As you know, I love exploring all the funky little corners of the desert. And one oddity I’ve been wanting to check out for years is Barker Ranch, a/k/a the last hideout of the Manson Family — an EXTREMELY remote cabin on the western fringes of Death Valley where law enforcement officials finally apprehended that rascal Charles Manson. For whatever reason, I’ve long been fascinated by the story of Charlie and his family of killer hippies… so Barker Ranch has long been high on my list of places to check out.
The main thing stopping me from going out there all these years has been the road — all the websites and books agree that Goler Wash (the main access route to Barker Ranch) is super gnarly, and should only be attempted by an experienced off-roader with a HARDCORE 4×4. Since my little truck is only 2WD, I just kinda figured I was shit out of luck….until one night last month, when — against my better judgment — I got high and decided to post on social media:
“ALL YOU ASSHOLES WHO ARE ALWAYS SAYING YOU WANT TO GO ON AN ADVENTURE WITH ME — HERE’S YOUR CHANCE!!! WHO WANTS TO CHECK OUT BARKER RANCH?!?! MUST HAVE SUPER-HARDCORE 4X4, GOOD OFFROADING SKILLS, AND ENOUGH INTEREST, TIME AND MONEY TO GET THERE! NO FLAKES!!!“
Or something like that.
Ruins at Ballarat ghost town
As predicted, the next morning my inbox was flooded with responses from interested parties….around 90% of whom were total flakes: “I’d love to, but I don’t have a 4×4” and “OMG I wish I could get the time off work/gas money/permission from my mom.” This kind of dumb shit was exactly what I’d expected, so I immediately deleted the post…but fortunately, there were a couple legit responses in there that I was able to salvage. And so it was that I made plans with two total strangers to meet up at Ballarat ghost town one chilly November evening, and head up to Barker Ranch from there.
Now, you might find it weird that I would agree to meet up with two total strangers in the middle of nowhere with a half-baked plan to head up a super-gnarly road to a murderer’s hideout. But for me, that’s just a Wednesday! You have to take a few chances in life, if you want to have any fun at all. Like my Starbucks cup once said:
Besides, they weren’t total strangers — they were Facebook friends! And as I only have around 5,000 Facebook friends (add me!), I felt that was credibility enough for this kind of trip.
My fellow adventurers, features obscured to protect their identities (my own features blurred because it was an unflattering photo)
My two fellow adventurers — the only two respondents who ended up not flaking — were a guy from Southern CA, and a girl from here in Vegas. I had never met the Vegas chick in person or even really interacted with her online, but a quick perusal of her Facebook profile proved her to seem pretty cool; I’d met and hung out with the guy for about 15 minutes at that Burning Man campout I went to in San Diego, while I was high on mushrooms, and he seemed legit, too. I won’t say too much more about either one of them, since the Vegas chick works at the front desk of a very swanky Strip hotel and could get in trouble for the stuff we did, and the guy works in a VERY cool outdoorsy capacity with kids, so he could get in trouble, too. Guilt by association! Normally I get kind of offended when people don’t want to be mentioned in my blog…but in both of these people’s cases, I completely understand. But at the same time…..I’m glad I’m ME, and don’t have to kow-tow to any bourgeois moral code. I YAM WHAT I YAM, MOTHERFUCKERS!
The Ballarat General Store
Anyway, the Vegas chick and I headed out from Vegas last Wednesday afternoon, headed for Ballarat, a tiny ghost town on the western edge of Death Valley that was sort of near the entrance to the dreaded Goler Wash, where we had arranged to meet the guy, who was coming from Santa Barbara. The plan was to meet up and camp out overnight at Ballarat, then head out in the morning for Barker Ranch, and camp out a second night up there before heading back home.
Of course, we ended up getting a late start out of Vegas: I had ill-advisedly agreed to play Secret Agent Hotpants in a scavenger hunt that morning, and when I was finally done, the other chick had to go see her weed man in front of Bally’s before we could finally set off into the desert. So by the time we rolled into Ballarat it was almost totally dark.
Having never been to Ballarat, I was unsure how to proceed; I knew from online research that there was supposedly a campground onsite, but despite driving around the desert in the dark for 30 minutes I was unable to find it. I finally went into the “General Store,” which is more a creepy collection of dusty artifacts than an actual store, and which was completely dark and deserted, despite the front door having been left wide open with an “OPEN” sign hanging crookedly nearby, creaking eerily in the night breeze. I tiptoed cautiously inside and deposited the $3 camping fee into a rusty coffee can provided for that purpose…and then sort of drove over to an area where a few RVs and toyhaulers were parked, and found a spot with a picnic table and a fire ring. I guess that’s what they meant by campground! It was pretty rustic — no bathrooms, just a single port-a-potty about 1/8 mile away — but I’m used to camping in the boonies, so it was no big deal.
Another view of the “campground”
The other chick and I set up camp and built a fire, and waited for the guy to arrive. It gets dark really early out here at this time of year — around 5pm — so it seemed like we sat there in the dark forever waiting for him, her getting baked off her freshly-scored weed, and me drinking hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps. Around this time I mentioned to her that we were probably the only two chicks in Vegas who would do something like this — go camping at a ghost town in the middle of nowhere, alone, next to the cemetery, no less. And it was probably true!
But around 8pm we saw a pair of headlights coming our way, and our guy finally rolled in, true to his word. I couldn’t then (and still can’t) believe that two people actually stuck to their word and went on this adventure with me! I’m so used to people flaking out on me (remember my Saline Valley trip last month?!) that it was really a bizarre experience to have TWO PEOPLE — strangers, no less — actually follow through!! Maybe my luck is changing
Anyway, we all hung out by the fire and engaged in semi-awkward getting-to-know-you-type chit chat — remember, we were allbasically totalstrangers! But we pretty much hit it off OK, and after a few hours we were fairly comfortable with each other, and went to bed with the intention of getting up early and heading off toward the ranch. It was really cold that night in Ballarat — in the 20s — so I shoved HotHands in my sox and wore a knit cap, but still ended up freezing my ass off. That’s just the way it’s gonna be until spring, I guess :-/
The Liberace of Death Valley
In the morning, we broke camp and piled all our gear into the guy, who we’ll call Shaggy’s, car — a 4×4 Toyota 4Runner with fairly rugged tires, which he seemed confident could make the trip. I decided to leave my truck parked down at the campsite, so went over to the General Store to put another $3 in the coffee can before we left. That store was even wackier during the day — full of random weird shit piled up everywhere, and an old-timey refrigerator which I assumed contained cold drinks for sale…but turned out to be full of someone’s actual food and leftovers 😮
Charles Manson’s old truck
Also, in the desert out front of the store was this rusted out old Ford truck that legend has it belonged to Charles Manson himself…so I figured I’d better pose for a nudie or two with it. It was sunny and fairly warm by now, so I stripped off my clothes and went to town, hoping to have poor, beleaguered Shaggy bang out a few shots before the General Store proprietor came out and gave us hell. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to me, in my hurry to get dressed afterward I somehow dropped the wad of cash I always carry in my bra for emergencies — about $150, I reckon. D’OH!!!!!
Fanboy art at the entrance to Goler Wash
Anyway, after getting dressed again we all three piled into Shaggy’s car and headed off for the Ranch. From Ballarat ghost town, you take the fairly smooth, gravelly Wingate Road south for about 15 miles, and then turn off to the east toward the Panamint Mountains onto Goler Wash Rd, which runs up a canyon, eventually leading over Mengel Pass and back down into Death Valley proper.
I had done quite a bit of reading on road conditions, and knew that Goler Wash and Mengel Pass were supposed to be über-gnarly routes that were often impassable by all but the HARDEST-CORE 4x4s — so I was well prepared for the possibility that we wouldn’t be able to drive up, and would simply have to hike in. Of course I was hoping we’d be able to drive up, as I really wanted to camp out at the Ranch but didn’t think I could pack all that firewood and booze in on foot — but I was open to anything, at this point.
Incidentally, the best route to take on this trip would have been from the east — inside Death Valley park. If you take Warm Springs Road up from Badwater, and approach Mengel Pass from the east, not only is the road much less intense, but there are also several abandoned cabins you pass along the way, which are open to camp in — FOR FREE! The Geologist’s Cabin in particular is supposed to be really nice, with a big stone fireplace and a fully stocked kitchen, with pots and pans dating back 80-100 years!!! There’s also an abandoned mining encampment along the way, with a warm spring swimming pool (!!!!), and you don’t even need 4WD until about halfway up the mountain. I really wanted to go in that way, and stay overnight at the Geologist’s Cabin…but alas, due to the recent heavy rains in Death Valley one of the access roads had washed out and was thus impassable But, as Dog is my witness: I hereby VOW to return to Barker Ranch next spring via Warm Springs Rd., and I *WILL* stay overnight at the Geologist’s Cabin!! (As long as no one else beats me to it; it’s on a first-come, first-serve basis.) WHO’S IN??!?!?
Goler Wash “Road”
So anyway, it was with no little trepidation that we set off up Goler Wash toward Barker Ranch that morning. At first, the road was gravel and washboard, and not all that burly. But once the canyon walls started to close in, conditions became much worse — loose sand and gravel, with ginormous boulders strewn about here and there for good measure. I knew from my research that this super-gnarly portion only lasted about 1/2 mile or so…but getting through it was a real challenge. I kept thinking back to how the wacky Manson Family somehow got a freaking school bus up there (!?!?!) — I guess the county or the Park Service does occasionally grade the road, and back then it must have been in much better condition. And the recent rain storms must have adversely affected conditions, too. Either way, it made the road into Saline Valley look like the Las Vegas Strip!!!
Anyway, Shaggy kept doggedly driving his 4Runner up the wash. I reminded him a few times that he didn’t have to impress anyone; the other girl (who I’ll call Velma) and I were perfectly happy to hike up if we had to, and it would still be an amazing trip. But Shaggy is a real hardcore outdoorsman, and he took it as a challenge, figuring out ways to navigate each difficult portion as it came along. I learned on this trip that many offroaders simply enjoy navigating difficult roads, viewing the experience as a problem-solving adventure! I don’t totally understand it myself….but I’m glad there are people like that out there.
the road mellows out after a bit
I was especially glad about 5 minutes later, when we finally hit a portion of Goler Wash that was so burly that even Shaggy conceded that we’d have to turn back; it was basically a vertical stair-step situation with some giant slippery boulders in the middle where his tires simply couldn’t gain traction. But, wouldn’t you know it — WAY OUT THERE in the middle of nowhere, there just happened to be a retired couple in a super-hardcore offroad Hummer that had a winch on it! And we just happened to encounter them right at the difficult part!
It was really astonishing — if we’d been just 15 or 30 minutes later, we’d have missed them altogether, and would have had to turn back. But as it was, they were more than happy to winch us up over the difficult portion — in fact, I’d venture to say that helping us out made their day! Again, I don’t fully understand it myself…but apparently these hardcore desert off-roaders really get off figuring out these tough roads, and helping their fellow man triumph over nature.
Big Brother is watching you…even way up here!
In any event, we got over the last bad section and the road mellowed out — somewhat. We followed Goler Wash up into the mountains another 3 miles or so, passing all manner of abandoned bull dozers, mine shafts and other weird desert detritus including a bathtub that had somehow gotten wedged into a ravine (how the hell this shit gets up there, I have no idea — this place is REMOTE as FUCK!). And finally, we crossed over the Death Valley National Park boundary. It was kinda surreal to pass an official sign like that after traveling through such desolate, rugged backcountry…but there it was!
Old junk pile near Barker Ranch
From the park boundary sign, it was only another mile or so to Barker Ranch. The last part of the turnoff road was pretty steep, and Shaggy felt unsure about trying it in his 4Runner, so we decided to just park there and hump all our gear in the last 1/4 mile or so, past this giant pile of rusted-out old garbage: cars and tin cans and old soda bottles, and all kinds of crazy old junk that looked to have been there for at least the last 50 years. Far out!!!
Barker Ranch from above
So Shaggy, Velma and I carried all the firewood and camp gear and booze and whatnot to the Ranch, and set up camp in the afternoon. I had heard that the Ranch had burned down back in 2008, and was afraid I’d missed all the really good stuff — and while much of the building had indeed been burned, there was still plenty of stuff standing. The original cabin was half stone anyway, so the walls and foundations and stuff were still there, and it was really fascinating.
Entrance to the Ranch
Of main interest to me was the bathroom, which is where Charles Manson was finally apprehended, some two months after the famous Sharon Tate murders were committed. Ironically, the cops who arrested him and the rest of the Family didn’t even realize they were responsible for those murders, which were as yet unsolved; they were raiding the cabin for something completely unrelated — the torching of a bulldozer way on the other side of Death Valley! It was only after they brought these Earth-defending vandals into custody that all their other nefarious hijinks came to light.
Moreover, Charles Manson himself very nearly evaded being caught during the raid! 5’2″ Manson had hidden himself in a tiny cabinet under the bathroom sink — which was so tiny that the arresting officer later said that he never would have even looked in it, if not for a single lock of Manson’s hair that was accidentally hanging out the door. D’OH!!! Just one more reason not to be a long-haired hippie!
Look Ma, I’m Charles Manson!
Anyway, the infamous cabinet where Charlie hid was long ago stolen by enterprising souvenir hunters/fanboys, but you can still see the corner of the bathroom where it stood — and you can still crouch down there as Manson himself did in October 1969. Trippy! We all took turns doing so, and went around the grounds taking photos and stuff until we decided it was time to really get the party started. Shaggy started a campfire, and I busted out my baggie of mushrooms!
Let me tell you, there is nothing like eating mushrooms at the top of a remote mountain pass in the middle of nowhere at the site of a murder’s den on Friday the 13th Eve with two strangers! It was magical! We took our medicine at golden hour, and the shrooms kicked in just as the sun began to set. We sat there marveling at the beautiful autumn sky as the colors all came to life, and then when the sun sank below the horizon we hunkered down around the fire, and talked and talked and talked late into the night. It was amazing.
What remains of Barker Ranch
I’m here to tell you, there is no DishTV or anything that can compare with real life stories! As you might guess, I have few doozies myself….but my camp mates had some amazing tales to tell, too. First Shaggy regaled us with an ultra-dramatic near-death experience he once had while hiking in the mountains one winter’s day, and it felt like I was watching the Travel Channel. Then Velma started in with an amazing story from her high school dropout hoodrat days, when she and her little thug boyfriend stole cars and sold drugs and ended up living with a generous tweeker down in Tijuana. That Velma was a real enigma: she looked like a little gangster chick, but she was one of the most astonishingly well-informed, well-read, progressive people I’ve ever met! I mean, she had to have been pretty progressive to volunteer for this fucked-up expedition in the first place…but it just goes to show, you never know who you’re dealing with. She was absolutely wonderful — and a bad-ass hiker/camper, to boot. She never complained for one second about anything, even when carrying a heavy load up a steep hillside. Now that’s a badass bitch!
Informative Park Service plaque at the site, LOLz
And Shaggy, of course, was equally amazing. He really was one of the best possible people to go camping with, as he’s one of the most seasoned outdoorsmen I’ve ever had the pleasure of hiking with, and he was full of fascinating, useful information about the backcountry and nature in general. Super cool people, both of them!
Anyway, we talked late into the night, until the mushrooms wore off and it started to get REALLY cold. The plan was for everyone to bunk in Velma’s tent, but I have a really hard time sleeping so I kind of killed the party by sleeping by myself in my little Boy Scout Walmart tent, off to the side. But I had my mom’s old 1975 down mummy bag, with HotHands in my socks and a warm knit cap, and shockingly I stayed very warm and cozy, and slept reasonably well.
In the morning, we woke up pretty early and broke camp, and set about the slightly daunting task of getting back down Goler Wash to Ballarat, where (hopefully) my truck was waiting for me and where I was also hoping to find my missing $150, which I had only just then realized I’d lost. Of course if I’d had my druthers we’d have continued on eastward over Mengel Pass to the Geologist’s Cabin, and spent another shroomy night camping out there…but as it was, I had to be back in Vegas by a reasonable hour for a photo shoot the following day. So I was really hoping we wouldn’t have any problems like a busted tire or broken axle getting down Goler Wash!
Fortunately, gravity worked in our favor and we made it down the wash just fine — it was MUCH easier going down, in fact! Along the way we encountered a group of Jeepers heading up the wash — apparently that weekend was Panamint Valley Days, a sort of offroad rally that takes place near Ballarat every year, where all kind of crazy 4x4ers take their rigs out exploring in the desert. Ballarat campground was FULL of them!
My money was long gone, eaten by a burro or snatched up by some lucky offroader
My truck was still there, unmolested….but alas, my $15o was nowhere to be seen Oh, well — I wrote it off as a sort of Adventure Tax; $150 is a small price to pay for the fun I had on this trip. Although when I think of how freezing f*cking cold I probably was, laying naked on a rock to earn that $150….arrrrrghhh!!!
Anyway, back at Ballarat we all said our good-byes, Shaggy going on his way down to Southern California while Velma and I headed back to Vegas via this weird, desolate sort of sun-nuked town on the southern edge of Death Valley called Trona. OMG, was that place WEIRD!!!
Where the Trona Tornadoes play football
Apparently, Trona was once a thriving mining town situated on the edge of a vast dry lake bed on the most desolate, arid plain this side of Tattooine. The mine has seen better days, and the town is about 3/4 deserted…but there are still people living there, hanging on by their toenails with that hardcore desert determination you see in towns like that. The town itself is basically a cluster of cinderblock shanties in the shadow of a giant sulphur-belching factory, and the local high school has the distinction of being the only high school in the country whose football team plays on a dirt field — they can’t even grow enough grass for a football field out there, it’s THAT arid! It was fascinatingly grim.
The Trona Pinnacles
Then, on the outskirts south of town are these astonishing natural formations called the Trona Pinnacles — giant tufa spires, similar to those at Mono Lake…only instead of poking out of water, these jagged peaks rise out of a dry, barren moonscape of a desert. It’s truly surreal, and in fact the area has been used as a backdrop in movies like Planet of the Apes and Star Trek and whatnot. What a great place for a future shroomy campout — I totally bookmarked it
Anyway, Velma and I finally rolled back into Vegas around sunset, exhausted but exhilarated from a fantastic few days. This little adventure may have been a little chilly and a bit uncertain, but it taught me one valuable lesson: it’s definitely worth it to take a chance, and meet up with strangers for a bizarre campout in the desert. You never know what might happen! Sure, you might get murdered….but you might also make some really bitchin’ new friends!!! 😀
Just the other week I was ass-deep in Death Valley sunshine, hiking around naked with a rum & Coke in one hand and the other firmly on the throttle of life. My truck had made it down the 50-mile washboard “bullshit filter” road to Saline Valley Hot Springs, I was with *both* my sisters (even the sister who never comes out for anything)… and everything was A-OK.
Old Man Winter forcing me close to the fire
Then overnight, it changed.
I remember the exact moment: we were sitting in the Wizard Pool one night, shrooming out of our gourds. The moon was full, and cast an eerie light on the scene as sudden gusty winds rustled the palm trees, blowing in ominous scattered clouds from parts unknown. “Old Man Winter is a-knockin’ at the door,” I intoned shroomily. I may have been high….but I could still read the writing on the wall.
My Saline Valley sojourn was the last gasp of summer — a four day interlude of sunshine and nakedness with both my sisters at one of my all-time favorite spots: an ultra-remote natural hot springs oasis out in an extremely remote, barren valley on the western edge of Death Valley (for more info, click here). We were joined by our friend Dr. Kildare, who camped with us there last year around this time, and by the one friend from Vegas who actually came through and made the trip. Side note: my PET PEEVE is people who whine about wanting to go on an adventure with me, but then puss out when crunch time rolls around. I invited several people who claimed to be interested in this trip, but every single one of them flaked except for my wacky friend Lenny — an ex Bikram yoga instructor and BDSM enthusiast who works as a lighting tech at one of the titty revues on the Strip. He’s always a good time!
With my sisters
Anyway, as mentioned my truck made the 50-mile washboard road into Saline Valley just fine; I take the South Pass, and at the time of my trip that road was in excellent condition! How excellent? Well, I was able to travel at speeds up to 30mph on much of it; contrast that with my first time to Saline back in 2010, when it was so bad I could only go 5-10mph the entire 50 miles!!! (It rained in Death Valley right after I left, though, and I hear the road is bad again. Check before you go!)
My poor tires have been through a lot lately
In any event, it was really lucky for me that the road was so good, as unbeknownst to me I was riding on a tire with a slow leak the entire time! It’s basic dogma that Saline Valley Road should not be attempted without two cans of Fix-A-Flat and a full-size spare…but that whole fiasco with my truck getting bogged down in the mud right before my trip fucked things up so that I didn’t have time to take care of my tire situation before leaving to meet my sisters in Panamint Springs. I had intended to get my tires checked before leaving, but ended up having to just kinda keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. I was following my one sister in her 4×4 anyway, so it’s not like I had zero backup…but still.
Saline Valley showdown
And as it happened, I was fine — at first. We met up with Dr. Kildare, who had already been at the springs for a few days, and commenced partying. One of the regulars at Saline, a sunbaked bosomy blonde named Florida, invited us over for a fish fry one night — she had just been fishing up near Yosemite and had caught a mess of ginormous, delicious trout which she was willing to share. YUM!!! She cooked it over a fire with just butter and salt — all of her other spices had been lost when a latch on her RV busted open coming down the North Pass Road — and OMG it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Granted, I was baked at the time (Dr. Kildare loves edibles, so I had brought a bunch)….but it really was fantastic.
We were joined at the fish fry by a couple of other boozy regulars, and they filled me in on some of the Saline Valley gossip that I never knew: apparently, there’s a sort of friendly schism between the regulars who camp at the Lower Springs and the regulars who camp at the Upper Springs. At the big Presidents’ Day weekend get-together every year (when hundreds of people show up at Saline), they even have a golf tournament and a softball game between the two factions. And the distinction between the two factions is very interesting!
With one of the many wild burros at the Lower Springs
The Lower Springs is the original oasis, where most of the trees are — there’s a nice shady lawn, a shaded pool for day soaking, a couple other tubs, an outdoor shower, a communal bonfire, a little kitchen area and even a lending library. The (un)official host of the springs, Lizard Lee, lives in a charmingly ramshackeldy compound down there, and according to my (admittedly boozy) source, the Lower Springs is where the old-timers like to camp — and the vibe can be a bit New Agey and sanctimonious. Either way, I’m a huge fan of the Lower Springs — it’s where I stayed the first time, and I just really dig the environment down there.
But Dr. Kildare prefers to camp out in the desert up closer to the Upper Springs, so that’s where we’ve stayed on my last two trips. The Upper Springs are fantastic, too — according to my source (and in keeping with my own observations) the crowd up there is slightly looser: boozier, slightly rowdier, friendlier. It actually makes perfect sense for me to camp there, because I am all of the above — and then some!
COME BACK SUMMER ALL IS FORGIVEN photo by PacificNW Photography
The other thing the Upper Springs has going for it is the Wizard Pool, which sits near a small grove of palm trees but has an unobstructed view of the nighttime sky, so you can look up at the moon and stars while you soak. It was built by a guy called the Wizard, who sort of broke off from the Lower Springs faction back in the day and started the whole schism. There’s a second pool up top as well, but the water isn’t as hot, so it’s better as a daytime soak…but in any event, both Upper and Lower springs are fantastically beautiful, and we spent plenty of time soaking at both.
