Today, in ritualistic toad venom death news: A man best known as a prominent Spanish adult film actor—but who also has a sideline selling candles shaped like his own penis—has been arrested on charges of involuntary manslaughter in relation to, well, a death from ritualistic toad venom ingestion. Ignacio “Nacho” Vidal—a well-known porn performer with several AVN awards, and more than 1,500 credits to his name—was, per The Guardian this week, reportedly arrested in relation to the death of photographer José Luis Abad, in July of last year. Abad died after inhaling vaporized secretions from Incilius alvarius, a species of North American toad that secretes multiple hallucinogenic compounds (and also a few different potentially lethal poisons) when threatened.
Incilius alvarius (a.k.a. the Colorado River toad) has a long and complicated history as a controlled substance (or provider of same), and is both endangered and illegal to transport in a number of states. In addition, Bufotenin, one of the primary hallucinogens excreted by the animal, is considered a Class I controlled substance in the U.S., although it’s not immediately clear whether it carries similar restrictions in Spain, where Abad’s death occurred.
Spanish police have arrested three people in relation to the incident, with Vidal believed to be one of them. Police have accused Vidal of serving as a guide for a “mystical ritual” using the venom, and argue that he encouraged participation from “highly suggestible people who were especially vulnerable and were seeking alternative ways to cure certain ailments or addictions.” (They also claimed he downplayed the potential lethality of the secretions.) For his part, Vidal’s lawyer denies that he had any culpability in Abad’s death, stating that, “Nacho is very upset by the death of this person, but he considers himself to be innocent. With all due respect to the dead man and his family, Nacho maintains that the consumption [of the venom] was completely voluntary.”
All of which is to say: 2020 has been an instructive year, mostly in horrifically depressing and overwhelming ways, as we all struggle to figure out how to keep ourselves and our loved ones alive. You may now feel free to add “Do not let a Spanish porn star with dick candles talk you into smoking toxic toad spit” to said list of survival rules.