These are the days

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credit: DespayreFX

Right now is the best time there is!

I mean that not only in a Carpe Diem, be-here-now kind of way…but also in a strictly literal sense; the weather at this time of year is PERFECT for desert adventuring. So that’s just what I’ve been doing. Carpe Diem? CARPE SCROTUM — grab life by the balls!!

For my March adventure, I wanted to finish exploring Nevada — remember, I was only able to make it halfway up the state last month, due to shitty weather. But I didn’t really have enough time — I only had about a week free, and that week coincided with the annual visit of my German musician pals, Käpt’n Rummelsnuff and his First Mate, Christian Asbach. And when those guys come all the way from Berlin….Nevada can wait!!!

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WORD.

 

You may remember from last year that together, my friends perform as Rummelsnuff — a far-out sort of post-punk industrial-pop act with an Eastern bloc aesthetic. They classify their music as electro-pogo, but it’s really hard to describe/categorize….so here’s the music video we shot with them at their ranch last year. Decide for yourself:

Anyhoo, THOSE guys were back in town — and by “town,” I mean the remotest desert out by Twentynine Palms, where they have a sort of winter compound out in a place called Wonder Valley. For the last few years I’ve gone out to stay with them for a few days….I love that place, and they’re super cool people!

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credit: theexplainer

But before heading out on this latest adventure, I had to make my monthly nut. First things first! Luckily, there was a photography convention in town, so Vegas was flooded with photographers and I got quite a bit of work off that. I did one shoot at the Palazzo and another at the New York, New York — which has totally pedestrian rooms, but which you can also see from the photos here proves that it’s not the room, it’s the people involved. This photographer was very cool and he captured some great shots. Most of the black & whites in this blog are by him.

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At Big Dune with DespayreFX

Then another day I shot with my Canadian photographer friend, DespayreFX. We’d shot together back in January, and had so much fun/got such great results that he hired me again, and this time he booked a really swanky penthouse suite at the Delano (formerly known as THE Hotel). What an amazing room for shooting!! We got some really incredible stuff, and also ventured out to Big Dune in Amargosa Valley, and got some bad-ass stuff there, too. I don’t typically shoot at these dunes because they’re pretty far from town (a two-hour drive)…but for DespayreFX, I’ll do anything (well, almost anything…LOL).

But our shoot almost didn’t happen, because of the dumb-ass customs agents at the U.S. border — Despayre lives in Vancouver, Canada, and ran into trouble as he was trying to get to Bellingham, WA for his flight to Vegas. Apparently the customs agent saw all his photo gear and assumed that he was coming down to the U.S. to steal American Jobs™…and when he explained that to the contrary, he was coming down here to pay an American model, they didn’t believe him.

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At the Delano penthouse
by DespayreFX

Meanwhile, I had no idea any of this was going on — I was going about my business, ferrying another photographer out to the fake ghost town of Nelson for a shoot, when I got a call: “This is U.S. Customs Officer Baker. Is this Sarah Jane Woodall?”

Yoikes!!! Did he read my blog about the goodies I stashed in the desert on my way into Mexico?!? What kind of mess was I in now?????

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Big Dune
by DespayreFX

But all he wanted to know was if Despayre’s story was true. I told him the truth, that Despayre had hired me…and he seemed very skeptical: “Is that how this typically works??!”

Um, yes! That’s how I make my living, dumbass! Of course I didn’t say that to him — I was unfailingly polite, as was Despayre…but despite our best combined efforts, they still ended up detaining him at customs for three hours. He ended up missing his flight because of it, and had to book another flight out of his own pocket — from Seattle, because all the Bellingham flights had already left. All told, this snafu cost him something like $1,000 — what a racket!! Any Canadian photographers who are reading this, take heed!

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More from the Delano penthouse, by DespayreFX

Aside from photo shoots, my friend Dr. Kildare also came back to town to shoot more scenes for this sort of docu-comedy he’s making based on my life….and this shoot almost got fucked up by American Idiots, too! Basically, there were two things he needed to shoot this time: some scenes out at the dry lake bed, and some more footage of me riding my bike down East Fremont Street with the existentialist ventriloquist dummy strapped to my back. And both of those plans were pretty much derailed by an unfortunate coincidence  — the Mint 400 offroad race/redneck jamboree was taking place that very same weekend, and was already using both locations!! They had East Fremont all cordoned off for some dumb pre-race circle jerk…and then the race itself was being held out at the very same lake bed he wanted to shoot at — Roach Lake in Jean, NV. D’oh!!!!

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Shot by Dr. Kildare out at Jean dry lake bed

Still, we managed to shoot the necessary content — we hit the farthest reaches of the lake bed, as far as possible from the hi-octane idiocy, and just ignored all the “TEMPORARILY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC” signs (this was a few days before the actual race, anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal). And the stuff we shot came out pretty freaking amazing!!! I’m telling you, this movie (working title: WONDERHUSSY) is going to be something else — every time he shows me the rushes, I’m really impressed with the production values and the content. Hopefully it takes the Sundance festival by storm!!!

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the great outdoors!!!

Anyway, after all that running around and sucking it in, sticking it out, etc. it was finally adventure time again. I started my break with a little overnight kayaking/camping trip on the Colorado River with my friend Rick, and it was just absolutely fantastic — the weather was A M A Z I N G, and the wildflowers were insane — the desert really does bloom this time of year. We paddled

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our campsite

downriver a ways to this sandy little beach, then set up camp and made a fire and sat out enjoying the night. The only bummer was, there was so much garbage everywhere — we packed out like 3 bags full, but there were still at least three dumpsters full left icon sad These are the days What the fuck is wrong with people?!? Anyway, here’s a short video I made about the trip:

Aside from all the litter, the other bummer was that of all possible times for Wheel of Fortune to come back to Vegas for auditions, it happened to be THAT weekend. You may recall that I auditioned for Wheel of Fortune a couple of summers ago, and totally aced the audition — and they said to be on the lookout for a postcard or email from them in the next two months, with information on the next step. Well, fuckin’ Gmail accidentally sent the email into my spam folder, and I didn’t find it until it was too late!!!! I missed being on the show by two freaking days, and I’ve been pissed off about it ever since. Do you realize how many adventures I could finance by going on that show?!?!? FUCK!

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I left THIS for Wheel of Fortune :/

So now they were finally coming back, and I knew I couldn’t miss it. They had three auditions on Saturday, and three on Sunday — so I figured I’d still go kayaking, but leave in time to make the last audition on Sunday. Which meant tearing myself from the beautiful sun-drenched river to go sit in some shitty hotel ballroom with a bunch of other greedy assholes….but whatever; you do what you have to do.

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photo credit: theexplainer

ALAS, however, I think I totally wasted my time — I didn’t realize how freakishly lucky I was at my first audition. See, when you arrive to audition, you fill out a little card and then they put everyone’s name in a raffle drum, then randomly pick out names to come up onstage and play the game. While you’re up there, they interview you and stuff to see how personable you are, and if you’d be good on TV. HELLO!!!! Last time they picked my name right away, and I went up, charmed the pants off one and all and solved the puzzle before anyone else. But THIS time, I sat there and sat there and sat there……and they never drew my name icon sad These are the days DAMMIT!!! I guess there were people who had gone to all six auditions, and finally got picked….so I guess I should have forfeited kayaking altogether and just stayed in that fuckin’ ballroom all weekend. But, really??

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by SW Images

Anyway, supposedly they said they might still call those of us who were in the audience but didn’t get called up…so I guess I’ll keep checking my spam box for the next two months. But I have my doubts. Anyone know anyone at Wheel that can get me in???? I really need to win some money — BADLY!!!!! I could finally buy a badass off-road rig or van with that kind of cheese!!!

So, I was pretty pissed off about that whole debacle, but I didn’t have too long to stew about it because the very next day I was off to meet my sister for our March adventure — before heading down to Wonder Valley to visit Rummelsnuff, we had planned to meet up in the mountains east of Bakersfield and camp out at this intriguing-looking set of hot springs on the Kern River. I left Vegas on Monday around noon, heading up U.S. 395 toward Ridgecrest, then cutting across to the west over Walker Pass…and H O L Y  H E L L ! ! ! ! I’ve never seen anything like it — it was astonishingly beautiful!!!!!

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Kern River valley

I’m telling you, I had no idea this area even existed, but it was incredible. It was lush and green from the winter rains, with wildflowers all over the place — sort of how I picture Wyoming, only with Joshua trees. Fabulous!! I almost wrecked my truck six times gawking at the amazing splendor of it all. It’s the area around Lake Isabella, if you’ve ever been up there — just absolutely breath-taking.

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camping on the beach of the Kern River

Anyhoo, I met up with my sis at Remington Hot Springs…these rustic little hippie-dippie man-made pools right on the edge of the river, in a forest. The parking area is only about 1/4 mile up the hill from the springs, and most people just camp up there…but since we’re badasses, we packed up our gear and headed down to the river, and set up camp on a secluded little beach down by the springs. Natural-beauty-wise, Remington is definitely in the top 2 or 3 springs I’ve ever been to — just amazing. The only downside is, the soaking pools aren’t very hot — there’s really only one tub that’s a decent temperature, and it’s pretty small, fitting about 5 people max if you really squeeze in.

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Remington Hot Springs

Fortunately it was all dudes down there, so when my naked sis and I showed up there was more than enough room for us in the hot tub…and we enjoyed a nice, long soak late into the evening, with the peaceful sound of the Kern River rushing past in the background. What a magical place!! I had heard it can get really crowded with riff-raff from Bakersfield, but on this Monday evening it was pretty chill — and no trash or anything laying around, either. At first, I did get a slightly creepy vibe from the parking area — it looked like the kind of place a car might get broken into, because there were a lot of mixed characters hanging around, and apparently some poor guy’s van had been burned to a crisp a couple nights before — but apparently it was his bad, for dropping a cigarette butt on the ground next to a gas can, I guess. In any event, I had no bad experiences. In fact, everyone I met was cool as fuck!

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Yay for naked mornings at a hot spring!

The most interesting of the bunch was this dreadlocked vandwelling busker from Big Sur named Lonnie, whose act consists of him playing guitar and singing while two rabbits sit on his head. Meanwhile, the rabbits have the run of his van, and apparently poop and pee all over the place as they please. Alas, I did not have the opportunity to visit Lonnie’s van…but I found him to be very charming and entertaining, as he sang songs and recited poetry to us all night long.

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LIFE!!!

Then there were a couple of local guys, retired big-rig drivers who I found endlessly interesting to talk to. For some reason I’m fascinated by long-haul truckers, and these two guys indulged me by telling me all about the truckin’ life. They were super cool, and one of them gave my sis and I parting gifts of a colorful scarf heavily scented with stripper perfume, and a framed cross-stich of some howling wolves in the snow. AWESOME! I didn’t have room for the wolf painting in my house so I left it at a thrift store down in Lucerne Valley later in the week….but the scarf has already become one of my favorite accessories icon smile These are the days

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A hippie bus near Remington

Then too there was this little hippie family living in one of those A-frame pop-up campers — a mom, dreadlocked dad and their little girl. These people were what is commonly referred to as “Drainbows” — as in, the type that attends hippie jamborees like the Rainbow Gathering, but who live off government assistance and are basically lazy pot-smoking drains on the economy. Now, I can’t say for sure that this kid and his wife didn’t have some sort of debilitating medical condition that prohibits them from holding a job, but….the father did bitch about food stamps and WIC only paying for “shitty cheese” and bread containing high-frustose corn syrup. Jeez! Beggars can’t be choosers, bro — I’m sorry my tax dollars don’t cover Gruyère and Ezekiel bread!!!

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trail to the hot springs from the parking lot

Now, speaking of foodie food — before we headed down to Wonder Valley the following day, my sis and I decided to hit up the Vons grocery store in Lake Isabella and buy supplies for a gourmet fucking feast at Rummelsnuff’s compound. It was the least we could do to repay their hospitality, for letting us stay there! We loaded up on caviar, brie, capers, water crackers, asparagus, peppers and lots and lots of steak — we know how Käpt’n Rummelsnuff is when it comes to his protein!! We also got champagne, cabernet and port wine for dessert, with grapes and, yes, Gruyère — we don’t fuck around!!!!! 

Once the cooler was loaded up, we headed down south to the Cat Ranch (the name of their compound; so named because it was infested with feral cats when they bought it off an old blues musician). It was a pretty barren ride through the off-road redneck paradise of Lucerne Valley, but we finally rolled in around dusk, and the party began. My friend Fabian was also there from Vegas, and he had brought along a friend of his who used to be the tour manager for the Killers, but is now apprenticing to be a butcher. That guy had brought even more meat, so the night promised to be a real sausagefest…..in more ways than one!!!!

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arrival at the Cat Ranch

First things first, though — upon arrival, First Mate Christian mixed up cocktails, and we all climbed the rickety spiral staircase to the roof, to watch the sunset. By the time that was over, Käpt’n Rummelsnuff had fired up the grill, and the grubfest began in earnest. There is no running water or electricity at the Cat Ranch, so we enjoyed champagne, caviar and all the accoutrements in the tiny, cluttered kitchen by the light of a kerosene lamp and those colored glowing balls my sister bought me for floating in hot springs — they add instant ambiance to any situation!

Then we all headed out back to the “backyard,” a sort of fenced-in courtyard that is half outdoor gym, half lounge space, where the apprentice butcher set about grilling up all the various and sundry meats in attendance. Oh my god, I’m not normally a big meat eater but I ate so much meat that night — steak and bratwurst and Italian sausage and chicken, and all kinds of crazy grilled awesomeness. The booze and weed were flowing freely, as was the conversation, and it was an amazing night all around. After awhile, the neighbor lady Jill came by with more champagne and peanut M&Ms, which perfectly complimented the port wine, cheese and grapes. UGH!!!!!

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the next morning at the Cat Ranch

The next morning we were all pretty hung over, but fortunately there was plenty more meat on deck — nothing like glistening slabs of thick-cut artisanal bacon to cure a hangover, ya know??? Fabian and the butcher had to leave early, but the rest of us sat around all day in the shade listening to Nico’s Desertshore album, which was the perfect soundtrack for a Teutonic post-gluttony desert comedown. I finally had some time to start embroidering that caftan I bought in Bisbee back in January, so I pretty much just sat around all day working on that. It was very relaxing!!

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desert hot tub

Around sundown, Christian and my sister and I all went over for a sunset soak in the neighbor lady’s Jacuzzi, and then we headed back to the Cat Ranch, where der Käpt’n had prepared a light meal for everyone of various chopped salads and rice. YUM!!! We pigged out again, then Christian fired up their little ramshackeldy sauna, and we all took a nice, therapeutic shvitz. And remember, after sauna you have to hose off in the open-air shower, which is really just a water tank on stilts that you stand under, bathing in a stream of cold water under the desert stars. Legs first, then arms, then belly, then chest — you don’t want to shock your system, you know!! Let me tell you, I slept WONDERFULLY that night!!!

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Der Käpt’n made me stay for the show!

Now meanwhile, Rummelsnuff (the band) had managed to book a show the following Saturday night, at the local dusty dive bar, the Palms — and so the Käpt’n invited us to stay all week, and attend the show. I didn’t think I’d be able to make the show, as I had a photo shoot in Death Valley on Sunday…but my shoot wasn’t until 5pm, so I figured why the hell not?? If I left Wonder Valley early enough Sunday morning I could go home, take a shower, shave my various body hairs and wash my head hair, and still be in Death Valley in plenty of time for my shoot. So, why not????! YOLO, baby!

We didn’t want to wear out our welcome at the Cat Ranch, though, since it was still only Wednesday at that point…so rather than just sit around the ranch all week boozing and sewing, my sis and I took off for a couple days to explore the area.

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hiking at Joshua Tree

The first day, we went to Joshua Tree National Park — a cool desert paradise full of Joshua trees (duh) and crazy rock formations that are super-popular with rock climbers from all over the world. I myself went rock climbing there once, last August, and I don’t get all the fuss — but many people are obsessed with climbing. It’s like a cult — they spend every waking moment and every dime on climbing, climbing gear, and the climbing lifestyle…which apparently includes lots of stuff like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Dave Matthews CDs and primo-grade chronic. Those climbers are faaaaar out!

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shitty campsite at Joshua Tree

Not being climbers, my sis and I just wanted to camp out and go for a few hikes. Alas, this was right in the middle of Spring Break, so all the campgrounds were jam-packed, and we were lucky to get a shitty campsite right next to the road, cheek-to-jowl with squalling families and right downwind of the toilets :-/ BOOOOO! Now that I have all this BLM boondocking camp experience, it’s the only way for me — this “civilized” camping shit is for the birds!! But we still enjoyed a nice campfire and a good dinner, and went on a couple of pretty good hikes. My personal opinion? If you’re not a climber, go to the Mojave National Preserve, instead. There you’ll find similar topography, tons of Joshua trees….and it’s FREE to get in! Plus, there’s tons of camping — much of that free, too. And it’s WAY LESS CROWDED!!!!!

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naked bouldering at Joshua Tree

The next morning, we packed up camp and headed back up north a ways to pay a seasonal visit to my beloved #1 all-time favorite place, Deep Creek Hot Springs. I had been there in winter, summer and fall, but never spring — and if the wildflowers around Remington Hot Springs were any indication, it was probably a riot of orgasmic beauty!!!! How could I miss seeing that?!?!?

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Pappy & Harriet’s

Before heading up, though, we stopped for lunch at this touristy-looking joint called Pappy & Harriet’s, in a place called Pioneertown outside Joshua Tree. Apparently it was used to film old Western movies back in the day, but now it’s just a tourist trap with an amazing saloon/restaurant, with astonishingly good, healthy fare. I guess they also feature live music every night, but we were there too early to see any bands — hipsters come all the way from L.A. to see shows there; it’s that kind of place. For that reason, my endorsement is not 100% enthusiastic….but the food really was good, so if you’re in the area, check it out.

Anyway, after lunch we headed to Deep Creek, and packed all our gear down the loooooong trail to the hot springs — unlike Remington, this is more like a 2-mile hike to the springs, so you have to be pretty dedicated if you want to

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Deep Creek Hot Springs 4 LIFE!!!

camp out down there. I made sure to bring my colored balls, and they looked fantastic in the dark, tucked away into crevices in the rocks around the soaking pools. The only bummer was, again, it was Spring Break….so the crowd down there was almost exclusively young kids from area universities…and none of them were very interesting to talk to :-/ Normally when you go down there it’s all naked old conspiracy theorists and kooks…..but this time, it was all bros and bikini girls. No one was even naked!! You could tell, they all thought my sis and I were total hippie weirdos for being nekkid. But whatevs; we still had a nice night.

In the morning we packed up our gear and hiked up out of the canyon in the brutal sun. Here’s a video I made about the whole experience:

 

Before heading back to the Cat Ranch to get ready for the big Rummelsnuff show that night, my sis and I first stopped off in Yucca Valley to check out the legendary Yucca Valley Swap Meet. I love me some swap meets, and this one was said to be particularly amazing, being as the desert in those parts (Yucca, J Tree, Landers, 29 Palms, Wonder Valley) is chock-a-block with artsy, broke bohemian refugees from L.A. It’s basically Kook Central!

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Yucca Valley swap meet

Alas, we got there too late and the swap meet had already mostly shut down…but we wandered around anyway, marveling at the amazing set-up. This swap meet is held on the grounds of an old, defunct drive-in movie theater, and the swap meet booths are permanent structures, like kooky wooden old-west-type shacks and huts with stained glass windows and kooky artwork everywhere. AMAZING!

Even more amazing, we were looking in the windows of this weird building made of painted spray-foam called the Crystal Cave, when out of nowhere this wizened old man in yellow Hunter S. Thompson sunglasses and a leather vest and cowboy hat appeared — he had built the Crystal Cave himself, and wanted us to see inside!! O…M….G…..I cann’t describe in words how amazing this Crystal Cave was inside. I tried to take photos, but you can’t even get the idea: basically, it’s like being inside someone’s eyeball who’s tripping on acid!!!!! Everything is made of brightly-painted spray foam, with colored lights and crystals and little figurines scattered about in nooks and crannies. You sit on a little cushioned bench, and he closes the door behind you so that you’re in complete solitude — the foam is also soundproof. It’s just you and your thoughts inside this crazy psychedelic diorama…..and it is FAR FUCKING OUT!!!!!!!

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inside the Crystal Cave — this photo does NOT do it justice; you have to go in person

After enjoying the Cave for a while, we came out and chatted with the old man, and he was so wonderful! He said he just wanted to share his happiness with others….and by golly, he sure did. I left that place feeling 100% happy, awesome and amazing — in fact, I felt that way pretty much the whole week!!! It was great!!!!!

So then it was time for the Rummelsnuff

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meanwhile, back at the ranch…….

show. We headed back to the Cat Ranch and got dressed, then drove over to the Palms Restaurant. I’ve written about the Palms before, describing it as a sort of Mos-Eisley-cantina-type dusty little desert shitshow with all kinds of kooky characters and astonishingly good food, sitting all alone in the middle of nowhere on Amboy Road, halfway between nowhere and tumbleweed. This night, in honor of Rummelsnuff, the house specialty was bratwurst, so we fueled up on yet more meat, then sat back and watched the show. Curious desert dwellers from miles around had come out to see what this Rummelsnuff was all about, and it ended up being a great night, with a great turnout! The show was amazing, except for the part where Käpt’n asked me to sing backup on this Boney M song, and a great time was had by all. I’m here to tell you, seeing Rummelsnuff at the Palms is like seeing the Rat Pack at the Copa or Hank Williams at the Grand Ole Opry — it’s legendary!!!

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cruising back to Vegas on an overcast desert morning

After the show, the plan was for more partying into the night, then brunch the next morning at the Palms (they have great Bloody Marys and veggie omelets)…and then board up the Ranch so that Christian and Käpt’n could head back to Berlin (the Ranch sits unattended 11 months out of the year). I would have loved to be part of all this, but ALAS, I had to be in Death Valley the next day…so I went to bed early, then got up, broke camp, and sat on my tailgate enjoying one last cup of coffee with Christian before heading out. Käpt’n Rummelsnuff made me a guacamole sandwich for the road (more protein)….and then it was time to say goodbye. Well, not goodbye — Auf Wiedersehen. Til next year!!

So, I cruised back to Vegas, scraped all the crud and body hair off, did my hair and spackled on some makeup, and then got back on the road again, Death Valley-bound. I was meeting the same photographer I shot with last month, when I stayed at the Amargosa Opera House — the guy with whom I totally hit it off, this super-artsy, gaunt motherfucker who is sort of a cross between Tom Waits, David Lynch and R. Crumb. He’s awesome!!!

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Out in Death Valley
photo by Crumb Lynch

Anyway, this time we were camping out at one of the campgrounds in Death Valley — Mesquite Springs. After I set up my tent, we loaded up some music, wine and cheese and headed out into the desert to shoot, getting there right around sunset (this photographer shoots starry night sky stuff, so the later, the better). We passed the evening shooting and bullshitting, sitting around drinking this amazing wine he’d brought from his wine cellar, paired with some exceptional cheeses he’d also brought, listening to some far-out William Orbit electronica and just generally enjoying the fabulous desert night. I tell you, some people know how to live!!!

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More by Crumb Lynch

After shooting, we headed back to camp to get high and talk some more…but alas, it was one of those shitty, developed campgrounds chock full of families and angry people, and we hadn’t been in camp more than 2 minutes when some bossy old biddy came shuffling over to shush us, telling us we were making way too much noise in the middle of the night (it was about 11:30). Like I said, I’m all about desert boondocking – fuck this developed campsite shit! I’d rather set up camp in the middle of nowhere, piss on a bush and and brush my teeth with bottled water, any day!!! We ended up having to hang out inside the photographer’s car, just to keep our conversation from bothering all the sleeping biddies. But it was cool — we sat in the car and got baked, and had a pretty good time, considering. But the REALLY good times were yet to come!!!!!

The next morning, our plan was to head down to the fabulous little desert outpost of Tecopa, home of a few dusty old hot spring resorts from the 1940s, and also home to a fantastic all-natural muddy-bottomed hot spring in the middle of a vast, barren desert valley. It’s one of my all-time #1 favorite places in the entire world, and it’s only 80 minutes outside Vegas! Anyway, this photographer had read about it in my blog or on Yelp or somewhere, and wanted to spend a night hanging out there, shrooming and just being mellow. So of course I said YES!!!

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Death Valley wildflowers!

It was a beautiful day — just driving through Death Valley, with all the wildflowers blooming, and some relaxing Santo & Johnny slide guitar on the stereo, bathing in the clean, warm desert air with the windows down….omg it was fantastic. I wish you all could have been there!!! We arrived in Tecopa in the early afternoon, and enjoyed one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life on the patio at Pastel’s Bistro — hands-down my #1 all-time favorite restaurant, anywhere! Seriously, this place serves amazing healthy, gourmet food out in the middle of freaking nowhere – you have to try it!

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earlier in the week, at Remington hot springs

Pastel’s doesn’t have a liquor license but they let you BYOB, so my photographer friend busted out another bottle of super-nice red wine from his cellar, and we sat there in the shade eating and drinking and just generally being happier than pigs in shit, enjoying La Dolce Vita 1,000 times better than Fellini ever did! About halfway though the meal, one of my kooky friends from Vegas showed up — I had invited him and my sister as well, to make it a party, but alas, my sister ended up not going, so it was just me and the two guys. But it turned out fantastic.

We all agreed to meet up at the mud spring and take shrooms around 5pm, so after lunch my Vegas friend got baked with the chef, and the photographer and I went back to our rented cabin to take a nap. Normally when I go to Tecopa I stay at Delight’s resort, which has really charmingly crusty old cabins — but this time, the photographer had booked a room at the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, which has similarly crusty old cabins, and is almost equally charming. I’d have to give Delight’s the advantage, though, because some of the soaking pools there are open to the night sky…whereas at this resort, the tubs are all indoors and kinda creepy in an institutional way.

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My beloved Tecopa mud spring

Anyway, the photographer and I got high and zonked out for an hour or so, then got up and packed some gear and cruised down to the mud spring. It’s not far from the resorts, and honestly I prefer to just walk — walking down a desert highway in your bathrobe while shrooming is an experience everyone should have. But we had firewood and blankets and too much crap to carry, so I drove us down there in my truck, and we met up with my Vegas friend at the appointed hour. We set up camp on the shores of the mud spring, then ate some mushrooms and lay back to watch the sunset.

Oh…..my…..GAWD!!! I have rarely had such an amazing experience. It was perfect. The weather was just right, and the sunset came on in a gentle riot of dusky desert magnificence just as the shrooms were really starting to kick in. To make things even better, my photographer friend had this incredible-sounding little boombox with him playing some kind of far-out spacey, twangy pedal steel liquid fabulousness that fit the mood so perfectly I felt like I was surely in a Werner Herzog movie. I know I say this a lot, but….this experience really was FAR OUT! It was one of my best nights, ever.

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My colored floaty balls (at Deep Creek, earlier in the week)

We spent the evening laying back on a sleeping bag, swimming in the fabulous desert stars. Every now and then we’d get up and soak in the springs, and when it got dark I busted out my colored floaty balls, and set them adrift in the pond for even more ambiance. After a while I built a little bonfire, and we had some more fantastic wine and cheese, and some really far-out conversation, too. You might say we were poisoning our brains and wasting our lives, but………I’m here to tell you, that experience was everything I want out of life. All my senses were alight — the warm desert night on my naked skin, the sharp taste of the cheese and wine, the smell of desert springtime, the sound of frogs and crickets mixed with that fucking amazing pedal steel…and the beautiful sky full of billions and billions of stars, all laid out before us like a smorgasbord of possibility. What more could you ask for?? I sincerely wish everyone reading this could have been there. There would be world peace, for sure.

Around 1am we packed up and headed back — my Vegas friend back to town, and the photographer and I back to our cozy beds in the cabin. In the morning, the only bummer was I had to be back in Vegas for this photo shoot I had scheduled at 12pm — I would have loved nothing more than to dilly-dally over brunch at Pastel’s, but even though I hadn’t heard back from the photographer with whom I was supposed to be shooting…I am a true professional, and I headed back into reality anyway icon sad These are the days I bid adieu to my shroommate, then headed back to town, stopping at a McDonald’s to put on makeup and make myself presentable. And then…wouldn’t you know it, the fuckin’ photographer flaked on me anyway. GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!

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Deep Creek

So, anyway….basically I had an amazing, sun-drenched, wonderful week filled with every Earthly delight imaginable. It was the perfect beginning to a perfect spring, with all the promise of a fabulous summer ahead. I was literally high on the whole experience, feeling sunkissed and happy and optimistic about everything in this life…the way I wish everyone could feel, at least once.

But the next morning, it was all blown to shit. I woke up to a text from my mom, telling me that that my sister’s ex-husband, Mike, had been shot and killed — he was a police officer in San Jose (CA), and he had been killed the night before, in the line of duty, while responding to a call regarding a drunk guy with a gun who was threatening suicide. On his way into the guy’s apartment complex, the guy shot and killed him (and then killed himself).

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Mike making a trampolini (a martini shaken while jumping on my old trampoline)

Holy shit, I wasn’t even this sad when my dad committed suicide a few years ago — this was Mike!! I knew him better than I did my dad — he and my sister were together for ten years, and over that time we spent many, many hours hanging out together. I basically grew up with this motherfucker — he helped teach me how to drive, and how to shoot a gun (he’s the one who talked me into getting my handgun…he was a real gun nut), and we traveled around all over the place together, laughing at stupid shit and just having a good time. I hadn’t seen him in about five years (he and my sis divorced around 2009), but it was still terrible fucking news. He was only 38!!

I did not expect to be this sad about Mike’s death, but fuck….it made me bawl and bawl my eyes out. I guess partly because we shared our youth, and this was like the final death knell in a way — but also partly because he is dead.  Sure, he was a cop and I am a drug-addled naked hippie…..but guess what?! He was a cool as fuck person, and a good cop — not all cops are assholes!! My sister was with him for 10 years, for chrissakes — she had quite a bit of influence on him, and he was a pretty progressive guy. ARRRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

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Hero (my mom had just gotten new carpets, and made him wear plastic bags on his feet to keep them clean)

Anyway, I am planning to go back to San Jose next week for the funeral, which promises to be a real shit show — every politician in California is jumping on the bandwagon, angling for a piece of the action…so much so that they are having his funeral at the freaking SAP Pavilion, which is an arena where the Sharks play. And even in an arena, we had to get our names on a guest list to get in. Wow!

I’m sure this memorial service will be a super pompous affair full of bullshit and rhetoric, with liberal use of the words “God,” “honor” and “hero…” which, as a snarky hipster intellectual elitist, I find ridiculous. But…..I was thinking about it, and if anyone ever really was a hero, I guess Mike was. I mean, he died going in to stop some crazy dude with a gun — protecting innocent civilians from whatever mayhem might have ensued. He basically took a bullet for the neighborhood icon sad These are the days If that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is.

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this is how I remember Mike — always game for my family’s fucked-up costume parties!

But, whatever. My family plans to have our own, unpretentious (and no doubt booze- and drug-fueled) memorial service afterward…and we will remember him the way we knew him — as a super nerd obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons, Jiu-Jitsu, calculus, guns and the History Channel; a straight arrow who nevertheless tolerated and embraced the kooky antics of my fucked-up, weird-ass family.

Even in the midst of this circus at the SAP arena, I’ll be thinking of another time I went to that arena with him — somehow, my sister and I once convinced him (waaaaay back in the day) to get up super early and wait in line for Neil Diamond tickets (!!!) at that same venue. We got there at like 7am, and sat around with a bunch of old super-weirdos, including a kids’ party clown, eventually scoring front-row seats to the show. Then we went home and ate a bunch of donuts and laughed ourselves silly before passing out for a nap. Those were the days!

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It goes on

But meanwhile….these are the days, too. Spring has sprung, and life doesn’t stop. Wildflowers, stars, shrooms, donuts….Neil freaking Diamond! Carpe Diem, Carpe Scrotum…..whatever you do, just enjoy it.