Anyway, everything was going great until Tuesday morning, when Lenny rolled in…and pointed out that one of my tires was totallyflat!! I hadn’t noticed, what with all the boozing and getting baked…so now of course I went into panic mode: YIKESOMG WTF HOW AM I GOING TO GET OUT OF HERE ALIVE?!?!?! I’d been so busy, I hadn’t had time to get a full-size spare, and all I had with me was my emergency donut…and that wasn’t likely to get me very far — certainly not down 50 miles of rugged washboard:/ Thankfully, earlier this year Dr. Kildare had given me one of those air compressors you plug into your car battery; we hooked it up and filled the tire, hoping the leak was slow enough that I’d be able to get out on it….and then with the aid of shrooms, pot and booze, I was able to more or less forget about it and resume partying.
Ominous skies over Saline Valley
So I ran, did some writing, took a few hikes, and even did Bikram yoga on the lawn down by the Lower Springs….and all in all, it was such a great few days that none of us ever wanted to leave. The weather was warm and kind of overcast most of the time, sort of blanketing the valley in an eerie stillness broken only by the screaming afterburners of the occasional F-18 fighter jet (Saline Valley is a designated low-level flight corridor, and Navy pilots buzz the hot springs all the time, sometimes coming down really low) (probably to perv on all the naked people out there).
Unrelated pic from a recent shoot by Marshall Bradford
But on the last night of the trip, as we sat around our campfire eating Frito Pie, an ill wind blew in from the west. It got so gusty that I had to drop everything and pack up most of my camp ahead of time — Old Man Winter had arrived, bringing with him chilly temperatures and even a few drops of rain. It was actually kind of fortuitous, because the change in the weather made it easier to leave — in fact it was so windy the following morning that we were actually glad to go!
Meanwhile, my tire had lost a little bit of its air since we’d filled it…but I just topped it off again and took ‘er easy on the road, and was able to get back to town just fine. (It turned out I had a nail dead-center in the tread, which was easily plugged when I got home.) But ironically, one of Dr. Kildare’s all-terrain tires blew out and was totally shredded on the way out!! Luckily he did have a full size spare with him, though, so we managed to get out OK, and celebrate over burgers at the Panamint Springs cafe. Yum!!!
The Last Night Fremont Street Was Cool
From there, Dr. Kildare went on his way back toward Georgia, and my sisters and I headed back to my place in Vegas for Halloween. We had planned to go downtown to the annual Las Vegas Halloween Parade, which is normally a big affair full of Burning Man art cars and tens of thousands of people partying…but for whatever reason it was cancelled this year, so instead we just took mushrooms and went down to the perennial shit show that is the Fremont Street Experience, and walked around looking at all the freaks. OMG, it was epic! That has to be one of THE greatest places to shroom, hands down; we had a blast!
Unfortunately, however, that was the last night you would have been able to have that amazing experience; the very next day, the city enacted some bullshit new regulations regarding the buskers (a/k/a street performers). If you’ve been to downtown Vegas in the last few years, you probably noticed the proliferation of freaks and weirdos in costumes, standing around posing for photos with tourists in exchange for tips — everything from Rick James and Mr. T look-a-likes to contortionists, drummers and the occasional half-naked fat-ass in a nun’s wimple or Cupid costume. I personally loved it; I felt the buskers added quite a bit of outlandish ambiance to depressing-ass Fremont Street with its shitty old smoky-smelling casinos and crappy kiosks selling overpriced plastic tchotchkes.
But apparently, people complained about the buskers “ruining” the “family-friendly” experience (?!?!?!?!), so the city enacted new regulations that took effect Nov. 1st, limiting the number of performers and the types of performances, and also requiring that all buskers register for a permit. So now all that’s left are a few assholes, a bunch of sad alcoholics and the usual gaggles of ghetto-ass hookers. LAME!!! (Fortunately, the Strip has no such regulations….so if you’re looking for a shit show, you can probably find all the evicted buskers down on the sidewalk in front of Planet Hollywood or Bellagio.)
Freezing my ass off at a nude shoot the other day by Marshall Bradford
Anyway, my sisters and I were lucky enough to enjoy the last night of magic down there, and it really was something special. The weather was even fairly mild; Old Man Winter was apparently still hanging around Saline Valley, and hadn’t made his way out to Vegas yet. But all that changed a couple days later, after my sisters left — a cold front blew in with a vengeance, and I’ve been chilled to the bone ever since. I had to go out and buy a bunch of jeans, hoodies and boots, and even then I froze my ass off; you can’t exactly wear jeans, a hoodie and boots at a nude photo shoot
So the weather is turning, and it’s a real bummer…but I’m trying to be positive about it, and instead of cursing Old Man Winter, I’m trying to embrace him — or at least just live with him. I have a camping trip planned to the Manson Family’s old hideout in Death Valley tomorrow, and even though the overnight lows are projected to be
Late night munchie regrets
in the 20s (!!!!!@%^&$#!!!!), I’m packing up my Hot Hands, my peppermint schnapps and my down jacket, and heading out anyway. I’ll tell you all about it soon — if I don’t freeze my ass off, first.
Remember how I was bragging about all the outdoor shoots I’ve been doing lately, as the weather is perfect this time of year? Well, apparently “perfect” is too strong a term. We may get 350 days of sunshine out here in the desert…but guess what? It also rains sometimes. And when it rains…it pours!
When a big rain falls in the desert, the dry, parched earth is unable to soak up all that water, which ends up rushing down through the canyons and washes toward Lake Mead, the lowest geographical point in the region. Along the way, the flash floods wreak all kinds of havoc: cars are washed away, trees are torn up by their roots, and backcountry roads can get washed out. Water also pools up in the center of our beautifully cracked dry lake beds…and they become actual temporary lakes.
Sometimes the dry lake bed is a lake Photo credit: ByWinslow.com
This type of weather is most common in the summer monsoon season (July-September), but apparently, while I was zonked out of my brains in San Diego in mid-October, it rained fairly heavily out here. The weather had mostly cleared by the time I got back on Sunday, so I figured I’d be good to go for my next photo shoot, which wasn’t until Thursday.
Now, this was one of my all-day desert adventure tour specials, where I pick the photographer up in the morning and drag him all over the desert from fabulous location to fabulous location, posing nude along the way. Sometimes we take the photographer’s car and I just navigate…but sometimes the photographer doesn’t have a car, so we take my trusty Ford Ranger pickup truck. This was one of those occasions.
by Gary L. Hansen
My client this time was a tall, taciturn Texan who was staying at one of the hotels in downtown Vegas; I picked him up, he somehow folded his 6’7″ frame into my passenger seat, and we were off. Like I said he was the strong, silent type and didn’t talk much…but thankfully, I never run out of shit to blather on about, so the drive to our first location passed quickly. We shot out at my favorite red sandstone location, and it was fantastic: there were big, fluffy white clouds leftover from the rains earlier in the week, adding texture to the normally solid-blue desert sky, and the temperature was absolutely perfect.
By Gary L. Hansen
The photographer had brought along a decent amount of lighting equipment, including a strobe flash and battery pack, and I was curious as to what the hell he was doing with all that gear on a blindingly sunny day. Well, I’ll tell you what he was doing: shootingbad ass shit!! I don’t know what he did technically, but the effect was very dramatic…and the results were unlike anything else I’ve gotten at that location. That’s one of the things I love so much about that location, though — no matter how often I shoot there, each photographer’s eye is different, and the results are always unique!
Anyway, after getting some amazing shots at the red rocks area, we climbed back into my truck to continue on our way. But before we headed back into town to shoot some nighttime stuff with the neon lights, Tex also wanted to shoot sunset at a dry lake bed.
El Dorado Dry Lake, by Cam Attree
Now, the lakebed I usually shoot at is the El Dorado Dry Lake just outside Boulder City — it’s close to town, and generally the most convenient. But I knew it had recently rained, and when it rains, the rednecks like to go out there in their 4x4s and go “muddin’;” i.e. drive around in circles tearing up the pristine surface of the lakebed, so that when the rainwater eventually dries, the ground is scarred and rutted with redneck tracks. So I figured a better bet would be Apex Dry Lake, since it’s farther from town, and was more or less on the way back to Vegas.
Apex Dry Lake, by Michael Quan
Apex Dry Lake is north of Vegas, off I-15 where it intersects with U.S. 93. I hadn’t shot out there in a few years, but from past experience I knew it to be a huge, mostly unmarred lakebed accessed via a severely rutted dirt utility road. I’ve seen people drive low-clearance sedans and stuff out there, and it had certainly never been a problem in my pickup. As we approached the lakebed, I could see from miles away that it was filled with water to an astonishing degree, and had become a lake — but I also saw that the northern reaches had already dried out, providing a small area where we could shoot. So I pointed my truck in that direction, and we made our way out to the dry area.
by Gary L. Hansen
We got out there just in time to bang out some amazing sunset images, the kind with super long shadows and beautiful warm golden light. Then the sun went behind the clouds for awhile, so we sat on my tailgate waiting for it to pop back out. We had a brief window between the time the sun dipped below the clouds and before it dipped below the horizon — maybe 15 minutes max — but again, Tex really knew what he was doing. He had a very methodical, measured approach, and when the sunlight came back out he was able to get the precise shot he wanted, with little fuss. I really have great respect for that man’s skill!!
Well, I wish the same could be said for my own dumb ass :-/
After we got the shot Tex wanted, we climbed back in my truck for the 37-minute drive back into downtown Vegas, and I headed back across the lakebed surface toward the dirt utility road that would take us back to the pavement. But somehow, I veered off course from the way I’d come in — I thought I might find a smoother path, I guess, by veering slightly south. Unfortunately for Tex and me, I ended up veering too far south…and drove straight onto a not-so-dry part of the dry lakebed. And before I could steer back over to a dry patch, I found my truck tires mired in soft, mucky mud. We were stuck!!!
I tried backing up, but my rear wheels spun uselessly in the thick muck, unable to get any traction whatsoever. Shit!!! I tried going forward, and it was the same story. I was bogged the fuck down!
I always bring these cowboy boots photo by Footeprints
As it happened, I had a bunch of sawed-up firewood logs in my truckbed…so at first I got out and tried to wedge some of the smaller ones under the rear tires, to give them something to grip. It was no use, and all I ended up doing in the process was sinking my flip-flops ankle-deep into thick playa mud and making a terrible fucking mess! Fortunately, I had a pair of cowboy boots in my suitcase (I always bring a suitcase full of props and wardrobe with me to shoots), so I was able to clean off my feet and put on the boots before becoming a complete disaster.
So I got back into my truck, where 6’7″ Tex was jackknifed into the passenger seat, eyeing me sidelong with a very skeptical look. “I’ll just call my emergency road service,” I assured him. I’d been towed out of the sand at the Five Palms Warm Well down near Brawley, and also at Walker Lake up near Hawthorne…and neither time had been a big deal. I figured they’d send someone out and we’d be on our way in an hour or two.
stuck in the sand outside Brawley in 2014
First of all, I was more than 50 feet from a paved road, so my emergency assistance refused to cover the tow — apparently most tow trucks’ tow lines are 50′ long, so for safety’s sake that’s the limit. Arrrgh!!!! I remember the same thing happened to me in Brawley, but the tow truck driver only charged me $150 in exchange for my taking a photo with him. I didn’t want to shell out $150 again…but I figured I had no choice, if I was to salvage this photo shoot.
But come to find out, none of the tow companies in town could even be bothered to come get me — they all refused to go onto the dry lake bed at all, regardless of the price!! Finally one company said they could send someone out, but for safety’s sake it wouldn’t be until morning. D’OH!!!!
Meanwhile, the sun had gone down and it was getting gloomier and gloomier in the cab of my truck. Poor Tex was still sitting there all crumpled up, because the mud on his side of the car was super soft and thick, and if he’d gotten out he’d have sunk down to his ankles. I’m sure he was wondering what the fuck he was doing stranded way out in the middle of nowhere with this ninny nude model, but to his credit, he didn’t complain. He just sat there quietly as I made a series of frantic Facebook posts asking for help.
You see, I have all these badass desert-explorer friends who are always commenting on my photos, advising me on offroad driving and offering to help me with shit…so I figured now was their big chance to ride to my rescue and save the day. Surely someone had a Jeep and a winch, and could come tow my sorry ass out of there! But timing is everything — no one with the necessary equipment was available and able to come out and get me just then :-/ One guy advised me to go to the airport and rent a 4×4 to tow myself out! Another guy advised me to call the police — surely they would find a tow company willing to come get me, although the bill would probably be at least $900.
ByWinslow.com taken by “Wayne” in 2008
Finally, I called this one friend of mine who has a huge F350 and a tow strap — and he offered to come out and try to save me. Yay!!!! This was another photographer friend of mine, a guy I used to shoot with all the time back when I first started modeling in 2008 and 2009; we’ll call him Wayne. I hadn’t spoken to him in years, but he had randomly texted me a week or so previously, and we’d started talking again. He’s one of those backcountry types who really knows the desert, so I figured if anyone could help me, it was him.
So Tex and I sat in the dark, gloomy cab of my pickup truck, waiting for Wayne to come save us. Poor Tex didn’t say more than 100 words the whole time, and I was acutely embarrassed and apologetic. I kept fiddling with Facebook, reading all these horror stories people were posting about the times they got stuck in the mud, and had to pay $1,000 or even $5,000 to be towed out!! I was really freaking out, let me tell you.
Finally after an hour or so, I heard the rumbling of Wayne’s Diesel engine and saw his headlights bumping along the utility road, coming towards us. He stopped a good distance away, and I ran over to meet him — the mud on my side of the truck was pretty firm. I figured I only needed to be yanked out about 10 feet, and I’d be back on solid ground (I literally fucked up by only a few feet :-/).
Rescue me!!! by PacificNW Photography
Well, Wayne looked around with his hi-beam flashlight and determined that the mud was too patchy and unpredictable to attempt a rescue in the dark — he was afraid his truck would get bogged down, too, if he got any closer to me :-/ He offered to give me and Tex a ride back into town, and I could come back in the morning and try to get out then.
Arrrrgh!!! I hated to cut the photo shoot short, but by then it was already almost 9pm, and the dream was over. Worse, I had full-day shoots the following day AND the day after that, so I wouldn’t even be able to come back out and get my truck for almost three days!! I’d have to leave it sitting out there in the middle of the mud, in the middle of nowhere, and hope no meddlesome rednecks came out to shoot it up in the meantime.
It’s a desert, after all… PacificNW Photography
But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made — the shoots I had on the following two days were with a photographer who was bringing his own car, so I wouldn’t really need my truck anyway….and even better, the forecast was for 80 degrees and sunny all week, so by the time I finally had time to go back out there, the mud would likely be dry enough anyway that I could just drive out FOR FREE!!! Duhhhhhhhh!!!!! And there I’d been, seriously contemplating a $1,000 tow bill. Pshaw!!!!
So my friend Wayne drove us back into Vegas. We dropped off poor Tex at his hotel, and then I took Wayne out for a drink to thank him, and to catch up on what he’d been up to since I’d last seen him a few years ago. I mean, we used to be really tight friends…so it was nice to hang out again…even though in the back of my mind I was acutely aware of the fact that I had to get up early for my shoot the next morning, and really needed to get my ass home to bed. No rest for the wicked…or the desert dumbasses!
Kimber Collins and I at the abandoned cement plant by PacificNW Photography
Anyway, Wayne finally drove me home and I passed the fuck out. Don’t ask me how I was able to sleep at all, worrying about my poor truck stuck way out there in the mud, all alone…but somehow I did. I got up early and plastered on makeup and a smile, ready to do it allllllll over again with the next photographer — a really nice, accomplished guy from the Seattle area with whom I’d shot in the forest last summer, on my Pacific NW modeling tour.
This photographer had brought another model along: his muse, Kimber Collins, who turned out to be a really cool, bad-ass chick. The three of us got along really well, and for the next two days, I basically shot non-stop with them: first we hit the ancient bristlecone forest in the Spring Mountains, and then we shot at Big Dune, out by Amargosa Valley, at sunset. We didn’t get back into town til 9pm, so I had no time to worry about my truck — I basically had to go straight to bed, so that I could be up and at ’em for our sunrise shoot the following day!
The following day, they picked me up at 6am and we headed back out, hitting an old silver mine near Searchlight, a Joshua tree forest, my favorite red sandstone spot and that fantastic abandoned industrial site I just blogged about — which come to find out is an old cement plant. It was a long ass day, and we were all pretty well wiped out by the end of it. I wanted nothing more than to just go home, take a shower and pass the fuck out…but there was still the little matter of my bogged-down pickup truck.
Randy digging me out :-)
So instead of going home to crash, I had the photographer drop me off at the Love’s truck stop at the intersection of I-15 and U.S.93, out by Apex “Dry” Lake, where my friend Randy had agreed to meet me and help get my truck out (the photographer I was riding with had a Mustang, which might not have been able to navigate the utility road). I probably could have just hiked out and gotten the truck myself, but Randy was nice enough to come out and drive me to it in his Jeep — and he even dug out some of the mud around the tires to make sure I could get out
Then it was time for the moment of truth: would it work??? The mud was definitely drier than it had been, but it was still pretty mucky and soft out there. I was really hoping I’d get out, as I was supposed to meet my sisters in Death Valley the following day for a trip out to Saline Valley Hot Springs. Both my sisters were coming out for it, and I really didn’t want to miss any of the fun! I got in the cab, stepped on the gas……..
And I was free!!!!! FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST! THANK DOG ALMIGHTY, I’M FREE AT LAST!!!!! I’ve never been so euphoric in all my life, I tell you. It was incredible.
To thank Randy, I stripped off my clothes and hopped up on my truck for a few cellphone nudies….and then I got the fuck off that motherfucking lakebed, very carefully!!!!! It was actually a pretty simple matter of avoiding wet patches, and the road out wasn’t that bad at all. But when my tires rolled back onto the pavement, it was a sweet, sweet moment of relief 😀
Anyway, that’s the story of how I got mired down in the muck. Fortunately for me it ended up having a happy ending: I drove home, got cleaned up, packed for Death Valley, and made it all the way to Saline Hot Springs and back despite the fact that I had a nail in my tire the whole time all this was happening! I didn’t have enough fucking time to get it fixed before heading out in the morning, but thankfully, my friend Dr. Kildare had given me one of those air compressors powered by your car battery, and since it was just a slow leak, I was able to just keep filling it up as needed….and it got me there and back safely, so I was able to enjoy a fabulous week naked in the sunshine with my sisters — about which I will blog later. But after that, the first fucking thing I did upon returning to Vegas was get my tire plugged — at my friend Randy’s tire shop, no less
So now I’m plugged up, out of the muck, and ready to roll again. Bring it on!!!
It’s been two weeks…and I still feel like I was run over by a bus!
A ginormous, double-decker, furry LED-covered bus with a 100,000-watt sound system blasting acid house, no less. But before you start feeling sorry for me…if you’ve never woken up feeling like you were hit by such a bus…then you haven’t lived!
The name of this bus was Youtopia, which is what the San Diego locals call their annual Burning Man regional campout. In Burning Man culture, each major city or region of the country has its own community of local Burners, and many of the bigger groups host officially-sanctioned regional campouts, sometimes attracting thousands of partiers. We had our own regional in Vegas back in May, which drew about 900 people, and was a total fucking blast.
photo by verynakedphotography.tumblr.com
Since regionals are on a smaller scale than the real Burning Man, they are marginally less exhausting — and if you’ve ever wanted to go to Burning Man, they’re a great way to get a taste of Burning Man culture without going to all the hassle and expense of driving all the way up to the Black Rock Desert. In fact, many people never even bother going to the real Burning Man — which in many Burners’ opinion has already jumped the shark, and has become little more than a douchebag-infested rave. The regional Burns are considered by many to be more authentic.
The San Diego campout is one of the bigger regionals (around 3,000 attendees), so when a friend from the area invited me to come along and camp with his friends, I shelled out $180 for a ticket and headed over to see what it was all about. I was curious to see how it compared to the other regional events I’d been to in Vegas, Arizona and San Francisco…and I am here to report that it was fantastic!
photo by verynakedphotography.tumblr.com
Unlike Burning Man, which is held on a stark, treeless desert playa, Youtopia takes place in the beautiful, forested hills of an Indian reservation out near Temecula, far from the prying eyes of Johnny Law. People set up camp in little ravines and gullies among the scrub oak, and in the mornings the mountaintops are blanketed in coastal fog and mist, making for an otherworldly, mystical vibe. After dark, the landscape twinkles with colorful lights strung in all the trees, and you sort of wander around through the forest from camp to camp, like some kind of psychedelic-drug-fueled game of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s actually pretty magical!
But the location is a blessing and a curse — It can be kind of hard to walk up and down those steep hillside trails when you’re wearing platform boots and shrooming out of your gourd. Also, apparently last year a few members of the governing Indian tribe got drunk and stormed onstage at one of the dance camps to cuss out all the stupid white people flailing around in tutus and furry boots, making for a really uncomfortable scene what with all the guilty liberals in attendance. Unfortunately, nothing like that happened this year
Higher than a kite
Anyway, I’m glad I went — I met so many cool people; mostly from the San Diego area, but also many from L.A., Arizona, Utah and a few familiar faces from Vegas. But most of the attendees were locals from San Diego, including the group I camped with, who called themselves the Spillage Village and who were super welcoming and friendly. That San Diego Burner community is legit as fuck!
Spillage Village was camped on a hillside in a little forested valley, and we had some really interesting neighbors. On one side, we had the Frauditorium, who erected a full-on performance stage and hosted a talent show and an acro-yoga class taught by circus performers. Then on the other side, we had the Angry Brown Girls Bar, which was pretty much what it sounds like: a bar staffed by (understandably) pissed off women of color. Anyone was welcome to come in and have a drink, as long as you were willing to be enlightened…so of course I went in and sat down.
Making new friends
Well, things got really interesting when a group of well-meaning hippies set up a stand right next to them handing out slices of chilled cantaloupe and watermelon! One of the Angry Brown Girls stormed out and asked them to move, as they considered it insensitive to host a watermelon stand next to a brown girls’ bar. The chick who was handing out the melon was totally taken aback, as she truly didn’t mean any offense (handing out chilled melon slices is common at Burning Man)…but the Angry Brown Girls were pissed, and insisted she leave at once.
Unfortunately, the melon girl only made it worse for herself by sarcastically quipping, “Fine, I’ll take my blackface elsewhere!!”Oooooh!!!!! It was pretty tense there for awhile, let me tell you.
Love Guru Halcyon
Fortunately, there was plenty of feel-good lovey-dovey shit on the third side of our camp: a ginormous, obnoxiously pink heart-themed Goddess-worshipping compound run by a love guru named Halcyon. Halcyon has hot pink hair and a pink RV with giant wings airbrushed on the side and the legend “HUG NATION” emblazoned on the back, and he travels around spreading love and hugs all over the USA. Come to find out, “Hug Nation” was the name of a webcast he used to co-host every Tuesday with his 90-year old ex-Baptist-minister grandfather; apparently they touched a lot of people, and when his grandpa died, Halcyon mixed his ashes into the paint used to airbrush the wings on the side of the RV! You can see the whole story at GrandpaCaleb.com, and it’s actually pretty interesting.
