Mai Tais, Cyborgs and Machines of Loving Grace

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you never know where the road will lead you…

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

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

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oh, hell…why not?

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

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

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later that week…

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

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

 Mai Tais, Cyborgs and Machines of Loving Grace

fabulous pic by Michael Maze

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

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

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

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At the airport bar

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

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

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

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at the footrace

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

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

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cray-cray white people!

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

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

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

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

“What? a Diet Coke?”

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

“WHAT? Dr. Pepper????”

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

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ahhh, to soak in a pool of vodka…

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

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

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Later that same night…

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

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

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

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

 

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artist’s rendition of the house from The Party

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

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this shit is bananas!

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

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

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fruit growing everywhere!

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

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

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ughhhhhh

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

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

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

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the sun shines out of my behind

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

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the lucky Guinness bitch!

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

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

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

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

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

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the official pace car

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

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

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cyborgs

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

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

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me vs. Mirinda Carfrae

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

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

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the winner coming in

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

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

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

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where’s my rectal thermometer?!?

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

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the end.

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

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who, me????

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

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stopping to air out my swass while hiking in Pololu Valley

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

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birdie num num?!

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

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on top of Mauna Kea

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

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beautiful!

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

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before the hordes of tourists left

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

 

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

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how could I leave THIS?

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

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d’oh!!

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

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

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fabulous pic by my friend Steve White

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

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

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nothing’s shocking

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

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

I wouldn’t be surprised!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Bikers, Geeks, New Agers and Stoners

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I went to college!

My summer modeling roadtrip of last July really opened my eyes to the possibility of combining my two favorite things in life: traveling, and making money! On that trip, I drove from Vegas to Seattle via the Bay Area and Oregon, swinging back down thru Reno, and ended up with enough cheese to by a new laptop and a new phone — winning! So ever since I got back, I’ve been trying to formulate another money-making tour. Why sit around hustling tourists and morons in Vegas, marinating in swamp-ass, when I could be off seeing more of this astonishing country?! YOLO, baby — let’s go!

The seed for my latest tour came about with a tradeshow booking in San Francisco at the end of the September — one of the agencies with whom I’m registered asked if I was able to work a show in San Fran, and I said sure; my brother lives right across the Bay in Oakland, so it would be very convenient for me to stay with him and take BART (the subway) over to the convention center each morning. No fuss, no muss! I even booked a couple photo shoots in the area, to maximize my earnings while I was out there. All told, if none of the shoots flaked I stood to make about $1100 for the trip, and also spend some time with my family while I was there. Double winning!!

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Just like Sturgis

But then, a girlfriend invited me to work a bikini bike wash at a motorcycle rally in Reno, that very same week. If I did the bike rally I would still be able do the tradeshow afterward, but I’d have to cancel the photo shoots, which totaled $400. And the bikini bike wash was paid in tips only — no hourly. I’d never done a bike wash before, so I wasn’t sure if it would it be worth it.

The chick who invited me was the same girl I went to Sturgis with last summer — Blondie — so I knew she wasn’t a flake or drama queen; she’s a super hard worker, and is ALL about making money. She assured me I would make MUCH more than the $400 I’d be canceling in photo shoots, plus she also had a free hotel room we could stay in courtesy of one of her photographer friends. Hmmm! I was faced with one of those dilemmas us freelancers have to consider from time to time: is a bird in the hand REALLY better than two in the bush?! Not always!

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old schoolhouse on the way to Reno

 

Being from Vegas, I decided to take the gamble and go to Reno instead. I messaged both photographers to see if they’d be able to reschedule for the following week, but of course they were “all booked up” and I just had to eat the $400. D’oh!! Oh well — I’d just have to hustle extra hard at the rally.

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on the shores of Walker Lake

 

So the very next morning after I got back from my awesome Goldfield/Tonopah roadtrip, I got back in my truck and headed right back up the 95 the exact same way I’d just come, this time all the way to Reno. Blondie carpooled with me — there was a third chick doing the bike wash who was already up there, who could take her back to Vegas afterward, so I could just continue on to San Francisco to work my trade show. Perfect!

 

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I’m on a beach!!
Photo by EH Photographic Arts

Anyway, the free hotel room Blondie had scored from her photographer friend was in South Lake Tahoe, so we headed up there with the intent to squeeze in a quickie photo shoot on the beach at sunset, to sort of thank the guy for hooking us up…and also to get some cool beach pics, since he is a pretty damn good photographer. But like always, I was running late, and then we stopped to eat lunch on the sunny shores of Walker Lake…so before you know it, it was dark by the time we rolled into Tahoe. Still, we met up with the photographer and went down to the beach, and he was able to get some pretty good shots despite everything. That guy really knows what he’s doing! He even took us to dinner afterward. Such a nice man!

 

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Just the tip!

The next morning it was on — time to make some money!! It was a Wednesday, and the rally didn’t officially start until Thursday…but Blondie has done a ton of these bike washes, and she said the guys usually roll in early, so we should jump on it. To maximize our earnings, she took a page from my playbook and got some assless chaps (from her aunt, who used to be the costume attendant at the old T&A cheesefest Splash, at the Riviera) and wrote “TIPS” with an arrow pointing down into her butt crack…which had turned out so lucrative for me at Sturgis. So we had matching outfits, and could go around and pose for photos and make tips when we weren’t washing bikes.

Well, it’s a good thing we had a Plan B, because Plan A SUCKED ASS — that bike washing business is for the birds!!! First off, we had a terrible location — miles from downtown Reno (where all the rally action was), in some weird industrial area off the freeway. There was hardly anyone around, and it was really depressing. I only made about $80 all day, and I was starting to get really pissed that I had bailed on my photo shoots for this!

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This shit sucks!!!

Second, I had always assumed that the whole idea of a “bikini bike wash” was more of a joke than anything — basically just an excuse to ogle scantily-clad chicks bending over your bike before handing them gobs of cash. WRONG! These motherfuckers really want you to clean their fucking bikes — and not just half-assed, either; they want every bit of bug guts and cow shit scrubbed off, oftentimes with your fingernails, and then they tip you $5. And it can take 45 minutes to really clean a bike, when you get into all the chrome and engine parts and stuff!!!! By the end of the day, I was filthy and exhausted and my quads were killing me from all the squatting; I was ready to throw in the towel (literally) and drive to San Francisco early. But Blondie talked me into staying.

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whacking some poor sap

OK, if I have to stay, then I at least want to go back to the room and soak in the Jacuzzi tub — her photographer friend had gotten us a really nice Jacuzzi suite at the Montbleu, looking out over the lake and mountains and stuff. The only downside was, it’s an hour drive from South Lake Tahoe to Reno, so I just wanted to get back and soak my tired quads and have a glass of wine and smoke a jizzy, ya know? But this bitch Blondie is nuts, and she wanted to go downtown and hustle for tips first!! The other girl who was working with us wanted to go too, so I didn’t want to be a party pooper and agreed to go down there for an hour or so.

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Blondie, Bullet and me

It was a disaster!! First of all, I had this fucking eBay auction that had just ended, so I had to find a post office first and pack up this crazy shit I was selling and ship it off, which already stressed me out. Second, I was still wearing my chaps and stuff, and was all sweaty and nasty and still filthy from the bike wash, so I wasn’t in a very good mood. Third, if you’ve ever been to Reno, you know that downtown isn’t anything like the Vegas Strip or even Fremont Street — that’s a different kind of crazy up there, and those people don;t fuck around with bimbos in assless chaps. This one poor fool stuck a dollar in each of our asscracks, and out of nowhere his wife came barrelling over: ” WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!” BAM!!! She knocked him down to the pavement, and started kicking the shit out of him, right there in the middle of everything!!! YIKES!

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Look ma, I’m on local Reno TV!

Afraid we’d be next, us gals ran off behind some kiosks, literally afraid for our lives. That’s Reno for ya — raw! There wasn’t even anyone down there, really — the rally hadn’t officially started yet, so the place was deserted. We posed for a few photos and shook our asses for some camera guy from the local news, then hightailed it out of there. We had to be careful, anyway, since the third chick that was with us was a real loose cannon, and we basically had to babysit her to keep her out of trouble. OMG…you have no idea!!! I’ve never met anyone like this chick!!!!

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Bullet on a Deere

This little chick, we’ll call her Bullet, was a trip. Apparently she’d been doing the bike washes for a while now, so she was in charge and had come up early to set everything up, but instead of paying for a hotel she was sleeping in the back of her truck in the parking lot behind the bike wash (she has a camper shell). Pretty bad-ass, eh? Well, bad ass doesn’t even begin to describe this bitch — she was a firecracker! She was only about 4’10” and 80 pounds, but she had a gap between her teeth, a loaded pistol openly strapped to the hip of her Daisy Dukes, and more redneck swagger than the entire states of Texas and Mississippi put together — I mean, this bitch was ornery!!

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Hi!

Why was she so ornery, you ask? Well, come to find out she used to be a stripper, and one night when she was blitzed out of her mind she fell off the top balcony in the club and landed on her head, a 20-foot fall. She missed being paralyzed for life by about one millimeter, but was in a coma and had to undergo months and months of rehabilitation and therapy and whatnot just to be able to walk again. Meanwhile, she needed money for her medical bills so she went right back out to do a bike wash, even using a walker!!!

Jokes aside, the fall not only crushed her spine and caused her to lose an inch of height, but it also affected her brain chemistry and left her angry, depressed and unable to experience pleasure as she used to. She has a hard time sleeping or enjoying anything, and has to take a shit ton of drugs and painkillers just to get through an average day — which doesn’t interact too well with the copious amounts of booze she puts away (I’ve never seen anything like it). Meanwhile, the poor thing was sleeping in the back of her pickup, freezing her ass off (it gets cold up in Reno at night), so Blondie took pity on her and invited her to come back to Tahoe and stay in our hotel room with us. Big mistake!!!

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watching the news

After dragging Bullet out of one of the casino bars, we finally made it back to the room around 10pm. I was exhausted and just fell into bed, after watching the local news to see if that cameraman put us on there (he didn’t…too much ass for a family network, I guess). But little Bullet wanted to go downstairs and have a drink — and go “ruckussin’,” as she so charmingly put it. I’ve never heard “ruckus” used as a verb, but it was the perfect word to describe her M.O.

Well, I didn’t really give a fuck if she went ruckussin’ all the way to Rapid City — I was tired, and going to sleep. The last thing I heard before my head hit the pillow was Blondie making her put her pistol in the safe, and warning her not to stay out too late, since we needed to be back at the bike wash in the morning…and then I was out.

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hanging out in Reno (ahem)

Around 3:30am I woke up because I had to pee, and the shower was running in the bathroom — I figured Bullet had come in late, so I just slipped into the bathroom without looking into the shower. But as I closed the door to the w.c., I saw in the mirror’s reflection that Bullet was indeed in the shower — with some dude!!!!! This out-of-control little boozer had gone ruckussin’ around the casino, picked up some local yokel, and brought him back to our room without asking!!! Who does that?! Crazy redneck bitches, that’s who. The bathroom was strewn with food wrappers, soda cups, wet towels and casino chips — a total fucking disaster.

The next morning, Bullet got up first thing and went downstairs to get a beer…and while she was out, I told Blondie what I’d seen and we agreed we couldn’t really let her stay there again, since who knows what she’d do next, and we didn’t want anything negative to come back on the photographer who had gotten us the room. But we didn’t want to hurt her feelings, because at the end of the day, Bullet is a truly tragic figure who is at heart a nice girl and a strong woman…just with a lot of problems. She said she wanted to die about 30 times the previous night, and it was actually pretty heartbreaking.

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the three Stooges (these pics are mirror image for some reason…I assure you, I drive an American-style truck)

But anyway, she finally came back to the room with two beers and a Bloody Mary (!), and we all three got dressed and headed back over to Reno. I put on some country station in the truck to appease Bullet — her pistol was rattling around somewhere in the back (she wasn’t even sure where), and I didn’t want to get on her bad side. Meanwhile, her angry husband back in Vegas was blowing up her phone every two minutes, so it was a real zoo in my truck that morning. I don’t know how we even made it to Reno alive.

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warshin’ bikes

Worse, once we hit the bike wash the sky was gloomy and overcast, with rain projected. What a fuckin’ clusterfuck this bikini bike wash was turning out to be! Still, we stuck it out, and managed to wash a few bikes apiece that day in between posing for photos with people for tips. It didn’t turn out to be that bad of a day, especially since Blondie agreed to come straight back to Tahoe with me afterward, and not go downtown. So I got a good night’s sleep for once.

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cozy in bed in the hotel room

 

The next day, Friday, it was raining and shitty. Now, you might think the last thing you’d want at a bikini bike wash is rain…but for me it was a godsend; I didn’t want to wash any more fuckin’ bikes anyway!!!! To make matters worse, the guy whose parking lot we were set up in had hired two local hillbilly girls to join us (and I do mean hillbilly…they were barefooted and drinking Angry Orchard tallboys), so there were definitely not enough bikes to go around for all of us.

Thankfully, Blondie and I had our Plan B — we scrapped the wash and went downtown instead, hanging out posing for photos on the little Reno Strip where it was closed off for the rally, with vendors and bands and stuff. We did pretty good just standing around in our assless chaps (by the way, I

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Blondie stocking her tray o’crap

know “assless chaps” is redundant, and that all chaps are assless by nature…I just enjoy saying it), but Blondie is a very ambitious woman and had also brought a tray full of cigars and assorted novelties she’d picked up at conventions and whatnot, so we sold those as well, asking for “donations” to get around the law. Some Christian bikers even gave us a couple mini New Testaments, so we threw those on there too, for good measure.

All in all, it went pretty well! Those bikers up there didn’t know what hit them — they’re not used to scantily clad buskers up there, so we were a pretty big attraction. Everybody wanted a photo with us; it was amazing. And the Reno cops were so nice to us, it was freaky — not once did they question our right to be down there, even with the tray of cigars. What a contrast with the

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another mirror image shot (these were taken using Snapchat, by Blondie…apparently Snapchat takes weird photos)

Fremont Street Experience security guards in Vegas!!! They did come up to us once and very politely ask us not to sell the cigars in front of the cigar guy’s booth, since he had paid $5000 to be there and was really pissed we were stealing his business…but other than that, they totally left us alone. Bizarre!!

We ended up going downtown Saturday as well, rain or no rain, and made about 90% of our money there as opposed to slaving away washing bikes. So much more fun!! There was a little dive bar called Shooters that let us dance on the bar, and we made some tips that way, too. When bikers get drunk, there’s no telling how much money they’ll throw at you — we’d approach a guy, and he’d go, “Aw, hell…” already reaching for his wallet. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Did I mention how fond I am of bikers? (When they’re not giving you $5 to scrape cowshit off their tailpipe, that is.) I swear, I’ll never wash another bike again — I’ll wait til the

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Give us your money!!

evening, when they get drunk and can’t ride, then corner ‘em in a bar. Much easier!

Anyway, we drove an hour back and forth from Tahoe every morning and night, until our free hotel room ran out on Saturday. Blondie had a super nice biker friend who invited us to stay with him in his room in Reno on Saturday night, but I didn’t really know him well enough so I decided to just hustle until about 7pm, then leave early and head to the Bay Area to stay with family a day early. I needed rest before the trade show, anyway, ya know? So I left Blondie in her assless chaps, holding her cigar tray in the rain, surrounded by a crowd of hooting and hollering bikers….and I got the hell out of there!!!

Now this tradeshow I was working was at the convention

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my new “straight” card

center in San Francisco, the Moscone Center. I worked a car show there once about 5 years ago, and at that time the agency I was with got all the booth models a special room rate, and we all doubled or tripled up to save even more money (hotels in San Fran are crazy expensive). But this time it was even better — my little brother and his girlfriend now live right across the Bay in a gentrified part of Oakland, within walking distance of a BART (subway) station, and it’s only a 10-minute ride to the Moscone Center! BOO YA! I couldn’t believe how convenient it was — I started to get all these ideas about working more shows in San Francisco. I’ve been wanting to work more trade shows anyway — I even had a boring-ass new business card made up to rustle up that kind of soul-crushing corporate work.

But, as they say…the best laid plans of Wonderhussy often go awry.

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ugh

At first, all was well — I got up at 6am and was at the Moscone Center well ahead of time for once in my life, dressed professionally and feeling pretty good. One of my best qualities is my ability to move from social group to social group with ease — I can get down and dirty with bikers one day, then class it up for software geeks the next. Plus, this was a pretty straightforward tradeshow gig — no brains required.

The client we were working for (it was me and another girl, who had come up from L.A.) (apparently there aren’t any Bay Area-based tradeshow models) was a major credit card company, who were there at the show to troll for leads and sign up as many suckers as possible into having their lifeblood drained in a fruitless pursuit to keep up with the Joneses. But the credit card company staff were a bunch of sad sacks — two old Death of a Salesman-type lifers and a phalanx of tired blondes in tired navy business suits. Ain’t nobody gonna sign up for a credit card with that! They needed a gimmick….which is where me and the other girl came in.

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hustling at the trade show

To entice unsuspecting geeks into the booth, they had this little safe on the desk which contained a bunch of gift cards ranging from $25-$500, and us girls were supposed to roam around the convention hall handing out keys which might unlock the safe. We weren’t really working directly for the credit card company; they had this third party running the safe game that was some kind of staffing agency or something that had in turn hired us. So complicated!

Even more complicated, the guys took us aside first thing and told us this would be a tough show; apparently, these software geeks are a hard sell, and it’s much easier to sell to doctors, lawyers, and others who are full of themselves (!). But here we were, so we had to make the best of it. They wanted us to hand out something like 160 keys a day, but not just to anyone — we were to roam around the convention center asking people “Are you a small business owner or contractor that is based in the U.S.?” If the answer to both was yes, then we could give them a key.

Trouble was, most of the 50,000 attendees were either a) employees of a large corporation and/or b) foreign-based. It was really tough to find qualified leads, but I did my best (even, I daresay, better than I have tried at many other tradeshows) and managed to hand out a fair number of keys. The roaming around helped somewhat; most tradeshows I’ve worked require you to stay put in the booth, which is really boring but usually mandated by the show authority; they don’t want companies sending their people out into the aisles. But I guess you can pay extra for the privilege of having your bitches roam freely, as this client apparently did.

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I’m a rebel; what can I say?!

Despite our god-given right to roam, however, it still pissed some haters off. This one angry cow at a certain memory-card manufacturer’s booth approached me, telling me I “couldn’t” do that in front of their booth. I was very polite and agreeable, and moved away immediately…but I think she was still pissy, since later that afternoon, someone from that very booth ratted me out to my client and got me fired!!!

What did they rat me out for? I made an “inappropriate” joke! Apparently, when I made my transition from biker mode to corporate mode, I neglected to put my filter on tightly enough, and some subversive dirty humor seeped through, causing my downfall :/ The hell of it is, your very purpose at these fuckin’ tradeshows is to mildly titillate and arouse — they’re almost all sausagefests, so much so that they have to hire in babes to mix it up and be flirty. Flirty — but not too dirty, which is apparently where I fucked up.

What was the joke? Well, like I said we were carrying around a bunch of keys…and guys were constantly asking what the keys were for. In the interest of being flirty and fun, I responded “It’s the key to my apartment! Come over in 30 minutes…and bring a bottle of wine!!” Hardly Andrew Dice Clay…or even Lenny fuckin’ Bruce, for that matter. But it was apparently too much for those corporate milquetoasts, and someone ratted me out to the staffing agency who was running the safe game. I got called over to the booth, where the staffing guy took me aside, stripped me of my badge and t-shirt, and apologized but said he had to let me go. “This is a very conservative client, and I can’t have that kind of behavior.” D’OH!!!!!!!

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D’OH!!

It was already almost 6pm by then anyway, so at least I got a full day of work in…but I mean, really?!?! To make matters even weirder, the staffing guy wouldn’t let me even apologize to the client…so I just went back, got my bag, and thanked them all for the opportunity. Nobody averted their eyes or let on that they were angry or anything, so it was really weird. I mean, can’t I get a warning first?! For all they knew, I had come all the way up there just to work that show!!!

As it was, I had come up there for the bike rally anyway, so I wasn’t really that upset. But I was still pretty pissed — that little fuckup cost me $540 in missed pay!! And I needed that money :/  To make matters worse, another guy had tried to hire me for the exact same show — some guy I met at a tradeshow here in Vegas. But since I was already booked, I gave the gig to a girlfriend who runs an agency of her own, and she found someone to cover it. D’OH!! And to make matters even worse, that guy ended up firing his model the same time I was fired — but by the time my girlfriend found out I’d been fired, she had already replaced that model with someone else….so I was double fucked icon sad Bikers, Geeks, New Agers and Stoners

I didn’t sit around and stew about it, though — ain’t nobody got time for that!! Instead, I got back on the BART and met my friend Mojave Phonebooth, who happened to be in Oakland at the same time as me, for dinner at a fantastic Indian restaurant. That guy is so cool — he had one of the earliest websites back in the 1990s, devoted to this random public phone booth in the middle of the Mojave Desert, which people from around the world would call day and night, looking for answers to anything and everything. You can read all about it at his awesome website, or even better check out his upcoming book on the subject!! We enjoyed an excellent dinner and even excellenter conversation, and I would have liked to spend more time bullshitting with him at a local watering hole…but I didn’t want to be rude to my brother and his girlfriend, who were hosting me, so I left after dinner.

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running in the East Bay sunshine

The next day I made like a typical unemployed person and slept all morning, only getting out of bed to go for a delightful 5-mile run around Lake Merritt and downtown Oakland, which I found to be really nice and not nearly as shitty as everyone says. Then I spent a few hours lounging at the pool area in my brother’s apartment complex, and when my brother’s girlfriend got home we all went out for a bomb-ass Mexican dinner at this trendy little spot nearby. After dinner, I cruised up north into the redwoods, to stay at my mom’s cabin for a couple days. All in all, a great day…and much more fun than schlepping around the Moscone center for hours with a bag of keys!!!

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fuck this shit, I’m headed for the mountains!!!!

Anyhoo, after the tradeshow, I had a couple days left before I had to be back in Vegas, so my sister and I planned to check out the Be & Be Well, a sort of New Age wellness retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains run by those wacky New Agers we met at Burning Man — the ones who were driving the Grokitship, playing that far-out talk therapy Game. They were overjoyed to have us come for a visit, and invited us to float in their isolation tank, too — that is to say, a sensory deprivation tank!!! I was so freaking excited – I’ve been wanting to try one of those forever!!

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The courtyard at the Be & Be Well

We arrived at the Be & Be around 4pm, and it was amazing — a quaint, rambling house nestled in the mountains, with a big open courtyard in the middle featuring a treehouse, a hydroponic garden, a sweat lodge, the Grokitship, a mysterious musical instrument with a drape covering it, and the golden 1977 RV they had been staying in at Burning Man, and which was to be my sister’s and my accommodations that night. How cozy!

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treehouse bed at the Be & Be Well

We sat around in the shade for a few hours, chatting with the other guests over cups of delicious homemade chai. All kinds of interesting, kooky characters pass through that place — during our stay they were also hosting two soul-seeking matrons from San Diego, a Canadian tech whiz who was in the area to testify as an expert witness in a lawsuit against Apple, an Asian transsexual and this crazy hippie kid from UC Santa Cruz who was living in the forest behind the school to save money on dorm fees. Talk about a motley crew — it was fantastic! And then of course the Grokitship crew themselves were on hand as well — the wise woman priestess, who cooked an amazing dinner of kale salad and cauliflower soup for everyone; her husband the charismatic leader, who made a delicious “Om”elette for everyone the following morning; and the white-bearded captain, who doesn’t live onsite, but who took time out of his busy day to come up and visit with us anyway. Awwwww! What a great crew icon smile Bikers, Geeks, New Agers and Stoners

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the golden RV where I slept

Once it got dark, they pulled the drape off the mysterious musical instrument and let us play with it. It was made of beautiful carved wood, and it was called the Space Palette — “a musical and graphical instrument controlled by gesture;” basically, you wave your hands around through holes in one side, and these infrared sensors read your movements and play these haunting, ethereal sounds along with crazy visuals on the other side. For once, words fail me; I can’t really describe it, so watch this brief video to see what I mean. It was BAD ASS!!!

 

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waiting for my turn to float!!!

Anyway, after playing with that for awhile my sister went into the flotation tank. While she did her float, we all stayed out in the garden and chatted. I got a hot tip on a peyote retreat down near Tucson, and another hot tip on an ayahuasca retreat in Peru — that crowd was dialed in! I also learned more about the background of the priestess and the leader — they originally met at a squatters’ encampment in an abandoned hospital in London, then wandered around California searching for a teacher until they met this bald redneck guru in a hot tub at Sierra Hot Springs one night, who changed their lives and invited them to live at his ashram in the Santa Cruz Mountains. While living at the ashram, they spent their days meditating in celibacy, and the leader guy also worked as a door-to-door cable TV salesman in San Jose, back in the days when cable TV was new…and he made a killing! But the money all went to the ashram. But the guru has since moved onto other things, and now the ashram has become the Be & Be Well — so it all worked out!

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sweat lodge, anyone?

Also, I got an earful of their plans for the next generation of the Grokitship — the Be-hicle 2.0! The car we rode in at Burning Man was really cool, but they have some amazing plans for a new car that, if they can get it together, will really blow everyone out of the water — they plan to get an old, decommissioned MX Peacekeeper missile, remove all the radioactive materials, slap on some wheels and transform that into a new Be-hicle, complete with a sensory exaltation tank and a water cannon on the nose!!!! I know I’ve said it before, but…..FAR OUT!!!!!!! 

Keep an eye out for their Kickstarter campaign, coming soon — they have to raise a lot of money for that thing, and before even raising the money they have to figure out how/where the fuck to get an MX Peacekeeper in the first place. They were planning to manifest a friendly Congressman or something; I advised they should go check in Hawthorne, NV…I’m sure one of those bunkers out there has exactly what they need. If anyone reading this does know where they can get such a missile, email me right away and I’ll pass on the info!

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I found this photo of a tank on the Internet; I forgot to take one of the actual tank at the Be & Be Well

Anyway, after dinner it was finally my turn to soak in the isolation tank, a/k/a the sensory deprivation tank. The leader took me into the room and showed me what to do: first you get undressed, take a shower and wash your hair, to remove all oils so they don’t get in the water — the water in those tanks contains 850 pounds of medical-grade Epsom salts, which ain’t cheap to replace, so they try to keep it as clean as possible and only replace the water every year or so. (Because it’s so salty, no bacteria can survive in it…so no worries of getting sick.)

Next, wrap your hair in a hair net, turn off the lights, push this button on the stereo and climb on into the tank. Pull the lid shut over top of you, lay back in the salty water….and just float. The water is so salty that your body just bobs there naturally — even for a shitty swimmer like me, it was totally easy, and I was able to lay my head back and just totally relax. After a few minutes the lights and music turn off, and you just lay there floating in utter darkness and silence for 60 or 90 minutes…or however long you want to float for!

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the floatation tank is also known as the Sacred Space Pod

The tank is about the size of a tanning bed, so if you are claustrophobic you probably wouldn’t care for it — you’re shut up in there, and the air gets pretty thick. But if you just keep breathing, and relax…it’s pretty sweet. Like being in the womb….or floating in Outer Space: “Tell my wife I love her very much……..”

I found the experience really unique and interesting, but if I am to be completely honest, I got restless about halfway through, after I dozed off and woke up. My legs started aching, and I found myself wondering what everyone else was doing while I was in there, and I was anxious to get out and get back to the real world. Fail!! I think I’m too high-energy for that shit, but then again…floating on a regular basis might be just what I need to calm me the fuck down! A new float place just opened in Vegas — apparently Oprah recently raved about floating, so it’s become a popular thing…so maybe I’ll try the place here in town sometime. But at $1/minute, I can’t afford very much peace of mind :/ Maybe I’ll just buy an old coffin and lay in that for an hour every day; I feel like I’d get the same results, relaxation-wise!

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my sis got to sleep in THIS!!!

Anyway, after my float I did feel really relaxed, and I went out to my cozy bed in the RV and snuggled up to sleep. My sister, that lucky fucking bitch, got to sleep in the sensory eXaltation pod on the Grokitship — D’OH!!!! But my RV bed was really cozy, so I’m not complaining. Maybe I can stay in the exaltation pod next time icon smile Bikers, Geeks, New Agers and Stoners

In the morning, after our Om-elettes, we played a brief-but-intense 90-minute session of The Game, and then it was time to bid that crazy band of New Agers adieu, and head out back onto the road. My sis and I really wanted to hike out to Sykes Hot Springs in Big Sur, but alas, I was supposed to go to the first annual Las Vegas Hempfest the next day, so I very reluctantly got on the 101 south and left the Bay Area until next time. Boooooo!

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out in the Bakersfield oil fields

Because I had to be up early the next morning, and because I’d left the Be & Be Well later than I should have, I had to basically haul ass the whole way home, taking just a few minutes to stop for photos at the spot where James Dean had his fatal crash, and then making a brief stop for dinner in Bakersfield with my friend Dr. Zhivago. I would have loved to stay the night, since I was really fucking sick of driving, but I was supposed to be at the Hempfest by “11 or noon”  the next day (gotta love stoner time), so I knew I’d better just forge on ahead.