 

 

 

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Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!!

001 300x225 Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!!After working my ass off in Vegas the first couple weeks of February, it was finally time for another roadtrip with my sister…this time, one that I was ESPECIALLY looking forward to: Nevada!!

I’ve lived here in Vegas for almost 15 years, and although I’ve explored southern Nevada more than most residents…I still felt like I was missing out. Nevada is a HUGE, vast state, and even my wandering ass had only really ever made occasional forays into the wilds outside of the U.S. 95. corridor between Vegas and Reno. I just knew there was some fucked-up shit out there, and I was super excited to explore it!

Screen Shot 2015 03 01 at 1.45.39 PM 240x300 Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!!Now, a huge chunk of central Nevada is a no-go because it belongs to the U.S. Gov’ment as part of the Nevada Test and Training Range (you know, where they used to test aboveground nukes back in the day, and where Area 51 is). So my initial itinerary called for us to circle all around this no-man’s-land, heading up the 95 to Gerlach and Winnemucca, east over to Elko and Ely, and then down along the 93 back to Vegas. However, the weather turned nasty as fuck, and it ended up being too freakin’ cold up north for us to camp or even really enjoy ourselves exploring. So we amended our itinerary and made this a Southern Nevada trip…with the second Northern half to come later this year, when the weather warms up!

NOTE: I have a TON of photos from this trip posted on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wonderhusssy…so check that out, cuz I can only post so many here. Also, in keeping with my New Year’s resolution to start making more videos, I recorded several shitty travelogues along the way as well, which are all at www.youtube.com/wonderhussy. Please excuse their crappiness; I was learning as I went. The sound is shitty on some of them, and my hand isn’t as steady as it could be. But I’m learning!!!

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Getting ready at the McDonald’s in Pahrump, on the way to Death Valley

Anyway, my trip started sort of unofficially with this photo shoot I had booked out at Death Valley…which technically isn’t part of Nevada, but it’s so close to the border that it might as well be. This awesome photographer from the SF Bay Area had hired me to pose for some super arty night sky stuff — he normally goes out with a startracker and does really bad-ass long exposures of the stars and whatnot, but he got the idea to add a nude model into the mix, so that’s where I came in.

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Inside the Amargosa Opera House Hotel

I met him out at the ever-fabulous Amargosa Opera House hotel, right on the border of Nevada and California, where he had gotten us both rooms for the night so that we could stay out late shooting and then just come back and crash, without having to drive all the way back to Vegas. Nice! I’ve stayed in that hotel before, and it’s old as balls, crusty as fuck… and SUPER BAD ASS! They say it’s haunted, if you believe that kind o’ claptrap…but all I know is that it’s very atmospheric and quirky. It was originally owned by this eccentric ballerina from New York who retired there, and who even now at the age of 90 or so still performs occasionally in the adjacent Opera House. She even painted a mural of a fake audience on the wall, for those times when there was no one around to watch her dance. I love it!!

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If I don’t get a vehicle pass to Burning Man, I’ll be forced to ride a horse there!

Anyway, I dug the shit out of this photographer the minute I first saw him sitting in the lobby, hunched over his laptop trying to buy Burning Man tickets. As you may know, the first chunk of Burning Man tickets went on sale Feb. 18, when something like 80,000 people logged in all at once to buy 40,000 tickets. Supply way exceeded demand, so a lot of people were left disappointed…even after sitting there on their laptops for an hour or more, trying to get through. Apparently, some tech-savvy douchers hacked the system and sneaked in ahead of the line to scoop up a number of the tickets…but the rest were bought the honest, old-fashioned way: by regular douchers and dickheads who don’t plan to contribute anything to the festival, but who just wanna go ogle naked chicks and fistpump. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! I personally know several people who fit into this category, and the balance is tipping so much these days that I honestly believe Burning Man is getting ready to jump the shark (you might say it already did). Anyway, I did get my own tickets as part of this art project I help out with every year…but I still need a vehicle pass, so if anyone has an extra one, hit me up (they’re trying to limit the number of cars/pollution from people driving up there, so they only issued a small number of car passes, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to drag my trailer up there now).

As it happened the poor photographer wasn’t able to get tickets, but he wasn’t really stressed over it since he’s been going to Burning Man on and off since like 1995, so he knew what the fuck was up. Anyway, he was a super cool dude and we hit it off right away — one of those emaciated, artsy Tom-Waits-type fuckers with a bushy head of fabulous gray hair and a penchant for Art and Adventure. A kindred spirit for sure!

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pic by C. Jackson

We cruised around Death Valley all afternoon, shooting at this AMAZING little oasis called Darwin Falls, up behind Panamint Springs, where there’s a lush, semi-tropical little pool and waterfall year-round — even in the midst of the brutal, searing Death Valley summer. That place was amazing!

Then, once the sun went down we headed over to the low, rolling Mesquite sand dunes for the night sky stuff. The weather was pretty nice, fairly balmy, and I had my fabulous fuzzy new hot springs robe to keep me warm in between shots, so it was really pretty comfortable. The only bummer was, I forgot to bring some booze/weed/shrooms — of course I had no way of knowing I would hit it off so well with this photographer, so I hadn’t packed any…but it would have been wonderful to sit out on the dunes under the stars drinking wine and getting high.

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the fabulous Mesquite sand dunes

As it was, we had so much fun shooting and talking that we got totally lost trying to hike back to the car in the darkness, and ended up walking along the highway for two miles, me in my bathrobe like Jeff Lebowski, him in this woolen peacoat and fedora like R. Crumb. This kooky old Brazilian photographer out in the dunes told us he’d been trying to wave at us with a flashlight to let us know we were walking the wrong direction, but we were so busy chatting that we never noticed. Oh, well — it’s never a bad thing to burn extra calories!

When we got back, we shot some more nudes in the hotel room and then sat out front of the hotel on this little patio, smoking and drinking and listening to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s version of “Fanfare for the Common Man” late into the night. FAR OUT!!! It was one of the most surreal, and most fun, photo shoots I’ve ever been on. That guy is legit as fuck, and I can’t wait to shoot with him again!

Anyway, the next morning I was feeling pretty rough, but after chugging some coffee and bidding adieu to Tom Waits, I cruised back into Vegas by way of Pahrump, met my sister at my house, and we officially started our road trip around the Great State of Nevada. IT WAS ***AMAZING***!

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At the fertility temple

From Vegas, we headed up U.S. 95 north, making a brief stop at the Sekhmet fertility temple to ask the Goddess for a blessing on our travels. While there, I finally got to meet the Priestess herself, this wonderful woman in a purple top who lives out there and cares for the shrine. She invited us to come back for one of the ceremonies they have out there, like the upcoming Beltane or the Spring Equinox, when a bunch of women all get together and chant and burn shit and whatnot. It sounds fabulous!

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Unassuming Yucca Mountain

Then we continued up north toward Beatty, stopping for a late lunch and veering off on a side road to check out a ghost town one of the locals had told me was up a dirt road at the base of Yucca Mountain. You know Yucca Mountain — the site where they plan to store all the U.S.’s nuclear waste in the near future? Well, shit! I didn’t realize how close it is to Vegas — only about 90 miles, just outside Beatty. YIKES! Oh well, I guess they have to store it somewhere — and as I was about to learn on my road trip, central Nevada always ends up being the dumping ground for that kinda shit. The gov’ment doesn’t care about the random collection of kooks and rednecks out there!

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Hi there!

Anyhoo, I never did find a ghost town up there — just a lonely old hunting cabin, so we continued on our way north toward Goldfield, stopping for a few sunset photos at the Junk Car Forest, and then continuing north thru town to camp out overnight at the fabulous, isolated little Alkali Hot Springs. I wasn’t sure camping was allowed at the springs, but the super-friendly kooky hippie lady at the Goldfield Visitors’ Center assured us that it was OK — the springs are technically on private property, but the guy who owns them doesn’t mind people camping there so long as they clean up after themselves. Awwww!

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Soaking at Alkali hot spring

We set up camp by the springs and proceeded to enjoy a fabulous sunset soak, with the most amazing wintry landscape before us. When it got dark, my sis busted out a candle and these amazing colored glowing floaty balls she bought me as a gift — you set them in the water, and they float around the pool adding ambiance. Awesome! We soaked for awhile, then had a campfire and then crashed out pretty early. No one bothered us — it was a fairly quiet place to camp, except for the road leading to some mine nearby was pretty busy with truck traffic until about 8pm. After that it was very peaceful.

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My new friend

In the morning, I was enjoying a peaceful sunrise soak when this wild-haired old man showed up out of nowhere, asking very timidly if I was going to be much longer. I guess he was nervous because I was naked, but I just invited him in to join me in the tub, and when my sister woke up we all three enjoyed a nice, friendly soak with some excellent conversation. I just love the kinds of people you meet at hot springs — and the kinds of conversations you have! This guy was amazing — a vandweller with severe PTSD who can’t stay in any towns that have modern cars, the kind with alarms that go off when you open the door, because it sets off his PTSD. So he sticks to backwoods little towns where people drive old clunkers — like Goldfield! He had been camping out by the Alkali springs for a couple of months now, and he was a real fount of information — he told us that some Goldfield residents who don’t have indoor plumbing use Alkali hot spring as the town bathtub, coming out there to soap up and shave and everything!! YUK! But I guess someone also comes to scrub it out every now and then, because it was a pretty clean little pool. I recommend soaking here 100%!

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How to file a mining claim

After we finished soaking, he invited us across the valley to his camp, which he had set up near an abandoned old corral. He served us some super-crappy instant coffee and gave us some advice on filing mining claims — we met more miners on this trip; apparently backcountry Nevada is full of busy little beavers pecking and digging and gouging at the earth, trying to pry loose its sweet, sweet minerals. He also tipped us off to these amazing hot springs down in New Mexico that he said we could all go in on together, and buy from out under the current owner, some lady with whom he had a grievance over an unpaid debt. I took his cell number and told him I’d think about it.

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Dinky Diner!

Next, my sis and I headed back into Goldfield for some REAL coffee at the Dinky Diner, and then kinda bummed around town for a bit, looking at all the kooky art and artifacts laying around everywhere. That town is like a mini Jerome, AZ — full of artsy kooks. I love it! We also spent quite a bit of time chatting with the proprietor of this rockhound/gold panning souvenir shop

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Sunbaked dolls on an art car in Goldfield

on the northern outskirts of town, who gave us a fairly in-depth lesson in gold mining, peppering his lecture with references to “Orientals” and “slant-eyes” before offering us a couple of Chick tracts. If you don’t know, Chick tracts are these SUPER-creepy little comic books that hardcore Christian evangelists hand out, trying to convert you from your sinful life of heavy metal/drugs/alcohol/greed/etc. I’ve collected them for years because they’re SO weird, but this guy was completely serious when he gave them to us, informing us that none other than the Holy Ghost had sent us to him to receive this message. That guy was a trip, but we burned those goddamn Chick tracts in the campfire that night. I prefer to keep to my current path of sin, thank you!!

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Fish Lake Hot Springs

After touring the evangelist miner’s stepdaughter’s new cafe that she’s about to open at the north end of town, my sis and I headed further north, for a late lunch at the fabulous grand old Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, where we had (what else but) Miner’s Stew, served steaming hot in these amazing bread bowls. OMG I have rarely eaten such a delicious meal — seriously, it was amazing! Again, as on our Arizona trip, we were trying to be cheap by eating only one meal a day, and camping for free whenever possible — so to that end, we next headed west toward the NV/CA state line to camp for the night at the barren, desolate Fish Lake Hot Springs, out in the scrubby desert near the town of Dyer. But before leaving Tonopah, we stopped in at the Tonopah Station, where you can roll the dice for a free hotel room — they have this cage at the front desk with three oversized novelty dice in it, and you flip the cage to roll the dice. If all three come up the same number, you win a free room for the night! So we thought we’d better at least try to win a room before heading out to camp. Of course, we lost — so camping it was.

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Soaking at Fish Lake

But if you have to camp out, might as well be a badass place like Fish Lake Springs! It’s basically a big warm pond with an adjacent concrete soaking tub full of hot water, with some BBQ grills and a vault toilet nearby….in the middle of this vast, desolate valley. Not the most atmospheric soak, but still cool in its own way. I’d been there once before, last year with my frenemy Alex, and had always wanted to camp there…so I finally got my wish. We were really lucky with the weather — I guess it gets pretty windy out there, being as it’s located in the middle of a V A S T, barren valley…but on the night we camped, it was calm and pretty nice. Cold as fuck, though — there was snow on the mountains all around, and I had to add extra peppermint schnapps to my cocoa and put HotHands in my socks in order to sleep. But I survived!

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Morning soak at Fish Lake

Fish Lake’s soaking policy is sort of play-it-by-ear, textile-wise — after dark, we soaked in the nude with this cool Canadian snowbird couple, but in the morning we wore bikinis because there was a family with kids camped nearby, and we didn’t want to piss anyone off. Whatever! I really hate having to tote around a soggy bikini, especially in winter….but it was worth it. We had a great morning soak, then headed back out on the road toward our next destination — these remote hot springs in the mountains outside the town of Hawthorne. (Nevada has a TON of natural, undeveloped hot springs…so we aimed to hit as as many as possible on this trip.)

Hawthorne is this über-creepy little town in the middle of nowhere, NV that owes its existence to a U.S. Army Depot base that doubles as a munitions storage facility — they store the ammo in dozens of creepy, molehill-like bunkers in the desert all around town, and it’s all very Twilight Zone. The town milks the jingoist shtick by billing itself as the “Most Patriotic Town in America,” and indeed, everywhere you look it’s Red-White-n-Blue, Stars-n-Stripes. But overall, it’s a pretty bleak, blighted little outpost; I pass thru every year on my way to and from Burning Man, and I’ve always been fascinated by it. Since the weather forecast was for snow and sub-20-degree temperatures, we decided to bail on camping and get a cheap room in town for the night, and do a little investigating. But first, we headed into the mountains looking for these hot springs.

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I HATE giving up!!

Walker Warm Springs are located in the eastern Sierra near the CA/NV state line, in the mountains west of Hawthorne and east of Yosemite. I had the GPS coordinates, but following them took us waaaaay out into this SUPER-remote valley, miles and miles from anything, and I lost my signal and couldn’t figure out where we were after awhile. We finally came across these two adventure-bro-types in a lifted pickup who told us that they had tried going to the same springs, but that the road was impassable, so we’d better give up (even though my sis has a 4×4 SUV)…so with much gnashing of teeth, we agreed we’d better just turn around and go back into town. Boooo! I hate giving up!!!

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Creepy-ass Walker Lake motel

So we cruised back to Hawthorne and got a room for the night. The local casino, the El Capitan, is under renovation and is apparently becoming quite uppity, because they wanted $60 for a room that night!! We thought we could do better, so we headed up north of town to nearby Walker Lake, this huge bright blue lake out in the middle of the desert that has a really cool, crumbly old nautical-themed resort on the shore that I’d always wanted to check out. The whole scene was totally Twilight Zone — this huge, vast lake in the middle of nowhere, that no one ever uses, and which is said to have a secret tunnel at the bottom leading all the way to the Pacific Ocean by way of Malibu, thru which the U.S. Gov’ment transports top-secret USOs (that’s Unidentified Submerged Objects)…and then this shitty, crumbling motel on the shore. Alas, no one was at the front desk, and despite our repeated phone calls and buzzer-ringing, no one ever showed up. So we resigned ourselves to staying back in Hawthorne proper.

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The ominous Sand-n-Sage

Back in town, we got a room at the super-cracky-looking Sand-n-Sage Lodge. The price was right, and the man at the front desk was SUPER friendly and cool — this sprightly, toothless little imp who made us feel right at home, even calling us in our room later that night to let us know that he’d be making breakfast at 7am. Talk about hospitality! The room itself was pretty gnarly, but clean enough — you can see for yourself in this video I made (remember, my video skills are VERY rudimentary, so bear with me as I figure this shit out):

Anyway, we chatted with  the front desk guy for quite awhile — he confirmed the Walker Lake tunnel theory, going so far as to claim that “no one” has ever seen the bottom of that lake, it’s so deep — and then we headed to the El Capitan for some nasty-ass, greasy-spoon diner food. Then we headed across the street to the fabulously patriotic-looking Joe’s Tavern for a nightcap.

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Joe’s (Patriotic) Tavern

What a cool place!! I was afraid it was gonna be one of those surly locals’ bars that don’t take kindly to traveling big-city types, but I was very wrong — the bartender was cool as fuck, helping me figure out a palatable drink utilizing apple pie schnapps, and the other clientele were also exceptionally friendly. We met this cool black couple who had met and married in town — the guy was Wayne Newton’s bodyguard’s nephew, but moved to Hawthorne to be near his mom, and the woman worked at the US Army Depot. They both loved Hawthorne, even though they filled us in on the town’s racist history, when black people weren’t even allowed in the El Cap. But times changed, and in fact that’s where they met — dancing at the El Cap! What a cool couple — they kept offering to buy us drinks, but we were pooped so we headed back to to Sand-n-Sage pretty early and zonked out.

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Front desk clerk at the Sand-n-Sage

The next morning we got up super early to avail ourselves of the desk clerk’s breakfast spread. I tiptoed into the office to help myself to some coffee — I didn’t want to wake him, as his living quarters are right behind the office, but I think he waited all night for me to come in because the second I opened the door he magically appeared, all rumple-headed in his jammies, and kept me company as I ate and drank. What a nice man — I mean seriously! At the time of my stay there were only one or two other rooms occupied, so I guess he was lonely; he can’t leave the motel because he’s the only one in charge of the front desk, which is open 24/7, and the owner moved all the way to Reno, so she’s no help. I don’t think he ever gets a day off :/

After breakfast, my sis and I headed back into the mountains, determined this time to find those fuckin’ hot springs — ain’t no way two bros in a truck are gonna kill MY adventure, dammit!!! This time we had different directions, from a book, and we decided to take the road as far as possible and then just hike in once it got too burly. We needed the exercise anyway, after that gross-ass diner food the night before.We made it pretty far, to the point where it was only about another 3 miles or so…and we decided to just hoof it the rest of the way. But first, we busted out the camp stove and made some hot cocoa with plenty of peppermint schapps to fortify us — it was COLD as FUCK up there in those mountains, with snow on the ground (not enough, however, to melt for our cocoa water).

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Brewing cocoa

Sure enough, after about three miles of hiking down into this desolate wintry valley, we passed an old mine, a rusted-out schoolbus, some bloody cow entrails….and then at last came upon the Walker River, and this fabulous little stone soaking pool!! It was one of the most beautiful, isolated little soaking tubs I’ve ever seen — technically only 37 miles from Hawthorne, but they were 37 burly-ass miles. Although, apparently the Hilton sisters have been known to soak there, as their family owns a ranch nearby….so I guess it’s not that bad ass :/

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“Soaking” at Walker Warm Springs

Alas, however, it was SUCH a freezing cold day that we couldn’t get the pool heated up warm enough to actually soak in — so we just kinda got our feet wet, and then headed back up the trail to our car. Oh, well — it was still a fun hike! Here’s another shitty video I made showing the hike:

Next we planned to head up north to the tiny town of Austin, near the geographical center of Nevada, around which are clustered a shit ton of hot springs. But first, on our way out of town we stopped at the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum — a crazy collection of kooky bombs and weapons and shit that is out of this world!!! I’m here to tell you, that town is ALL kinds of fucked-up…but I love it! I definitely recommend stopping there if you’re ever passing thru that way.

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At the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum

Before heading out to Austin, which is very isolated and remote, we stopped in the fair-sized metropolis of Fallon to stock up on HotHands and schnapps and stuff, because we still planned to try and camp out at some point — even though the low that night in Austin was supposed to be about 18 degrees! It was around then that we aborted mission on exploring the northern part of the state — we decided to postpone that part for warmer weather, and focus on southern and central NV for this trip. We figured we could do one or two more motel nights up in the central area, then head back down south to warmer climes in the Mojave desert for more free camping.

So anyway, after taking advantage of being in a decent-sized city by getting some non-greasy-spoon food at an awesome Vietnamese place in Fallon, we headed east along US 50 — a/k/a The Loneliest Road in America. This highway is SO

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The Loneliest Road

desolate — at least the part between Fallon and Austin, and actually all the way to Delta, Utah — that the local communities decided to just roll with it and milk the lonely shtick as hard as possible. You can even get a “Loneliest Highway Survival Guide,” and have your “Loneliest Road Passport” stamped at the various podunk little towns along the way. FUN!!!

It was getting dark, and it was freezing, so we didn’t have time nor inclination to stop along the way at some of the awesome, lonely sites — Pony Express trail stops, salt flats, and this AMAZING-looking little bar with a lighted neon sign in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. I have to go back there sometime in the summer — it’s all BLM land up there, so you can camp for free!!! But because it was so cold and gloomy, we hauled ass straight for Austin, and got a room at the very aptly named Cozy Mountain Motel.

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Cozy!

What a difference from the Sand-n-Sage!! This motel was the same price, but a world apart in coziness and cleanliness (I don’t mean to bag on the Sand-n-Sage; it was fine, but the Cozy Mtn Motel was AMAZING). So even though it was around 18 degrees that night, we were snug and warm — no HotHands needed!

In the morning, we got up and went

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The International in Austin, NV

across the street for coffee at the International Hotel and Cafe — this AMAZING old building that had been built from the charred wreckage of the original International, over in Virginia City. The original International had been a seven-story palace where even Lillie Langtry performed, and in fact where the concept of the “Red Carpet” was invented (Miss Langtry didn’t want to get her dress muddy crossing the street, so they unfurled a roll of carpet for her that happened to be red), but it burned down in the silver boom years and they shipped the wreckage out to Austin, where they slapped together this new joint. It was an amazing place — one side was a saloon, with this ornate carved wooden bar that had been shipped “around the horn” all the way from London back in the day. The other side was a cafe, which is where we went for coffee.

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Help yourselves!

When we entered the cafe, the frazzle-haired old proprietor was sitting at a table pontificating on terrorism and Muslims and whatnot. I guess he didn’t feel like getting up, so he told us to help ourselves to coffee — “behind the bar; cups are over there.” Nice! The only other person working there was busy cooking breakfast for this group of Aussie roadtrippers, and I guess they’re looking to hire a waitress…so for the meantime, we had to serve ourselves. I even stepped in and refilled everyone’s coffee, at one point — far out; I always wanted to know what it’s like to be a truck-stop waitress!! It beats being a lot lizard, I’ll tell you that!

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With Vic

After a few cups of coffee, the grizzled proprietor, Vic, gave us a tour of the saloon and chatted with us for awhile, asking us where we were off to next. We told him we were going to check out Spencer Hot Springs, right outside town, and he said he’d try to come out there and join us…but alas, he never did. Boooo! He was an amazingly crusty old kook, and I would have loved nothing more than to have had a nice long soak and conversation with him. Oh, well….another time, for sure!!

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Spencer Hot Springs

So anyway, we left town and headed out to Spencer Hot Springs, just south of US 50 near the NV 376 junction. WHAT AN AMAZING PLACE!! Kinda like the hot springs off the 395 near Mammoth Mountain in CA, these hot springs are located in a huge meadow that is dotted with a bunch of all-natural hot soaks, with snow-capped mountains all around. GORGEOUS — and again, it’s all BLM land, so in better weather you could camp out there for FREE!! I definitely plan to go back there in the summertime — it’s amazing.

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Snow?! What snow?

There are three main tubs at Spencer, so we headed for the hottest one, where this lonely, hardy Canadian guy was camped out en route from a hockey tournament in Vegas to his home in the Bay Area. This guy was so hardcore, he hadn’t even bothered to put up his tent the night before — just slept in a sleeping bag with a woolen blanket inside, under the stars. Holy shit!! It was cold as FUCK out there — that guy was NUTS! We asked him if he minded us soaking with him — sometimes people just want to soak in solitude, ya know? — but I guess two naked chicks rolling in out of nowhere probably made his day. He turned out to be really cool, and we enjoyed a nice long soak with him, with some very pleasant conversation.

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It was COLD!!!

In the afternoon, we got out and dried off and headed on our way, driving a bit farther south to try and find this other soak in the area called Diana’s Punch Bowl, which is said to run out of the top of this cinder-cone type volcanic formation. It sounded badass…but alas, we ran low on gas before we could find it, and had to abort mission and head back down south to Tonopah icon sad Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!! I hate it when that happens! This is why I need a big, badass desert 4X4 rig, with jacked-up off-road tires and a 50-gallon gas can strapped to the back. Dangit!!!

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Clown Motel again

Since we were back in Tonopah anyway, we decided to do one more motel night at the fabulous Clown Motel — always a fun place to stop over. But first, we went back to the Tonopah Station to roll for a free room again, just in case…and we both lost again icon sad Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!! (You might think the dice are rigged, but I have a friend who swears he won a free room once.) So, Clown Motel it was — I stayed there back in September, in one of the beat-up old smoking rooms, and it was pretty gross…but this time we got a nonsmoking room, and it was fine — somewhere between the Sand-n-Sage and the Cozy Mountain Motel. See for yourself:

Because we had a nonsmoking room, we headed to the graveyard next door to smoke a joint before going to bed. While there, I decided to look for the legendary tombstone of this early pioneer who supposedly died eating library paste (!?!). My sis and I stumbled around that graveyard in the freezing cold dark for at least an hour, but never did find that tombstone (I later found out it’s actually in the Goldfield cemetery)….but, at least I got some fresh air and was able to make another one of my shitty practice videos:

The next morning it was still FREEZING as FUCK outside, so we decided to head south at once — but first, a brief detour north to the old ghost town of Belmont, where it is said the Manson Family hung out for awhile just before committing the murders in L.A., when they were cruising around the desert trying to find a hidey-hole. Apparently they left some graffiti on the courthouse wall in Belmont, and we thought that would be pretty cool to see, so we cruised up to check it out. Belmont itself was pretty cool, but deserted…and alas, there was no one around to let us into the courthouse so we could check out the Manson Family graffiti. (They are trying to restore the courthouse, so they keep it locked up tighter than a nun’s….well, you know.) Boooooooo icon sad Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!!

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Graffiti in the Belmont Courthouse

From Belmont, we headed back down south to U.S. 6, which goes all the way from Plymouth Rock, MA to Bishop, CA (it used to go all the way to Long Beach, and was the longest highway in America!). We took U.S. 6 east to where it meets up with NV 375, a/k/a the Extraterrestrial Highway, intending to head south from there to Rachel, NV – home of the Little A’Le’Inn and the closest outpost to the top-secret government base at Area 51.

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Middle of N O W H E R E

But before heading south on the Extraterrestrial Highway, we stopped at the junction with U.S. 6 because a friend had tipped me off to an amazing abandoned hot springs resort right there off the highway!!! This friend had in turn been tipped off by some locals in Rachel, who told him that the “KEEP OUT” signs could be safely ignored, and that it was a great place to soak. Boy, WAS IT EVER!!!!!!!!!

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Mud!

OMG, I have rarely (if ever) been to such an amazing place — right out in the open, in the middle of this vast, sunbaked desert valley, right at the intersection of two lonely, very infrequently traveled highways, this crumbling old hot springs resort sat fading in the winter sun. There was an abandoned old bar & grill, right down the way from a beautiful hot springs pool and changing rooms…all just sitting there, empty. I don’t understand how it ever got enough traffic to be profitable — when I say it’s in the middle of nowhere, I mean it’s in the middle of N O W H E R E ! ! ! ! See for yourself in this somewhat-less-shitty video I made:

I mean, holy shit!! That’s the kind of place roadtrippers dream about! And, as a bonus, there were all kinds of busted-up old buildings and shacks and shit around the area….a photographer’s paradise! Alas, however….the site is at least a 5 hour drive from Vegas, so it’s not really feasible as a nude photo shoot location. Although, if you really want to go there….email me icon smile Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!! I’m sure we can work something out!

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At the A’Le’Inn

Anyway, after soaking awhile and goofing around taking photos, we headed south down the Extraterrestrial Highway to Rachel, where we stopped in at the Little A’Le’Inn for lunch. We had originally planned to stay the night in one of their “motel rooms,” which are actually trailers with shared bathrooms for every two rooms, but you also get access to a free library of Alien Abduction VHS/DVDs….but the weather down south was much better, so we decided to save money and try camping out again. I had heard about this ghost town called Delamar down in a valley outside Vegas, so we thought we might try staying there.

But this redneck chick at the A’Le’Inn told us we were nuts — according to her, Delamar is haunted!! Apparently she used to do coyote-calling contests down there, so she knew what she was talking about….and besides being haunted, it’s also plagued by mountain lions. Yikes! Still, we forged ahead with our plan….because while I do believe in mountain lions, I don’t believe in ghosts.

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Crystal Springs

On our way down to Delamar, we stopped off at Crystal Springs, this beautiful little wooded soaking pond outside the town of Alamo, right at the intersection of the Extraterrestrial Highway and U.S. 93. Alas, it’s fenced off and marked “PRIVATE PROPERTY,” I think because it was a stop for the old Mormon wagon trains back in the day, and some Mormon asshole is trying to preserve it. We sneaked in anyway, and it was beautiful — but the water is only about 80 degrees or so, so it was too cold to soak in, anyway. Let the Mormons have it, I say!

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Delamar, NV

Then we continued on to Delamar. I can’t believe I’d never been to this ghost town — only about 2-3 hours from Vegas, but amazingly cool!!! The road in is pretty hardcore — for most of it, you’re just on a washboard dirt road through an amazingly dense and beautiful Joshua tree forest…but the last couple of miles or so, when you’re climbing up into the hills on the opposite side of the valley, are pretty hardcore. You’d need a 4×4 with offroad tires, for sure.

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Ruins of Delamar

But my sister’s 4Runner made it just fine, and we rolled in at sunset to find the most amazing, beautiful ruins of a lonely little ghost town — tons of crumbling stone ruins shining in the golden light of pre-sunset. FABULOUS!!!!!!! We set up camp on a bluff overlooking the entire valley, and it was absolutely amazing. No ghosts or mountain lions or anything bothered us the entire night — we didn’t see a soul until the next morning, when two camo-clad rednecks blew through on an ATV. Totally desolate — and totally awesome!!

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Old glass shards, soon to be embedded into my backyard wall!

In the morning, we walked around picking through the ruins of the old buildings, scavenging for bits of broken colored glass and other goodies, like rusted-out old Levis buttons and shards of old pottery. It was a bonanza!! I collected a bunch of beautiful glass and stuff to use in the mosaic I’m planning for the cinderblock wall in my backyard — that way it’ll be an authentic Nevada mural, ya know? There was some pretty cool stuff out there!

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Delamar cemetery

On the way out, we stopped at the lonely little cemetery…and when we finally got back into cell range, I Googled the history of the town to find out what had gone down there. Apparently it was a gold-mining town, but it was nicknamed “The Widowmaker” because the gold was embedded in some kind of rock that created a ton of silica dust when it was crushed, and a bunch of miners died from Miner’s Lung icon sad Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!! That little cemetery out there did seem like a pretty lonely place to be buried…especially when you consider the fact that some of these asshole miners came all the way from Ireland and shit to make their greedy-ass fortunes. Dying and being buried alone in the desert was a big fear…and a reality for many. But, at least they didn’t die from eating library paste!!!!!

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Abandoned warm springs in Moapa

After leaving Delamar, we continued back south through the town of Moapa, only about an hour outside Vegas, but home to some very curious things. There’s a wild animal sanctuary out there called Roos ‘N’ More, where you can go play with armadilloes and meerkats and cotatimundi and shit…but unfortunately it wasn’t open that day, so we just checked out this freaky old abandoned warm springs resort out there that used to be owned by Howard Hughes, and supposedly all the Vegas showgirls back in the day used to go out there to tan in the nude. After Howard Hughes died, some Mormon asshole bought it and turned it into a “family-friendly” warm spring pool…but there was some kinda fire in 2010, and now the ruins just stand there, drained of water and useless to anyone. Boooooo!