Making vagina coladas
Now, I had seen some of Halcyon’s videos on YouTube (he does a lot of stuff about Burning Man, which I watched when I was preparing to go up there the first time), and I kind of expected him to be a self-absorbed twat. So imagine my surprise when he turned out to be one of the coolest people I’ve ever met! I felt an instant connection with him, and we hit it off right away. One thing that particularly resonated was his theory about an “Optimism Tax,” which basically says that trusting people is OK, even if you get taken advantage of from time to time — it’s better than being a suspicious hater, and anything you lose is basically just a “tax” for being optimistic. Now, living in Vegas all these years has made me very cynical….but I do still believe most people are basically good, which is why I’m not afraid to do half the shit I do — go out to the desert with strange men, meet up with random strangers at hot springs, etc. Sure, every once in awhile I suffer a blow like the Jack Johnson debacle…but it’s a small price to pay for living an open life with an open heart. Sign me up, and pass the pink Kool-Aid!
Thanks to the Art Bar for hosting me!
Anyway, aside from all the interesting characters, there was also a lot of cool art at Youtopia; I made my own contribution to the scene by whipping up several ultra-dramatic batches of Vagina Coladas with my Electric Vagina-powered blender at the Art Bar one afternoon. But I also wore my Electric Vagina at night, with a silver space suit and a ray gun plugged into my crotch, and went around bathing people in gentle rays of estrogen, neutralizing all the testosterone and even bestowing temporary 48-hour festival sterilizations on the nutsacks of all the men: “Go ahead and fuck anybody you want — starting NOW!!!” Let me tell you, my services were extremely popular.
WHAT IS LOVE?
Because let’s face it: these Burning Man events are always a fuckfest thinly disguised as an art festival. Between the Orgy Domes, S&M dungeons and “Goddess Pampering Stations,” you can’t walk two feet without drowning in lube and pheromones; I guess that’s what happens when a bunch of half-naked people get fucked up on booze and drugs and lose their inhibitions. I don’t experience that effect personally… but then I run around naked on the regular, so it’s not such a big deal to me. Tits and nutsacks have lost their magical powers over me….ya know?
Not so for everyone else!! I had barely woken up the first morning there when one of my campmates came over with a pot of warm water to give me a sponge bath; I went along with it and laid back naked, tampon string dangling seductively from my twat, and listened as he told me all about this thing he practices called Orgasmic Meditation. Basically, it’s a sort of highly regimented cult-type thing where women lay back and let strange men with rubber-gloved fingers massage their clitorises in a very specific fashion for exactly fifteen minutes, with no eye contact and no emotional or personal component. Then both parties describe the exact feelings and sensations they had during the process, and some sort of enlightenment is apparently reached. Interesting!
making drinks in the forest
Then there was this other guy camped across the way, who had set up a giant body-art pavilion where he would cover your naked torso/ass/tits/whatever in neon paint, and you would then roll around on a piece of butcher paper, creating “art” with your painted body. Now, the last fuckin’ thing I want to do at a three-day campout with no showers is get paint up my asscrack, but the guy was so earnest and persistent that I finally agreed to let him coat my nether-regions in paint, including my tampon string, so I could make an artsy imprint to hang on my wall. My intent was to make a sort of feminist statement, with the tampon string slashing between my labia…but the string didn’t end up making much of an imprint, and all the whole process ended up doing was getting him riled up to the point where he commented that this was “only the second time” he’d gotten aroused doing this. Remember what I said? It’s a fine line between an art festival and a fuckfest!!!!!!
I mean, you couldn’t get away from it! I was walking around one afternoon with a couple of my campmates when we stumbled on a Banana Blowjob Contest — whoever gave the best blowjob to a banana won some sort of prize, I guess. The contest was being emceed by a chick I know from Vegas, so when one of the scheduled contestants was a no-show, she called on me to fill in. Fuck!! I had no game plan — I mean, one of the other contestants had peeled and sucked her banana using only her toes, and another chick placed her banana in a crotch of some hippie and dry-humped him to much hooting and hollering from the crowd. How the fuck was I supposed to one-up that?! I ended up seizing my banana in a vise-grip, crushing out the innards in a gooey pulp, then flinging that pulp at the judges like an orangutan flinging its own shit at a zookeeper. Take that, ya oversexed perverts!!!!!
Fun with new friends
But lest you think me a frigid, humorless killjoy, dig this. Another camp called Porntopia or something like that had a party one afternoon, with all kinds of sex-themed hijinks going on (shocker!!): vibrator races, bobbing for dildos — silly stuff like that. But they also had a dome way in the back with a couple of Sybians inside.
If you don’t know, a Sybian is a sort of upholstered sawhorse with vibrators embedded in it, which women are supposed to ride, hands-free, until they get off. They’re popular with the Howard Stern crowd, and I’d always been curious to try one. So when a malodorous half-baked hippie kid came up to me and asked me if I’d go into the dome with him (you had to have a partner to get in, so he was desperately asking everyone who walked by), I actually agreed.
What a weird experience!!!! I didn’t even know this kid’s name, but we went into the dome and sat on this sawhorse together, facing toward one another, each of us astride our own personal vibrator with our own controller….and we fired them up and went to town. The kid kept trying to hug and kiss me, but I wasn’t about to get into all that; like I said, I didn’t even know his name, and I wasn’t attracted to him physically in the least. I’m just there to try the fuckin’ Sybian, bro!!! It was WEIRD — I felt like how I imagine it must be for a fuckboy; I got off pretty much right away, but out of politeness sat there sort of letting him manhandle my back and buttcheeks while he went on and on and on. He took so long that I ended up getting off again, and still had to sit there as he flailed about, trying (unsuccessfully) to kiss me between gropes. Meanwhile, the sun was going down and I still had to lug all my vagina colada gear back to camp, which was quite a distance away, so it was like, “Hurry the fuck up, kid!!”
Finally I’d had enough, and I guess the kid realized he was never going to get any nookie from me, so he gave up, too….and we dismounted and walked away, never to see each other again. WEIRD! I’ve never been one for casual or anonymous sex, and this only reinforced my conviction. NOW HEAR THIS!! All you swingers who constantly email me, inviting me to “play” parties and shit like that— I’M NOT INTO IT!!! I want love, dammit — or at least fondness.And if I can’t have that…I’m not interested.
Anyway……….considering all this attempted kissing and groping and drink-sharing and pipe-passing, it wasn’t really a surprise when I felt my tonsils starting to swell up toward the end of the weekend — I was getting sick. That campout was one big Petri dish of bacteria, and it finally got to me. The Miso Horny camp was there doling out homemade miso soup, so I drank a bowl or three of that to try and stave it off….but it was no use. Three days of running around a drizzly forest half-naked and hopped up on shrooms and cheap wine is bound to do it….ya know?!
At my camp
In the interest of notgetting sick, I tried to hit the sack early on the last night… but when my campmates and I got back to Spillage Village, I accidentally set off a raging afterparty when I queued up Milli Vanilli on my cellphone, and everyone crawled under my shade canopy for a two-hour late-nite singalong, mostly to the music of Abba, of all things. Come to find out, everyone likes Abba! The worst part was, I’d been getting ready for bed and had already gotten undressed, so I was sitting there doing all of this in nothing but a microscopic piece of Victoria’s Secret buttfloss, surrounded by affable drunks and rainy forest. It was actually a total fucking blast….but like most fun things, it wasn’t good for my health.
Aaaaaanyway, that’s how I came to find myself limping back across the Mojave Desert to Vegas, feeling like I was hit by a furry, blinking bus. Just like the real Burning Man, Youtopia was an amazing party — but exhausting! Enlightening? Not really. Boundary-pushing? Not so much of that, either. But it was totally fucking fun….and I will probably go again next year.
I have a lot of unique desert locations I use for my artistic nude photo shoots; if you hire me for a shoot, I can take you to places like rustic old wooden buildings, dry lake beds, Joshua tree forests and red sandstone wonderlands. But to keep things fresh, I am always on the lookout for interesting new places! And since the desert is full of weird stuff, all it takes is a little exploring.
inside the tube By Kimber Collins
With that in mind, last Wednesday my friend Randy Fosth a/k/a Shutterbug Studio and I went out adventuring, scouting for new photo shoot locations — preferably within an hour’s drive from the Strip, to keep things feasible for visiting photographers. We meandered around the Mojave Desert all day, stopping here and there at an abandoned motel, a hot spring and an old town site…before finally stumbling upon an amazing find: a GINORMOUS abandoned mine, rusting away in the baking desert sunshine less than an hour from the Vegas Strip!
what was it??
The scale of this place absolutely took my breath away: it is GIGANTIC! I have no idea what they used to mine (or mill, I’m not sure) here…but whatever it was, they did it on a pretty grand scale. The remains of the rusty old machinery is huge, on a scale so large that it can be overwhelming to a photographer, at first. But upon closer inspection, this is a fantastic place to shoot!
Rusty pipeline photo by Shutterbug Studio
The first thing you notice is this ginormous rusty metal pipeline, cut into two pieces, that dominates the landscape. The rust patterns on the outside are beautiful at golden hour, and the inside is lined with beautiful fire brick, infused with gorgeous filtered light coming in from each end. It almost looks like the Roman catacombs — if the Romans had sent them into Outer Space!!!
There are huge sprockets at the ends of the pipes, which are very easy to climb up on, and make for a surreal, Stargate-like portal. The variety of photos that could be taken here is endless — Mad Max/post-Apocalyptic, Steampunk, rock bands…and of course, art nudes Very versatile!
the lounge area
Aside from the giant pipes, there are also several concrete outbuildings scattered about; most of these house the remains of computer mainframes and control panels, and are not overly photogenic. But there is one building with a bunch of old sofas inside, and some fairly decent, colorful graffiti on the walls — and since one of the walls has been knocked down, the light is pretty good. There is also some interesting honeycomb-patterned sound-proofing on the doors.
photo by Kimber Collins
There’s also a huge old electric transmission tower, long defunct, with the ceramic insulators all shot to pieces, laying in broken chunks on the ground (this area is apparently popular with target shooters and other local rednecks, as there are shotgun shells everywhere). Since it’s no longer electrified, it’s a great structure for climbing!
The tallest building at the site is this silo-like rusty metal tower, that apparently used to house some sort of super-loud generator or something — there is still a sign on the outside, warning that ear protection is required. Inside, you’ll find a bunch of exposed plumbing that is excellent for industrial-type art nudes. The only downside in here is that everything is covered in a thin film of white dust that will get all over you; in fact, the entire area is pretty fucking filthy, and you will feel the need for a boiling-hot bath or shower after rolling around naked at this site.
Pipes inside the silo/tower
I’m not sure what was mined/milled/processed here, but whatever it was, the remaining debris and dust is undoubtedly bad to breathe — so beware! You don’t want to wind up with a case of silicosis, all for the sake of shooting some arty T&A. One of the huge pipes in particular is lined with a thick layer of this fine white silty stuff…so be advised. But I don’t think there’s anything overly toxic at this site, since there are no warning signs posted and the property is not even fenced. In fact, the only signage indicates that it’s on public land, and is open to target shooters — as long as they clean up after themselves (which they do not; as mentioned, the ground is littered with shotgun shells) (SHOCKER!).
All they ask is that you clean up after yourself
So basically, other than dirt and possible contamination, you don’t really have to worry about shooting nudes here. On both my visits the site was totally deserted, and it’s far enough from any town that the likelihood of your being bothered is pretty slim…even though the access road is fairly easy to navigate, even in a regular car (it’s paved, but in severe disrepair…so just drive slowly and you’ll be OK).
Overall, this is my new favorite shooting location; it’s remote, bizarre, and beautiful in a very unorthodox way. I love it!! Hire me for a shoot…….and I’ll take you there 😀
As a freelance nude model, the two questions I get asked most are: “Isn’t it dangerous to go out to the desert with all these strange men?” and “Do you have any modeling horror stories?”
Sorry to disappoint you bloodthirsty fuckers, but the answer to both is…not really.
I have been doing a ton of photo shoots lately, with people from all over the world. Mostly, these have been full-day bookings – I offer a $500 deal where, over the course of an 8-hour day, I take you around the desert to shoot at red sandstone rocks, a dry lake bed, rustic abandoned buildings, Joshua trees and lonely desert roads. I’ll even drive, if you want me to. And because the weather here in the desert is perfect right now for outdoor shooting, I have been booked solid!
come fly with me!
I usually meet the photographer in the morning — at his hotel, or at a pre-arranged meeting spot convenient to both of us — and either I get into his car, or he gets into mine, and we head off out of town to the first stop on my itinerary.
As mentioned, many consider this super sketchy…but I don’t just shoot with anybody; I have a pretty decent vetting process. In addition, I have a businesslike demeanor, concrete balls…and a hidden weapon And anyway, realistically the photographer has just as much reason for concern as I do — for all he knows I could be a psycho killer, or even just an unscrupulous con artist who will drive him out to the desert, steal his cash and expensive gear, and leave him for dead.
Thankfully, I’m an honest person and a legitimate model – which I think most photographers can tell from my site and my Model Mayhem bio. And so far, I have never had one single bad experience with a photographer — other than being stood up a few times (YOU know who I’m talking to, jerks).
When I admit to a lack of modeling “horror stories,” people almost seem disappointed — apparently, the general perception of the amateur modeling biz is that it’s nothing but pervs, rapists, and murderers…or a thinly-veiled front for prostitution. Well, again — sorry to burst your bubble, but this really isn’t the case. Most of my clientele are professional types from other fields who simply enjoy indulging their artistic side as a avocation. They just want to take beautiful photographs; that’s all!
In any event, those kinds of shenanigans are very rare, and most of the photographers who hire me are super cool and very professional about their work; usually the worst that happens is a little initial awkwardness when we first get into the car together and drive off. But I can talk to just about anyone, so usually after about 15 minutes we are chattering away like old friends. I have met some really interesting people this way — I’ve spent hours driving around the desert with doctors, lawyers, mining engineers, software programmers and all manner of other professionals….and only a few pervs It’s actually very interesting, and I’ve learned a lot.
Of course, sometimes there’s a language barrier; the other week I shot with a super nice Japanese man who spoke somewhat limited English, but we were able to communicate just fine, and ended up having a great shoot…especially at the end, when he broke out a traditional Japanese yukata for me to pose sluttily in, along with a weird Japanese fox mask and a towel from some Japanese girlie metal band called BABYMETAL. Whatever you say, boss!
In the desert
Then another day, I shot with a South African couple who was traveling around the U.S. in a giant motorhome, photographing landscapes for five weeks. They, too, hired me for a full day desert tour…and they were absolutely enchanted with the locations I took them to. I love watching the expressions on peoples’ faces when I show them my beautiful locations — I really do love the desert, and I enjoy sharing it with others. I love showing tourists that there’s more to Vegas than just slot machines and shitty shows!
Anyway, that shoot was particularly interesting because both of them shot me — and they had two cameras apiece! So I ended up posing for literally thousands of photos that day; their style was to just let me do my thing while they blasted away.
Just do your thing!
As a model, the first few minutes of any photo shoot are always interesting in that you have to sort of suss out the photographer’s shooting style — are they the type who likes to carefully compose each shot, with attention to light, shadow and geometry? Or, as is the case with many beginners, do they just get nervous and start blasting away, giving little or no direction? (I prefer the first style, as “just doing my thing” non-stop for 8 hours is pretty exhausting.)
Also, you have to figure out your posing — are they the artsy type, preferring anonymous bodyscapes, downcast eyes and wistful expressions? Or do they prefer more glamour-type cheesecake, with direct eye contact and toothy smiles? (The former is more in line with my personal aesthetic, but I enjoy shooting both.) I usually figure all that out as I go along, and do my best to cater to the photographer’s preferences….which generally ends up being a mix of styles, so I never get bored.
Photo by J. Patton
Speaking of getting bored, you might wonder if I ever tire of going out to the same locations over and over again — I mean, last week I shot out at my red sandstone location four times in one week (and on two occasions was there for the full day, without hitting any other locations)! But the answer to this is no — because every photographer has a different eye, and each shoot turns out different from the last in one way or another.
In fact, one of my recent shoots was really different from the others in that is was pissing rain the entire time — and I don’t mean drizzling, I mean dumping. I messaged the photographer the day before, noting that thunderstorms were in the forecast, and offering him the option to reschedule or just shoot in his room, instead. But this crazy motherfucker was Ukrainian, and scoffed at my wussy Western ways — what’s a little desert thunderstorm?! Clouds just mean beautiful, diffused light!
So I sacked the fuck up, threw on a rain poncho, and headed out to the desert anyway…and along the way, the weather got even worse. At one point, I had my windshield wipers on overdrive, and I could still barely see 10 feet in front of the truck. Yikes!!! To make matters worse, the temperature had also dipped freakishly into the 60s — a full 30 degrees cooler than at my shoots earlier and later in the week. BRRRRRRRRR!!
But I had to give that crazy motherfucker props — even as thunder and lightning split the desert sky and rain literally poured all around us, he crouched in a red sandstone cave directly across from where I was huddled miserably/seductively in another red sandstone cave, and proceeded with the shoot. Every once in awhile the rain would let up ever so slightly, and we’d make a mad dash for another couple of caves — and so it went, from cave to cave and then from location to location. We couldn’t even shoot at the dry lake bed, because it had officially become a lake — I mean, this was a heavy-ass rainstorm, setting a new rainfall record and causing all kinds of damage. There was even half-dollar sized hail coming down near one of the locations we shot at; fortunately, this kind gentleman took pity on me after awhile and we headed back to town. (He really was a super nice, cool guy…I don’t mean to make him sound like a monster or anything.)
I’ve spent a LOT of time here lately!
Anyway, that freak storm passed, and the rest of my shoots proceeded without incident. The worst thing that happened was that I cut my hand pretty badly on a splinter at the abandoned building location, and my ass got a little scratched up from all the climbing/scooting around on sandstone (I spent a total of 18 hours over 4 days shooting at the red rocks site, a personal record)! But I consider myself lucky……because things almost took a much worse turn.
You know how earlier in this blog I was bragging about how I’ve never had a bad experience with a photographer? Well, I should stop that kind of talk right this minute, so that I don’t jinx myself like I did on Wednesday.
The previous titleholder for Scariest Thing I’ve Seen At a Shoot
I was hiking along at the red rocks site in my bare feet or my flip flops — I don’t remember which — talking to the photographer about how I’ve been lucky in all my dozens and dozens of desert shoots, and had never once seen a rattlesnake, scorpion or black widow. (The worst I’d seen was a ginormous hairy tarantula that lumbered into the shot once — which was creepy, but harmless.) Anyway, no sooner had the boast left my lips than what should I spy slithering into a pile of rocks just ahead of me but a snake!!!!! YIKES!!!!!
Neither the photographer nor I thought it was a rattler — it was a sort of mottled brown and on the small side, just chilling there peeking out at us non-aggressively. So like an idiot, I started talking baby talk to it (“Awwwwww…..who’s a cute little snakey-
My new m.o.
wake?”) and tossed a pebble at it to get it to move. And when it turned tail to skedaddle, sure enough there was a rattle on its tail!!!!!!!! Y I K E S ! ! ! ! ! ! Did I mention I was wearing flip flops?! From now on I’m wearing BOOTS in all my nude photo shoots!!!!!
Anyway, despite the close calls with flash floods, lightning strikes, rattlesnakes and Hantavirus-covered splinters, I survived all my photo shoots this month — and indeed survived another year of living fabulously, as my birthday came and went while I was on yet another photo shoot, out in Death Valley with the guy with whom I’ve been working on that ass-trophotography series.
photo by CJ Photography
This was something like our 7th shoot, and each time our work gets better — I mean, check this shit out!! It has to be one of the most beautiful photos ever taken of me…I <3 it. Bathed in the glow of the Milky Way…ahhhhh.
The best part about shooting with that guy is, he always gets a room in Shoshone or Tecopa (little desert towns on the outskirts of Death Valley), and we hang out boozing and smoking weed all day in the pool or the hot springs, until nightfall, when we head out to a lonely spot in the desert nearby to shoot. He always has super-trippy music playing, like William Orbit, and truly exceptional wine and cheese for craft services. Now, that’s class!!
This time, we celebrated a little bit extra because it wasn’t just my birthday — it was his, too!! So on the morning after our shoot, we both ate some mushrooms and spent the day lazing about on the porch of our room at the Shoshone Inn, watching the Mojave desert tortoises crawl around as the sun slanted lower and lower. Finally, around sunset, we headed over to Tecopa to get something to eat at the new Death Valley Internet Cafe (I’m sorry to report that my beloved Pastel’s Bistro is no longer in business…but the good news is, a really cool artist couple is taking over, and it will eventually reopen under another name, but with a similar vibe).
Meanwhile, there’s this new Internet Cafe — which is amazing!! It’s run by another couple of Vegas refugees who enjoy cooking up fresh, healthy, delicious foodie-food-type meals with innovative ingredients and plenty of style. The cafe itself is full of funky locally-produced art, and they even host live music on a little stage in the dining room.
The windows in this place glowed cheerily in the dusk as we rolled in from Shoshone, and the beauty of everything on the drive over just made me bawl my eyes out — I think I was still worn out from Burning Man, plus it being my birthday made me melancholy, I guess, because the gorgeous pinks and purples of the desert sunset were all too beautiful, just like in the song “Itchycoo Park,” and I just wept from the overwhelming magnificence of life! There is so much I look forward to seeing and doing in life — I never want it to end. There are so many adventures to be had!
Anyway, the best part about all this is that to pay for these adventures, I get to roam around the desert with interesting strangers…which in itself is something of an adventure! So, my life is something like an self-fulfilling prophecy, or positive feedback loop…or maybe I’m just a hamster running on a wheel in a cage made of my own shortsightedness.
In any event, one thing’s for sure — even when I’m not running around the desert with strange men, making my monthly nut is always an adventure. The variety of gigs available to a gal here in Vegas is endless — just looking back over the past few weeks, I worked as a marijuana showgirl at the grand opening of a medical marijuana growers’ supply store, as a product demonstrator at the bicycle industry trade show, and as a hot dog server at the convenience store owners’ convention.
This last one in particular was a hoot — it was the proverbial sausagefest! Something like 30,000 convenience-store owners converged on Vegas to stuff themselves on free samples of pretzels, jerky, beer, nuts, donuts, Hostess cakes, Tastykakes, Little Debbie cakes, Oreo churros (!!!), soda, taquitos, pizza, sliders, nachos and of course delicious gourmet Chicago-style sausages and hot dogs. There was a huge contingent from Brazil this year — apparently, the C-store business is booming in Brazil. But there were people from all over the world at this show, and it was really interesting.
One of the funniest things about working these shows is the other models you end up working with. As a general rule, the lower-brow the show, the more scantily clad babes you see on the tradeshow floor; the convenience store expo is chock-a-block with hired T & A. Fortunately, the client I was working for was super nice and fairly low-key, only needing four babes to serve their sausages — no skimpy outfits required, just wholesome attitudes and friendly smiles. I mean, we were serving freaking hot dogs! But you’d never know it from the attitude of some of these girls.
