Rosie Perez Thought She Was a Mattress When She Took LSD

No matter how big Rosie Perez’s career got, she always has been the same Rosie from Brooklyn. The Puerto Rican actor has broken barriers for Hispanic women in the industry, even becoming daytime TV’s first Latina host on The View. This year, Perez even became part of the DC Comics cinematic universe with her role in Birds of Prey alongside Margot Robbie and Jurnee Smollett.

Rosie Perez attends the Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) world premiere
Rosie Perez attends the Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) world premiere | Samir Hussein/WireImage

Rosie Perez became an actor by accident

In the early 1980s, Rosie Perez was studying biochemistry at Los Angeles City College, often going out on the town with her friends to let off some steam by dancing. One night, a talent scout for the popular TV show Soul Train saw her moves and asked her to join the show as a dancer. She wasn’t a professional dancer, but she loved it so much she dropped out of school.

Perez was a Soul Train dancer throughout the ’80s. In 1988, she was out dancing one night at a club and was spotted by none other than Spike Lee, who convinced her to appear in Do the Right Thing. Similar to how she got her foot in the door as a professional dancer, Perez had never acted before, but she jumped at the opportunity.

After Do the Right Thing, Perez was hired as the choreographer for the Fly Girls dance troupe on the popular skit show In Living Color. It was here where she first worked with a young dancer from the Bronx named Jennifer Lopez. Perez’s work as a choreographer on In Living Color earned her three Emmy nominations, and she created dance routines for the likes of Janet Jackson, Bobby Brown, Diana Ross, and more.

Perez quickly became one of the hottest new names in Hollywood, starring in hit movies like White Men Can’t Jump and garnering an Oscar nomination for her role in Fearless just a few years later.

Rosie Perez
Rosie Perez | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Rosie Perez also took LSD by accident

Perez probably wouldn’t have had the same career trajectory if she didn’t spend all those nights out dancing in the ’80s. It was a peak era for clubbing, and Perez found herself too caught up in it one night, telling the story in the Netflix documentary Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics.

“It was New Year’s Eve in the late ’80s,” Perez recalled. She and her sister went to an after-hours club that didn’t sell alcohol and only providing punch and fruit. When Perez went up to the bartender, he asked them if they want to “get hooked up,” and they downed two glasses of mysterious punch.

“All of a sudden, the entire nightclub started to expand. The wooden floorboards were waving as if they were water on the high seas, and I’m looking at it going, ‘This is beautiful! Oh my gosh!'” she reminisces. “So I went on my back and I started doing the backstroke on the floorboards because they were waves, of course.”

When her sister told Perez her breasts were out, she laughed it off and was “in awe” of how “gorgeous” they looked. She began to get anxious about people staring at her, and she and her sister left and went home. What happened next was even weirder.

“When I laid into the bed, I became the bed. My body was the bed. And I’m trying to flip myself over, like my body that’s the mattress, and I’m waddling down the hallway — still didn’t occur to me that I was high on acid,” Perez remembers, reenacting herself yelling “‘Aaaaah! I’m a bed!'”

When Perez’s boyfriend told her she was tripping on acid, her first thought was that she was going to hell — a product of her upbringing with strict Catholic nuns, which she sought therapy for after this incident. “Prior to this, I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke weed, I didn’t smoke cigarettes, I did nothing,” Perez said. “My high was dancing.”

Perez left viewers with one important piece of wisdom: “When you go to a nightclub and someone offers you a free drink, ask what the f*ck is in it!”