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swamp ass at the Las Vegas Hempfest photo by Brad Bode

I got home around 1:30am, showered and went straight to bed. I was so fucking exhausted from all this travel and adventure, but I forced myself to get up and put on my showgirl makeup and everything, and don my Mary Jane weed showgirl costume and go down to the Clark County Government Center, where the Hempfest was being held. It was hot as fuck, but a decent number of people were milling around…so I posed for a bunch of photos, then went over to find the friend who had “hired” me. It was all very nebulous, but I was supposed to interview people for some new internet TV station called WeedTV.com…so I figured I’d at least get paid. WRONG! Come to find out, they didn’t want me doing interviews in my costume…but no one told me to bring an extra outfit, so I was fucked :/ I ended up just wandering around aimlessly, drowning in swamp ass most of the afternoon.

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Cannatoe!!!
photo by Brad Bode

To make matters worse, the Miss Las Vegas Hempfest contest was also that afternoon. You might remember me hustling for votes in that competition — I gave up weeks ago, though, because the chick in first place had clearly hacked the system, because she had thousands of votes where everyone else just had hundreds…and besides, she was a real heifer. (Incidentally, my tech genius brother offered to do the same for me — hack the contest so that I won — but I refused to let him, because I have morals, dammit!)

Anyway, since I was already there, I figured I might as well enter the damn pageant anyway, and see what happened. Come to find out, the whole online-voting thing was bullshit anyway and didn’t count for anything (?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!), and it was really down to who showed up onstage. The website had said there was a $300 prize, so I figured I should at least try.

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hijinks at Hempfest

I figured my odds were pretty good — I was one of maybe two chicks there who had ever lifted a weight in her life; the rest were sloppy, cottage-cheese-assed heifers with shitty tattoos and bloodshot eyes. But meanwhile, we were playing to a crowd of pimple-faced, half-lidded idiots who were baked out of their gourds…and the emcee himself was so high he forgot what he was doing, and the P.A. system was abysmal, and the whole thing was so amateurish and such a disaster that I was really embarrassed to be up there. Well, that’s what you get when you attend an even produced by stoners, for stoners — a royal clusterfuck!!! They ended up awarding 1st place to some halfwitted dipshit with a tiny monkey on her shoulder, and a friend later tipped me off that the whole thing was rigged all along for her to win, because she was dating the emcee. WTF?!?!?!?! I wasted my entire fucking day sweating in that damn showgirl outfit, and for what? To be made a fool of by a bunch of Dorito-breathed suburban troglodytes. Sad.

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Fuck. This. Shit.

Serves me right for even being a part of the “medical marijuana” community — the whole industry is a huge fuckin’ farce! Everyone there was baked out of their minds, slack-jawed and overweight and pimply and just fucking messes. If anything, from the looks of that crowd I’d say marijuana causes more health problems than it treats, honestly — every single fuckin’ loser there was a diabetes case waiting to happen!!!!!! I do use marijuana medicinally (for sleep), but I have to be honest..when my medical card expires in November, I doubt I’ll bother to renew it. It’s a crooked fuckin’ farce of a system, so what’s the point? What exactly am I supporting?! It’ll be legalized altogether soon enough, and until then, I can get it elsewhere….ya know what I mean?

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Bah!!!

Anyway, that all sucked pretty badly, especially because I blew off Sykes Hot Springs for it :-/ But again…I’m not gonna sit around and cry about it; I’ve got better things to do. Like flying to Kona, Hawaii to visit my friend Dr. Who! He got me a volunteer position in the medical tent at the Ironman Triathlon Finals — a chance to mingle with a bunch of vibrant, enthusiastic go-getters in peak physical condition, as opposed to a bunch of slack-jawed lard-assed pimple-faced beer-swilling stoners. YAY!!!

 

 

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Brothels and Clowns: Exploring Goldfield and Tonopah

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The open road, always beckoning
photo by http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

Holy shit, I’ve had so many bizarre adventures lately that I don’t even know where to start! I just got back from a doozy of a working road trip — from an abandoned brothel to a biker rally in Reno to a tradeshow in San Francisco, plus a day in an isolation tank at a New Age wellness retreat in the Santa Cruz Mountains — and along the way I met so many kooky characters and fucking weirdos that I would have a really tough time shoehorning it all into one blog. So, I’m splitting it into two parts: I’ll address the biker rally and the other stuff in a few days; meanwhile, here’s what happened on my trip to Tonopah and Goldfield…and at the abandoned brothel!!

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desert laundromat

As mentioned in my last blog, a lady photographer friend hired me to take her out to an “unusual/photogenic spot” in the desert for a one or two day trip. Well if there’s one thing I know, it’s unusual/photogenic spots in the desert; the hard part was choosing one! I ended up suggesting we go check out Goldfield, NV — a weird little semi-ghost mining town about 3 hours north of Vegas that I pass thru every year on my way to/from Burning Man, but have never had time to stop and explore. It always looks so tantalizing as I pass thru — lots of rusty old cars and mining equipment, plus plenty of dilapidated old buildings; I was totally stoked for the opportunity to go check it out in detail!!

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brothel!!
http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

Meanwhile, there are few people I would rather make such a journey with; this lady photographer friend is simply amazing – a grouchy desk clerk at one of the more run-down no-tell motels on the north Strip, who also happens to be a chainsmoking ex-New York stand-up comedienne with a mild case of misanthropy. She tells it like it is, in language as salty or even saltier than my own, and truly doesn’t give a rat’s ass. In short, a woman after my own heart!

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the most beautiful skies

I picked her up at her apartment one Sunday morning in late September and we headed north up U.S. 95, straight into the heart of the windswept desolation that is central Nevada. A monsoonal thunderstorm had just passed, so the sky was scattered with clouds — an unusual sight around these parts, but absolutely perfect for photos (she’s a photojournalist, and you can see more of her amazing Vegas street photos at http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/). A clear blue sky is nice, but not very interesting for photos…ya know?

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Fertility Temple to the Goddess Sekhmet in Cactus Springs

I took my role as tour guide very seriously, pointing out all the attractions we passed along the way: “There’s Creech Chair Force Base, where pimply-faced jug-eared recruits sit in darkened trailers all day jerking joysticks, blowing shit up halfway around the world in Yemen.” (I should know; I dated one of them.) “There’s the Goddess Sekhmet Fertility Temple, erected by some barren old hag who, while on vacation in Egypt, prayed to a statue of Sekhmet that if the Goddess would impregnate her withered old uterus, she would erect a temple in her honor out in the Nevada desert, just upwind from a U.S. Gov’t-sanctioned zone of death and destruction.” Ironic!!!

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this amazing photo says it all…
photo by http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

Then, just before we hit Goldfield, we stopped at a particularly interesting archaeological site: an abandoned brothel!

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the abandoned brothel

As mentioned in my last blog, before heading out on this trip I had tapped into the collective knowledge of my database of Facebook friends, asking if there was anything particular I should see while in Goldfield; one photographer friend tipped me off to this abandoned brothel. Apparently, despite (or maybe because of) its remote location, it used to be Howard Hughes’s brothel of choice…and since it had only been out of business 5 years or so, the place was still pretty much intact. So my lady friend — we’ll call her Ninotchka — grabbed her camera…and in we went!

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photo by http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

***Note to photographers: this brothel is private property and is surrounded by a chain-link fence…so don’t even think of trying to trespass here!! Ninotchka and I were lucky and didn’t encounter any cops or homeless murderers…but you never know. Be advised!***

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Into the wild
photo by http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

Going inside this brothel was a trip!!! The location is so remote that no one really fucks with it, I guess…so the place was pretty much as it had been left on the day the ladies vacated the premises; there was still a coffee can on the kitchen counter, and the mattresses and everything were still in the bedrooms, a thin layer of dust covering everything like a musty silk stocking. Just like at the abandoned Rock-A-Hoola water park, it was as if the decision to flee came suddenly.

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Ho Hum

You never know if a murderous methhead is lurking around the next corner in places like these, so you have to be careful! Neither Ninotchka or I had a flashlight, and I had lent both my stun guns to my friend Justin for one of his wacky pranks, so we were unarmed and in the dark…but we still ventured in, tiptoeing gingerly around the premises, looking for interesting artifacts and photos. I got a flyswatter and a swatch of the amazing Alphonse Mucha-print wallpaper as souvenirs icon smile Brothels and Clowns: Exploring Goldfield and Tonopah

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Sunday afternoon in an abandoned brothel
photo by http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

Some graffiti artists had been in there at some point, and the place was pretty busted up…but it wasn’t really that bad, considering how long it had been sitting there abandoned, the jizz-stained mattresses baking dry in the desert sun. We poked around in every room, and I insisted on getting naked and posing for a few photos while I was at it, Ninotchka obliging me despite her stringent warnings not to sit on anything. But my name is Wonderhussy for a reason — I ain’t skeered of no dusty old brothel mattress!

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hi Mom!

Anyhoo, after a few photos we climbed back in my truck and went up the road the rest of the way to Goldfield. As mentioned in my last blog, Goldfield was at one time a booming gold mining town — in the early 1900s it had a population of 20,000, making it the largest city in Nevada, and it even hosted a Lightweight boxing championship match between Joe Gans and Oscar Nelson that drew a crowd of 8,000. Once the mine ran out, however, the place dried up like that Sekhmet lady’s uterus…and these days fewer than 300 kooks, artists and hermits live out there, hunkered down in cabins and RVs and all manner of ramshackeldy desert fortresses. Fabulous!

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junk car forest by http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

Our first stop in Goldfield was this Junk Car Forest some artists had erected out there — basically, a patch of desert valley with a bunch of rusted-out clunkers buried nose-first in the sand, standing up like graffiti-covered metal trees. FAR OUT! This place is AMAZING, and is free to enter and take photos at. It would be an amazing spot for a photo shoot — anyone who wants to hire me, hit me up! This time of year is fabulous for outdoor shooting around these parts icon smile Brothels and Clowns: Exploring Goldfield and Tonopah

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by http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

After exploring the Junk Car Forest awhile, we rolled into downtown Goldfield to check out the Santa Fe Saloon, home of the alleged “World’s Meanest Bartender–” the one my friend had said was really bitchy to him when he asked about the Great Goldfield Flood of 1913. (He asked her “How did Goldfield flood if there’s no river?!” to which she snarled “Ain’t ya ever heard of fuckin’ rain?!” then muttered, “Take yer city money and spend it somewhere else!!”) I was really looking forward to experiencing her bitchy shtick, especially since Ninotchka can be pretty gruff herself and as an ex-New Yorker, doesn’t take no guff from no one. Would there be a fight?! I certainly hoped so! It’s been 108 years since Gans vs. Nelson — high time for more fisticuffs in Goldfield, I’d say!!!

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drinking at the Santa Fe Saloon http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

The Santa Fe Saloon is off a side street, about 1/2 mile east of the highway…so they have a big billboard advertising the turn-off, and this billboard also advertises it as being the “Home of the World’s Meanest Bartender.” Hmmmm. That much ballyhoo reeks of carny shtick; was this bartender really mean? It appeared so; I went inside ahead of Ninotchka, who was outside taking photos, to ask if they served food. The bartender, a gruff, bespectacled woman with a no-nonsense haircut and a Chicago Bears sweatshirt, drawled, “I got some frozen pizza.” I was looking around agape at the astonishing display of old-timey bric-a-brac they have in there, so didn’t answer immediately, so she repeated herself, louder and angrier: “I GOT SOME FROZEN PIZZA.”

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World’s Meanest Bartender, captured on camera!!!!

“Ah, ok! Thanks!” I scurried back outside and relayed this info to Ninotchka, who was delighted — so we both went in and ordered drinks at the bar. We were very polite, so the bartender was cool…but when Ninotchka asked if she could take her photo, she firmly declined: “I don’t allow my picture to be taken.” Fair enough!! But OMG, I accidentally captured this elusive creature on my cell phone, when I was taking some establishing shots of the saloon interior. Whoooooops! She didn’t see me though, so she didn’t freak out or anything. And honestly, at this point…I was pretty sure this “World’s Meanest Bartender” stuff was pure shtick.

Either way, after a drink, Ninotchka and I passed on the frozen pizza and soldiered on ahead to Tonopah instead, where we could get some real food and a room for the night. It’s only about 20 minutes farther north up the 95, so no biggie. We hit up the diner at the Tonopah Station Casino for some good-old-fashioned diner breakfast food, and chatted with the waitress, who used to work in the bomb disassembly plant up the road in Hawthorne, this creepy military town an hour farther up the road that is home to all the unwanted, retired munitions of the US Army. Seriously — the desert up there is dotted with dozens of bunkers built into the desert, each containing god knows what kind of explosives. WEIRD!

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!!!

After dinner, we went over to the registration area for the hotel — speaking of carny shtick, they run this game out there where you can “ROLL THE DICE FOR A FREE ROOM!” The front desk has this little birdcage-type thing with three oversize novelty dice in it, and you spin the cage to roll the dice. If all three land on the same number, you get a free room. I personally know someone who has won before, so I know it’s not rigged….but neither Ninotchka nor I were lucky that night. But it was all good, as we didn’t really want to stay there anyway — we wanted to stay at the CLOWN MOTEL!!!!

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CLOWNS!!!

OMG, this Clown Motel has been on my bucketlist forever — every time I drive by it (on my way to and from Burning Man each year) I literally start drooling with lust: a beat-up-looking old dive motel with clowns all over the facade, like they’re trying to scare away business instead of lure in customers. AWESOME! I love contrarian shit like that icon smile Brothels and Clowns: Exploring Goldfield and Tonopah That’s Tonopah for ya!

We drove into the parking lot in the dark, and it was really creepy: the manager’s office is a tiny little wood-paneled room chock full of hundreds and hundreds of clown figurines, clown dolls, Precious

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More clowns!!!

Moments clowns and one or two extra-terrifying life-sized clowns sitting around in chairs. Kind of like your grandma’s house, if she lived in a double-wide out back behind the Barnum & Bailey Bail Bonds Office. YIKES!

Still, we asked for a double room. “Smoking or non-smoking?” asked the clerk. “Smoking,” Ninotchka replied (as previously mentioned, she is a chain-smoker…plus she had brought me two joints for my birthday, so we were looking forward to getting baked with those).

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Oh hi there!

At this, the clerk handed us the key: “Why don’t you go check out the room first, then come back and let me know if you want it.” DOUBLE YIKES!! As mentioned, Ninotchka is the desk clerk at a super shitty motel herself…so she knew what he meant by that. But when we went over to check out the room, it wasn’t that bad: stained carpet, torn curtains, two black velvet paintings of clowns on the wall. I’ve stayed in worse…well, actually no I haven’t, but it was cool. (Note to future patrons: the smoking rooms are old and beat-up and haven’t been remodeled like ever. But the non-smoking rooms are updated, and presumably much nicer.)

So we took the room, and then walked next door to the historic Tonopah cemetery, where all the early pioneers are buried: victims of the flood, victims of the 1911 Belmont Mine Fire, victims of life in general (suicide, influenza,

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a suicide in Tonopah

eating library paste) (really!!). We got high among the old tombstones, then went back to the room, baked out of our gourds, and had a loooong discussion about Abba. Did you know Abba has a song about an escort agency? Ninotchka used to be the phone girl at an outcall service, so she knows all about it — in fact, she knows a ton of interesting stuff about the escorting biz, and has a lot of good

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the graveyard

stories. In fact, the last time she came up U.S. 95 this way was in the company of a black pimp who was headed to buy weed in Portland — she accompanied him for the adventure, and had to pretend he was her servant when they tried to check into one of the rural redneck motels out there and met resistance (the rednecks weren’t going to rent them a room until Ninotchka dropped her suitcase and barked to the pimp, “Take my bags, boy!” Then they were welcomed with open arms.) (That’s Tononpah for ya.)

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Mizpah lobby

Anyhoo, the next morning we’d had enough slumming with the clowns, and headed back down into central Tonopah to have breakfast at the über-swanky Mizpah hotel. This hotel is simply astonishing — a grand old fully restored turn-of-the-century luxury hotel that is said to be haunted by a ghost called the Lady in Red. Alas, the hotel has been so meticulously and luxuriously restored that it’s a bit pricey to stay at…but it has a fabulous lobby area with an amazing, elegant bar, all filigreed robber-baron-chic. I wonder who the fuck stays there?! The rooms were about $150 I think, and this was a Sunday night in the off-season. Crazy!

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these are the artifacts that define our times

We loitered a bit in the lobby, checking out this amazing collection of framed personal checks endorsed by various celebrities (my favorite was a check made out for $3 to “Valley Shoe Repair” in 1979 by Jamie Lee Curtis) and had breakfast in the cafe, then walked around checking out downtown Tonopah. There’s not all that much to see, but it’s a cool old town with a lot of history, so it’s definitely worth a visit — and the star-gazing is said to be exceptional, since it’s far from any urban light pollution. We even drove around and checked out all the back streets, too — we really covered that town!

Then we headed back down toward Vegas, stopping in one more time at the Santa Fe Saloon — and this time, the bartender was even less grumpy, so I’m saddened to report that her reputation is almost definitely 100% shtick. Booo! After drinks we stopped at this kooky art car museum on the highway in town, where some old Burning Man vet stashed all his old art cars when he retired to the desert. I had a long and interesting conversation with his daughter, who sort of runs the place, and she told me about a bunch of kooky desert shit including the story of this poor deluded shaman.

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Nevada is vast
http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

The story was sparked by this map they had hanging on the wall of the State of Nevada — the map was color-coded to show all the land that is privately held, vs. US Military land and BLM (Federal Bureau of Land Management) land. It was crazy — around 85% of the state was yellow (BLM land), with tiny pockets of white (privately held land) around Reno and Vegas. The other 13% was all US Military land — the big government base where they used to detonate atomic bombs and stuff (and which Area 51 is part of) stretches all the way from Vegas to Tonopah, pretty much! Nuts! I had no idea it was that big.

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one of the willow branches

Well, one time not too long ago, this poor addle-brained shaman had a Vision that if he would only walk all the way from Hawthorne (the munitions bunker town) to Mercury (the base headquarters, down near Vegas), and if he would only plant a willow branch every mile or so, if any one of the willow branches took root and started to grow, world peace and harmony would ensue. So this poor fucker did it — he walked all that way, toting all those willow branches….and for what?! The Middle East is ready to blow, and Russia’s not far behind…not to mention the mess in Africa. WTF!

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one of many places I plan to pose nude

Anyhoo, after listening to that downer tale it was time to get the fuck out of there — I had to drive to Reno the very next day (for the bike rally), and that night I was also having a sort of birthday party at a local gay bar that I had to get to. (It was my birthday that day.) So we hauled ass back to town, and I dropped Ninotchka back at her apartment. But we had such a good time, and made such good traveling companions, that we decided we need to figure out a way to get some funding somewhere to do a tour of the entire state of Nevada — all the weird little towns in in the middle that everyone passes by, like Ely, Pioche, Caliente and Battle Mountain. Real fucked-up towns, ya know?!

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in the Tonopah book store’s special section
http://vegasimages.tumblr.com/

Ninotchka was gonna try and pitch our road trip to some local magazines, but if they won’t fund it, I’m turning to you guys: I’ll do a Naked Nevada Kickstarter campaign, and go around posing nude in every Nevada town with a population over 5. There really aren’t that many towns, so I’d only need about $4,000 to do it — so watch out, that may be coming soon!!!

Anyway, I raced home, freshened up, and hit the “birthday” party — it wasn’t really my birthday party, but the local Burning Man community was having a get-together that happened to be on my birthday, so I sort of piggy-backed onto it to avoid the suicidally awkward unpleasantness of last year’s botched birthday “party.” It worked out great, since there were a couple others who also shared the same

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Happy birthday to me!!!

b-day, and they got us a cake and everything. Awwww! Also, they had a costume exchange going on, so I was able to unload a bunch of leftover wacky shit from my garage sale. Winning!!

And then, the next day I headed back up the 95 again to Reno…but I’ll tell you all about that in a few days. STAY TUNED!  icon smile Brothels and Clowns: Exploring Goldfield and Tonopah

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Rednecks and Foieffles

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Sucking out the darkness within
Photo by Keri Pettit

I get the seasonal blues everrrrrrry year after Burning Man — fun’s over, back to school, leaves are changing and everything’s slowly fading into the first fuzzy shades of death — including me (a subtle reminder of which being my birthday, Sept. 22nd — a/k/a the 1st day of fall). Grim, huh?! Well, thankfully, this year I have a bunch of fun stuff to look forward to, to distract me from my usual melancholia!

First, an exceptionally misanthropic, grouchy, chain-smoking photojournalist lady-friend of mine offered to take me on a whirlwind overnight vacation to the town of Goldfield, NV! She initially proposed hiring me as a tour guide to take her “into the desert, to an unusual/photogenic spot…” so I wracked my brains and came up with the idea of exploring Goldfield — a tiny ex-mining/semi-ghost-town on the U.S. 95 between Vegas and Tonopah. At one time (early 1900s), Goldfield was a boomtown with a population of 20,000…and even hosted a championship boxing match that drew 8,000 spectators (Gans vs. Nelson, 1906)! Now, it’s just a dusty, rusty collection of artsy junk on the side of a highway, with a population barely above 200. YAY!

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I can hide the darkness within VERY well, when called upon to do so!!
Photo by Steve White

I pass thru Goldfield every year on my way to and from Burning Man, but I’m always in such a hurry that I never really stop and soak up the ambiance. It seems like a really interesting/bad ass spot…so I’m totally stoked to go. A friend tipped me off to an abandoned brothel nearby, and also to the fact that the bartendress at the saloon in town is SUPER FUCKING GROUCHY and a total hater….so I can’t wait to pit her against my lady friend, who is also SUPER FUCKING GROUCHY — and from New York! No desert grouch can POSSIBLY compete with a city grouch — so it’s ON (ding)! My friend says that the way to really piss off the lady bartender is to ask her, “So how was Goldfield flooded? There’s no river here; it’s the middle of the desert!” According to this friend, when he asked that innocent question, she HARRUMPHED, turned her back to him and muttered, “Ain’t ya ever heard of fuckin’ rain?! Take your city money and spend it somewhere else!!!!”

Anyhoo, I can’t wait to see how my city friend handles this cranky old bitch — this could be even bigger than Gans v. Nelson! We depart first thing in the a.m. — I can’t wait!

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Me and my bikini bike wash sidekick, last year at Sturgis

Then, when I get back from Goldfield, I’m headed back up the 95 to work some biker rally in fabulous Reno, NV! The chick that I went to Sturgis with last year invited me to go work a bikini bike wash with her next weekend, and she got a free room in Tahoe so it’s basically a 100% moneymaking endeavor for both of us. We leave Tuesday, first thing in the a.m. — I can’t wait!

Then from Reno, I’m headed over to San Francisco, to work a three-day tradeshow gig at OracleWorld at the Moscone Center. Tradeshows are usually pretty lame, but this one pays well, and I have a free place to stay at my brother’s crib across the Bay in Oakland…so I’m gonna suck it up in the name of cheese-stacking. Because lord knows, I need the cheese! I leave for that next Sunday, first thing in the afternoon….and I can definitely wait, but I’m still planning to have some fun!

Then, I have a couple days before I have to be back in Vegas, so I’m either gonna visit the Be &BeWell in Santa Cruz and try their sensory deprivation tank…or maybe head to Big Sur instead, and hike to/camp out at Sykes Hot Springs with my sister. Either way is gonna be fabulous, and I can’t wait!

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fuck this shit! I want to go back to Burning Man!!!
Photo by Shutterbug-Studio

From there, I can cruise back down to Vegas in time to hit the big Hempfest festival on October 4th — a daylong party going down at the Clark County Government Center, with bands and vendors and all kinds of pot-related shenanigans. I’m not being paid to attend, but I figure it’ll be good networking for me to show up in my Mary Jane showgirl costume — maybe I can schmooze Dr. Reefer into renewing my medical card again for free! (My card expires in November, but I’m not sure I can/want to shell out the cash to renew it…ya know? It’s like $200 in Nevada!).

And then after that, I’m supposed to hike down to Havasupai Falls on the West Rim of the Grand Canyon — an area said to be astonishingly beautiful, but you have to have a special permit to hike it, because it’s on Indian land. I was supposed to do this hike with my frenemy Alex and a bunch of his friends, none of whom I know at all…but I figured it would be OK because Alex has a girlfriend now, and seems to have mellowed out a bit. Yay! Alas, however…his girlfriend fucked up her shoulder the other day racing a dirt bike or something, and now they might not be able to do Havasupai :/ So I could still maybe go with the other people…but I don’t know them at all, so it might be kinda weird/awkward. We’ll see!!

Anyway, after THAT I’m flying to beautiful Kona, Hawaii to visit my new friend Dr. Who!! Not only is he a fabulously interesting and charming person, he also has a coffee farm in Hawaii (!!)…and he invited me out for a visit. It also happens to be the weekend of the big Iron Man Triathlon race, which he is working the medical tent for, and he got me a gig as a volunteer, helping woozy racers and whatnot. FAR OUT!!! Those triathletes are out of this world — for this race, you start out swimming 2.4 miles, then you race a road bike for 112 miles, and then run a full marathon (26.2 miles). The elites do it in just over 8 hours total….WTF!! This, I gotta see to believe. I know I said “I can’t wait” about a bunch of other shit already……..but for this, I REALLY can’t wait!!!

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Back to the grind…   prints available at fineartamerica.com/profiles/john-gombeda.html?tab=artworkgalleries
Photo by John G

So anyway, where I’m at now is looking back at a fabulous summer, and ahead at a wonderful fall…but stuck in the present, which is admittedly kinda on the shitty side. It’s still hot as fuck and twice as humid here in ShitTown U.S.A. a/k/a Vegas, and to make things worse, business has been kinda slow.

When I rolled back in from Burning Man, I was ready to pack my shit away and get right back to work, and start stacking that cheese back up for my next adventure. I only made about $900 in August, so I was especially hurting — plus a freelance piece I was supposed to do about Burning Man for Men’sHealth.com (of all things) fell thru last-minute, so now I was left scrambling. Thankfully, I never scramble too long — I rounded up a couple photo shoots, a convention gig and an afternoon stint as an airport greeter, holding up a directional sign so that a bunch of visiting oncologists could find their limo drivers. (One would really hope that one’s cancer care was in the hands of someone capable of finding a limo driver….but…you never know.)

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I am quite hirsute when left unchecked
Photo by Shutterbug-Studio

But before I could do any of those gigs, I had a little “personal grooming” to attend to. You see, at Burning Man I basically let my freak flag fly and my body hair run rampant — not just my nether-regions, but my armpits as well! That kind of shit is great for art and shock value, but not so good for paying work as a nude model or a tradeshow hostess — so alas, I finally had to kow-tow to the bourgeois demands of Society and shave icon sad Rednecks and Foieffles But before I did, I made sure to visit my dear friend Randy at Shutterbug-Studio, and capture it all in a fabulous photo shoot! I started out trying to emulate Patti Smith’s “Easter” album cover photo….and it got waaaaay out of control! Bwahahahahahaha icon smile Rednecks and Foieffles

So anyhoo, once I shaved, I was good to go back to work in the mainstream — and the first gig I booked was this cycling industry tradeshow, Interbike. This company was  looking for an “enthusiastic, blonde” tradeshow hostess…but I applied anyway, even though my hairs are dark as sin (especially the ones I’d just shaved, LOL). I emailed them saying something like, “I’m available, and enthusiastic…but if you must have a blonde, so be it!”  Well guess what — they admired my chutzpah and hired me! And it was fantastic!

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The excitement was intense!!!

The company I was working for makes full-size folding commuter bikes, and their shtick at the tradeshow was a contest: Whoever could fold their demo bike the fastest would win $500 CASH! So my job was basically to stand in the aisle barking like a circus carny, trying to get guys to come enter the challenge. Boy, was that ever a gas!! First of all, Interbike is a show attended by NOTHING BUT the most outdoorsy, athletic, non-conformist-type guys — so not only did I have plenty of eye candy to keep me amused (that’s the kind of guy I like), but finding contestants for the Bike Fold-Off was super easy! EVERY guy wanted to try, and eventually it got SO competitive that the same four guys were battling each other over and over and OVER again (there was no limit on the number of attempts you could make…alas). It was down to this adorable Canadian kid, two brothers from Utah, and then this crazy Asian guy from Cali…all of whom were able to fold the bike in less than one second! The competition was fierce for that $500 — I almost got hit in the face a couple times when the front bike wheel went flying. The Canadian kid ended up winning with a time of 0:0:47 (that’s less than HALF a SECOND!), and boy was my stopwatch thumb sore by the end!

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More hairy outtakes
Photo by Shutterbug-Studio

All in all, though, it was a huge gas and a total riot to work — I have rarely (if ever) had that much fun at a tradeshow! A convention center full of smokin’ hot outdoorsy guys, a fun gig — what’s not to like?! If only ALL trade shows could be like this! The client I was working for was super cool, too — and they were so pleased with my performance that they gave me a bonus, and asked me if I’d work other trade shows for them as well! “Sure!” I said enthusiastically — because seriously, I would love to! Their product is really cool, too — really nice full-size aluminum folding bikes that weigh less than 24 pounds; totally portable!

The only problem was, the boss wasn’t sure they had all my contact info, so I offered to give him a card — but when I reached into my card holder, I realized I didn’t have any G-rated cards!