I don’t take myself too serious
This one chick in particular was a real piece of work; I’ve worked with her before, and while cute as a button and twice as pert, she’s secretly a huge stoner, so we sort of bonded over that. She’s trying to break into professional spokesmodeling/TV hostessing, so I told her she should become the face of the legal marijuana industry, which as we all know is booming/soon to be booming. But when I suggested it, she was all “I don’t know…I wouldn’t want to jeopardize my title.” Title?! Turns out she was Miss [insert hillbilly state here] USA several years back…and apparently that honor is such a career-booster that she can’t risk being associated with marijuana. Meanwhile, the bitch is slinging wieners at a fuckin’ Kwikie Mart expo. SMH!!!!!
Then there was this little ninny I worked with at the bike show. She had just turned 18, and this was her first tradeshow ever; to her credit, she was very attentive and pretty damn sharp, and picked up the sales pitch and everything really fast, so she was great to work with. But in our downtime, we started chatting about modeling. She does some Model Mayhem shoots, but she won’t do any nudes with strangers — “I’m goingto be famous,” she explained, totally serious.
For that same reason, she refused to sell her underwear to some guy who had offered to buy them off her; she didn’t want that kind of scandal coming back on her future Academy-Award-winning career. Then in the next breath told me how sheactually did shoot some nudes last month for submission to Playboy, and was waiting to find out if she made the cut….and then when she found out I’d done extra work for those porn movies, she was all over my nuts for the casting lady’s info. When the tradeshow ended, she was giddy with joy because the casting lady had texted her back saying she could definitely use her in some scenes……so, you tell ME how this story’s gonna end!
I’m a realist
Meanwhile, there’s realistic bitches like me — short on self-importance, but long on my savings account, my IRA and my home equity. A dollar’s a dollar, and fuck you if you don’t like the way I earned it! The way I look at it is, the more uppity bitches there are in this world, the less competition I have for the really interesting gigs. Like these freaky fucking vore videos I shot the other week.
If you don’t already know, “vore” is a genre of fetish involving devouring/being devoured; in the past, I’ve done videos where I ate little tiny men, chewing them up slowly, swallowing them, and then digesting them with my sexy little stomach acid. But this particular vore site was different; La Vore Girl features giant monsters eating sexy women!
The guy who runs the site is a really nice, down-to-earth Everyman who stumbled on this bizarre way of making money by chance; he made a few “monsters” out of upholstery foam, set up a studio in his dad’s basement, and now he’s on his way to fame and fortune — someone’s even making this awesome documentary about him:
Anyway, he hired me one night to come over, strip naked and get eaten by a couple of his monsters. How could I say no to that?!?! The setup was a classroom; in one video, I brought my pet monster to Show & Tell, and showed the class how I like my monster to eat me. In the other, I was a bratty schoolgirl who was trying to convince my monster teacher to change my “F” in Algebra to an “A:” “Isn’t there anything I can do to convince you, Mr. Cy-Eye?!?!?!?”
Being eaten by a monster
Unfortunately for me, I had to stretch my comfort levels a little and pretend the monster was actually having sex with me; I guess I’m not as free-spirited as I claim to be, as that kind of content kind of skeeves me out a little. But it was all very tongue-in-cheek (GET IT?); as Mr. Cy-Eye is giving it to me on his desk, I look back into the camera and deadpan: “This betterget me an A!”
Besides all of that, the shoot was fascinating for another reason; the filming took place in this bizarre sort of kooky, sprawling compound just northeast of downtown Vegas owned by
none other than the king of ballbusting, Mr. Bryan Balldacious…a man who makes his living having his testicles abused by sexy models. To that end, his home studio is filled with all kinds of crazy furniture with holes cut into it for his nutsack to dangle thru; the chicks then box it like a punching bag, or otherwise attempt to destroy it, and he sells the videos on his website, BallbustinFootlovin.fetlovin.com. Say what?!! I’ve never worked for him myself because his stuff is very adult; the chicks usually end up blowing him. But as seen earlier in this blog entry, I have done some softer-core ballbusting videos in my day…and I have to say, I find them mildly therapeutic 😀
Weird shit in the dark pic by CJ Photo
Anyway, when that crazy shoot was over I packed my bag and got the fuck out of there. As I was climbing into my truck in the front driveway, four Mexican cowboys came cantering down the street on horseback, drinking beer and chattering in Spanish in the dusky twilight. Considering all I’d just seen, I was sure they were the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…but in reality, I was just in one of those weird, funky old neighborhoods in Vegas that are still zoned for horses, even though development has crept up around them on all sides. (Get it…..neighborhoods?!) And that, my friends, is one of the reasons I still love Vegas…even after all these years.
So to thank Vegas for all it has done for me, I decided to do one last gig…pro bono. You know, just to give a little something back to the community that has given me so very much!
This was the weekend of the annual Life Is Beautiful festival; one of those annoying music festivals featuring multiple bands, overpriced drinks, food trucks and hordes of chicks wandering around in high-waisted acid-wash shorts. Shudder! Worse, they hold this festival in downtown Vegas, not far from my house…but they fence it off from the rest of the neighborhood, in order to keep out all the poor people who live down there, and sort of pretend they don’t exist. Because Life is Beautiful…not Difficult/Scary/Sad, you fool.
But this year it was actually pretty cool; they had turned this shitty old no-tell motel down there into an art space called the Art Motel, with each room being curated by a different artist or art crew. I was invited to participate as part of the Intimately Female group exhibit in one of the rooms; the director was this super-progressive gallery owner here in town who dug my Electric Vagina shtick, and she gave me a free festival wristband in exchange for performing at the Art Motel.
OMG, legitimacy at last! I’m not even gonna pretend to be blasé about it; I’d never been presented as an “artist” before, and it was super exciting to be taken somewhat seriously. I dithered for weeks over how I was going to perform; I couldn’t really bring my blender and make Vagina Coladas, since I’m pretty sure that would have been a) a violation of the health code and b) a conflict of interest with the overpriced booze vendors onsite.
In the end, it didn’t matter; show management booted us out of our original room and into this tiny little broom closet under the stairs, almost completely hidden by a giant 3-D painting, and there was no room for me to perform anyway — so I became a mobile exhibit, free to roam the festival grounds in my costume and fuck with/ pose for photos with/ educate people about the Powers of the Feminine. It was awesome!!
Viva La Vagina!
Because they had moved the festival up to September (it’s usually in October), the weather was super fucking sweltering hot, especially because of all the asphalt, and I couldn’t wear my gold spandex bodysuit; at the last minute, I came up with a sort of Electric Showgirl costume to wear instead, that actually kind of tied in perfectly with my whole shtick about how Vegas commodifies women’s bodies — which, incidentally, I’m fine with…so long as I can go topless in public if I want to!!! It’s a two-way street, motherfuckers.
So for three days, my life went like this: I packed my Electric Showgirl costume into a messenger bag and rode my bike down to Fremont Street (parking was impossible during the festival, and it’s only a 10-minute sweltering bike ride from my house). I changed into my costume in the El Cortez bathroom (there was no bathroom or air conditioning at the Art Motel), and then spent the rest of the night hanging out at the Art Motel or just wandering around the festival grounds talking to people.
Most of the time, it was pretty straightforward: I had on a showgirl headdress, and people wanted a photo with me just because it was Vegas. But then when they noticed my outlet, that’s when the conversation got interesting! I had a dramatic little spiel I would go into, about The Power Of The Feminine:
“For centuries, THE VAGINA has been IDOLIZED… FETISHIZED… DEMONIZED… and MONETIZED. But its power has never been fully UTILIZED… until now.
Presenting the solution to the global energy crisis –THE VAGINA! The ONLY truly renewably resource we have on this planet.”
Then I would hold aloft my power drill, with a little pink flag that read “VIVA LA VAGINA” waving from the end of my 11″ concrete drill bit…to mostly polite applause. It was great! I even actually made a positive impact on a few young chicks, by impressing upon them how much power they really do have — and I’m not talking about pussy power in the traditional sense, where some asshole buys you a car or some Louboutins or whatever in exchange for sex. I’m talking about real power!
Because it’s like this: let’s face it, men rule the world. Something like 85% of all the heads of State, Congress, Senators, whatever around the world are men — and many/most men spend their entire lives completely bewitched by/ chasing pussy (I should know; I spend my entire working life lazily milking this weakness). Careers have been ruined, families have been destroyed, fortunes have been pissed away because of this fascination.
Meanwhile, we as women own one hundred percent of the commodity men want — ONE HUNDRED PERCENT — but somehow, we’re still second class citizens who can’t even walk down the street without a fuckin’ shirt on — or vote/take birth control/drive a car/etc in many parts of the world. How the fuck are we letting this happen? WAKE UP, GIRLS!
I mean, Aristophanes addressed this theme in Lysistrata 2,426 years ago…and yet here we are, still bumbling along like idiots in stupid showgirl costumes, getting eaten by foam monsters, tripping over rattlesnakes and basically doing whatever we can to avoid facing the real issues. Sometimes, I’m really ashamed of myself. *Sigh!*
Aaaaanyway, astonishingly I managed to effectively communicate all of this to many girls and women over the course of this festival; but lest you think it was all hardcore feminist Sturm und Drang, rest assured — there was plenty of hijinks, too. I watched a few bands play, had a few drinks, met tons of interesting people in the Vegas arts community (yes, there is one)…and smoked plenty of weed.
One night, I got baked off a friendly passing stranger’s joint, and then met up with a food critic friend who tipped me off to some free tacos being passed out in one of the VIP areas; I was all about some free food, since by that time I had already blown my personal food budget on a $12 Jack & Coke (remember, I wasn’t getting paid for this, so I had to keep a strict rein on my spending).
Doing a podcast with a Creationist magician, his nude-snake-handler girlfriend and assorted other local kooks
So I followed my friend into the VIP enclave, where all the bougie motherfuckers were swanning around sipping cocktails safely apart from the great unwashed masses, and stood in the darkness off to the side watching this semi-well-known chef demonstrate how to make pig cheek meat tacos. It was surreal! Remember, I was high as a kite, standing there in the night gaping at a brightly lit stage where a man in chef’s whites held aloft a glistening golden-brown bisected pig’s head, while a crowd of bougie white and Asian fanboys stared slavering in awe. “I’m here to tell you,” the chef intoned matter-of-factly, “there is no better meat than the meat on this pig’s face.”
He then proceeded to take the sous-vided fatty pig cheek meat and make tacos dressed with mayonnaise — three of the foods I despise most in this world: pork, fat and mayo. Shudder! But, alas…I was so high, so hungry, and so budget-minded that I ate no less than four of those fuckers. Sometimes, I really am ashamed of myself.
I know…I just said that two paragraphs ago. Don’t think I’ve forgotten; I’m just reminding myself to be a better person. Because when all is said and done, that’s all I really have.
Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas by CJ Photo
Beauty fades, asses sag, and there comes a day when no one wants to pay you to run around the desert naked. Eventually, not even a monster made of upholstery foam wants anything to do with you — fuck; sooner or later, they won’t even let you hand out hot dogs.
So, I’m working on cultivating my inner beauty. Because I’m here to tell you….
There is no better meat than the meat between this idiot’s ears.
As the #1 Google result for “Las Vegas nude model,” I do a TON of outdoor photo shoots in the desert around Vegas. I have a few locations that I use for this — dry lake bed, abandoned buildings, fabulous red sandstone formations — but I am always on the lookout for new spots to shoot at. And the other day, I found a humdinger: the ancient bristlecone pine forest up in the Spring Mountains, just northwest of town.
Bristlecone pines are the longest-lived life forms on Earth — over 5,000 years old in at least one case — and over the millennia the winds have blasted them into gnarled, twisted shapes. The dead ones are the most visually striking, as they have lost all their bark and have these beautiful, whorled striations on their trunks and branches. The trunks are almost the same color as my skin in some cases – although they photograph most dramatically in black-and-white.
photo by Randy Fosth/ Shutterbug Studio
These amazing ancients are found only in Nevada, Utah and eastern California (other less long-lived species are found in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona) and I first discovered them several years ago, while hiking to the Raintree. The Raintree is this massive bristlecone pine in the Spring Mountains up near Fletcher Peak that is said to be 3,000 years old — making it (allegedly) the oldest living thing in Nevada…now that Joan Rivers is gone (ZING).
Anyway, the Raintree hike is one of my favorites in the Vegas area — after going about a mile and a half through a Ponderosa pine forest, you reach this amazing barren plateau overlooking all of the Las Vegas Valley and the surrounding desert; you can even see the Strip in the distance! It’s a huge flat area, and someone even built a little shanty out of fallen branches at the base of one of the bigger bristlecones. It would be an amazing place to camp out and have a drum circle or something like that!
photo by Randy Fosth/ Shutterbug Studio
But what’s really striking about this plateau are all the gnarly, dead bristlecones up there. Because it’s a windblasted ridge, they have taken on some really cool, twisted shapes…and I always thought they would make for some amazing art nudes. IF I could ever convince a photographer to hike up there.
Alas, however, I probably won’t be bringing (m)any photographers to this location. Although the trailhead is less than an hour from the Vegas Strip…the hike to the plateau itself is about 1.4 miles uphill with 1,000 feet of elevation gain, starting at 8,439 feet and ending up at 9,331 feet. And that’s just to the plateau — if you want to go all the way to the Raintree, it’s another 1.3 miles and 700 feet of elevation gain. The trail itself is technically fairly easy (I do it in flip-flops)…but it’s relentlessly uphill. You’ll have glutes of steel by the time you’re finished — did I mention I can crack a walnut in my ass?!
photo by Randy Fosth/ Shutterbug Studio
Anyway, most of the photographers who hire me aren’t up to the challenge…but I did convince my friend Randy Fosth a/k/a Shutterbug Studio to come with me the other day. And though he almost died doing it, we got all the fantastic photos you see in this blog…so I guess it was worth it!
Anyway, if you’re an adventurous sort, in moderately decent shape, and want to hire me for a shoot up here, I’ll be glad to
photo by Randy Fosth/ Shutterbug Studio
take you up on it. All you need is water and a camera — I’ll take care of the rest! As an added bonus, because the elevation is so high, you can shoot here even on the hottest day of summer — it might be 100 degrees down in Vegas, but up here it’s generally at least 20 degrees cooler.
But even if your physical limitations won’t allow for this hike, don’t worry: all my other locations are very easy to drive to, with minimal walking/hiking We can still take beautiful photos…I got your back!
*Hike information taken from Jim Boone’s fantastic site birdandhike.com. Directions to trailhead can be found there as well…or see my video below:
There I was, hunkered miserably in my flimsy pop-up camper as 50mph winds battered the canvas and rattled the chassis, insidious puffs of alkali dust sneaking in through every little crack and cranny, coating my dishes, wigs and even eyelashes in a fine white film of existential angst. I was tired, hungover, sleep deprived and pissed the fuck off — WHERE THE FUCK were all the perfect sunny days, languorous golden hours and pink-and-purple sunsets I’d been led to believe were my birthright? How the fuck was I supposed to cavort whimsically about the temple in my feather headdress and furry platform boots?! I WANT MY MONEY BACK!!!
Let this dust-caked Fleshlight speak for itself…
That’s right, friends, it was Burning Man…and this year, Burning Man was a bitch!!!
I’ve been lucky; in the 7 years I’ve been going to Burning Man, the weather has been pretty good, and I assumed all that talk about day-long dust storms and whiteouts was just hippie hyperbole. Every year, I dutifully tied and re-barred everything down…but secretly wondered why the hell I was bothering, when the most catastrophic thing I’d ever experienced was a ruffled wig.
Well, now I know.
Before my camp was destroyed
And it wasn’t just the weather that got me down — this year, every little thing seemed to conspire against my enjoyment of the Greatest Party on Planet Earth™: wind, weather, Eurotrash, mechanical troubles…and a general sort of malaise that had me wandering around the playa asking myself: “Is that all there is to Burning Man?
“Is that all there is?”
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball!
Well, if that’s all there is….then might as well keep dancing.
I’m no weak-willed pansy; every time the playa knocked me down, I got back up again. When relentless blasting winds destroyed our camp, my sister and I swept away the sand dunes and built it back. When my usual mushroom truffles made me sick, I took whole dried stems and caps, instead. And when whiteout conditions blasted dust into every crevice and orifice…I threw on a niqab and my strap-on, and went to town. This is the party of the year — let’s break out the booze and have a ball!
most practical gift ever
What’s a niqab, you ask? Well, it’s one of those creepy fucking black veils worn by women in some Islamic countries, where every part of the face and head are covered except for a narrow slit for the eyes. It covers everything down to about mid-chest, and is often worn over another full-length creepy black garment so that the entire body is covered…but I skipped the body part and simply accessorized it with a black rubber strap-on, a pair of Frankenstein boots and a clown nose. A fan had given it to me early in the week…and whatever your personal beliefs about the misogynistic heritage of these garments, I’m here to tell you — they are great for Burning Man!
And not just for dust protection, either — wearing the niqab prompted many interesting discussions, of a deeper nature than the usual conversations I have at Burning Man (which tend to be drug-addled ruminations on matters of little consequence, like “Have you seen that amazing light installation in Deep Playa? It blinks in time to the rhythm of your farts!”).
The niqab provoked far more in-depth discussions on gender and religion, with people I met from all over the Middle East — including several oddly aroused Israelis (Israelis are thicker than dust at the Burn; they love EDM and psychotropic drugs, and are used to the harsh conditions of the desert). Although there was a tense moment when we visited my sister’s ex-husband and his all-Israeli camp, and I accidentally left my backpack behind when we rode off 😮 Other than that, though, people responded very well to the ensemble.
In fact, some responded uncomfortably well; one of my all-time greatest Burning Man experiences EVER came about as I was wandering the playa in that getup.
Battered to the point of exhaustion by the wind and dust, one afternoon my sister and I retreated to the protected confines of Center Camp (Center Camp is this giant circus tent in the middle of Burning Man, sort of a central gathering place full of art and sleeping hippies). We found a quiet corner with a few cushions to lay back on, and sat down to enjoy some good-old-fashioned people watching…which is excellent at Center Camp.
Everyone wanted to play with my dick
After awhile, a pudgy, bearded Deadhead came shuffling along, and asked if he could sit beside me. Noticing my strap-on, he also asked if he could play with my dick. Of course, I said yes to both.
By now, having men fiddle with my fake penis had actually become fairly commonplace; because it was on a cute girl, the ersatz phallus was apparently a safe way for guys to indulge their latent bicuriosity, without fear of judgment….and just about every guy I encountered wanted to touch it. But this Deadhead took it to a whole new level!! After manually futzing with it for a few minutes, he mentioned that he could put a condom over it and actually suck it, if that was cool. Cool?! How much cooler can ya get???!!
suck my dick, hippie!
So, as I lay there in my hungover stupor, not moving at all and looking for all intents and purposes as if I were unconscious…this hippie slipped a condom over my fake black penis and proceeded to go to town fellating me. FOR OVER AN HOUR!
And I’m not talking about a half-assed job, either — he really worked it, with astonishing gusto. I don’t know his personal story, or what what going on in that hairy head of his…but that motherfucker did not give a fuck. He sucked and slurped and deep-throated me, literally for over an hour, in broad daylight, and in view of many cameras. And I loved it!!
45 min later, still going at it!
The best part was, I had on my big black stunner shades, so I could observe the reactions of people walking past without their being the wiser. You know these Burning Man types — blasé as fuck, like, “Is that all there is?” Well, guess what? Apparently, the sight of an unconscious woman in a niqab having her dick sucked by a bearded hippie with a hairy belly poking out of a tie-died Grateful Dead t-shirt is enough to make even Peggy Lee put down her gin-and-Valium and take note. For extra impact, I made sure my hairy armpits were on display (I have taken to not shaving unless I have a photo shoot…so by the time this went down, they were pretty furry).
This man gave zero fucks. Kudos to you, sir!!!!
After about an hour, the hippie’s jaw got tired, so we invited him to join us over at the nearby Hair of the Dog bar for a drink. He agreed, and we all went off to get our bikes…but when my sister and I arrived at HOTD, the hippie was nowhere to be found. Like all truly surreal visions, he had disappeared into the mists of the playa, never to be seen or heard from again. If anyone recognizes him from these photos, by all means please tell him I’m looking for him. His stamina was amazing!!
that niqab came in handy during dust storms
So anyway, that niqab was one thing that saved my Burn from being a total writeoff. Another lifesaver were these little powder-filled baggies I had ordered from Amazon.com called TravelJohns — basically, you pee into them, and the powder turns your urine into an odorless semisolid gel, which you can then throw away in the trash. They’re made for coal miners and lady truck drivers, but I’m here to tell you that they are INVALUABLE at Burning Man. You’ll never have to leave your cozy trailer in the middle of the night to pee again! (And that was an especially big deal this year, when a freak cold front blew in and brought temperatures down to freezing on at least one night. Yikes!!)
Boo Ya! photo by DPH LLC
But the niqab wasn’t the only amazing playa gift I got this year — this was actually an exceptional year for me in terms of playa gifts. I amassed a collection of scarves, necklaces, weed and mushrooms that astonished even me, but the most exceptional of the lot was this package that arrived for me via USPS — that’s right; they deliver on the playa via a P.O. box in nearby Gerlach, to which a fan had shipped me a care package full of all kinds of useful things ranging from trail mix and vitamins to Sno Balls, a fabulous purple dashiki and a $1,000,000 Zimbabwean dollar bill. You know…all the things you never knew you needed at Burning Man. A volunteer member of the Black Rock City postal service delivered it right to my camp, too. AMAZING!
But each time I decided to just keep dancing, break out the booze and have a ball…the playa would test me again. Like with poor Dr. Who.
my brother, the UC Davis-educated engineer, made this bong out of a rubber ducky!
Now, you may remember that Dr. Who is this wonderful, kindhearted kindred spirit I met at last year’s Burn, when both my sister and I became very close friends with him. We stayed in touch all year long (I even visited him at his beautiful home in Hawaii, and he came to see us at our mom’s house in the forest of Northern California), and we had all three been looking forward to spending some quality time together in his ginormous, luxurious RV. He had stuffed the RV with gourmet foods and liquors, and had even spent a good deal of time pimping out the ceiling with tassels and fringe.
Fun times at Dr. Who’s camp
Well…apparently he should have spent more time pimping out the engine, too, because the RV broke down en route to the Burn, and poor Dr. Who, who had looked forward to this all year long, ended up missing the first few days of Burning Man — and spent the next few sleeping at his camp in a rental car, with all his gourmet foods and costumes rotting in the trunk, until he was finally able to return to Reno and pick up his repaired rig halfway through the event. D’oh!!!!!
BARF! photo by Soul Thief Vision
But that Dr. Who has an indomitable spirit, and despite all his setbacks he was hellbent and determined to have fun. And if Dr. Who was able to have fun despite all HIS problems, then certainly I could! To that end, on Monday night I shoved a fistful of mushrooms in my face, and set off for a night of hijinks. But wouldn’t you know it; the playa still had it in for me…I had eaten one of my usual chocolate-mushroom truffles, which have never before given me problems, but this time made me super nauseous…so much so that I had to bail out and to go to bed early I HATE MISSING A NIGHT OF BURNING MAN!