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Valley of Fire

From Moapa, we continued on through the freaky little Mormon town of Overton (we were on the Utah side of the state now, so everything was had a Mormon taint to it), stopping at a grocery store to stock up before heading into fabulous, incomparably beautiful Valley of Fire to camp for the night. Even though it’s only an hour from Vegas, I have always wanted to camp out at Valley of Fire, because it’s so astonishingly beautiful and otherworldly — it looks like Mars! The rocks out there are all red sandstone, with weird caves and holes and faces that would probably appear to you if you were shrooming…so it just always seemed like a fabulous place to camp out. And guess what — it was!!!

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Out campsite at Valley of Fire’s Arch Rock Campground

The only bummer about camping at Valley of Fire is, you can’t just throw down your tent anywhere — you’re limited to one of two or three designated campgrounds…and you have to pay for the privilege :/ Still, I ponied up the $18 Nevada residents’ fee…and it was worth it. We camped at Arch Rock Campground, the least developed campground there….and it was actually totally amazing. Each campsite is kind of tucked away into the red rocks, and feels very private and isolated…so even though we were pretty much back in civilization at that point, we could still pretend we were out in the wilderness. Fabulous!

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Boozing by the campfire

Alas, I guess I got pretty fucked up that night…because for the first time in my life, I actually blacked out, and couldn’t remember anything after about 9pm. I didn’t even drink that much — just a couple glasses of wine, and then about 3/4 of my hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps — and then the next thing I knew, I woke up at 4am in my tent!! For the life of me, I couldn’t remember getting to bed…but I guess I did OK, because I had HotHands in my socks and I had even taken the time to wash my face with a wet wipe. But I didn’t remember any of it!!! The worst part was, I was on my period, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember taking out my tampon — I guess I did, because it was nowhere in evidence the next morning….but where the fuck was it?!?!?!? Yikes! I still can’t explain what happened — I hadn’t drank that much, but I guess I was just tired from being on my period or whatever. Hmmmm!

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Ancient petroglyphs at Valley of Fire

Anyway, I felt fine when I woke up in the morning — a little hung over, and still some menstrual cramps…but I wasn’t about to let that stop me from enjoying a fabulous, beautiful day!! The weather down south was beautiful — warm and sunny and perfect for hiking, so that’s just what we did — cruise around Valley of Fire hiking up to all the popular spots. They have ancient petroglyphs carved into the rocks by Indians that are around 4,000 years old, so we checked those out…and then did some bouldering and scrambling on our own. That place is basically like a giant playground — the sandstone is easy to climb on, so you can romp around for hours like a kid on a jungle gym, not even noticing how many calories you’re burning. My kind of workout!!!

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HA!!!!!!!!!

Then, just to spite the asshole ranger out there (they don’t allow nude photography at Valley of Fire, and in fact I’ve been kicked out of there before, mid-shoot) I climbed alllllll the way to the top of one of the rock outcroppings, and stripped off all my clothes so my long-suffering sis could take a fabulous panoramic shot of me NAKED AS A JAYBIRD, with all of Valley of Fire spread out below me. SUCK IT, ASSHOLES! I mean, come on — it’s not like the original inhabitants (the Paiute Indians) didn’t run around there naked anyway, back in the day!! Get over it!!!!!

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Rogers Spring, a warm pond (about 80 degrees) by Lake Mead

After exacting my revenge thusly, I got dressed, climbed back down, and we headed out the back entrance toward Lake Mead, where we planned to get some food at the fabulously 1970s-nautical-themed Echo Bay Resort, and then find a place to camp out for the night. ALAS, I hadn’t been to Echo Bay since 2009, and come to find out the restaurant and motel are closed — the water level at Lake Mead has gone down so far that I guess business literally dried up, and the place had gone out of business years before icon sad Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!!

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THIS is the kind of rig I need!!!!!

So we had to keep going to the next outpost that had a restaurant, which was Callville Bay. But the bartender at the restaurant there told us the kitchen was already closed, and all they had was deep-fried bar food. Well, by this point we were starving from hiking and scrambling around Valley of Fire all day, so we went ahead and ordered one of everything — deep-fried chips and salsa, deep-fried chicken tenders, deep-fried popcorn shrimp, deep-fried fish-n-chips. Y U C K ! ! ! I’ve never had a worse meal in my life, I tell you!! It was horrifying. I stuffed my face, but then immediately wished I could vomit it all up. And to tell the truth, it was so greasy that I probably could have…with minimal effort :-/

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Goldstrike Canyon in spring

By now the sun was setting, and we were so exhausted and greasy that we totally pussed out on camping — we were only about a 45-minute drive from my house, so rather than unload all our camping shit and go through all that madness again, we cheated and went home to sleep in real beds at my place. But in the morning (well, afternoon), we got up for one final stop on our Southern Nevada roadtrip: the Goldstrike Canyon hotsprings, down by the Hoover Dam!

These hot springs are one of my all-time favorite hikes — you park at a trailhead just before crossing the Hoover Dam, then hike and scramble your way down a boulder-strewn canyon for about two hours until you reach the shore of the Colorado River. Along the way you pass several amazing, clear soaking pools full of piping hot water — it’s really a magical place! See for yourself:

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View of Hoover Dam bypass bridge from the river

After checking out the amazing view of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge down on the riverbank, we hiked back up the canyon to soak in the best of the hot spring pools for awhile, chatting with this awesome group of middle-aged redneck types who get together every year and kayak down the river, like my friends and I did last April, camping out at the Ringbolt Hot Spring beach for a few days. Talking to them really whetted my appetite to do that trip again — you put in below the Hoover Dam, then float downstream soaking at the various hot springs along the river, camping out at the most amazing of them all — Ringbolt, a/k/a White Rock Canyon hot springs. We had such an amazing time doing it last year….I think it’s time to organize another trip! If anyone wants to do it, hit me up! icon smile Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!!

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TEATIME!!!

After the rednecks got out and kayaked off on their way, this other amazing trio of kids got in to soak — a girl and two guys. One of the guys busted out a little camp stove, and set about brewing up a pot of artisanal tea — apparently, he runs some kind of super-hardcore artisanal tea shop in Seattle called the Bioluminescence Tea Lounge, and he offered to serve us all tea right there in the hot spring! It was amazing!!!! He even had a little teapot, and these little cups and everything, that he’d packed all the way down the canyon in his backpack. Fabulous!!! I guess his idea is to one day start an adventure-hiking-tea-tour-company….but in the meantime, he was headed on down to Flagstaff for a job as a lumberjack, for some ecologically-minded tree-cutting operation that only chops down invasive species like tamarisk, etc. FAR OUT!!!!!! Those kids were SO FREAKING COOL — like I said before, I just love the kinds of people you meet in hot springs icon smile Wanderhussy: NEVADA Edition!!

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Nevadaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!

Anyway, that little tea ceremony in the hot spring pool below the Hoover Dam was the perfect way to wrap up our fabulous Southern Nevada roadtrip. Like I said at the beginning of this blog — Nevada has a reputation as a barren, nuke-ridden shithole…but I’m here to tell you, if you just get off your fat ass and leave the slot machines and boring-ass Vegas suburbs behind, there is a wealth of fabulousness out there to discover!! I LOVE IT!!!!! I daresay I had an even better time on this trip than I did on my Arizona roadtrip — and that’s saying a lot!!!

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Old pic of the Goddess Collective by Perry Julien…just realized this pst doesn’t have much T&A, so here ya go

After hiking back up from Goldstrike Canyon, my sister and were super starving…but this time, instead of shitty deep-fried crap at Callville Bay, we headed to downtown Vegas to this amazing, blighted old shopping center near where I live called the Commercial Center. Back in the day, the Commercial Center was the place to shop for the Who’s Who of the Vegas Nouveau Riche…but nowadays, it’s this post-apocalyptic, bombed-out-looking ginormous half-empty strip mall that’s mostly home to swinger’s clubs, gay bathhouses and Korean karaoke joints. But it also happens to be home to this Thai restaurant that was once rated the #1 Thai restaurant in ALL of America by Gourmet magazine — so every wannabe foodie asshole and his mother goes there, thinking they’re being super clever and edgy by venturing into the “hood” to get “authentic” Thai food.

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pic by C. Jackson

The truth is, though, it really IS super badass food — it’s just that the wait is always at least 30 minutes, so you have to have a plan. Our plan was, we went out in the parking lot and smoked a joint, then walked over to this western-themed gay bar called the Badlands Saloon for a drink while we waited. We got totally baked and buzzed, then headed back just in time to beat the fuck out of an amazing Thai dinner that was about 1,000,000 times better than that shit we ate out at Callville Bay the night before. BOO-YA!!! It was the perfect celebratory meal to end our fabulous, incomparable Southern Nevada roadtrip. Long may it live in my memory!

 

 

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What does the future hold?
pic by C. Jackson

Now I’m back in Vegas, and alas, I don’t know exactly when my next adventure will be. My sister has been unemployed for about a year now, and she had originally given herself ONE YEAR to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Well, that year is about up…so I’m not sure what she’s gonna do. She still has a fat 401(k) and some savings she’s sitting on, but she’s a very responsible person, and it’s not in her character to stay unemployed for long. So, the future is uncertain: will she continue bumming around the Southwest with me? Or will she go back to work at some loathsome corporate gig? OR…..will she figure out a way to make money while traveling around with me on the road????

I’m gunning for option C!

 

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Weed and Wine and Ferrante & Teicher

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photo by Iancentric

Remember how I was bitching about about feeling like I’m stuck on a treadmill set to max speed? Well, guess what — the fucker wasn’t even AT max speed; I found that out when shit really got cranking these past couple of weeks. Come to find out, I didn’t know what “max speed” even meant….apparently, my life goes to eleven!!!

The minute I returned from rambling around Arizona with my sis, it was on. After unpacking, doing laundry and cleaning my house,etc., I got back to the business of hustling for gigs….and holy living Christ on a horse, what an avalanche!! 

 

 

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Go Team!

It all started innocuously enough, with my annual Super Bowl gig as a showgirl at my neighbor’s party — she works for a local Italian restaurant (casadiamore.com), and they throw this HUGE party every year at one of the hotels. It’s a fun and easy gig — just walk around and schmooze with the patrons, taking photos and whatnot, then leave at the end of halftime, by which time everyone is so wasted they don’t even notice if I’m there or not.

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Seahawks FTW!

But this year, I had an idea — I had just returned from 10 days camping in the Arizona desert, so my armpits were pretty gnarly. I happened to have a can of green hairspray around the house, so before I left for the gig, I sprayed my armpit hair green and posted a “Go, Seahawks!” photo on Instagram (the Seahawks’ colors are green and blue). Of course, I shaved them before actually leaving for the party (because, you know…society)….but what a shame; it would have been super funny if I’d had one armpit green and the other red, so that depending on the allegiance of the patron I was posing with, I could raise that arm into the air: “Gooooo New England!!”

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Reading backstage

Speaking of showgirls, if you had told me 10 years ago that I would one day find work as a showgirl in Vegas, I would have laughed my ass off. Me? A showgirl?!? I’m short, flat-chested and I can’t dance to save my life!!!! But astonishingly, I did two other turns as a showgirl recently. First, a magician friend who has an events production company hired me to work as a sort of ring girl at the World Finals of Indoor Archery!

This is one of the things I love about Vegas — all the weird little niche events going on here, all the time. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as indoor archery, let alone a fiercely competitive world final…but here were all these people from all over the world, who had spent tons of time and money getting to this level, duking it out for the title (and the cash prize). It was intense!!

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Yikes!

All we really had to do was walk around schmoozing and then going out with a sign at the start of each round — like at a boxing match, only here I was walking a gauntlet of international archers armed to the teeth with pointy fiberglass arrows. YIKES!

To make matters worse, I’ve been having a tough time sleeping lately, so one night I ate a half a pot cookie to help conk me out….and as much as I love edibles for their sleep-enhancing qualities, the devil with them is not knowing when they’ll wear off. So one of the days I worked, I was still in a sort of fog, strutting around in my feathers and sequins and whatnot like I was floating on a cloud. A cloud made of pointy sharp fiberglass. Talk about surreal!

 

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3D!!

Meanwhile, everyone was baked at another gig I did — the CHAMPS tradeshow (a/k/a the stoner expo). CHAMPS is a show for anyone in the smokeshop industry — pipe makers, glass blowers, fake-pee-kit-manufacturers and odor-eliminating candlemakers…you know what I’m talking about. I was working for a repeat client, this company called SunshineJoy that makes trippy 3-D psychedelic tapestries. Last time I worked for them, I ended up buying half their inventory and taking it to Burning Man, where it was a huge hit…they really are bad-ass tapestries. All I really had to do was stand around all day exhorting people to come into the booth and put on a pair of 3D glasses, so it was pretty chill….but let me tell you, I’m pretty sure I was the only sober person there!!

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Mary Jane

Being surrounded by all those stoners was actually depressing, in a way — the vendors had their shit together (for the most part), but so many of the attendees were baked out of their gourds that it was pretty sad. I’m a huge fan of smoking weed myself, but I only do it as a reward at the end of a hard day’s work (Burning Man aside, LOL)…I can’t imagine walking around all day trying to function in that state. Also, I noted that most stoner models are pretty tore up — like any trade show, the exhibitors at CHAMPS hire booth babes to help promoted their products, and some of the girls I saw walking around were busted as fuck!!! Cellulite-y asses, shitty tattoos, fucked-up makeup…..ugh!!!! Meanwhile, no one would hire me in my Mary Jane showgirl outfit. Whatever!!!

 

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Pyptek FTW!!!

But on the whole it was a fun show, and I ran into many of my industry pals like my buddy Jeffrey Peterson the 420 comic, who was down from Denver and gave me a copy of his new stoner comic book…and my friends at Pyptek, who hooked me up with a super-sweet new pink Prometheus piece. Let me tell you, I hit that fuckin’ piece with a vengeance when that show was over. Like I said, a reward for a hard day’s work well done icon smile Weed and Wine and Ferrante & Teicher

Aside from hum-drum gigs as a showgirl and a stoner booth babe, I also spent one fabulous day out in the wonderful desert sunshine doing one of my all-day photo excursions (see my Modeling tab for more info). This time, I was hired by a Canadian photographer who ended up bringing another model and several other photographers, all from Calgary, along for the day. It was really fun! We all piled into their rented minivan and we took off for three of my favorite locations, shooting for an hour or two at each.  Everyone got great shots, and a great time was had by all.

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Photo by Iancentric

Incidentally, a photographer recently told me that I have a “very good reputation up in Calgary.” I’m not sure how that happened, but I do know that I’ve been getting quite a few bookings from Candians lately. Someday I hope to be able to travel up to Canada myself for some shoots…but I have this pesky DUI on my record, so you fuckers won’t let me into your country :-/ So in the meanwhile, you’ll just have to come down here to shoot icon smile Weed and Wine and Ferrante & Teicher

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poster for my upcoming movie directed by Gary Ayers a/k/a Dr. Kildare!

Anyway, after all that I was getting pretty worn out. I had already pretty much made my nut for the month, so I planned to just take a few days off and spend some time around the house, working on the various craft projects I always have brewing: a fabulous mermaid-queen headdress, the caftan I bought in Bisbee that needs embellishing, the cinderblock wall in my backyard that needs muraling/mosaic-ing. As I was putting on my showgirl makeup one day, I had discovered this amazing Pandora station based around 60s piano kings Ferrante & Teicher — all swanky piano music and instrumental 101-Strings-type Valium-drenched fabulousness of the highest order. So I wanted nothing more than to be able to lounge around the house all day in my caftan, boozing and crafting with this fabulous soundtrack playing in the background. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

I’ve always had a hard time saying NO, especially when it comes to paid gigs — you never know when work is gonna dry up, ya know, so I feel like I have to accept every booking that comes down the pike — as long as it meets my minimum hourly pay rate. So, even though I was really looking forward to a few days off, I found myself unable to say no when a girlfriend from Arizona called with an offer to work a loathsome 3-day corporate gig at a hotel out in the suburbs.

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ugh

The gig sounded super easy, so I said yes…and so the next three days of my life were swallowed up by a hideous royal-blue polyester long-sleeved polo shirt bearing the logo of a certain consumer electronics giant, which was having its national sales conference at the J.W. Mariott in Summerlin. They had hired a dozen or so staff to assist with directions and event facilitation and whatnot, and it was really a very easy gig…but exhausting nonetheless, as I was on my feet all day, every day. Also, the girl who got me the gig asked me if she could stay at my place for the duration of the event — since she lives in Arizona, she couldn’t really drive back and forth every day. Of course I said yes, and honestly I didn’t mind…but it was still tough having to be “on” even when work was over, and I just wanted to go home and get baked in solitude.

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d’oh!!

To make matters even worse, the weather that week happened to be amazingly gorgeous – in the upper 70s, sunny, fabulous. But I had to spend all day, every day cooped up in that hideous polyester shirt in the bowels of the J.W. Mariott. Oh, well. At least it was only for three days — the miserably henpecked, harried-looking salespeople at the event were in it for life. SHUDDER!!!!!!!

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Mmmm!!!

After the sales conference ended, I still had a few days off to enjoy — but guess what happened?? Yep, someone else called with a job offer — this time, just a couple days’ worth of quickie little in-store liquor sampling events for one of my all-time favorite liqueurs. Hang out in a liquor store for 3 hours and pour free samples of delicious booze? How could I say no to that?!?!? So again, on my days “off” I found myself suiting up in a fluorescent branded crop-top, pouring shots of RumChata and this amazing new liqueur called TippyCow, which is a delicious rum-based cream with flavors like orange creamsicle and shamrock mint. YUM!!! At one of the stores I worked at, there was another chick pouring samples of this horrifying new drink called Viniq that is made of grape vodka and moscato…and has shimmery flakes in it, so when you shake the bottle it starts sparkling like a hideous sparkly purple lava lamp. OMG…..how gross is that?!?!?!? But astonishingly, she sold a shit ton of it…just going to show, you can never trust peoples’ taste.

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Vegas Bimbo
pic by Shutterbug-Studio

So anyway, by this time I was getting really stressed out from all the work and commitments — I mean to tell you, I have been going balls out the past 12 days!! Aside from the above-mentioned gigs, I also found time to record an interview with these cool people who are making a sort of Vegas-based “This American Life”-type podcast….plus another day I did a Vegas Bimbo shoot with my friend Randy, and then another day I did a shoot as a mermaid out on one of the dry lake beds. I didn’t even get paid for the mermaid shoot — I did it “TFT,” as in…”Trade For Tail,” as the photographer bought me this amazing mermaid tail in exchange for shooting in it, LOL! So, once I FINALLY get around to finishing my amazing mermaid headdress, I’ll have a bad-ass new costume to add to my arsenal icon smile Weed and Wine and Ferrante & Teicher

See, I’m not all about making a buck — aside from the TFT shoot, I also did a pro bono gig as a showgirl for my magician friend — the guy who had hired me for the world finals of indoor archery event. I felt I owed him a favor after that well-paid assignment, so when he asked if I could come hang around his booth at this women’s expo at Bally’s one night in my showgirl costume, of course I said yes.

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Suck ‘er in and stick ‘em out!

It ended up being totally fun — free booze was flowing, the Cointreau babes were handing out free shots as well, and there were all kind of local kooks and nut-jobs hanging out schmoozing. My partner at the magician’s booth was this amazing miniature Elvis impersonator — a lecherous, swarthy Greek Little Person who is married to a mini Marilyn Monroe impersonator. How fabulous is that?!?!?  The only bad part of the gig was, I had come directly from the corporate sales conference thing I’d been working at the J.W. Mariott, which had the most amazing, abundant catered breakfasts, lunches and snacks…so I was bloated like a zeppelin from all the French toast, sausage, scrambled eggs, tortellini, prosciutto slices, mini-cheesecakes and Rice Krispie Treats I had been snarfing down all day (and indeed for the past three days of the entire event). Thank dog I do all those ab exercises at the gym, so I was able to suck ‘er in with a modicum of success, and somehow pass myself off as a showgirl…not a blimp.

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I try

Anyhoo, as mentioned this 12-day marathon of merriment, money, free food & booze was fun, but the constant whirlwind activity left me totally stressed out, and unable to sleep. No matter how much weed I smoked, wine I drank or Ferrante & Teicher I listened to, nothing could calm my racing thoughts down at night, and I found myself lying in bed, toes twitching and tapping as I thought of all the millions of things I had to to the next day, and tried to figure out a way to squeeze them all in while still making time for the gym and my daily hygienic ablutions.

So finally, sadly, I admitted to myself that I simply cannot say YES to everything anymore. Saying YES has been my policy ever since 2010, when a fortune cookie at TAO told me “Those Who Say Yes Have More Fun…” but I should have known not to take the advice of a doucher-ass place like TAO, anyway! Ever since adopting that policy, I’ve had a TON of fun and amazing adventures…but I’ve also become an insomniac basketcase!!!!

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mermaid

Now, I certainly don’t plan to stop having adventures — that goes without saying! But my new policy is to only say YES to exceptionally amazing things. And when it comes to work, I plan to only accept bookings of a certain total pay rate. I’m just one frail human body….I can’t be everything to everyone, everywhere, at all times. Even though I really wish I could!

And speaking of exceptionally amazing adventures…in T-minus 48 hours I’ll be off on another one: it is finally time for my long-anticipated road trip around the state of Nevada, in which I plan to definitively answer the age-old question: “Is there anything between Vegas and Reno?” I’ve driven up and down U.S. 95 many times, but the time has finally come to stray from the beaten path and get all up in the barren wastelands of central and northern NV. No secret government bunker, no Hills-Have-Eyes meth lab, no dusty, sun-baked brothel will escape my scrutiny…..WATCH OUT YOU INBRED FREAKS, WONDERHUSSY IS ON THE WAY!!!

But in the meantime, I’m going to lounge around the house in my caftan listening to Ferrante & Teicher…and relax!!!!

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Wanderhussy: Arizona Edition!

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that’s what’s up

Have you ever wondered what my life is really like? Well, I’ll tell you: there is so much shit going on all around me, all the time, that it’s like being trapped on a broken treadmill that’s stuck on the fastest speed, and it’s all I can do to keep up with the breakneck pace. If I let go and zone out for one second, the treadmill will send me flying across the room, to land on the floor in a broken heap…so I have to stay constantly vigilant, checking Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr and my blog and my email and my text messages every hour so that I don’t miss out on the next gig…or the next big adventure!

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I don’t “chill”

Between work, hustling for work, cleaning and maintaining my house, cleaning and maintaining my car, cleaning and maintaining my face and body, and squeezing in adventures here and there and then finding time to blog about it…there isn’t much room for error. I never spend an evening sitting around “just chilling” — and why would I want to? If I have free time, I’m going to use it working on one of the bazillion projects I have percolating in back of my mind. I have a caftan than needs embellishing, a cinderblock wall that needs muraling and/or mosaic-ing, and a million ideas for cool photos I need to make props for. But some people don’t understand this, and get offended when I don’t have time to come over to get high and “just chill.” Sorry everyone, but I’m not that kind of gal!!

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What’s this?? Read on…

In fact, there are times when I want to just tell everyone to leave me alone — Wonderhussy is closed for business! And in fact it would probably actually behoove me mentally to set “business” hours for myself — like, I can be Wonderhussy from 10am-8pm, but after that I am closing shop and will not be available. I need ME time, to just chill in bed with my pipe and read…or to look at pictures of baby animals on Twitter, or play Words With Friends. (It’s my way of relaxing…don’t judge!)

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way because there is always something amazing going on that lures me from my retreat. Like for instance, I was supposed to head out of town on a ten-day road trip to Arizona with my sister on the 20th, but it turned out that the porno movie I was in the week before, Titty Heist, was filming Part II on the morning of the 20th…and how could I say no to being in Part II of Titty Heist?!?! So I made my poor sis wait around while I hustled over to the studio and shot until 2pm, playing a bank teller who was taken hostage by a sex-crazed big-titted bank robber whose only demands were a helicopter and a pilot with a big dick who would fuck her up the ass — NOW. Thankfully, her demands were met by a donut-munching, well-hung Latino hostage negotiator who sent a bottle of lube rolling into the bank just in time for me to run out the door, jump in my truck, and get the fuck out of there before anything else exciting could happen to distract me from my long-anticipated road trip. Whew!!!!!!!

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on set

Meanwhile, I hadn’t even had time to pack for this roadtrip, because I was booked solid the prior four days, working on a movie with my friend Dr. Kildare. You might remember Dr. Kildare as the doctor who accompanied my sis and I to Saline Valley Hot Springs back in October — a retired oncologist, desert enthusiast and super nice man, who come to find out has also long harbored a secret desire to be a filmmaker. All this time he was just looking for the right story to turn into a film, and guess what? My fucked-up life inspired him!! After our Saline Valley trip, he went straight home and wrote up a fairly in-depth script for a sort of surrealist art-house type movie loosely based on my wacky adventures, and then hired me to work on it with him for four solid days in January. Awesome!!!

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Whaaaaaat?!

Now, I really didn’t know what to expect — all I knew was he was paying me to be in this movie, but beyond that I had no idea what kind of movie (well, I knew it wasn’t going to be Titty Heist III…but other than that, no idea). But meanwhile, in the days leading up to our shoot, all these awesome props started arriving on my doorstep: a giant multicolored fuzzy bathrobe, a ventriloquist’s dummy, a French-existentialist-style black beret. WTF?!

But when I finally went over to his hotel room for the first day of our shoot, I was completely bowled over by his level of professionalism. Not only had he cultivated an extremely directorly beard since I’d last seen him, but he had also gone out and bought all this amazing professional-grade audio and video gear, and had mapped out fairly precisely what we were going to shoot, and when, and where. I’m here to tell you, this man has an extremely arty vision for this film (working title: Wonderhussy), and it’s not just going to be some kind of two-bit YouTube bullshit hack job. Hell, no — he plans to submit this shit to Sundance, motherfuckers!! I’m not kidding!!!!!

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Still from Wonderhussy: the movie

So for four days, we worked together morning to night, shooting footage all over the Vegas valley and the surrounding desert — from the trap shooting range on the edge of town all the way down to Fremont Street (I’m telling you, this movie is gonna be far out!!). The stuff we shot down on Fremont Street was particularly inspired: the script called for me to ride my beat-up old Burning Man bike downtown, in my showgirl costume, with the ventriloquist dummy (who happens to be an existentialist named Jean-Paul, hence the black beret) strapped to my back, looking for my alcoholic ventriloquist philosophy-school-dropout boyfriend, with whom I’m supposed to go busking.

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While filming, we ran into another ventriloquist busking on Fremont Street!

I thought for sure we’d get hassled by the dumb-ass security guards down on Fremont Street, since you can’t even fart without getting a permit down there first….but Dr. Kildare is sly as fuck, and was able to sneak footage using a Go Pro and a second camera on a discreet knee-level handheld mount, so none of those assholes were the wiser, and we got all the shots we needed without any problems at all. Better yet, I even made about $10 posing for photos with tourists just while standing around between takes — even though it was a Monday night, and right after a holiday weekend, and I had on a pretty amateurish costume with a ventriloquist dummy strapped to my back…it didn’t seem to matter to anyone! People down there just don’t give a fuck!!!

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Shooting another scene at the trap shooting range outside town

It was kind of inconvenient, though — we were trying to discreetly shoot a scene, but people kept coming up to me and asking for photos, ruining take after take. Finally the scene cleared out and we were just getting ready to roll…when out of nowhere an entire busload of Korean tourists came along, and every single one of them wanted a photo!! It was straight surrealism of the highest order. 

But even better was this drunken white trash couple who came stumbling along. I posed for a photo with the guy, and they gave me a few bucks…but then they came stumbling back a moment later with another request: “Hey, can we take some sexy pics for our homeys doing life in federal prison?” Who am I to say no to that?! Again, I don’t think they even noticed the fact that I had an existentialist-beret-wearing ventriloquist dummy strapped to my back…they just snapped away as I stuck my ass out and winked over my shoulder, Betty Grable-style. For the Boys!!! And I must say…I am oddly touched by the notion that someday soon, in some federal prison somewhere in America, a lifer may be jerking off to a photo of me in my showgirl costume, with an existentialist ventriloquist dummy strapped to my back. Talk about surreal!!

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Dr. Kildare takes his medicine

Anyway, we celebrated wrapping the first part of filming (he’s coming back in March to shoot part 2) with a meal at the Heart Attack Grill…where the nurse-waitresses paddle you if you don’t finish your meal. Poor Dr. Kildare didn’t eat his whole chili dog, so guess who got a severe spanking?!?! It was comedy gold!!! Meanwhile, I sat back and sipped on my Captain Morgan and Coke, which they serve to you in a prescription bottle full of rum, alongside a glass-bottled Mexican Coke made with real sugar. It’s that kind of place!

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A Captain & Coke, Heart Attack Grill-style

So anyway, look for this amazing masterpiece of a movie coming soon — I’m telling you, it’s gonna be great! Dr. Kildare said he was inspired to write this movie about me because he has always been a big reader and fan of literary writers (!), and when he stumbled upon this blog he was taken not only with the quality of my writing, but with the picaresque nature of my story. I had to look up the term “picaresque,” and I have to say — he really hit the fuckin’ nail on the head!! If my life ain’t picaresque, I don’t know what is. Good looking out, Dr. Kildare!! Check out this scene from the movie where I explain what “picaresque” means.

So, aaaanyway….I spent four days shooting the movie, and I kept meaning to go home afterward one night and start packing for my roadtrip, but shit kept coming up — the treadmill never stops!!  One night, my girlfriends from Arkansas were all in town for the gun show, so I had to go meet up with them for dinner — and they were all in a tizzy because one of them had gotten arrested that morning at the Little Rock airport for forgetting that she had her pistol in her handbag when she went thru the security checkpoint. D’oh!!!! They booked her into jail, but brought her back to the airport just in time for her to catch the next flight to Vegas, so everything worked out OK, and we were able to enjoy a fabulous meal at Casa di Amore, a cool old-timey Italian restaurant off-Strip on the east side.

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Wandering the desert after a rain, enjoying the smell

Then another night, these producers were in town from L.A., scouting around Vegas looking for the next big reality show subject. Several people they talked to referred them to me, so I went downtown and met them for a quick drink to see what was up. Boy, were they amazing — kinda like the Pet Shop Boys! The main guy was super-enthusiastic and super-effusive, in a tweedy blazer and a dramatically draped scarf, and his cadaverous sidekick hung around in the background in a pair of David Lynch-type tortoiseshell sunglasses and a sort of Eraserhead hairstyle. WOW!!! They seemed to dig me and my shtick, but when they asked me what I do, I had no real answer: “Uhhhh…..I just kinda roll around, having adventures,” I answered lamely. I don’t think that squares very well with reality TV — they want a barbershop or a ghost-hunting service or a hooker who rescues abused animals, or something middle America can get behind…ya know?? A picaresque drifter — even a nude piacaresque drifter — is a little hard for most people to identify with. 

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In a bookstore

Anyway, they seemed to enjoy meeting me, and left me with the exhortation to start shooting more YouTube videos — so from now on, my 2015 resolution is to upload more videos to my YouTube channel. Alas, I have already failed miserably in this endeavor, as I intended to film all kinds of fun stuff on my Arizona roadtrip…but didn’t end up shooting a damn thing :/ For some reason, it’s a lot easier for me to write about my experiences, and to take still photos. But making videos or vlogs is something I really do want to get into, so for February I swear I will make it my mission to shoot more videos. I swear!!!

So anyhoo, about this roadtrip. My sis and I had planned to take ten or eleven days and just cruise around the entire state of Arizona, starting with the fabulous Quartzsite swap meet and then heading south from there in search of warmer climes. But like I said, I hadn’t had any time to pack or get ready…so after wrapping Titty Heist II, I ran home, threw a few shirts and a couple caftans in a bag, grabbed my sleeping bag and tent, a few extra blankets and some firewood, and then jumped in her car and headed out around 4pm. A late start for a roadtrip, but whatever…I do what I can!