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Exhibit A, my G-rated bidness card

See, over the years I keep ordering new business cards, and they just keep getting racier and racier. At first, I started out with Exhibit A: generic, cutesy, sexy enough to be fun and interesting, but still safe enough for Corporate America. I don’t really like to use this card anymore though, because the Model Mayhem and OneModelPlace numbers are obsolete (and who even uses OneModelPlace anymore?!?). But, if I’m really in a bind, I’ll hand out this card.

When I started writing for the paper, I upped my game to Exhibit B: racier, but by then that’s what I was known for, so it was expected. Also, by then I had started this blog, so now I had

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Exhibit B, my PG-rated card

links to my scandalous diary all over it.

And then, last year I trumped everything with my pièce-de-résistance — Exhibit C, which I find hilarious but which you have to have a certain sense of humor to appreciate. It’s modeled after one of those cheesy hooker cards they hand out on the Strip, but if you read the fine print you can tell it’s a joke — and the reverse side is a totally straight bidness card anyway just in case you really didn’t get the joke. I can only really hand this card out to SUPER COOL people who really get it….so I don’t hand it out nearly as often as I’d like icon sad Rednecks and Foieffles

Anyway, at the Interbike show, the boss of the

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Exhibit C…my R-rated (and favorite) card

company I was working for asked me for my contact info, so I fumbled through my bag, trying to find something inoffensive…but alas, all I had on me were my PG- and R-Rated cards. I gave him the PG one, but I’m afraid that because it has my website address on it, he probably already went to this blog and freaked the fuck out — and might not hire me for any future trade shows icon sad Rednecks and Foieffles D’oh!!! Needless to say, I went straight home and logged onto VistaPrint to order some boring-ass new vanilla cards that just say my name, number and “TRADE SHOW MODEL.” BOOOO-RING…..but sadly necessary.

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on my friend’s new Harley in Jean, NV!

So after being around all those hot guys at the Interbike show, I was all pumped up on the Great Outdoors, and ready to get out in the fresh air and do something wild! The next day, I drove out to Jean, this little NV/CA border town with nothing but a casino and a prison, to meet a reader from Southern California who’d ridden his new Harley out to meet me for lunch. He even placed a $100 blackjack bet for me (which I of course lost….I’m terrible poison at the tables…so please, for the love of dog don’t ask me to gamble with you. Or dance with you. Anything else, I can handle). Anyway, that was fun…but I was still craving adventure!

Fortunately, a videographer friend called me up the very next day, to see if I wanted to help him out filming a commercial for one of those tour companies that takes you on an ATV ride through the desert. All I would have to do is ride an ATV around and be filmed doing it…so, despite the fact that I have NEVER ridden an ATV in all my life, and the fact that Dr. Who calls them “Kidney-Donation Devices,” I said Hell, YES!

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Git Er Done!!!

We all met up at 7am Saturday morning and drove out to Logandale, this little redneck town north of Vegas where the tours start out. The owner of the company had rounded up about 12 people altogether to be in this commercial, which was an unpaid gig but you got a free box lunch and a free ATV ride out of it, so I guess he had no problem finding volunteers. Anyway, they strapped us all in and then one of his tour guides led us on a 28-mile course through the desert, starting in Logandale and then winding through the astonishingly beautiful Valley of Fire. It was BREATHTAKING!

The only downside was that it was hotter than the devil’s taint that day, and we kept having to stop and idle in the broiling desert sun while they set up camera shots and stuff…so by the time we reached the halfway mark, everyone was hot and sweaty and kinda grouchy. So we stopped in the shade for lunch, and then headed back out after a little break to finish the course.

This time, this young dude led the pack, and he was going a little faster than the tour guide had been. In trying to keep up with him, one of my tires hit a rock, and my ATV ran off the trail and down a fairly steep embankment! I tried to crank the wheel hard to the left to get back on the trail, but I spun out and my ATV tipped over and crashed on its side. I was only going about 15 mph, but it still knocked the wind out of me!

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Tell my wife I love her……

Well, everyone got out and ran over like “OMG are you OK?!?!?!” And I was; they really had us strapped in there good, with NASCAR-type harnesses and helmets and everything…but I was still shaken up, especially because everyone was in my face going “OMG OMG OMG!” So I unharnessed myself and extricated myself from the ATV, standing on trembling legs to prove that I was OK — and I even tried to make a joke about it, to sort of defuse the tension: “Well, I hope they at least got some good footage of that wipeout!” LOL, haha.

Everyone sort of laughed nervously, and just then is when the owner came roaring up on his dune buggy. I guess he saw us all standing around his brand-new busted up ATV laughing, and he freaked out! “THAT’S AN $8,000 RIG YER LAUGHING AT!!!!! THAT’S $500 WORTH OF DAMAGE!!! WHO’S GONNA PAY FOR THAT!?!?!?!?! IT’S NOT A JOKE!!!!!”

Whoa! We all calmed down right away, and I felt terrible  — I mean, I certainly didn’t wreck the rig on purpose! I wasn’t even razzing around all crazy, just following the trail behind the guy in front of me! But this man was beyond irate, and just kept yelling relentlessly at me, making me feel like a total dumbass.

My first reaction was to start crying, but I didn’t want to be a pussy, so instead of crying I did something very stupid — I yelled back at him: “I didn’t do it on purpose!! What do you want me to do — suck your dick?!?!?!?!”

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Ruh-roh……

Oooooooh! Now he was really pissed — you never heard someone scream at a woman like this man did at me, in front of about 12 other people who all just stood there looking at their feet, not saying a word in my defense. Listen, buddy — I’m doing this commercial for free, it’s hot as fuck, I’ve never ridden an ATV before, you gave me beyond minimal instruction…and now you’re mad at me because I scraped up your ATV? I do understand it was a brand new rig, but….guess what?! Breaking my NECK is way more expensive than $500!

This man screamed and screamed at me, calling me every name in the book and telling me he was gonna make me walk back (in 100-degree-plus weather, about 14 miles from town). So now I really did start crying — bawling my eyes out, actually — and finally the others stepped in and made us calm down. Realistically, I understand why he was upset — he was hot, and angry about other stuff, and I had just scraped the hell out of his brand new ATV and then sassed him in the most scandalous way imaginable. But, really??

Anyhoo, he ended up apologizing, and I accepted…but it kinda soured the day and I was actually kind of afraid — I’ve never been yelled at like that in my entire life, EVER. EVER! Even though I haven’t named any names here, I was still afraid to even blog about the whole thing…so if this guy does come after me demanding his $500, will you all please do me a favor and chip in 50 cents or $1 to my defense fund? In writing this, I decided that it’s actually worth $500 to me to tell this story. Thanks!!!

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More from Keri Pettit!

So aaaaaanyhoo, after we calmed down, we all got back on our ATVs and rode back to the ranch. I was still bawling my eyes out inside my helmet — I think more than anything, I felt humiliated and betrayed — by the fact that no one stepped in and had my back while I was being screamed at. But, I do understand why no one did — the guy was going BALLISTIC, and we were out in the middle of nowhere in 100-degree+ weather, and he was our only ticket back.

Once we got back, the owner apologized again and high-fived me, so I made good with him and to be honest, I probably would recommend his ATV tour packages to tourists — it’s a really fun, beautiful excursion that shows you the other side of the Vegas valley. Just be careful and don’t wreck one of his rigs!!!!!!!!!!!

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Jawohl!!!

After that, we got the hell out of there, back to the city, where I changed into a dirndl and headed over to the Hofbrauhaus for the annual Oktoberfest keg tapping with Siegfried & Roy. A friend had invited me as his dinner guest, so I forgot the tragedies of the day and stuffed myself on wienerschnitzel and whatnot while enjoying the spectacle of the Barons of Botox limping down the aisle, greeting their adoring public. Siegfried & Roy are still astonishingly popular in Vegas, and even though Roy can’t really move around too good since the tiger attack that almost killed him back in 2003, they still put on a good show for their adoring public — they were out there for hours posing for photos with fans! The best part was, Roy had on this fake lederhosen dickie-type thing, which I guess gave him the appearance of wearing lederhosen without the hassle of actually having to put his legs through pant holes. It was more of a leder-lanyard than anything, really. Awwww!

Anyhoo, I made merry at dinner but then went home and collapsed — I was exhausted!!! And my neck and shoulder were sore as fuck for a week afterward — the safety harness in that ATV worked really well, but I still bonked my head pretty hard. D’oh!!! Oh well…at least I still have both kidneys icon smile Rednecks and Foieffles

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Laying low
Photo by John G

After all that craziness, I decided I better lay low for awhile and maybe just help a friend, to right my karma or whatever. As it happened, my friend El Pulpo (the guy with all the kayaks, from my kayak adventure last April) needed a ride out to California, to look at a pickup truck. Some a**hole had stolen his beloved Tacoma from the street right in front of his house, and he’s been unemployed for quite a while, so he was having a hard time finding a new rig at the right price. He had his eye on one out in Corona, CA, so I agreed to drive him out there to look at it — a 4-hour drive, each way!

Now, this isn’t really that weird when you consider that we live in Vegas, which is basically like living on an island — it’s 4 hours in any direction to the nearest city of any reasonable size. The population base here in town is only around 1.5 million, which makes dating a bitch and buying a truck almost as difficult — so sometimes you just have to sack up and drive out to California, with its far bigger population base (and yes, I HAVE driven out there to meet up with a date…which didn’t work out, although the guy was a TOTAL badass who lived in a Zen cabin on a mountaintop farm in the middle of downtown L.A. [you read that entirely correctly, yes! It was amazing]).

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In glamorous Corona, CA

Aaaaanyhoo, I drove El Pulpo out to Corona, which is like a little redneck suburb in a sort of rednecky dirt-bikey part of SoCal called the Inland Empire, and these two squirrelly redneck dudes tried to sell him this old beater truck…which on craigslist was fine, but in person had all kinds of problems! On the drive over, they texted him: “Oh P.S. there is a few chips in the windshield,” but by then we were already halfway there….and when we got there, they weren’t chips at all but HUGE CRACKS! The whole fuckin’ windshield was basically shattered! Damn shady rednecks. You could tell my friend felt bad dragging me out all that way, but I didn’t want him to feel like he had to buy that truck, and so I told him. Thankfully, he agreed…so we drove back empty-handed. A total of 8 hours, just to be hoodwinked by rednecks! Those rednecks must have thought we were a couple of real rubes from the desert…little did they know, us Vegas people wrote the fuckin’ BOOK on hoodwinking!!!

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Fuck yeah I drink wine at the Hofbrauhaus! I HATE beer!

It was cool though, because my neck was still sore from the ATV crash and I didn’t mind sitting on my ass driving on the highway all day — plus, El Pulpo paid for gas and lunch, so we stopped at this Del Taco in Barstow which someone, somewhere told me once was like the fanciest Del Taco in the entire world. Supposedly, the Barstow Del Taco was the first one they ever opened, and it’s like a gourmet version — all fancy and shit. Well, I can’t for the life of me remember who told me that…but it is most certainly not true at all!!! It was a regular, ghetto-ass old Del Taco with shitty fake Mexican food…which, since I was PMSing, I beasted the fuck out on!!!! Ugh.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to sit around digesting that for long, because the very next day a visiting journalist friend from NYC was in town, and he invited me to come along with him to dinner at the steakhouse at the newly revamped SLS Hotel-Casino, which used to be the Sahara, but has since been de-themed and douchified by some corporate gang of poseurs from L.A. or Miami or some other doucheburg. Gone are the camels and mosaic tiles and Moroccan shtick, and in their place is a sort of poor-man’s Cosmopolitan — all exposed ductwork and edgy wacky artsiness at every turn. It was actually pretty nice, I’ll admit….but I liked the Sahara better!

Anyway, the steakhouse was even more astonishing. If you haven’t been to an upscale Vegas restaurant lately, let me fill you in — regular-ass old meat and potatoes and whatnot just don’t cut it anymore for the chi-chi crowd. These rich motherfuckers are bored as fuck, and to get them to eat food, it has to be like foie-gras cotton candy or a twee-as-fuck miniature bagel&lox ice cream cone. WTF!!!!! If a starving Honduran saw this shit, he wouldn’t know whether to laugh, cry — or sneak over the border during the dessert course, when all eyes were on the Kobe Beef Mousse and he could beeline it for Home Depot without causing a stir.

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A foieffle

The worst part of this meal was, in fact, the dessert — a 1%-er foodie abomination called the foieffle. You read that — the foieffle, as in, a foie-gras infused waffle, stuffed with peanut butter and honey and topped with julienned blanched almonds. Holy mother of irony!! Can you believe these rich motherfuckers!? Now, where I come from we use peanut butter to mask the foul taste of, oh, say, psilocybin mushrooms……so can you imagine the ignominy of force-feeding a fucking goose until its liver is about to blow, only to mask its flavor with fucking JIF?!?!?!?!?!?! There is really IS no God!!!!!

Worse than all that, though…was the fact that I sat there and lapped it all up like Eliza Doolittle on crack icon sad Rednecks and Foieffles Boo, me. Where are my principles?! In my defense, all I can say is, I was totally discombobulated from the amazing people watching in that restaurant. I tell you, you have NEVER seen a more astonishing array of wealthy weirdos and poseurs than in that place — or, I suppose, in any expensive new Vegas hotspot. The douchebags and poseurs all flock to those places, so an amazing show is to be expected! (If you’re curious and want to check this shit out in person, the place is aptly named BAZAAR MEAT, and José Andrés is the chef to blame. Bring your wallet!!!)

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Come ‘n’ get it

Well, I guess being around all those 1%-ers whetted my appetite for money…because I spent the next two days in garage sale hell, trying to unload some of my meager possessions on an unsuspecting public in the name of earning a buck or two. I cleaned out my costume room and my underwear drawer, my shoe rack and my kitchen cabinets, and ended up netting a whopping $125 for two days of backbreaking labor, sitting in my driveway drinking vodka grapefruit with my neighbor. SAD!!

But, at least I did get rid of a bunch of crap…so I’m kinda on my way to my ultimate goal of consolidating my current three bedrooms-full of crap into one, so I can recruit a second roommate and start raking in more rental income. (I currently have an office, a bedroom and a dressing room…three separate bedrooms, which I plan to squeeze into one!) I’m gone traveling most of the time anyway; might as well find another poor sap to shack up with my other roommate and my dog. Right?!

RIGHT! Because, as you know….I have a lot of traveling ahead of me. And I CAN’T WAIT!!!

See you when I get back!

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The Dong and the Disco Ball — Burning Man 2014

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That’s what’s up!

Longtime Burning Man vets often speak of having had one “bad Burn,” i.e., the year they had a shitty time at Burning Man. It seems impossible to have a bad time at the Greatest Party on Earth, but it’s definitely possible — health, weather, mood and interpersonal drama can all impact one’s experience, turning a fabulous playcation into a shitty week of annoying, dusty hell.

Due to my many First-World Problems, I had been in a funk the first few weeks of August — shit just hadn’t been going my way, and I had a nagging suspicion that this was going to be my “bad Burn.” I tried to stay positive by burning sage and waving crystals around and whatnot…but the feeling just wouldn’t go away. Aside from already being in a funk, my usual group that I camp with had broken up…so I had agreed to form a sort of Playa Shelter for Unwanted Burners, made up from flotsam and jetsam I knew from various areas of my life…none of whom knew each other, and many of whom had never been to Burning Man before. Would this social experiment fail miserably? I had a feeling it would.

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C’s art car, the Soul Train

But ever the optimist/pragmatist, I packed up my shit anyway and headed up early. Burning Man officially starts the Sunday before Labor Day (Aug 24 this year), but for the past few years I’ve been going up early, to help a friend with his art car (you have to have a special pass to enter early, and basically prove you working on a project…not just going up early to party). This friend, C, is a professional puppeteer, and is usually booked for a gig somewhere on the Saturday before Burning Man starts…so he likes to go up early and assemble his art car on Thursday and Friday the week before, so he can fly out from Reno to do his gig, then return Sunday night with everything already set up and ready to go. I don’t mind going up early to help him, as it allows me to avoid traffic and also to grab a good spot for my camp, before everyone else gets there. And it’s not like I have to request time off from work or anything, lol.

Screen Shot 2014 09 07 at 2.46.23 PM 251x300 The Dong and the Disco Ball    Burning Man 2014It’s about 500 miles from Vegas to Black Rock City (the part of the desert north of Reno where Burning Man is held). The trip can easily be made in one day, but I usually break it into two — I can really only drive 55-60mph with my little trailer tires, and I like to get there during daylight so I can stake out a good spot for my camp. I usually stay overnight at a motel in Fallon, NV…but I’ve been broke lately, so I planned to camp out at Walker Lake instead. Walker Lake is this huuuuge lake in the middle of nowhere, near Hawthorne, NV, and it’s only $4 to camp there.

However, thunderstorms were in the forecast, so on my way up I pussed out and decided to get a room after all. There’s this creepy-ass old motel on the outskirts of Tonopah called the Clown Motel (!!), but when I checked hotels.com and orbitz, all that came up was this shitty casino in Hawthorne called El Capitan. So I booked a room there, for around $60.

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heading north through the wilds of Nevada

CAVEAT EMPTOR! I always assumed Orbitz and sites like that offered the best rates on rooms…but as I was driving up, I saw tons of motels with vacancies at $35/night — including the Clown Motel! D’OH!!! Worse, when I checked into the El Capitan, I saw they were only charging $35/night as well. But Orbitz tacked on some kind of bullshit commission, bringing my total up to $60. FUCK THAT! I’ll never book a room using Orbitz again!

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the hussy has landed

Anyway, I left Hawthorne and the miserable El Capitan the next morning, and arrived on the playa (as they call the dry lake bed upon which Burning Man is held) Wednesday evening. The weather was fine, although it had been raining the week before, so the playa surface was pretty soft and kinda beat up…which makes hammering in rebar stakes easier, but riding a bike difficult. I got to work setting up camp like a boss, reinforcing everything with rebar and guylines, so that nothing would get blown over in the often hurricane-force winds they get up there — especially early in the week, before most RVs arrive and there’s little to block the wind.

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panorama showing the loneliness of my camp, early in the week

My two colleagues from the Goddess Collective were also supposed to be camping with me — my friend C had gotten them early-arrival passes too, to assist with his car (it’s a big project, putting that thing together). But they had some kind of issues with the trailer they’d bought to stay in — neither of them were able to/wanted to tow it up themselves, so they had to scramble around last-minute to find someone to tow it up for them. As a result, they didn’t get up there til Saturday morning!!

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my camp

hate when you vouch for someone and they make you look lame. Getting an early-arrival pass, and then rolling in on Saturday after all the work is already done, is pretty fucking weak — typical Sparkle Pony behavior! (Sparkle Pony is what they call cute-but-useless girls on the playa.) But, as it happened, my friend C was burdened with a couple Sparkle Ponies of his own this year, and didn’t arrive until Friday night himself because of their b.s. So it worked out, but…WTF! He could have called me to let me know!! I basically sat around up there for two days with nothing to do (I ended up helping the Roller Disco camp set up their roller rink, since I was there anyway).

But really, all this Sparkle Pony shit is so old — am I really the only person with a vagina who has her shit together? To wit: my Goddess pals rolled in (well, the guy towing their camper rolled in, anyway) and after they parked the trailer, they wanted to hang up a tarp for shade. “Let’s find some men to help us,” said one of them, in a sexy little baby voice.

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rubber dongs make great rebar covers!

ENOUGH ALREADY! If you’ve read even one of my blogs, you know I ain’t down with that kind of pandering idiocy. It’s a fucking tarp; it takes two seconds to hang! Thankfully, I had all those dicks with me from my friend’s sex toy warehouse that went out of business last month. I was using some of them as rebar stake covers (last year I gouged my shin pretty badly on an uncovered rebar stake, so I’m careful to cover them now), but I also had a few extra strap-ons, which I immediately handed out to the girls: “It’s time to sack the fuck up, ladies. Put this on, and let’s hang this tarp ourselves!”

Wowwwww! It was like the Wizard of Oz, when it goes from black & white to color — we slipped into the boners, and the change was immediate. Before, we kinda tended to slouch over in a concave fashion to protect our tits and wombs or whatever. But once we put on the dicks, our posture totally changed: shoulders back, pelvises thrust out confidently. DICK POWER! We hung the tarp in no time, and decided to wear the strap-ons all week. We called our camp Chix With Dix, and I even made a sign.

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Chicks With Dicks

But alas, what started as an exercise in feminist self-reliance quickly devolved into slutty shenanigans: guys thought the dicks were funny and cute, and the strap-ons basically became meaningless flirtation devices. Ha ha hee hee, chicks with dicks, LOL!

Anyway, everything worked out great: the newly-badass Goddesses were able to help assemble my friend’s car after all, and we got it all done in time for Sunday night, when my sister finally rolled in. Laissez les bon temps roulez! 

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singing karaoke in the street

By this time, our camp had also grown to include one refugee from the Roller Disco camp — a guy with a bad-ass mobile karaoke rig on this crazy Filipino pedicab. He was the only guy among all us gals, and I don’t know how he handled it…but he made an excellent addition to the camp. He had an amazing sound system on his little pedicab, and thousands of songs in his karaoke book, and we spent many happy hours bawling karaoke in the street in front of our camp. It was a great way to engage passers-by! He even took it out on the open playa a few nights, just randomly finding singers among the drunk and high wanderers. Such a fun idea!

Screen Shot 2014 09 07 at 3.13.46 PM 244x300 The Dong and the Disco Ball    Burning Man 2014Now meanwhile, we happened to be camping in the part of Black Rock City known as the Gayborhood…because it’s where all the gay guys party (G street between 7:30-8:00). To that end, there was a giant, two-story purple satin penis in the plaza at the end of our street — you could climb up inside it and wave around these long white satin flags, like streams of jizz. I didn’t intend to camp in the gayboorhood — I just chose the closest spot I could find to where my friend C’s car was being assembled — but it certainly worked out well for us Chix With Dix…and we had a blast! The gay boys loved us, and I handed out a few more dongs as hospitality gifts. I’m telling you, that sex toy inventory really came in handy!

So pretty much the minute my sis rolled in, it was ON! I’ve always gone to Burning Man with my one sister, and we always have a good time together. She had barely arrived and started setting up her tent, and I was already feeding her mushrooms — so the minute she was done, we put fur coats on over our strap-ons (it was cold at night) and headed out to gorge ourselves on the psychedelic banquet that is Burning Man!

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Wonderhussy to the Infinite Power!

Now meanwhile, I was suffering a bit of personal discomfort: this was my 6th year at Burning Man, and every year thus far, I’d been lucky — I either got my period before the event, or after. But this year, it finally happened — my bitch-ass Aunt Flo decided to drop in right during Burning Man. Cramps! Anger!! Moodiness!!! Blood!!!! D’OH!!!!!!!!!

My period started Sunday afternoon, and I had two options: be miserable, or roll with it. Which do you think I did??! When life hands her lemons, Wonderhussy makes electric lemonade — before jamming in a tampon, I soaked that fucker in LSD, tied a disco ball to the end of the string, and partied my ass off!!!  (OK, I’m kidding about the LSD.)

It was really funny, actually; I’d be dancing, and people would compliment me on my big black rubber strap-on: “Oh hee hee ha ha, nice penis!”

“Thanks!” I would respond, adding, “Hey, do you want to see something really fucked up??”

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pic by Jonathan Goody

The answer invariably being a resounding “YES!!” I would then launch into my sad tale, pulling aside my dick and dropping my panties at the end to reveal the disco ball, twinkling merrily as it dangled at the end of the string: “There’s a party in my pants, and everyone’s invited!” LULZ! It was gross, but a nice way to cut thru the juvenile dick shtick, and really blow peoples’ minds. Even the guys were oddly fascinated by it — I expected them to be grossed out, but I had several men come up to me afterward and say how fucking awesome they thought the disco ball thing was. A real piece of feminist performance art, à la Annie Sprinkle! I had so much fun blowing people’s minds with that disco ball that for the first time EVER, I actually didn’t want my period to end! I milked that shtick to the max, wearing a tampon for a full extra day…which I would ordinarily never do. Super fucking fun!!

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at camp

So we partied late into the evening that first night, then snuggled up in our cozy beds to sleep in the next morning. A thunderstorm rolled in early Monday morning, and it was fantastic — since I was already set up, I just lay in bed listening to the raindrops on the roof of my camper, warm and cozy. The thunderclaps were a little scary, and I heard that lightning actually struck the playa in a few places…but I was safe and snug. We got up and erected some more shade/rain protection, laying down a carpet and hanging up drapes, and then spent the afternoon drinking hot cocoa with Bailey’s in our gussied-up digs. My sis and I know how to create a comfortable fucking camp — people came from miles around to hang out in our shady living room. Mostly it was just guys sniffing for puss, since there were so many half-naked chicks camping with us by the end of the week…but many of them did compliment us on our homey setup.

Meanwhile, however, the rain really fucked it up for the poor souls waiting to get in the gate — because the rain creates such thick mud, they actually shut down the event, and wouldn’t let anyone in for 24 hours! Some people were turned back to Reno, and others ended up waiting in their cars for up to 30 hours! Can you imagine?!

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At camp, with Tatiana

Anyway, it worked out fine for my sis and I, since we had to let our serotonin levels recuperate before going out and partying again. I try to wait a day or two between mushroom doses, just for that reason. So we just boozed and got baked, and when the rain stopped we rode our bikes around looking at art on the playa for a couple of days, until the rest of our campmates arrived. As mentioned, our camp was made up of flotsam and jetsam from different areas of my life — my hottie friend Tatiana from the Fargo Sisters came down from Alaska with her boyfriend, and my attorney and his stunningly beautiful E.R.-nurse wife came up with her gorgeous Russian girlfriend. When all was said and done, we had more half-naked pussy running around my camp than you see at most Vegas strip clubs!!! Jokes aside, though, it was definitely good to have an attorney and an E.R. nurse on hand. You never know!

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theinfintyboxes.com

We went balls-out for our first night out as a full camp. I ate some mushrooms, and after a little street karaoke, we all wandered off to enjoy the moveable feast, starting with this awesome snuff emporium right down the street, where you could try all kinds of different herbal snuffs. I snorted this one eucalyptus blend, to clear the playa schmutz from my sinuses, and then tried a patchouli blend that made me feel like Stevie Nicks had just crawled up my nose. Fun!! After the snuff, we stopped in at this amazing tent full of mirrored boxes called Infinity Boxes, and goofed around there for a good while taking cool photos. High people are so easily amused!

By then the shrooms were in full effect, and we wanted to dance!! So our friend with the mobile karaoke unit started blasting house music on his setup, and we all rolled down to the Roller Disco, turning the rink into our own far-out dance party! My friend drove his Filipino pedicab with the speakers on it right onto the rink, and it was fabulous! We all had on crazy costumes, and it was like a DeeLite video or something. Far out!!

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Marie Antoinette says: “Let them eat COCK!”

After awhile, we rolled the party along, off the rink and onto the playa, where we joined up with a dance party going on in the shadows of a giant pirate-ship art car. I was having an amazing time, dancing my ass off in my Marie Antoinette wig and black rubber strap-on (“Let them eat cock!”), when out of the corner of my eye I saw a strangely glowing white vehicle approach. It looked like one of those pioneer-days Conestoga wagons, only with colored lights coming from within, and some beatifically beaming men in robes standing around outside, exuding an aura of New Age Zen tranquility. Far out!!!

I went over and introduced myself, and it turns out this wasn’t any old mutant vehicleit was a BE-hicle called the Grokit-ship — as in, “to grok” from Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.” How appropriate! The crew of this Grokit-ship was a far-out band of New Agers who run a sort of wellness center in the Santa Cruz Mountains called the “Be & BeWell” — a priestess-like Wise-Woman, her charismatic husband, and a white-bearded captain — and they invited us to come aboard and set sail with them as they roamed the playa, looking for a good spot to play “The Game.”

Game? Ooh, I love games! A bunch of us climbed aboard, and the Grokitship set sail…leaving the oonce-oonce-oonce of the dance party far behind, in a mystical quest for deeper understanding. You can’t just play The Game anywhere, you see — you need a nice quiet spot, away from the shroom-addled furries and their incessant house music. Some artist had installed a real, functioning observatory out somewhere in the Deep Playa (what they call the farthest reaches of the desert where Burning Man is held, way out beyond Black Rock City, where it’s only sand and dust and scattered art installations — in other words, my favorite place), and that’s where we were headed. The only problem was, no one knew exactly where the observatory was…so we drove around in circles for quite a while looking for it.

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Inside the Grokitship

Meanwhile, inside the Grokitship it was warm and cozy. The back section was a lounge area, a big flatbed trailer full of cushions and colored lights, where an assortment of young Russian and Estonian truthseekers were snuggled up under the white covered-wagon roof. Moreover, at the time I met up with the Grokitship, there were no less than three women named Sarah Jane on board! What are the odds?!  Destiny!!!

Round portholes had been cut into the sides of the wagon cover, so you could peek out at the playa passing…but the holes could be plugged with giant white inflatable balls, if you wanted to block out the world. The front part of the Behicle was some kind of heavy-duty pickup truck — the captain’s personal sleeping nest was in the truckbed, and a little stepladder led up to a platform on top of the truck cab that held a second, smaller lounging/snuggling area…and a sensory deprivation tank!!!!!