Worse, because the shrooms were still zinging around in my system, I spent a very restless, shitty night tossing and turning in my bed. I knew my sister was OK out there — she’s a super sharp chick, and in good company with Dr. Who — but for some reason I still had this weird dream where I was in an old-timey steampunk-type two-seater rocket ship, bound for the moon…but she wouldn’t get on board. In my dream, it was the saddest thing — I waved good-bye to her as I blasted off into space, knowing I’d never see her again WTF?!? Damn shrooms!
Anyway, after tossing and turning all fuckin’ night, I finally gave up at 7:30am (!!!)…an hour at which I rarely see the playa. I felt like I’d been hit by a giant fur-covered schoolbus, but there was nothing for it but to sack up and soldier on, and try to salvage the day. I threw on my stunner shades, purple dashiki and a pink Afro wig, and shuffled down the street for a cup of coffee at Dr. Who’s camp, where they serve coffee brewed from his plantation in Kona…trying to drown out the ennuyée voice of Peggy Lee echoing once again in my head.
Let’s keep dancing!
But you know me — let’s keep dancing!While slouched on a sofa nursing my life-saving brew, a photographer friend who was camped next door came over and invited me to join this photo shoot he was about to embark on with another model (he’s one of those insane early-riser types you see out on by the temple at daybreak, photographing Goddesses frolicking about in feathered headdresses, etc). Now needless to say, I was NOT in photo-shoot-ready condition — remember, I was wearing a fucking purple dashiki and a pink Afro wig! But despite my miserable hangover and sleepless night, I decided “Fuckit! Let’s break out the booze and have a ball!!!“
a more fabulous wig and outfit pic by MG Imagery
I dashed back to my camp to don a more fabulous wig and outfit, and we all three rode out to the playa in the beautiful morning sunlight, to commence shooting a series of irreverent artsy nudes among the fantastic art pieces out there. There was some really cool art this year, and three of us had a grand old time.
But, just as I was starting claw my way back to the aforementioned boozy ball…wouldn’t you know it, my resolve
blasted away by another fuckin’ dust storm
was tested again; yet another miserable whiteout dust storm came blasting through the playa, and before you know it we were lost in an endless, choking cloud of alkali dust, cutting short the shoot and destroying my wig and very nearly my willpower in the process. I got on my bike and pedaled furiously through the howling, blasting grit, completely clueless as to where I was headed in the dusty void. Somehow, I eventually managed to navigate my way back to camp, where I tore off my filthy wig and collapsed in a heap of frustration. Damn you, playa!!!
this weather SUCKS!
By this time I was tired, hungover, my camp was in ruins again and I was very seriously considering approaching one of the many law enforcement agents at the event and offering up my entire shroom collection in exchange for being carted off to a nice, air-conditioned jail with hot meals and no fucking wind; as an added bonus, they could seize all my property and save me the hassle of trying to pack up the fucking mess it had become — I had serious doubts that my poor long-suffering pop-up camper would survive the blasting 50mph winds, and I had the sinking feeling I’d be unable to crank it closed at the end of the week. GOOD RIDDANCE!!!
my outfits were skimpy and not suited to cold weather
Seriously, this weather was the pits. I was being mildly facetious when I said I’d never experienced less-than-perfect weather at Burning Man in the past; I did suffer a nasty gash in my leg during a violent storm in 2013, and had been caught in a few whiteouts over the years. But never anything as relentless as this. Not only was it windy and dusty as fuck, but as previously mentioned it was also cold as fuck — dipping into the 30s on several nights. As luck would have it, this was the year I had decided to “pack light,” and not be a sparkle pony with 1,000 coats and costumes — so I had stupidly neglected to bring a big warm fur coat. D’oh!!!
I had to ruin the effect of my silver spacesuit with Dr. Who’s blue fur coat
Thankfully, once Dr. Who was able to retrieve his RV from the repair shop in Reno, his exuberant relief was infectious. Now I had not only a safe refuge from the miserable weather, but the chance to borrow one of his furry jackets, as well. So around mid-week, things turned around dramatically — to the point where I was finally able to dance, break out the booze….and have a legit fucking ball!!! It’s hard to be truly miserable at Burning Man…if you are, you have serious problems!
Now, you’re probably wondering why, if we spent so much time hanging out with Dr. Who anyway, my sister and I hadn’t just camped with him. We’re weird like that –Dr. Who stays with a big group, with organized meals and showers and camp dues and other commie bullshit, but my sister and I like our privacy, and prefer to have our own setup off on the fringes, where we can set up a little sanctuary of our own, and be our own bosses. I guess you could say we’re control freaks! We usually just invite a few friends to stay with us, and sort of cobble together our own freaky little camp…like we did last year, with the Goddess Collective and all the other sparkle ponies.
Goofing around with my friend MG Imagery
Well, alas….this year our own camp kind of sucked ass. We had cool people, but the infrastructure wasn’t there; because not one of our campmates had an RV to act as a windblock, our setup was repeatedly destroyed by the wind. Worse, none of our immediate neighbors had RVs either — we somehow ended up in a section of Black Rock City that was full of nothing but Millennial Eurotrash in tents and Jucy vans, who only returned to camp to sleep, eat and leave their garbage all over the playa. Apparently they hadn’t read up on the “Leave No Trace” thing; the porta potties in our part of town were reprehensible (even by Burning Man standards) — despite all the signs and exhortations that “If it didn’t come from your body, don’t put it in the potty,” they were sickeningly full of old champagne bottles, tampon applicators and beer cans. Our neighborhood was like the Black Rock Youth Hostel…lame.
During a rare sunny moment, I ran into this friend from Vegas
And the only major camp in our area that wasn’t run by Eurotrash idiots was even worse — they had a 500,000-watt sound system blasting horrible music at random hours of the morning, waking me up at 5:30am with the theme song from “Cheers,” followed by a rousing program of Rage Against The Machine. I fully expect to suffer 24/7 loud music up at Burning Man, so I always sleep in earplugs…but earplugs can only drown out so much, ya know? It’s fairly easy to ignore the monotonous thump of EDM…but the theme song from Cheers gets your mental gears going, trying to remember dumb shit like the name of Ted Danson’s character (Sam Malone). And don’t even talk to me about Rage Against The Machine — that band sucks ass any time of day!!
Huddled around a burn barrel at Dr. Who’s camp with a lady sexologist, my sis and a new friend
So understandably, as mentioned my sis and I spent almost the entire week hanging out at Dr. Who’s camp, and will probably stay there next year, commie infrastructure be damned: he camps with an AMAZINGLY zany collection of kooks, freaks and pornographers, mostly from L.A., and they were among the most diverse, amazing group of people I have ever met at Burning Man: porn actors, actresses, production crewmembers, hippies, Republicans, at least one virulent Obama-bashing Libertarian, art car builders, doctors, lawyers and a fantastic bevy of boozy, busted sparkle ponies shoving their tits into the faces of one and all. Say what you will about people in the industry; these were some of the most genuine, creative, wonderful people I’ve ever spent time with. I loved those crazy fuckers!!
Caught in a blasting whiteout on the Mugwump
In addition to providing a comfortable bar and lounge area to chill in, they also had several art cars to ride around on — the elegantly-designed/inelegantly-named Penetrator, a Day-Glo Frankenvehicle called the Mugwump, the sleek LED-covered Mirage and even a fur-covered rabbit-shaped Studebaker one of the camp members had built for a client who turned it down last minute — so we were never without a fun way to see the playa. Oh, except for the fact that the fucking dust storms often ENGULFED the playa to the point where you couldn’t see a fucking thing, anyway!!! We went out one afternoon on the Mugwump and ended up stranded in Deep Playa, unable to find our way back due to a FREEZING COLD, BLASTING whiteout dust storm that obliterated everything and left me hunkered down behind my niqab and a bunch of fuzzy pillows. D’OH!!!
on the Mugwump, Penetrator in the background
But, somehow…dust storms notwithstanding, thanks to the astonishingly hardcore ebullience of this dedicated band of ragtag partiers, it became easier and easier to just keep dancing — those motherfuckers know how to break out the booze and have a ball!! My sincere, heartfelt thanks to the crew of Sunset Lounge, for helping me see the folly of my wussy ennui 😀 You guys are awesome!!!
my barrister merkin
Besides their positive effect on my attitude, there were other reasons I should have camped with them — mainly because I was involved in several events they were hosting, and I wasted a lot of time running back and forth from my camp to theirs. One afternoon I was scheduled to adjudicate Playa Divorces — temporary, 24-hour divorces meant to give romantic partners a break from each other on Burn Night, and the opportunity to go fuck around, I guess. To that end, one of the campmembers had gotten me a judge’s robe and barrister’s wig, and I even made a little barrister’s merkin to match (astonishingly, when I Googled “barrister merkin” while I was prepping for this, I was unable to find a single website using that word combo. I guess I win the Internet!).
co-hosting PornStar Dating Game at Sunset Lounge photo by Soul Thief Vision
Then another night I co-hosted the Pornstar Dating Game — a version of the old 70s TV show “The Dating Game,” but with real-life porn actors choosing dates from among the audience members! Now that was a shit-show; my co-host wore a powder-blue tux and quizzed the gentlemen, while I needled the ladies in a psychedelic-print 1967 Jantzen swimsuit and beehive wig. GOOD TIMES! The porn actors and actresses all chose dates, took them out on the playa for an evening of fun…and I’m pleased to report that most resulted in the proverbial happy endings. Yee-haw!!
blending up Vagina Coladas at Sunset Lounge
But the main performance I had to take part in was all my own; just like at our Vegas regional burn last May, I had brought all the trappings to make my world-famous Vagina Coladas. In case you’ve forgotten or haven’t heard, Vagina Coladas are delicious, frosty piña coladas made with kegel power, using a blender I plug into my Electric Vagina. I dump in all the ingredients, then bear down and squeeeeeeeeze…with much theatrical screaming for extra flavor. Guaranteed to quench the thirst of even the hottest, dustiest playa denizens!
Vagina Coladas for al!
I blended up Vagina Coladas on two occasions at the Sunset Lounge, and then another day I took my shtick across town to the Hair of the Dog camp, where my friend Fritz had even arranged to book me a slot on their stage, with music and everything. To the pounding strains of Iggy Pop’s anthem “Pussy Power,” I blended up pitcher after pitcher of delicious Vagina Coladas, making many new friends in the process. It was amazing! I really liked that camp (Hair of the Dog) — not only are they the oldest continuously-operating bar on the playa, they’re also just a really fucking cool group of people. I spent many afternoons hanging out at that bar, and had many truly stimulating conversations.
Blending Vagina Coladas at Hair of the Dog
Now speaking of my friend Fritz, he also had an RV and was more than willing to offer me shelter during the frequent dust storms. He also cooked a couple of amazing dinners for my sister and I — that guy likes to cook, and does it exceptionally well! One night he made mushroom risotto, and another night some amazing pasta fagioli — in addition to all the hot meals I got from Dr. Who and his camp as well, I actually ate better this year than I had ever done at Burning Man…weather be damned! Thank you, Fritz <3
So, after all of the wind, dust, Eurotrash and angst…against all odds, it actually turned out to be one of my better Burns, after all. SHOCKER! Apparently, I’m not ready to throw in the towel quite yet — in the words of the immortal Miss Peggy Lee, “Oh, no…not me. I’m in no hurry for that final disappointment!”
beat-up and exhausted, looking like Carol Channing
But either way, by the end of the week we were EXHAUSTED and drained — moreso than usual, and I was really looking forward to our planned group decompression at nearby Sierra Hot Springs, nestled in the pine forests near Truckee. Last year, my sister and I spent a few magical days there with Dr. Who, and we were all three looking forward to a repeat; plus we’d be joined by several of the pornographers and kooks this year, so it was shaping up to be a great coda to an often-miserable week. One guy in particular was joining us; we’ll call him Johnny Cum — the exceptionally entertaining star of 1800 adult movies, an irascible, fiery Jersey goombah with chiseled muscles and a penchant for telling filthy stories. I was really looking forward to sitting around in a hot spring with a cocktail, listening to him ramble!
Time to get to work, hippies!
But before I could leave the playa, I had to help break down the Soul Train. For the past few years, I have been assured a Burning Man ticket and an early arrival pass (thus missing all the traffic) by virtue of my helping out with the assembly of this art car built by a friend of mine here in Vegas — a giant, lumbering replica of the old cartoon train at the beginning of the Soul Train TV show. It’s a monstrous project that takes about two days to complete, both before and after the event…but I don’t mind helping out, usually.
This year, however, my friend who owns it had accidentally booked a gig in Indiana on Burn Night (he’s a professional puppeteer, who performs at halftime shows and stuff like that), so he had to fly out of Reno for work, and miss the whole culminating weekend. In his defense, Burning Man fell much later than usual this year — it’s always the week before Labor Day, but this year Labor Day fell later in September than usual, and it threw him off, so he’d accepted the gig, thinking Burning Man would be well over by then.
Anyway, to make up for his missing the Man Burn and the Temple Burn, he planned to throw a party on the Monday night after the Burn, and not pack up til Tuesday —by which time I’d hoped to be long gone on my way to the hot springs with my merry band of freaks. Instead, I had to stay on the playa and help out. D’oh!!! Oh, well — at least the weather had finally settled down and turned nice. (After the event was over — IT FIGURES!!)
So, my sister and I packed together our own disastrous mess (my camper barely creaking shut), then helped my friend pack up the Soul Train as quickly as possible…and then finally escaped to the loving, wind-and-dust-free embrace of Sierra Hot Springs. Only to my dismay, it wasn’t so much an embrace as barely-tolerating arms-length highway robbery — the smug fuckers gladly took our $30/night per person, but let us know in passive-aggressively veiled terms that Burners were not really welcome there, and that we’d have to leave by Friday. Well, fuck you, too, ya sanctimonious hippies!
That hot springs has problems, let me tell you. Their facilities aren’t equipped to handle hordes of dusty hippies; they only have two hot showers, and their tolerance for people who enjoy talking and drinking alcohol is basically zero. Yet their greed compels them to welcome all Burners anyway, take their money, and then bitch about them passive-aggressively, as seen in this note posted prominently on the office door.
The staff was so rude to us, in fact, that my normally law-abiding sis and I actually did something utterly loathsome: we skipped out on paying the last night’s fee. We had already paid a total of $120 for two nights in our little camper; we didn’t feel like giving them any more, especially when they were such assholes. Because of this, we are both now officially banned
banned for life
from ever returning. I think the ban might also have something to do with the rowdiness of the rest of our crew; despite the “no alcohol” policy at Sierra, the picnic table at our camp was openly covered in booze bottles and beer cans, and we were all up late into the night, every night, talking and laughing and probably ruining the peace and quiet for all the other soul-searching campers. Apparently, Sierra Hot Springs does not subscribe to the Peggy Lee School of Dealing With Life’s Challenges…no dancing, breaking out the booze, nor having a ball allowed. It’s all about pious introspection, apparently. Oops :/
Before they could run us off, we packed up our shit and got the hell out of there…the pornographers back to L.A., Dr. Who back to Hawaii, and the others back to their respective towns and countries. Except for me; I couldn’t go home and start the arduous clean-up process yet…I had one more party to arrange: my mom’s birthday! As completely exhausted and worn-out as I was, I could not miss it; it was a milestone birthday, and I’d have felt really shitty. So I mustered my remaining strength and got to work one last time.
Dr Who and a friend trying to fix my busted camper
First, I had to figure out where to stash my trailer. My mom lives on a really narrow gravel road in the forest, with extremely limited parking; there’s nowhere to park it up there, and besides…I didn’t feel like hauling it all that extra way, since when I’m towing it I can only drive 55mph, and it would take forever!!! So I found a place on the CA/NV state line that only charged me $20 to park it for a few days, and left it there; I’d pick it up on my way back. It meant adding a few hours to my trip home, but I really had no choice. Half of me just wanted to list the fucking thing for FREE on Craigslist and be done with it; as I feared, it’s jammed shut and won’t crank open anymore…the gears are clogged with playa dust. But I figured I should wait until I wasn’t so tired to make that decision, and try to fix it first — it might still have some life in it yet.
So, I dropped off my camper and joined my sister in the forests of western Sonoma County, to plan this surprise party. We had less than two days to get it all together — the party was Sunday evening, and we didn’t get there til Friday evening. But somehow, we pulled off our plan….and it was F A N T A S T I C ! ! ! Finally, after a long week of battling shitty luck…things went our way!
Our execution went off exactly as planned: in the afternoon, my sister dropped me off on a sort of island in the Russian River about 5 minutes downstream from my mom’s house, and I spent the afternoon setting up a magical medieval-style party pavilion, using all the dust-caked flowers and tapestries and cushions and whatnot from our ill-fated Burning Man camp. When the stage was set, around sunset, my brother put on a formal suit and drove my unsuspecting mother down to this little beach by her house, where my sisters greeted her with a crown of flowers and an old-fashioned lantern, and helped her into a two-person kayak that they’d festooned with more flowers and frippery.
Then, as my brother slowly paddled the kayak downriver through the gloaming dusk, my sisters hauled ass in their car back over to the island, where we were all dressed in fabulous colorful robes, Christmas lights and paper lanterns hung to help guide my brother onto our little beach. We had old-timey Renaissance music playing and a veritable feast laid out in the pavilion, with a throne for my mom and everything. And boy howdy, did she love it!! My brother beached the kayak by this little red carpet we’d laid out, and we helped her disembark, then led her to her throne for the feast.
It was so amazing, I can’t believe how well it turned out. A million different things could have gone wrong, but not one thing did — I guess we’d used up all our bad luck at Burning Man, praise Jebus! But the best part was yet to come — after we’d eaten, we had rigged it up so that her birthday cake came floating down the river on a little raft covered in flowers, candles shining in the darkness. I hate to use this word, but it really was MAGICAL! We reeled in the cake, pigged the fuck out, and then my sisters escorted my mom back home while the rest of us packed up the mess. We finally all straggled home around 11pm, and collapsed into bed from sheer exhaustion — but it was a happy sort of exhaustion
Wearing a scarf for a shirt…note armpits
And then, the next morning, FINALLY I could start limping home to clean up. By now, everything I owned was destroyed and/or filthy; I didn’t even have one single clean shirt left to wear, and had to drive all the way back to Reno and then on to Vegas with just a scarf wrapped creatively around my torso (another amazing playa gift I’d gotten). It took me two days, but I finally made it. WHEW!
So anyway, here I sit, bone-weary, with a dusty spirit and a busted camper, reflecting on my Burning Man adventure with a rueful sense of wonder: wind storms and whiteouts, sleep deprivation and existential angst, dusty crevices and severely chafed inner thighs…is that really all there is to Burning Man?
Is that all there is?
If that’s all there is…..
Oddly enough…I already find myself looking forward to next year’s Burn Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? And the weather can’t possibly be that bad two years in a row….right?!?! Either way, hopefully the weather this year scares off some of the half-assers and Eurotrash next year, and we’ll have a crew of people who understand what the fuck Leave No Trace really means.
We’ll break out the booze, and have a ball…if that’s all there is.
Holy cow, Burning Man is right around the corner! It never fails — every year it sneaks up on me, and I end up scrambling to get my costumes and stuff ready last-minute. But this year is even worse than usual!
Ironically, I figured I’d have plenty of time this year, since my planned trip to Sturgis got cancelled thanks to my bitch-ass ex-girlfriend bailing on me (I still haven’t heard a word from her — it’s like she flipped a switch and totally froze me out of her life). But before I had the chance to sit around and cry about Sturgis and/or start preparing for Burning Man….wouldn’t you know it, my friend Dr. Kildare made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: come camping with him in Colorado for a week! He even offered to pay my airfare; how could I turn that down?
Is this backpack big enough to hold all the weed I plan to buy???
Besides, I’d never been to Colorado and have always wanted to check it out — especially now that marijuana is legal there So I put my Burning Man prep aside, threw all my camping gear in my roommate’s ginormous old Army duffel, and headed for the airport. I’d have plenty of time to get ready for the Burn after I got home, I told myself.
Dr. Kildare met me at the Denver airport, and we headed back down south to this weird high-desert valley he’s enamored of down near the New Mexico border. But first things first — along the way, we had to stop at a dispensary to buy some legal weed!!! We ended up going to The Spot 420 in Pueblo, which turned out to be a fantastic place; management was super friendly, and hooked us up with all kinds of free swag including koozies, shirts, hats and sunglasses. Dr. Kildare went buck wild and bought $170 worth of cookies, hash oil and Purple Passion grape-flavored THC concentrate…but all I really needed was less than one gram of Indica, so I could take a few hits off my pipe at bedtime every night, to help me sleep. I’m a lightweight!
TheSpot420 in Pueblo is legit as fuck and will take care of all your medical and recreational needs!
But since we had all that other stuff aaaaaanyway….I went ahead and indulged, enjoying a fabulous sun-and-marijuana-soaked week of hiking, camping, hot springing and Rocky-Mountain-Oyster-eating. Dr. Kildare is like me, always on the go — so we would never really indulge until 6pm or so, after we’d done everything we wanted to do all day. No wake & bake for us; I like to save my high as a reward for a hard day’s fun, and he’s the same way.
Anyway, the first spot we camped was down at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument near Alamosa. Holy cow was that place beautiful!! It’s basically this
the dunes at sunset
GINORMOUS dune field at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains — I think the highest dune is around 800 feet tall, and people come down there from all over the world to go “sandboarding” (snowboarding on sand, LOL). These dunes are also closed to OHV traffic, so there are no bothersome rednecks razzing around belching gas and noise pollution and throwing beer bottles on the ground. It’s a very peaceful place, and beautiful in an otherworldly way — this huge, vast dune field surrounded by forests and meadows, with a creek that runs right through the sand!!
I’ve never seen anything like it. The first night, Dr. K and I got baked and walked down to the creek from the campground, and it was pitch dark. Dr. K is anti-headlamp, so we walked by the light of the stars, along this little path through the meadow to the creek, which runs along the base of the dunefield. Since it was too dark to see much, all my other senses were heightened, and the feeling of the cool water running through the wet sand was really out of this world! The trickling of the creek was the only sound, and all you could really make out was the occasional glint of starlight on the water — and the occasional flash of a headlamp waaaaaaay out on the dunes, where the truly hardcore had gotten backcountry permits to camp out.
the vastness of this dunefield cannot be overstated!
Being baked certainly added to the experience, and Dr. K got all fired up with the idea that we, too should camp out on the dunes the following night. Now, I can think of nothing more otherworldly and amazing than camping out at the top of an 800-foot sand dune, surrounded by miles of sand hills and sand valleys — how freaking awesome and Bedouin would that be, to have a little campfire and a glass of wine under all those stars, surrounded by all that sand?! But the idea of schlepping my gear, plus water, wood and wine, alllllll the way up an 800-foot dune sounded like the opposite of awesome!
The next morning we hiked to the top of the dunes in the daylight, and it was such an ass-kicking workout that Dr. K abandoned the idea of camping up there anyway, and we just enjoyed a day of hiking, instead. In the afternoon we drove to the nearest liquor store to get some champagne — I figured that Purple Passion grape-flavored THC concentrate would taste amazing mixed with some good old-fashioned champers. But it’s not like there’s a BevMo or a WalMart or anything way the fuck out there in the ultra-desolate San Luis Valley! Finding a bottle of champagne seemed like a pretty tall order.
