman. They seemed to be laughing heartily.
He saw me and came back around the corner.
We made one more round through the party, grabbing a cupcake from the table next to the huge “Marijuana Don” cake.
On the way, we stopped to roll a joint for the road.
As we headed back down the hill, I thought about who the hell any of those people were. But in the end, it didn't matter. All of us, except Mike, would come back down that hill eventually.
Unless, of course, the house really is haunted.