Screen Shot 2014 09 08 at 4.32.49 PM 230x300 The Dong and the Disco Ball    Burning Man 2014If you’ve never heard of them, sensory deprivation tanks are basically coffin-esque pods full of saline water, where you float in perfect silence and darkness. They are said to recreate the experience of being in the womb, or floating in Outer Space — you lose all sense of time and space, and floating in one is said to be a real life-altering experience. It’s been on my bucket list for quite some time, but the only place in Vegas that has one is at some random guy’s house, and I haven’t gotten around to checking it out yet.

Well, here was my chance! The only difference here was that the pod was full of cushions, not water…and it was a sensory EXALTATION tank, not a sensory deprivation tank (they do, however, have the real thing at the Be & BeWell). You got in, and then they gave you these weird headphones and goggles to wear. The goggles flashed all kinds of bright, colorful light patterns, and the goggles played weird pulses and tones, sort of like brainwave entrainment. The idea was to lie there and listen to the whole 15-minute track, keeping your eyes mostly closed to only let a little of the light patterns in. By the end of the session, you’d be regenerated and refreshed. FAR OUT!

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the grokit-ship Be-hicle

I climbed right into that tank and went to town, letting the lights and sounds wash over me and rejuvenate my soul. It was great!! After the program ended, I climbed back down into the main lounge area, ready to play The Game. It seems they never were able to find that observatory, so they had settled on a quiet spot at the very farthest apex of Deep Playa, right out against the trash fence that marks the boundary of Burning Man. This orange plastic construction fence is there to collect any loose trash that blows away, but also to mark the point where the party ends and the real world begins. Cop cars patrol this pentagonal perimeter, as foolhardy souls often try to sneak in across the desert and get into Burning Man for free. To combat this, there are infrared sensors and shit set up — if you try to sneak in OR sneak out, they will get you!!

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overhead view of Black Rock City showing pentagonal trash fence boundary

So the Grokitship parked way the fuck out at the farthest point in this fence, around 12:00…probably the quietest spot on the playa, perfect for playing The Game. By now it was around 3:30am and most of my campmates had bailed, but my sis and I were still aboard, along with the Estonian kids and a few other intrepid playa wanderers the Behicle had picked up along its journey. We were curious about this fucking Game!! But before we could begin, first we all had to get out and play with these giant stringed toys called Windsingers.

Windsingers are kind of like swords with long rubber bands stretched from hilt to tip on either side, and when you swing them around in the balmy playa night, the rubber bands vibrate and make a haunting humming sound. They had this one jumbo-sized Windsinger, the size of a medieval bastard sword, and it took two hands to swing that fucker around — but when you did, it made the most fabulous dove-cooing sound. So before starting The Game, we spent a good hour or so swinging Windsingers around in the night. They had us hold them all up to let the wind vibrate the strings, so we could listen to the breath/heartbeat/soul of the playa, and it was fabulous. And finally, when we’d heard enough, it was time to climb back aboard the Grokitship and play The Game.

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The Game board
XtheGAME.com

The Game turned out to be this super complex sort of talk-therapy exercise with a billion different rules and cards, and this huge gameboard mat decorated with pictures of planets and galaxies and whatnot. You start out by announcing a personal intention, and then you basically talk, and draw cards, and talk some more, and then other people talk back, and draw more cards, and talk some more. It’s not exactly what you call fast-paced, and by the time we finally got started, not many people were left. The Grokitship crew vowed to play until sunrise (they don’t sleep; they just periodically recharge in the sensory exaltation tank), but by this time I was starting to get sleepy, so when the first glow of dawn appeared on the horizon, my sister and I bid the Be-hicle and its crew a fond farewell, and set off on our long, lonely journey alllllll the way back across the playa to our camp — a journey of around 2 miles.

Walking across the playa at dawn is a really curious experience — the sound camps out at the edges of the city are all still going strong, with pounding psytrance and shit blasting away into the cold morning air, and strung-out bedraggled partiers are still raving on, only by this time sort of like robots whose batteries are starting to die. Meanwhile, hippie-dippie early-riser types are already up and about, heading out to do sunrise yoga and greet the Sun Goddess at the Temple or whatever. It’s a weird scene, and one that to be honest I don’t enjoy being a part of, since it means I’m still awake at 6am and will be virtually useless for the rest of the day. But, sometimes it happens…and you just have to go with it! I finally crawled into bed around 7, to sleep as long as I could before it got too hot inside my camper (around 11am). So yeah, I was pretty hungover the next day.

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the Penetrator…so named because it was built to penetrate Deep Playa

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go very far for a hair o’ the dog — the Sunset Lounge was right down the street, and I had some friends camping there. I met these people last year, when they were camped across the street from us, and they had the most amazing art car called the Penetrator — a welded steel masterpiece with a bangin’ sound system and a fantastically cozy swing on the front. It’s one of the coolest designs for an art car I’ve seen on the playa, and we rode around on it quite a bit last year.

Anyway, we all became good friends, and I knew I had to go find them this year…because the one thing a car called the Penetrator needs more than anything, is a bevy of Chicks With Dicks go-go dancing on it!!! I knew they were camping at the Sunset Lounge, so I headed over to see if they were around.

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with the Playa Slumlord

When I arrived, I spotted the leader of the crew right away — this guy called the Playa Slumlord, so called because every year he rents out a ton of shitty old trailers for Burners to use. He stores them on a ranch up near Black Rock City all year, then hauls them out and sets them up for your use during the Burn — for a small fee, of course. Genius business model, check it out: playaslumlord.com. Anyway, he and his girlfriend and his car designer (who also happens to be a  toy designer for Mattel — how cool is THAT?!) and I all had a super happy reunion — I showed them my dick and my disco ball, and we had a laugh and a few mojitos, catching up on the latest playa news. Unfortunately the Penetrator was having mechanical problems, so we couldn’t go out on it yet…so we just hung out and partied at the Sunset Lounge…which was fine, because there was always something happening there!

The Sunset Lounge camp included a bunch of people from the porn industry — talent, crew, producers, etc. And not only was there abundant live pussy at the Lounge; they also had this creepy life-sized rubber fuck doll on a chair in the corner, as a sort of conversation piece. Apparently people want less conversation and more action, however…because by the end of the week, the poor thing was covered in dust, her twat jammed full of gummi worms and her head almost completely severed. YIKES! The scary subconscious truth beneath all that “love & light” hippie talk!!

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So THAT’S what it feels like

Anyway, being as I was wearing a penis, I had to try fucking the doll myself…just to see what it’s like. Interesting!! I plowed that doll good and hard — vaginally, anally and a titty-fucking for good measure. (Interesting, how wearing a phallus can really bring out the misogynist in a gal — she was asking for it!!!) But after being photographed and making everyone laugh, I felt pretty dirty and gross…and the tip of my strap-on smelled terrible. I think people were sticking more than just gummi worms in that poor thing.

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chatting with a kooky Burner veteran at the Sunset Lounge

Anyway, like I said the Sunset Lounge was always hopping, day and night. Any time at all you passed by, the place was full of interesting people hanging out in the shade, drinking and talking and letting it all hang out…so I spent quite a bit of time there. I met this one fascinating veteran Burner lady who had been going for ages, and who even gave Larry Harvey (the Burning Man founder) a ride up there once. She confided some cool inside info about him and how he really came up with the whole idea for the Man, but alas I am sworn to secrecy, so I can’t share it with you here. But other than that, she was just a fascinating person to talk to: an accordion player who busked her way around Europe and the West Coast, living in a schoolbus for 7 years and having all kinds of fabulous adventures. I love meeting people like that, especially women who are ballsy enough to do shit on their own and not sit around waiting for a man!! Kudos to you, sister!!

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Dr Who applying jewels to my tits… p.s. I let my armpit hair grow out astonishingly thick, and I still haven’t shaved!

But aside from all the porn people and the Burner Wise-Woman, the most interesting and fabulous person I met at the Sunset Lounge was this amazing doctor — we’ll call him Dr. Who. You know how you just hit it off immediately with some people? Well, that’s how it was for my sister and I and this doctor — for much of the rest of the week, we were practically inseparable; it was like Three’s Company! I don’t know what kind of masochist this poor motherfucker must be, but he somehow managed to stand being around us for extended periods…and it was great! Anyway, after meeting him and hitting it off, we arranged to go adventuring the following night, once our serotonin levels had repleted.

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biking around the playa

In the meantime, I was still pretty hungover, and too tired to do much of anything…even to put on makeup. My sister and I decided to ride our bikes over to Dr. Bronner’s FauxMirage — a big shower camp that trucks in thousands of gallons of water and Dr. Bronner’s soap, then provides mass showers for dirty Burners in this giant Plexiglas cage they set up in a dome. It’s a TRIP! They put you in the tank 20 at a time, then spray you with soapy water, and everyone rubs each other down and hoses off. Not having had a shower in over a week by this point, it sounded really good…but the line to get in was off the chain, around a half-mile long, and we didn’t feel like waiting that long. So we just kept riding around…and wouldn’t you know it, we ran into the Be-hicle again!

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Goddess Collective…ACTIVATE!
pic by MG Imagery

Now, there are somewhere around 70,000 people at Burning Man…so it’s really remarkable to run into the same people more than once. You can’t even find people when you specially go looking for them, most of the time — so it was actually kinda freaky that we ran into the Behicle again — kismet!! The crew was overjoyed to see us, and welcomed us aboard for another ride — they were supposedly headed out to some billionaires’ party, which sounded fun! This time we had our bikes with us, so if they ended up parking out in Deep Playa again, we could escape easier…but all they did this time was cruise out to some performance arts camp that was hosting a Vegas-style Cirque-type show, which I guess was full of billionaires but was kinda boring — if, like me, you are from Vegas and have seen every Cirque show ten times. We watched for a while, then cruised back to camp…but not before the Behicle crew told us about this amazing hot springs up near Truckee, which was supposedly a good place to decompress after the Burn. My sister and I decided to stop there for a day on our way out, to sort of ease our transition back into the Real World.

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an adorable Swede who hung out at our camp frequently

But in the meantime, we still had half of Burning Man to get through! The rest of the week passed in a sort of booze-and-drug-fueled haze: afternoons spent lounging in the shade at camp, interacting with the parade of dudes who came through sniffing for puss. I met guys (and gals) from Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Germany, Israel…all over the fuckin’ place! It’s amazing how international the crowd was this year — no wonder the event sold out; there’s only 70,000 tickets, and everyone wants to go!

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with Big T and my fellow Goddess Jill V

Meanwhile, I barely saw any of my Vegas friends the whole week — but then, I don’t really drive 500 miles to the middle of nowhere to hang with people I can see any time here in town. When I’m at Burning Man, I want to hang with my playa friends — the people I only see when I’m at Black Rock City! I’m thinking of you, Ed and the Emergence crew…and Geordie and Doug E. Fresh, and all the rest of you crazy fuckers at the Roller Disco! I spent a whole afternoon drinking bourbon in the shade with my Long Rider friends from the Roller Disco, Big T and Big Happy. Big Happy is a huge, tall black man with a deep rumbling voice, and he told an amazing story about how his family actually held an intervention for him one year, after seeing photos of him wearing his tutu at Burning Man!! They thought he was gay…when in reality, he’s just one big happy fuckin’ man in a tutu. Get over it!!!

Anyway, once my serotonin levels recovered, it was back out on the playa for more mushrooms and more fun. Speaking of which, it seemed that ketamine was the drug of choice on playa this year — it seemed to be everywhere. I even overheard this doctor who was camped behind us talking about it: “I use it on my patients all the time…I can’t wait to try it!!” (Lots of doctors come to Burning Man…and lawyers, and all kinds of professionals. You’d be surprised who you might run into out there, running around in a tutu with dilated pupils.) I did end up trying a little ketamine myself, and I have to say it was pretty fantastic. If you take too much, you fall into a K-hole and it’s date-rape central. But just the right amount is magical! Just be sure you’re dosed by someone knowledgable….like a doctor!

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with some guy from SlutGarden

Speaking of doctors, it was time for my sister and I to rendezvous with our new BFF Dr. Who. We headed over to his camp wearing matching “Clockwork Orange” type outfits, with strap-ons, picked him up at his RV, and headed out into the wilds to explore the night. We rode a few art cars and danced for awhile, then rode this little Ferris wheel some enterprising Burners had erected à la the Electric Daisy Carnival. Fabulous! I didn’t want to ride it at first because a) the line was really long, and b) do I really trust a bunch of coked-up Burner carnies to properly bolt together a Ferris wheel?? But Dr. Who talked us into it, and it was magical. Being at the top, with all of Burning Man spread out below, was truly awesome.

After the Ferris wheel we went over to the SlutGarden camp to dance. They had these platforms for shadow dancers — I’m not sure if it was the case there, but apparently at some camps they actually pay go-go dancers to come in and work for the week (with these millionaire “turn-key” camps, apparently lots of people are getting paid to come to Burning Man these days. Hmmm). Well, they let my sister and I get up and dance in their shadow boxes — basically, you dance in this little cubbyhole, and only your silhouette shows. Since we were wearing the strap-ons, it made for some bad ass silhouettes!

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lolz

After dancing there for around 5 hours, we were starving…where to go at 4am when you’re hungry on the playa? Camp Miso Horny, where they ladle out delicious steaming hot bowls of miso soup all night long! After guzzling soup, we headed back toward our own camp, stopping to drop off Dr. Who at his RV along the way. He invited us in for a nightcap, then remembered he had this amazing burrito waiting for us, from when he’d made dinner earlier in the day. OMG! That burrito was manna from heaven — I’ve never tasted anything quite so amazing! Not only was it 4:30am and I was cold, tired and starving…I had also been subsisting on beef jerky and peanut butter all week! That Dr. Who was a real lifesaver. We sat in his cozy, comfy RV eating and drinking until just before sunrise, when we skittered home like cockroaches to hide from the sun.

So the cycle of party-hangover-party-hangover continued, but I fucked up on the timing so that when the big Saturday night burning of the man happened, we were on a downswing — hungover. I’m not really a big fan of the Man burn anyway — it’s just a bunch of high idiots hooting and hollering over a giant bonfire, like some kind of tribal frat kegger. So we spent the evening avoiding it. First, we rode out to the Temple, so that I could stash my 2014 Summer Adventure hat inside to be burned.

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this year’s temple

You remember my Summer Adventure Hat — the straw cowboy hat I wore around all summer, from Mexico to Canada by way of Deep Creek and Harbin? I added mementoes to it everywhere I went, and now that the summer was coming to a close, I thought it would be fitting to burn it in the ceremonial temple fire. Every year, a crew builds a ginormous beautiful wooden Temple in the Deep Playa, and all week long people go inside and leave mementoes and notes to their departed loved ones — dead pets, relatives, lovers, failed relationships, etc. It’s a very emotional place, and I always enjoy going in there to read the messages.

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R.I.P. h.a.t.

Sometimes, however, the atmosphere in there gets a little sanctimonious…so earlier in the week, when I was still menstruating, I thought about going out to the temple, sitting on the ground, solemnly swinging open my legs, slowly pulling my tampon out of my vagina and using the bloody end of it to write “R.I.P. DAD” on the wall in endometrium….just to see the reaction of the others present. Call me a shit-stirrer, I guess….I thought it would have been hilarious. Alas, however…I pussed out, and only went to the temple once, to hang up my hat.

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man burning!

After that, my sis and I got baked and wandered around the crowd gathered around the burning Man. On burn night, something like 68,000 people all come out to the center of the playa to watch — it’s one of the greatest parties on the face of the Earth! Every art car drives out and blasts its sound system, so it’s a crazy fucking scene — lights and flames and music and high people packed a hundred deep in every direction. Since we were baked, we wandered through the crowds like ships passing silently through troubled waters, just observing everything through half-lidded eyes.

And then — who should we run into for the third time but the Grokitship!! Those crazy New Age space-sailors were getting ready to ride out to the trash fence again to play The Game, but we ran off before we could get sucked into their crazy wormhole…although we did all agree that it had to be fate that had us run into each other three times. First there were three Sarah Janes aboard, then we met them three times….what next?! I’m almost afraid to find out!

So, now the Man had been burned, and the party was basically over. Many people pack up and leave either directly after the Man burns, or the following morning…but my Goddess pals and I had committed to helping my friend C disassemble his art car, so we weren’t leaving til Tuesday. And besides, they burn the Temple on Sunday night…which was something we all wanted to experience. The Temple burn is much different than the Man burn — quieter, more spiritual and reflective. To that end…my sis and I planned to eat mushrooms one last time, and go out with a bang!

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the morning after

So the next day we rode out to inspect the ashes of the Man, and on the way we ran into the Funeral Procession for the Man — a New Orleans-style brass band funeral procession playing “Amazing Grace,” with people getting up to say a few words about the dearly departed Man. It was awesome, and would have been a nice way to wrap up the week’s shenanigans…if the week’s shenanigans were over! But we still had enough serotonin reserves for one more big blowout, before heading back to the miserable real world.

Around sundown, we took our last dose of hallucinogens, and headed out to see the Temple burn. Now, I’d been eating mushrooms all week, and the taste of them is so fucking foul that I really didn’t think I’d be able to stomach another night of them — this despite the fact that my source bakes them into little chocolate truffles. Honestly, the chocolate just makes it worse, so I usually have to choke them down with red wine and/or Goober Grape, or something equally overpowering. And even then, I sometimes feel mildly nauseous for a few hours after taking them! Well, tonight I planned to take a double dose, to make sure I got good and high. How would I ever manage to keep them down?!?

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with my friend Mario one night…he works at my favorite costume store, and is a good person to know!

Thankfully, I remembered Dr. Who advising me to take some Prilosec with them, to help with the nausea…so we stopped by his RV on our way out, to see if he had any: “Take two and call me in the morning,” LOL!

Well, wouldn’t you know it…that crazy motherfucker was home, and invited us to come in his RV for a drink before heading out. We sat down at his little dining table…and didn’t come out of there for five hours!!! We missed the entire Temple Burn, and pretty much the whole last night of Burning Man, spending the entire evening bullshitting with him in his RV. Summer 2014 Adventure Hat? What Summer 2014 Adventure Hat?!

I don’t know how to explain it; Dr. Who’s RV was like a time warp, or the Hotel California: you you can never leave! First of all, Dr. Who is a fascinating, well-traveled and well-educated man with the greatest stories ever. You could sit around listening to him all night, every night! My sis and I are fairly witty raconteuses ourselves, so between the three of us, our get-togethers usually ended up being all-nighters.

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Tom Bosley, a/k/a Mr Cunningham, teaching Richie Cunningham a life lesson

Secondly, my sis and I have both had an RV fetish for quite some time — we have long dreamed of traveling around the U.S.A. in a giant Class A RV, much like Dr. Who’s. We’ve had this dream since the late 1990s, at which time we decided we’d also need to hire someone to drive us around, so we could sit in the back in our jammies, eating sugary cereal and playing Connect Four. For some reason, we decided way back then that the ultimate person to drive our RV would be Tom Bosley, the actor who played Mr. Cunningham on “Happy Days” — he has this awesome avuncular quality, like the 1970s suburban dad we never had.

Well interestingly, Dr. Who has a sort of Tom Bosley quality himself (OK, more like Tom Bosley on acid)…and hanging with him in his RV was like making our RV dream come true! Sure, we weren’t actually going anywhere — the RV was just parked in the dust behind a camp full of empty booze bottles and a torn-up rubber fuck doll. But in our drug-addled minds, we were sailing the Seven fucking Seas!!! I’m here to tell you, the times I spent in that RV were among the most fun times I’ve ever had at Burning Man — astonishing, but true!

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best seat in the house, hands down!

As much fun as we were having in the RV, after five hours we decided we really ought to go out and see some of the playa for the last time, before it was all burned up or packed away. So we emerged from our warm, safe cocoon, and wonder of wonders — the Penetrator was up and running, and the porn kids were just about to take her out for a final spin around the playa!!! “I call the swing!!” my sister shrieked, running and jumping into the cozy cushioned cradle-like seat on the front end of the car. I jumped up next to her, and Dr. Who got in between. One of the friendly porn kids ran and got us these awesome cozy American Airlines blankies Dr. Who had “borrowed” on a flight once, and tucked us in nice and snug. Then the rest of the porn crazies jumped aboard behind us…and off we sailed.

The Penetrator cruised the dark, smoldering playa like a giant neon-lit shark, blasting ’70s soft rock as it prowled up and down the streets of the post-apocalyptic wreckage of Black Rock City at 5mph (the max allowed speed in BRC)– everywhere you looked, dusty, burned-out partiers were packing up, disassembling their toys and loading up their bikes into trailers and shipping containers for next year. Tons of people leave after the temple burns on Sunday night, so by the time of our voyage, half the city was already gone. It was like cruising around the ruins of Mogadishu — piles of rubbish and building materials everywhere, with smoke rising from fires all over the playa, and only a few shell-shocked-looking survivors milling about. They were totally fried and exhausted, but still mustered the strength to smile and wave when we passed by.

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another art car, earlier in the week

I’m sure plenty of people were already in bed, hoping to get up early and leave Monday morning…but the Penetrator cruised up and down every street, blasting soft rock into every quiet neighborhood, like, “WAKE UP! IT’S NOT OVER YET! DON’T LET IT END!” And a few wild-eyed die-hard partiers were still out there, and came running up to climb aboard and set sail for one final voyage before reality kicked back in.

We watched all of this go by at 5mph, cozy and snuggled up in the swing in all our furs and blankets with Dr. Who, the drugs gently fading away…simply a magical way to end the week. Elton John’s “Rocket Man” was playing, and it was just perfect: “And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time til touchdown brings me round again to find…” Of all the hokey fucking music to be cruising around the playa to, that 70s soft-rock playlist was perfect.

When the Penetrator returned to camp, we got the fuck out of there fast before Dr. Who could invite us in for a nightcap — I had to work the next day, helping my friend with his car and then breaking down my own camp. And I knew that if I set foot in that RV, I’d probably never leave!

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the last supper

So, the next day was like the day after Christmas — sad, letdown, cleaning up messes, fun’s over. Booooo! I spent all day in the sweltering sun helping C take apart his car, then helped my sis break down our own camp a bit. Dr. Who had invited us over for a potluck dinner his camp was having, to get rid of the rest of their food…so around dark, we rode our bikes down there to see what was happening. The potluck was already over, but he had saved us a plate of delicious food, which we paired with some champagne I’d brought to celebrate our last night on the playa. Yum!! And guess what…..we ended up hanging out in his damn RV for another few hours, until I finally broke the spell and left. But the party wasn’t over — Dr. Who had decided to join us at the hot springs near Truckee the following day.

So, Tuesday morning we got up, packed up camp, cleaned up every last bit of MOOP (Matter Out Of Place — what they call litter up there; they’re very hardcore about Leaving No Trace), peed in the nasty-ass port-a-potties one last time…and then left. Good-bye playa; see you next year!!

Because most people had already left, there was virtually no traffic, and we pretty much sailed across the desert and onto the pavement again. From there, it was only an hour and a half to Sierraville, tucked away at the edge of the Tahoe National Forest near Truckee. What a fantastic place!

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the lodge at Sierra Hot Springs

I’d always just gone straight home after Burning Man, but let me tell you — soaking at a hot spring with a bunch of other Burners is the way to decompress, and ease yourself back into the real world! Sierra Hot Springs is managed by the same people who run Harbin (from my tragic June blog), and it’s a beautiful facility, right on the edge of a beautiful alpine meadow, in a sort of pine forest. There’s a big old lodge in the center where you can hang out, check your email, play piano, play board games, read books, or just chill out by the fire…and then the surrounding woods are dotted with soaking pools.

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camping next to the Be-hicle crew’s awesome golden 1967 RV

After checking in, we cruised over to the camp area to find a spot…and wouldn’t you know it, there was the Be-hicle crew!! The Grokitship had broken down in Truckee, but they were spending a couple days out at Sierraville to relax before dealing with it and heading back to Santa Cruz…and when they saw us, they were overjoyed! DESTINY! We set up camp right beside them, and had a joyous reunion. The charismatic leader and his wise-woman wife invited us to come to the lodge later where they’d be playing The Game (!!), and then we went off to soak.

But first, to shower — the BEST part of the post Burning Man experience is taking a long, hot shower, and getting all of that fucking playa dust out of your hair. I keep my hair wrapped up in turbans and wigs while I’m up there (the alkaline dust is very drying), so it was a pretty gnarly mess when I finally took it down. There were only two showers at Sierra Hot Springs, and the line to use them was pretty long — it’s a common post-Burning-Man stop, and the place was jam-packed with dirty hippies. But it was so much fun just standing in line anticipating, listening to the groans of delight coming from within, that the wait passed quickly. Ahhhh, cleanliness really IS next to godliness!

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ahhhhhhhhhh…

After showering and soaking, our BFF Dr. Who rolled up in his RV and set up camp nearby, and joined us for a second soak. That water felt so good…but was admittedly filthy. No matter how many showers you take, there’s still a little playa grime left somewhere…and right after Burning Man is probably not the best time to come to Sierra, for optimal water clarity. Still, it was pretty sweet — they have three main pools: a meditation pool out in the woods, plus a lukewarm social pool near the showers and the super-hot, silent Temple Dome pool inside a geodesic dome. There are cold plunge baths inside the dome as well, so you can do the cold-hot rotation, like I’d done at Harbin.

The only bummer was, we three like to talk, and silence was encouraged or mandated at all the pools except the social one. So after awhile, we dried off and went over to the lodge for dinner — they have this super commune-y type cafeteria called the Philosophy Cafe that serves one healthy hippie-type dish every night, and you either order the meat or vegetarian option. For around $12 you got a huge plate of delicious hippie dippie food — grains and lentils and whatnot — and we took our food outside to sit on the lawn and eat in the balmy night air, with all the other hippies. It was just like being at a commune — far out!

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soaking

After dinner (and a magic brownie for me), we sat and watched this amazing fire dancing performance, with crazy white kids dancing around in tribal masks, drumming and shit. And then we all crashed out pretty early, since we were all exhausted and I had to get up early to pack up and drive home to Vegas. But first…we stopped in the RV for a quick nightcap, and you know what happens when you enter that RV — before you know it, Dr. Who had convinced us to stay another night. Well, why not — I can postpone returning to the steaming shitpile that is Vegas one more day, right??

So the next morning I got up and made coffee, and sat there in the woods chatting with the Grokitship crew. Meanwhile, another RV had pulled in, and it was this photographer I recognized from Santa Cruz — a real doozy of a New Age perv. I had shot with him in Santa Cruz back in 2009, and during the shoot he’d mentioned that my legs were ashy, and needed lotion — which he of course would be happy to apply. So he lotioned up my legs, and thighs, and started telling me about how he’s a tantric massage therapist, with a specialty in sports injury. Well, at the time, I had a pulled muscle in my groin…which I stupidly told him about, because now he started massaging my groin, all the while babbling on to me about the seven chakras, and how the most sacred of all the chakras is the yoni — a/k/a the vagina, which he then started to massage as well!! He even put his face into my yoni, commenting “Now, just tell me if any of this makes you uncomfortable!”

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the pics came out great, so I guess the yoni massage is forgiven

“I’m uncomfortable!!” I said, and to his credit, he stopped immediately, and we proceeded with the shoot and got some fabulous photos. But it was still weird, and it did irk me — especially because he was a total dick when I met him at Burning Man later that year (he photographed me and my sister, then refused to send me the pic unless I made a “donation”). Fuck you, ya fuckin’ pervert!

Anyhoo, that guy rolled up, and came over to say hi. Come to find out, he already knew the Grokitship crew, being as they’re both from Santa Cruz — small world! But he didn’t hang around. It was just me and the charismatic leader sitting there — he was wearing jammy pants with 8 balls on them, I had on one of my psychedelic caftans, and right then and there he asked me if I wanted to play a quick version of The Game, which he happened to have a mobile version of on his iPhone. “Sure!!!” I said, and so it was that I was introduced to the full wonders of The Game at long last.

Basically, it was a 30-minute talk therapy session, with me blathering on about what I wanted in life, and then picking cards and interpreting what they meant to me in relation to my intention. FUN! To be honest, I don’t really fuckin’ know what I want in life, and it was too early in the morning to think about it much…so I kinda ended up just telling him what he wanted to hear, although I did really try and make it meaningful. Either way, it seemed to work out OK.

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my bag of dicks

Then the Wise-Woman priestess came over and asked me if I could take out my bag of dicks and give a little demonstration about the variety in shapes and sizes of the human penis. It seems that she and her husband had lived a celibate life on an ashram for many years, spending all their time focusing on moving their sacred energy up from the yoni to the heart chakra. They had only just now left the ashram and started back in with the sex thing, so they were out of the loop and wanted to know what was up with dicks today — and I was more than happy to oblige!

I’d given many of my dongs away at Burning Man, but still had several left to illustrate my point — that these were all commercially available dongs, made in all sizes from the Li’l Chubby to the huge, floppy schlong. The fact that they were all commercially produced proves the point that there is a market for all sizes of penis, and in the words of the Wise Woman Priestess, “A vagina for every penis.” It was a very informative lecture, and for the second time in a week I felt a lot like Annie Sprinkle!

After that, the Grokitship crew people finally packed up and left, and we all hugged and promised to come visit them soon — I want to try the flotation tank at the Be & BeWell, dammit! I’m planning a trip out that way at the end of the month…so who knows??