But astonishingly, in the tiny, dusty little town of Blanca we found this Ukrainian woman running a sort of convenience store/liquor shop out of an old adobe building in the middle of nowhere. It was like something out of a Wim Wenders movie — how did she wind up there? But she did happen to have a bottle of Russian champagne in the walk-in cooler –Sovetskoye Shampanskoye, this old-time Soviet-era sparkling wine from Belarus. “We drink on New Years when I was little girl,” she waxed nostalgic, vouching for its indisputable high quality. SOLD! I never thought I’d try Russian champagne for the first time in the Colorado desert….but guess what? It was pretty damn good!
After a few days at the dunes, we headed up north to this amazing nudist hot springs resort called Valley View, nestled in the wooded foothills overlooking the San Luis Valley.
One of the hot pools at Valley View
Valley View is your typical nudist hot spring resort — New Agey, full of hippies, with communal kitchens and a music room and stuff like that…but unlike other resorts I’ve been to (Harbin) it’s much less sanctimonious and pretentious. They let you use your phone (there is decent WiFi and cell service), plus it has a more laid-back, slightly busted-up vibe which I totally dug. There are a few cabins and dorm room beds you can rent, plus plenty of RV and tent camping in the forest — so Dr. K and I set up camp, mixed up some Shampanskoye and Purple Passion, and hit the soaking pools.
Wandering the grounds at Valley View
There are several different soaking pools at Valley View, all fairly rustic, with sandy or gravel bottoms, surrounded by the most beautiful wildflowers and trees. Most of the pools up on the hillside are kinda lukewarm or tepid, but there are two nice hot ones in a grove of apple trees, plus there’s even a full-size swimming pool and a sauna with a cold-plunge pool inside the sauna! The bathrooms and showers are plentiful and pretty clean, and overall I have to give this facility an A+. GREAT place!
The music room at Valley View
Once the Purple Passion kicked in, we wandered around in the dark (remember, Dr. K is headlamp-averse) exploring the grounds. First, we came upon an awesome, enormous open-air wooden pavilion structure strung with colored lights, a communal kitchen on one side and a bonfire in the center, with s’mores accoutrements laid out for all to enjoy. HELLO!!! I spent a few hours beasting on s’mores and drawing all over the walls with chalk, which was provided for just
Why it’s called Valley View
that purpose, before following the sound of piano music wafting through the dark forest to another building, where a music room had been set up with drums, xylophones, guitars and all manner of other wacky instruments including a hammered dulcimer! Oh my gawd, I’m telling you this was the best place to be high this side of Burning Man. I will definitely be back to Valley View!!!
Aside from just hanging out soaking and relaxing, Dr. K and I also took a trip down into the valley to explore some of the little towns in the area. That really is a unique corner of the country — I mean, when I think of Colorado I think of the Rockies and whatnot, but the San Luis Valley is a really bizarre, windswept, funky little oasis full of some of the best weirdos you’ll ever meet! We checked out an old movie theater in Saguache, a New Age ice cream parlor in Crestone, and this UFO viewing center in the middle of the valley near Moffat, where for $2 you can climb up on a two-story platform and look for mysterious lights, which are said to appear often in that area (the lady working there told us alllllllll about it). Overall, a great and ultra-funky place!
After a few more days camping in the area, it was time to head back north to Denver so I could fly home to Vegas — I had a trade show gig booked the day I got back, so I couldn’t dilly-dally around. We had one last meal of Rocky Mountain Oysters (aka deep-fried bull testicles, which I found to be okay, but probably wouldn’t eat again), and then Dr. K got us a room for the night so I could get cleaned up and trade-show ready — I literally was going straight to work from the airport when I landed in Vegas the next day.
Rocky Mountain pits
This meant I finally had to shave my armpits, which had gotten SUPER hairy over the 7 weeks I let them grow out this summer. The last time I had shaved was back in June, before that romance novel cover audition — since then, I hadn’t had any gigs requiring me to shave, so I just let the hair grow as a sort of science experiment as I went about my summer fun. WOW!!! I had no idea my armpit hair could get that thick — it was nuts. Thankfully, Dr. K was cool enough to film this video of me shaving them…if you’re interested in seeing for yourself:
Anyway, I flew back to Vegas the next day, grabbed my ginormous duffel from baggage claim, ran to my car and drove straight to the convention center for my trade show gig. But ALAS, in the meantime the guy who hired me had had second thoughts…doubting my ability to get there in time from the airport, he had already hired another girl to replace me. D’OH!!!! I’m telling you, people — I am a woman of my word!! If I say I’m going to be somewhere at a certain time — BY GOLLY, I’LL BE THERE!!! I’m no amateur; I’m Wonderhussy, goddammit! The guy was cool though, and paid me a consolation fee…but it still kinda sucked.
I’m the first result when you Google “Las Vegas Nude Model”
I didn’t let it bother me for long, though — as mentioned, I had a TON of prep work to do for Burning Man, and this would only give me more time to get ready. So, did I buckle down and git ‘er done? What do YOU think? Listen, when you’re the #1 Google result for “Las Vegas Nude Model” (!!!), last-minute gigs tend to pop up like mushrooms in the night…and it’s hard to turn down money, especially with all the cancellations I had this summer.
First I did a shoot in a beautiful suite at the Aria, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the most amazing monsoonal desert thunderstorm. (That room was a photographer’s paradise — if you can afford one of the Sky Suites, they make for great photo shoots.) Then I had a couple shoots with local photographers…and then, I got a call to make a surprise appearance in my showgirl costume, at some ancient goombah’s 80th birthday party over at this awesome old-school Italian restaurant on the east side of town.
The old school
Now, I’ve never been a fan of the whole “Everything was better when the mob ran Vegas” mentality (which is the grousy refrain of many old-timers in town, who insist that times were better when a bunch of two-bit thugs ran the show)…but there is definitely something to be said for that old-Vegas lifestyle — you know, martinis and Sinatra and showgirls and all that. Thugs or no, there was a fabulously bizarre sense of elegance back in those days that is fading from memory as all these old fuckers die off; this birthday party was a prime example.
It was in honor of some politically-connected attorney, and all his old-time Vegas cronies were there to celebrate, swilling martinis and feasting on osso bucco and whatnot, just like the good old days. The band played “Happy Birthday” as I carried in a cake, dragged the birthday boy to his feet and shook my feathers like a bedazzled rooster in heat as they segued into “Copacabana.” Then ancient funnyman Marty Allen grabbed the cake and for a minute looked like he would topple over face-first into it, but everyone gathered round and we all posed for a photo, instead. GOOD TIMES!
Viva Las Vegas!
Being in a hurry as always, I kissed everyone goodbye, grabbed my cash and was out the door and on my way home in my busted-up pickup truck before you could say Bugsy Siegel. But on the way home, with Andy Williams crooning “Moon River” on the radio, I grew somewhat melancholy. Like I said, that whole way of life is on the way out, and the new Vegas is all about douchey mega-nightclubs and plastic-titted Raver Barbies, neither of which hold any interest for me whatsoever. What are these jackass millennials going to do for their 80th birthdays — hire some fat-assed Nicki Minaj impersonator to come twerk to a Calvin Harris cover DJ?? SHUDDER! When I got home, I poured myself a drink and raised a toast to the old-timers: Las Vegas est mort! Viva Las Vegas!
Anyway, I wasn’t melancholy for very long — I had just settled in to do some serious Burning Man prep…when my photographer friend from the Bay Area invited me out to Death Valley for another photo shoot. Death Valley in August? How could I say no to that?!!
Actually, it sounds worse than it was. We got a room at the motel in Shoshone — this funky little outpost on the eastern edge of Death Valley, near Tecopa — and there was air conditioning and a pool and everything, so the days were pretty comfortable. This particular photographer likes to drink really good wine paired with exceptionally fabulous cheese, so things were pretty cushy up until we actually began shooting — and even then it wasn’t bad, because our shoots are always at night.
Fabulous photo by C.J.
Why, you ask? Well, I can finally tell you — it’s because he shoots these amazing long exposures of the Milky Way and stuff, so we can’t even start shooting until it’s late enough at night for the heavens to be in alignment. I mean, look at this fantastic photo!!! I just love the insignificance of my naked ass against all that infinite wonder; it’s one of my favorite photos taken of me, ever! Also during our shoots, we hang out enjoying the warm desert night air, listening to far-out electronic music and sipping cocktails in the darkness. Kind of like Burning Man, now that I think about it! Why do I even bother to go to Burning Man, when most of my life is spent doing the same shit, anyway?! (No need to answer that!)
photo by C.J.
Aaanyway, this photographer also wanted to try some stuff along the lines of those old Renaissance paintings on the theme of “vanitas;” as in, the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. This is a theme I’ve thought about a LOT my entire life, so the concept was right up my alley. I loaded up any relevant props I could find around the house, including my magnificently gaudy throne, and trucked them all out to the middle of the desert so we could set this shit up one night. FAR OUT! It was definitely different from most of the shoots I do.
photo by C.J.
And, since I had hauled my throne all the friggin’ way out there anyway…I had an idea for another photo, which the photographer kindly indulged at sunset one evening. This is one of my all-time favorite photos ever; you might have noticed I even changed the header of this blog! I had the idea that it would look really surreal/bizarre to be wearing a crown and sitting on a throne in the middle of nowhere, sort of like the old Maxell tape ads…but after seeing the results, I realize it looks more like an homage to the Anton Corbijn video for Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” Either way….I dig it!
Anyway, after getting back from Death Valley I still had one more weekend to hunker down and prepare for Burning Man. I was trying to make a second electric vagina codpiece — one that lights up for nighttime use — and in addition to that, I had to shop for food and booze, plus pack up all my costumes and camp gear. In sum, I had a shit ton to do…but guess what? I ended up going out of town AGAIN! But this time I had an exceptionally good reason.
photo by Michael Maze
Now as you probably know, I’m a huge supporter of equal topless rights; if a man is allowed to sunbathe topless on a beach, then a woman should have the same privilege, no? Sadly, however, our society is so fucked up that you can post all manner of violent nonsense on your Facebook page…but if you show one female nipple, your account gets suspended. How does that make sense?! It all stems from some ancient superstitious nonsense about the first woman on Earth having eaten a magic apple proffered by a talking snake; I don’t get it either, but believe it or not it still informs our culture thousands of years later, even today when it is generally recognized in the U.S. that men and women are equals. Sheesh!!
I KNOW it’s an AR-15…
Well, every year on the Sunday closest to Women’s Equality Day (August 26th; the day women in the U.S. were granted the right to vote), this group called GoTopless.org holds protest rallies in cities across the world. I’ve never been able to attend one of them, however, because I’m usually at Burning Man in late August, so I miss all the fun. Well, this year, because Labor Day falls so late in September, Burning Man doesn’t start until August 30th….which means I was finally able to march in a topless rights parade! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, so of course I put my Burning Man prep plans on hold for a few more days.
photo by Randy Fosth/Shutterbug Studio
Now here in Vegas, there is virtually no topless rights movement; this town makes a big chunk of its revenue off women’s tits, so showing them for free does not go down well. You gotta PAY to see nipples in Vegas; tits are a commodity here! Luckily, however, there’s a huge topless rights movement down the road in L.A., and they have a big parade on Venice Beach every year…so I signed up to join the fun and headed out there Friday afternoon. The actual rally wasn’t until Sunday, but I figured I’d make a weekend of it; Friday there was a pre-party at some kooky warehouse in Culver City, and then Saturday I planned to head down to San Diego and finally check out Black’s Beach, a well-known nudist spot I’ve been dying to visit.
I wore something similar to this onstage for my act
I even signed up to perform my Electric Vagina act at the Friday night party, so I got in for free. The only problem was….I didn’t really have an act, per se; I just make vagina coladas in a blender plugged into my crotch. And with everything else going on, it’s not like I had time to work up an act…but guess what? I did anyway! I choreographed a brief performance to Iggy Pop’s iconic “Pussy Power,” involving my baby stroller, blender and some new props I thought up, threw it all in my truck, and hit the road, arriving at the warehouse in Culver City around 6pm. Whew!
photo by Fame in a Can
Let me tell you, that party was far fucking out!!! The warehouse was this artsy, funky party space used for local Burning Man events, and they had a stage set up and a bar and everything. The party was being hosted by the GoTopless.org group, who also happen to be Raëlians — members of a French sex cult who believe mankind is descended from a master race of aliens (they were in the news back in 2002 when they claimed to have cloned the first human; you might have heard of them then). So the crowd at this party was about 40% Burning Man artist-types, 40% Raëlians, and 20% single men who were just there to perv on the topless chicks. In other words…..best party everrrrr!
My costume at the Go Topless party Photo by Randy Fosth/Shutterbug Studio
After a viewing of the topless rights movie “Free the Nipple” (which was actually super lame; a bunch of cute young white girls, plus one token black chick and one token fat chick, running around scowling earnestly with their titties bouncing…like a topless version of SpiceWorld), the party got started. Since I was getting up early to go to San Diego in the morning, I asked to be one of the first performers, and it went over OK. Unfortunately the DJ was unable to play my song, so I had to perform to some random electronic music, and there was no lighting or anything…but still, for my performance art debut I’d say it went over well. I met a lot of interesting people from the L.A. Burning Man art scene, and ran into a few people I already knew…so I was glad I went.
Anyway, as mentioned I didn’t stay at the party too late because I was meeting a friend at Black’s Beach in the morning –but thanks to traffic and my sleep deficiency, it was more like afternoon by the time I got down there. But OMG, what a fantastic place!! There were hundreds of naked people hanging out in the sun, playing volleyball and frisbee and just relaxing and enjoying being naked — no swingers or perviness, just naturism. Everyone was SUPER friendly, and I really enjoyed the crowd — I will definitely be back there again. The only downside to Black’s is, there’s nowhere free/cheap to camp out nearby (it’s in La Jolla)…but thankfully I was with my friend that I met up with at Deep Creek earlier this summer, and he let me stay at his place up in Newport Beach. So after spending all day in the sun, we went back to his place and crashed out, so that I could get up in the morning and go to the rally in Venice.
Incidentally, the whole time I was in So Cal people kept asking me if I come out there often — and the answer is no! Despite the miserable traffic, heavy smog, parking nightmares and proliferation of douchebags, I do like it there a lot — there’s so much to do! But I don’t think I’d ever move there. Say what you will about Vegas, it’s much easier to be free here. I’m not tied to a $3,000-a-month rental, and I can be out in the middle of the desert in no time. Wide open spaces = F R E E D O M ! ! ! The desert is much more my scene.
photo by RingoShotYou
Anyway, the next morning my friend made me an awesome big-ass breakfast, and I was on my way to Venice. It was pretty hot that day, so I didn’t wear much — some Wonder Woman boots, star-spangled panties and my Electric Vagina codpiece…with a power drill plugged in, with a 9″ concrete drill bit with an American flag waving from the end. On my nipples, I had flesh-colored pasties on which I’d written “FREE ME” in pink crayon…and on my head, my trusty WONDER HUSSY trucker cap and a ponytail. Low profile, ya know?
The parade started at the north end of Venice Beach, and when I got there, it was a real shit show — in addition to the usual crew of freaks and weirdos, there were dozens of topless women and hundreds of ogling men milling about, plus a few cool guys wearing pasties and bikini tops in solidarity. A religious group had wheeled out a giant wooden Bible and an angry hatemonger was ranting and raving over a megaphone about how we were all going to hell, but this awesome chick with a Rod Stewart mullet and a boombox was blasting “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to drown him out as we all cackled maniacally and danced, waving our asses and titties in his face. It was a blast!!!!!
Once the parade started, we marched down the boardwalk, now numbering in the hundreds, with more and more people joining our ranks along the way. A giant-bare-titted woman on stilts led the way, followed by three sexy Asian Raëlian chicks in UFO mini dresses carrying giant titty umbrellas, and this buff young kid on shrooms who’d been coerced into putting on a sailor costume and pushing this topless mermaid in a wheelbarrow. Meanwhile, the brains of the operation — these three feminist activist types with fake nipples stuck all over their bodies — shouted rallying cries into a megaphone to get the crowd fired up. Like I said….what a shit show!
I marched along with my power drill whirring frantically, spinning the American flag in the face of oppression. When asked, I explained that it was a symbol of empowering the feminine — women don’t realize how much power we hold; if we would only learn to harness the power of the puss, we could rule the world! I tell you I must have posed for 300 photos and done 20 or 30 interviews; it was fantastic! I never wanted it to end!!
photo by Brian Feinzimer for LA Weekly
Alas, however, I knew I was facing a 5-hour drive home…plus I still had to get ready for Burning Man! I followed the parade all the way to the end, and hung out and danced for a while, having SO MUCH FUN that I literally had to tear myself away — I would have loved nothing more than to join the afterparty at a local bar, and get shitfaced while dancing late into the evening. But…duty calls.
shrooming kid pushing a mermaid
So I walked allllll the way back to my truck, and even then I couldn’t break away — a bunch of cholo bikers from the Vagos bike club were hanging out nearby and wanted me to pose for photos with their bikes, haha. Just like the bad old days with that fat dumbass Blondie! I obliged them, then finally stripped out of my swamp-assy Wonder Woman panties, changed into something more comfortable, and got the fuck out there — hauling ass for the desert.
And that, my friends, is the story of how I now find myself in the unenviable position of having less than 24 hours before I’m supposed to leave for Burning Man….and WAY too much prep work still to be accomplished!! Shit, I’ve already spent far too long writing about all this; time to shut the fuck up and finally get to work.
Because of all the weird fetish modeling I’ve done, people are always asking me “what’s your fetish?”
Well, I hate to disappoint you all, but my fetish is not for being spanked or dressing up like a schoolgirl or any of the other stuff I get paid to pretend to like — when it comes to sex, I’m fairly vanilla, and prefer a traditional male partner with a giant wallet… and chronic erectile dysfunction
But I do have a fetish — and it’s for summer. If I could make my own perfume, it would totally be something like this cheesy quote from Peter Pan:
“The smell of someone who has ridden the back of the wind…the smell of a hundred fun summers, with sleeping in trees and adventures with Indians and Pirates…The world was ours.”
I love that smell!!!
Summer isn’t just my favorite season — it’s my obsession! From the day Daylight Savings ends until the day it’s finally warm enough to wear flip-flops again, I am a disconsolate mess; not only do I despise wearing socks and shoes and sweaters, and those hideously short days…it’s the withering away of all that’s green and lush and full of life that really sends my soul into a death spiral. I’m a melancholy person by nature, and fall/winter are too gloomy for my fragile psyche. That’s part of the reason I moved here to the desert — the weather stays warm longer, and because of the sparse vegetation, you don’t notice the annual cycle of death as much.
Anyway, I always do my best to squeeze every last drop of nectar from summer, and this year was no exception. I busted my ass hustling all throughout May and June, so that I had enough cash stockpiled to allow me some time off — a reader of this blog had invited me to come check out some hot springs up in Idaho, so I planned a road trip with my sister around that. This reader also happens to be a photographer, and offered to hire me for a shoot while up there, so I could make some gas money along the way. Sweet!!! I packed my bags, left my dog and house in the care of my roommate, and set sail from the desert for the forests of the northwest.
But the problem with a fetish is…real life can never live up to your fantasy. Real life is flaky photographers and spiritual malaise and toothaches and broken beer bottles hidden in sand dunes and hot coals left burning on the edge of hot spring pools by careless hippies — real boner-killer shit! But it’s also all just First World Problems-type shit….so one has to soldier on, if one is hell-bent on milking every bit of enjoyment from the fleeting beauty of summer, as I am.
My summer 2015 started in the redwood forests of Northern California, where I spent the 4th of July kayaking on a beautiful, misty lagoon near Bodega Bay with most of my immediate family (one of my sisters was in Germany). My other sister (the one I travel with) had just gotten back from her own cross-country road trip the day before, so that evening she treated us to a 4+ hour slideshow of her adventures — which were amazing!! She basically drove to Florida and back, sleeping in her 4-Runner at rest areas and Wal Marts along the way, with only a Leatherman tool and two brass balls for protection. Some of the shit she saw and the people she met were incredible — I told her she should start her own blog
Anyway, because we set off on the road again just a couple days later, she was pretty wore out, and I kinda felt bad dragging her around Oregon and Idaho — at times she seemed pretty road-tripped out. To make matters worse, we had to take her car, since she sleeps in it. But she said she wanted to go, and we ended up having a pretty good time despite her exhaustion — the alternative for her would have been to sit around thinking about how she really has to go back to work this fall; as you may recall, she’s been on a spirit quest since quitting her loathsome corporate job in Feb. 2014, and has set a deadline for herself to get shit figured out.
camping on the beach at Sinkyone
So we headed up north, and our first stop was the incredibly beautiful, remote Sinkyone Wilderness, part of northern California’s Lost Coast. They call it the “lost” coast because no highways were ever built into its rugged reaches, and all the little towns and communities out there are fog-bound and super isolated. It’s AMAZING, and the Sinkyone Wilderness is this giant state park right in the middle of it.
Into the wild….
We camped at Usal Beach campground in the southern part of the preserve, and I’m here to tell you — that is one of the remotest places I’ve ever camped! No running water, and just a few rickety wooden outhouses scattered among the moss-draped, fog-shrouded redwoods…and to get there, a six-mile dirt road that is probably impassable in bad weather. My sister’s 4-Runner made it without a problem, and in fact it looked to me like pretty much any car could have made it at that time of year…but if you go after a rain, be warned!
guy sleeping on the beach
Anyway, we had stocked up on supplies in Fort Bragg (the nearest town of any size), and we drove right through the forest down to the beach — one of those iconic, rugged northern California beaches that are always shrouded in mist and fog. It was gorgeous! The official campsites are all tucked back in the woods (a few have views of the beach), but I wanted to be right on the sand, so that when I opened my tent in the morning I would see nothing but the sea. It’s the one thing I miss most of all, living in Vegas. I’m not really sure you are technically permitted to camp where we did, but we used an existing fire ring and cleaned up a bunch of trash, leaving the place better than we found it….so, no harm no foul. And besides, this other kooky redneck drove up in the night and slept on an air mattress on his flatbed truck, right at the high-tide mark. When he woke up, he literally just sat up in bed, sparked a bowl, and sat there getting high and watching the waves. Noted for future reference!!!
Meanwhile, on her cross-country road trip my sister had stopped by to visit my stepmother in Tennessee…and come to find out, she’d sprinkled my dad’s ashes somewhere at Sinkyone! So my dad’s ghost might have even been out there, frolicking with the whales in the mist. Apparently, that was one of his favorite places…and in fact I remember him telling me about it waaaay back in the
day, when I was like, “WHAT?! No running water?!?! How can you camp there?!?!?!” (Say what you will; Burning Man really toughened me up in that respect.) Anyway, I paid tribute to my dad’s memory in my own special way: my stripping off all my clothes and running into the chilly surf naked. HI DAD! 😀
From Sinkyone, we continued on north into Oregon. We didn’t really have a strict itinerary on this trip; we had to be at certain places on certain days for my photo shoots, but other than that, we were pretty flexible. My sis has this awesome app where you can find cheap/free campsites, so we basically just made it up as we went along — we knew we wanted to hit the Oregon Country Fair outside Eugene sometime over the weekend, so we just kind of puttered along the coast, through the redwood forests of Sasquatch country, stopping wherever looked good.