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T-shirts for sale at a truck stop off I-40

Since we’re both on a shoestring budget, our mission on this trip was to be cheap as fuck and camp out for free as often as possible — my sis sleeping in the back of her 4 Runner, with me in my little $20 WalMart boy scout tent beside her. Fortunately, there is a ton of BLM (Bureau of Land Management, a/k/a Federal Gov’t-owned public-use land) in Arizona, so finding free campsites was pretty easy — you’re allowed to camp out on BLM land for FREE for up to 14 days, and even longer in some places! I used this awesome website called Freecampsites.net to find all our overnight spots, and it worked out amazingly well.

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At Redneck’s BBQ in Kingman, AZ

The first night, we rolled into Kingman, AZ around dark and stopped for dinner at this shitty little BBQ joint. Since gas is so cheap these days, the main expense of our trip was meals — we could have been super-cheap and subsisted on camp-stove ramen, but I feel like half the fun of exploring new places is checking out little hole-in-the-wall diners and shit. So we budgeted about $30/day for food, and hit up one restaurant per day based on whatever good Yelp reviews we could find that only had a one-dollar-sign rating. We had a lot of Mexican food, let me tell you!!!

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Camping at Craggy Wash

Anyway, the first night we camped in the desert north of Lake Havasu, at a BLM site called Craggy Wash. It was awesome!!! Because the winters are so mild in southern AZ, thousands and thousands of Canadian and northern U.S. retirees (a/k/a snowbirds) come down every year and camp out in the desert all season long, most of them in ginormous, swanky RVs…but a good number of them also in crazy bugged-out rigs that appear to be held together by little more than Social Security and Fixodent. Particularly in Quartzsite, the desert is so choked with RVs that it looks like a geriatric Burning Man — this is a town whose population swells from just over 3,000 to over a MILLION in January/February. It’s FAR OUT!!!

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The Olde English shtick is thick at Lake Havasu

Before rolling on to fabulous Quartzsite, we began our Great American Looky-Lou Extravaganza in Lake Havasu City, a dusty little desert burg on the shores of a giant blue lake that is inexplicably spanned by a chunk of the original London Bridge, imported by some crafty real-estate developer in the hopes of luring tourists and retirees to this quiet Mormon town. The Olde English shtick is pretty thick down there — it’s surreal! I guess Havasu is also a real Spring Break paradise, as there are a ton of waterfront bars and nightclubs, but at the time of our visit it was pretty quiet. We stopped in for a pleasant visit at the home studio of a photographer I had shot with once back around 2009, and then headed south to find our next BLM campsite.

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Geriatric Disneyland

Now, I had been to Quartzsite once, back in 2010, on the advice of a crusty old camp host up on Mt. Charleston…and I had such an amazing time back then that I’d been wanting to return ever since! Basically, the whole town becomes one giant swap meet during the winter months, with tents and tables and sheds erected in every parking lot, full of dusty, musty, fusty weird old crap for sale — for cheap! If you’re into gems, they also have a big gem and jewelry show…but I was mostly there to look at random crap — that’s my bag!

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Camping on Plomosa Rd.

Moreover, the town is basically surrounded by acres of BLM land, which is the main reason all these shoestring gypsies hang out here selling their wares all winter. My sis and I set up camp out off Plomosa Rd., on the banks of a beautiful little wash, surrounded by the comforting hum of RV generators, and then headed to town to see what was up.

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Quartzsite….ever the same

Nothing had changed in Quartzsite since my last visit — it was still basically Disneyland for shoestring gypsies! My recommendation is to cruise into town, get yourself a bottle of Captain Morgan at the Roadrunner Market and a fountain soda at the gas station, add lime and mix well, and then wander the acres and acres of tablesful of crap, enjoying a gentle buzz and the gentle winter desert sunshine. It’s amazing — you never know what you’ll find!

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Tom Clancy?!

My only complaint this year was that the weather was too cold and windy to rock my fabulous psychedelic caftan, so I had to cobble together a new look: ’80s Midwestern trucker chic. This look involves jeans, plaid shirts, boots, aviators and of course, a trucker cap…on which I splurged $10 for a custom-embroidered Wonder Hussy version of at one of the swap meet booths. To really complete the look, I needed a puffy blue nylon vest…but no matter how many thrift shops I scoured up and down the entire state of Arizona, this magical item eluded me. Damn!! Without it, I ended up just looking like Tom Clancy. Oh well!

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Awwww! I love Paul Winer so much!!

Besides the swap meet, the other really cool thing in Quartzsite is this amazing used bookstore called Reader’s Oasis. It’s chock-full of fabulous dusty old paperbacks, meticulously organized and categorized by the owner, a wonderful retired nudist named Paul Winer who used to tour the country as a nude boogie-woogie pianist, but now lives out his days selling books in the warm desert sun, in the nude, posing for photos with nosy tourists icon smile Wanderhussy: Arizona Edition! His only concession to winter’s chill was a sweater and socks, and his only concession to modesty was a crocheted cock-sock. That’s my kind of guy!!

Meanwhile, still performs on occasion, and in fact one night we went and caught his show at the Senior Center and he was amazing — even though he wore

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Miserable old crowd watching Paul Winer

a brown corduroy suit for the occasion. Back in the day when he was touring the country, he performed under the name Sweet Pie, and I can’t think of a better name for him — he has this gentle, sweet quality to him that is just wonderful. The other old farts in the room seemed to tolerate him OK — he did pack the house, but no one in the audience looked too excited about it. Old folk are weird that way — in my experience they came across as pretty grumpy a lot of the time, as though my sis and I were invading their turf or something :/

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McDonald’s in Quartzsite

Aside from that, Quartzsite doesn’t have a whole lot to offer, especially food-wise. One night we had burgers at the Quartzsite Yacht Club, an ironically-named nautically-themed but overall-meh little joint on the main drag, and then another night we had some sub-par Mexican food across town. The only really good meal we had was, astonishingly, at this pizza joint called Silly Al’s — I don’t even like pizza, but it was really good!

Moreover, their wine was cheap, so one night we met up with this girlfriend of mine who happened to be in town working one of the swap meet booths, and partied with a bunch of her swap meet colleagues. Oh my god, what a crazy crew of fucked-up freaks THAT was!

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Partying at Silly Al’s

These were all carny-type hucksters from the big tent on the Tyson Wells lot — the Main Event, as they call it, which unlike the rest of the swap meet is made up of booth after booth of brand-new, As-Seen-On-TV, made-in-China crap being hawked by a brigade of traveling three-card-Monte-eqsue shysters who travel from fairground to fairground, following the swap meet circuit across the USA. But while the merchandise they sell over there might be boring, the people selling it are fascinating — and really fun to party with! There was this amazing leathery, bosomy, tatted blonde biker lady who sold magnetic healing bracelets (“Put this on your wrist, honey. Now, watch what happens when I try to press your arm down!”), a baby-faced, candle-shilling Marine-corps stud who was the self-proclaimed “King of Scentsy;” and then this creepy mulleted Englishman named François who entertained us all with sleight-of-hand card tricks as we boozed and danced the night away. It was like partying with the Muppets, if they were alcoholic carnies. GOOD TIMES!!!!!!!!

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Lipstick lesbian truckers!

Anyway, after three days in Quartzsite it was time to get the fuck out of there and see the rest of the state. On our way out, we stopped at the local Pilot truck stop to charge our phones and primp, as had become our custom — we would cruise to the truck stop in the morning, get some delicious Pilot house blend coffee and then hang out in the dining area by the showers, putting on our makeup while our phones charged up. Shockingly, they charge $12 for a shower at Pilot (!!) so we never did splurge on that (although we did consider sharing one)…but that didn’t mean we had to be total slobs, and many’s the morning we sat there tweezing our eyebrows under the bemused gaze of a trucker or two: “What?? You’ve never seen someone curl their eyelashes at a truck stop before?!” All this truck-stop primping gave us the idea for this awesome B-movie, in fact: two lipstick lesbian truckers on the lam from the law! Maybe I’ll see if Dr. Kildare wants to make that movie next, LOL!!!

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the beautiful Sonoran Desert at sunrise

From Quartzsite, we headed on south down to Yuma, where I scored a couple more plaid shirts for my trucker look for 50 cents apiece, and then on to the U.S.-Mexico border down near the town of Why, Arizona, where there was a BLM camping area just outside Organ Pipe National Monument. It was a beautiful desert — the Sonoran Desert is totally different from my beloved Mojave, with all kinds of wacky cacti and animal life that you just don’t see up here, like saguaros (the iconic cactus you see in cartoons) and javelinas (little wild pigs).

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Yikes!!

The only buzzkill was all the travel warning signs about illegal smuggling in the area — you really have to keep your wits about you, down there. Even in Organ Pipe National Monument, they warn you to stay away from any individuals you encounter carrying black water bottles — apparently, drug smugglers have taken to painting their life-sustaining water bottles black, to avoid being detected when a light reflects off it as they’re sneaking across the border. FAR OUT! This one poor park ranger down there was even murdered about ten years ago, when he challenged a group of them. It’s no joke!

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In a hater-ass coffee shop in Ajo, AZ

Anyway, we survived the javelinas and smugglers and whatnot and headed on our way the next morning, stopping for coffee/phone charging/primping at a cool-looking little coffee shop in the town of Ajo. The place looked cool — a freaky mural of some murderous rabbits on the wall, a framed painting of Willie Nelson inside — but I’m here to tell you, the atmosphere was frosty as fuck! The lady running the joint was extremely unfriendly, and the other old folk hanging out inside weren’t too chummy, either…this despite the fact that my sis and I were unfailingly polite. Whatever! We had two cups of their shitty house coffee and got the fuck out, headed for Tucson, where we had arranged to meet up with Dr. Kildare, who was on his own little roadtrip on his was back to Atlanta.

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Clean jeans in Tucson!

Alas, the weather turned shitty so Dr. Kildare bailed out, and my sis and I got a room in town so we could finally take a shower, then hit up a laundromat to wash our funky jeans and all the thrift-store plaid shirts we’d been accumulating. We checked out the little hipster area in downtown Tucson, and it was actually really cool — lots of cool art everywhere, and this amazing mosaic mural that gave me the idea to paint the cinderblock wall in my barren back yard here in Vegas. We had a drink at the amazing old Congress Hotel, and then had a FABULOUS lunch at this divey sandwich shop called Bison Witch…and then we headed north of town, where a friend of mine had offered to let us camp on a swath of desert he owns.

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Soggy camping outside Tucson

My friend’s property is waaaay out in the boonies, so the directions to get there were a little sketch: “Look for the anamorphic rock art; if you see my shipping container, you’ve gone too far.” But my sister’s 4Runner made it like a champ, and we set up camp and enjoyed some delicious peppermint-schnapps-laced hot cocoa by the campfire before the fucking rain started in, and we retreated to our sleeping quarters. Thanks to a spare rainfly my sis had brought along, I stayed cozy and dry all night…but in the morning, we had to hang out reading in bed awhile before the rain cleared and we could get out and pack up camp. But once it cleared, it was B E A U T I F U L !

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With a wacky busker in Tombstone

From Tucson, we cruised down south to the classic old-tyme tourist trap of Tombstone…which was actually amazing! I’m a sucker for tourist shtick anyway, so we wandered around the old town area listening to the 2pm gunfight at the O.K. Corral  — they charge $10 to go inside the Corral to watch it, so we just listened. Some dude in a cowboy costume tried to talk us into buying tickets, but I was honest with him: “We can’t afford it!” I find that honesty is the best way to deal with salespeople — I mean, technically I had the money to watch it, but then I wouldn’t have been able to buy a drink and a burger at Bignose Kate’s Saloon, ya know?! I have my priorities!

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With a fake cowboy in Tombstone

Bignose Kate’s was OK — as expected, thick with old-West shtick, waitresses in saloon-gal getups and some old fart singing lite country covers onstage — so we ate up, paid up and then headed on down to our next free campsite, down in this super-remote flat desert field outside Bisbee. There isn’t much BLM land in that part of the state, but freecampsites.net showed this place called Starshine Desert, which is technically private property, but the owners let people camp there for free, as long as they clean up after themselves and bury their poo and whatnot.

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The gates to Starshine Desert

Starshine Desert is kinda tricky to find, but once you do it’s a pretty legit place! There were a few other campers parked nearby, but I think they were all abandoned — we didn’t see anyone else the whole time we were there, and only heard a pack of dogs or coyotes of something yelping all night. Overall a great place to stop, and I wholeheartedly recommend it — and thank the owners for their hospitality!!

After that we headed into Bisbee to check

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Bisbee!!

out the scene — and OMG, what a scene!!!! That town is my new favorite place, ever! It’s basically a little old copper mining town that was taken over by hippies and artists, built up on a hillside made of mine-fill, with crazy crookedy little streets full of funky boutiques and amazing bars and restaurants. We had the BEST meal of our trip there, at a place called Whyld Ass Cafe, that features all kinds of delicious vegan food as well as drinking water enhanced with chlorophyll.

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Street bum kids in Bisbee

Because it’s built on hillsides, there are also all kinds of crazy winding staircases leading up everywhere, so we got quite a workout walking around exploring everything. Plus, many of the walls are decorated with amazing graffiti and murals (adding to my cinderblock wall inspiration), so it’s a really neat place to explore. I bought this amazing pink caftan in one of the secondhand shops there, and all it needs is a bunch of crazy beads or appliques to something to make it really amazing — I need to gussy it the fuck up in time for it to be my 2015 Summer Caftan!!

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A lifelong dream, fulfilled

Anyhoo, from Bisbee we headed back up north, to camp at the Hot Well Dunes outside Bowie. My hot springs guidebook showed them to be a great camp spot, and we were really looking forward to a nice hot soak under the desert stars that night. On the way, we stopped at the über-tourist-attraction of ALL über-tourist-attractions — The Thing?, just off I-10 near Willcox, AZ. My friend whose land we’d camped on had given me a bumper sticker from The Thing? back around 2002 or so, and ever since then I’ve been DYING of curiosity to go there myself and find out just what exactly The Thing? really is!! It’s one of those “curiosities” that you pay $1 to look at…and all I’ll say about it is, it’s totally worth the $1 to get it. DO IT!!!

After basking in the majesty of The Thing?, we cruised up to the Hot Well Dunes and and set up camp for the night. It’s on BLM land, but they charge $3/night to camp out there….so not technically free, but close. Basically, it’s a huge swatch of gently rolling sand dunes dotted with creosote and desert scrub, criss-crossed with dirtbike trails from all the rednecks who hang out there racing around on their gas-powered toys. Right in the middle there are two concrete soaking pools and a couple of bathrooms — a pretty nice spot for $3!

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Sunset soak at the Hot Well Dunes

My only quibble with the Hot Well Dunes is, the pump that fills the pools from the source is solar-powered….so you can only soak while the sun is up, and then once it sets the pools drain out until morning. BOGUS!!!!! I’m sure they did that on purpose, to discourage nighttime revelry and hijinks in the pools….but come on, how lame is THAT? Also, the water at the source is supposedly 106 degrees…but by the time it fills the pools, it only feels like 102 or so…so it’s not really optimal for winter soaking. THIRDLY, nudity is not allowed when soaking…so, overall, I can only give the Hot Well Dunes a 3/5 on the Wonderhusy Hot Spring Ratings Scale.

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Campsite at the Hot Well Dunes

Still, we got there in time to enjoy a sunset cocktail in one of the soaking pools, and it was pretty cool. The desert down there is beautiful – not the Sonoran anymore, so no saguaros or anything, just gently rolling dunes with beautiful mountains in the distance.

The only bummer was having to deal with our wet swimsuits once we got out — it

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The soaking area at the Hot Well Dunes

was too cold to even really dry them out anywhere! There was hardly anyone else camping at the time of our visit, so in the morning, after breaking camp and packing the car, we headed back for a morning soak, once the sun was up enough to fill the pools again — this time in the nude. But, wouldn’t ya know it…along came a retired couple, and they were so abashed by our nudity that the husband wouldn’t even soak in the same pool as us, but went to sit in a half-full lukewarm puddle in the other pool, which wasn’t even full yet! His wife hung out with us, but you could tell our nakedness made her nervous, so we finally just got the fuck out of there. I don’t like to make other people uncomfortable, but I mean…really?!?! It’s been my experience at hot springs that the custom is, whoever is there first sets the clothing policy — and I’ve never had a weird experience like that, in all my soaking days. Oh, well.

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Wigwams on old Route 66!

After that, we cruised into the little redneck town of Safford to primp and whatnot at a Starbucks, before planning our next move. The weather had turned shitty again, with rain forecasted basically everywhere in the fuckin’ state…so our options were limited. My new friend Johnny Rockett, whom I met on the set of Titty Heist, had offered to let us camp on some undeveloped land he owns near Joseph City…but because of the miserable rain, we bailed on that idea and just got a room in Flagstaff for the night, instead. It was only $36 (!!), so what the fuck.

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Standin’ on the corner

On the way there, we made the obligatory pit stop in dogforsaken, economically blighted Winslow, AZ — notable solely for its inclusion in the lyrics of the Eagles’ “Take it Easy” (“I’m standin’ on the corner in Winslow, AZ/ such a fine sight to see/ it’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford/ slowin’ down to take a look at me”). The poor little town has tried to capitalize on that fact, building a monument to the song with a bronze statue of Glenn Frey or whoever standin’ on the corner, with a flatbed Ford parked nearby for photo ops….but overall it’s just overwhelmingly sad. We had planned to have a bite at the schlocky little Route 66 burger joint across the street, which is said to play Eagles music 24/7…but the damn place was closed!!! At 4pm on a Friday!!!! COME ON, WINSLOW — you have one thing going for you, and you fuck that up?????? Sad!

Anyhoo, by the time we rolled into Flagstaff it was pouring rain, so we just hit one last thrift store looking for a navy blue puffy vest, gave up, and met up with another photographer friend at his badass little studio in downtown Flagstaff, to discuss possibly setting up a daylong photography workshop sometime in the near future. Apparently, all the local models in Flag are totally square and won’t pose nude…so the plan is for me to come down from Vegas, shoot for the day, and split the proceeds with him. If you’re local to the area, or just plan on being in Flagstaff anytime soon, and want to shoot in his studio for an hour or two…hit me up! It should be a fun day icon smile Wanderhussy: Arizona Edition!

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Holy fuck!!!

The next morning it was still pissing rain, so we hung around the lobby of the Travelodge taking advantage of their free breakfast as long as possible. As far as free breakfasts go it was pretty piss-poor — just toast and English muffins and Nescafe, etc. — but they DID have an absolutely AMAZING, futuristic automatic pancake-making machine, the likes of which I have never seen in my life!!! It was astonishing — like something from the Jetsons; you simply pressed the “OK” button, and the machine spit out two perfectly formed little pancakes. YUM!!!!! I could not stop pushing that fuckin’ button…and consequently I ate way too many pancakes :/ I have seen the future, people….and it is delicious!

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Soggy Sedona

Our original itinerary had called for us to drive down to Sedona that day, to hike around and soak up energy from the various vortices said to pepper the area. In Sedona, a/k/a FlakeLand USA, a vortex is defined as a swirling center of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth, which if you hang around long enough infuses you with uplifting positive energy…or some such alleged New Age bunkum. A bunch of them  supposedly naturally occur in the Sedona area, which is why it’s known as a spiritual Disneyland (per lovesedona.com, LOL). I had my severe doubts, but wanted to check one out anyway, just to see what was up.

But it was pissing rain so hard, it made it difficult to feel anything other than soggy irritation!! I suppose it would have been one thing if it had been a sunny day, and I had

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Soggy and pissed off

been able to wear one of my hippie-dippie caftans, and swan about soaking up sunshine and positive vibes. But as it was, my sis and I slogged around the Airport Mesa vortex in the mud…and didn’t feel a damn thing except pissed off. Oh, well — the area is physically beautiful, full of breathtaking redstone cliffs and mesas and whatnot, so we definitely plan to come back later this spring or summer, when we can get baked or otherwise drunk and better commune with the spiritual energy of the Earth. You how it is — you have to be in the right frame of mind for that kind of shit. Which is baked out of your gourd on weed and/or mushrooms!!!!!

 

 

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Tree supposedly twisted by a vortex in Sedona

After tromping around Sedona in a fruitless quest for enlightenment, we headed on down the highway to Jerome, this super-cool funky old mining town that’s like Bisbee’s little cousin — only haunted, too! I’d been to Jerome before, on a biker roadtrip with my friend Muscles Manischewitz, and I was totally stoked to show my sis around all its funky little shops and boutiques….but, alas, it was still pissing rain, and kinda ruined the vibe. We had a bite to eat at this converted old hospital up the hill called The Asylum, and then got the fuck out of Arizona, headed back home a day early icon sad Wanderhussy: Arizona Edition! Nothing is fun in the rain…except Woodstock. Booooooo!!!

So, anyway, that was our awesome Arizona roadtrip. Because of all the free camping and cheap gas, I only spent about $400 for a 10-day trip — so guess what?! We plan to do it all again next month (February), only this time, we’re taking on Nevada! There’s plenty of BLM free camping up here, too, and I’ve always wanted to cruise around and check out the weird little towns between Reno and Vegas — places like Elko, Battle Mountain, Caliente and Ely. There’s all kinds of fucked-up shit going on in Nevada — and I plan to uncover it all!! Or as much as I can in ten days, since I have a shoot on Feb. 18th and another on March 1st, so I can only go between those dates.

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Mystery of the Desert….IT’S A WONDER!

But I’m really looking forward to it. If only I could find some publication willing to pay me to write about/photograph my experiences….now, that would be amazing, and I might even be able to stay gone longer. Oh, well….either way, it’s gonna be a blast. YEEEEEE-HAW!!!

 

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Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…

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photo by DespayreFX

2015 has barely begun, but so far….it’s looking a lot like last year. Unfortunately for my intellectual development (but fortunately for this blog), I haven’t matured much at all — though it’s barely two weeks into the new year, I’ve already been up to my same old tricks: boozing, smoking…and running around the desert naked. That’s right; though it’s only mid-January, with temps FAR below optimal…I already have two desert photo shoots in the can. So to speak!

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I don’t LOOK cold!
pic by DespayreFX

You might think that January is a bit early in the season for that kind of thing, and guess what… you’d be right! Though Vegas is in the middle of the Mojave Desert, and gets something like 364 days of nuclear-grade sunshine a year, I’m here to tell you that it gets cold as fuck here in the winter — and even rains on occasion. But sometimes you just have to sack up and be miserable in the name of art….or in the name of paying the electric bill :/ Nude models can’t call in sick because of weather — it just doesn’t work that way. If someone hires you to recline seductively on a cactus….by god, you recline seductively on a cactus, weather be damned. We’re like the post office: neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays us from the swift completion of our appointed rounds.

The first shoot of the year wasn’t bad, actually — a genial sci-fi enthusiast from Southern California hired me to go out to the desert with him and pose in the Princess Leia slave bikini costume one of my readers bought me awhile back. I had never gotten around to shooting any photos in that costume, because it was one of those cheapie deals where it looked way better on the website, but when it arrived, the plastic was all warped and fucked up…so I had sort of given up on it.

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…

But this Star Wars fanboy had two lady friends with him, both of whom had brought their slave Leia bikini costumes as well…and he wanted all of us to pose together, like a sort of Charlie’s Angels of Slave Leias. So I had no choice — I busted out my trusty heat gun, which I had originally bought to make my electric vagina codpiece, and set about de-warping the plastic on my slave bikini. Guess what? It actually worked pretty well!

So I cruised out to the desert and met this jolly trio at one of my favorite locations, out near Lake Mead. They turned out to be super cool people — a group of backcountry hot springs enthusiasts from the Inland Empire who enjoy adventuring around the desert in their free time, stopping to pose for artsy nude photos here and there. My kind of people!

The only difference between us was, the three of them apparently have some kind of actual careers going on…so the two women were unable/unwilling to pose nude anywhere with even the slightest chance of being seen by passers-by, for fear of risking their livelihoods (I didn’t ask what they do, but it must be pretty important). Which is why I proposed shooting at this particular location, which is waaaaaaaaaay out in the desert at a spot that normally sees little traffic.

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the cheesy costume bikini

Alas, the day of our shoot was a Saturday, and it happened to be a warm, sunny day to boot — so there were quite a few tourists and hikers out there wandering around, which made the other two women pretty nervous. We had to poke around for quite a while before we found a spot secluded enough to meet their standards — they didn’t even want to pose in the slave bikinis anywhere within eyesight of anyone. But we finally did find a hidden spot, and commenced to pose for a number of artsy Triple Slave Leia photos. Talk about a jackpot!! It was enough to make Bitcoin spew from the meatus of nerds and geeks across the land…especially when we took off our bras and did topless shots! We must have looked like some whacked-out intergalactic 1960s Phil Spector-produced girl group, chained up in some dive titty cantina on Tatooine, forced to sing Brill building schlock to aliens and wookiees 24/7. Far out!!!

DOUBLEPLUS ALAS, however…though the shoot went well, and everyone was happy, because the others have actual careers and reputations to protect, none of these photos will ever see the light of day. I know — as titillating the sight of three topless Slave Leias cavorting around the desert sounds, you’ll just have to use your imagination, because I will never be able to post anything here. D’OH!!!!! A great disservice to geeks and fanboys the world over…so sorry!!! 

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Nothing stops the Huss!
photo by DespayreFX

Anyway, that was a great, fun shoot, and the very next day I was back out in the desert again — at the exact same location, in fact, shooting with this crazy Canadian who had hired me for a full day. He’d booked the shoot quite a while back, and at the time I’d acknowledged the fact that it would likely be freezing fucking c-c-cold…but I agreed to sack up and do it anyway, because a little thing like frostbite doesn’t stop Wonderhussy! And it certainly doesn’t stop a crazed artist from Canada!!

Either way, at first I thought I was gonna be lucky — the weather at the Leia shoot had been really nice and sunny, and almost balmy. But of course the morning of the all-day shoot dawned overcast, drizzly and miserable…perfect shooting weather icon sad Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night... Again, it’s not like I can call in sick on account of weather; this poor guy had flown thousands of miles to come shoot in the desert, so it was now or never. Still….he did have a really nice 2-story suite booked at the Vdara, so more than a small part of me was hoping he would decide to bail on the desert and just shoot indoors.

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photo by DespayreFX

No such luck! You know these fucking Canadians — they have pure alcohol in their veins keeping them warm, and this guy in particular also had the fire of Art burning in his gut…so when I cruised over to pick him up Sunday morning, he was raring to go– inclement weather or no. D’OH!!!! We drove through increasingly heavy rain to the first location, where he was kind enough to allow me to curl up in caves and alcoves for the most part, staying semi-dry and semi-thawed…and I thought for a minute that I might actually survive intact.

But then we headed over to the second location, and I’m here to tell you, I have rarely been so cold in all my life!! The rain let up, but in its place, a biting cold wind came sweeping in, chilling me to the bone. I’m here to tell you, it is NO FUN AT ALL trying to look serene and elegant while a freezing desert wind blow straight up your ass — it’s all you can do to stop your teeth from chattering and your knees from knocking together! Let me tell you, I questioned my life choices more than a few times on that shoot.

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trying not to look cold!
pic by DespayreFX

It wasn’t all bad, though; the photographer himself was a super cool guy, and while en route to the second location, he had me stop on the highway to do one of those lonely desert highway shots, where I would stand at the side of the road, hitchhiking in the nude. I pulled over to the shoulder and parked, and stayed in the truck keeping warm while he got out and set up the shot, placing a little rock on the asphalt where he wanted me to stand. When he was ready, he gave the signal, so all I had to do was pull off my clothes, jump out, run over to the rock in my high heels and stand there “hitchhiking” with viciously clattering teeth for a few seconds while he blasted away as cars passed me by. All in all, I was only out on the highway for maybe 12 seconds tops…but guess what?!!? When I checked my Facebook later, I had a message from one of my friends: “Hey, were you hitchhiking naked at the side of U.S. 95 earlier today?!”

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Hi-Yo!!!
pic by DespayreFX

LOLOLOLOL!!!!!! Talk about a small world — you never know who is out there at any given moment! So I can actually understand the other two Leias’ reticence in posing nude the day before — you really never know who’s going to see you! Fortunately for me….I don’t give a fuck anyway, so bring it on. I don’t care who sees me naked!

Anyway, after that we ended up going back to his hotel to finish the shoot indoors…and we got some really, really cool shots! The Vdara is an exceptionally nice hotel for photo shoots — the decor is modern and really elegant, and the rooms have lots of windows, allowing for tons of natural light. I wholeheartedly recommend it to photographers…as do I wholeheartedly recommend shooting with this particular photographer to models — he goes by the photography name DespayreFX, and is a super nice guy, overall very considerate of my needs, plying me with coffee & Baileys and even treating me to a delicious steak dinner at the Circus Circus steakhouse (one of the best in town, actually!). Models, I personally vouch for him!

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mmmmm…cotton candy!

Now speaking of photographers, my New Year’s resolution was to up my game, photographically speaking, and start doing more technically complex, elaborate shoots with better production values. So with that in mind, I accepted the invitation of a well-known local Vegas showbiz figure who also dabbles in photography on the side; he messaged me one day after seeing my New Year’s Eve cotton candy photos, saying he had his own cotton candy spinning machine, and we should do a shoot where I was wearing a dress made of cotton candy.

HELLO! As mentioned last time, I have long been obsessed with cotton candy, so of course I said yes — plus, I had just finished crafting this amazing candyland-style showgirl headdress out of odds & ends from the Christmas clearance aisle at WalMart, and I figured it would fit the theme perfectly. I spackled on some makeup and hightailed it over to his McMansion, where his idea was to remove the housing from the machine so I could just spin my naked body around it as it flung hot, molten sugar into the air…using my body as a sort of cone, as it were, catching the flying sugar strands as I twirled around.

I had my doubts; it didn’t sound like it was going to work, to me — I figured the housing was necessary to properly form the candy floss strands. Well, imagine my surprise when I realized he was RIGHT — it worked!! I spun my naked body around the machine as it flung sugary strands onto me, and they really did stick and start to build up into a sort of dress-like mass. WOW!!! As soon as the candy had built up enough, we headed into the house where he had set up his lights and backdrop, and blasted away.

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mmmmm…transfats
pic by Randy Fosth

ALAS (another huge alas…that’s two in one blog :/), he messaged me later in the week saying the photos didn’t come out as he wanted…so I have nothing to show for my efforts. Thankfully, however, I had thought ahead and arranged to go over to my friend Randy Fosth/Shutterbug Studio’s house that same night, after the cotton candy shoot, to do a second set in my new headdress over there….so that I didn’t waste a good makeup job, in case the first set didn’t come out. Since I didn’t want to steal the first guy’s cotton candy idea, I hit the dollar store beforehand and bought a bunch of those colored jimmies they put s on donuts and ice cream and stuff…then covered my entire chest in them icon smile Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night... See for yourself — they came out fabulous!!! Good times!!! (Incidentally, models…I also vouch for Shutterbug-Studio. He shot my first nudes back in 2008, and we’ve been friends ever since.)

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Our Lady of Perpetual Wantonness
photo by Keri Pettit

Then another day, I did a shoot with this awesome local female photographer, Keri Pettit, for an online fashion magazine called Avant. The theme this month was flowers, so I came up with the idea of shooting me like a Catholic saint, surrounded by flowers, with a long Virgin-of-Guadalupe-style shroud around me…and to shake things up, a big red dildo in my hand. Sacrilicious!!! In line with my “better production values” vow, we spent quite a bit of time building the set and getting everything ready, but the photos came out killer, so it was totally worth it. I plan to print them out as labels, and stick them to those jar candles and give them out to people I meet as gifts. Our Lady of Sacred Wantonness — Patron Saint of Hussies Everywhere! You better pray, bitches!!!

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It’s hard to wear a pocket protector when you have no pockets!

