He wrote the best-selling book, then came the Oscar-winning movie.
In this engrossing and spellbinding presentation, medical marijuana advocate Billy Hayes will recount the true story of his time in Turkish prisons and his brazen, harrowing escape in three presentations at Windmill Library at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 14.
Sponsored by Shango Las Vegas, the “Riding the Midnight Express” show is an epic journey of self-discovery, a cautionary, yet uplifting tale of desperation, determination and personal transformation.
The riveting recollections of Billy Hayes, who escaped from a Turkish prison in the 1970s after being caught trying to smuggle hashish out of the country, will be the featured speaker, joined by CBD and medical marijuana specialist Dr. Scott Jacobson of Wishing Wellness in Las Vegas.
Mr. Hayes will speak about his exploits and how cannabis and yoga are still a big part of his life and how he continues to be a medical marijuana advocate and supporter of CBD use.
The show is an epic journey of self-discovery, a cautionary, yet uplifting tale of desperation, determination and personal transformation.
Hayes was arrested at the Istanbul airport in 1970 with two kilos of hashish taped to his body. The Turkish High Court sentenced him to life in prison. Five years later, Billy escaped from Irali Island prison in the dead of night – rowing 17 miles across the Sea of Marmara in a raging storm. On his return to the United States, Hayes wrote ”Midnight Express.” Published in 18 languages, the book was an instant best-seller.
When the film was released in 1978, Billy Hayes became a mythical figure – a modern-day Billy The Kid. And now 40 years later, he remains a cultural anti-hero known throughout the world as a medical marijuana advocate.
Midnight Express didn’t win any Oscars for factual accuracy. While the film was about prison – a chilling exploration of the depths of incarceration in a foreign land – “Riding the Midnight Express with Billy Hayes” is about the prisoner — an intimate, gripping memoir that can only be told by the man who lived it.
The show “Riding the Midnight Express with Billy Hayes” had its world premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2013 with a return engagement at the Fringe in 2014. The show has had two critically acclaimed runs Off Broadway and toured the world from London’s Soho Theatre to Melbourne, Australia. In April 2017, it played to sold-out audiences in Beirut, Lebanon.
Since publishing “Midnight Express,” Hayes has had an extensive career as an actor, director, screenwriter and public speaker. His second book, “Midnight Return,” explores his life after prison and the parallel lives of those he left behind. Completing the trilogy in early 2013, Hayes published “The Midnight Express Letters: From a Turkish Prison 1970-1975.”
Hayes has written and directed several plays including Cock & Bull Story, which received the 1992 L.A. Drama Critics Circle, L.A. Weekly, and Drama-Logue awards. He then wrote and directed the film version. He directed the Amnesty International production of William Inge’s award-winning “The Last Pad in Los Angeles.” Hayes adapted the prison drama “The Cage” for an all-female cast in New York City and performed in it himself in LA at the original Odyssey Theatre. His direction of Washington Square Moves earned the 1993 LA Weekly Production of the Year award.
Hayes has written and directed several plays including Cock & Bull Story, which received the 1992 L.A. Drama Critics Circle, L.A. Weekly, and Drama-Logue awards. He then wrote and directed the film version. He directed the Amnesty International production of William Inge’s award-winning “The Last Pad in Los Angeles.” Hayes adapted the prison drama “The Cage” for an all-female cast in New York City and performed in it himself in LA at the original Odyssey Theatre. His direction of Washington Square Moves earned the 1993 LA Weekly Production of the Year award. He also staged the critically acclaimed Break of Day at the Lillian Theatre. In 2006 Hayes received the LA Weekly Best Actor Award for his performance in the one-act play, “Shuffle, Shuffle, Step,” a tribute to Samuel Becket. He is a member of the Actors’ Studio West Playwright/Director Unit.
His desire to tell his own story and to correct the misconceptions created by the highly fictionalized motion picture version of Midnight Express led him to write his one-man show, “Riding the Midnight Express with Billy Hayes.” The work attracted producer Barbara Ligeti, who stepped in to guide the development, taking the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013.
Hayes continues to work to correct the negative images of Turkey and the Turkish people created when the film was released. In 2007, he was invited back to Turkey to speak to a convention of law enforcement officials. His life-long journey had finally come full-circle.
Hayes credits the Yoga he has practiced every day since he was incarcerated with getting him through the hard times and keeping him centered. Billy met his wife, Wendy West, at the Cannes Film Festival when Midnight Express premiered there in 1978. They’ve been married since 1980.
Dr. Scott Jacobson will have a short slide show and answer questions about cannabis and CBD use from a medical perspective. He is also a medical marijuana advocate who specializes in prescribing cannabis and CBD for countless ailments.
Dr. Scott Jacobson is a board-certified Family Medicine physician and the medical director of Wishing Wellness Medical in Las Vegas. He graduated from the UNSOM Family Medicine Program, Las Vegas in 2010 and previously held the position of medical director at Turntable Health in downtown Las Vegas.
At Wishing Wellness Medical he provides traditional medical care in a Direct Primary Care model as well as Functional Medicine which uses innovative testing combined with is a holistic approach to managing health emphasizing the importance of lifestyle, diet and stress reduction.
Dr. Scott is a leading specialist in the use of cannabis to manage chronic disease. In his practice, he works with patients of all ages to navigate the use of CBD and THC by finding the right dose, strain and mode of administration. His practice is centered around being a medical marijuana advocate for the use of medical cannabis as well as for the decriminalization of marijuana.
A Shango representative will be available to answer questions before and after the event about CBD use and cannabis and CBD products. Printed materials will be provided upon request.
Shango holds a total of 29 cannabis licenses in state markets across the country, including 10 for dispensaries in Oregon, Nevada, Michigan, California and Missouri. Moreno Valley, which opened recently, is the first of several planned Shango dispensaries in California. The company also will be opening its first distribution in California in April.
There is no charge for the event, sanctioned by the Clark County Library District. The events will last approximately 90 minutes. The Windmill Library is located at 7060 W. Windmill Lane, Las Vegas.