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idyllic summer afternoon in Sierraville

After the Behicle people left, Dr. Who came over, and I put the dongs away so we could go for a morning soak in the meditation pool with my sister. Afterwards, I headed for the lodge to do some work on my laptop…and then the three of us all went for a bike ride, around the beautiful countryside outside the resort. That is a gorgeous part of the country, and that bike ride was straight

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at the rodeo grounds

out of Mayberry — we saddled up our Burning Man bikes and rode around the town of Sierraville, stopping to pick apples from a tree, and pet a horse, and poke around the cemetery and the rodeo grounds. I still can’t understand how a nice man like Dr. Who could handle being around two pessimistic cynics like my sis and I for that long, but somehow we all got along like a house afire, and had the best afternoon ever!

My sister was planning on leaving after

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biking

the bike ride, but we somehow wheedled her into staying another night —  we stopped off at this Mexican restaurant in town for a margarita or two, and got to talk-talk-talking again…and before you know it, she agreed to stay. Dr. Who announced he was making us coconut-lime squash soup for dinner, so we rode back to camp and climbed aboard the RV again. Ahhh….my happy place!

So after a fantastic dinner (that Dr. Who can really cook), much talk and a few glasses of wine, my sis fell asleep, and Dr. Who and I headed out to soak in the meditation pool in the moonlight. We were the only two people there at first, and it was truly magical — surrounded by the forest, with the croaking of frogs in the background. A few others joined in later, and I fell asleep, floating naked in the water with Dr. Who’s arm around me. Almost better than a floatation tank!!! And no, you pervs….Dr. Who did not molest or take advantage of me. He’s a class fucking act!

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that crazy Dr. Who. wearing a lampshade as a hat

But all good things must come to an end, and all magical spells are eventually broken — even the spell of Sierraville, and the spell of the RV. We finally went to bed, then got up in the morning, packed up camp, and went for a final soak. None of us wanted to leave at all, but I was facing an 8-hour drive back to Vegas, and knew I had to leave by noon-ish. Still, I dragged ass. After soaking, I even got back in the RV one last time, though I knew it was dangerous to do so.

Once in the RV, it was like being sucked back into a safe, cozy womb — a womb with rose-patterned upholstery, and cushy recliners with seat belts on them. Just like being at Grandma’s house — safe as milk! I wanted nothing more than to stay in that fucking RV forever — just keep traveling.

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why yes, I would LOVE to get baked and fly kites in this field!

Dr. Who made it even worse. It was breezy that day, and I commented that it would be cool to fly kites — to which he replied, “Oh, I have kites in the RV! Let’s go fly them in the meadow!” Shit!! I would have enjoyed nothing more than getting baked and flying kites in a field with Dr. Who and my sister, but somehow I resisted. “No, I really have to get home to Vegas.”

Then somehow the topic of Umpqua Hot Springs came up — the hot springs in the forest in Oregon that I went to last month. “Let’s go there now,” Dr. Who suggested, totally serious. ARRRRRGHHHH!!! Again, I would have enjoyed nothing so much as running off to Oregon in that fucking RV with my sister and Dr. Who….but again, somehow I resisted. It really was like trying to break a magical spell.

Finally, my sis stood up and said she had to go — and that did it. We all climbed down from the RV one last time, and that was that — I headed back to Vegas, my sis headed back to the Bay Area, and Dr. Who went back to Sacramento, where he planned to sell the RV. Boooo! My happy place, sold like a common whore icon sad The Dong and the Disco Ball    Burning Man 2014 I hope whoever buys her, treats her well. I had some happy times in that damn RV!

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I’ll be back! pic by Jonathan Goody

Anyway, it was around 3pm by the time I finally left…and boy was I sad to go. I got on the 95 and headed south back down through the desert, toward Vegas, and didn’t roll into my driveway til like 1am. I was exhausted…but happy. That was one of the best Burning Men ever for me personally; instead of just getting high and wearing silly costumes, I managed to meet some really cool people this time — and get high and wear silly costumes icon smile The Dong and the Disco Ball    Burning Man 2014 Win-win!

 

 

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Fighting Mr T, Probed By Plastic Surgeons, Wonder Valley Noise Disco…and a Bag of Dicks!

I’ve lived in Vegas 14 years now, and over that time I’ve gone through phases of loving it…and hating it. Well, right now I happen to be right in the middle of one of those times where I FUCKING LOATHE IT :/

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response to some right-winger’s meme

These periods of Loathing Las Vegas usually coincide with summer — a time of year when it is screaming, broiling, baking, unbearably soul-searingly hot and humid, due to the seasonal monsoonal thunderstorms that move in. It’s like 150 degrees, with 80% humidity — the whole city becomes one big rotting, steaming shitpile of tweekers, crackheads, alcoholics, assholes and douchebags. The omnipresent grit — which normally I find endearing — congeals into a sticky, sweaty, acrid grime that inexorably works its way in under your fingernails and down into the deepest crevices of your soul, causing (in my case) a deep existential malaise :/

Arrrrrrrrrrrgh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I left California at the beginning of the month, my initial plan was to do like I did when I came back from Mexico — come home just long enough to do laundry, wash my hair and pack new clothes…then get the fuck out of here in less than 24 hours, and go back to California until it was time for Burning Man. I figured I could rustle up a few gigs in the Bay Area, and at least stay cool in the forest and party in San Francisco, while also spending more time with my family.

Unfortunately, some nearsighted dipshit ran a stop sign, and put the kibosh to all my plans :/

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I went to the dark side…I’m typing this on a mac!!

That’s right, I had only been back in town a day or two, and was headed downtown to pick up a Burning Man ticket for my sister…when this dumbass blew right through a stop sign, right in front of me. I tried to brake in time, but ended up hitting the back corner of his shitty little Hyundai — crumpling my bumper in the process icon sad Fighting Mr T, Probed By Plastic Surgeons, Wonder Valley Noise Disco...and a Bag of Dicks! The ends of the bumper were bent, curled all the way back in towards my tires — so much so that I couldn’t even drive my beloved truck.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve been in a fender bender lately, but due to budget cuts, it’s real shitty the way it goes down anymore — the cops and paramedics show up, but only to ascertain that no one was hurt. They don’t write a report, they don’t issue a ticket (for RUNNING A STOP SIGN!!!), and they don’t take statements. It’s all up to you — in my case, all up to ME, since the other asshole’s car was driveable, and he was able to cruise off just fine.

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D’oh!!!

The first thing I did was call my insurance, to make sure I followed proper procedure — I know how these assholes are (I’m still reading that John Grisham book I got at the lending library at those Mexican hot springs, so believe me, I’m well-informed), and I wanted to make double sure I did everything by the book. So while I’m wading thru automated hell — “Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that–” the cops are on my ass, telling me I need to move my truck out of the intersection PRONTO! Meanwhile, I’m also trying to take photos of the scene, to prove I wasn’t at fault, and get the other driver’s info, and figure out what the fuck I’m gonna do…all at once. Add to that the fact that it was about 175 degrees outside and humid as fuck, and I’m not ashamed to say I broke down weeping. FUCK THIS TOWN!!!

Finally, I got through to my insurance, the cops were able to move my truck by letting air out of the tires, and I was assured that a tow truck was on its way. My friend DC works at a body shop, so I called him and told him I was coming…and then the cops left me sitting there bawling in the miserable nuclear heat, waiting for the tow truck. FUCK!

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And I had JUST turned my plates into unicorns :/

Anyway, to make a very long, boring story short, DC was a huge help to me, and basically took care of everything — once I got to his shop, he had a rental car place come pick me up, and I got a shitty little Hyundai of my very own to tootle around in til my truck was fixed. Couldn’t take long, right? I mean, it was just a crumpled bumper — easy peasy, no? Well, NOTHING is every easy when insurance is involved. Despite the fact that this was a pretty fucking clear-cut case of this other bozo running a stop sign, I had to wait about a week for his insurance to do an investigation — and until they admitted liability, DC couldn’t start working on my truck.

So meanwhile I’ve been driving this fuckin’ Hyundai since August 5, which will be paid for by the other guy’s insurance once they admit it was his fault…but if I wanted additional collision coverage on the rental, I had to pony up $13/day out of my own pocket. With the way my luck has been going lately, I figured I’d better get it — so now, through no fucking fault of my own, I’m out $208 just because some fucking idiot ran a stop sign in front of me.

ARRRRRGRHHHHHH!!!!!!!

I know, I know — First World Problems. I wasn’t hurt and at least I had a car to drive — but it just came at a really bad time! I NEED my truck at this time of year — prepping for Burning Man aside, I also wanted to spend this downtime shopping for a camper shell, which now I couldn’t do either.

Even worse, a couple days later a friend called me, saying his sex toy warehouse was going out of business, and could I please come over and take as much of his inventory as possible with me?!?! FUCK!!! Of all the times not to have a truck!!!!!

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Holy Dildo, Batman!

As it was, I raced over there in my shitty little rental and filled two giant Hefty bags with fucked-up shit — I’m not a big sex toy user, but I did need some rubber dongs for this performance art piece I was doing the following weekend, so I took this guy for every dong he had — strap ons, buttplugs, vibrators, dildos — plus a bunch of other fucked up stuff like nipple clamps, bondage tape, rubber sheets and even a pocket pussy for good measure.

While I’m going through my friend’s boxes of inventory picking stuff out, he comes through: “You’re being too picky!! JUST TAKE IT ALL!” And I’m like, “I CAN’T!! I HAVE A HYUNDAI!!!!!!!”

Like I said, as it was I ended up dragging two huge overflowing Hefty bags out to the parking lot, and of course one of the bags split open and dongs fell out all over the sidewalk, only unfortunately there weren’t any schools or churches nearby — it was in an industrial part of town, so no one freaked out icon sad Fighting Mr T, Probed By Plastic Surgeons, Wonder Valley Noise Disco...and a Bag of Dicks! I told you I’ve been having shitty luck, LOL!

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taste the rainbow!

Anyhoo, I went home and took all the dongs out of their packaging and lined them up on the counter, just to cheer myself up. It was like the Baskin-Robbins of dongs…and it did bring a smile to my face, however briefly. Then I threw all the packaging materials into my recycle bin…and boy would I have loved to see the garbageman’s face when he picked up THAT recycle bin!!!

So anyway, dongs or no, now I was really stuck in Vegas, until my truck was fixed. Trapped!!!! It was like the old CCR song, “Oh Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again…” only 100x worse. Not only was it hot and humid, but my roommate had broken my coffee pot, so I was stuck drinking instant shit until the replacement arrived in the mail…and then on top of it all, I lost my favorite skull bracelet at the gym icon sad Fighting Mr T, Probed By Plastic Surgeons, Wonder Valley Noise Disco...and a Bag of Dicks! I wore that fucker all up and down the coast from Mexico to Canada, but only Vegas could kill it, apparently. Just like my truck :/

So, since I was stuck in town, I figured might as well make the most of it. I worked out a lot, hitting the gym as often as possible, and also figured I might as well try to make a few bucks while I was at it. Random-ass gigs usually find their way to me…but wouldn’t you fuckin’ know it, the only calls I got were for stuff in the Bay Area!!! Work around Vegas had seemingly dried the fuck up!

Oh well, not a problem — I’m resourceful; I’ll just put on a costume and go busking down on Fremont Street and make some cash money! You may recall last time I did that I made $200 in 3 hours, so I figured I’d go out every night I was in Vegas and make what I could, to sock away some cash before I went to Burning Man. After all, I SHOULD have been in Sturgis that very same week, raking it in at the Knuckle Saloon…but like I said last time, the manager out there didn’t want to hire us back, because this one bartender didn’t get along with the other girl I went with, and talked shit about both of us to him icon sad Fighting Mr T, Probed By Plastic Surgeons, Wonder Valley Noise Disco...and a Bag of Dicks!

ARRRRRGHHHHH!!!!!!

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Zut alors :(

OK, so anyway, back to busking. The first Saturday night I was back in town, I got all dressed up in this slutty Marie Antoinette costume — I normally busk in my marijuana showgirl outfit, but figured I’d try something new, since when I used to work at the Act, people went APE SHIT over that Marie Antoinette costume. I figured the Japanese would dig it, ya know? So with a powdered face and a towering wig and my ass hanging out f a pink lace thong, I mixed up a drink and headed down to Fremont to get rich…or die trying. And guess what, I really almost did die!

When I got down there, it was super crowded and crazier than usual — Saturday night, hot and humid and sweaty and scented with piss, booze and body odor. There are so many regulations on street performers down there now, they’re all basically forced to stand in one of three little areas — ghettoes, if you will. Since you can’t busk within 10 feet of a kiosk, 20 feet of a casino, 20 feet of a crosswalk or 200 feet of a stage when a performance is going on, all the performers have basically been corralled into these three little pockets of competitive misery and angst — and IT SUCKED!

At first I stood around near a friendly enough group of superheros and half-naked chicks wearing pasties and tiger stripes, but the naked chicks were getting all the action so I moved along to the next pocket, and hung out by “Robert DeNiro” and “Scarface,” who were so frosty toward me I almost forgot it was 183 degrees out that night. So then I spotted a less densely-packed area by “Mr. T” and “Rick James,” and went to stand over by them. And that’s when the shitstorm started!

“You cain’t stand here,” Mr. T announced, swaggering over to me in a threatening manner. “This our spot.”

“What do you mean? There’s no reserving spots…I know the law, I wrote an article about this shit for City Life back in the day!”

Oooh, now Mr. T was pissed: “Whatchu talkin’ bout?!!! THIS OUR SPOT! I’ll call security right now; they’ll tell your ass what’s up!”

Now his buddy Rick James was eyeing me ruefully — I think he remembered me from when I interviewed him for that City Life article, and no doubt remembered how sympathetic and fair I’d been in my coverage of his pathetic-ass story. But he didn’t stand up for me — he just let Mr. T keep screaming at me. Well FUCK YOU, TOO, you fuckin’ loser! If anyone is interested, his real name is something like G.P. Entertainer, and he’s a total fucking spineless tool. If you see him down there, tell him I said Fuck You!

Anyway, I wasn’t about to back down, and now Mr. T was really pissed — he probably didn’t really want to call security, because if they got involved they’d probably kick us all out. But at this point I still harbored hopes of making a few bucks, so I decided it would be best if I did just move along to another spot — but as I walked off I made sure to flip him off, and I’m ashamed to say, even bent over and spread my asscheeks at him a bit (I was wearing two thongs, so it wasn’t as bad as it sounds): “Fuck youuuuuu!!!”

Oooh, now he was REALLY pissed! “FUCK YOU, YA STANKY-ASS HO!”

At this point, the existential malaise was seeping back in — I went to college, for chrissake — what the fuck was I doing fighting with Mr. T over some dumb busking turf?! I meandered around Fremont Street for a few more minutes, trying to salvage the night, but it was no use — I was terrified of all the other angry buskers, and the mean security, and I wasn’t sure where exactly I could stand, and I was getting swampass from wearing that giant wig and stuff in the hot weather….and it was basically just a nightmare. One of the other friendly buskers told me I would do better down in front of the Bellagio in that outfit — “You’re too classy for downtown!” so I even drove all the way over to the Strip, and parked in the shadow of that dumbass new Ferris Wheel, and walked around scoping out the buskers in that part of town….but I just wasn’t feeling it, and eventually I gave up and went home…now more depressed than ever. I made $5 all night, from some Japanese ladies (see??)…BUSKFAIL! You know you’re pathetic when you even fail at busking.

So after that debacle, I swore off busking for good — fuck that loser-ass shit. Not to worry, though — like I said, random gigs have a way of finding me; all I had to do was sit back and wait for some to come in. Alas, however…..the only gigs that came my way were few and far between, and didn’t pay very well, for the most part. Fortunately for this blog, however…at least they were exceptionally interesting!

First, I was hired to perform as my male alter ego, Johnny Areola, at a drag king show they were having for Lesbian Night at this bar downtown, the Lady Silvia. Yes, I was actually paid (a nominal sum, to be sure…but paid nevertheless)…so I guess that makes me a professional drag king now, LOL!

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which dong for Johnny?

Anyhoo, that’s why I was hoarding all those dongs earlier in the week — I wanted to be well-equipped as Johnny Areola come the show! I picked out the biggest one that would fit in my jeans, and wore that all night…but then also stashed the biggest, most obscene one in my jacket pocket, so I could whip it out towards the end of my performance and freak everyone out!! Lulz!!!

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ding dong

It was awesome! I did George Michael’s “Faith” (my go-to number), and whipped out the surprise dong toward the end, during the guitar solo — which it was perfectly suited for, all jangly and dangly. The only bummer was, I didn’t make any tips — most of the other drag kings got dollar bills handed to them by overheated lesbians (there were a LOT of lesbians there) because their acts were more authentic — I think the lesbians knew I was just joking around, and wasn’t serious about the lifestyle. Oh, well!

Most of the other drag kings were frighteningly realistic looking — a couple

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the drag kings of Vegas

of cowboys, a reggae-type guy, an Asian androgyne — but then there was this one other amazing showman named Jeffrey Xerxes Brice who dressed up like Rick James (and was MUCH better than that dumbass fool G.P. Entertainer, I must say)….and she and I were definitely cut from the same cloth. She didn’t make any tips either — shocker. Come on lesbians — where’s your sense of humor?! Ehhh, it was all good….I did get paid, and I got a free drink as well, and had a few laffs. So it was all worth it!

Anyway, on to my other gigs. Another day, a friend hooked me up with a day gig scanning badges at a hacker convention at Mandalay Bay — OMFG!!! This was fascinating — all these hacker kids get together in Vegas every year to compare notes and hack each other and play World of Warcraft or whatever the fuck, I don’t know. Actually, it’s a two-part convention — I was working the “corporate” show, which was all antivirus companies and shit like that, trying to stop the hackers. But meanwhile, the real fun was over at the Rio, where the DEFCON show was going down.

I kept hearing about how crazy DEFCON was — you have to turn your phone to airplane mode or shut it down completely, or you’ll get hacked. You can’t use the ATMs, or you’ll get hacked. Hell, you can’t even use the elevators — they even hacked those one year, so they wouldn’t go to the right floors!!! Those fucking kids are too smart for their own good, I tell you.

Well, I knew I had to go check this shit out in person, so one night my friend Justin and I went over to see what was up. We didn’t have badges, but figured it would be fun to “hack” our way into a hacker convention — which we did, and it was actually super lame. It was basically just darkened ballrooms full of gamer kids hunched over laptops, pecking furiously away at incomprehensible numerical shit. WTF?!? Youth really is wasted on the young! But I guess it was kind of fun to see…in a bizarre way. Some of them were drunk and running around the casino in crazy hats, like kids all hopped up on Pixy Stix.

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my gigs took a turn for the seedy

Then my gigs took the usual turn toward the seedy — this is Vegas, after all. I got a text from an acquaintance who runs an event management company, and was helping facilitate some high roller’s crazy Vegas party in the Fantasy Suite up at the Palms Hotel. In addition to having strippers and prostitutes and burlesque girls shooting darts from their vaginae, the high roller also wanted to hire some topless chicks to hang out at the pool as atmosphere, at a rate of $100/hour…so I heaved a sigh and said “Sure, I’ll do it.” I felt pretty cheap, though — I mean, I have no problem being naked, but when it’s just to fulfill some rich d-bag’s sexist Vegas fantasy, it kind of loses its luster…ya know? Still, it was a 4-hour booking, and $400 is $400 — I can buy a lot of gas (and adventures) with that. So I suited up and went over, with one of the other Goddesses from the Goddess Collective in tow.

We were supposed to be there from 10pm-2am…but wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we got there they told us the guy had changed his mind, and we weren’t needed after all. D’OH!! Still, the guy who hired me paid us each a more than decent amount for our time, so I guess it was all good — I didn’t end up having to fulfill the d-bag’s fantasy after all, and still got paid. Hmmm.

Then a few days later, I got another call from the same porn production company I did that gig for as an extra back in April or whenever it was. This time, they were filming a movie about nut milking, and needed a female extra to play a massage therapist at a spa — no hanky panky, all I had to do was rub this one actress’s shoulders for a few minutes. So of course, I said yes.

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Still from my last porn appearance (back row, right)

It was mostly the same crew as the last movie I shot with them, but much smaller — the last one was the porn version of the Wolf of Wall Street, so there were tons of extras and big production values and whatnot, whereas this one was just a quickie about nut milking at a spa (apparently that’s a thing…a guy lays on a massage table with his balls and junk hanging through a hole, and a chick “milks” him from underneath the table).

The scene was being shot at a private residence in the suburbs that was currently listed for sale, which I found interesting; I know the seller has to disclose if any murders were committed or meth was cooked on the property…but do they have to disclose if a porn was filmed there? Anyhoo, the scenario was: this couple is relaxing at an upscale resort, but the wife is bored. She pees in the pool, then sees her ex-boyfriend come in with his new girl, and decides to milk him under the table while he’s getting massaged on top by the new girl — unbeknownst to the new girl, who keeps asking him to turn over so they can fuck — “no one will see us!!!” He ends up busting his nut all over the girl under the table, who emerges covered in jizz, to the shock and dismay of the girl up top — and chaos ensues. LOL!

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selfie from later that week, in the desert

Well, unfortunately for me, this time I didn’t get to witness any of the real action — my scene was just at the very beginning, after the wife pees in the pool. I’m just kneeling there massaging her shoulders in my white masseuse outfit, cool as a cucumber. The actress I was massaging was super cool, too — very friendly and straightforward. She told me she has three little kids she’s supporting on her own, and she was tiny  — like a little bird, no more than 90 pounds, and only about 26 years old. What a trip, that someone so fragile and delicate was in such a hardcore industry! I hope it all works out OK for her and her kids!

The best part of the shoot, just like last time, was the awesome director — this Gen X-er type guy in Morrissey glasses with the most fabulous straightforward manner: “Can I get a reflector on her vagina? Sweetness, roll up a towel and prop your vagina on it so I can get a better angle. Atta girl, there ya go.” That guy is one of my favorite people, EVER! Especially because he doesn’t fuck around, and gets shit done fast — I was done in under 3 hours.

Anyhoo, the last gig I did during this miserable period in my life was by far the most interesting…and in a way, the most depressing of them all. My Goddess Collective colleague from the topless pool party texted me one day to see if I could model for this group of plastic surgeons who were taking a sculpture class at an anatomy school, to gain a better understanding of the human body and how it should look. It was 9am on a Sunday morning, but wtf….I’m an atheist; I got nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than stand around naked being judged!

So I cruise over to this anatomy school, and would you believe it was right next door, in the very same strip mall, as my friend’s dildo warehouse where earlier that week I’d been dragging a bag of dicks thru the parking lot?! LOL….Vegas; what a small town.

Anyway, this gig consisted of standing on a pedestal in front of a room of plastic surgeons, nude except for a G-string, while the instructors pointed out various flaws on my body. Sobering! Actually, I’m being facetious — they were really nice, and kept reminding me how there was nothing wrong with my body; they were just using me as an example of what they would do, if someone came in wanting work done. Hmmm.

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me and my fellow Goddess, the skinny little bizzatch!

Now, these were top-of-the line doctors, mostly from Vegas (which is one of the plastic surgery capitals of the world) but also a few from around the country/world, and it was actually a really cool idea for them to take this sculpture class, to better understand the human body in its ideal form. They each had to sculpt their own little human figure out of clay, which is what my Goddess Collective colleague had been doing — she’d been working there all week, modeling for their sculptures (she is a teeny tiny little thing with a perfect body for that kind of shit — the exact body type most hags ask for when they go under the knife).

So overall, it was a really fun and interesting experience — first they all watched a slideshow about beauty norms, and then they had my friend and I both get up on pedestals in the font of the room, so they could compare our physiques. Arrrrrgh!! I always feel like a moose next to this little bitch!! One of the instructors, a professional sculptor who runs the school, took out these giant calipers and measured our dimensions and ratios and shit from navel to hip, etc…and shockingly, she and I had the same dimensions. She’s just so skinny, it looks different on her. Interesting!! All I can say is, during our break, we went out to the breakfast area and for the first time in my life, I was not tempted to eat a bagel or pastry or anything!!!!!!!!

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probed

After the break, my friend stepped down and it was all me — the other instructor, who is a plastic surgeon here in town, got out his blue grease pencil and started drawing lines all over my body, showing where he would make incisions and suck out fat and whatnot — in theory, of course (they all kept reminding me of that, telling me I had a great body. Hmmm). Then they had me lie down on a gurney, so they could see how those lines shifted when I was lying flat. I’m here to tell you, it was like one of those alien abduction videos — lying naked on a table, with a horde of plastic surgeons hovering overhead, staring at you. WEIRD!!!

But what was really weird was the feeling of being judged — these were all professionals, at the top of their field, so I know they were automatically sizing me up, figuring out how they could give me tits. None of them really said anything to that effect…but I guarantee that’s what they were thinking! They must have figured I was a broke-ass hack, saving my pennies for a tit job…when little did they know I have enough cheese to get FOUR sets of tits, like a cat…I just don’t want to! Now, I’m not saying I’m above getting plastic surgery — when the times comes, I will definitely buy some Botox…and if there were a procedure that could lengthen one’s legs about 6 inches, I would sign up in a flash. But tits…meh.

And the rest of it, I take care of the old-fashioned way — at the gym! In fact, after they let me go from that seminar, I headed straight over there for some weightlifting — without even washing off the blue pencil lines!!! The lines gave me something to strive for…ya know??! Like, if I did enough reps, eventually I would fit the pattern that society has cut for us! (It didn’t work, but I got a lot of strange looks…which was fun.)

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hiking at Mountain Springs

So, that gig was fun at the time…but I think it got to me on a subconscious level, because I was even more bummed out after that. I’m telling you, I just couldn’t shake this damn cloud of gloom that’s been following me around all month! I tried to do what I normally do when I’m in a funk — go over and get one of those magic spell-breaking candles they sell at the corner Magick Shoppe…but I think the place went out of business or something, because every time I went over there, it was closed icon sad Fighting Mr T, Probed By Plastic Surgeons, Wonder Valley Noise Disco...and a Bag of Dicks! So I made my own little altar at home, and said some words and made positive intentions and shit, and even gathered up some wild sage to burn while I was hiking last week near Mountain Springs (the only place cool enough to hike out here this time of year is the mountains)…..but even that damn hike was jinxed, as I slipped and fell and scraped the shit out of my knee icon sad Fighting Mr T, Probed By Plastic Surgeons, Wonder Valley Noise Disco...and a Bag of Dicks! I never fall while hiking!! So, I don’t know what the fuck is up.

Thankfully, I had one more gig lined up that was also a fabulous adventure, and it was pretty much the only thing I did lately that made me happy. My friends at the Palms Restaurant in Wonder Valley, CA (remote desert near Twentynine Palms, between Vegas and Palm Springs) were hosting an experimental noise disco festival in their backyard last Saturday, and they hired me to come out and go-go dance at it!

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far out!!!

Now, you know I’m a terrible dancer — I even got fired from the Act because of it! Well, this was experimental noise music — far out shit with weird tempos and strange noises and all kinds of dissonance and discordance and whatnot, so for once in my life I was GOLDEN!!!! They had this stage set up out back, with flashing lights and weird patterns playing on a projection screen, while three bands rotated sets: Phog Masheen (two amazing guys in lab coats playing fucked-up synthesizer noises and weird electronic trombone-type things), Alien Agenda (a live drummer and a guitarist/singer who played some super experimental beats) and then Hernia, this amazing couple in little cloth Dutch caps who screeched and howled and made weird noises into the mic, and I’m pretty sure the guy was playing his electric guitar with a vibrator!!! FAR OUT!!!!!

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Wonder Valley Space Disco Commence!!!

Anyway, all this crazy shit was going down in the open desert behind the Palms, and a decent amount of locals crawled out of their swamp-cooled caverns to check it out, even though it was still around 95 degrees at night. That place is even hotter than Vegas, I think!! But I had a blast — me and the other gogo dancer just went nuts, going with the flow and interpreting the music as it moved our bodies, and then at the end of the night, all three bands got on stage together and all played at once!!! Talk about far out — it was INSANE!!!

 

 

 

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Rusty Arrow Ranch

Now, the pay for this gig wasn’t very much — just about enough to cover my gas there and back, but it was TOTALLY worth the experience. Any excuse to visit Wonder Valley, even in mid-August! Plus, the woman who invited me hooked me up with the most fabulous little desert cabin to stay in, all to myself — the Rusty Arrow Ranch, right across the highway from the Palms. What a bad ass house that was — decorated all kooky with funky art and artifacts. I’d love to stay there again! It would be amazing in the winter — there’s a fireplace and a hot tub out back, and the stargazing out there is incredible!

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Rusty Arrow Ranch

On top of that, they also hooked me up with free drinks and free breakfast at the Palms, so all in all it was a fanTAStic trip! And what made it even moreso was, some random local guy messaged me on Facebook right before I went out there, inviting me to go rock climbing with him in Joshua Tree National Park the afternoon before the noise disco (we had a mutual friend in one of the Palms staff, is how he found me on Facebook). So since I’ve never been rock climbing before, and despite the fact that it was about 150 degrees out, I said SURE!

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whaaaaat?!?!?

So I drove out from Vegas that afternoon, dropped off my bags at the Rusty Arrow Ranch, and then met up with my rock climbing buddy at the Palms around 2:30…and we headed out to Joshua Tree. This guy turned out to be super cool — a retired schoolteacher who has lived to climb pretty much his whole life — only now, he has a family, so he doesn’t get out as much as he used to. But he still gets a thrill from showing others his passion, which is why he wanted to take me out for a climb.

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I put my life in this total stranger’s hands!