Alas, however, Oregon is a really fuckin’ rainy state, even in July…so it kinda put a damper on things for a few days. We ended up camping in a drizzly rainforest one night, swarmed with mosquitoes, sitting around a piddly campfire reading this amazing porn/romance e-book about a guy who has sex with a shapeshifting gay bear. I’m not kidding!!! Apparently, this genre is extremely popular in some quarters, and people are making a ton of money writing this crap — which gave us an idea. My sis and I are ever on the lookout for ways to make money from the road; maybe writing weird niche romance porn might be our thing…if we could only come up with a unique angle that hasn’t already been done.
Calling all sasquatches!
Hmmm…..looking around the gloomy, rainy forest, it hit us: SASQUATCH PORN! We started to formulate a plot based on a beautiful forest ranger’s daughter who falls in love with a sasquatch. But before getting too deep, I did some market research…and discovered to my dismay that Internet Rule 34 holds true — there’s already a WHOLE INDUSTRY devoted to bigfoot/sasquatch porn!!!! LMFAO/EWWWW!!!! The next morning at a seaside internet cafe I downloaded this gem called “Cum For Bigfoot,” by Ms. Virginia Wade, and we spent the next couple of nights reading that out loud around the fire. Goooooooooood times!
But I mean, seriously…..if Sasquatch is real, then he’s totally asleep on the job; you’ve already been subjected to several photos of me wandering around naked in the woods, and I’m here to tell you I was never so much as molested once! Even when I went down to the creek one morning, naked and alone, to take a bath…there was no Bigfoot in sight :-/
Boozing at the dunes RESPONSIBLY — in a reusable, non-glass container!!!
Anyhoo, it was raining all over fuckin’ Oregon, so we headed back out toward the coast to try and escape the damp out at the sand dunes near Coos Bay. I had always wanted to check them out, for some reason…but I am disappointed to report that they are nothing more than a playground for gas-guzzlin’, toy-haulin’, beer-drinkin’, ATV-riding rednecks — not a very peaceful place to camp. But at least it wasn’t raining! First we tried one of the tent campgrounds, but it was in a marshy area totally infested with mosquitoes…so we were forced to head out to this RV “campground” on the beach, which was basically just a big parking lot for rednecks to pull their toyhaulers into. We checked the reservation board and found an empty site, and I was just setting up my little tent on the tiny patch of grass allotted us…..when out of nowhere this redneck matron came barreling over: “My family has this whole area reserved! My son was camped here, but he had to leave early…so if you want to stay there, you can just pay me the $20 and I’ll vouch for ya…but you have to leave by noon, because our other son’s coming in.”
trying to find peace on a beach full of whining ATVs
Are you serious?! I don’t know why we didn’t just pick up and move across the parking lot; instead, my sis forked over $20 into the matron’s greedy claw, and she toddled off crowing about how “I sold Joe’s spot! Heh heh!” Fuck you, ya greedy bitch! Even worse, when we were woken by the incessant whine of ATV motors the next morning….the whole family was gone!!! “Other son” coming in, my ass. And then, even worse, when I went for a barefoot run on the beach, I cut my toe on a broken beer bottle some redneck asshole had left hidden in the sand. Fuckin’ rednecks! I have zero patience for anyone who feels the need to prove their worth by being a noisy gas-guzzler — whether it’s a jet ski, an ATV, a dirt bike, a monster truck or a power boat…they’re rednecks, one and all, and I truly pity them. If I never see another dickhead in a Fox Racing flat-brim again for the rest of my life, I’ll be happy!!!!!! UGH!!!!
Anyway, as rednecked-out as I was, it was a good thing we were hitting the Oregon Country Fair later that day — it’s the polar opposite of the redneck scene, all dirty hippies and New Agers and granola moms. Whew! We cruised over to the fairgrounds, changed into our hippie clothes, mixed up some rum & Cokes and went in to be with our people. Ahhhhhh!
If you’ve never been, the Oregon Country Fair is basically a mix of Burning Man and the Renaissance Faire — a bunch of kooky white people running around in whimsical fairy costumes in the middle of a forest, banging drums and smoking weed and selling their overpriced arts & crafts to the unsuspecting suburban looky-Lous who come in droves to check it out. In fact, if you’ve ever wanted to go to Burning Man but are too big a pussy to handle the desert and the logistics, the OR Country Fair is a great alternative — no playa dust, plenty of running water, and day use only — so you can come in, have your experience, and then be back in a comfy motel bed in Eugene by sundown. Check it out!
Bandaged toe from stepping on a broken beer bottle
I myself had a pretty good time, eating Himalayan food, pissing in a “Her-inal” (a urinal for women, where you squat over a trough, lift your skirts and cheerfully let loose while chatting with the woman next to you) and dancing with dreadlocked, body-odorous strangers at some kind of ecstatic movement jamboree under a canopy. Then I stumbled on a drum circle, and it was one of the most epic drum circles I’ve ever been to in my life!! A group of whackos was banging away in a grove of trees with a mad crowd of sweaty freaks jerking arrhythmically all around them, shaking tambourines and wailing to the heavens, everyone high as a kite and no one feeling any pain. Before long my headdress had come unraveled and my caftan was making me unbearably sweaty, so I checked with a friendly passer-by and learned that toplessness was OK — so I stowed my caftan and made a sort of sarong out of one of my headscarves, and kept on dancing like a beast!!! Bandaged toe and all!!
me and my neighbors from Vegas
Then, out of nowhere, who should show up but my neighbors from back in Vegas! This awesome hippie-type couple lives on the next street over from me and are good friends of mine, and I had forgotten that they were traveling for the summer as well, in their conversion van. At any rate, they were definitely feeling no pain and offered to let me in on their fun…but I declined in a rare moment of responsibility and just kept on dancing. I was thinking about the single more epic drum circle I’ve ever been to, at Burning Man 2011, and how there was this impish little man dancing there that I used to see at all the drum circles at Burning Man……..and then, wouldn’t you know, I ran into him, too!!!!! His Burner name is Ra, and in my mind I had built him up to be almost a magical elf spirit of the drum circle…but of course upon talking to him, he was nothing of the sort; his real name is Steve, and he couldn’t hear anything I was saying because his hearing aid was malfunctioning. D’oh!!!
Anyway, unlike Burning Man, the Fair closes at dusk…and besides, I was tapped out money-wise and we had to find a camp spot for that night, so we headed out. Fortunately, by now we were in fertile hot spring country — there are a shit ton of hot springs in southeastern Oregon and Idaho, which was one of the main reasons for our trip…so we headed out to find a campsite near one of them. We headed for McCredie springs, in the forest beside a beautiful creek, and camped at a Forest Service campground nearby for around $8 (we tried to find free BLM campsites whenever possible, but it was getting dark)…and then in the morning, headed for the springs.
McCredie Hot Springs
As far as hot springs go, these were OK — they have potential for being amazing, but a flood a couple winters back messed them up pretty badly, so the pools were a little muddy and very rustic. Apparently there used to be a hot springs resort at the site, and you can still see the concrete foundations here and there…it would just take a little work to make this place really bad-ass.
But regardless of the water quality, one of my FAVORITE (if not my #1 favorite) thing about hot springs is the people you meet at them. McCredie was excellent on that front — we met this adorable little herbalist guy from Eugene who was on a monthlong Thoreau-esque retreat, camping in the woods behind the springs somewhere on a beaver dam, and before long we were all fast friends. He was telling us about this weird plant he’d found growing in the woods, called Indian Pipe or ghost plant/corpse plant, due to its creepy pure-white stem and leaves and everything — apparently it’s very rare, and only grows in gloomy rainforest groves, but he had found a bunch and had been chewing it for its medicinal purposes…one of which was to relieve toothaches.
the herbalist explains what to do
“Toothache?!? I’ve had a toothache for two weeks!” I exclaimed. And it was true; around the 3rd of July, the roof of my mouth had started hurting really bad, though I wasn’t sure it was a toothache — I take very good care of my teeth, brushing and flossing religiously, since I don’t have dental insurance. But now it had been nine days, and I was starting to freak out — I was supposed to go directly to the Sturgis biker rally in South Dakota immediately after this trip; I had no time to go to the dentist!
Well, upon hearing of my tooth distress, my new friend jumped up right away and offered to run back to his camp and get me some Indian pipe from his personal stash — because he liked me, he said. It was a 20-minute run both ways, but he didn’t mind at all — and sure enough, about 40 minutes later he came huffing back with a baggie of mysterious white fungusy-looking things, and told me to chew one up, then swish the saliva around in my mouth as long as I could before swallowing.
Chewing corpse plant
Now, you might say it’s foolish to take a strange plant from a strange man in the forest and then eat it (especially one called corpse plant)….but hell, what could I do?? I wanted my toothache to go away, and this little herbalist had appeared from the woods like a magical sprite in a Brothers Grimm tale — he had to know what he was talking about! So, I did as he instructed — and boy, was it nasty! He gave me the whole baggie to take with me, and told me to chew and swish every morning for 21 days, and my toothache would go away.
Well, guess what? I had noticed that the herbalist’s teeth were kinda black and funky-looking, but I guess I just ascribed it to poor dental hygiene. So the next morning, after waking up and dutifully chewing and swishing another plant, and drinking a cup or two of black coffee….I looked in the mirror, and saw that my tongue had turned black!!!! And my gums and teeth had a greyish cast to them, too! YIKES!!! I tried to scrub it off with toothbrushing, Listerine swishing and tongue scraping….but it was no use; the black was really on there. On the plus side however, for the first time in almost two weeks my mouth pain was gone!!! So what do ya know….I think the little guy’s herbal advice actually worked!!
Since my tooth pain was gone, I bailed on the rest of my 21-day regimen, and gave the plants back to the Earth. And eventually the blackness went away — but the tooth pain never came back Thank you, forest sprite!! I guess there *IS* magic in the woods!!!
Cougar Reservoir, near the hot springs
Anyway, while all this black-tongue stuff was going on, we had moved on to check out legendary Terwilliger (also known as Cougar) Hot Springs. These springs had been recommended to me by various soakers at various hot springs over the years as being one of the best there are, so I knew I wanted to check them out — even though they were said to be really crowded because all those dirty hippies from the Oregon Country Fair like to go there. Alas, camping is not permitted at the actual springs…but we found a really nice campground a few miles down the road, and headed over in the morning for a nice, long soak.
You have been warned!!
The only bummer about Cougar/Terwilliger springs is, some bullshit concessionaire somehow got the go-ahead to “manage” them, and they charge you $6 for day use — and they close at sunset. WTF!!!! I’m used to my beautiful wild desert springs, and I chafed at the idea of paying some asswipe for the privilege of soaking. But, they do clean them out once a week, and they also maintain a couple of vault toilets onsite…so I guess it’s worth it. Plus, nudity is fully allowed/to be expected (in fact, you can even hike in naked, once you’re out of sight of the road), so you never have to worry about putting on a swimsuit (unless you want to). That right there is worth $6, in my book!
Cougar/Terwilliger is basically a series of beautiful pools ranging from super-hot to warm, sort of stair-stepping their way down a shady ravine through which a creek flows. The pools are hand-made from very rustic stone, with sandy bottoms and good flow, so the water feels very clean. A beautiful forest surrounds them, and makes for a wonderful place to laze about for a day or two — we got there around noon, and stayed til 6 or so…but I can definitely see staying longer than that. (The pools were full of naked people, so I couldn’t take any photos of them, alas.)
The springs didn’t seem too crowded that day (it was a Monday), so I guess most of the Country Fair hippies had already gone home — but there were still plenty of interesting people to talk to. A Deadhead Burner named Eric Goldberg tipped me off to an abandoned blueberry bog in Washington state, and then gave me a few buds from his personal grow as a parting gift, and told me to look him up on Facebook — but alas, when I tried to do so, there were only around 5,000 Eric Goldbergs, so I struck out.
Soaking in the sun at Terwilliger
Another stoner kid was smoking dabs in the pool, and gave me a hit — I’d never smoked a dab (basically a dab of cannabis wax that you heat until it starts smoking, then inhale the smoke), and one tiny puff of that got me high as a kite pretty much all day long. I’m a lightweight, I tell you — I normally just take 3 or 4 hits of dried-up ditchweed every night before bed, to help me sleep. I can’t handle this hardcore shit! Worse, the kid was using a hookah charcoal to heat up the dabs, which he left smoldering there on the side of the pool…and in my baked state I forgot it was there, and when I went to lay down for a nap I accidentally burned the shit out of my Achilles tendon. OUCH!!! The perils of hot springs!
OMG this waterfall!!!
Then there was this other stoner kid, but this guy had a real medical reason for smoking — he suffered chronic pain and severe PTSD from being a victim of a school shooting several years ago! Some disgruntled bozo had stormed into his high school and shot him and a bunch of others, and he barely survived. He was really cool, though, and even took us on this little hike down the creek to a secret, hidden waterfall in the forest that was one of the most amazingly beautiful things I’ve ever seen — I mean, it was UNREAL! Like being in Hawaii or something — absolutely amazing. My poor, long-suffering sis was pressed into photographer duty yet again — all the nudies you see here in this post were taken by her. She’s pretty good, eh???
But the MOST interesting person we met at Cougar/Terwilliger was this artist guy who had been living in his Honda Civic (!!!) in Bolinas, ever since being priced out of San Francisco ten years ago. He was a super legit guy, very intelligent and nice to talk to, and the fact that he lived in Bolinas was icing on the cake; Bolinas is this weird, reclusive little hippie town on the coast north of San Fran that I’ve been DYING to check out, but never seem to get to on my travels :-/ This guy was also cool because he has a niece who’s a traveling nude model, so he understood exactly what it is that I do, and didn’t judge me or assume I’m a hooker or whatever. In fact, it turned out that the niece and I are Facebook friends — what a small world!
When camping, you have to take showers when you can!
But the BEST thing about this guy was that he knew all about those secret tidal hot springs in Marin County, down by Stinson Beach — the ones you can only soak in when the moon and the tide are just right. Ever since hearing about these mysterious springs last summer, I’ve been dying to go to them — so we all made plans (the guy, his niece, my sis and I) to try and meet up at the end of the month for a soak, before I went back to Vegas. (Alas, it did end up working out, to my immense disappointment….but hey; if you’re reading this and you live in the area and you want to check them out sometime, I’ll be back up there in November/December! Let’s go!)
the desert beckons…
After leaving Cougar/Terwilliger, my sis and I headed east toward Idaho — I had photo shoots lined up, so we were more or less on a timetable by this point. Besides, we wanted to stop in Bend, at this amazing burrito place called Parilla Grill that makes the most astonishingly delicious, foodie burritos you’ve ever tasted — but after beasting, we continued on. At least eastern Oregon is basically high desert, so we figured we’d be safe from the fucking rain that had been bedeviling us the entire trip — but, wouldn’t you know, it even rained on us as we entered the desert!!!!
You girls be careful!!!!
On the way across eastern Oregon we stopped at a couple hot springs, just to check them out — first we hit this place near Juntura, where the springs are on an island in the middle of a fairly deep, swift-flowing river. On the way in, some old kook warned us he’d seen a rattlesnake on the riverbank…so my sis sat this one out, and I carefully waded across to the springs by myself. It was actually a really nice place to camp — a great, hot, sandy-bottomed pool, with plenty of flat area nearby for tents and stuff — but it would have been tough to ford all our gear across the river, so we left.
Snively hot springs
Next we stopped at a little spot on the Owyhee River called Snively hot springs, right on the Oregon/Idaho border. It was a pretty nice little spring, right on the edge of the river, and one of those deals where super-hot spring water flows in and mixes with the river water in a little sectioned-off pool someone built on the riverbank. You just move around until you find a spot that suits you — but to really enjoy this soak, you’d want to bring one of those low-rise beach chairs with you, so you could just sit wherever. REI makes really sweet collapsible low-rise camp chairs that would be perfect, so I need to get one stat!!
Morning on the Payette River
Anyway, technically you can camp near Snively hot springs….but there was a family hanging out with kids, so we couldn’t go nude or anything, and thus decided to move on into Idaho. Which is an absolute BONANZA of hot springs — I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life!!!! Prior to this trip, I always thought of Idaho as strictly the domain of Mormons and white supremacists — but I’m here to tell you, I have RARELY seen such astonishing natural beauty, and I have NEVER seen better hot springs! If you’re a hot spring buff…..I recommend you visit Idaho, ASAP!
One of the pools at Hot Springs Campground
The first place we camped was along the Payette River, in the Sawtooth National Forest. There are close to a billion breathtakingly beautiful hot springs right along the banks of this river, and in fact there’s even a Forest Service campground called Hot Springs Campground that is right across the street from a little all-natural 24-hour soaking pool. Highly recommended! We set up camp, ate dinner, and then took our drinks down for a late-nite soak — it was fantastic! And most astonishingly, we were the only two people there; as with most of the amazingly beautiful sites we visited in Idaho, there was little tourist traffic, even in summer. Weird!
Overview of Kirkham — hard to show all the magical little pools and waterfalls
The most beautiful hot spring we visited on the Payette was this place called Kirkham, right off the highway adjacent to a campground of the same name. This place actually was kinda crowded, with a bunch of families and stuff hanging out (so you couldn’t go nude)…but it was so amazingly beautiful and accessible that it didn’t bother me — I would go back again in a hot minute.
in a sauna cave at Kirkham hot springs
Now, Kirkham was also the same springs that the reader of this blog had invited me to come visit — if you remember from the beginning of this post, the whole reason I came up to Idaho in the first place was to stay at his cabin there and do a photo shoot. Well, guess what — despite emailing back and forth several times in the months leading up to my trip, once I actually got to the area, I never heard
the crystal-clear, turquoise blue waters of the Payette at Kirkham
from the guy again! It was the weirdest thing — I emailed him a few days before the shoot, and he never responded. I even hung around the area for a few days, hoping he had just forgotten to check his email……but no dice; he totally stood me up. I have half a mind to put him on blast here, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt; maybe something terrible happened to him, and he’s laid up in a hospital somewhere, unable to text or email.
there are TONS of perfect little soaking pools at Kirkham
Either way, it was a pretty big blow — not only was I supposed to shoot with him, but he also had a photographer friend in Boise who was supposedly going to hire me as well, which would have helped pay for gas and stuff on the trip. Well, I never did hear from either of them. And even WORSE, I also had a shoot lined up in Boise for this beautiful giantess’s fetish site, AmazonAmanda.com… and her funding ended up falling thru as well!!!!! So basically, what was to have been over $1000 worth of bookings fell thru At least Amazon Amanda was cool about it, and still hired me for a quick one-hour consolation shoot, out of her own pocket (more on that later).
hot waterfall meets cold river water at Kirkham
Well…..that’s the risk you run, being a freelance model; sometimes you get flaked on. But when you’re traveling like that, it’s even worse. I don’t know how these girls who travel full-time do it! Thankfully, I had already busted my hump back in Vegas, and had enough cash set aside to cover me…so I just went about my business, enjoying the beautiful hot springs.
Morning soak in the Payette
Anyway, after hanging around the Payette River area a few days waiting to hear from the flake photographer, my sis and I headed up farther north, where apparently all the really good hot springs are. When I was at Deep Creek hot spring in southern California earlier this summer, an old-timer there was telling me about the three most beautiful hot springs in the world: Deep Creek, another one he couldn’t remember, and then this place called Gold Bug, up near Salmon, ID. Since we had some extra time because my shoots all flaked, we decided to head up and check it out.
Oh….my….Gawd!!!!!! That place was, without question, the most beautiful hot spring I’ve ever been to in my life!!!!! I hesitate to gush too much about it, for fear of incurring the wrath of the the locals and regulars who want to keep out the riff-raff….but I can’t help it, I was raised to share, so share I must. Besides, this place is remote enough that not just any half-asser can reach it; not only is it waaaay up north, but you also have to hike up a steep, two-mile trail to reach the springs. It’s not for the faint of heart.
My sis and I camped out the night before on the banks of the Salmon River, at some little BLM fishing camp — now that we were off the beaten path, there were more free options for camping. Most of the time, we were the only two people around; occasionally there would be a fisherman or two nearby, but no one ever bothered us other than to give us free firewood. They probably all thought we were lesbians, and thus not worth fucking with. Who knows?!
waterfalls feeding the pools
Anyway, it was a great campsite and in the morning, we packed up and headed up to Gold Bug for a relaxing day of soaking nude in nature. Ahhhhhhhh!!!!! It was F A N T A S T I C ! ! ! First off, Gold Bug was every bit as beautiful as I’d been told — a series of natural stone pools of varying temperatures, with cascading hot and cold waterfalls, perfect for a hydro-massage or for just laying around boozing and relaxing, with the most incredible view looking straight down a majestic canyon. I mean, it was like something out of a movie — unreal!!
There are, in fact, a few little camp areas up there too — but you’d have to pack all your gear up that steep-ass two mile trail, so you’d have to be pretty hardcore to do it. I’d say it’s about the same difficulty as the hike to Bowen Ranch from Deep Creek; if you’ve ever done that, you know what I mean.
an easy part of the trail up to Gold Bug
Apparently, people even camp up there in the winter time — there’s a spot where hot air vents up from the underground hot water source, through this little cave under a tree, and some people will open their tent onto this vent to get warm…even though the cave is a popular hangout for snakes!!! Yikes, no thanks — although it would be awesome to soak up there in the snow, with mist rising from the water. I’m not sure I’m that hardcore yet, though :-/
Anyway, we found out all this insider info from this super-hot local fireman who was hanging out up there. He was cool, but at first I thought he was pretty square — he made some disparaging remarks about “dope” smoking, and he kinda had that clean-cut Mormon look to him. But after a few hours, he finally removed his swim trunks and I noticed he didn’t have any tan lines….so he must at least be a habital nudist. Either way, he was cool as fuck — and he took a liking to my sis and I, and even took us on a TOP SECRET excursion to THE. MOST. BEAUTIFUL. PLACE. I’VE. EVER. SEEN!!!!!!!
my sis and the fireman
I promised him I would not reveal the location, so I didn’t even take any photos….but OMG. It was indescribably beautiful — a sort of grotto in a moss-covered cave with a waterfall coming down through a natural skylight; just amazing. I wish I would have taken some nudies in there, but I didn’t want to piss our guide off — even though, once he saw me posing for nudes back at the regular pools, he seemed to think it would be OK. But anyway, I guess it’s cool to have some secrets
I’m telling you, I could have stayed at those hot springs forever…but eventually we had to hike out, as we still had to find a campsite for that evening. The wonderful thing about Idaho is, in the summer it doesn’t get dark til around 10pm, so we always had plenty of time to make camp. The fireman ended up hiking out with us; my sis later said she caught a slight hookup vibe from him, and to be honest I did notice he had a semi at one point…but he never made a move or anything, so we all just parted as friends. That’s naturism for ya!
camping at the Magic Reservoir, in the middle of nowhere
From Gold Bug, we headed back down south toward Boise — we wanted to hit the big rodeo in town that weekend, plus I was supposed to meet Amazon Amanda for the one-hour consolation shoot. But on the way back to the city, we stopped for a couple nights to camp at ultra-remote BLM fishing reservoirs (for free!!!) and to hike around Craters of the Moon National Monument.
a trail at Craters of the Moon
Holy cow, was that place ever weird! Craters is basically miles and miles of lava fields; a totally lunar landscape of black and gray and brown and red, with caves you can explore and all kinds of bizarre, otherworldly formations. After the classic, lush beauty of Gold Bug it was somewhat jarring…but still cool in its way. We hiked every single one of the trails there and even went down into most of the caves — over 10 miles, and I did it all in flip flops. I was trying to burn a few calories off all the camping food I was eating — for most of this trip, my sis and I ate Frito Pie for dinner, which is not very healthy (it’s just chili and cheese over Fritos…but we added some canned veggies to try and make it more nutritious). To be honest, I got kind of obsessed with Frito Pie — my sis discovered it while road-tripping thru the South, and we literally ate it almost every single night, just putting the cans directly into the campfire to heat up before layering it all in our bowls. OMG, just writing about it makes me want more!!!