We also did an amazing set with my new favorite prop — this über-cool pair of 1960s-engineering geek glasses I picked up at one of those cheapie clothing stores on the eastside. I have long been a huge fan of physicists (Richard Feynman is my #1 crush of all time….if you’re reading this from beyond the grave, Dick…call me!) so I decided to do a sort of tribute to them by posing for some geeky physics cheesecake photos — I went to the library and checked out pretty much every physics book they had, then hit up a thrift store for a short-sleeve button-down shirt and a tie. The end results were nothing short of fabulous, and I can’t wait to share them with you!!!

Now meanwhile, it wasn’t all fun and games, romping around the desert nude — I also had some boring-ass corporate gigs in there, too. It’s convention season again already, so that means I had to drag my ass down to the convention center for the annual torture-fest tradition known as CES, for three days of hell hob-nobbing with dorks and assholes (the kind of physics geeks who turn me on don’t go to CES, alas…although I did see a few hot nerds) (I like nerds).

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I’d rather be flexing my abs in the desert!
pic by DespayreFX

Worse, I had the same exact gig as last year, which you might recall turned out to be sooooo odious that I ended up taking mushrooms on the job the last day (read about it here). Well, this year was just as odious, but I somehow muddled through and made it out alive…barely. But it was a truly torturous three days, let me tell you. How the fuck do I get a FUN client for next year????

To make things even more boring, it just seemed like an especially dull CES this year — there weren’t even any really cool new gadgets being debuted. Most years there’s some hot new product that blows everyone away and steals the show, but this year it was just a bunch of novelty crap like quadcopter drones and this dumb dress made of robotic tentacles that would poke out at you if you threatened the wearer’s personal space. The most interesting thing on display was this hyper-realistic Asian android babe at the Toshiba booth, which I’m certain was built with a hyper-realistic super-tight vagina and anus…but that was really just about it. The rest of the show was just exceptionally lame this year!

The only thing I saw that really was cool (android anus aside) was at the Nikon booth. There, they had this amazing interactive photo booth set up with 48 Nikon D750s arranged in a circle, and when it was your turn you got to go in, stand in the center, and then on the count of three you would jump up in the air. A booth babe threw a handful of glitter on you at the exact moment the shutters all clicked, and then all the 48 photos were stitched together to capture you sort of floating in the air all Matrix-style, 360 degrees around. It was FAR FUCKING OUT…check it out by clicking on the photo (there are two different photos; be sure to scroll down):

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Those are without a doubt the coolest photos I have *EVER* taken, bar none!! But they were the only cool thing about the entire dumbass trade show, in my opinion…and I’m glad to put it all behind me. I hate working that fuckin’ show!

To make matters worse, I wrote a really funny piece about shrooming as a booth babe at CES, and submitted it to like 5 different editors at Vice.com….and none of them ever responded, so I didn’t even get any intellectual validation for my suffering icon sad Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night... I’m starting to freak out, people — ever since the paper I used to write for shut down last year, I haven’t written one single thing for pay, anywhere. You tell me — am I an engaging writer?? Or am I doomed to be a naked hack forever?!?! Time will tell…….

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driving to the porn set

Speaking of naked hacks, the following week I got a call to be a background extra in another porno movie that was being filmed here in town, at the studios of this one company that shoots a lot of stuff here. This was my third time as a porn extra, and it was just as much fun as the other times: this new production is a big-tit fetish movie, so the lead actress is this beautiful blonde with ginormous all-natural tits, who works as a loan officer at a bank. She gets into trouble with the bank manager over her low-cut outfits, and ends up conspiring with a wannabe robber who happens onto the scene just as she’s getting fired. Together, they end up robbing the bank and I guess he titty-fucks her somewhere along the way, as the working title of this masterpiece is “Titty Heist.”

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Too big to fail

Anyway, we shot part one the other day, and I have to go back next week to do part two — this movie has a lot of action and dialogue for a porno, LOL. I’m playing a bank teller, so I busted out my CES suit and my new engineer glasses again, and all in all I think it made for a very professional look…don’t you? icon smile Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night...

By now, I’ve worked with this crew a few times, and I have to say…they’re all amazing people. Super fucking nice, down to earth and totally unpretentious, one and all. My favorite is the director, this handsome, no-nonsense Gen-X type who makes up amazing dialogue on the fly, calls all the female talent “babygirl” and all the males “bro,” and who has an amazing screensaver made of selfies of him and his beloved bulldog, who he brings to the studio with him but keeps locked up in a special room, away from the riff-raff. Awwwww! It’s the details in life that get to me…how can I ever despair for humankind when there’s people like this running around?!?

Aside from the awesomeness of the crew, this time there were also some amazing background extras onset, as well. There was this one kid in particular who was straight out of some kind of soap opera — we’ll call him Johnny Rockett (his legal name was similar, but astonishingly even more awesome than that). Handsome in a sort of disheveled, dissolute John Taylor way, he ended up in Vegas by way of Iran, Russia and a Swiss boarding school from which he was kicked out for reasons unknown, but probably involving some sort of uppercrust shenanigans. A fellow Burning Man habitué, we had plenty to chat about between takes, and he turned out to be a pretty cool guy. Then after we wrapped for the day, he rode off on a shining Harley. L M F A O ! ! ! ! ! ! ! You can’t make this shit up!!!

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The one and only!

Now speaking of shit that can’t be made up…I’m pleased to announce here that I have begun a fabulous collaboration with another colorful local character, this guy who goes by Mister Tony. I first met Mister Tony a few years back down on Fremont Street, where he was strutting around in a chartreuse satin suit emblazoned with “MR. TONY” on the back…so of course I had to approach him and ask him what it was all about. Come to find out, he was once a German transplant in North Carolina, stuck in a humdrum engineering gig that was killing his soul…until one day he quit his job, moved to Vegas, branded himself as Mister Tony and set about making a living as an entertainer/personality/happy-maker. He even recorded a fabulous CD of amazing Dieter’s-Dance-Party-type tunes, which he gave me once when I was working at The Act nightclub. Check it out!!

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Mister Tony’s sick Audi

Anyway, to promote his new line of colorful women’s clothes, Mister Tony and his producer have decided to make a short film about the whole thing…and they asked me if I would star as the villainess!! We met up at a local Starbucks to discuss, and of course I said absolutely! We haven’t started shooting anything yet, but needless to say I am giddy with excitement over this opportunity. It’s going to be amazing!

So anyway, in between all this fabulousness, the year has gotten off to a great start. I even had time for a hike one day down to the Arizona Hot Springs, a/k/a Ringbolt Hot springs — the ones down by the Hoover Dam with the two-story metal ladder you have to climb up to access them. The springs and the ladder were totally destroyed in a monsoonal flash flood last September…but I am pleased to report that the pools have been beautifully rebuilt, and the ladder was even securely reattached to the rock face, although the handles at the top were broken off…so it’s kinda sketchy getting on and off. But still an amazing place, and the water was clean and hot icon smile Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night...

Now….looking back at everything I’ve done in just the past two weeks, you might be wondering when or if I actually find time to cook and eat food (aside from the steak dinner at Circus Circus, that is). Well, the answer is — I don’t!! And now I don’t even have to worry about it, because….I am supremely pleased to announce that my shipment of Soylent finally arrived!!!

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This represents a week’s nutrition (at 2,000 calories a day…for me, more like 9 days’ worth)

All corny dystopian sci-fi jokes aside, Soylent is this new food-replacement drink that was formulated by some crazy busy young hacker who never had time to cook/money to eat out, so he formulated this nutritionally complete beverage that you can just drink whenever you get hungry, and it fills you up without having to mess with flesh and leaves and shit. How progressive!! It’s sort of like gassing up your body with high-octane fuel, as needed — when you feel hungry, you drink a few hundred calories until the next time you feel hungry, at which time you top off your tank again. And because the drink contains nothing but nutrients, there isn’t much waste for your body to process…so you save even more time and money in the bathroom! A win-win, if I ever heard of one.

I ordered it back in like September or so, but because it got so much media buzz there’s a huge backlog of orders…so my order just finally arrived last week. Boy, was I excited!! This was right during my hellish experience at CES, so I was able to mix some up and bring it with me for lunch, saving me from having to shell out money on overpriced, unhealthy schlock at the convention center. It worked great!!! About 500 calories’ worth sustained me all day until around 7pm, at which time I ate normal food for dinner — I don’t intend to replace all my meals with it, just maybe 2 out of 3.

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mmmmm….breakfast

For those interested, here is my review: the taste and consistency is something like cake batter (this is version 1.3; earlier versions had taste issues, I hear)…only less sweet. Overall pleasant, and fairly thick. Easy to mix up and store, and so far I haven’t had any digestive issues — other users report gross flatulence, but I’ve been eating a high-fiber diet for years, so I guess my system is used to it, as it hasn’t been a problem. The cost breaks down to around $11 for 2,000 calories — so for me, about $9/day (if I were to eat nothing else).

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No more of this nonsense!!
pic by DespayreFX

So, what’s my overall take? I do find it useful and convenient, and will continue to use Soylent as a meal replacement when working trade shows, or hiking, or in other situations in which food is inconvenient. But to be perfectly honest, I feel like I would get bored if I ate it too often…and I also find that it’s frighteningly easy to consume too many calories. A few hundred here, a few hundred there…it adds up fast, unless you were to really ration it out and limit your intake. But in that case, I’d rather just stick to intermittent fasting, and save time and money that way — in a way, I’d rather not eat at all than drink something that is not really 100% satisfying, but has a significant amount of calories. For me, it’s more rewarding to eat something I really enjoy, less often. But that being said, I do find Soylent to be a useful addition to any busy nude model’s pantry!!

Til next time….see you in the desert!

 

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Wonderhussy’s Top 10 Adventures of 2014

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the vapors

Since my shroom-fueled street jamboree at San Francisco’s Santacon, it’s been a mellow last couple of weeks. I’m not much of a winter gal to begin with, and to make matters worse I was holed up at my mom’s house…a cozy little cabin in the redwoods, up near the Russian River in Northern California.

I always get bogged down in lazy mode when I stay at my mom’s, and I think I figured out why. Like I said, her house is in the middle of a deep, dark, primeval rainforest — in the winter, everything is

 

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My stone hasn’t rolled in so long, it’s starting to gather moss. Pic by my sis!

damp and drizzly and dripping with moss, and the woods are enshrouded in a thick misma of foggy mist that permeates your brain like a bad case of the Victorian vapors, numbing and lulling you into a pleasantly somnambulant state where all you want to do is sit by the fire and read. Ack!!!

At first, I tried to fight off the vapors by going hiking and adventuring around the area with my sister, who’s been living in my mom’s guest cabin until she figures out what she wants to do. But she was also dog sitting for her soon-to-be ex-husband while he travels to Israel, and for whatever reason they don’t allow dogs in many of the area parks, so we couldn’t go many places. BOOOOO!

 

 Wonderhussys Top 10 Adventures of 2014

a labor of love

Oh, well — since I was basically trapped in a cabin in the woods with nothing to do, I finally had the time to finish this present I’d been trying to make my mom for awhile now: a miniature replica of her cabin, that she could keep out in her garden like one of those kitschy garden gnome cottages. My mom has wanted to live in a cabin in the forest her entire life, and now that she finally realized her dream, I wanted her to have a memento of it in case she gets tired of the vapors and ends up moving.

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I also baked this gingerbread Rummelsnuff (rest of cookies by my sis)

I got the idea back when I worked that home & garden show in April or whenever it was — it took me that long to get it together! But I finally went to Michaels and got some balsa wood, craft glue and shellac, and spent many rainy/misty afternoons working on it in my sister’s cabin down the hill. It actually came out pretty good, and my mom loved it icon smile Wonderhussys Top 10 Adventures of 2014

Anyway, the rain and mist finally broke in time for Christmas, so we were able to have a pretty good time and even have a bonfire/picnic on the beach the day after the holiday. But despite my best efforts, I was never able to round up anything exciting to do on New Year’s Eve — I personally despise NYE and always have, but every year there’s this stupid pressure to come up with something amazing to do. In the past, I’ve usually worked one job or another…but this year I was off, so I thought I might be able to scare up some kinda crazy midwinter adventure involving mushrooms, astronauts, a hot spring, a dry lake bed or some monkeys and elephants or something. Alas, no dice — the only stuff I found was the usual dumb ass parties and nightclub b.s.

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my rib at the moment of cracking

So I ended up just heading back to Vegas, where at least I might be able to find a gig and make some coin off other peoples’ sentimentality. On the way back, I decided to attempt a three day fast — I’d read somewhere that doing so resets your immune system, with the bonus side effect of shedding unwanted Christmas cookie flab. I ended up only making it 37 hours, though icon sad Wonderhussys Top 10 Adventures of 2014 But on the plus side, I did manage to finally get back to the gym and lift weights — I’d been holding off since I cracked my rib wrestling (see above….shudder), but I got checked out by the doctor and she gave me the go-ahead (and confirmed that my rib did indeed appear to be cracked. NO MORE WRESTLING!!!).

So anyhoo, back in Vegas I hit up Facebook and Craigslist, looking for a New Year’s Eve gig. It’s pretty easy to find decent-paying work on NYE here in Vegas, since so many assholes bring their cash to town and the casinos roll it all out for their biggest gamblers with lavish, excessive parties, and I ended up getting a gig spinning cotton candy at one such party, at a very upscale hotel.

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spinning

In fact, I’m actually writing this on my break at that gig — I had to come down here early in the afternoon to practice spinning cotton candy, but then they gave us a 4-hour break before the party actually starts, and traffic is such a clusterfuck that it’s easier to just stay here at the hotel. So far, though, the gig has been amazing! I have long been obsessed with cotton candy; back in the day, my friend Turquoise had a cotton candy machine that he borrowed from a dentist, who had gotten it as payment for some dental work he did for a broke carny. Turquoise and I ended up hosting this fabulous cotton candy party where everyone dressed all in pink, and we picked the guests up at a local park, blindfolding them and loading them into a van so they wouldn’t know where we were taking them. The party location was actually the local Mormon church (Turquoise and the owner of the cotton candy machine were in the same Mormon ward), and the party was a real rager until the bishop of the church showed up and busted it, kicking us out icon sad Wonderhussys Top 10 Adventures of 2014 But what a great memory!!

Aaaaaaanyhoo, now I’m sitting here in a back hallway of a douchey Vegas casino, reflecting on the sad fact that for once in my life, I FAILED at scoring an adventure. How is this even possible?!?! Adventure usually finds me!! So while I’m sitting here stewing, I decided to look back at 2014, and come up with a shortlist of the most amazing adventures in a year filled with amazing adventure! It was tough to whittle it down to just 10, in fact…I had leave a bunch of stuff out.

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Jamming in Jack Kerouac Alley, in North Beach

10. Santacon!

I know it just happened the other week, but I’m telling you… that was one of the most amazing parties I’ve ever been to!!! I won’t dwell on it though, since I just wrote about it not long ago. Good times!

 

 

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Clowns

9. The Clown Motel!!!

Back in September I took a mini road trip into the darkest depths of central Nevada with my grouchy lady friend Ninotchka. We visited the World’s Meanest Bartender in Goldfield, stopped in at an abandoned brothel near Lida, and then spent the night HERE, at this fabulously creepy place in Tonopah!

Read more about it here.

 

 

 

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Hi mom!

8. Slumming with Bullet and Blondie at the Reno Bike Rally!

My friend Blondie invited me up to Reno to work this bikini bike wash with her and another chick, who turned out to be a midget redneck stripper who’d fallen on her head at the club one night, turning her into a raging bipolar maniac with a severe drinking problem, an openly carried (and fully loaded) pistol on the hip of her Daisy Dukes, and a propensity for “ruckussin’.” The bike wash ended up getting rained out…but Blondie and I figured out a way to rake it in anyway, dancing on this bar in downtown Reno…so it was all OK.

Read more here.

 

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Hiking in Pololu Valley, on the Kona coast

7. The Iron Man Triathlon!

The triathlon itself was bizarrely entertaining, but the rest of my time in Hawaii as the guest of Dr. Who was equally amazing!! Hiking, snorkeling, hobnobbing with elite sports-medicine doctors and their wives, carrying vomiting Frenchmen around on stretchers…surreal!

 

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The Empress and I!

6. Kayaking with the Empress!!

The last person on earth I would have expected to join my hippie friends and I on a shroomy excursion down the Colorado River was The Baroness — a legendary busty, boozy party girl who usually never even gets up before noon, let alone kayak down a river while sanitizing a busted toe with Old Crow whiskey. That bitch is truly badass! We camped out on the beach by the Arizona Hot Springs, scarred a troop of Boy Scouts for life, and washed it all down with Crowconut lattes. One of the best adventures of the year, for SURE!!! Read more here.

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hmmph!

5. The Jack Johnson Affair!

Back in June, this traveling musician who read my blog invited me to meet up with him at some hot springs in the desert. He turned out to be cool and very handsome, and relentlessly campaigned to get in my pants (which is why I insisted on sleeping outside his van, as in the photo). I resisted him awhile, then finally caved — and then he blew me off anyway, informing me that his “open relationship” was really a serious relationship. Lesson learned….Hmmmph!  Read more here and here.

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brrrr

4. Freezing my balls off with my frenemy, Alex!

Earlier in the year, I met a fellow adventurer named Alex who shares my love of mushrooms, the desert and hot springs. We went on a few adventures together, but since he was a terrible alcoholic at the time, they always turned into us getting into some kind of crazy horrible fight — as when he tricked me into camping out at Mammoth Lakes, in the snow!!! I almost froze my balls off, but it was worth it — soaking in a hot spring as snowflakes fall all around you is amazing! Just remember to keep your hat on, or you’ll have to sleep with freezing, wet hair icon sad Wonderhussys Top 10 Adventures of 2014

Read more here.

 

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Puertocitos hot springs

3. Burying my drugs in the desert while I visit Mexico!!

In the midst of my Jack Johnson debacle, I arranged to meet up with my sis down in Baja California, where we visited these amazing coastal hot springs in Puertocitos. But before crossing the border, I buried a little stash of weed and shrooms in Brawley, CA so that we could pick them up on our way back into the U.S., for the next stop on our trip, at Deep Creek Hot Springs. Read more here.

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the disco ball
by jonathan

2. The Dong and the Disco Ball!

Burning Man is always a fun time, but this year was even better because I ended up getting my period. Instead of letting it ruin my party, I tied a disco ball to my tampon string and went around freaking everyone out and making new friends! Plus, I had also just come into a huge bag full of rubber dongs and dildos, and I handed those out like candy on Halloween. FUN!!! Read more here.

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Breakfast with Kapt’n Rummelsnuff at the Cat Ranch

1. Rummelsnuff!!!!

Back in March, I went out to Wonder Valley, CA to party with some German artist friends at their crazy desert compound…and there I met this amazing electro-pogo singer named Kapt’n Rummelsnuff! I caught his show at the local dive bar, and then my sis and I helped him make his new music video, in which we feature as interpretive dancers. FAR OUT!!! Read more here.

 

So anyway, it’s gonna be pretty fuckin’ tough for 2015 to live up to all that………but you can count on one thing: I’M GONNA TRY MY DAMNDEST!!!!

See you next year icon smile Wonderhussys Top 10 Adventures of 2014

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A Mind That’s Weak and a Back That’s Strong

01 Album Cover 002B web 199x300 A Mind Thats Weak and a Back Thats Strong

pic by Randy Fosth

Let me clue you in to a dirty little secret of mine: I barely ever shave my legs! This might sound counterintuitive for someone who makes a living as a nude model, but the reality is…when your tits/ass/twat are on display, no one’s looking at your leg hair. Your shins could be as swarthy as Chewbacca’s, but as long as you have a bald or neatly trimmed pubis, you’re golden. Back when I used to give a fuck, I shaved my legs every other day, and my armpits even more…but now, I only bother shaving anything if I have a special shoot or a hot date. The rest of the time…well, you can call me Sascrotch!

But after spending 10 days in pajamas at my mom’s house over Thanksgiving, on my way back to Vegas I stopped for a 5-mile run in Bakersfield (yes, I’m

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Running in Bakersfield

that hardcore about fitness)…and as I ran along the scenic Kern River Trail, I noticed my leg hair had gotten so long, I could feel it rustling in the wind. Yikes!!! Once I got back to Vegas, I jumped straight into the shower and shaved the NorCal off.

The main reason I shaved was, I had this sort of fantasy wrestling gig booked the next day — a Canadian fetish site had hired me to play-wrestle some Amazon-type chicks, and I thought it might behoove me to look conventionally attractive for such work…or at the very least, make me more aerodynamic and provide less grip for my opponents. Say what you will about me, I do give 110% at every job I do…no matter how hopeless the outlook icon smile A Mind Thats Weak and a Back Thats Strong

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completely unrelated pic by Thomas Chee

But even though I’d shaved and moisturized and taken extra pains with my appearance that morning…when I woke up, it just turned out to be one of those days. I woke up with a case of the uglies: puffy face, swollen eyelid (I am prone to what I assume to be a sort of inexplicably unpredictable blepharitis from time to time, that makes my left eyelid swell up out of nowhere), and a general sort of malaise attributable to the fact that my Aunt Flo was banging on the door, on the verge of barging in at any moment. UGH!!!! I was not feeling very sexy.

Still, I sacked up, threw some skimpy sportswear in my bag and headed over to the hotel suite where the wrestling matches were to be filmed. As of yet, I had no idea what I was in for — I assumed it would be like the mudwrestling shtick I used to do, where it’s just fun and silly, chicks writhing around pretending to be badasses, but secretly semi-choreographed. No harm, no foul — all in good fun. HOW WRONG I WAS!

This particular wrestling fetish site (I don’t know the URL) is hardcore — all about seriously strong women wrestling each other for real.  Now, obviously, I’m not a real wrestler or even a very strong person — I lift weights mainly for aesthetic purposes, and have never been able to do even a single pull-up. But the guy who runs the site has seen me in action before, and knows that I’m fairly strong for my size, and scrappy. So he thought it would be a good idea to match me up with three bigger, stronger opponents as a sort of comparison exercise. The other girls knew I was a rank amateur, so the idea was they would go somewhat easy on me, while still putting me in my place.

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wrestling Megan Avalon back in the day

I had done something similar back in the day, when I play-wrestled this bodybuilder model named Megan Avalon for a different fetish site — but she was cool, and went totally easy on me, and didn’t beat me up or anything. This time, things were different. I had three matches, and if I was able to go the full 15 minutes each match, I’d make a cool $100 per match, so $300 total. I did have the option of tapping out halfway through a match, in which event I’d still earn $50 for that match….but hell, if I’m gonna do a job, I’m going all the way, dammit! Pain and humiliation be damned!!!!

So I changed into some booty shorts and a sports bra and faced off against my first opponent, Miss Daisy Ducati of San Francisco — a beautiful black girl with pink hair and long, strong legs. She toyed with me like a cat batting around a doomed mouse, but overall she was cool and didn’t come on too strong, and I survived.

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Daisy Ducati

After an hour or so break I went up against my second opponent, this MMA fighter named Mika or Meka something, who looked truly terrifying but wasn’t too bad — again, she batted me around and roughed me up, but at the end of it I emerged more or less intact, with just a little melted makeup (it gets sweaty, grappling around like that) and mussed hair. I was offered the option of another hour-long break, but I foolishly turned it down as I had another photo shoot I had to get to directly afterward…so I agreed to go ahead and wrestle my third opponent more or less right away, in the interest of saving time.

By now I was pretty winded, but had enough energy to attack this third match with a reasonable amount of

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Jolene the Valkyrie

gusto — I figured this opponent would be the easiest, as it was a local model I sort of knew, Jolene Hexx a/k/a Jolene the Valkyrie, a girl-next-door-type brunette who didn’t look too scary at all. But looks can be deceiving — that chick is strong!!! Maybe it was partly because I was already winded from my first two matches, but I was powerless in her arms — she crushed me! Her upper body was amazing, but it was her legs that really literally almost killed me — she got me in a scissor hold between her legs, and I honestly think she fractured or at least badly bruised one of my ribs, because as I sit here typing this over a week later, I’m still suffering :/ It was my fault, since I was trying to put on a good show and out of pride/stubbornness refused to tap out until I absolutely had to…at which time it was probably already too late.

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Apres-wrestling

Anyway, when that third and final match finally ended, I was a sweaty, miserable mess. My hair was matted, my makeup had almost completely melted off my face, and my puffy, swollen eye was watering, causing my mascara to run in a most unbecoming fashion. My neck was scratched and bleeding, my chin was scraped, and if my rib wasn’t fractured, then my ego certainly was. But what was especially astonishing to me was the mental anguish I was suffering — I knew it was all pretend, just fun and games for some man somewhere to jerk off to, and that I mustn’t take it personally — but I couldn’t help it; I felt really defeated. I got beat up once or twice by mean girls back in high school, and I guess the pain and humiliation of those defeats was still lurking somewhere in my subconscious, all along…just waiting for the opportunity to come rushing back. Dammit!!!

So I collected my $300 and limped out of that hotel room a total wreck, broken and defeated. What can I say…I’m a lover, not a fighter, so I hereby announce my retirement from all types of wrestling — mud, pudding, fetish or otherwise. It’s just not worth it!!! Not only is it mentally draining, but it’s physically very dangerous and I’m really lucky I didn’t permanently injure myself in a major way. Nobody wants to hire a paraplegic model!

Anyway, I didn’t have much time to stew about it because as mentioned, I had another photo shoot immediately thereafter; this super-nutty photojournalist who shoots for Magnum.com, Bruce Gilden, was in town shooting B & W portraits of Vegas Women, and he wanted to do me. I guess the point of the story was to show Vegas Women’s faces — not their tits or asses, as normally photographed…just their faces. You know…to show their depressing character.

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The fine work of Bruce Gilden

Well, I already knew Bruce and his shtick from back in 2011, when he was shooting a story on the foreclosure crisis and photographed/interviewed me at my old house, the one I ended up short-selling for a song to some assholes. I know his style: very unflattering Diane Arbus-type stuff that shows the ugly truth…and indeed, the shots he took of me back then were anything but flattering, and could in fact be more aptly described as pathetic and tragic.

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More fine work by Bruce Gilden

But I agreed to shoot with him again anyway, because I’m a huge fan of the ugly truth, and there I was: bruised and scratched and badly beaten from a wrestling match in a semi-seedy Vegas hotel room. How much more ugly truth can you get?!?  I’m all about documenting my fucked-up life, so let’s go. So, as soon as I got home from my wrestling fiasco (I did spend a few minutes fixing my makeup…I’m not that into the ugly truth, lol) I met Bruce and his assistant in the street in front of my house, and we bullshitted awhile before he finally snapped one frame of my face. I haven’t seen it yet, but he literally only took one frame…so I’m sure he knew what he was doing. That guy is legit as fuck — he was even featured on Vice.com as one of their favorite photojournalists, and all that lucky fucker does is travel the world photographing interesting people/freaks on commission for Magnum. What a killer gig!!!

Once Bruce and his assistant left, I tried to go about my business as best I could — I had planned to hit the gym for a weightlifting sesh, but my body was so sore from wrestling that I had to skip it, and just limp around to the bank and the post office and stuff like that instead. I tried to take ‘er easy, as the next two days I had 10-hour gigs booked as a mascot at some Sony PlayStation event, and I needed my strength for that.

But the next morning I woke up feeling even worse — like a busted-up old rodeo cowboy, with aches and pains in my neck, shoulders, ribs and my left foot, which hurt so bad I was afraid it might be broken. The last thing I felt like doing was stumbling around all day in a heavy, hot, unwieldy mascot costume…but I hated to bail on a gig at the last minute, and I needed the money, so I creaked out of bed and got ‘er done.

Besides…limping to work, I thought of all the construction workers and ditch diggers and bronco busters across America who wake up feeling that way every morning, but simply pound some aspirin and get to work. America™: Brought to you by Ibuprofen!  As the daughter of a laborer and the granddaughter of cotton-picking migrants, physical suffering is in my blood — I come from a long tradition of people who made their living using their bodies…and while I don’t generally do labor-type jobs, just like them, my income is tied to my physicality nonetheless.

Incidentally, I find it ironic that it’s socially and morally acceptable for laborers, cowboys and athletes to make money with their bodies…but not prostitutes. WHY IS THIS? Why is using one’s vagina/anus/mouth to make money worse/more shameful than using one’s back/shoulders/arms? It’s all the same stuff — muscle and blood and skin and bone, a mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong. If I had rented my vagina instead of my ribs, I’d have been in a lot less physical pain the next day/week/month. You don’t hear any call girls singing “You suck sixteen dicks, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.” But because there’s such an inexplicable taboo surrounding sex work, I’d still probably end up facing a world of pain — only psychic, not physical. Again, WHY IS THIS?

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At the Sony PlayStation Experience

Aaaaaaanyway, as it happened, the mascot costume I had been assigned at the PlayStation event turned out to be super comfortable — the most comfortable costume I’ve ever worn as a mascot, in fact; basically just a morphsuit with a hooded cloak over it, and a sort of fencing mask over that. The only inconvenience was a slight stuffiness and poor visibility due to the mask, so I had to rely on my assigned handler to lead the way, following her around like a downtrodden, burqa-clad Muslim wife trailing her husband.

My job was basically to walk around this convention center full of gamer kids, posing for photos and interacting with fans — I was dressed as a character from some weird video game I’d never heard of, but apparently it was very popular with the pimply hordes who had flocked to this convention from all across the land. Who knew there was even such a thing as a PlayStation Experience? Not me!

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With some of my fellow mascot characters

I have a hard time relating to gamers — there’s so much awesome shit to do out there; why would you waste your life sitting in a darkened room playing video games???  But as the convention wore on, I found them becoming oddly endearing; for the most part they struck me as gentle, sweet nerds who prefer escaping into other worlds to engaging in the thuggish bullshit that preoccupies other youth. I mean, you don’t see these guys tagging walls or robbing convenience stores…ya know? Let them play, I say!!

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gamers in action

Either way, overall it was a great gig — the walking helped work out my aches and pains, and the event staff was really amazing. Usually at these mascot gigs, they stick you in a hallway or a utility room for your breaks, but not here; we had a huge dressing area with a lounge area and plenty of delicious catered food. The other mascot actors were all cool, too — I met a dashingly handsome little person, a yoga instructor who gave me stretching tips, and several handsome young actor/models from L.A. and Vegas…so the time really passed quickly. Great gig!

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Illegal smile at the John Prine show

Now, I had only come back to Vegas for a few days to make some money and take care of household matters before heading back out on my next adventure. But before leaving town, I had one more thing to do — my good friend J.R. had invited me to go see John Prine & Iris DeMent live in concert at the Palms! I’m not a huge John Prine fan like J.R. is, but I like some of his songs…so as soon as I got out of my mascot suit that night, I hurried across town and met up with J.R. at the show. I tried to get high in the bathroom beforehand, but they had one of those damn restroom attendants in there, so I could only sneak one toke…but as it turned out, that was the perfect amount for my lightweight ass; I got just enough of a buzz to where I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show. Especially the audience!!

This was right in the thick of Rodeo season in Vegas, when all the cowboys and whatnot descend on Vegas for two weeks every December, so the audience was mostly full of Baby Boomer rodeo folk and a few 30-something hipsters. But after the show we went out into the casino for a nightcap, and that was a real shitshow! Cowboys, hipsters, the usual Vegas ho-bags…and an astonishing number of super-decked-out drag queens!! Apparently there was some kinda drag queen convention going on that weekend, too. That’s what I love about Vegas — the mishmash of weird subcultures you get, all mixed together on any given weekend. My favorite thing is when you see some kind of crossover from one culture to another — like if I’d seen a drag rodeo queen (which alas I did not). I did wonder if there was anyone else at the John Prine show who was also attending the PlayStation Experience…but I’m pretty sure I was the only one icon smile A Mind Thats Weak and a Back Thats Strong I cross all boundaries!!!!