Out at Joshua Tree we met up with his other climbing buddy, this awesome musician who divides his time between playing in two badass bands, and teaching music at a local middle school. (There are a ton of artists and musicians out in that part of the country, because it’s so cheap to live, I guess.) Anyway, this kid also loves to climb, so between the two of them I was in good hands. They set me up with some gear, gave me a few pointers, and then I was on my way…crawling painstakingly up the sheer face of a giant cliff, in the blazing midafternoon desert sun. WTF was I thinking?!?!?!?!

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YIKES!

I’m one of those people who likes to try anything once, so it was a great experience for me in that respect. Plus, I’ve never considered myself really athletic or outdoorsy in that way — I’ve always been more the bookish, artsy type — so it was kind of reaffirming to my spirit to do something badass like rock climb. Ya know? But that being said, it was pretty hard….and definitely freaky, so I’m not sure if I’ll do it again. But my new rock climbing pals are planning to come up to Vegas to do some climbing later this year, and they already said they’re dragging me along. D’oh!!!!!

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I’m a bad ass

Anyway, either way you look at it, it was a really fun afternoon — I pushed my boundaries, got some fresh air and sunshine, and made some cool new friends. Then I went back to the Rusty Arrow Ranch, took a quick shower and nap, and then danced all night at the Noise Disco. Nothing but good times in Wonder Valley — my two rock climbing pals even showed up for the disco! But boy…was I ever exhausted after that!!!

Alas, I didn’t have much time to rest — the next morning, after a delicious veggie omelet at the Palms, I hauled ass back to Vegas because I had planned to audition for a game show that evening with some friends. Now, I can’t say too much about it because I probably signed some kind of non-disclosure agreement for it…but it’s a new show that basically tests your pop culture knowledge. The only downside to it is, you can’t go on alone — you have to have a partner (which means splitting the prize money…grrr). The potential prize is $20k, so that means if I get on, and if I win, I’m looking at about $8k after taxes, after splitting it with my partner (who, incidentally, is DC…the guy who’s working on my truck, and who I hiked Tikaboo Peak with. A super cool dude, for sure!).

But that’s a lot of “if”s — DC and I did ace the audition, and made it to the very final round, and they said we have a 98% chance of getting called to L.A. to be on the show for reals. So….stay tuned for that!! Dog knows, I sure could use $8k.

rocks1 300x225 Fighting Mr T, Probed By Plastic Surgeons, Wonder Valley Noise Disco...and a Bag of Dicks! So, aaaaaaanyhoo….writing all this down just now, it really does seem like I’ve had a lot of interesting adventures the past few weeks, so I don’t know why I’ve been so bummed. It just felt like a lot of the time, I was sitting around sweating my balls off, killing time til Burning Man — which makes me really bummed, as I hate to “kill” time; there’s little enough of it as it is, especially in my beloved summertime! Many times over the past weeks, I wished so hard I was camping at June Lake or Zion or the Lost Coast, or any of a thousand wonderful places…but I had no one to go with :-/ People are always saying they want to go on adventures with me, but they almost always end up flaking. I can’t tell you HOW MANY TIMES I was stood up the past few weeks :-/ I guess need to start sacking up and going alone.

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packing for Burning Man…Felix and his magic bag of dicks

So, with that in mind….I plan to drive to Burning Man tomorrow, and camp out alone halfway along the route, by Walker Lake. I’ve never camped solo before, so it would be a really character-building little adventure…plus it would break up the long-ass drive nicely. Of course I’d RATHER stay at the famously creepy Clown Motel in nearby Tonopah...but I haven’t been working much lately, so my budget does not, alas, allow for that luxury.

But even THAT fucking plan is being stymied — my truck STILL isn’t ready!! That damn idiot’s insurance FINALLY admitted liability last week, but for whatever reason the bumper won’t be fixed til tomorrow morning.  Which is cutting it kinda close… but I figured if I can at least get everything all packed up and ready to go, all I’ll have to do is pick up the truck, load ‘er up, hitch ‘er up and cruise on out.

BUT, OF COURSE my run of bad luck is still holding strong — when I went out to the garage this evening to try and get stuff ready, my fucking garage door opener is busted, and the damn door won’t even open. My roommate opens it 50 times a day to get his moped out and go to Circle K or whatever…but the one time I try to open it, it breaks. F U C K!!!!!!!

OK, OK, I know….First World Problems. I’ll deal with the damn door when I get back — meanwhile, barring further misfortune, first thing tomorrow I’ll just manually force open the fuckin’ door and push the damn trailer out…oh but wait, I forgot, I had taken the wheels off so I could get new tires for the trip, and I can’t put the wheels back on because my FUCKING TIRE IRON IS IN MY TRUCK….WHICH IS STILL IN THE SHOP!!!

So basically, I can’t do anything til I get my damn truck back.

ARRRRRGHHHHHH!!!!!!!

And meanwhile…I REALLY  hope my string of bad luck ends, soon. I’ve had a sinking suspicion this will end up being my “shitty” Burning Man year — everyone has one, but I never really have as of yet. Hopefully I’m wrong…but I’m not even sure my trailer will crank/stay open, so we’ll see. Eh, either way…I can sleep in a tent, and get shitfaced and high and forget all my troubles… until they all come crashing back down on me on Sept. 2nd :/

See you then!!!

P.S. Remember when that Japanese TV crew filmed me in my closet back in March?? Well, it finally aired…check it out!!

P.P.S. Also check out this awesome campaign ad I made for my run to become Miss Las Vegas Hempfest 2014! Vote for me….or the commies win!!

 

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I Need Your Help to Become Miss Las Vegas Hempfest!!!

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photos by Adam Sternberg, Shutterbug-Studio and some old porno poster

 

So they’re having this huge festival here in Vegas this October, the Las Vegas Hempfest…and of course, a cheesy contest to go along with it…to find Miss Las Vegas Hempfest.

Well, I submitted for it, and I would REALLY like to win! I mean, who better to represent the stoners of Vegas than moi?!

If you can spare 30sec., head to this link:

 http://www.lasvegashempfest.com/hempfest-girl-contest/

and vote for #67 (me).  I mean….look at the chick who’s currently in the lead!! Surely we can do better than this!!

Come on, guys!! I have a humdinger of a blog coming on Monday…but meanwhile I need your help with this!

Thanks!!

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Wonderhussy’s Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour

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Fooling around with Katlyn on the dry lake bed. Photo by Deep Exposure

A few years ago I met this bad ass art-nude model named Katlyn. She had an expressive face, an amazing super-artsy posing technique and an übergnarly briarpatch of a bush, but none of that was what was really amazing about her — she was only 20 years old, yet her modeling m.o. consisted of traveling from city to city, shooting with various photographers along the way to make money. She slept in her car or in hostels, thus keeping her road expenses to a minimum, and was able to make a good living while seeing a lot of the country at the same time. Fabulous!!

Come to find out, there’s a whole sisterhood of traveling models on Model Mayhem — many of whom travel pretty much full-time, booking trips to random cities and hitting up every local photographer in the area to find work as they go. It works out great for photographers, as they tend to get tired of the same old local gash, and this gives them the opportunity to work with someone new — especially guys who live in podunk towns without many serious models. If a model is hardcore enough to travel around booking shoots, odds are she’s pretty serious about work and will do a good job/not flake/not be a bitch. (There are always exceptions, of course.)

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Out in the desert with Jill V. Shot by Larry Hoth

Another example is my good friend from the Goddess Collective, Jill V. She splits her time between Vancouver B.C. and Vegas/Phoenix, but travels all over the place to shoot, and has been doing it for years. She’s pretty much used to sleeping on couches and living out of a suitcase — a true gypsy, which I admire greatly, as I am kinda high-strung and aspire to being more gypsy-like myself. I’m one of those people who likes to have my stuff with me, ya know? I have a long way to go :/

As a model in Vegas, I’m actually pretty lucky — even though all the local photogs are sick to death of my dumb ass, there’s always a fresh stream of guys coming into town for tradeshows or vacation or whatever, so I never really run out of new clients to shoot for. You’d think competition for bookings would be pretty stiff in Vegas, given the abundant local “talent…” but the truth is, there aren’t that many serious nude models, let alone art nude models, in Vegas. Women here are spoiled by the easy money that can be made elsewhere, and can’t be bothered to go through the trouble of getting up at 5am for a desert sunrise shoot, ya know? Also, most of the chicks here are heavily tattooed and/or have fake hair/tits/lips/whatever, so I get a lot of bookings based on my more-or-less natural appearance.

So while it’s fairly easy to sit back and wait for photographers to come to me, I always thought it would be fun to try out the life of a traveling model…and what better time to do so than summer, when it’s 115 degrees in Vegas and too hot to shoot outdoors anyway? So, I decided to take the plunge, and plan a modeling trip of my own…to the Pacific Northwest.

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from a shoot with Irisphoto at Rhyolite, in Death Valley

I chose the Pacific NW mainly because of my photographer friend Irisphoto, with whom I’ve shot a couple of times in Vegas, and who was always trying to talk me into visiting Seattle, where he lives, so we could shoot in the forest. Now, like most models I get cold really easy, so I asked him when was the hottest time of year in Seattle…and he said late July-August. At the time I planned my trip, I thought I’d be working Sturgis in August…so I booked the trip for mid-late July, hoping temperatures would be warm enough that I didn’t freeze my balls off.

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my route

Also at the time, my grandma was intending to have a family reunion at Lake Tahoe the weekend of July 25, so I planned out my trip in a big loop, starting in Vegas and ending up in the Tahoe area on the 25th. I figured to leave Vegas around July 5th, then head to the San Francisco Bay Area for a couple weeks to spend time with my family there, before heading on up to Seattle, then back down to Tahoe and then to Vegas again at the end of the month.

To secure gigs, I logged into Model Mayhem and posted what they call “travel notices,” to alert photographers in the cities I’d be passing thru to my availability: “Hey guys, traveling Wonderhussy on the loose! Who wants to shoot?” I posted notices in all the major towns along my route: Bakersfield (hey, you never know), San Jose/San Francisco, Medford OR, Portland OR, Seattle WA, Bend OR, and Reno/Tahoe NV. Then, I sat back and waited.

Now, legit traveling models are more proactive — they blast out direct messages to all the photographers in every city they’re visiting, and see who answers. But this being my first such trip, I was pretty passive, and just posted travel notices, waiting to see who was interested. Plenty of photographers regularly check the travel notices in their city, trawling for fresh meat so to speak, so I did end up getting a decent amount of interest, almost exclusively in the Seattle area. I ended up booking 7 shoots, most of them full or half-day bookings, so if all went well and no one flaked, I stood to make a decent amount of money — which was sorely needed, as both my cell phone and my laptop are on their last legs icon smile Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour

Now speaking of flaking, I hear from photographers all the time about how flaky models are, and how many of them either cancel last-minute, or don’t show up at all. Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s a two-way street — I’ve been stood up by a photographer or two in my day as well, and when you’re driving 1,000 miles for a shoot, you’re assuming quite a bit of risk…and it’s not like you can ask for a deposit (I’ve tried that before, and it just turns people off). So I just hoped for the best, and booked as many shoots as possible to compensate for any possible flakes. Also, my sister came along with me…so if worst came to worst, I could write the whole mess off as a profitless-yet-fun roadtrip.

Fortunately for me, I had very few flakes on the trip — really just a guy in Bakersfield, who cancelled because  of a scheduling conflict (but really I think he didn’t want his wife finding out he was shooting a nude model). But I had to pass through Bakersfield anyway, so it was no biggie — I just stopped there for dinner with my friend Dr. Zhivago, instead.

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my summer adventure hat is collecting quite an amount of shit!

Anyway, the breakdown ended up being: 1 shoot in the SF Bay Area, 0 in Medford, 0 in Portland, 4 in the Seattle area, 1 up near the San Juan Islands and 1 in Reno. (I did get an email from a guy in Bend, but he was only offering to pay $50 and it just wasn’t cost-effective.) As a bonus, my grandma’s family reunion in Tahoe ended up being cancelled, so I came back to the Bay Area after Reno, and booked 1 more shoot in ever-glamorous Petaluma, CA in the north bay. So really, it was a total of 8 shoots.

The total miles traveled was around 2,526….and that’s a lot of gas money!! My sis paid for a gas a couple of times, and we took turns paying for food…and I also tried to stay with friends or family when possible, to avoid the cost of motels. I even brought my camping gear, thinking to save cheese that way whenever possible. But it’s really hard to do your hair and makeup in a soggy, damp tent…so until I get a van, motels or friends are really the most feasible option as far as lodging goes. Anyway, I still came out ahead on the trip…although not by as much as I would have, if I’d had a van or RV :/

 

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clips4sale.com/natural-states

Anyhoo, I basically started out my modeling tour in the Bay Area. After the unfortunate events of my last blog, I headed down to the east bay to shoot for Natural States, this nudist website that videotapes you doing stuff naked, like painting and jogging and whatnot. We went up to this park in Walnut Creek and he filmed me hiking nude among the oaks…and guess what, that wasn’t the first time I’ve been naked in public in Walnut Creek! I was born there, at John Muir Memorial Hospital — delivered by a Dr. Kronik, no less!!!!! Lulz!!!!!

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Heading up through Mendocino County

That was my only shoot in the Bay Area, and on the 16th I departed Santa Rosa, CA, bound for Medford, OR, where my mother’s super-awesome cousin had offered to let us stay at her place for the night. Google Maps said it was around 6.5 hours to Medford…but that was if you took boring-ass I-5, which as everyone knows is one of the most boring freeways anywhere. So my sis and I decided to take scenic 101 up the coast instead…and while it took way longer, it was fabulously beautiful!! They call the Nor Cal coast up around Humboldt the “Lost Coast,” because most of the population has deserted it due to a shitty economy…so all that’s left are beautiful misty redwood forests hiding sporadic marijuana grow ops, with the occasional hippie and a few Bigfoot tourist attractions here and there. FABULOUS!!

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near Humboldt with Cy Cascade

Alas, however, we didn’t want to get to my mom’s cousin’s house too late, so we pretty much had to haul ass the entire way up, gawking at the gorgeous scenery as it flew past at 70mph icon sad Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour Our one pit stop was to get gas at this funky little outpost in Humboldt, a convenience store that sold all kinds of tourist shtick and pot-smuggling accessories, LOL. We met this super cool hippie biker there named Cy Cascade, and he put one of my Wonderhussy stickers on his bike and invited us to visit his camp at Burning Man. But then we had to get back on the road, and floor it through Eureka, Arcata and Crescent City…all of which I would have loved to have stopped and explored! Once I get a van or camper, the first fuckin’ thing I’m doing is go back and take my time through that area. It’s gorgeous!!!

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near Medford, OR

As it was, we rolled into Medford pretty late, so just barely had enough time to pick up some delicious foodie-type pizza and head over to my mom’s cousin’s house for a late-night dinner. This woman is so bad ass, and her backyard looked out onto the most beautiful pastureland, so we had a really good time staying over with her, and I thank her for her generous hospitality! She cracked open a bottle of really nice local wine for dinner, and gave me a little goddess face to add to my 2014 Summer Adventure Hat before we headed on our way up to Portland, our next stop.

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this coffee is AWESOME, and they only sell it up north!

Interestingly, I was unable to book any shoots in Portland (?!), so we only stopped there as a sort of layover. My recently footloose sis is considering moving there, so it was a good opportunity for her to check out the scene, so see if she could handle living among all those earnest white people. While in town, we stayed with my awesome tattoo artist ex-boyfriend, who had recently bought a huge house with plenty of room for not only me and my sis, but also his two roommates and these three mountain biking lesbians he’d met at Burning Man who were also in town. Talk about a fun group! My special favorite was his one roommate, this awesome 90% deaf gay man who collects jewelry to sell on eBay, and who gave me a beautiful silver bracelet as a token of his esteem. But everyone else was cool, too.

The lesbians were actually really interesting because two of them lived in a pickup truck, with which they towed a cargo trailer that, besides being used for mountain bike storage, had also been converted into a mobile kitchen — one of them was a legit chef, and cooked up a bomb-ass dinner for everyone one night. But aside from cooking, they lived in the truck, which was a monster 4X4 with a huge hi-top camper shell on the back — they had a system of storage drawers underneath their sleeping platform back there, and it was a pretty cozy setup. Hmmm!!

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my lil truck, flying off into the light!

Since I already have a bad-ass little truck, I’m thinking that maybe I should just put a camper shell on the bitch and call it a day, instead of getting a van. I hate to jinx myself, but my little ’05 Ranger made this whole trip like a fucking champ, and at 136,000 miles it’s still going strong. I’m only the second owner, and have put 100,000 of those miles on it myself, maintaining it religiously all the while…and have never had a problem with it other than a dead battery, so I’m guessing it has a LOT of life left in it. If I can get a high-top camper shell and a storage rack on top, I could probably go pretty far, in decent comfort. Something to think about!

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Freedom in Portland!!

Anyway, after the amazing trailer-cooked dinner, we all stayed up late drinking and talking, but one of the lesbians had to go back to Saipan in the morning (the one who didn’t live in the truck, obviously) so my sis and I spent the next day just roaming around Portland…which is one of the only cities in the U.S. where female toplessness (and nudity) is legal, as long as it is without the intent to arouse. Well, I didn’t intend to arouse anyone, so we both went topless…although I was too big a puss to do it in town, and only walked around this park, sunbathing and picking blackberries and whatnot. But still, it was a pretty liberating experience!

My hardcore series of back-to-back photo shoots was scheduled to begin the next day, so I went to bed early that night, while everyone else went to some no-holes-barred gross-sounding vegan strip club (a strip club that also happens to serve vegan food). Now believe me, my FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) was in overdrive, as I would have enjoyed nothing more than to visit a vegan strip club in Portland…but I hadn’t been sleeping well, and really needed some beauty rest, so I forced myself to go to bed in the the little basement bedroom we were staying in. But my sis reported back the next morning that the club had been truly disgusting, with women licking each other’s assholes and whatnot — apparently, Vegas strip clubs ain’t nothing compared to Portland! So I was pretty bummed that I had to miss seeing that.

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morning coffee in my travel mug

Moreover, I was especially bummed because I still hadn’t heard back from the photographer I was supposed to shoot with the next day. I had confirmed all my shoots about a week prior to the trip, but now this guy wasn’t responding to my emails asking what address I was going to. I emailed him the night before, and the morning of, just before leaving town — no answer!! If I missed out on that vegan strip club for nothing, BOY was I gonna be pissed!! But I headed up the I-5 toward Portland anyway, hoping he’d respond by the time I got to Kent, where he lived.

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yikes

I stopped at a rest area along the way and did my hair and makeup, at a picnic table near these two miserable-looking Bible-thumpers who were unsuccessfully attempting to proselytize to travelers, none of whom showed the slightest interest in their pamphlets. Maybe they were just there to save wayward teen prostitutes — apparently there’s a big problem with human trafficking up there, as this sign posted on the bathroom wall indicates. Yikes!!

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by Windstellar Photography

Anyway, my shoot was supposed to be at noon, and by 12:05 I still hadn’t heard from the guy, so I assumed he was flaking. I sent him one last email, including my phone number, and apparently that was the magic bullet because he finally texted me. Apparently there was some miscommunication, but whatever — we straightened it out, and had a fantastic shoot at his home studio…and I finally made some money! Up til that point I was pretty broke, so it was a huge relief to get some cash flowing again icon smile Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour

After my shoot wrapped, my long-suffering sis picked me up and we continued on up to Bellevue, where I was to be interviewed for this awesome documentary being made by another full-time traveling nude model named Kristy Rebel, all about the experience of being a traveling nude model. Alas, Kristy herself was out of town modeling (LOL), so I just interviewed on camera with her videographer…but it was a cool experience, and it sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting documentary. It also happens to have the greatest name ever: Bring Something Sexy. LOL…story of my life!!! Here’s the link…check it out!

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fighting off a cold, roadtrip-style

Anyway, I didn’t have much time to dick around because I had a photo shoot booked on Mt. Rainier the next morning at 5am!!!!!!! I was supposed to meet the photographer at this nearby campground, and my original intent was just to camp out there as well, so I’d at least save myself the drive time. But as mentioned previously, the thought of getting ready in a damp, dark tent sounded miserable, so I had gone ahead and booked a cheap(ish) motel room in nearby Enumclaw, WA…about 30 min away. So that meant I had to get up at 3am (!!!), and couldn’t really dilly-dally. I had a quick dinner at Chipotle, which is the greatest traveling model food ever — ubiquitous, cheap, healthy and awesome. I wish I’d eaten it more on my trip…but I didn’t want my poor sis to get more bored than she probably already was. Anyway, then I hauled ass out to Enumclaw.

Now, I was actually really excited to visit Enumclaw, as it’s a site of no little notoriety, being the location of a super-infamous horsefucking scandal about which I once watched a fascinating documentary! It seems there used to be a ranch out there where guys could go pay to be fucked up the ass by a stallion (!!!), until one time this Boeing exec got rammed too hard and started bleeding internally, and the other guys dumped him anonymously on the steps of the local hospital, where he died. A thorough search led animal cruelty investigators to discover the ranch, but when they went out there, they determined that there was no cruelty being inflicted on the animals, as they seemed to enjoy fucking the men! In fact, as the investigators pulled up to the ranch and spotted the main stallion grazing peacefully in a corral….next thing you know, a little pony came out of the barn, ran up to the stallion and started fellating him!!!!! I’m not making this up!!!!! If you don’t believe me, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enumclaw_horse_sex_case and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoo_(film). FAR FUCKING OUT!!!!

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Because I can!

Aaaaaanyhoo, I didn’t have time to look around for any horse-related shenanigans — I basically just checked in, got a drink at a local cocktail bar, and went to bed. But one thing I did make time for was smoking weed in public — it’s legal in Washington State!!! I hit my little glass travel pipe while walking down the sidewalk in broad daylight, and nobody batted an eyelash — the only people to approach me were two Mormon missionaries, who asked if there was anything they could do to help me. Being as I had a pipe full of weed in one hand and was on my way to a cocktail bar, I was able to respond “No” totally truthfully…although now that I think about it, I suppose I could have asked one of them to stand in for me the following morning at the damn 5am photo shoot. “If you really wanna help me, brother…….”

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WHY?

So, don’t ask me how, but I was somehow able to drag my ass up at 2:50am (I woke up before my alarm even went off) and get ready for this photo shoot. I usually go to bed later than that, LOL! My poor sis had to get up with me, as I had another shoot booked immediately after the first one, and she would have been stranded in Enumclaw without a car all day if she didn’t drop me off. So we both headed out in the predawn misty rainy darkness, me running late as usual, hauling ass along these winding mountain roads that felt like nothing so much as a David Lynch movie.

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by Taylor Maxwell
http://500px.com/itaylorm

But I made it to my shoot only a few minutes late, and the photographer turned out to be super cool — a true artist-type who likes to shoot at dawn because the light is like a giant softbox in all that gloomy mist up there. We drove way the fuck up some crazy logging road, deep into the forest, and the temperature dropped down into the 40s. Whenever we got to a spot he liked, he would have me jump out, pose for several minutes, then get back in the car to warm up. This went on for five hours!!!! It was astonishingly beautiful up there, but I’ve never been so cold and damp and miserable in my entire life!!! To make matters worse, at the end of the shoot he casually mentioned something about having heard Sasquatch up there one time — you know, Bigfoot!!!!! As in, the giant hairy beast-monster known to carry off women and mate with them!!! He was dead serious, too…YIKES!!!

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freezing my balls off on Mt Rainier

I didn’t have much time to worry about it, though, as I had to meet the photographer for my next shoot at the Chinook Pass by 10:30 — my ever-loving sis picked me up and drove me out there, and I spent the next 8 or 9 hours shooting with my friend Irisphoto. His plan had been to shoot on the mountain as well, but the whole area was so socked in with fog that we only shot for an hour or so, and did the rest of the shoot back at this house in a nearby suburb. WHEW!! It was much warmer there, and we had a pretty good time shooting in this awesome old railroad caboose he has on his property, as well as among the trees and vegetation on his extensive grounds. He even offered to let my sis and I stay overnight in his caboose, which has been totally remodeled and is really comfortable inside…but alas, I had already booked a room in town, and had arranged to meet another photographer there at 9am, so I had to decline.

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cruising up to Mt Rainier

So my sis and I checked into our next shitty motel, a Days Inn on a super-methy, prostitutey stretch of highway in Federal Way, and I basically just passed the fuck out and finally got some blessed sleep before getting up at the luxurious hour of 7am and doing it all over again. This time, the photographer wanted to shoot up on Mt. Rainier as well…but first he thought he’d make some use of my hotel room, since I had it anyway, and he could shoot some boudoir stuff. So my sis took off for the day to do some sightseeing, and I went down to the lobby and met up with the photographer.

Now, many (most) of the photographers I shoot with are real characters, but this guy really took the prize!! I ended up really liking him and enjoying his company, but he kinda started everything out in a super-weird manner: he came up to the room and started drilling me about my limitations — i.e. how much vagina I was willing to show in photos. Idk, I make it pretty fucking crystal-clear on my Model Mayhem bio, but he had all these weird clinical questions about my labia and whatnot, and it kinda took me aback! Plus he had me strip down and turn in a circle so he could see my body, which was unusual…and plus, did I mention he was a dead ringer for John Candy?!?!?! I didn’t know what to make of this fucker….but I eventually figured out that he was just nervous and kind of a hyperactive ADD-type, and as I said I really grew to enjoy his company, and had a really good time cruising around with him all day. But considering all the wacky characters I’ve shot with over the years, I am sorely tempted to do a one-woman monologue-style show about my modeling adventures, with me doing all the voices and impressions. Wouldn’t THAT be awesome?! I’m here to tell you, I’ve shot with some real DOOZIES!

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BRRRR!!!

After shooting in the room for awhile, we headed back up to Mt. Rainier…which, shockingly, was totally blue and sunny and gorgeous that day!! We were able to get quite a few nice locations in, including flowers and trees and rocks and cabins…and this one ice fucking cold waterfall that I actually got into. Man, I really suffer for art!

After that day, I was totally pooped and just met up with my sis at our next shitty motel, a Travelodge up in Everett. I was staying up north because my next day’s shoot was in Anacortes, out by the San Juan Islands — but Everett turned out to be a really cool little town in itself, with all kinds of fun, funky hipster bars and restaurants, so it was actually an interesting place to stay. We had dinner at this hipster-foodie Latin place called Sol Food, then pooped out early so we could get up in time to drive up north and do a little sightseeing before my shoot the next afternoon.

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I don’t want to come to your fuckin’ country anyway!!

Now remember, my sister and I had just been down in Baja California, Mexico a few weeks before all this — now that we were headed up to Anacortes, we had basically traversed the entire length of the West Coast, from the Mexican border to the Canadian! Since we were so close anyway, we decided it would be stupid not to drive all the way up to the Canadian border — even though I didn’t have my passport on me, and even though even if I did, those fuckers wouldn’t let me into their precious country on account of my DUI icon sad Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour

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Take THAT!

It’s true — you cannot enter Canada if you’ve had a criminal conviction, which I just found out a few weeks ago, and which really cheeses me off! Apparently if the conviction was over 5 years ago, you can pay the Canadian government some kind of fee (around $200, I think) and they can grant you special dispensation for entry — even Pres. George W. Bush had to do this as head of state, since he had a DUI back in the day! It seems those moosefucking commies up there really take shit seriously, and me and my ilk are personae non grata. Meanwhile, they have this whole bullshit park on the border dedicated to peace and brotherhood with the U.S., including these symbolic gates which may “never be closed.” HAH!!!

I didn’t waste too many tears on it though — I had to be at this Indian casino in Anacortes by 2pm, for my shoot with Fotosymfony. He had booked a pretty nice suite with some cool ultramodern decor, so for once I didn’t have to freeze my ass off, and was able to roll around nude and semi-nude in relative comfort, as my sis got sloshed at the bar downstairs. When I finished, my sis and I got back in the truck and hauled ass out of there — away from the the freezing misery of the Pacific Northwest “summer,” over the mountains into the eastern portion of the state, where things would hopefully be warmer.

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Mt. Si

I didn’t have another shoot for two days, down in Reno, so now it was kinda like a little vacation. We cruised through the gorgeous, endless Pacific Northwest twilight (one thing I’ll say for them, they have the longest, most amazing golden hour ever), stopping to pick blackberries and take photos and other various road-tripping-girlie things. We drove through the most beautiful country, down through all these little towns and over the amazingly gorgeous Snoqualmie Pass, and ended up in ever-glamorous Ellensburg, WA, where we stopped for the night mostly out of necessity. On the way, we tried to stop for dinner at some tourist trap in the boonies called The Brick, supposedly the oldest restaurant west of the Mississippi, where they used to  film the TV show Northern Exposure….but despite the fact that the website said it was open til 11, come to find out at 9:30 the kitchen was already closed. So we ended up at a shitty truckstop in Ellensburg, which was actually probably way cooler, anyway!

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Eeeewwwwww!!!

The next day I had no photo shoots, so I was able to get up and go for a run…after beating up the free breakfast at the Super 8 where we stayed. (On this trip, I became pretty adept at milking all I could out of these shitty motels — and loading up for breakfast was one way to get my money’s worth.) Anyway, my running experience in Ellensburg SUCKED ASS, because not only did I keep getting lost among all the dead-ends and horse properties, but somewhere around mile 4 it started pouring rain, and now I was lost and soaking wet and pissed the fuck off!!! I ended up running 7 miles of soggy hell, and boy was I ready to get the fuck out of Washington after that!!!