Anyway, once we got back in to Boise we finally checked into a motel and got cleaned up, mixed some rum & Cokes and headed over to the Ford Arena for the Snake River Stampede…a/k/a the RODEO! Let me tell you, there is nothing as amazing as a red state rodeo on a Saturday night — lassos a-flyin’, Stars & Stripes a-wavin’, and beautiful big-haired rodeo queens everywhere you look. They even did a special Salute to the Troops, with flashing lights and horseback badassery and an announcer intoning ominously about what ISIS would do if they had their way — “they’d take your Freedom in a New York minute!” It was amazing!!!!
Me and Amazon Amanda
As expected, we were pretty hungover the next day…but I had to sack up and get ready for my consolation shoot with Amazon Amanda, at the Holiday Inn over by the Boise airport. Now, who is Amazon Amanda, you ask? Well, she’s a BBW giantess — 6’3″ and around 350 pounds, and she runs a fetish website catering to guys with smother fetishes. One of our mutual fans contacted me about setting up a shoot with her here in Vegas last month, but he never came thru with her cash, so we had to postpone — but when we realized we were both going to be in Boise in July, we arranged to do the shoot there. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned the fan backed out AGAIN…but I’m glad I at least got to meet her, as she is one seriously bad-ass person!
I’ll never run for office now!
First of all, imagine you are 6 feet tall as a freshman in high school — and a BBW, too! But instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself, Amanda took charge of her destiny and instead of trying to deny what she was, she found a way to embrace it…and monetize it. Mad props to you, lady!! Now she travels the world doing private domination/smothering sessions, and maintaining her pay website…which is what she hired me for. We did a few clips of her squashing me and whatnot, which will soon be available for purchase at AmazonAmanda.com, if you’re interested.
hairy pits after about 3 weeks of growth
Now, one interesting thing about my shoot with Amanda was that I hadn’t had a shoot or a gig since that romance novel audition I did in late June…so, as is my wont, I hadn’t been shaving my armpits or anything for about three weeks. I had taken to posting hairy pit pics on Instagram, and had amassed quite a fan base in the meantime — so I was kinda loath to shave my pits unless I really had to; come to find out, some guys are REALLY into hairy armpits!
So when I got to the Holiday Inn, I told Amanda what was going on and offered to shave if she wanted — but to my delight,
5 weeks of growth by Shutterbug Studio
she was THRILLED that my pits were hairy; apparently, she gets lots of requests for hairy armpitted models, and in fact also gets requests to grow her own pits out (which she says she’s unable to). So I was able to keep my armpit hair, and she even advised me never to shave again; she seems to think I would make way more money as a niche fetish model than doing what I currently do. HMMMMMM! Food for thought. As it stands today, I haven’t shaved in about 5 weeks…and my pits are really hairy, but I’m going to have to shave them soon because I have a couple of paid gigs coming up, where pit hair won’t fly But I’m enjoying them in the meantime…I just love shocking people in public when I lift my arms, hahahahahahahha!
Anyway, another interesting thing about my shoot with Amanda was that her photographer had flaked (hmm, a pattern)…so my sis had to step in as videographer/photographer! It was her first (and probably only) paid gig as a pornographess, and I hope it didn’t scar her too badly :-/ Either way, our visit with Amanda paid for her oil change, our motel room and a few nights of Frito Pie as well
After shooting with Amanda, we decided to spend one more day up on the beautiful Payette River before leaving Idaho and heading down toward Lake Tahoe, where my grandma was having a birthday party the following Saturday. We found a free campsite on some BLM land along the river near a shooting range — the sound of gunfire was kinda unnerving, but other than that it was an OK spot. There were also a few rednecks camped out there panning for gold in the river; they kept coming around sniffing for companionship and/or puss, but I guess they also thought we were lesbians because they all left us alone in the end.
Hanging out at Skinny Dipper hot springs
For our last Idaho hot spring, we headed up to Skinny Dipper for a relaxing day of soaking and reading in the shade. Skinny Dipper is apparently a very popular party spot, so much so that the BLM is closing it down at the end of the year because of all the litter and pollution — personally, I found it very clean at the time of my visit, so I have a feeling there’s a lot of hyperbole going around, but whatever.
Anyway, when we first got there, a group of dorky gamer-type kids were hanging out, and we all started chatting. I asked how they knew each other, and they kind of hemmed and hawed, “Uh, from work….?” But as the conversation wore on and they became more comfortable, it turned out they were all kinksters from some local Boise BDSM group, LOL!! I can’t imagine being a kinkster in a city like Boise — it’s such a nice, wholesome family-type town! But apparently, according to these kids, there was a little scene going on there, and they had their parties and their fun. Awwww! I told them about Amazon Amanda, so they knew I was cool about such things…I guess.
Beautiful Skinny Dipper hot springs…no trash in sight
After the kinkster kids left it was just my sis and I for most of the day. Another couple came by a while later, and you could tell they were kinda frisky from being naked outdoors with strangers, but they were cool and they left after less than an hour. So my sis and I mostly had the place to ourselves, boozing and napping and reading all day long, and it was all very relaxing….until…
Late in the afternoon, this family hiked up — mom, dad, grown son and daughter (son was 24, daughter around 22). The mom and daughter came and sat in the middle pool with my sis and I (which was really the only soakable pool at the time of our visit; the lower pool was much too hot, and the upper pool was full of algae), and we chatted for a while. They seemed nice enough, but didn’t take off their swimsuits or anything (my sis and I were naked all day).
Finally, the daughter worked up the nerve to ask us, “You can say no, but would you mind putting on your bikinis for a while so that my dad and brother can come soak? I’m sorry; we’re from Pennsylvania…” As if that’s any reason to be a prude!!!
To be polite, we both acquiesced…but a friend later said we should have handed them our bikini tops to use as blindfolds, so that they didn’t have to see our scandalous, flame-belching demon twats!!! And, seriously…..this is a hot spring called SKINNY DIPPER, with signs along the trail going in saying “WARNING: YOU MAY ENCOUNTER BARES!” I mean….WTF were you people expecting?!?!?
Sadly, the law was on their side; even at a hot spring where nudity is the custom (like at Terwilliger/Cougar), if the spring is on US Forest Service or BLM land, even if there are 100 people hanging out naked, if one person comes along and asks that everyone put on swimsuits, by law everyone must comply. How fucking puritanical is this shit?! It’s just bodies, people!!!!! Get your heads out of your asses! If people were used to seeing it all the time, it wouldn’t be such a big deal…..ya know?!?
Contrary to popular belief…I do know when to say when
Anyway, the family left after awhile (and left an empty plastic water bottle behind, which my sinful sis and I packed out for them)…but the vibe was kinda ruined, so we pretty much got the fuck out of Idaho after that. Our plan was to head back down through eastern Oregon and camp at another desert hot spring before crossing down into Nevada…but as we were heading south on U.S.93, we saw massive thunderheads rolling in from where else but miserable, rain-sodden Oregon. I swear, even the desert part of that soggy-ass state is wet as fuck — curses!!!
this is Winnemucca!!!
I’m OK camping in rain, but a thunderstorm on a big open prairie like that freaks me out — so we changed course and headed toward the glamorous metropolis of Winnemucca, Nevada, thinking to get a motel room for the night. It was raining all over that part of the country — Nevada too :-/ But we couldn’t find a room for less than $50, and we both absolutely refused to pay more than that — for the caliber of motels available in that dogforsaken burg, $40 is more than enough. To charge more than that is robbery, pure and simple, and we refused to take part in it. Does anyone reading this know why a motel would rather have a room sit empty than to rent it at a cheaper price? We tried Priceline and Orbitz and everything! Do they get some kind of write-off for empty rooms that makes it cost-effective to keep them empty?!? Inquiring minds want to know!
the beautiful aspen grove
Rather than shell out $50+ for a shitty room, we found a free BLM campsite south of town, along this little creek in a beautiful aspen grove — perfect!! The rain let up long enough for us to set up camp and enjoy a fire, and then we spent a cozy night, protected somewhat from the rain by the canopy of trees overhead. (All this time I was camping in a $20 kids’ tent from Wal-Mart, that’s not technically waterproof…but my sis had an old rain fly I borrowed, and I was cool. But I do need to get a better tent!)
In the morning, it stayed dry long enough to pack up camp and even to do this mini-workout I came up with that I called the Prison Workout — basically, just using a picnic table bench to do pushups, dips, crunches and Bulgarian squats. Gotta stay fit, even while on vacation!!! We did this workout a few times on our trip, with me playing whatever gangster rap I had on my cellphone for a soundtrack — I mean, we must have really looked like two lesbians!!!!! No wonder no one fucked with us the entire trip, no matter how much we ran around naked, smoking weed and cursing!!!!
at the Thunder Mountain Monument
By now it was pissing rain again. I know there’s supposedly a horrible drought going on in the West, but I mean, come on!! It seems like everywhere I’ve gone this year, I’ve been dodging bullshit rain. Sheeshhh!!!!! We whiled away a few hours in Winnemucca, checking out this bizarre abandoned casino they turned into a visitors’ center/Buckaroo Museum, and then headed west on I-80 to see if the rain would stop. It did not. So we made a soggy detour to this weird Native American monument at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere — a sort of arts & crafts compound made from baling wire and baby dolls, with a few old bottles thrown in for good measure. I’m still not sure WTF it exactly was, but it was interesting.
More Thunder Mountain
From there, we continued west, deciding to make up our minds in Fernley: if it was still raining, we’d head into Reno a day early and get a cheap motel room (where you can at least get a room for $30). If the rain had cleared, we’d head up north to the Black Rock Desert, where Burning Man will be held in a month or so. We thought it would be cool to see the playa in the off-season, with no one else around…plus, there are some hot springs up there that are closed during Burning Man, that I’ve always wanted to check out.
Well, when we got to Fernley it was still sort of raining, but looked like it was clearing up…so we took a chance. We headed up north to the tiny town of Gerlach, noteworthy for being the last town you pass thru on the way to Burning Man. There’s not much there, but there is this little cafe called Bruno’s Country Club that I’ve also always wanted to check out…but every time I’ve passed it I’ve been towing 50,000 pounds of crap, so I never took the time to stop.
Well, now I can say that I’ve tried it — and I found it grossly overrated! I think it’s one of those places people like because it reminds them of Burning Man or something — I can’t think why else you would eat there. I had the “world-famous” ravioli for $17, and it tasted really sketchy, like there was ground-up hippie in them or something. Bleccccchhhhh!!!!! Give me Frito Pie any night of the week!
the secret campsite
After paying up, we got the fuck out of that tourist trap and headed for this top-secret camp spot some friends had told me about, off Jungo Road near Trego Hot Springs. Trego Hot Springs are all right, but there’s no trees or anything to camp under, and it’s not very scenic…but this other, secret location was pretty sweet! Lots of trees, and little ponds full of frogs and tadpoles and whatnot — very peaceful. I would gladly tell you all about this place, but I have little doubt that hideous wrath would be rained upon me by a legion of outraged Burning Man habitués, and I just don’t feel like dealing with it.
I got your view of the desert right here!
In any event, I got enough wrath rained upon me in the morning, when this sanctimonious hippy harpy came out for a morning swim and asked/told my sister to move her car because it was blocking her view of the desert. Bitch, please!!!!!! It’s not YOUR view of the desert. Ugh, I hate people like that — she could see we were packing up to leave, so if it had been me, I would have just asked how much longer we were going to be. There are nice ways of saying things…ya know?
I spy a douchebag in an sparklepony-infested RV on his way to Burning Man!
Anyway, this harpy turned out to be OK once my sister moved her car — it turns out she does a sort of gong-therapy class at Burning Man, which I have actually attended before: you lay there on the ground and they bang all these gongs around you, so that the vibrations wash over you like waves. It’s really trippy! She had a mini gong with her, in fact, and invited us over to her RV to hear it. She also had some new baby kittens we wanted to check out…but the inside of her RV smelled so strongly of cat piss that we got the fuck out of there as quickly as possible. Don’t get me wrong; her rig was very clean and neat, but the kittens had to piss somewhere, so to that end she had a litter box, and it reeked. But her gongs were really cool. Incidentally, the friend I went to Deep Creek with in June gave me a cymbal, which I was thinking to make into a gong…but this woman said she’d never heard of anyone doing it. Idk, it seems pretty logical to me….anyone???
soaking at Trego Hot Springs
After the woman bathed us in gong waves, we bid her adieu and headed on up the road a bit to Trego Hot Springs. They’re nice enough; a muddy-bottomed sort of ditch with a nice temperature, right beside a railroad track. The railroad tracks got us wondering WHY, if Burning Man is so concerned with being “green,” they don’t ship all their shit up there via rail, instead of using all those carcinogen-belching trucks, vans and and rickety Diesel schoolbuses?? These days they’re trying to “reduce the carbon footprint” of Burning Man by issuing a strictly limited number of vehicle passes…but it’s all a fuckin’ farce. There is no way that event will EVER have a carbon footprint less than the size of Montana!!!
all alone on the playa where Burning Man is held
Since we were so close to the playa, we took a little walk across the tracks and down onto the actual lakebed itself, and went out onto the future site of Black Rock City. It was surreal, as the only other times I’ve been there I was surrounded by 40-, 50- or 60,000+ wailing, blathering hippies and douchebags, with pounding electronic music blocking out everything but the most inane conversations! This time, however, it was just my sister and I — party of two. On a side note, the playa seemed pretty spongy from all the rain that had just passed through (we saw thunderstorms the night before)…so I think it’s going to be a very dusty year!! Although there’s always some asshole hater who goes up early and says that, every year. Well…..congratulations to me. This year, *I* get to be that asshole!!!
After finishing our pre-Burning Man circle jerk, we finally headed down to Reno to wind up our trip with a relaxing night at the Ramada Inn, which I was able to get for a very reasonable $30 on Priceline. THAT’s what I’m talking about! We were able to shower and wash our hair and get presentable before heading to Tahoe the next day, for our grandma’s birthday party, so it was $30 well spent. I even had a little time to hang out at the pool, and read this amazing 1970s trashy novel I picked up at a little thrift store on the Idaho-Oregon border.
Reno is being overtaken by Burning Man hipsters
Now, ever since we’d first entered eastern Oregon, and on into Idaho and northern Nevada, we’d been in Basque country — for whatever reason, a shit ton of Basque people settled in the area when they fled Spain or France or wherever. We kept seeing signs for Basque this and Basque that, and we were really curious to try Basque cuisine. So, even though it was rated “$$” on Yelp (normally we only went to places rated “$” on Yelp, or just ate Frito Pie), we decided to try the Santa Fe hotel in downtown Reno. It was walking distance from the Ramada, and afterward, a photographer I was Facebook friends with had invited us out for drinks.
Well, Basque restaurants (or at least this one, anyway) are family-style — they seat you at a big table, with a bunch of other people, and you all pass plates around and eat the same prix-fixe menu (which here was $19 — not bad). As luck would have it, the hostess seated us at a table of florid-faced middle-aged horndogs who were well into their cups, and full of innuendo — I’m used to much worse, so it didn’t faze me, but my sister was really freaked out. I bantered back and forth with their dirty old man jokes all evening long as we passed around plates of Basque food, which come to find out is really weird, sort of bland, greasy meat- and carb-heavy stuff like beans, braised oxtails, porkchops, steak, spaghetti and bread. REALLY weird food, but it tasted good enough and I was starving — plus, you get to wash it down with unlimited Basque red wine, which was pretty good. Also, the head perv at our table bought us glasses of Picon Punch, a bitter sort of Basque cocktail that reminded me of my beloved Campari….so basically I would have eaten just about anything at that point.
Having coffee the next morning, along the Truckee River trail
Except Basque dick — which was what these pervs had in mind, I think. They kept inviting us back to their hotel, where their “social club” was having some sort of meeting — come to find out, they were all members of an offshoot of the Shriners called the Jesters, that were basically like the dirty little brothers of the Shriners; I Googled them after they left, and all kinds of freaky stories popped up! Anyway, that’s why they were out catting around; the main guy was Basque, and wanted to show his fellow clubmembers what his people’s cuisine was all about.
Whatever the case, they were essentially harmless…and shocker, the head guy ended up paying for our whole dinner. Score! We got the hell out of there before he could change his mind, and headed over to Midtown to meet up with this photographer who had invited us for drinks, and then sat around boozing with him and his girlfriend for a couple hours before calling it a night and dragging our exhausted asses all the way back across town to the Ramada. Note to self: it’s worth the extra $6 to get a hotel closer to downtown!!!
Anyway, the only other interesting thing that happened in Reno was the next morning, we were browsing around some souvenir shops and my sister spotted ANOTHER use of my infamous showgirl stock photo — this time, on a “Greetings From Nevada” card!!! My ass is basically being used to sell the state of Nevada — how awesome is that?! I always wanted to be the official ambASSador of Nevada, har har. I told the lady at the register it was me, but she still made me pay $3 for the card…so I could only afford to buy one Remember, I was never paid one red cent for posing for that photo! I thought I’d be smart, go home and order them online for cheaper…but I couldn’t find them anywhere!!! They were made by Leanin’ Tree, so if you happen to be out and about and see any for cheap…buy me a few, would ya?! I gave my only copy to my mom
hiking at Lake Tahoe
Well, now our trip was winding down. We headed over the pass to Lake Tahoe, where we met up with my paternal grandmother, and almost all my aunts, uncles and cousins from that side of the family as well — my grandma was so happy, it was awesome. She had rented a bunch of cabins for everyone to sleep in, so we stayed for a couple of days and had a nice, relaxing time just hanging out on the beach and hiking in the mountains. I just love it up there in the summer — SO freaking beautiful!! Every once in a while my grandma or someone would say something about Facebook, and I’d cringe — I mean, I post some truly awful stuff on there, and I forget that both my poor grandmothers are my Facebook friends, and possibly see this shit. Hopefully, they have both blocked me from their feed….I can only hope :-/
From Tahoe, we finished our trip by circling back down to where we’d started — the redwood forests around the Russian River, where my mom and sister live. My mom was feeling left out of all our fun, so we all three went camping one more night, up on the coast near Gualala — this super cool little hippie beach town with some really nice hiking trails. We gave our mom a glimpse into our camping lifestyle, even making her Frito Pie (which she was horrified by; she eats pretty healthy), and all in all it was a very nice evening, and a nice way to end the trip.
Kayaking topless on the Russian River, the day before I left
Now after all this, I was supposed to come back to Vegas for a day or two, and then leave for the big Sturgis bike rally with my friend Blondie, with whom I hustled at the rallies in Reno, and at Sturgis two years ago. Despite really trying, we hadn’t been able to find legitimate jobs out there — the manager of the Knuckle Saloon, where we worked in 2013, wouldn’t hire us back; he said he preferred to hire local girls, but I heard thru the grapevine that really, one of the bartenders hadn’t gotten along with Blondie, who can be kind of a bitch sometimes…so she probably told him not to hire us back.
In any event, job or no job we still planned to go, and just hustle for tips posing for photos, like we did in Reno. We even had a free place to stay — camping on the front lawn of one of the cooks from the Knuckle Saloon (there are so few hotel rooms up there, lots of people camp out…it’s not as weird as it sounds). The only question was figuring out how to get there — if we flew into Rapid City, we wouldn’t be able to bring much camp gear with us, and we wouldn’t have any way of getting to Sturgis, so we’d have to rent a car. It seemed smarter (and cheaper) to me to just drive there — we could rent a car, stash all our camp gear, and haul ass straight thru from Vegas. I would have even offered to drive my truck, but the brakes were fucked up and I didn’t have time to get them fixed before we left.
At Sturgis in 2013
Well, Blondie and I texted back and forth for a few weeks…and then the night before I left to come back to Vegas, she said she’d met a guy who would give her a ride out — but he was leaving at 3am that night. I told her I’d call her to discuss — I would have probably hauled ass back to Vegas in time to meet up with them and go along…but she never answered. That bitch just stone cold blew me off!!!! I texted her a few times after that, and she never answered once!
Ooooh, I’ve never been so pissed off at someone in my life — I mean, that’s cold blooded! My feelings were hurt, too — I mean, I thought we were friends, considering all the bullshit I went through with her at that ill-fated Reno rally in June and everything. But now that I think about it, I guess I always knew what she was — she was honestly pretty racy for even my comfort levels, flirting with and leading on a string of bikers whose numbers she collected, but never had any intention of seriously dating; I genuinely feel sorry for some of the saps! What it boils down to is, Blondie is a true opportunist. If you have something she wants, she’ll be your friend…otherwise, forget it.
Me and Muffin Top, in happier days
But incidentally, I do have a lot of incriminating dirt on Blondie, which if I was a woman of lesser scruples I would put on blast all over the internet. For one thing, she secretly works as a nude and fetish model, same as me….she just doesn’t want anyone to know, so she keeps it secret (incidentally, the guy she went to Sturgis with is someone she met at a foot fetish party, who regularly pays to suck her toes). The videos and photos she’s posed for are out there on various websites, and I could easily share them on social media…but I won’t, because why bother? She’s a dumbass, and I’m done with her. Realistically, I guess I’m done with hustling bikers anyway….I mean, after that disaster in Virginia City, how could I keep on without it being pathetic? The answer: I could not!
Back in the desert
So…..having been dumped by Blondie, my vacation over, my brakes all wonky and my spirits low, I headed back down to Vegas. I came home to a broken garage door and a busted modem, and when I went to get my oil changed it was almost $500 because of all the driving I’ve been doing — I needed a new battery, and all my fluids needed flushing. So I shelled out a shit-ton of money for all that, but now that I’m not working Sturgis, times are tight. I managed to book a few gigs later in the month, before Burning Man…but until then, I’m on a strict budget.
Thankfully, my friend Dr. Kildare sprang to the rescue, and invited to meet him in Colorado for a few days of camping out in the desert east of the Rockies. Apparently there are some hot springs out there, and even better than that…..there is LEGAL MARIJUANA!!!!!!! I fly out in the morning…..and I can’t wait to get baked out of my gourd.
So, my summer vacation may be mostly over….but I have a few tricks up my sleeve before the party ends: after Colorado there’s Burning Man, and then after that I was invited to take part in an all-female art show at the Life Is Beautiful festival, with my Electric Vagina. I’ll be busy enough to distract myself from my innate melancholia, and I’ll be just fiiiiiine……