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Mojave Preserve

Anyway, the very next day after collecting my blood money from all these various gigs, I got the fuck out of town and went back out into the desert for some peace and quiet. The plan was to meet my sister out in the Mojave National Preserve for a few days of camping — despite the chilly weather and my still-aching body, there was no way I was missing out on that! Camping out at the Kelso Dunes has been on my bucket list for years, so I piled a bunch of blankets and pillows and schnapps into my truck and headed out to meet up with her. There’s not really any cell reception out there, so we arranged to meet at the Kelso Depot, an old railway station in the middle of the Preserve, at noon.

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Dune campsite

Once I found my sis, she took me to the campsite she’d set up, waaay out behind the dunes off a three-mile dirt road in the middle of nowhere. She’d already been there a couple days (my sis is a real badass), so all I really had to do was set up my bed, with plenty of padding for my bruised/fractured rib, and I was good to go. We made some hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps, then set off to hike to the top of the tallest dune.

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The Kelso Dunes

Hiking those dunes is a killer workout! I’m not sure how tall they are, but they go on and on, and they’re closed to vehicle traffic so you needn’t worry about sand-railin’ rednecks or idiots on quads and whatnot….you can just enjoy the utter stillness and unmarked beauty of the desert. Once you get to the top, the view is amazing — just miles and miles and miles of sand, sagebrush and mountains all around you. Gorgeous!!!

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Embracing the last gentle rays of 2014

Then, when you’re ready to descend, you can simply sit on your ass and slide down. The Kelso Dunes are known as “booming dunes,” since they make a weird, eerie sort of didgeridoo sound when the grains of sand rub against each other as you slide down — and they are one of only a few such dunes in the entire world. It has something to do with the diameter and the silica content of the sand grains; I’m not exactly sure. But it’s awesome!!!

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The Mojave Preserve

Anyway, we spent the next couple of days camping and exploring around the fabulous Mojave National Preserve — a sorely underappreciated swath of desert between Vegas and Wonder Valley (between I-15 and I-40, basically). It’s a vast stretch of parkland with an astonishing variety of landscapes — aside from the dunes, there are also Joshua tree forests, mountains, caverns and canyons.

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Rings Loop Trail

Alas, the caverns were closed at the time of our visit, but we did some amazing hiking through a slot canyon with rings bolted into the walls, and across some amazingly beautiful desert scrubland. I wholeheartedly recommend this place to anyone with an appreciation of/love for the desert — camping in many places is FREE, and the place is so vast and so seldom visited that you could go days without seeing anyone!

After a couple days of sleeping in a freezing tent in the desert, we had planned to drive back up north to my mom’s house in the redwoods on the Russian River north of San Francisco…but a huge storm had just blown into the area up there, and knocked out the power and whatnot, so my mom advised we wait another day before heading up. Since the weather was still OK down in the So Cal desert, and we weren’t too far from Deep Creek hot springs, we decided to head over there to soak and camp another night.

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Americana at the Baghdad Cafe

Along the way from the Mojave Preserve to Deep Creek, we stopped at the ever-fabulous Baghdad Cafe on Rte. 66 near Newberry Springs for breakfast. This kitschy tourist stop was as sunbaked and covered in French graffiti as ever, and the food was as greasy and subpar as always. The only changes I could see since my last visit a year ago were that the abandoned motel next door had been boarded up,

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view from the rear window of an old Airstream

and they had trucked in some busted-up old Airstream trailers for photo ops and ambiance. Though the Airstreams had only been there less than a year, the interiors were already covered in French graffiti — those fuckin’ frogs love that place! As a matter of fact, Euros of all stripes love it — there was plenty of German scribbling too, and even a sticker for some Norwegian women’s motorcycle club (!!!). As gross as the food is here, I’ll never pass thru the area without stopping here for a meal!

Anyway, after breakfast we tooled along

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Murica

to Apple Valley and set up camp at Deep Creek. The easiest access to the springs from the east is through private property, the Bowen Ranch — the rancher charges you $5 for day use or $10 for overnight “camping,” though all you really get either way is a parking spot on a litter-strewn overlook; the springs themselves are a 2-mile hike down the canyon onto U.S. Forest Service land. Apparently there’s another trailhead nearby, called the Freedom Trail, that is NOT on private land so you don’t have to pay…but the guy who runs Bowen Ranch supposedly tries to cover it up so you’ll use his entrance and pay him the cash, so that trailhead is harder to find. Allegedly, the Bowen Ranch guy has even gone down and shot up the windows of cars parked at the Freedom Trailhead…so be advised!!

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sunset at Bowen Ranch

I don’t go that often, so I don’t mind paying the $5 or $10 — but in this case it was kinda ridiculous, since my sis and I both had our cars so we ended up shelling out $20 to park on a barren, litter-strewn hilltop all night. Whatevs! Last time we went, we packed all our gear down the trail to the actual springs, and camped out on the beach there. But this time, in winter, we didn’t feel like carrying all those blankets and pillows and whatnot down there…so we decided to sleep in our cars up top, and just hike down to soak.

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Sleeping in the cab of my truck :/

My sis has a 4-Runner, so she can fold down her back seat and sleep fairly comfortably. She offered to let me sleep in there with her, but I decided to just make a bed across the bench seat of my truck cab, and sleep in there. It’s almost wide enough for me to stretch out all the way, and since I had so many pillows and stuff with me, I was able to make it tolerably cozy. Still, I don’t really recommend it; I need to get a camper shell, already…ASAP!

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wading across the freezing creek

Anyhoo, after setting up “camp,” we mixed up some more cocoa with peppermint schnapps and headed down the trail to spend the evening soaking. We got to the creek around dusk, and it was amazing — the trees were all orange and yellow, and it was even better than the summertime, in a way, since there are less douchebags down there this time of year! The only downside to Deep Creek in the winter is, if you come from the east, you have to wade across the Creek to get to the springs — and boy is that water cold!! In the summertime, the creek is warm and pleasant…but wading across it in winter is a real Scandinavian-style trial by fire. But I actually kind of dig it; it makes it more of an adventure! Plus you have the wonderful warm springs waiting for you on the other side icon smile A Mind Thats Weak and a Back Thats Strong

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Deep Creek in the moonlight

We soaked until late in the evening, under an almost-full moon, along with an assortment of kooks and local characters who offered us everything from mushrooms to moonshine, and a few things in between. Can I just say again how much I freaking love that place?!

Eventually, we dried off and bundled up above the waist and waded back across the freeeeezing water, which was admittedly zero fun at night, when all you’re facing is a long cold night sleeping in the cab of a pickup truck :/ But we did remember to use an old locals’ trick, and fill an empty water jug with hot spring water…so at least when we got to the other side, we were able to douse our freezing feet in hot water before shoving them into our furry boots for the hike up. That hike up is pretty steep, too, so our blood was pumping in no time and we were toasty-warm.

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making coffee at Deep Creek

In the morning, my sis had run out of propane for her stove…so we packed up camp and brought some instant Starbucks packets back down to the springs for a morning soak, and made coffee using hot spring water directly from where it spouted from the Earth. It was pretty good, actually! Many of the regulars down there swear by the water — they say it has all kinds of beneficial minerals, and lithium aplenty, too.

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autumn/winter at Deep Creek

So we whiled away the morning and afternoon soaking and chatting with more of the regulars down there, including this cool local guy we’d met on our last trip there back in July, the Hot Springs Wizard. All this time, my sis and I were trying to decided where we should go/what we should do next — my mom said the storm was still raging, the river had flooded the roads, and nothing was expected to subside til Friday morning…so we had one more night to kill.

The problem was, it was a huuuuuge storm system that was basically blasting all of California, so there wasn’t really anywhere we could go camping to get away from it, unless we backtracked to Arizona or Nevada. We considered staying another night in our cars at Deep Creek, but I really didn’t feel like cramming in my cab again…so we finally decided to just head up north, and stop for the night in good old Bakersfield, where we could get a cheap motel and then continue on in the morning.

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Breakfast in Bakersfield

Boy am I glad we did — that storm really blew in with a vengeance, even in Bakersfield!! The next morning there were bits of palm tree and other detritus everywhere, so we just had a quick breakfast in this amazing old-school diner on Buck Owens Blvd., and then tooled on up I-5 to the Bay Area. Normally, that’s a suuuuper boring drive…but in the rain it was pretty cozy, and besides we were both listening to this amazing true-crime podcast called Serial, so the time passed like nothing.

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rainy road outside Bakersfield

We got to my mom’s house late in the afternoon, and it was true — the Russian River had flooded everything! All the vineyards were lakes, and everything was soggy and drenched. My mom’s house was OK though, and the sun had even started peeking through. Which was a great thing, since the very next day we planned to head down to San Francisco for SantaCon.

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SantaCon

SantaCon is basically a giant, citywide pub crawl where thousands of people show up from all around the Bay Area dressed in Santa costumes, and engage in drunken revelry. I guess the people who started it back in the day intended it as more of a performance art/political statement-type thing…but it took off and sort of devolved into a drunken frat melee, basically. Now they have SantaCons in cities all across the U.S. (in Vegas they call it Santa Rampage), and it’s generally derided by the artistic elite as having jumped the shark. Well, I didn’t care…I wanted to experience it anyway!!

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Fuck yeah!! TUBA!!!

A friend of mine from Burning Man is the leader of an amazing brass band called the Brass Band Mission, and he had invited me to accompany them as they paraded through the streets of San Francisco, playing Christmas carols and jazz standards as part of SantaCon. O…..M…..G!!!!! I’ve never had so much fun in my life!!!!!!!!!!!

My sis and I rolled into the city around noon, found a place to park, popped some shrooms and met up with the band in Union Square. It was fabulous!!!! Everywhere you looked, there were thousands of people in Santa outfits — most of them pretty lame, to be sure; the chicks were mostly in corny slutty Santa’s Helper outfits, and most of the guys were dumbass bros in cheesy, unimaginative getups. But there were a few really creative, cool costumes and characters here and there that made the whole event worthwhile — and the band was so effing amazing, it made up for everything!!!

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Brass Band Mission takin’ it to the streets

I cannot describe to you the sheer, unadulterated joy of marching down the middle of the street in Chinatown with a full ten-piece marching band blasting “Grazing in the Grass,” prancing and dancing and shaking a jingle bell so madly that my finger turned red and almost fell off, while hundreds of bemused Chinese merchants looked on in consternation, and passers-by in every

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F U N ! ! !

direction stopped to stare and even join in the merriment. It was like the circus, the carnival, Burning Man and Disneyland all rolled into one mobile party — and it was infectious!! This one janitor was sweeping the street with a broom, and my sis danced over and gave him a jingle bell, and before you know it, he was dancing, too! Just like something out of Sesame Street!! And I can’t tell you how many inscrutable old Chinese people I danced up into the faces of, shaking my jingle bell furiously until their stoic faces cracked into smiles, each and every one. I’M NOT MAKING THIS SHIT UP!!!!!!

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Shrooming!

Ugh, it was incredible. The party made its way through Chinatown to North Beach, where it wound up in an alley named after Jack Kerouac, sandwiched between an old beatnik bookstore and a bourgeois literary coffee shop, where well-heeled tourists looked down from their second-floor tables and $12 lattes, smiling enviously at us crazy broke idiots and our madcap street jamboree. It was a total validation of the crazy pauper’s path I’ve chosen for myself — I’m telling you, I’ve never seen anything like it in all my days. The band was wailing, limbs were flailing, bells were jingling and people were flinging themselves about in a hopped-up booze-and-drug-fueled ecstatic, fantastic, joygasmic dance of sheer exuberance. FAR FUCKING OUT, MAAAAAAN!!!!!!!!

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mudpocalypse!

The parade eventually made its way all the way down to Washington Square Park, where it sort of got bogged down in the crowd of drunken idiots gathered there in the muck and the mud, hanging out drinking and braying in the shadow of a magnificent old cathedral that loomed over the whole sordid mess like a reproachful grandmother. By then, the band had sort of run out of steam, so I

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ENJOY EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!

hopped aboard a converted schoolbus that was blasting Fleetwood Mac, but the crew on board was all beer-swilling mooks and college-age gash, like a bad Burning Man turnkey camp circa 2014, so we got the fuck out of there and just headed back to our car.

I was still feeling the effects of the mushrooms, so walking through the city at night was magnificent — San Francisco at Christmastime, all lit up and sparkly and jam-packed with bougie twats toting Tiffany & Co shopping bags as they scurried from Saks to Starbucks and back again. Everyone was in awe of our costumes, and we were asked to pose for photos many times, always obliging with shroomy enthusiasm, even going so far as to pinch kids’ cheeks and exhort them to enjoy every single day of life!!!

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I asked him what tribe he was from, and he said “The Casino tribe!”

Then every once in a while, a random leather-jacketed turquoise-laden pockmarked Indian would appear, or a shady bum offering weed and Oxycontin, or a fat hippie chick in a Phish t-shirt and peasant skirt, flip-flopping down the street blasting a YouTube documentary about a 40-year-old virgin on her smartphone. Gawd, I love that city!! If I could afford to, I’d probably live there — at least until I got tired of the cold and dank, that is. Then I’d hightail it back to the desert icon smile A Mind Thats Weak and a Back Thats Strong

Anyway, after that madcap 6-hour bout of marching, dancing and boozing, we got back in the car and drove back up north to my mom’s cabin in the forest. BOY, was I exhausted! Not only was I physically wrung out from all the dancing, but my rib still hurt, I had a bad case of jingle finger, and my toe was throbbing where I had cut it while making coffee down at Deep Creek. I’m a wreck!!!!

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The best things in life are F R E E ! ! !

But when all is said and done, I’ll take the crazy seat-of-my-pants pauper’s life, any day. Like those bourgeois tourists looking down at us in Jack Kerouac Alley — you can’t BUY this kind of fun, motherfuckers; it just happens!! I’d trade a thousand Saks 5th Ave bags and a hundred Farallon steak dinners for one shroom-fueled street jamboree with a ten-piece brass band in an alley on a sunny afternoon, any day of the week!

Maybe that’s my problem.

 

 

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Villains and Superheroines and the Busted Bunny Ranch

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photo by Footeprints

I counted once, and I have 112 pairs of shoes (!!). But photo shoots aside, I only really wear two of them: flip-flops and furry boots. Flip flops are my preferred footwear — I like my toes to be as free as my spirit, and *hate* having them cramped up in socks and shoes. But each year, there comes a time when I finally have to shove my frostbitten toes into my off-brand Uggs and call it a day. That day, alas, has arrived icon sad Villains and Superheroines and the Busted Bunny Ranch

To prepare, I spent the past few weeks savoring the last vestiges of summer, like the dregs of a happytini that I just couldn’t bear to see the bottom of. I had a few outdoor photo shoots booked, and after the cold bullshit I suffered at Halloween, I expected to freeze my ass off and be miserable. But the first part of November was pretty warm here in Vegas, so it wasn’t bad; one day, I spent a super-pleasant afternoon out near Valley of Fire with a traveling photographer from New Mexico, who had me pose in the Shortest Daisy Dukes of All Time (see above), which he had crafted himself — apparently aside from being a Fine Artist, he’s also quite the fashion designer!

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photo by Randy Fosth

Another day, I dragged some friends back out to that abandoned brothel I first investigated back in September with my grouchy lady friend, up near Goldfield. We made a day of it, packing snacks and drinks and stopping here and there to snap random pics along the way, including on this busted-up old plane in front of Angel’s Ladies (still operational) brothel outside Beatty.

 

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Life ain’t easy at the Busted Bunny Ranch photo by Randy Fosth

My friend Blondie came along as a model/partner in crime, with my friend Randy (Shutterbug Studio on Model Mayhem) gamely photographing our slatternly hijinks as we frolicked about on mounds of broken glass, rat shit and stained mattresses. Gooooooooood times! I’m pleased to report that the ol’ abandoned brothel is still in pretty good shape since my last visit — I was afraid it would turn out like that abandoned water park I shot at last winter; since my shoot, that place has since been defaced by hideous black tagging, and has been pretty much ruined as a decent location icon sad Villains and Superheroines and the Busted Bunny Ranch Stupid cholos!! The graffiti at the time of my shoots there was colorful and politically-inspired…this new stuff is just ugly.

 

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photo by Randy Fosth

After the shooting our fill at the abandoned brothel, we headed up the road to Goldfield and shot a bit at the junk car forest, too — I’m telling you, the desert around here is just packed with scenic backgrounds for cheesecake T&A! Goldfield is a bit far afield (about 3 hours from Vegas), but even in the area immediately surrounding town, there are a lot of cool spots. You just have to know where to look!

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photo by Randy Fosth

To that end, another day I was hired for an all-day shoot by this traveling foreign guy who wanted me to take him out and about into the desert around Vegas and show him some of my favorite locations. Now, this guy was a rank amateur — no experience shooting models whatsoever — but as I advertise on my Model Mayhem portfolio, I am happy to shoot with all experience levels! Who cares?! These other chicks I see blathering on and on about how they’ll never shoot with a GWC (modeling term for Guy With Camera, a/k/a Amateur Perv) make me laugh…all the way to the bank! Go ahead and delude yourselves, ya hags — you’re a big time model, and you ain’t got time for nobody but Demarchelier. Meanwhile, your fat ass is covered in shitty tattoos and you’re go-go dancing in the party pit at Harrahs. Good luck with that!

Moreover, what exactly separates the “amateurs” from the “pros” when it comes to men paying women and girls to pose naked except for a roll of caution tape and a fake machine gun? Is it the cost of the photographer’s gear? The presence/size of a watermark on his finished photos? The fact that he’s been “published” in some shitty web-only “magazine” that no one but true dorks and assholes reads?? Get real, people! This business we’re in is patently ridiculous…have a sense of humor about it, for Chrissakes!!!

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No camera? No problem!
pic by Randy Fosth

Aaaaaanyway, I am nothing if not realistic about my options, and am more than happy to shoot with just about anyone (I’ve mentioned before how I’ve even shot with GWOCs — that’s Guys WithOUT Cameras, i.e., I have to lend them my own personal DSLR to use for the shoot). And it oftentimes turns out to be a fun experience, as it was with this foreign guy.

Come to find out, he was legally blind — which he let me know up front in the email, and which I did find a bit disconcerting, at first. I mean, what — I’m so hot, even a blind man can’t resist me?? Or maybe the poor fucker just couldn’t see what kind of B-grade gash he was getting himself into!! But it turns out he actually could see, he just had extremely limited vision due to a genetic condition. I actually think half the reason he hired me was just so I could drive him around the desert, to all these beautiful scenic locations.

 Villains and Superheroines and the Busted Bunny RanchSpeaking of which, allow me a moment of shameless self-promotion! If you’ve ever wanted to shoot a model in the desert, and can get your ass to Vegas, I offer this amazing value: for $500, I will drive you to the beautiful desert locations shown in this photo, where you can experience for yourself the unbridled artistic fulfillment of shooting a nude model (me) cavorting about among the sandstone and sagebrush. Did I mention I also do my own hair and makeup? What a deal! Call now; supplies are extremely limited!!

And guess what?! The next 30 callers get a FREE BONUS: in addition to getting a tour guide, chauffeur and model, you’ll also get a confidant/therapist — I can’t tell you how many photographers have confided their problems to me on these long desert drives. Many photographers are going through midlife crises, or suffering from boring lives, and need an outlet — someone who understands the perils of Life with an Artistic Temperament. Like me!

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the therapist’s couch
pic by Randy Fosth

I’ve always been a really good listener, but sometimes it surprises even me the things guys will tell me after having just met me. This foreign guy really opened up to me, in fact, about his partial paralysis (unrelated to his vision problem)…and about certain lower-body functions he was unable to perform. As a connoisseur of the Vegas demimonde, he wondered if I might be able to help him find an outlet for his carnal desires — more specifically, how he might find a “chocolate-colored girl” to sit on his face. (If you’re reading this, anonymous photographer, I hope you’re not offended…I just HAD to include that line because I found its bluntness so refreshing.)

Anyway, ain’t no thang — I was more than happy to give him some advice regarding strip clubs, swingers’ clubs and escort services (which, I felt, offered the best opportunity for him to get what he wanted). What can I say; I love helping people (and this guy was exceptionally cool)! But really, I do pride myself on my ability to put people at ease…and open them up, so to speak.

But not all my shoots are sunshine and happiness. A couple days later, I did this freaky fuckin’ fetish shoot that was so bizarre, it almost turned me off fetish modeling for life!

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http://clips4sale.com/studio/51405/Cat88-SUPERHEROINES/SUPERHEROINE–TALES#startingpoint

The shoot was for a website that sells video clips of chicks dressed as superheroines getting tied up, molested and stripped by a series of nefarious villains. There was no overt sexual content — you just get knocked out, tied up, and stripped, and the camera pans over your nude body while the villain slavers over you, with the actual raping implied to occur after the clip ends — but it was still pretty creepy because I mean, who beats off to that??? I have a longstanding policy of not shooting bondage, partly because it’s physically painful, and partly because the idea of some guy jerking off to a picture of a hogtied, terrified girl-next-door is too Ted Bundyish for my comfort zone. I got into a real shitshow on the Model Mayhem forums over this whole subject last year, so I won’t belabor the point — I get it, bondage is allegedly a power trip for the submissive, as well (!)…so, to each his own. But my own ain’t bondage, so I don’t enjoy shooting it!!!!

But this superheroine thing seemed really tongue-in-cheek and cartoonish, like the old Batman TV show, so I thought I’d give it a try. The guy doesn’t even use real bondage ties or anything — it’s all very fake and goofy. So I packed up my Batgirl costume, my Wonder Woman costume and my gold lamé bodysuit, and headed on over to the shoot.

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ummm…no!

Now, the guy who runs the site is a true nut (and I mean that in the most complimentary sense possible — he was very nice, and a total professional): a mild-mannered government employee by day, and a fetish impresario by night, fulfilling fiendish fantasies by dressing up asa diabolical characters who capture and molest sassy superheroines (he appears in the clips himself as the villain, and personally does the molesting). And BOY has he come up with some freaky fuckin’ villains!!!! There was the Evil Scientist, the Gasser (who gasses superheroines to knock them out)…and then, most horrifying of all, Albert the Dirty Old Man. When playing Albert, he dons this super-freaky realistic-looking latex old-man mask, with gray hairs sprouting from the ears and nostrils, and cackles such astonishing obscenities as, “I’ll fuck ye like yer granpaw used to fuck ye!” Heh heh heh!!! Horror!!!!!!!

The scenario in that clip was that I, Batgirl, was just leaving the old-folks’ home after my weekly volunteer session, when the director of the home asked me for a favor: “Batgirl, I know you’re on your way out the door, and you’re busy fighting crime and all, but could you stop in on your way out to see this one poor old guy who never gets any visitors?” “Awwww, sure! I just love old people…they remind my of my beloved Grandpa, rest his soul!” (This is why I like doing fetish videos; I love the cheesy acting shtick involved).

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Batgirl in happier days
pic by Maze

Well, I go in and talk to the “poor old guy,” who turns out to be Albert, and he starts telling me how he used to be a magician, and would I like to see one of his tricks? So he ties me up…but instead of making the rope disappear as promised, he ends up pawing me through my bodysuit, then knocking me out with his cane, undressing me, and drooling over my naked form. The clip ends with him hovering over me in his old-man jammies, delivering the aforementioned classic line of dialogue referencing my “granpaw.” SHUDDER!

But as horrifying as Albert was, the worst was yet to come. For the last clip, he dressed up at the diabolically creepy Bopo the Clown!!! Y I K E S !!!

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Bopo and me

Aside from his full-body clown suit, hat and full-face latex clown mask (!!!), when playing Bopo this guy also affects a super creeeeeepy clowny-clown voice that’s even worse than Albert’s voice (he’s really good at doing voices and accents, LOL). The premise of this clip was, Bopo usually uses chloroform to knock out Superheroines…but now he’s come up with something even better: Hornyform!! Once a Superheroine gets a whiff of that, it’s all over — she’s putty in his hands. He even broke out this super-creepy old vibrator to torture me with, and I was supposed to look like I was getting off, against my will.

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SHUDDER!!! http://clips4sale.com/studio/51405/Cat88-SUPERHEROINES/SUPERHEROINE–TALES#startingpoint

I mean, REALLY. Are there seriously guys out there who fantasize about this shit?!?!?!?! The prospect is unsettling, to say the least! I don’t care how many vibrators you prod me with — if I’m hogtied against my will, I’m not getting off, no matter WHAT! To believe otherwise is to assume that women are weak-willed idiots at the mercy of their fickle, overactive clitorides…and that sounds suspiciously like medieval religious hokum, to me.

But hey, I’m just a lazy hyprocrite trying to make a buck, so I went with the program and pretended that Bopo’s Hornyform and made vibrator skills got me off. Then I collected my paycheck and got the fuck out of there!!!

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Beat off to THIS, motherfucker!!
pic by Randy Fosth

Man, that shoot was so unsettlingly freaky that it made me question my life choices as few other shoots have done. Although as mentioned the guy in charge was REALLY nice, and the utmost professional about his work…by participating, I was still basically glamorizing rape. Cartoony and goofy or no, some guy somewhere is still beating off to the idea of molesting me while I’m tied up and helpless…and that feels pretty dirty. Shooting for that site was an interesting experience for sure, but I won’t do it again.

Then when I got home, I realized I’d left my cape behind…but I wrote it off as a loss, cuz there was NO WAY I was going back to get it! But wouldn’t you know, the guy texted me first thing in the morning: “Hey, you forgot your cape!!” So I had to go back across town to get it — but I tried to make it quick, as he was in the middle of another shoot, with another half-naked chick tied up on a chair. He seemed offended, like he wanted me to stay and chat…but it just didn’t seem like a good time!!!

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pic by Adam Sternberg

I honestly really didn’t have time, anyway– my dear old buddy J.R. was in town, and I had to bring his usual suitcase full of water, vodka, wine and weed over to his hotel (I stock his room for him whenever he comes to town). You might remember J.R. from my blogs back in the day — a lovesick Tennessee oilman who was going through a divorce and a midlife crisis, right around the time I got a DUI and was losing my house. The two of us together were worse than George Jones and Tammy Wynette!!! We’ve remained close friends over the years, but I hadn’t seen him in quite a while, so I headed down to spend some quality time hanging out with him.

J.R. was in town for a few days, so we went to dinner a couple times, hit up a cigar convention at the Mirage, and then one night we finally went and rode that fucking Ferris Wheel that’s been looming over the Strip since March. I hadn’t gotten around to riding it yet because I’m cheap, and didn’t want to shell out $40 — but apparently no one else did, either, and because business was so shitty they finally lowered the price.

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View from the top 15 degrees or so

How was it, you ask? OK, but honestly kinda depressing — to get on board you have to file through all these endless Disneyland-style rope mazes, designed to handle the huuuuge crowds they were apparently expecting…but in reality, no one was there, and we basically walked right in and sat down. Now, this might have been due to the fact that it was a Sunday night…but it was a holiday weekend! More accurately I’d say no one wants to ride the fuckin’ thing cuz it sucks — they built it in the alley behind Ballys, so for around 75% of the ride, you’re just looking at the ass-end of various shitty downmarket hotels. You only see the lights of the Strip and the Bellagio fountains and whatnot at the very tippy-top. Worse, I thought nighttime would be the right time to ride because of the lights and stuff — but in actuality sunset would be better, as then you could at least see the mountains and the desert in the distance when you get tired of looking at the hotel parking garages. At night, it’s just parking garages or pitch black suburban nothingness.

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I just couldn’t crack his concentration!

Meanwhile, to even get to the damn thing you have to traverse this awful fake shopping alley full of stupid bars and restaurants — but actually, that fake-ass alleyway contains one true gem that was, in my estimation, more fun than the Ferris Wheel itself: the Polaroid store! This gimmicky gift shop is dedicated to all things Polaroid, with many fun interactive photo ops and goofy tchotchkes for sale — and upstairs, there’s an awesome free museum dedicated to the history of Polaroid and its old-time advertising. Fantastic!!! There’s even a life-size wax mannequin of my #1 favorite kook of all-time, Andy Warhol, that you can fuck around with — and a bunch of his famous Polaroid portraits on display. J.R. and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at that museum, since we’re both photography buffs. I highly recommend it! (We were high, now that I think about it…but even that didn’t make the Ferris wheel fun!)

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On to sunnier shores!

Anyway, after J.R. left, the weather started to get cold. Thankfully, I only had one more gig (pranking some douchebag, pretending to assault him one midnight on his way out of the comedy club at the Tropicana as part of a Las Vegas: The Game prank) before I was off for a fun-filled seven day cruise to Mexico — where it never gets cold!!!

A friend had gotten some free Carnival cruise tickets to the Mexican Riviera, but when his Plan A fell thru (his girlfriend couldn’t get the time off) he invited me along instead. Why the hell not? Cabo Wabo, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta; margaritas, shuffleboard and hijinks with Gopher and Isaac, ahoy!!

Alas, cruising has changed a lot since the days of the Love Boat; I’d been on a cruise once before (with J.R., to the Caribbean) but had somehow forgotten the raging case of David Foster Wallaceitis I’d suffered on that previous experience. Moreover, this was Carnival — the Everyman’s cruise line: nothing but aspirational-bourgeois tradesmen and Avon ladies waddling onboard for the Funnest Time of Their (nasty, brutish and short) Lives.

There’s really nothing I can add to what David Foster Wallace already said about cruising — you wake up, waddle to the buffet, avail yourself of dozens of chafing dishes loaded with bland, hospital-cafeteria-type slop, stuff your greasy piehole until you begin to involuntarily regurgitate, then go crap into a vat of thousands of gallons of other peoples’ sewage already sloshing merrily about belowdecks…then strap on a swimsuit, sprawl by the pool and guzzle a hurricane glass of 180-proof hi-fructose corn syrup before passing out with your maw ajar, until it’s time to wake up and repeat the process for lunch and dinner. Once or twice throughout the week you encase your girth in a cheap, stretchy polyester-blend gown scattered with flecks of glitter and glue and a few remaining rhinestones for “elegant” night, at which time you tease your shitty highlighted hair to mammoth proportions and sway uneasily down to the photographer like a knock-kneed calf at the Manatee Prom, to pose for a soul-crushingly lamentable series of Olan-Mills-in-the-headlights Portraits that are as heartbreaking as they are laughable. Then you go in the dining room, fill up on food-industry-grade refined chum, and afterward stop off at the Piano Bar for a few more rounds of hi-fructose corn syrup while bawling “Sweet Caroline” with an assortment of rust belters, assembly-line workers and K-Mart cashiers before toddling barefoot back to your cabin to be inseminated by an empty-eyed, desperate walrus who you only too late recognize to be your sister’s husband.

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pic by Adam Sternberg

The humanity!!!

 

But don’t get me wrong; the cruise wasn’t a total bummer. They did have some pretty good oatmeal for breakfast, and then one magical evening in the karaoke lounge I did witness the incredible spectacle of a guy with Down Syndrome singing “O Holy Night” — all six, excruciating minutes of it. It was vastly more entertaining than the schlock on deck in the ship showroom (which was a fun-for-the-whole-family, Technicolor tap-dancing tribute to the music of the Beatles)(!).

 

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Dios mio!

The constant immersion in this human comedy left me disheartened and literally sick — whether from some door-handle virus or David Foster Wallaceitis I cannot say, but for the last few days of the voyage I had a raging fever and was coughing up my guts, one lung at a time. I ended up just staying in bed, and my poor friend must have rued the day he invited me; my senses are apparently much too refined for cruising. I tried to send him on his way and encourage him to have fun without me…but I think I accidentally crushed his spirit, too; when we’d set sail from Long Beach, he was all a-twinkle with plans of hooking up with swinger couples onboard…but the longer he was stuck with me and my buzzkilling reminders of his poor, innocent girlfriend back home (who does not swing)…the less fun the poor fucker had. He made a couple half-hearted attempts at putting the moves on a few heifers…but I think I truly had killed his spirit, and he never really pursued anything. He ended up just buying some Mexican Viagra in Cabo, and saving his lust for when he got home. Yep, you can call me the Relationship Saver — his girlfriend was probably sweating balls about him being on that cruise with me, when in reality I was the only thing keeping him on the straight and narrow!!!

