Award-winning investigative journalist Peter Gorman has spent more than 30 years tracking down stories from the streets of Manhattan to the slums of Bombay to the jungles of Peru. 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 the 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 McKinney 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, cowboys, crocodile farms, Dallas nightlife, day labor, educatin, environmental issues, Earth First!, floating slums, frogs, gas-drilling, immigrant smuggling, indigenous people, iron workers, Moroccan hashish harvesting, Plan Colombia, plant medicines, police work, poverty, prison sentencing, rat catchers, sculpture, sharks, snake charmers, sports and street artists, among a host of other topics.
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. In 2007 and 2010 he was named Print Journalist of the Year in Texas by the Houston Press Club.
The Houston Press Club, Texas' most prestigious press club, has twice awarded Peter Gorman the title of Print Journalist of the Year for his body of work in the preceding year.
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.
Mr. Gorman's feature writing has appeared in dozens of major national and international magazines, including:
• Airone (Italy)
• The magazine of the OAS
• GEO (Spain)
• Geographical (England)
• Geo Mundo (Mexico)
• Panorama (Holland)
• Sette (Italy)
• Shaman's Drum
• Suisse Familia (Switzerland)
• Trip (Brazil)
• Wildlife Conservation
• World (England)
• Zeit Magazin (Germany)
• ZOOM (France)
Peter Gorman's love affair with the Amazon jungle is well known to people in the field. Since 1984, Mr. Gorman has spent a minimum of three months annually there--as well as all of 1998-2000--generally using Iquitos, Peru as his base of operations.
During that time he has studied ayahuasca, the legendary visionary and healing drink of the jungle, with his friend, the late curandero Julio Jerena, as well as the San Pedro, the sacred cactus of the highlands, with the healer Victor Estrada.
He has also collected 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 is the first 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, a recent Men’s Journal 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."
As a speaker, Mr. Gorman has lectured at the Boston Museum of Science, the New York Open Center, at Axiom and Mind/Biz/Spirit conferences, and has been a featured speaker at every Shamanism Conference held annually in Iquitos, Peru. 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.
Book him as a speaker: Contact
Peter Gorman, 7th International Amazonian Shamanism Conferance, 2011 - Iquitos, Peru
It would probably surprise a lot of people to know that much of Queens, New York was swamp and farmland well into the early 1960s; that growing up in Whitestone, Queens meant having rabbits, pheasants, black snakes, tortoises and even an occasional possum show up in the backyard. Digging up arrowheads at nearby Dupey's field was not unheard of. My kids call it the old days and laugh when I tell them that St. Lukes grammer school had classes that ranged from 79-106 kids each. No wonder the nuns used the stick.
Growing up there an affinity for nature came easily. I fought it, of course, wanting to be a city boy and a tough guy, but the early lure had sunk deeply into me and by age 20 I found myself hitchhiking all over the country, mostly in the wide open spaces. I logged over 50,000 hitching miles, a good number.
From there it was trips into Mexico's jungles in the south, and when I once got caught in quicksand near the coast I was hooked forever. It didn't take long to find myself in the Amazon where by luck I ran into the great naturalist and guide Moises Torres Vienna. He took me under his wing and taught me as much about that strange, exotic and wonderful world as I could stand to learn. He walked me hundreds of miles all told, introduced me to remote indigenous communities and brought me to an old curandero, Julio Jerena, who became my teacher and taught me about ayahuasca, the legendary curative of the Amazon, for more than 20 years until his death in January, 2007.
It's been a good trip.
New York Times, Dec 30, 1989
2013: 1st Place, AAN Awards, Public Service
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2010: 1st Place, AAN Awards, Public Service
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2010: 1st Place, AAN Awards, Feature StoryRead Article Here
The Houston Press Club - First Place 2010
Journalist of the Year
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The Houston Press Club - First Place 2006
Journalist of the Year
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a number of magazine stories published...
Let's face it: I've been influenced by everyone with whom I've ever been in contact, whether personally or through their art, or politics, or whatever. But among those tens of thousands, which include both the family I was born into and the family I raised, friends, some teachers--some stand out. Here's a short list.
- The Hardy Boys Mysteries
- Mark Twain's books
- Will Rogers' quotes
- Abbott and Costello's television show
- Jimmy Durante both live and on television
- WC Fields' movies
- Spiderman comics
- Fantastic Four comics
- The Flash comics
- Batman comics
- The Three Stooges' television show
- The Marx Brothers' movies
- The Honeymooners' television show
- Charles Schulz' Peanuts cartoon
- JRR Tolkein, both the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy
- Hermann Hesse, particularly Demian, Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, and Magister Ludi
- Charles Beaudelaire's poetry
- Arthur Rimbaud's poetry
- Ezra Pound's poetry
- Ee cummings' poetry
- Allen Ginsberg's poetry
- Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath astounded me
- JD Salinger, everything
- Pulp fiction stories and books--any style, all authors
- Earnest Hemmingway, particularly A Moveable Feast
- Eldridge Cleaverís early political writing
- Francois Truffaut's films
- Jean Renoir's films
- Several great Franciscan Brothers who taught me at Bishop Reilly High School
- Jorge Luis Borges' writings
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez's books
- Ken Kesey, both as a Merry Prankster and as author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
- Carlos Castaneda's first four books
- Mickey Spillane's books
- Bob Dylan's lyrics
- The Blues Project's music
- Dave Van Ronk's music
- Ingmar Bergman's films
- Charles Bukowski's body of work
- Richard Schultes' ethnobotanical work
- The first Indiana Jones movie
- Cannabis activists everywhere
- Seymour Hersh's investigative reporting
- William Shakespeare's plays and sonnets
- Samuel Beckett's fantastic plays
- Fernando Arrabal's plays
- Harold Pinter's plays
- Traveling to Mexico
- Traveling to Europe
- Traveling to India
- Dropping good acid
- Smoking good pot
- Spending some time with the Southern Utes, particularly Grandma Bertha Grove and her brother Everett
- Traveling to Peru
- meeting some people who became my fantastic teachers
- Moises Torres Vienna, who taught me to survive and thrive in the jungle
- Julio Llerena Piñeda, who taught me about ayahuasca; and Pablo, the Matsès headman, who taught me about a very different type of living
And, of course, the biggest influence of all: living in New York City during my late teens through my 40s. Being a taxi driver and an art gallery worker and a chef there. Learning about the underbelly of that town taught me more about inequality of living conditions than any other influence...