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my boudoir-on-the-go

A quick stop at Starbucks for coffee and makeup adjusted my attitude immensely, and then it was off on the road again — adios Washington, may we meet under better terms next time!!! Alas, it continued to rain on and off the whole way south to Oregon, which really sucked because we had planned to camp out at some hot springs that night, and camping in the rain ain’t no fun. We really didn’t want to miss out on these hot springs, though, as they came highly recommended by many people…so we just booked the cheapest room we could find in the closest town, Klamath Falls, which was only about 80 miles away. Practically next door, haha. If we hauled ass, we could make it to the springs by dusk, soak for a couple hours, and then be at the hotel by 1am or so. I didn’t have to be in Reno til 5pm the next day, so we had a little leeway.

But hauling ass really sucks, as it made me miss out on some really cool roadside attractions — like this full-size replica of Stonehenge I apparently blew right past without even noticing! Apparently, all kinds of kooky Wiccans and shit go out there and chant and wave sage and shit, but I didn’t even notice it icon sad Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour D’OH!!!! I hate rushing!! Why can’t there be 30 hours in a day??

As it was, we were only able to stop in Bend, OR for a quick bite…and I had heard so many good things about Bend that I thought I might really like it there, and had wanted to explore it a little. But I think I found out all I needed over burritos at the FABULOUS Parilla Grill — the food was excellent, dare I say better than Chipotle and at the same price, but the atmosphere of the townspeople was decidedly bro-ey, and not really my scene. And this was in summer — I can only imagine what it’s like in winter, when the place is choked with sno-bros!! I said this before in my blog about Mammoth — I hate snow culture! Snowboarding, skiing, whatever — it all seems to be popular with the most assholiest of all annoying assholes. “Whoa, bro, way to shred!” I’d like to shred your face on a cheese grater, bro!!! And don’t even get me started on skiiers….elitist poseur fucks, one and all!

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they had me by the short and curlies

Thankfully, we were basically just blowing through Bend on our way down to the fantastically magical Umpqua Hot Springs, which are way out in the boonies sort of southwest of town. It was a pretty substantial detour to be taking on such a tight schedule, but BOY AM I GLAD I DID! I almost ran out of gas, and had to shell out $4.99/gallon at some foggy little podunk campground along the way, but guess what? It was totally worth it! Those springs are A M A Z I N G ! ! !

I know I say this about a lot of hot springs I visit, but Umpqua really is up there in my top 5. As you may know, I prefer a natural hot spring experience — undeveloped, in nature, no admission charge. Up until now, my favorites had been Deep Creek, Arizona/White Rock and Saline Valley…but Umpqua might have stolen the top spot! I am DEFINITELY coming back to camp there sometime…it was wonderful!!

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the road to Umpqua

To get there, you drive through a rainy, misty forest (and this was in July, so I can imagine it must pretty much always be rainy and shitty there) down all sorts of winding roads that get progressively worse, until you reach a turnoff onto a really bad pot-holed dirt road. One thing I’ll say for Umpqua, the turn is well-marked by helpful regulars…which is really cool, considering some of the “other” springs I’ve been to have sort of an elitist attitude among their regulars, like they don’t want people to know about them. Deep Creek regulars are guilty of this, and I have gotten some very nasty emails from Saline Valley regulars for having dared to write about those springs…god forbid.

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trail to Umpqua

But anyhoo, Umpqua is cool as fuck and all are welcome. You park in a little lot by these vault toilets, pay $5 (it’s the honor system…but don’t be an ass), and then hike up a short but steep trail, about 10 minutes or so (and totally doable in flip-flops) to this little clearing on the side of a cliff overlooking a rushing creek, with four or five little rock-lined pools radiating misty heat into the forest air. Giant old-growth fir trees surround you, and it is totally magical. The hottest pool is at the top, by the source, and it’s around 107 degrees — hot, but totally soakable. The other pools are cooler, and the main one, which is in a sort of open-sided wooden hut covered in hippie graffiti, is pretty tepid and actually kinda gross….but it’s where most people were soaking that night, so I hung out there for awhile to chat.

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Be advised! There will be nutsacks!

I was there on a midweek rainy night, and even then it was pretty crowded — these springs are legendary! Kids and grownups come from all around to soak in the fabulous atmosphere, and we met some really interesting characters there. First, we were hanging out talking to a toothless old letch who gave me a foot massage and invited me to visit his camp at Burning Man (hmmm….I sense a theme), and this other cool old naked dude who was with the adorable 11-year-old son of his drug dealer — this amazing little kid in board shorts who was totally comfortable chatting with me and my sis, who were both buck naked and drinking wine. That was kid was so freaking cool — he kinda reminded me of my little brother, who is now a successful software engineer, haha. See?? There’s hope for you, kid — even if your dad is a crazy hippie drug dealer who drags you to remote hot springs full of strange naked ladies on rainy nights!!!!!

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ahhhhhh!!!

We also spent some time chatting with an awesome Zen Buddhist high school history teacher, who filled us in on the secret racist history of the state of Oregon. OMG, I had no idea!! Oregon comes off as so liberal and friendly…but come to find out, it used to have the biggest Klan chapter outside of the south, and really mistreated blacks and Chinese laborers back in the day. No wonder I saw so many freaking white people there!! Seriously, my impression of Oregon is white bros, white yoga women and white hippies in VW Vanagons — I never saw so many VWs in my life…nor so many, many white people. They were all friendly and cool, but still….kinda creepy, like the Granola Stepford Wives!

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a lake near Umpqua

Alas, after soaking awhile and only a glass and a half of wine, we had to dry off and leave for Klamath Falls…getting into that godforsaken little burg around 1am, and checking into yet another shitty motel. At least now that we were out of the Seattle area, motel prices were more reasonable — back in Everett and Federal Way I paid between $80-100 for a shitty room with a “Continental” breakfast — out here, the same deal was $50. And in Reno, the room was only $30 — no breakfast, of course…but who gives a fuck?!

But really…$30, $50, $80, $100….that shit adds up! Next time I do a modeling trip, I have to have some kind of van or RV, as lodging is really ridiculous. My problem is, I have to wash my hair pretty much every night before a photo shoot — and that can be hard to do in a van. So I guess what I really need to do is sign up for a 24Hour Fitness membership, so I can use one of their gyms wherever I go. Hmmmm…all things to consider, when I think about becoming a vandweller.

The next morning, it was time for my final shoot of the tour — some kinda cheesy strip-poker site based in Reno, NV. We headed down from Klamath Falls through the Lassen area, stopping in Susanville to buy lottery tickets (my sis felt Susanville was just the type of weird podunk town where winning tickets would be sold…alas, neither of us won), and then came down the 395 into Reno. Along the way, we stopped on a friend’s advice to check out Zamboni Hot Springs…but I am sad to report, they are no longer open to the public. There’s some kind of nutty hippie pottery studio there, and I’ll bet you anything they have their own private soak going on…but the guy was kinda weird and didn’t invite us in or anything, so we left, and headed for the fabulous Sands Regency Hotel in ever-glamorous Reno, NV.

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Truckee River trail

Acutally, Reno was way nicer than I’d expected — I’d never really spent any time there, but I found it to be a super cute, quaint, fun little town with great outdoorsy options and a thriving hipster marketplace full of bars, restaurants and vintage shops. I really liked it! Now granted, this was summer — I’m sure in the winter it gets clogged up with sno-bros, just like everywhere else with mountains. Yecccchhh. But during my visit, it was great — I ran five miles along the Truckee River Trail, and really enjoyed myself. All races of people were out and about, walking their dogs and riding bikes, and I only saw one or two bums…a far cry from Vegas!

Anyway, my reason for being there was this awesomely cheesy photo shoot. I met the photographer at his home, where we shot the first video: me dressed in a horticulturist’s outfit, trimming a bush in the backyard. Then I stop and put down my shears: “Hmmm!” Cut to me stripping my clothes off and displaying my own bush, which I then proceed to trim up with scissors and a razor, in the shower. Classy!!!

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cosplay nudies

The rest of the shoot was at this studio inside the photographer’s place of employment — I got the feeling he sneaks in there to shoot stuff on the downlow, since the company he works for has a badass studio setup but makes a different type of product that isn’t totally unrelated to strip poker, but I guess isn’t into nudity. Anyway, we shot some videos of me in some kind of sexy Star Wars costume, swinging around a lightsaber and stripping naked, and that was pretty much that — the end of my Pacific Northwest Nude Modeling Tour of 2014!! I got my money, counted up my total, and found that I have enough to pay for a new laptop, a new cell phone, and a chemical peel (I had a terrible breakout last month)…woo hoo!!!!! If I subtract all the gas and hotel money, I probably came out a little behind….but it’s all good; I had a blast and so did my sis (I think).

From Reno, I cruised back through California to my starting point, near Santa Rosa, on July 25. 10 days, 2,526 miles…and no flat tires, no speeding tickets, and no cancellations icon smile Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour YAY!!

As mentioned, I did have one more shoot a couple days later, in Petaluma — I was kinda sketched out by this one, since I got it off Craigslist, the guy had no Model Mayhem profile, and he wanted to shoot in an industrial park area. They always warn you about shit like that in Amateur Modeling 101…ya know?

But it turned out to be totally cool — he had no Model Mayhem account because he was insecure about the quality of his work, but after leafing through his portfolio, I told him with 100% certainty that he needn’t be so bashful — usually, it’s the other way around, with photographers being overly boastful about the quality of their work, which can sometimes test the limits of the (admittedly subjective) word “art.” But this guy’s was fine.

Anyway, he was a really nice man, and he seemed so pleased with me that it gave the confidence to start thinking about doing another modeling roadtrip…maybe in the fall, after Burning Man. But where?? I’ve been wanting to check out New Mexico, so maybe a Havasu-Phoenix-Tucson-Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Flagstaff-Vegas loop? Or what about Colorado? I could do Vegas-Salt Lake-Cheyenne-Denver…the problem with these western states is, the population is so spread out, it takes forever to get from city to city. But as long as I made enough cheese to pay for my gas and incidentals, I’d be happy…I love roadtripping, and I’d love to see more of the country that way icon smile Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour

Whatever the case, I definitely need to start working on some kind of camper option — whether a van or a camper shell for my truck bed; either way I’m totally comfortable sleeping in a WalMart parking lot, and brushing my teeth in the bushes or whatever. I just need to get the hairwashing part figured out — anyone work for 24Hour Fitness that can hook a sister up?? icon biggrin Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour icon biggrin Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour icon biggrin Wonderhussys Summer 2014 Nude Modeling Tour

 

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A Busted Tailgate and a Broken Heart

once2 300x55 A Busted Tailgate and a Broken Heart

 

there was a beautiful, peaceful nudist retreat in a forest, high in the golden rolling hills above Calistoga. Magical healing waters flowed from the ground, and people came from miles and miles around to soak their weary bones in the springs and the sunshine. One day, a wandering hussy from a faraway land followed a traveling minstrel into this magical realm…and shit was royally fucked, ever after!

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photo by Doug Ross

Fairytales aside, I like to come across as a hard-ass in my public persona. But the truth is that I’m a pathetically sensitive sap who’s just looking for love and kindness, like most people. I maintain my brash shtick as a defensive maneuver, because I don’t trust anybody — the world is full of assholes!

Well, apparently there was a chink in my armor, because despite my most valiant efforts, some feelings recently seeped in. Or maybe it was the ayahuasca — when I did that ceremony back in June, my “intention” going in was to open up more, and let people in. Well, what do you know — the very next week a traveling jagoff in a hippie van crashed into my life, and fucked everything up!

You remember my dear pal Jack Johnson — the random fan from the Internet with whom I met up in the middle of the desert last month, then ended up having weirdly intense sex with in the back of his van on a backstreet in a quiet L.A. suburb overlooking the Santa Monica Pier? Yeah, that asshole! Well, I don’t know what kind of spell he put on me, but it’s like he had a bayonet on the tip of his dick, and stabbed the shit out of my heart.

After he drove off down Sunset Blvd., I honestly didn’t think I’d ever see him again…and to be honest I was pretty bummed about it, and I’m not gonna lie, shed a few tears. But surprisingly he kept in regular contact, and we arranged to meet up when we were both in the San Francisco Bay Area this past week. He was doing a gig at some Italian restaurant in S.F., so I planned to come see him play, after which we would both drive up to Calistoga to check out the legendary Harbin Hot Springs nudist retreat for a couple days. Since we’d had so much fun on our Deep Creek sojourn, I was really looking forward to it.

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photo by Doug Ross

Still, as I made the 11-hour drive up from Vegas, I was uncertain. I suck at relationships, and this guy in particular was hard to read; I couldn’t tell if he was really into me or not, and I didn’t want to get too excited about someone I was unsure of — I’m timid about showing too much interest in anyone, for fear of ending up a patsy. But just as I was pulling into the Bay Area, around 1am, he called me in a drunken stupor and laid all kinds of crazy effusive affectionate shit on me. Was it drunk talk, or in vino veritas??

Ill-advisedly, I took it as the latter…and like I said, was really looking forward to hanging out with him again. I rarely meet anyone I get along with as well as I did with him…and to be totally honest, I was also looking forward to having sex again — I was more open with him than any sexual partner I’ve ever had, and it was an embarrassingly big deal for me.

At first, things seemed peachy — I arranged to meet up with him the afternoon of his show, so we could drive into the city together, and he even invited me to accompany him to some gigs up in the Mt. Shasta area after our hot springs retreat…a little taste of his freewheeling life on the road. It would have been a total blast, but I declined because I also needed to spend some time with my family up here; I can’t blow them off totally just because I have itchy pants for some random troubadour, ya know?

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the van is back

In any event, he didn’t seem offended, so I got all dolled up and drove down the 101 to meet him in Marin county, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, in a gym parking lot. I was super nervous, but he rolled up and gave me huge hug and a little kiss…so I figured we were more or less right back where we left off, and climbed aboard his van again for another wild ride with the circus of broken hearts.

This was the first time I’d ever seen him perform live, and he was really good — he plays a kind of old-timey steel guitar roots music, and works a sort of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” sartorial shtick. The gig was in a little tiny Italian restaurant, so while he played, I sat at the artists’ table (reserved for the bands and their family/friends) and had dinner and a couple glasses of wine. It was one of those slightly chi-chi San Francisco joints full of Botox matrons and upscale yuppies, so I felt a little dingy in my jeans and straw cowboy hat…but jeez, I didn’t know! It’s fuckin’ roots music, for chrissakes!

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Far out, man! Club Deluxe!!

Anyhoo, afterward we went out for drinks with another one of the fans who came to see him, this really nice chick whose dad was in the Grateful Dead. I guess he had met her backstage at a concert a while back, and he was fascinated by her family history, and now he talked to her for hours at this awesome little dive bar near the corner of Haight and Ashbury while I hung around the periphery, drinking vodka tonics and chatting with the other kooky winos in the joint. I guess I kinda felt like a third wheel, but the bar was super cool — a smoky old-school jazz joint with two crazy Jewish bohemians on piano and drums, totally Kerouac and totally far-out, so it was right up my alley and I had a pretty good time.

Anyway, by the time the three of us finally left, we were all totally fucked up. We got in Jack’s van and they started listening to some of the other chick’s dad’s music, and I guess all the talk about her dad made me start thinking about my dad, who committed suicide a few years back. I pretty well internalized all my sadness over that, but occasionally it leaks out (usually if I’ve been drinking) — and before you know it, I was awkwardly bawling my eyes out.

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boo hoo hoo
photo by Doug Ross

To be fair, it wasn’t strictly because of my dad — I also heard Jack say something about his girlfriend, and that’s what set me off. At Deep Creek, you may recall I fended him off as long as possible because he had mentioned being in a supposedly open relationship with another woman…but he was so persistent, and the sexual attraction was so strong, that despite having severe misgivings, I ended up caving like a bitch and giving up my puss. Well, in the process, come to find out I also gave up my heart :-/ Hearing him mention his girlfriend gave me a sinking feeling that it was much more serious than he’d let on, and for some reason it just killed me! But also, I was super drunk…so it could have just been the booze.

Either way, all three of us passed out in the back of the van in Golden Gate Park, my insomniac ass wedged between their peacefully snoring bodies. I was still weeping like a little bitch, and before he passed out Jack tried to stick his hand down my pants — so I elbowed the shit out of him. I wasn’t in the mood, ya know? And besides, the Grateful Dead chick — I’ll call her Cass– was right next to me! Thankfully, I finally passed out around 4:30am, and got at least a few hours’ sleep.

When we woke up, Cass had already left, the van was enshrouded in thick fog, and my tongue was enshrouded in thick nastiness. Alas, my toothbrush and stuff were in my truck, which was parked back in Marin County. Also, it felt like my head was full of a thousand little MMA fighters beating the shit out of each other — hangover from hell! Jack dosed me with Advil and offered to let me use his toothbrush, but I grumpily insisted on waiting til I got to my truck. I was still kinda sour about the night before, I guess…but once I was able to brush my teeth (in the parking lot of a Jo Ann Fabrics, nonetheless) and wash off my makeup (at a McDonald’s bathroom), I felt much better. We got coffee, and headed back up north on the 101 toward Harbin Hot Springs, me following Jack’s van like a faithful puppy. Or more accurately, like a bloody heart being dragged up the freeway on a leash made of blind ignorance!!

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on the way to Harbin Hot Springs

Now, a word about Harbin Hot Springs, where we were headed — it’s a 5,000-acre retreat in the hills above Calistoga, popular among Bay Area nudists, New Agers and hippies, said to be an astonishingly beautiful place of relaxation and reflection, with several pools fed by natural hot spring water from an ancient sacred source. I’d heard about it for years, but the consensus was divided as to whether it was a peaceful Zen sanctuary or lurid Sextown, U.S.A. I was really curious to check it out, so when Jack suggested it, I was all in.

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on the way to Harbin Hot Springs

Harbin is pretty remote, just outside a quaint little village called Middletown, where Jack suggested I leave my truck parked so we could drive into the resort together. So I threw my things into his van, and without even really thinking about it something made me throw my tent and sleeping bag in, too — I think I was afraid that if Harbin turned out to be a hotbed of sex he’d try and hook up with another couple, and I wasn’t into that, so wanted to make sure I had a safe haven. But I honestly assumed I was sleeping in his van with him.

Anyway, we checked in, goofing around as usual with the gate staff, and set up camp — Harbin has beautiful guest rooms, cottages and domes you can stay in, but us broke-ass hippies are on a perpetual budget, so we just camped, which is $30/night, per person, and includes 24 hours of access to the facilities. Not bad! After setting up, we headed to check out the pools, and go for a relaxing soak.

**Note: Harbin does not allow photography, so all the cheesy photos that follow are from their website.**

 A Busted Tailgate and a Broken HeartThe facilities at Harbin really are beautiful!! I guess you could call the aesthetic “rustic Zen chic” — lots of crumbling stone walls, lush landscaping, quiet grottoes and little Buddha statues in every nook. Meanwhile there are several soaking pools, ranging from the super, super hot (my favorite) to the icy cold. The idea is, you go from the super hot pool to the super cold plunge, back and forth, to get your circulation going…and they also have a sauna and steam room for the same type of effect. My only beef was, there’s no Jacuzzi-temperature soaking pool — there’s a sort of lukewarm heart-shaped “conversation” pool, but it wasn’t really warm enough for my taste…and the next-hottest pool was around 114 degrees, and way too hot to hang out in for long.

 A Busted Tailgate and a Broken HeartAlso, silence is mandated in most of the pools, except for the heart pool and the big lap pool…Harbin is more of a meditative place than a social place, I guess, which sucks for a long-winded conversationalist like me. But on the plus side, I didn’t really see any sexual activity going on in any of the pools — there were lots of couples holding each other and caressing, but nothing freaky or overtly sexual. Maybe it was partly due to all the “NO SEXUAL ACTIVITY” signs posted everywhere — it reminded me of when I was an extra in that porn move earlier this year, and they had all those fake “NO FUCKING” signs in the office. Lulz!

Well anyway, I didn’t realize just how dry the place would turn out to be until we were walking back to camp to cook dinner, and out of nowhere, Jack casually let it drop in conversation that he had decided to be a “good boy” and not have sex this trip, after all. It seems that while at the time of our Deep Creek sojourn his relationship had been an open one, in the meantime he had decided to commit, and just decided to tell me now.

Whaaat? You should have heard the shit he said to me on the phone Saturday night!! This new declaration was so unexpected, I felt like a china setting from under which some bumbling magician had just yanked a tablecloth — the ground flew out from under me, and I crashed down hard. But ever the wannabe hardass, I tried to keep a blank face and take it in stride: “Oh, yeah?” But inside, I was like, “Jeez, now you tell me!! After I just shelled out $65 to camp out for two nights!!”

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the forest primeval
photo by doug Ross

Talk about awkward! If my truck had been there, I honestly would have left then and there. More than anything, I was horribly embarrassed – not only did I feel like a homewrecker, but I was acutely ashamed of myself for having been so excited to see him, and at having such feelings for him. I should have fuckin’ known…arrrrrrghhh!! But since my truck was parked down in the town, I was trapped — trapped in a paradise of serenity, love and openness, with the devil running around taunting me. SUPER awkward!!!

Anyway, I guess I hid my distress well enough, because we went back to camp and he made dinner like nothing had happened….while I stood on a rock nearby, staring into a beautiful ravine, trying not to bawl my eyes out. For once in my life I had zero appetite, so while he ate and chatted with our neighbor, I stood by in stunned silence — the boring old punched-in-the-solar-plexus-bleeding-bruised-heart shtick, happens all the time, nothing new to see here, move along! It’s trite, it’s boring, and it happens every day…but it’s still a real bitch, as I’m sure most of you know icon sad A Busted Tailgate and a Broken Heart

Meanwhile, there is no rational explanation for the devastation I felt — I barely knew this tool, so I don’t understand how I came to care for him so deeply. WTF?!?!? It’s like I said…he put a spell on me, or something. Shit!

temple 300x200 A Busted Tailgate and a Broken HeartTHANKFULLY, there happened to be a dance party going on that very night, with a dj and all, so I left camp and headed over to check that out, thinking that if I were around other people, it might ease the pain somewhat. At first I thought it was being held in the temple — this amazingly beautiful, J.R.R. Tolkienesque building about a five-minute walk from our camp. But when I got there, the building was deserted; I went inside, and had the entire place to myself. So I sat cross-legged in the very center, under the skylight in the fading twilight, and bawled my eyes out!!! If you must moon about with a broken heart, you might as well do it in ultra-dramatic fashion, in a fabulously surreal setting like that temple…ya know?? At least it was cinematic!! But the whole place was so surreally beautiful, it just seemed wrong to be so miserable there.

Anyway, after weeping awhile, I figured it wasn’t really doing me any good, and being around people would help me a lot more — so I got up and continued on to look for the dance party, which turned out to be across a little lighted footbridge, in the conference center. When I opened the door, I was greeted by a dj spinning some kind of trance/house hybrid in a huge mirrored room with a hardwood floor, full of barefoot hippies and New Agers dancing like the Charlie Brown kids on acid. I mean, you’ve never seen white people dancing like this!! They were all over the place! Old men, young bucks, hot yoga sluts and middle-aged matrons, all spazzing out and letting themselves just go with the music. It was crazy!!

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my friendmaker robe, in happier times

But it was just the right thing for me in my miserable state — I literally ran into the room, and threw myself into dancing like a possessed demon!! You know how they say certain religions get into a meditative trancelike state of ecstasy through dance? Well, that was me — I had on my garishly brilliant friendmaker caftan-robe, with nothing but a loincloth underneath, and I just whirled about like a fiery Phoenix, swooshing my robe about me like brilliant porange-and-purple flames, swishing in every direction, sometimes just running madly around the room with the robe flying behind me like great porange-and-purple wings! I must have been quite the sight — half the time I wore a huge, blissed-out smile (I’m a shitty dancer, but I love when I’m in a groove with a bunch of other people; it’s better than any drug, and makes me beam like an idiot). The rest of the time, tears streamed down my face as I whirled around and around, like a centrifuge trying to fling away sadness. It was so therapeutic!!!!!

I must have danced like that for an hour or two — I mean, balls-out craziness — and when I stopped for a water break, who should I spy but Cass, the Grateful Dead guy’s daughter! Jack had invited her to meet us up there, and despite her misgivings (she’s really shy and self-conscious about her body), she actually showed up. It was a good thing I ran into her, as there is no cell reception up there, and in the darkness it would have been next to impossible to find us (remember, it’s a 5,000-acre resort!). As I showed her back to our camp, I told her the whole sordid story of what was going on, and she was very supportive — I mean, she is just a nice woman. I think she felt kind of awkward being there, and even offered to leave, but I told her I was glad she was there, to break up the tension.

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an uneasy distance

Anyway, we met up with Jack and headed back to the pools to soak some more, all three of us ending up in the heart-shaped pool, ironically. They were still talking about her dad and music and stuff, so I tried to make conversation with some of the other soakers…but there just wasn’t anyone super interesting to talk to…or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood. After a while, we all went back to camp — I crawled into my tent, and Jack and Cass slept in the van. It has two bunks, and Gentleman Jack took the top one…but it was still a lonely sound to hear the door slam, me on the outside with the coyotes howling in the distance. Wonderhussy….ever the lone wolf.

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Up and at ‘em!

I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and of course all this bullshit made it even worse, so I was awake at sunrise, wandering around a golden field dotted with oak trees in my friendmaker robe, still bedeviled by stupid tears, watching the abundant wildlife roam around — that place has deer, turkeys, quail, foxes, rabbits…all kinds of shit wandering merrily around, like a Disney movie! When Jack and Cass woke up we made coffee and breakfast, but I still had no appetite, so just chugged coffee and tried to look alive before we headed to the pools for the day.

Before heading to the pools, Jack suggested Cass drive me back into town so I could check on my truck — not that he was really concerned about my truck itself, but he had left his amp and some of his gear in it, and I guess wanted to make sure it was still there. So she kindly took me down to Middletown to check, and it was still there…and I figured I might as well drive it back up to Harbin, in case I needed to bail at a moment’s notice. So now at least I had an escape hatch.

At the pools, I basically spent the entire day moping — moving from one pool to the next, trying to stanch the well of sadness inside me. I can’t believe what a fuckin’ baby I was about this — like I said, I barely knew this guy, but I was disappointed beyond all rational measure, and just could not stop crying. Tears just kept leaking out, in the hot pool, in the cold pool, in the steam room and even in the sauna — hell, I even watered the hot rocks in the sauna with teardrops to make steam out of my sadness!! It was ridiculous how sad I was…and I could not cheer up. I could not enjoy this beautiful place — everywhere I looked, it was hippie-dippie couples in love, caressing and enjoying each other, and I was alone and miserable. Boo-fuckin’-hoo.

The only thing that got me through were drugs and alcohol — both strictly prohibited at Harbin, but both completely necessary to my survival that day. I was very discreet about it, and ate a bit of pot cookie to get me through — to dull my senses. I feel bad about violating their policy, which is in place because there are a lot of recovering addicts living full-time at Harbin, but I just could’t handle my life sober that day. I was too fucking sad!!!

 A Busted Tailgate and a Broken HeartAnyway, I got into this routine Jack showed me — sauna, then steam room, then ice plunge; then repeat. Apparently that’s what they do way up in the frozen tundra, where he’s from. I did this triad over and over and over again, all day long, singing my own version of that song from “South Pacific” in my head: “I’m gonna sweat that man right outta my pores!!” It didn’t really work, but I definitely got a good shvitz…so I guess all was not lost. But between all the soaking and all the tears, I was really waterlogged by the end of that day.

Meanwhile, the only thing to distract me from my melancholia was the fabulous people watching: most of Harbin’s patrons are run-of-the-mill hippies and Bay Area New Agers, but it was a pretty diverse crowd, with even a few minorities in the mix…not just old white people, for a change! My favorite was this bespectacled, bearded old man in a bathrobe and a huge straw hat, who sat around sucking on his index finger all day, every day. I mean, he had his finger in his mouth all the way to the first knuckle — and just sat there, sucking on it, staring around. Freaky!!!

Then of course too, there were plenty of naked guys hanging around, trying to hit on me. I was offered more than one massage, and one guy even told me how he and his wife are looking for a third person to come into their marriage, and invited me to stay with him if I’m ever in New York (people come from far and wide to soak at Harbin…it’s well known). Unfortunately, I was not attracted to any of them — like I said, I’m hardly ever attracted to anyone — but I did at least get some interesting information from a couple of them.

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photo by Doug Ross

As I was soaking in the heart pool, one old dude struck up a conversation with me (as he was massaging me, of course) and told me about these secret hot springs in Marin county. See, where I live (Mojave desert), there are tons of natural hot springs dotting the landscape, where you can just hike in and soak for free. In California, they’re all developed, and charge you an arm and a leg to get in…so I asked this guy if he knew of any undeveloped springs in the area, and he told me about these ones right on the coast in Marin County, that can only be reached during super low tide during a certain phase of the moon!! Wow!!!

But, shhhhhh!!!! He warned me that they were top secret, and that the locals didn’t take kindly to others finding out about their spot, so I had to keep it all on the down-low. But guess what? Not 20 minutes later, another old perv showed up and told me about the exact same springs, with the same caveat not to tell anyone, because they are “secret.” HA!!! I guess they’re not that fuckin’ secret, eh?? Meanwhile, I looked them up on Yelp and the reviews all emphasize how rude and hostile the locals are to anyone who comes to soak there — those rich uptight assholes think it’s like their private thing, or something. Fuckers! If anyone in the Bay Area wants to go check them out with me, let me know — I’ll be here til August, and might even stay til Burning Man.