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pic by Adam Sternberg

Aaaaaanyway, once we got back I basically crawled off the ship straight into bed, and slept for a couple days straight before dragging my ass back into my truck and driving for 10 hours straight up to the redwoods in Northern California, where I am spending Thanksgiving. When I got here, I bought a brand new pair of fuzzy pajamas…and guess what? I’m not taking them off til December!!!

See ya then…….

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Return to Saline Valley Hot Springs

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International Woman of Leisure

As an International Woman of Leisure, I enjoy a pretty sweet life packed with parties, adventures and the occasional foray into the depths of the collective pysche. But as a Broke-Ass Hack, I also have to take a break now and then to go home, do some laundry, squats and lunges, and work enough goofy gigs to pay the bills and finance my next trip. So when I got back from my fantastical jaunt to Hawaii, I had to put my nose to the grindstone and get busy hustling; I only had a few days before my next adventure, so I really had to bust my ass to make my nut. Fortunately, the Hustle Gods were smiling on me…and I scored a grueling 40-hour gig in a dog costume!

This was one of those gigs I book occasionally through an agency that deals exclusively with mascot characters — they needed someone 5’1″ – 5’3″ to wear this famous cartoon dog costume at a insurance event…for ten hours a day, four days in a row!! Brutal, but a fat paycheck at the end…and because the shifts were so long, and the costume was so hot, they hired another chick to alternate 30-minute shifts with me, so we each only had to go out in costume for 30 minutes at a time, with a 30 minute break for air in between. Not too bad!

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I can’t post any photos in the dogsuit, so please enjoy this old pic of me in a Hooters outfit instead!

The other chick they hired was this ultra-waifish blonde actress/singer with whom I used to work a lot of gigs back in the day, until she moved to Hollywood to make it big in Show Biz. But I guess breaking into showbiz is harder than it seems, since she needed cash badly enough to come back to Vegas for this dogsuit gig. To save even more money, she asked if she could stay at my place…so I made up a bed for her on the floor in my dressing room, surrounded by my creepy mannequins and 112 pairs of shoes.

Now, this chick is cool as shit — I really like her. BUT, she is one of the most high-strung people I’ve ever met!!! A musical-theatre-type with a degree in Vocal Pedagogy, she also has several clinically-diagnosed phobiæ (including the inability to hear the sound of food being chewed — she literally backed away from me in horror when I was eating some almonds once), and a mile-a-minute stream of chatter which is only ever interrupted long enough for her trembling hands to pop an Adderall and wash it down with a gallon of Diet Coke. She drinks so much Diet Coke, in fact, that she even carries a handbag designed to look like a giant can of Diet Coke — I’ve never seen anything like it! But she’s a super nice chick, with some super interesting stories to tell about her offbeat money-making endeavors in L.A. (If that chick ever starts a blog, I’m doomed….her shit is way more interesting than my tired old shtick!!!)

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…and this classic by GW Photography

Anyway, this dog suit gig basically consumed four entire days of my life — I woke up, drove to the miserable corporate campus of one of the local casino companies, and suited up in the costume…then shuffled down the hall to pose for photos with casino employees and their snot-nosed brats at this soul-crushingly depressing insurance faire they had going on, where employees were supposed to go in and shop for supplemental insurance. It was basically a room full of Willy Loman/shark hybrids, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting blackjack dealers, cocktail waitresses and restroom attendants in the hopes of luring them into signing over parts of their meager paychecks just in case something unthinkable were to happen. Meanwhile, to lure them in, they had all these depressing “Kids’ Activities” like face painters, balloon twisters…and one sad bitch in a dogsuit. “Fun for the Whole Family!” Ugh.

I can’t afford to have lofty morals or anything like that, so I just kept my mouth shut and put on the suit every 30 minutes, for 10 hours a day, all 4 days. It really wasn’t that bad, and I just kept my eyes on the prize: a $1,000 payday at the end of it all. That’ll buy a lot of shrooms and booze!!!

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the stock photo strikes again!

Meanwhile, there was another big trade show going on in town that weekend over at the convention center — the specialty graphics show. Wouldn’t you know it, in no time flat my phone started blowing up with tradeshow model friends of mine texting me photos from the convention center — apparently, the show was using that fucking stock photo of me in the showgirl costume on all their banners and promotional marketing!!! (I did an unpaid photo shoot once with a photographer who turned around and sold the pics to a stock photo agency, and they turn up everywhere.)

Well, I thought it would be pretty cool to have a banner of myself to hang in my garage or something, as a reminder to always read model releases carefully…so on the last day of the trade show, I headed over to the convention center the second my dogsuit gig was over. The trouble was, I didn’t get off til 7pm…and the tradeshow had ended at 4:30. By the time I got there, they had already torn the place apart — and all the banners with my pic on them were already in a dumpster somewhere icon sad Return to Saline Valley Hot Springs

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Attack of the 50′ Hussy

The only thing still on display was this ginormous fucking 20′ x 40′ monstrosity that hung over the main entrance to the show…but no matter who I asked, I couldn’t find the person in charge of it, to see if I could have it. MAN! If I had a 20′ tall poster of myself, I’d never forget to read a model release again!!! The frustrating thing was, there were all manner of people bustling about dismantling the convention — but they all worked for different entities, and no one had any fucking authority: Security told me to ask GES, the GES guy told me to ask Show Management, and Show Management was nowhere to be found :-/ Finally I gave up and went home, and for my trouble, the fucking Convention Authority had put a ticket on my windshield, threatening to tow my car because it was parked in an unauthorized area. WELL, FUCK YOU, TOO, ASSHOLES! I’ll never be on one of your shitty banners again!! Oh, wait…I don’t have any rights to the photo, so I have no say-so in the matter. D’OH!!!!

Aaaaaaanyway, I put it all behind me in the interest of getting on with my life and getting on with my dogsuit gig, so I could finally finish it up and get the fuck out of Dodge and onto my next adventure, which happened to be an exceptionally amazing one. The minute that dog suit was off for the last time, so was I — off to the desert, for my long-awaited return to Fabulous Saline Valley Hot Springs!!!!!!!

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vast, uber-desolate Saline Valley

I’d been dying to return to magical Saline Valley for quite some time now — the last (and only) time I’d gone was way back in 2011, but that fantastically magical place has been lodged in my memory ever since. If you don’t remember/haven’t read my other blog about this fantastically remote desert oasis, the Saline Hot Springs are basically a collection of pristine, volunteer-built-and-maintained cement hot spring pools shrouded by shaggy palm trees, waaaaaaay the fuck out in the middle of nowhere, on the far northwest edge of Death Valley, miles and miles and miles away from anything. There’s no cell phone service, and the only way to get there is to leave the pavement and traverse a 50-mile-long washboard dirt road that keeps out all but the most intrepid, hardcore desert kooks.

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the road’s reward

On my last trip I’d been incredibly fortunate, as I was woefully underprepared and really should have ended up one of those dumbass tourist fatalities you read about — getting to Saline is a HARD CORE ADVENTURE requiring a BAD ASS vehicle, plenty of water and food, two full-size spare tires and/or a tire repair kit…and TONS of patience. The road is so miserable, it has been known to bust axles, tires and oil pans like they were made of papier-mâché…so you have to drive reeeeeeally slow, like 5-10mph, and get out of the car to move boulders and shit every now and then. Keep in mind, if you do bust a tire or oil pan, there is no cell phone service and very little (if any) vehicle traffic for 50 miles in any direction….and this is Death Valley, so you’re basically FUCKED!

Anyhow, by the grace of Dog I made it out from that first trip alive…but at the end of it all, I vowed never to return to Saline Valley unless I was in a 4WD high-clearance vehicle –preferably someone else’s!!

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come soak with me!

Well, guess what — a reader of this blog emailed me a month or two back, inviting me to return to Saline with him in a rented 4WD Suburban…all meals and supplies included! This man lives in Atlanta, but he was willing to fly to Vegas, rent a car, buy camping gear and food and stuff, and haul my ass down a 50-mile washboard dirt road just for the chance to soak in the hallowed waters of the Saline Springs with me. How could I say no to that?!?!?!?

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Dr. Kildare, my sis and I

Yet again, you might think it unwise to meet up with a strange man and follow him into the remotest reaches of the desert — look what happened when I met up with Jack Johnson at Deep Creek!! But to that I say, a life well lived takes some risks…and besides, the guy emailed me a few times telling me about himself: a retired physician who had read many of my blogs and knew quite a bit about me and my bizarre-O lifestyle. He seemed like a really nice guy…so what the heck? Sometimes you gotta trust your instincts…and guess what; I’m glad I did! He turned out to be a super cool person, and even told me I could print uncensored photos of him here, and could use his real name — he said he was PROUD to know me, unlike “other” wussy haters who party with me but want to remain anonymous. As wonderful as I think his openness is, however, I’m still going to call him by a pseudonym…because it’s just more dramatic and fun that way icon smile Return to Saline Valley Hot Springs So we’ll call him “Dr. Kildare.”

Meanwhile, my sis had also been wanting to check out Saline Hot Springs for quite some time, so she drove down from the SF Bay Area and arranged to meet up with Dr. Kildare and I at Panamint Springs, the closest “town” (really just a motel/cafe/gas station) in the area, so we could caravan down that horrible dirt road together, in the interest of safety. (Even tho my sis has a 4×4, it’s better to be cautious…ya know?)

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panorama of Saline Valley

So after lunch at the cafe in Panamint, we all set off on the fabled dirt road. I had been telling them all about how horrible this road was for weeks and weeks…so imagine my surprise when it turned out not to be nearly as bad as I’d remembered! I must have looked like I was completely full of shit…but apparently, Saline Valley Road is technically a county-maintained road, and someone finally whined about it enough to where they graded the whole thing last winter, and now it really isn’t bad at all. We could still only go about 20mph, and up to 30-40 in a few spots….but it was MUCH better than the last time I’d traversed it. I’m not saying it’s an easy cruise — it’s still the worst road I’ve ever driven on, so BE ADVISED! Also, a winter storm could come along and fuck it up royally at any moment…so conditions are subject to change. If you’re planning a trip out there, your best bet is to check the online message boards at the Saline Valley Preservation Association forum…they have a thread there regarding latest road conditions. (I did check this myself before embarking on the trip, but refused to believe the road was as good as everyone said.)

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arriving at Saline Hot Springs

Anyway, the road was bumpy and long, but nothing our SUVs couldn’t handle, and we ended up rolling into the hot springs right around dusk. MUCH easier than my previous trip, where I had been stumbling around in pitch darkness without a clue! On that trip, my friend and I had just set up camp at the first place we came to, down in the bushes near the lower springs. On this trip, Dr. Kildare wanted to camp farther up, near the Palm Springs…out in the open desert, under a bazillion stars. It was FABULOUS!

Once camp was set up, we hiked down in the dark to soak in the lower springs. The lower springs are sort of the main gathering area, with a communal firepit, dishwashing area, showers, soaking pools and a nice shady lawn where you can relax during the heat of the day. They even have a little lending library full of musty paperbacks (and a sign warning you to keep the doors closed, as wild burros like to cruise in and eat the books). We couldn’t see any of this in the dark, but I wanted to hang out down there because I had one more friend driving in that night from Flagstaff, and I figured the lower springs would be the easiest place for him to find us.

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the main pool, by day

Sure enough, there was a group of people hanging out down there soaking in the pool next to the campfire, so Dr. Kildare, my sis and I all joined in. It was a fun group; a radio DJ and his snowboard-instructor brother from Mammoth, plus two hot fireman from the Bay Area. In other words, that pool had more simmering sausage than a pot of Andouille gumbo! But that’s what I love about hot springs — even where nudity is the custom (ESPECIALLY where nudity is the custom), a single gal need never fear jumping into a tub full of strange men. These places area all about naturism (in my experience, anyway) — nudity without sexuality. One more reason why I VASTLY prefer hot springs to nudist resorts…which almost always prove to be swinger hotbeds :/

Anyway, we all hung out soaking and bullshitting until my Flagstaff friend finally showed up, peering into the firelit darkness to ask if “Phyllis” was around. Phyllis was the code name I had chosen for myself at Saline; I don’t typically go by a pseudonym, but I was kinda skeered down there because the Saline regulars can be a real hard-nosed band of haters when it comes to “outsiders” writing/blogging/Yelping about their precious springs — all of which I have done, many times! I got quite a bit of hate mail from certain regulars out there when I wrote about my first trip to Saline….so I thought it might be prudent to go by a fake name whilst on their turf. So, “Phyllis” it was.

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the vault toilets at Saline are astonishingly clean

Anyway, as mentioned this new arrival was an acquaintance from Flagstaff — a photographer I had shot with back in March, at my German artist friends’ compound down in Wonder Valley. Apparently this guy is also a true eccentric — a truck-driving cat-lover who used to bring his cat with him on long hauls, even keeping a litter box under the glove compartment, LOL. But I already figured he was nutty…otherwise, he wouldn’t have agreed to drive all the way out to the middle of nowhere to meet up with a drug-addled batshit nude model!!! But, either way…us nutty types are the only people worth hanging out with, in my opinion icon smile Return to Saline Valley Hot Springs

Anyhoo, that first night was pretty mellow, and we all crawled into our tents pretty early. But the fabulous thing about camping with Dr. Kildare was, he likes to get up really early…and he likes to cook fantastic meals!! (Not unlike Dr. Who, now that I think about it!) So by the time my sis and I rolled out of bed in the morning, there was already coffee on tap in one of those catering carafes, followed by strawberries & cream and salmon, cream cheese and capers on water crackers. Holy Whole Foods, Batman!!! I contributed some Bloody Marys to the mix, and all in all it was better than any breakfast you could ever get at some poseur-ass 5-star hotel…because we were naked in the warm desert sunshine, surrounded by a vast, dramatic desert landscape, with towering mountains rising on all sides around us. F A B U L O U S !

We spent the day lounging in the shade down by the lower pool, reading and boozing and chatting with various leathery nude old men, all of whom had the most interesting stories to tell about their travels to this and other remote hot springs. Everyone was super friendly, so after awhile I got lazy and quit calling myself Phyllis — I don’t think anyone there knew or  cared who the fuck I was, other than some nattering naked ninny in a cowboy hat. So, the day passed peacefully…drenched in that amazing utter stillness you only get when you’re way the fuck out in the middle of a barren, cell-phone-less desert.

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pic by Dano G. fotodano.wordpress.com

But, every so often that majestic stillness would be broken out of nowhere by the screaming sound of fighter jet afterburners — Saline Valley also happens to be a designated low-level flight corridor used by pilots from nearby China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station to practice flying super low to the ground — as close as 300 feet overhead!! So you’d be sitting there naked, sipping a Bloody Mary and discussing the finer points of psilocybin, when all of a sudden this ginormous fucking F-18 would come swooping in out of nowhere, screaming through the valley, so close overhead that it rustled your pubic hair!! Sometimes they buzzed you so close, you could even make out the pilot in the cockpit!!! Far out!!!!!!!!

Even more awesomely, one of those pilots emailed me once, after reading my other blog about Saline Valley…and he attached a link to a video he shot, of what Saline Valley looks like from the pilot’s POV. But I lost the email, and can’t find it anywhere. Pilot, if you’re reading this…please resend! Anyway, rather than being a nuisance, those fighter jets really add to the bizarre ambiance at Saline. So weird!!!

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shoring up the Elvis shrine (springs barely visible in the distance, upper left)

Speaking of weird, one of the old-timers at the springs told us kids about an Elvis shrine someone had erected on a nearby hillside, so around sunset we went out hiking to find it. Alas, the dumb-ass park service dismantled it some time ago (apparently there’s a rule against erecting a monument or some such totalitarian B.S.), so all that was left was a pile of rocks. So we said a few words, and the DJ from Mammoth spelled out “T C B” in rocks at the base, and then we headed back down to camp for another one of Dr. Kildare’s fantastic meals — filet mignon and sautéed mushrooms, with a side of pasta kicked in by my Flagstaff trucker pal (who drives a bus for a living nowadays…so I’ll call him “Otto”).

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pic by Dano G. fotodano.wordpress.com

My own contribution this time was dessert — I had a bunch of chocolate magic mushroom truffles, which I passed around to all takers. Those of us who partook started tripping a short while thereafter, and we all headed up to soak in the Wizard pool — one of the upper pools that is open to the night sky, so you can lay back and stare into the heavens at the thousands and thousands of stars that can only be seen from a remote-ass place like Death Valley (or Mauna Kea). It was absolutely magical to sit there in all that silent vastness, surrounded by cool, naked people with no agenda other than a good time.

Alas, the silence was destroyed by our relentless shroomy nattering  —  about all kinds of stupid topics from cabbages and kings to the merits of Angelina Jolie vs. Jen Aniston. Apparently, my sister is on Team Angelina, and feels she has been wrongly maligned by the media as a scabrous, homewrecking whore when really it’s all Brad Pitt’s fault!! I never thought I’d be in the position of defending a humorless dullard like Jen, but in that situation I did have to take her side — Angelina had already busted up Billy Bob Thornton’s thing with Laura Dern, so she definitely knew better when it came to Brad. An honorable woman would have told Brad/Billy Bob to break it off with Jen/Laura before getting involved….but apparently, that bitch has a magic pussy that can lead men off a cliff faster than the Pied Piper. Anyway, my sis and I finally had to agree to disagree, because this is one topic on which we’re never gonna see eye to eye!

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pic by Dano G. fotodano.wordpress.com

That craziness went on late into the night, and a genuinely good time was had by all — even those among us who didn’t eat mushrooms. Dr. Kildare even said later that it was one of the most fun nights he’s ever had in his entire life! Apparently, even when I’m high as a kite and arguing drunkenly about some dumb HollyTwats, I’m fun to be around icon smile Return to Saline Valley Hot Springs But I wasn’t sure everyone felt that way…so the next morning I made sure to apologize to the other campers in the area, as they were taking their morning soak. No one was upset though, and everything was cool.

Anyway, we were all pretty hungover that day, so didn’t do much other than swill a few mimosas and lay around in the shade some more. We did sack up and hike to the undeveloped Upper Springs, way up the hill about 2 miles, just to get some exercise….but after that, we just had a light dinner and hit the sack early, so we could get up and watch sunrise one more time before leaving.

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Sick as fuck at sunrise!!!!!!

Let me tell you, it takes a lot to get me up for sunrise…but that was totally worth it!! I wasn’t feeling well, as I hadn’t slept for shit since arriving at Saline, and I was coming down with a cold or flu or something…so I was kinda subdued, but it was still fabulous to see the sun come up over the valley, bathing everything in pink and orange, my absolute favorite color combo of all time (I call it “porange”). Dr. Kildare made us one last fantastic breakfast, we packed up camp, had one last soak…and then headed off back to Vegas, pulling back into my driveway that night around 7pm. My sis followed us home, since the very next day we were both heading to L.A. together to attend a Halloween party at the home of some porn industry people we’d met at Burning Man, and it made more sense for us to drive together.

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Tita’s Burger Den/the old Del Taco in Yermo

So we basically took showers, did laundry and passed out….then got up the next day to head back out on the road again. To break up the drive, I proposed we stop off for lunch in Yermo, a dusty little desert outpost near Barstow that was home to the first-ever Del Taco restaurant. Someone had told me about this place awhile back, saying it was unlike any Del Taco anywhere, and I somehow took that to mean it would be more fancy or gourmet or something. In actuality, it’s not even a Del Taco anymore — just a sunbaked little burger shack at the side of a lonely desert side road, surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling gas stations and other picturesque Americana. The food is still pretty much the same shit as Del Taco, and not really any better…but the ambiance is far out! And the old Del Taco sign is still perched atop the roof, though the paint is peeling pretty badly. I definitely recommend stopping here on your next trip from L.A. to Vegas — take the Yermo Road exit, and look for Tita’s Burger Den. You won’t be sorry!

Once back on the road, we headed straight for the San Fernando Valley– our good friend Dr. Who was meeting us for the party, and had booked a genteel room in Calabasas for the three of us to crash in afterward. The party hosts were his Burning Man campmates, and we had all three been looking forward to this shindig for quite some time — although we’d had the devil of a time trying to come up with a clever group costume for one man and two women. Three’s Company? Lame! Two Girls, One Cup?? As tempting as it sounded to dress Dr. Who as a cup of shit and then go around all night licking him, I still felt we could do better.

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meta!

Finally, we ended up settling on the weird, meta idea of dressing up as the party hosts themselves. Far out!! As mentioned, the people throwing the party were all in the porn biz, so I dressed as the producer, Dr. Who dressed as his sexy blonde wife, and my sis dressed as the sound guy, whose house the party was at. My trusty bag of dongs came in handy yet again, as I wore a strap-on with the tip poking thru the crotch of my overalls (the producer is known to wear overalls, and he won the SpeedBoner contest at last year’s Slut Olympics at Burning Man) and my sis jammed another dong into the end of her “boom mic” (a paint roller on a broomstick, lol).

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the sound guy and his doppelganger

I had also bought a ginormous old bra and sundress for Dr. Who to wear with his blonde wig and false eyelashes, so once he arrived at the hotel, we set about dressing him up. To make it even more fun, we also applied liquid latex to our faces and did zombie makeup…so we were basically the Undead versions of the party hosts at the party we were going to. Kray-zay!!! By the time we left the hotel and headed for the party, we were quite a sight.

Let me tell you, I’ve been to some parties in my day, but this one was nuts! These porn industry types really know how to let loose, ya know what I mean? The crowd was astonishingly diverse, and the costumes were pretty creative. You’d think at a porn party it would be all balloon-breasted starlets in slutty nun outfits or whatever — well, this was not the case. There were plenty of hot actresses there…but there were also a lot of stone-cold kooks! Our meta-costumes went over extremely well, and after a ketamine-laced rum & Coke or two, I was feeling no pain and having the time of my life, dancing around the living room in my overalls and flipflops, with my fake dick hanging out, not a care in the world. I’m here to tell you, that was the most comfortable Halloween costume I’ve ever worn — usually I’m suffering in high heels and some kind of wig or corset, but not this year. Zombie Drag FTW!!!

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the producer and his doppelganger

Astonishingly, despite the abundance of luscious pornstar trim hanging around, my sis and I got plenty of action — even in our zombie drag. Apparently, those guys see hot chicks all the time, so a little titty aint no thang and they’d rather talk to a dirty hobo cholo (which is what I looked like). Go figure! I knew I loved that industry; they really are good people. Which reminds me — they finally aired that news story I was interviewed for, about the porn biz “invading” Vegas. As I feared, the angle is sensational and alarmist…but at least they didn’t edit my words to make it seem like I said things I didn’t. See for yourself:

http://www.mynews3.com/content/video/default.aspx?videoId=5420028&navCatId=32042

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blowfish FTW! They didn’t pay me to say this, but if you’re reading, guys…..send me a free case!

Anyway, we danced our asses off at that party until 5am (!!!!!), when we finally thanked our poor exhausted hosts, climbed into Dr. Who’s rental car, and headed back to our hotel to crash. I was e x h a u s t e d, and still feeling sick, but there was no time to sleep in, since Dr. Who is a bionic freak who only needs 4 hours of sleep per night. He was up & at ‘em at 10am, showering and getting dressed so he could go visit some other friends in the area. Meanwhile, my sis and I dragged ass like two beached sea lions, moaning and groaning and fumbling for the coffee and Blowfish (a hangover potion that actually works pretty well…I officially endorse this product!).

So Dr. Who took off, inviting us to meet up with him later at the house of last night’s porn producer and his wife, where they were all planning some sort of fucked-up sleepover with a bunch of people in town from their Burning Man camp. It sounded fun, so my sis and I made some sort of vague noncommittal reply…but we knew if we went to that sleepover it would be another late night of not enough rest, and both of us were feeling pretty tore up. We decided to go get breakfast and think about it….and as we sat there, we decided our health would be better served by driving around L.A. for the day looking at various Manson Family crime scenes, then heading back out to the high desert to get a motel room near Apple Valley, so we could hit up my beloved Deep Creek hot springs in the morning before heading back to Vegas.

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LaBianca house

So we cruised around town, stopping off at the old LaBianca residence in Los Feliz, where Charles Manson’s deranged killer hippie minions murdered a middle-aged couple…and then we hit up Sharon Tate’s old house in Benedict Canyon, which actually isn’t even there anymore; some idiot bulldozed it and replaced it with a McMansion, but the front gate is still there and you can sort of get the idea. Finally, we headed up to Chatsworth to the site of the old Spahn Movie Ranch, where the Manson Family members once squatted in various cabins and ranch buildings, living for free on the dime of poor old blind George Spahn. The ranch is long gone, but apparently you can still hike to a cave where they used to hang out — unfortunately for us, it was already dark by this time, so we didn’t even get out of the car. Still, it was a spooooooooky place, and I definitely plan to go back sometime!

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I’d rather be camping!

Now we headed back out toward the desert, and as we drove, I hit up Orbitz to see about a cheap motel room in Apple Valley, Victorville, Palmdale or any other of those depressing, lamentable desert burgs. Being from Vegas, I am totally spoiled when it comes to hotel rooms — here, you can get a fairly nice room at one of the Stations Casinos for around $30-$40; not so elsewhere! The cheapest place we could find that didn’t have terrible reviews was a Knights Inn in Palmdale; so we booked the room, checked in, dragged our bags and weary asses down the walkway and opened the door. All we wanted to do was drink some wine and pass the fuck out — but there were bugs all over the room!!! Crawling on the table, on the headboard, the pillows…and all over the bathroom. YUCK!!!!!!!

I’m here to tell you, I’ve stayed in some shitty motel rooms in my day, but I have never seen anything like it. It must have been due to the fact that the weather had just turned, and this nasty fucking cold front had blown in, rousting out the bugs and signaling an abrupt end to my beloved summertime icon sad Return to Saline Valley Hot Springs Boooooo!

Either way, we weren’t about to stay there, so we got a refund and figured we might as well just head back to Vegas. After that horror, we didn’t feel like dicking around with another shitty motel — in fact, I’m going to be scared off from all motels for quite a while now, because of that experience. So even though I was exhausted, I somehow managed to drive us all the way back to Vegas, where we collapsed into bed around 1am and slept for around 3 days. We were just annihilated from all the adventuring of late, and the weather change, and the seasonal flu nonsense.

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Delight’s in Tecopa

But wouldn’t you know it, we couldn’t rest for long — before you know it, one of my friends messaged me, inviting us out for a day at Tecopa Hot Springs, this amazingly freaky little desert outpost between Death Valley and Pahrump. Back in the day (’40s-’50s), it was a hotspot for Hollywood types looking for a relaxing, curative getaway…but nowadays, it’s just a collection of rundown old hot spring “resorts” and a bunch of snowbirds living in trailers and RVs. In other words — a fantastic spot, and only 90 minutes from Vegas!! A little soaking, a little shrooming….how could I say no?! Tecopa is one of my favorite places ever, and I wanted my sis to see it!

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Delight’s in Tecopa

So we loaded up some drugs and bathrobes, and headed back out into the desert in my friend’s tricked-out Honda. This crazy motherfucker likes to drive fast, and has already been busted going well over 100mph twice….but it’s hard not to do on those lonely desert roads, so we got to Tecopa pretty quickly, and checked into a room at Delight’s Resort (we didn’t plan to stay the night, but this friend likes to rent a cabin there when soaking, just to use as a basecamp of sorts). Meanwhile, Delight’s has been taken over by some Koreans from Vegas, so the sign is now in Korean and I can’t read it…but I’m pretty sure it’s still called Delight’s.

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shuffling along the highway

Anyway, we all stripped down, put on our robes, swallered our shrooms and headed off to soak. The tubs at Delight’s have that Korean spa aesthetic — walled-in private rooms that are regularly bleached and scoured, so you know they’re sparkling clean…but lacking a certain measure of ambiance. So after soaking awhile, around sunset we decided to head down the road for an open-air soak in the all-natural mudhole, about a half mile away.

It was amazing — we shuffled along the

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in the desert around the mudhole, earlier this year. Pic by Bennie S.

desolate highway in our robes and flip flops, across the most vast, barren moonscape this side of Mars, all bathed in the magnificent golden light of pre-sunset, tripping our balls off. Finally, ahead in the distance we saw a little smudge of green — the mudhole! This lonely patch of marshy vegetation sits in the middle of the most enormous expanse of barren desert you’ve ever seen, just like the springs of Saline Valley. Totally surreal…and as we approached, it was even moreso, as there was a group of Russian acrobats hanging out around a lonely campfire drinking birch water and potato juice, with tinny Russian pop music wafting from a little transistor radio. They were all performers from various Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas, and come out to Tecopa on their days off for a taste of home, I guess. Far out!!!

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soaking in the mudhole, last January

We soaked in the mudhole, enjoying the breathtakingly fabulous sunset while chatting with one of the acrobats, a giant, barrel-chested Slav with a curly blond mullet who has been performing in Cirque shows for 17 years!!! I was astonished that his career had lasted that long, as it was my assumption that circus life is tough as fuck, and burns through acrobats in a few years. In fact, he did tell us that he’s had “many, many surgery” and showed us scars on his abdomen where some fountain had blasted him over and over again while a roomful of drunken tourists yukked it up. What a life!!! He did say he plans to retire after New Year’s, and possibly take up indoor marijuana farming — so who knows what the future holds?

But it reminded me of a story that my Diet-Coke-a-holic actress friend had told me, during one of our breaks at the dogsuit gig. She used to be one of those strolling opera singers at the Venetian (you know, the ones that wear those old Renaissance costumes and walk around the Grand Canal Shoppes), and she said one of the jugglers who performed with them was from Russia. They only made $17/hour at this job, but it was steady money and pretty good hours, so I guess the Russian guy eventually had his son drop of high school and get his GED so he could become a juggler as well! That’s so Russian: “In Soviet Russia, Clown College is better than State College!!!”

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in one of the pools at Delight’s, a few years ago

Anyway, as the sunset faded away into a magical desert darkness, the stars started coming out and we struck up a conversation with another guy in the mudhole, a Tecopa local who had lived in the area for years and years. Boy was HE a helpful fount of information!!! He told us about all these crazy UFO sightings in the area, and even dished us a little of the local gossip — apparently one of the other hot springs resorts near Delight’s is for sale. Hmmmmmm!!! I can definitely think of worse things than whiling away my declining years running a kooky desert hot springs resort……..let me think about this!

Once it was full-on dark, my sister and I started to get hungry, so we climbed out of the warm pool into the freezing night air (I’m telling you, summer is over — it was a low of 32 degrees out there that night!!) and bundled back up in our robes to shuffle back along the highway to our room at Delight’s. None of us had thought to bring a flashlight, but the moon was almost full and there was so much ambient light that we didn’t even need one — it was magical!! Still pretty high, we soaked at Delight’s for awhile longer before getting dressed and heading down the road to see if the good people at Pastel’s Bistro were still there.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned Pastel’s Bistro before, but I’ll go ahead and say it again: this is a fantastic little restaurant in Tecopa, all the way out in the middle of nowhere, that serves bad ass healthy, organic, high-quality foodie-type gourmet food at very reasonable prices, in a super-charmingly funky, bohemian atmosphere. The cook is a guy who used to be a chef at a highbrow restaurant in Vegas before he said “Fuckit!” and hauled ass to the desert, where he now gets baked and noodles around in the kitchen, cooking up all manner of fantastically fabulous, unexpected fare for weary desert travelers and random locals. His partner is a sort of kooky hippie-type chick who waits the tables and helps out, and they are both super-legit people. One of the best restaurants I have ever been to!!!

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Pastel’s Fucking Bistro — Legit as FUCK!

