Members of the Shang Heights staff managed to wrangle a post-Thanksgiving interview with Mister Magic this week — on condition of strict anonymity, of course.
(Transcribed from audio recording.
ShangHeights in all caps, Mister Magic in italics.)
Alright, let’s get started. How’s it going?
Good man, good…
Can you give us a sense of how you got started in this business?
Yeah, so I moved to the city in like 2008 after graduating and did some work as a messenger…
Sorry to interrupt but can we ask which school?
No that’s cool, it was Wesleyan.
Is it ok to print that?
Yeah that’s cool. So the messenger thing was alright but the hours were crazy and the pay was shitty so I was looking to move on to something like more relevant my major…
Well that I’d rather not say because it was a small program but anyway I guess it wasn’t all that practical because I couldn’t really find anything and I didn’t want to, like, work in advertising, but a friend of mine had this delivery guy who came through all the time and would sometimes chill with us or whatever and he convinced me to deliver on my bike.
So, he had to convince you?
Yeah well it was a little sketchy and I was definitely worried about getting caught or whatever but the money was like way, way better and it actually wound up being a pretty laid back thing.
Were you delivering in Shang Heights then?
Nah, not that far south yet. More like Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene, out to Crown Heights sometimes, that general area.
Wait, Brooklyn Heights, really?
Yeah in the nicer areas it’s a lot of teenagers actually, like kids living in their parents’ super sick brownstones [laughter]. Usually they’d wait until their parents were gone but sometimes I’d pretend to be a friend coming through for something. It was fucked up but those kids would pay whatever you wanted pretty much so I put up with it.
So how’d you get started in the Brooklyn Chinatown area?
Yeah, so a lot customers started moving down here a few years ago but we weren’t delivering that far south, like the farthest we’d go then was like maybe the cemetery.
So you decided to fill the niche?
More like I was making all these exceptions because these kids we had delivered to like forever were suddenly living on like, 500th and 8th and we didn’t want to lose the business [Mister Magic laughed here then read a text, tapping out a quick reply before continuing]. But yeah, there was totally a market gap in that respect so I filled it.
And your boss was cool with it?
Oh yeah, he was totally cool with it, it’s not some like, super hood operation — we were focused on high-quality stuff and our clientele is a lot of young professionals so it’s not like the Wire or something. So yeah, we talked about it and he was cool with me moving on to do my own thing independently, but the business ties were totally still there, like suppliers and everything, so it wasn’t really a bad thing for him either, see what I’m saying?
You don’t really fit most people’s conception of a drug dealer- highly educated, upper-middle-class background, etc. Are you surprised? Do you see yourself staying in this business? Is it satisfying?
Yeah, I get that, totally. Like, when I was fucking slaving away on my senior thesis it wasn’t to break into the weed delivery field but the recession left the job market just totally fucked. So at first it was just for money, but after a few years of doing this it actually is really something I want to pursue, and it can be very satisfying, yeah.
Yeah well when you’re delivering it’s not just like, I throw a bag of weed at you and you slip me 60 bucks or whatever. You talk to the customer, describe what’s available, match it to their tastes, all that. There really is a lot of variety in the experience in terms of the taste of the smoke, the nature of the high and so on. It’s a sensory experience that can totally be curated and appreciated.
Do you think there’s a market for this kind of experience with weed?
People laugh at me when I say this but it really can be kind of like being a sommelier, and the growers, at least the really good ones, are totally like any other producer of like, wine, or beer, or cheese or whatever. They’re botanists and artists at the same time, taking this plant and imagining how it could be better and making it happen.
[laughter] Right. I think it’s pretty fucking cool and totally worthy of respect like those other industries.
Like, just about the time I moved full time down here, and this is kind of a secret but important to the point I’m making, right when when I moved down was when I was getting really into growing, like really starting to get the hang of it, and even though I can’t really like, grow in volume because it’s the City it’s been the key thing that made me realize there’s room for thought and improvement and craft in this whole business. It’s an intellectual and scientific and aesthetic process, so, like… yeah maybe college really does help you sell weed [laughter].
So you feel like there’s room for growth, if you’ll pardon the pun?
Of course, of course. Just look at what’s happening in Colorado and Washington, it’s really only a matter of time until it’s legal here.
Long term I’d like to open a dispensary or coffee shop, y’know depending on what model they use to legalize it, and in your own store you can really bring out the experience that you really want, which for me would be the kind of aesthetic craft experience that I was talking about, like really give people the guidance and the opportunity to explore the variety and depth in what’s available.
Anything else you’d like to say to the readers of this blog?
Definitely. The week before Christmas we’re gonna have sick deals on quarters of everything so don’t forget to stock up before you have to go see your family [laughter].
Thank you very much for speaking with us, Mister Magic.
Yeah, thanks man. Take it easy. MAGIC OUT!