Hippie cults, former child actors, and a police sting for selling kombucha all sound like punchlines for jokes about Los Angeles that got cut from Annie Hall, but all of those things are real, true elements in this real true story of what happened at a fundraiser organized by the new age religion founded by 10 Things I Hate About You/Seventh Heaven actor Andrew Keegan, which was ruined by an Alcoholic Beverage Control bust, according to the Argonaut. Of course this happened in Venice.
The incident occurred at Full Circle, the "open source spiritual community center" founded by Keegan on super-trendy Rose Avenue. During a fundraiser for a marine conservation nonprofit called the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, undercover ABC agents confiscated "several containers" of kombucha, a bubbly fermented tea made from a gross mushroom that is known to contain a very small percentage of alcohol, and cited the spiritual group for selling booze without a license. It would have been amazing to hear some details about how the ABC agents went "undercover" in this scenario—did they take their shoes off? Were they wearing sustainable yoga pants? Sadly, we may never know what an ABC officer thinks a hippie looks like.
The illicit kombucha was made by the company Kombucha Dog, which sells "the most potent [kombucha] on the market" in bottles with adorable LA-area rescue dogs on the labels. A Full Circle spokesman says "Part of our spiritual practice is that we serve kombucha. We were very surprised and concerned when we saw the agents wheeling the containers of Kombucha Dog out of the fundraiser." (Kombucha Dog says its product has "usually no more than 1%" alcohol," and that it would be impossible to get drunk off it even if large amounts were consumed in a short time.)
Full Circle received a misdemeanor citation for selling alcohol without a license. "We're a complaint-driven agency, so when someone notifies us about what might be an illegal activity, we respond to it," an ABC rep says. Church founder Keegan counters, "They may be a complaint-driven agency, but we're an intention-driven organization and our intentions are pure." He also notes that "Kombucha is something we'd never imagine to be an illegal substance, and it's frustrating the system has that perspective."
· Undercover Sting Targets Kombucha at Venice Spiritual Center [Argonaut]
· One of the Stars of '10 Things I Hate About You' Started a Religion [Vice]
· This '90s Heartthrob Is Now a Spiritual Leader in Venice [Racked LA]