The only bummer is, they tend to close up kinda early…so usually when I come out to Tecopa, by the time my shrooms wear off it’s too late to eat there. As a result, I’ve only ever had two real meals there — but both were exceptional!! This time, they were just getting ready to close up, so they didn’t have any real food left…but they did have some soup — some bad ass meatball-vegetable-three-bean-soup!! I’m here to tell you, after freezing my balls off getting out of the hot springs, that soup was the best thing I’ve ever had!!!! They served it up with some garlic bread, and it was really one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Thank you SO MUCH, guys, for serving us even though you were trying to close up and go home!!!! Again, I can’t say enough good things about this place — if you ever want to meet up for a fun afternoon, I heartily recommend coming out here for a soak and some lunch. It’s only about 90 minutes from Vegas…hit me up!!!!

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too much magic in the world!

After dinner, my friend wanted to do one last soak at Delight’s before heading home. My sis and I were too cold and sleepy, so we told him to go ahead and we would sleep in the room…but next thing you know, my friend fell asleep as well, and we all three dozed off until around 1:30am, when we finally got up and drove home. Another long, exhausting night….but magical!!! You tell me — how can I ever get enough sleep, when all these fantastical magical experiences keep presenting themselves to me?!?!?!?

Anyway, my sister and I slept late the next day, and then she finally left, headed back up north toward the Bay Area, where she’s spending the winter in a cabin in the redwoods up near the Russian River. I’m coming to visit her in a few weeks, in fact — but first, in the meantime, I have some other stuff to do: some photo shoots, a cigar convention, a Mexican Riviera cruise…and finally getting around to riding that giant fucking Ferris Wheel that has been looming over the Vegas Strip since March!!!

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See you soon!

Shit…..looks like I’ll never get enough sleep!!!

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Mai Tais, Cyborgs and Machines of Loving Grace

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you never know where the road will lead you…

One of the things I love most about Burning Man is that you never know who you’re going to run into out there — dust is the great equalizer, and on the playa you find yourself partying with people from all walks of life, many with whom you might never mingle in the “default” world. One minute you’re discussing cosplay techniques with a porn starlet over mojitos; next thing you know you’re tripping balls on a fur-covered golf cart at 3am with a pediatric neurologist in a pink pimp hat. It’s nuts!

This year, my sister and I spent an inordinate amount of time hanging out with the character I called “Dr. Who” in my Burning Man blog — an exceptionally urbane, moderately eccentric masochist (he must have been, to spend so much time hanging out with us) who is a medical professional by day…and a fearless adventurer and bon vivant the rest of the time. We hit it off so well, in fact, that after Burning Man was over, he invited me to come visit him at his home in Hawaii.

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oh, hell…why not?

I pooh-poohed him a few times, not wanting to come off as a mooch — but he insisted. Apparently there was some big footrace going down in the town where he lives, and he thought I might find it an interesting and life-affirming spectacle to behold. He even offered up some of his frequent-flyer miles, so I wouldn’t have to spend a dime…so finally, I agreed to come out, booking a ticket right after I got back from my ill-fated San Francisco jaunt.

What could be better than a free trip to Hawaii?! I had been there once before, to Waikiki back in 2006, and found it to be a super-fabulous place full of sunshine and alcohol, with food so shitty that I actually lost weight from lack of appetite. But Dr. Who lives on the Big Island, which is a totally different scene, and I was curious to see how that stacked up to my memories. So I threw a few things in my pink Samsonite and headed for the skies.

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later that week…

Alas, nothing in my life can ever go totally smoothly, and I fucked up as soon as I got to the airport. A friend dropped me off for my short flight from Vegas to LAX, after which I had a 4 hour layover before my connecting flight to Kona. So I basically just rolled out of bed and performed minimal ablutions, figuring I’d have plenty of time between flights at LAX for my normal daily primping and preening.

However, I arrived at the Vegas airport early enough that I had some spare time to kill…so I headed to the bathroom right next to my gate, to at least powder my nose and make myself semi-presentable. After all, you never know who you’ll meet on a flight from Vegas to L.A…and I might as well look my best, ya know? You never get a second chance to make a first impression! (Although Dr. Who’s first impression was of me swinging a disco ball between my legs, and he still liked me enough to invite me for a visit!)

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fabulous pic by Michael Maze

So I set up camp in front of a mirror in the women’s restroom, and set about tweezing and powdering and poking and prodding my face into submission, keeping one eye on my phone, figuring I’d head over to the gate 15 minutes before the flight was to depart. It wasn’t like it was a Southwest flight, where you have to battle for a good seat — I had an assigned aisle seat already, so who cares…right?

About 15 minutes prior to departure, I packed up and hustled next door to the gate — not 10 feet from the bathroom, I might add — and found the gate attendant just shutting the doors to the jetway. By law, she was unable to open them once shut — I had missed my flight by 30 seconds!!!!!! FUCK!!!!!

Apparently, she had been paging me…but although I was only 10 feet away, I somehow didn’t hear her. To make matters even worse, apparently my friend Bam Bam also happened to be at the airport, waiting for a different flight to L.A. where he was to record a new Strawberry Alarm Clock album, and even he heard them paging me, and had texted me to ask if I was ok. Somehow, I missed all of this…and now I was fucked! No matter how I begged and pleaded, the gate attendant was unable to let me in — although I could see the plane sitting there, not moving, there was nothing I could do but gnash my teeth, curse…and head back down to the checkin counter to see about booking another flight.

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At the airport bar

Thankfully I had plenty of time before my flight to Kona left LAX at 5pm — it wasn’t even noon yet, so in theory I even had enough time to get a cab home and drive to LAX; barring any accidents or flat tires, I could get there in plenty of time to catch my flight, although the cost of gas and the cost of parking my truck at LAX for 10 days would probably add up to as much as a flight would. I even considered just dragging my cheap ass out to the I-15 southbound onramp and hitching a ride to LAX…but finally I decided to just book a $200 Southwest fare, and then dig myself in deeper at the airport bar with a consolatory Bloody Mary. Talk about First World Problems! ISIS is on the rampage and Ebola is ravaging Africa…but I missed my flight to Hawaii!!!! STOP THE PRESSES!

Anyway, I chalked it all up to an expensive lesson learned, and got on with my adventures. I made sure to drink at an airport bar directly facing the gate from which my new flight was to depart, and when I got to LAX I suckled at the electronic teat of a cell-phone charging station directly facing the gate from which the Kona-bound plane was leaving…so I made it aboard both flights with no further ado. Whew!

Once the tradewinds finally had me in their seductive embrace, shoving me gently toward paradise, relief washed over me and I wanted nothing so much as to get genteelly sloshed on a few airplane cocktails, and get the party started at long last. But even here, I was cockblocked! What was stopping me now, you ask??

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at the footrace

Apparently, this “footrace” to which Dr. Who had invited me was actually a hardcore triathlon called the Ironman — and this was the World Championship, no less!! This meant that the fittest, most shredded athletes in the entire world were coming out to compete — all people who had already completed Ironman triathlons in other parts of the world, and who were now coming to face off against each other in a bizarre, hairless swim-bike-run race-to-the-death among the crème de la crème of Spandex-clad Type A Caucasians with $18,000 bicycles and too much time on their hands. A show with everything but Yul Brynner!

A quick Wikipedia investigation the night before had revealed that these insane individuals planned to swim 2.4 miles in open seas, after which they would race ashore, dripping with seawater, and mount the aforementioned $18,000 bikes for a 112-mile bike ride through the searing Hawaiian desert…before dismounting and embarking upon a full, 26.2-mile marathon. In the interest of saving time, most of them would do all of this in the same skintight onesie, not even stopping to pee — they’d just piss themselves as they ran (or biked). W…..T……F?!?!?!?!?!? Why??????!

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cray-cray white people!

You might assume it was for the prize money — $120,000 to the winner, who usually finishes in around 8 hours. But there were over 2,200 entrants in this race, and only those finishing in the Top 10 of each gender got any prize money. That means something like 2,120 put themselves through this torture for free. Actually it was worse — they had to pay something like $700 to enter the race, not to mention the cost of gear, airfare and accommodations. So, these people were basically shelling out thousands for the privilege of torturing themselves. Or for bragging rights, I suppose. Cray-cray — Stuff White People Do!

Aaaaaanyway, what does all of this have to do with my inability to order a cocktail on the flight? Well, I’m pretty fit myself — I work out fairly religiously, in a Sisyphean quest to keep my ass up where it’s supposed to be, so I’m pretty well used to being the fittest person, or at least among the fittest people, in any given room. Especially on a commercial airline flight, ya know?

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for the love of dog, what have I signed myself up for?!

But this was no ordinary airplane flight — I was surrounded by superhuman cyborgs in peak physical condition, all of whom were on special low-carb/no carb/protein-heavy/fetus-testicle diets that surely didn’t allow for any alcohol. I’d feel like a real fat-assed lush if I were to start boozing around them! So I bided my time reading magazines, biting my nails and thinking of England until finally, about 3 hours into the flight, I couldn’t take it any more!!! When the flight attendant came around taking orders, I whispered “Bacardi & Coke, please.”

“What? a Diet Coke?”

“No, Bacardi Coke.” I was still whispering, trying to save face among all the pious protein- powderheads. But the flight attendant still couldn’t hear me over the sound of all those hairless legs crossing and uncrossing, and the pages of all those Triathlete magazines being turned.

“WHAT? Dr. Pepper????”

“BACARDI AND COKE!” I finally shouted, broadcasting my pathetic alkie status to all the salmon-and-broccoli-eating, Gatorade-guzzling go-getters around me.

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ahhh, to soak in a pool of vodka…

D’oh!!!! I’ve never been so embarrassed to drink booze in my entire life, not even the time I went on Jeopardy! drunk. It was horrible, and I shuddered to think of the long, dry week ahead of me — I knew Dr. Who had run the Ironman himself a few times, and that we’d be hanging around with a lot of his Ironman buddies all week; in fact, Dr. Who and many of his sports-medicine cronies volunteered their time each year to staff the Ironman’s medical tent, aiding ailing participants, and had even gotten me a spot as a volunteer assistant in said medical tent. So I was basically facing an entire week of hob-nobbing with sports-addled, health-minded physicians at an event that can only be described as the jewel in the crown of the ultra-healthy lifestyle. DOUBLE D’OH!!!!!!

Thankfully, my preconceptions were totally wrong. Those sports docs are the biggest boozers of them all!!!!

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Later that same night…

After picking me up at the airport that evening, the ever-jovial Dr. Who festooned me with a lei and whisked me away to a mai-tai party at the fabulous geodesic dome house of a flight-nurse pal who lived in the jungle amidst coffee trees and chirping coqui frogs. I stuffed myself on Hawaiian delicacies (the food here was much better than on my 2006 trip to Waikiki, alas), drank about 40 mai tais, and spent the evening roasting marshmallows on a bonfire under an avocado tree. Triathlon? What triathlon?!?!?!??

Now, I’ve been trying a new life approach lately, where I make an effort to go into new situations with no expectations…so I had no idea what I was in for here in Hawaii, and everything that happened on this trip was basically a pleasant surprise, beginning with my fabulous accommodations at the astonishingly glamorous home of Dr. Who. I’ve never seen a house like that, anywhere!!

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La vie en rose, looking out over Dr. Who’s pool

Apparently, the temperature on this island is so temperate and so even that one doesn’t need a heater, air-conditioner, or thermostat in one’s home….even if one’s home happens to be an aesthetically orgasmic masterpiece of minimalist eastern architecture, with few walls and no window glass, totally open to the elements and perched high on a mountainside, with a jaw-dropping view of Kailua Bay beyond a sparkling infinity pool floating peacefully above acres of coffee trees. Even if one wanted to keep a fabulously well-stocked wine cellar, all one apparently has to do is hack a doorway into a cavelike lava tube running through the hillside beside the garage…OMG!!! Out of respect for Dr. Who’s privacy I am not posting any photos of this house, so you’ll just have to take my word for it — it was a s t o n i s h i n g ! ! ! 

 

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artist’s rendition of the house from The Party

But to give you some idea…as a child, I was obsessed with the 1960s Peter Sellers movie “The Party,” which took place in a fabulously swanky ’60s mod Hollywood mansion that has been lodged in my mind ever since as the epitome of glamorous homes. Well, Dr. Who’s house was basically the tropical version, complete with stepping stones leading across pools that various drunken partygoers have fallen into over the years…so staying there was essentially the fulfillment of all my girlhood dreams. And I never even fell into any of the pools!!

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this shit is bananas!

Anyhoo, as fabulous as the house itself was, the grounds were even more amazing — acres and acres of perfectly tended trees, shrubs, plants and flowers; everything from orchids to date palms to Monkey Pods, all bursting with an astonishingly sensual abundance of flowers and fruits: avocado, pineapples, grapefruit, tangerines, limes, kiwi, bananas…it was like the Garden of Eden, and you could basically just pad around in your bare feet, languidly plucking ripe fruit from low-hanging boughs, eating to your heart’s content. Meanwhile, mongoose and wild turkeys scuttled about…and beyond the electric fence, wild pigs foraged plumply. It was a literal paradise! Did I mention before that I’ve never seen anything like it?!?

Ominously, the fridge was stuffed with an even greater cornucopia of earthly delights — and I ain’t talking Hot Pockets and beer!!! Dr. Who once took a series of cooking classes from Julia Child (during which he said she drank from a 1.5 liter bottle of Jack Daniels), so he doesn’t fuck around — he was constantly preparing me sumptuous meals featuring foodie delights like capers and sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts and fresh ahi tuna, plus avocados the size of footballs (!!!). It was incredible!!!!

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fruit growing everywhere!

Meanwhile, the place was also a fully operational coffee plantation — I already knew this, as every year Dr. Who brings pounds and pounds of his personally harvested Kona coffee to Burning Man, to share with caffeine-deprived hippies at dawn. But I also knew that Dr. Who himself doesn’t drink coffee, and as his houseguest, I didn’t want to impose…so I had packed a bunch of inferior Colombian Folgers instant coffee packets with me. I always travel with instant coffee, since it takes me at least three cups to get going in the morning…and I never know when or where I’ll be, so I figure it’s best to be prepared.

Well let me tell you, I don’t think I’ll ever live that down — when Dr. Who found out, he seemed personally insulted that I would bring that dreck into his home, and foisted upon me a bag of his own personal roast to brew instead. OMG, it was heavenly!! That Kona coffee is the SHIZZ!!!

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ughhhhhh

So, basically I was ridiculously coddled all week — I could hardly turn around without being force-fed some astonishing delicacy, or having some sort of delicious wine or mai tai poured down my gullet. Dr. Who is definitely the bon vivant of all bons vivants — he takes living well to a whole new level! But his definition of living well differed from mine in one significant respect: SLEEP.

Now, when I go back to visit my family in the Bay Area of California, they always complain that I’m too active, like a dog that needs walking every day — I like to get out and do stuff, not lie around watching TV and whatnot, so I guess it kind of puts a strain on them having to keep up with me. Well, now I know how they feel!!!

Dr. Who is a machine!!! He’s one of those people who only needs 5 hours of sleep a night…which I most assuredly am not. My lifestyle is as high-octane as it gets, but I require a good 8 or 9-hour chunk of rest in between adventures, just to refuel. But not in Hawaii!!!! Every morning, Dr. Who was up at the crack of ass, ready to take me out for more sightseeing, as I dragged my bleary ass into the kitchen to guzzle multiple cups of his coffee in preparation. Somehow, I managed to survive.

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the sun shines out of my behind

One day, Dr. Who had to work early in the morning, so I figured it was finally my chance to sleep in. WRONG! That happened to be the day of the charity Underpants Run, when all the triathlon people get together and don crazy costumes for a one-mile fun run down the streets of Kona…and I kinda wanted to see what that was all about. I happened to have packed my “Ready For Anything” undies, so I figured I should probably go…but the race started at 7:30 am (!!!!!) and I couldn’t decide which I would rather do — run, or sleep. In the end, my FOMO won out, and I went down to join in the melee.

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the lucky Guinness bitch!

I was glad I did! In addition to the hundreds of wackos down there, I also met this amazing chick from the Guinness Book of World Records, who had been sent out to oversee the attempt being made at a World Record for Greatest Number of People in their Underwear in Public, or some such nonsense. This bitch gets paid to go to wacky events around the world and judge them!!!!! CAN YOU IMAGINE??? OMG, that’s my dream job! AND she gets to wear that blazer!! Some chicks have all the luck!!!!

Anyway, as it happened, we failed to set the record…and I got swamp-ass for nothing. Even at 7:30am, that Hawaiian sun is intense – much stronger than even our nuclear desert sun here in Vegas. When they say “but it’s a dry heat,” they’re not kidding — it really makes a difference! That humidity was hard to get used to. Thankfully, Dr. Who’s place was high on a mountain, so it was always several degrees cooler than down in town…but the area in and around Kona where the race events were being held was swass city!!

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this crazy mofo did the entire race using just his ARMS!!!!

Now, speaking of the triathlon…the Big Island is a fairly quiet scene most of the time, but during Ironman the whole area surrounding Kona basically turns into Racetown, USA. It’s not only the 2,200-odd participants — it’s also their families and sponsors and the herds of supporters they bring with them, not to mention the staff and announcers and the TV crews covering the event. You can’t walk ten feet without seeing the steely Spandex-clad asscheeks of some superhuman freak strutting down the street in front of you — it’s nuts! You would think an event of this magnitude would be a real boon to the local economy, but remember — these joyless freaks don’t drink, nor do they eat anything other than gel packs and protein goo, so I guess the local restaurants and bartenders are shit out of luck. Fortunately, however, these sports docs we were hanging out with more than made up for that — I personally experienced an endless succession of boozy parties in their company!

Hanging with this crowd was a hoot, and a real switcheroo from the usual crowd of bums, grifters and perverts with whom I normally associate. That’s one thing I share with Dr. Who — a penchant for mingling in disparate social milieux. I love it! It wasn’t just that everyone in this crowd was older than me — they were also all super-intelligent high-level professionals at the tops of their fields, with beautifully groomed wives, everyone exceptionally friendly and exceedingly well-spoken.  I can’t say for sure, but I’d wager I was the only one there ever to have kicked a man in the nuts for money. But these wonderful people made me feel welcome, and were always careful to include me in their conversations — they were such nice people! (I told them I was a model and freelance writer…essentially true, though these days the emphasis is on the “free,” as I haven’t been paid to write anything in quite some time.)

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the official pace car

Anyway, the reason for all this socializing and boozing was, of course, the triathlon — and I was really looking forward to my volunteer shift in the medical tent on race day. I’ve had a bazillion gigs, but thus far the only medical-type stuff I’ve done was my heartbeat fetish videos, my work as an ultrasound practice dummy at Touro University, and my recent gig as the plastic surgeons’ guinea pig. Being on the other side of the scrubs was a new experience!

My shift wasn’t scheduled to start until 7pm, but we arrived at the race around 6:30am (!!!), to witness the start, when they all jump in the water. After showing me around a bit, Dr. Who had to go work, so I basically had alllllll day to wander around and people-watch. It was nuts!! For an event that started out as an informal friendly competition between a few macho surf bums, this Ironman business has become just that — a business! Someone is making a shit ton of money off this beast. Nowadays, in addition to your $700 race fee you can also buy Ironman™ wristwatches, backpacks, visors, hats, socks and water bottles…plus t-shirts for everyone in your crew from your IronMom to your IronTot (“Future IronMan™”) . Meanwhile, most of the support staff used at the race is there on a volunteer basis — including the doctors — so they’re not even paying any staff!!! What a racket!!!!

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cyborgs

And every day, around the world, hordes of white people are lining up to join in the fray (I say white people semi-facetiously; I did see one black guy, a few Asians, a Latino or two and one bearded Muslim from Dubai)…so it’s not just the Ironman organization itself that’s making money; there’s whole industries that have sprung up to feed these peoples’ need for gear: the aforementioned $18,000 carbon-fiber bikes, plus aerodynamic helmets, featherweight running shoes, wetsuits/skinsuits, women’s-specific running wear, heart-rate monitors, etc. etc. etc. The only people not making money off this crowd are E.J. Gallo and Tampax (since female triathletes have such low body fat percentages, they generally cease to menstruate). (Which is the only plus I can see to running this thing!)

When I got tired of people-watching, I hung out at the course sidelines to check out the swim-bike transition, watching in open-mouthed fascination as 2,119 hairless cyborgs (and one bearded Muslim) ran from the sea like rampaging dolphins, dashing through showers and leaping onto bicycles, jamming their feet into shoes already strapped to the pedals, racing off to cross the desert lava fields while pissing themselves in between shoving goo packs into their maws and pounding weird-colored fluids (not that I’m judging; I’ve had a Midori sour or two in my day). IT WAS BIZARRE!!!

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me vs. Mirinda Carfrae

After awhile I just couldn’t take any more, and retreated into the comforting arms of a nearby bar for some self-affirming Bloody Marys. I was starting to feel a little inferior, watching all those ultracompetitive superhumans! And truthfully, spending so much time around all those jock-types was actually giving me a mild case of PTSD, since in high school I suffered mightily on account of my klutzy lack of athletic ability — I mean, I remember being humiliated back in P.E. class when we had to choose teams for kickball or volleyball or whatever, and I was always the last bozo standing around staring at her feet, the one nobody wanted on their team. Gym class was totally traumatic for me, no exaggeration..and here I was, having flashbacks. It’s a sad fact that our society fêtes those with athletic ability way more than those of us with excellent vocabularies, drawing skills, or the other useless talents with which I am sadly encumbered. So, being forced to worship at the altar of athleticism was a little rough for me.

But once a pleasant buzz kicked in, all was well again and I went back out to hang near the finish line, to watch the winners start coming in. Now, that was a show! Teuton after Teuton came streaming across the line, with an American or two of Teutonic descent and one Frenchman sprinkled in for good measure, and the crowd was going bonkers — banging signs, shaking cowbells, hooting and hollering and generally raising a ruckus. 45 minutes later it really got interesting, when the first women started coming in — those endometriumless bitches were incredible!!!

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the winner coming in

But it wasn’t just the top finishers that were fun to watch — mostly it was the stragglers that were inspirational, like this one 84-year old nun who was running for something like the 5th time. Holy hell!! Watching these women, with their amazingly ripped abs and streamlined thighs, sort of piqued my own competitive nature, and I started thinking, “Yeah, man!!! I should try to run a triathlon!!!”

But then, I started my shift in the medical tent…and saw the other side. Ain’t no way I’m ever running that shit!!!!

Being as I have absolutely no medical background whatsoever, my “volunteer” shift basically consisted of me standing around and doing whatever grunt-work they asked of me: help this dehydrated guy to a bed! Weigh this woozy woman! Help us carry this puking Frenchman on a stretcher! It was fascinating to see the condition in which these people came in — green around the gills, knees buckling, one foot in the grave. One poor guy pooped himself, and had to be hosed down in the showers. It was like being Clara Barton, Civil War Nurse — especially since everything was going down in a tent, on a beach, with chaises from the nearby Marriott standing in for beds. Surreal!! But even more surreal…unlike in the Civil War, these people were here by their own volition! What the hell is it about humans that impels them to abuse their bodies thusly?!

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where’s my rectal thermometer?!?

Well, there I was, feeling like a real fish out of water — one minute I’m partying with some crazy doctor at Burning Man, the next thing you know, he’s convinced me to come be a part of this craziness — when astonishingly, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one to make the Burning Man/Ironman crossover. A guy came staggering into the tent wearing a visor bearing the distinctive logo “SLUTGARDEN,” which I recognized as being one of the dance camps at Burning Man. Really? A Burner running the Ironman? But it was true — I told Dr. Who about it, and once the woozy guy came to, we pumped him for details. He had been to Burning Man not six weeks prior, and in fact had even run some kind of fucked-up ultramarathon at Burning Man one morning — apparently there’s a race there every year where you run around the entire event perimeter three times and then sell your soul to devil, or something equally batty. Insane!! The last thing I want to do at Burning Man is run an ultramarathon…it’s usually all I can do to make it to the Port-a-Potties in the morning!!

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the end.

Anyway, the rest of my shift passed fairly uneventfully, and just before midnight Dr. Who took me down to the finish line, to watch the very last stragglers come in. If you don’t finish by midnight, you don’t get the title “Ironman,” and it’s a real bummer for all involved. It was heartbreaking to watch these poor saps come staggering across the finish line 18 hours after they’d set out that morning, exhausted and wrecked and in a world of pain…but just moments too late to even get the bragging rights. Talk about a D’OH!! moment! But the wrap ceremony was pretty cool, with these hot hardbodied Hawaiian fire dancers that came out and danced to these badass live drummers, while some ancient Hawaiian Auntie hobbled onstage and warbled a traditional Hawaiian folksong that said something along the lines of “We love you all, even you losers!” Awwwwww!

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who, me????

By that time, I myself had been at the race for 18 hours, and though I hadn’t run or done anything more strenuous than quaff a Bloody Mary and think snarky thoughts, I was exhausted!! But it wasn’t time to leave just yet — one of the race bigwigs had invited Dr. Who (and me, by extension) to a late-night cookout with the entire FBI squadron that had been assigned to watch over the race! Ever since the carnage at the Boston Marathon, apparently the FBI comes out to oversee all large-scale athletic events like this one, and to celebrate a job well done the race directors had hired this awesome Mexican couple to come out and cook up a bunch of fajitas and stuff. YUM!! It was a little weird sitting there among that many Feds, but they were all drinking beer and in a jovial mood, telling crazy FBI jokes, so I didn’t worry too much. But it was still a surreal ending to a totally surreal day!

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stopping to air out my swass while hiking in Pololu Valley

Finally, around 3am we went home to bed. Ahhh, sleep at last…right? Wrong — there were still a million things to do, and no time for sleep!! Now that the race was over, and all the superhumans were boarding planes back to the planet Krypton, it was time to get out and see all the other amazingly beautiful things that the island of Hawaii has to offer. Dr. Who was an amazing host, and I saw so many absolutely incredible things that it would bore you to tears if I described them all — from a moonlit picnic on a beach full of sea turtles to a strenuous hike through a rainforest overlooking a staggeringly beautiful coastline, to a day spent frolicking on a picture-postcard white-sand beach followed by a kava-kava nightcap. I mean, Dr. Who showed me everything!

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birdie num num?!

Even better, Dr. Who is so personable and friendly that everywhere we went, we made new friends and had fascinating conversations — a pit stop at a roadside macadamia nut orchard ended with the farmer coming out and giving us a free tour and lecture on the perils of mac nut farming, while feeding me fresh macadamias cracked with a vise grip. A quick stop at a coffee bean processing plant turned into a fascinating conversation with the owner about the recently discovered superfruit properties of the coffee cherry — the fleshy part that surrounds the actual bean, which heretofore they used to just dispose of or use as mulch, but which is now as valuable as gold among the açaí crowd. And an ill-fated snorkeling excursion (ill-fated because I’m a terrible swimmer) turned into a pleasant morning’s chit-chat with a kooky islander woman who was taking her cockatoos out for a walk. That island is full of interesting people, let me tell you!

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on top of Mauna Kea

But by far, the most interesting thing we did was take a drive up to the top of Mauna Kea, the island’s highest mountain — and in fact the highest mountain in the entire world (if you measure it from its base on the sea floor, it is higher than Everest, which only rises from the Tibetan Plateau). It’s so high, in fact, that our trip up there required raiding Dr. Who’s closet for some of his sub-Arctic explorer gear (purchased, naturally, for a trip he once took to Everest Base Camp — that fucker has been everywhere!). I never expected to be rolling around in snow in Hawaii…but there I was.

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beautiful!

Anyway, because it’s so high, and so remote (in the middle of the ocean, away from any major light pollution), Mauna Kea is an excellent spot for star-gazing…and to that end, there are no less than thirteen separate internationally-financed observatories at its summit — magnificent mosque-like structures that are in actualitly way more badass because they are temples to reason, not bumbling superstitious idiocy. These observatories are perched way up on top of this mountain, high above the clouds, silently and impassively monitoring the heavens in icy isolation, with only the occasional busload of looky-loo tourists interrupting their solitude. It was magnificent, and I was reminded of a line from a Richard Brautigan poem…something about how in the future, we will all be “watched over by machines of loving grace.” Awwww!

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before the hordes of tourists left

I’ve always had a layman’s fascination with astronomy and physics, so being up there was really interesting for me. I’m pretty sure Dr. Who was really into it, too, and not just humoring me. We sat up there and watched the sunset, then hunkered down in the car until the last Japanese tourist left and the observatories started opening, one by one, so their telescopes could peer out into the night skies. Then, this ginormous laser shot out of one, its humongous beam allowing the telescope to focus in on some distant celestial object way the fuck out in the universe. Far out!!!! We sat there in the car (it was too freaking cold to stay outside for more than a few minutes) looking at the Milky Way through the moonroof, and I subjected poor Dr. Who to my favorite science jam, “A Glorious Dawn,” which is this amazing song some genius made up by Auto-Tuning some Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking dialogue, then setting it to an amazing electro-lounge backing track. Check it out:

 

After gawking at the sky for awhile, we headed back down to the visitors’ center, where they give these free nightly skywatching lectures, and let you look through telescopes and stuff while they answer all your questions. SO MUCH FUN!!! If you have any interest in anything, and plan to visit the Big Island of Hawaii, I highly recommend going up there. It’s not the typical Hawaiian-vacation thing to do…but who wants to be typical?! You can see tropical fish at any PetSmart, and can get a sunburn sitting in the parking lot of the Albuquerque WalMart, for Chrissakes!!!

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how could I leave THIS?

Anyway, going up to the top of Mauna Kea was the highlight of a trip filled with highlights, and it was without exception one of the most amazing adventures I’ve ever been on. THANK YOU, DR. WHO!!!! When the time came for me to leave the island, I’ve never (or rarely) experienced such loathing to leave a place — in fact, a hurricane was brewing in the Pacific just south of Hawaii, and was expected to hit the island any minute. I actually found myself semi-hoping that it would hit, so that I’d be “trapped” there and would have to stay another few days, LOL.

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d’oh!!

Alas, however, the hurricane bypassed the island, and my flight left as scheduled…and I returned to the desert, flush with fabulous tropical memories. But what a fantastic adventure!!!!

So, here I am, back in “between-adventure” mode — which means it’s time to hustle and make a buck or two, to fund my next adventure. And I have some doozies coming up — first, a triumphant return to Saline Valley Hot Springs next week with my sister and one of my readers…and then, a jaunt out to L.A. for a Halloween party at some porn industry peoples’ house with none other than Dr. Who. Like I always say…the road goes on forever, and the party never ends!

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fabulous pic by my friend Steve White

So with that in mind, I’ve spent the last few days a-hustlin,’ doing everything from a photo shoot to handing out flyers at some redneck Supercross race…and ahead of me, I’m facing a four-day gig wearing a Snoopy suit at an insurance convention at the MGM Grand. Hey, whatever it takes to pay the bills and keep the adventures flowing….right?!?

But despite my hectic schedule, I did take a few hours out of my busy afternoon today for a freebie — one of the local TV news channels out here was doing a story about the porn industry setting up shop in Vegas, and they found my info through a newspaper interview I did about my experience being a background extra on the set of one of the productions. I was more than happy to invite them over to my house and give the reporter the full rundown of what had happened, including my vehement opinions on the legitimacy, decency and all-around awesomeness of the business — because I could tell they were coming at it from a fear-mongering “Porn is Invading Vegas!!!” angle, and I wanted to get in my two cents to the contrary. I’m telling you right here and now, I had nothing but 100% positive things to say about the porn biz, so if this story comes on the news and they somehow edit my words to make it seem like I’m saying anything otherwise, you’ll know they’re a bunch of dirty rotten disingenuous liars.

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nothing’s shocking

Even more interestingly, the whole time I was talking to them, the reporter kept blushing, as if the things I were saying were totally shocking to him, and scalding his virgin ears. But I guess he kind of warmed up to me, because by the end of the interview, he asked me, “Say, uh…have you ever, um, heard of men buying women’s underwear??” LMFAO!!!!!!!! It was supposedly for a story he was working on….but I have my doubts!!!

“Meanwhile, in other news….today in Las Vegas, a man was arrested for sniffing women’s underwear on Fremont Street…….”

I wouldn’t be surprised!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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