White Lighter

Informant: Samantha is a 23-year-old artist living in Southern California. She uses marijuana and is an active participant in cannabis culture.

Main Piece: “Okay so…the white lighter myth is all about how a bunch of famous musicians, like Kurt Cobain and I think Jimi Hendrix, died when they were 27. And then, when they did the autopsy, they all had white bic lighters in their pockets. So, the idea is, if you’re 27 and you’re smoking, you shouldn’t use a white lighter or you die. For safety you probably shouldn’t ever use a white lighter, just in case.”

Background Information about the Performance: This piece was originally told to the informant by her friend and drug dealer at a party. The informant finds it important to remember in order to not make a mistake and use a white lighter, thus instigating bad luck.

Context of Performance: This piece is told at parties or among marijuana smokers as a warning. It is very serious, and smokers will be upset if somebody brings a white lighter to a party.

Thoughts: I have actually heard of this superstition as part of the belief of the 27 Club, alluding to the group of celebrities who have died at age 27. Although some sources have attempted to dispel this superstition – finding, for example, that Bic only began making white lighters after Jimi Hendrix’s death – it still remains popular.

For another version of this myth, see Jack Pendarvis’ Cigarette Lighter.
Pendarvis, Jack. Cigarette Lighter. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. Google Books. 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.