Anyhoo, while all this was going on I really felt like the mature thing would be to talk to Jack Johnson a little and find out what was going on, or at least tell him how I felt, just to get it out in the open. All this time I was still hiding my feelings, trying to be cool — I was being really quiet, so I think he thought I was mad at him, which I wasn’t…I was just disappointed and sad. But with Cass there it would have been too awkward to talk, so I just sat around and soaked and festered. But as the day wore on and I sweat more and more, I managed to pretty much get myself under control….and by the time Cass left around 4pm, I was in much better shape.

hotpool381 199x300 A Busted Tailgate and a Broken HeartAround that time Jack wanted to eat the mushrooms I’d brought along, and I figured why not? It would certainly beat sitting around sober and miserable all night! So we each ate a small dose, and because we hadn’t been eating very much food the past couple of days (especially me; I had a virtually empty stomach), we tripped our balls off!!! It was amazing!!! Sweating in the sauna, shvitzing in the steam room, then plunging in the ice pool — it was all really trippy on shrooms. We were pretty discreet about it, not wanting to piss off the brass at Harbin…but it was great!!! I even managed to laugh a little — ahh, the wonderful healing powers of psilocybin icon smile A Busted Tailgate and a Broken Heart

After a few hours, we went back to camp to eat dinner…and finally had an extremely awkward conversation about the situation. Jack said he has a history of making bad decisions, and had finally decided to start making better choices — which I guess means I’m a bad decision…d’oh! Or maybe he just meant being unfaithful to his girlfriend was a bad decision, I don’t know. All I know is, I told him I felt like a country song, because I had a busted tailgate and a broken heart — and he seemed genuinely surprised to hear that I had a broken heart. Which was the saddest thing of all — he had no idea what was going on, and it was obviously one-sided. D’OH!!! A few tears fell into my salad, but I didn’t really make a scene — just let him know how I felt :/ It wasn’t really as bad as it could have been, and it was definitely a relief to at least let him know…ya know?

Then he started in telling me how I need to leave Vegas, how it’s a poison place, and not right for me, and I surround myself with idiots as part of my shtick, but it’s not really me. And the sad thing is, he was kinda right — I’m not really into having my toes sucked or my twat photographed by some slavering fuckin’ perv who won’t stop trying to get me to open my legs wider, wider, wider — it makes for good blog copy, but other than that, it is kinda depressing. I wish I could figure out a way to make money based off my brain, not my twat. I just don’t know what! I have a fuckin’ art degree, for Pete’s sake…I’m adrift.

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I need this (or something similar) so bad it hurts!!!

As for Vegas, I’m torn — part of me truly loves living in the desert, and I do enjoy how easy it is to make a buck in that crazy city. But lately, I’ve been feeling a little Vegas-ed out…which is part of the reason I took off for California. At heart, I’m a total Nor Cal granola hippie dippie ding dong, and whenever I come back here, I feel like I’m home. But I don’t think I’d want to be here all the time. Which is why I need a van to travel around in — then I can come and go, chasing the odd buck, traveling around meeting interesting people and writing about it, homeless and adrift and still a lone wolf….but in bad ass style!!!

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in my tent

Anyway, after talking for quite a while, we went for a night soak and then headed to bed. I suffered another shitty, sleepless night, dreading the morning and the awkward, unbearably sad good-bye I was facing. It was sad enough when I left him the first time — now it was ten times worse!!

That last day, Jack didn’t have to be at his next gig until the evening, so he planned to stay at Harbin until our 48 hour pass was up at 4pm. I had told my mom I’d leave around noon, so I kinda dragged my ass around, stalling, until then. I soaked in the super-hot pool, then plunged in the super cold pool, and did that invigorating rotation a few times. I hiked up the hill to this awesome little teahouse perched way on top of one of the mountain, overlooking the entire valley, that had a meditation area and an altar where you could write down your intentions and prayers and shit, and scribbled down a bit of heartsick drivel and tucked it under a Buddha foot or some bullshit.

20140712 123802 300x225 A Busted Tailgate and a Broken HeartThen I decided to decorate my hat — on all my travels of late, I’ve been wearing this straw cowboy-type hat I’ve had forever, but only started wearing around recently. I stuck a bunch of pins and buttons and stuff on it to personalize it, but now I decided I would add a little memento from each of my adventures to the mix — a fake flower I found at Deep Creek (when I went with my sister), a seashell from Mexico, a bottlecap from one of Jack Johnson’s beers, and now I made a little decorative rosette out of reeds from one of the landscaping plants at Harbin. This hat tells the story of my Summer of 2014…and I think at the end of the summer, I might burn it — maybe in the temple fire at Burning Man, I don’t know. Anyway, I thought it was a cool idea!

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peace out!

But finally, it was time to stop stalling and get the fuck out of there…so I put on my friendmaker robe and hat, gathered my things, and went to find Jack Johnson to say goodbye. I found him over by the cold pool, and bid farewell in the midst of a bunch of naked New Agers, who barely looked on as we hugged each other one last time. “We’ll still go exploring stuff together sometime, eh?” he said…but I just shrugged, squeaking out a lame “Yeah, maybe.” Then I blew him a kiss and flashed him a peace sign, and walked off to my truck…which I now discovered had a cracked windshield, in addition to a busted tailgate. Damn, I’m a wreck!!!

And that was that — bury my heart at Harbin Hot springs! It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, and I wholeheartedly recommend it…but I’m not sure I’ll ever go back. Aside from my bad associations with it, they probably won’t let me go back, after reading about my drug use!!! But in my defense, I was going through some really tough times up there…so cut me some slack, willya, guys?

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Photo by Doug Ross

So anyway, on the drive back to my mom’s house, I started thinking… if life really were like a fairytale, or the modern Hollywood equivalent, shit would have gone down much differently! Picture Natalie Portman as Wonderhussy, a burned-out nude model cruising around in a beat-up pickup like a busted-up rodeo cowboy, making one last modeling trip around the West Coast. Matthew McConaughey as Jack Johnson, a confused and directionless vagabond, afraid to tap into his true potential, working an endless circuit of one-night gigs in smoky bars and dancehalls. Their paths cross, drama ensues, then they help each other find true love and freedom: Natalie inspires Matthew to finish his album, which goes onto resounding success. And Matthew inspires Natalie to write her memoirs, which are then optioned by Hollywood and made into a movie starring Natalie Portman and Matthew McConaughey. Whoa!

Alas, however… this ain’t Hollywood, and that shit ain’t happening. And this sure as fuck ain’t no fairy tale!!! If my and Jack Johnson’s Deep Creek trip was charmed…this trip was cursed!

The real answer might lie in my aforementioned busted tailgate: it broke back in June, at Deep Creek, right around the same time as my heart. Maybe if I fix it now, it’ll break the spell of Jack Johnson — who, ironically, offered to help me fix it…then either forgot or changed his mind.

Sigh.

 

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Going Gonzo in Mexico

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fuck yeah!!

Well friends, I finally checked another item off my bucket list by going to Mexico last week. But my destination was not some pansy-assed all-inclusive resort full of pasty Alabama factory workers pounding beers while Sammy Hagar wails in the background — I went Gonzo, and drove down into the dusty, dirty hinterlands of Baja California!

My sister has been on a sort of corporate detox/Rumspringa since quitting her loathsome marketing job back in February, and accepted the offer of an ex-colleague to stay at his family’s beach house down near San Felipe for a couple weeks, to chill out and meditate and think things through. I had to work the first week she was down there, but after I finished with the licensing expo and the beauty show and whatnot, I packed up my truck and drove down to join her.

It’s not that far from Vegas to San Felipe — about 8 hours, depending on the whims of the border guards. My sister sailed through the border with no problem at all — they didn’t even check her milquetoast little Infiniti, just waved her through. But since I drive a pickup, they did make me stop and explain in my sad güera Spanish where I was going, why I was going, where I came from and what I do. Fuck, I can’t even explain that shit in English!!! ¿Como se dice “hussy” en Español?

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drug Geocache!

Anyway, I somehow bungled through, and they let me in, after banging on the sides of my truck bed a few times to roust out any hidden contraband (I guess people are known to smuggle drug cash in pickup truck beds, is why I was flagged). What those poor fuckers didn’t know was that I’d thought ahead, and had already stashed all my drugs in a secret hidey-hole in the desert, so I could pick them up on my way back from Mexico, when my sis and I planned to camp out at Deep Creek for a couple nights before heading back home.

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nothing back here but us chickens!!

Since there was no way I was spending two nights at Deep Creek with no weed to smoke or shrooms to eat, and since I couldn’t exactly bring it all back and forth across the border with me, on my way down I scoped out a quiet spot behind some bushes at an intersection just outside the town of Brawley, and buried my little sack o’ fun for later retrieval. The ultimate Geocache!!! So anyhoo, by the time I rolled into Mexico, there was nothing for those rifle-wielding teenagers at the border to find. I did bring one special chocolate chip cookie, camouflaged in a bag of regular chocolate chip cookies, and an empty pipe, since my sis had indicated she’d found a connect down there. But aside from that, I was clean as a whistle. ¡No problemo!

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Yeah!

I entered Mexico just south of the Salton Sea, through this shitty little town called Calexico on the U.S. side, Mexicali on the Mexican side. Jeez, I thought Calexico was shitty — Mexicali was a whole other world of shittiness! Dogs roaming around, garbage everywhere, leathery toothless beggars and just a general air of steamy, sun-baked, sewage-scented lethargy and decay.  Awesome!!

But after passing through Mexicali, it was basically just two hours of desolate, barren desert highway, nothing but sagebrush and busted tires, with the Sea of Cortez off to the left. That is some serious wasteland — most of the touristy stuff you see in Baja is on the Pacific side of the peninsula, Ensenada and Tijuana and all that, but the east coast of Baja is pretty much just vast, empty desert. And in late June it was screaming, broiling hot; I can’t imagine how desperate a poor illegal immigrant would have to be to undertake a crossing by foot — it really speaks to the hopelessness of their situation!

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barren desert and the Sea of Cortez

Meanwhile, if you’re coming from the other side of the border, Baja is a great place to hide out! The desert and the beaches are sporadically dotted with rusted-out trailers, campers, shanties and bizarre compounds housing god-knows-what type of hippies/hermits/fugitives, with the occasional beachfront campo made up of retired American expats living on the cheap in fairly nice homes…out of sight and out of mind from meddlesome U.S. tax and legal authorities. It’s a real mix of weirdos down there. In other words…I felt right at home!!!

The place I was headed for was called Pete’s Camp, about 7 km north of San Felipe; basically a tidy little beachfront community of U.S. and Canadian retirees living out their their days boozing and racing around on quads and dune buggies. There’s a big redneck speed freak demographic down around San Felipe, and everyone has “toy” collections made up of various motorized contraptions upon which they careen madly about for fun and profit in various off-road races. I personally don’t get it, but that stuff is huge down there!

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boozing

Now this was late June, so things were pretty quiet — it gets hotter than balls down there in the summertime, so many people board up their homes and take off for the season, returning in September when it’s not so unbearably baking hot and humid. Only the dregs were left behind, and it was a real fun crowd, let me tell you! There’s a little cantina in the middle of the campo where everyone hung out to watch the World Cup, and since they had free Wi-Fi, I spent a lot of time there myself, drinking Cuba libres and posting shit on Facebook.

In between postings, I found time to chat with many of the locals, and like I said they were a fun bunch. Alkies, boozers, leathery-chested ladies and hard-drinking, teary-eyed men. Often they would tell you the same story over and over again, but they were all so nice that it didn’t matter. This one guy would come over and sip his double Jack and Coke while reciting a litany of all the toys he owned: “Three quads, two sand rails, dune buggy, Jeep, Trophy Truck, etc. etc. etc.,” and would invariably sum it all up by emphatically reminding himself how happy he was, and how great life was down there. Meanwhile, he always seemed just on the verge of breaking down in tears. Then there was this other cute little old — nay, ancient — man with a liver-spotted countenance and a terrible black eye, which he said he got when he “took a tumble” the other night (in a drunken stupor, no doubt). Awww!

The scuttlebutt was, there were also some unsavory types living in the area — pedophiles and whatnot, on the lam, hoping to escape detection. Like I said, it’s a pretty remote place… but apparently the Federales came in and arrested this one guy one day, and come to find out he had all this child pornography on his computer. Yikes!!!

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the house we stayed in

In any event, all the people I met down there were amazingly kind and generous, in particular the Realtor who was handling the sale of the house my sis and I were staying at (it’s listed at $220k, if you’re interested…it was really nice, and right on the beach) and his wife. They had us over for dinner one night, and they were just the coolest people ever. Everyone down there, without exception, was super friendly and welcoming; my sis (having already been there for a week, and being about 30 years younger than everyone else) was already the Queen of the Campo by the time I got there!

005 300x225 Going Gonzo in MexicoAnyway, I rolled in around 5:30pm — everyone had warned me over and over again not to drive in Mexico at night, so I made sure to leave Vegas super early so as to arrive before sunset. But like everything else in life, I found Mexico to be way less scary and dramatic than everyone makes it out to be. I had zero problems down there, and it wasn’t because I was cute and flirty — I barely speak Spanish, and my face was going through a terrible breakout, so I was totally self-conscious and not on my A-game. But I was polite, alert and careful, and thus managed to bungle my through several checkpoints and car searches without incident nor payment of any specious “fines.” It was all good, in my experience!

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tanning nude in isolation

Once I got down there, I basically did nothing but drink and eat. It was too fucking hot to do anything else!!! I did manage to drag my ass out of bed at 5am a couple times to run 5 miles on the beach, because sunrise was the only time it was cool enough…but other than that, I just laid low. In deference to the conservative culture, I wore a bikini most of the time, only tanning nude on this little crow’s nest patio on top of the garage, where no one could see.

We went out to San Felipe a few times to eat, but the rest of the time we just hung around the campo, relaxing. The house we were staying at was really nice, with air conditioning and nice bedrooms and everything, so it was basically like being at a hotel where you had nothing to do all day but relax and stare at the sea. But you know me — I can only take so much relaxing! My friend Bennie had given me this awesome guide to all the hot springs in the U.S. and Baja California, and I’m determined to visit as many as possible… so after a few days at the beach house, we packed up and headed down the coast a couple of hours to check out these nearby springs in the village of Puertecitos.

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camping on the beach

The springs are located in these beautiful tidal pools right on the edge of the Sea of Cortez, and there’s only a limited window each day during high tide when the mixture of seawater cools the thermal water in the pools to a comfortable soaking temperature. But if you camp out overnight, you can at least catch two tides…so we decided to bring our tents, and stay on the beach.

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the road to Puertecitos

Now meanwhile, everyone at the cantina was warning us about the journey: the roads were said to be really rough, pitted with steep dips called “vados” that would fuck up your shocks if you didn’t drive slow…plus there’s no cell phone service down there, and it’s really remote. But what the fuck?! YOLO!! I took my truck, and we made it just fine. The road was nicely paved the entire way, and most of the vados were mild annoyances rather than shock-busting disasters. It was really remote, though, and there isn’t anything along the way, especially in the dead summer season when everyone with half a brain flees for the Pacific side of the peninsula.

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in the library!

But there was a little campground in Puertecitos, right on the beach about a ten-minute walk from the springs, where for $20 a night you get a little shaded picnic table, water, electricity and use of the toilets…plus unlimited use of the hot springs. There’s even a little lending library full of English-language paperbacks which was a real hoot — I “borrowed” a John Grisham thriller, which I do plan on returning or replacing upon my eventual return (I am the kind of person to really do that, I tell you!).

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sunset at the springs

My pidgin Spanish was enough to ascertain that the tidal situation was just right to go soak as soon as we arrived, so after setting up camp, we hiked up to the springs, right at sunset. It was beautiful!! I swear, my new theme song is Itchycoo Park — lately it seems all I ever do is take drugs and cry about how beautiful shit is (well, not really). But these were definitely some of the most scenic hot springs I’ve ever been to!!! There are three or four large, fairly deep

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soaking

soaking pools with super-clear water and rocky bottoms, and plenty of boulders to sit on while you soak and watch the sunset amid the pounding surf and squawking seagulls. The only drawback is, the water smells pretty strongly of sulphur, which eventually you sort of get used to, I guess. But what I never got used to was the thousands of super-creepy bugs skittering all over the rocks!!! They looked like a prehistoric combination of a leech and cockroach, and they were scurrying about everywhere!!! Some of them were up to two inches long — SHUDDER!!!!!! The smell and the bugs prevent me from giving these hot springs an A+ rating, but it’s still an amazing place. Just be advised!

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camping on the beach at Puertecitos

Anyway, after sunset we hiked back down to our campsite on the bay, and drank wine and munched on whatever shitty snacks we’d brought — there’s no restaurant or anything like that in Puertecitos, at least not in the summertime. This cute little mouse kept bugging us though, running onto our blanket, trying to steal food. We kept scaring it away, even going so far as to pull out some stun guns my Arkansas girlfriend had given me, and zapping them in the mouse’s direction…but the dumb little fucker wasn’t fazed, so I finally bashed it with a tire iron and killed it!!! AWWW!! All I wanted to do was scare it away, but I guess I was a bit overzealous icon sad Going Gonzo in Mexico Don’t come between me and my food!

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sunrise at the springs

Anyhoo, we woke up at sunrise and went for a half-assed little run back up to the springs, where we enjoyed a fantastic sunrise soak. That place is amazingly photogenic!! Even my shitty little Samsung Galaxy got these amazing shots! Imagine what you could do with a real camera icon smile Going Gonzo in Mexico Once the sun came up and it got too hot, we went back to camp, packed up, and drove back down to San Felipe for a few more relaxing days of boozing and

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!!!

reading. That John Grisham thriller came just in time — I had just finished my other book about Ted Bundy that one of my fans sent me from my Amazon wish list. We blew through the rest of our pesos on ceviche and Cuba libres, and then used the remainder to haggle for a cheap hammock at a souvenir shop in town. Good times!

All in all, it was a fantastic trip…but I was really looking forward to the drive back. The plan was to head directly to Deep Creek hot springs for a couple days, then my sis would continue on to the Bay Area, and I’d go back to Vegas to do some laundry, lift weights, and pack up for my July west coast modeling trip. Everyone in Pete’s Camp told us to hit the border around 10-11am for optimal traffic, but we didn’t manage to leave San Felipe around 9:30am, so came to Mexicali right at noon — one of the worst times of all!! The line to cross into the U.S. was recockulous!!!!

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border crossing traffic

At first I didn’t mind sitting in line so much, because I finally had cell phone service and was able to check my voicemail and stuff. But after an hour or so, it got old pretty fast — it was broiling, baking, screaming hot and humid, and even my a/c quit blowing cold after awhile. Talk about First World Problems — meanwhile, hordes of poor resourceful locals were out in the direct sun, working the lines of cars, selling everything from window shades to iced coffee, with a few beggars thrown in for measure. This one poor legless man was scooting along the broiling asphalt on a piece of cardboard, dragging himself from car to car with his hands, which were protected from the searing ground by nothing but playing cards. It was surreal, like the 10th circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno — all these poor, desperate souls writhing and melting in the relentless sun, knocking on windows like damned wraiths in the depths of Hades. FUCK!!

Anyway, we finally made it to the checkpoint, and of course were singled out for special searches — me because of my truck, and my sister just randomly. I only had a small chunk of cookie left (those cookies are strong, and you only need to eat a tiny piece to get baked as fuck), and I had cleaned out my pipe with boiling water as best as possible, so I wasn’t really too concerned. They made me pull over, open my hood, and wait in a cage while they searched my stuff for drugs or hidden people or whatever the fuck they’re trying to protect us from. What a fuckin’ circus!!

Meanwhile, my drugs were waiting for me in my little cache not 50 miles away icon smile Going Gonzo in Mexico After finally clearing the border and being allowed back into the sacred U.S.A., we stopped for lunch in Calexico and plotted the rest of the day. My hot springs book showed a cool looking little spot called the Five Palms Warm Well Oasis in the desert outside Brawley, not far from my cache, so we decided to hit that up before unearthing the treasure and heading up to Deep Creek.

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stuck

To get to the Five Palms Warm Well Oasis, you take CA-78 east of Brawley for 15 miles, then turn off south on a dirt road for 1.6 miles. The road was said to be easily passable, but of course the sand was all tore up by crazy quadders from the nearby Glamis Sand Dunes redneck paradise, so wouldn’t you know it….my truck got bogged down in the sand about a half mile from the springs icon sad Going Gonzo in Mexico icon sad Going Gonzo in Mexico icon sad Going Gonzo in Mexico Damn! We tried to get out by putting firewood and towels and stuff under the rear tires, but it was no use — I was stuck. I called AAA, but because I was more than 10 feet off the paved road, they wouldn’t cover the cost of a tow truck…so I had to shell out $150. D’OH!!!! Expensive little detour!

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oasis in the distance

While we were waiting for the tow truck to get there, we went ahead and hiked the last .5 miles to the Oasis, which was easy to spot as it was the only cluster of palm trees for miles and miles and miles around. Let me tell you, that place is a true oasis — it’s so unexpected!! There you are, in the middle of a vast, barren desertscape of sand, creosote and sagebrush, and then all of a sudden here’s this little cluster of palms surrounding a super-idyllic shady little pond. The water

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Five Palms Warm Well

isn’t really hot (that’s why they call it a warm well), so it feels refreshing, even in the heat of summer. The bottom is sandy and only a bit mucky, and the water is fairly clean. Some enterprising hippies put in a little bench and a floating coffee table made from the top of a Styrofoam cooler, so it’s a pretty sweet little spot to chill out for a few hours. A Mexican family was picnicking there when we arrived, but once they left I got naked and went for a little soak. Fuck, it was costing me $150 — might as well get my money’s worth!!!

After soaking a bit, we hiked back to my truck and the tow guy was there. He winched me out in about 2 minutes, and I tried to sweet talk him into giving me a discount — which he claimed he was already doing, since allegedly there’s normally a 2-hour minimum, and it would have been $300. Hmmm. Then he wanted a photo with me, which I obliged, afraid he’d charge me the extra hour if I said no!!

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digging up the drugs

Anyhoo, we got out of there, swung by to dig up the drugs, and then got the fuck out of that godforsaken part of the country. I love the desert, but in the summertime there are places I’d rather be…ya know?? Like Deep Creek Hot Springs!! After stopping in Palm Desert for gas and supplies, we headed out to Apple Valley (where Deep Creek is), arriving just before the gate closed at 10pm. It was already dark, which sucked for our hike down, but what are ya gonna do?

Now, last time I was there (with my good buddy Jack Johnson), we camped up top at the trailhead, in the desert. This time, my sis and I wanted to camp at the bottom, on the beach by the springs. You’re not supposed to, but people do it all the time — as long as you’re quiet, and clean up after yourself, it shouldn’t be a problem. But, you do have to pack all your gear down that 1.5-mile trail…and then back up, which is a real bitch :/ Which is why so many assholes leave garbage and junk behind at the bottom — the amount of litter and old sleeping bags and stuff down there is unbelievable. Who are these irresponsible assholes?!!?! If I was rich, I’d hire a helicopter to take me down there for a massive cleanup.

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what a great place to spend Independence Day!!

Anyhoo, my sis and I somehow loaded up our tents, sleeping bags, booze and accessories, and hiked down in the darkness. This time there wasn’t much moonlight, but we had headlamps so it was ok. We got to the bottom, waded across the creek, and set up camp on the beach in the shade of some cottonwood trees, by the Arizona pool. Then we ate some pot cookie and soaked in the delicious, clean warm water late into the night. No weird bugs, no sulphur smell, no mucky bottom and no sand to get stuck in. That place DEFINITELY gets an A+ rating!

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deep creek

In the morning, we were up super early like kids on Christmas morning — my sis was so excited to see the majesty of Deep Creek in the daylight! I was afraid it would be really crowded on account of it being July 3rd, right near the holiday…but it was perfect. Just the right amount of people! Aside from the usual naked dudes, there were even a couple of hot young topless chicks who soaked with us and smoked us out, and there was also a guitarist and a fiddler who played some awesome acoustic jams that were perfect for napping to!

We spent a nice lazy day drowsing around, and then ate some mushrooms around sunset, and spent the evening soaking in the Womb pool with this Deep Creek veteran called the HotSpringsWizard who was super interesting to talk to. He had this magical little lantern, just big enough to hold a tealight candle, and it cast the most beautiful light on the rocks and the water, lending a real Tolkienesque ambiance. Fantastic!

The only unfantastic part was getting up early the next morning to hike out — we got up before 7am to try and escape the heat while hiking, but it was still a long, hot slog uphill, especially with the weight of all our gear on our backs. That’s the only downside to Deep Creek — that hike up is brutal!! But it does keep the half-assers away… so I guess it’s actually an upside, not a downside!

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awesome photo by Adam Sternberg

Anyway, we left camp before 10am on Friday, the 4th of July — plenty of time for me to go home, write my blog, lift weights and pack up for my journey to the west coast. I wanted to leave the very next day (Saturday), to avoid the holiday traffic on the I-15 on Sunday, when all the Southern Californians would be heading back from Vegas. But what I didn’t realize was, traffic on the 4th itself was miserable!!!! I figured all the Californians would have left for Vegas the night before, but I was wrong — by the time I got to Barstow it was horrendous. Stop and go, totally shitty. The problem with driving to Vegas is, there’s really one ONE way in and out from So Cal — I-15. It’s two lanes in each direction, but I’m here to tell you that ain’t enough…especially on holidays.

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Mojave National Preserve

With all my backcountry experience, I figured that surely there had to be some other route — but I didn’t want to go too far out of the way. Alas, my only options were to sit in traffic — or go way the fuck out of the way. I chose the latter, taking the Newberry Springs exit south to the Bagdad Cafe, then catching the 40 up to the Mojave National Preserve, and cutting through that over to Searchlight, by way of Nipton. What should have been a 2-hour jaunt (from Barstow to Vegas) ended up taking over five hours!!! But hey — at least I was moving icon smile Going Gonzo in Mexico

Anyhoo, I got home late, and my Aunt Flo was giving me shit, but I still managed to get most of my stuff done in time to leave Vegas around 1pm the next day, Saturday. That’s how committed I am to fitness — even though it felt like my uterus was trying to force its way down my birth canal and plop out on the ground, I still made myself go through my whole weightlifting routine, cramps and all icon smile Going Gonzo in Mexico

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the best view of Vegas is in the rearview mirror!!

I figured no one would be on the road in the middle of the holiday weekend — wrong again!!! That fuckin’ 15 is always a mess — especially because a huge, fabulously dramatic thunderstorm was moving through the Mojave! It was part of the same weather system that fucked up the Vegas Strip fireworks show the night before — which really delighted the hater in me. I find fireworks to be overrated and boring as fuck, so I thought it was super cool that a thunderstorm moved in and stole the show  — nature’s fury is way more exciting and fun to watch, in my opinion! I’m sure all the dumb ass alkie partiers on the Strip were bummed, but oh well — let me tell you, I couldn’t get out of that city fast enough. I was back in town for less than 24 hours, and that was too long for me. I’m all Vegas-ed out right now…it’s so hot and humid and full of dumbasses this time of year.

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mojave thunderstorm

So anyway, this massive thunderstorm was dumping rain all over the Mojave, so it took longer than usual to get to Barstow, again. But once I turned off that fucking 15, it was smooth sailing the rest of the way. I stopped off for dinner in Bakersfield with my friend Dr. Zhivago, who greeted me at the curb with a Campari & soda and filled me in on his latest WhatsYourPrice.com hijinks (spoiler: he broke down and bought that one whore her Louboutins), and then drove alllllll the way north to my mom’s house up in Sonoma County — a total of 12 hours!!! I was exhausted!!!

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in the forest

I rolled into my mom’s at 1am and basically just passed out. But when I woke up today, it was all worth it — she lives in a beautiful, rustic cabin in the middle of a cool, lush redwood forest just off the Russian River. In other words….the perfect spot to spend the summer! I brought enough stuff to stay til the end of the month, but who knows?? My original plan was to stay here, then do my Seattle road trip (I have several photo shoots booked up there in a couple weeks) and then head back down to Vegas, go to Sturgis, and then Burning Man. But Sturgis might not happen after all — it looks like the guy my girlfriend and I worked for at The Knuckle Saloon last year doesn’t want to hire us back (!!!??!?!?!), so I guess I have no need to be back in Vegas til Burning Man now!! Fuck!!

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last year at Sturgis

On a side note, I can’t believe that guy isn’t hiring us back — we worked our asses off for him last year, and sold quite a bit of booze for him! I guess he preferred to hire local heifers or something…oh, well. It was a fun one-time experience anyway, as I’m sure you’ll recall from reading my blog about it last summer icon smile Going Gonzo in Mexico So anyhoo, as it stands now, I’m spending the summer in Northern California. My buddy Jack Johnson will also be touring the area, so we made plans to hit up some hot springs together next week, and I’m going to see a couple of his shows in San Francisco, so I can finally catch his act. I’ll be going to see him at some Italian restaurant called Osteria on Monday night, if anyone wants to meet for dinner…hit me up!

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the road goes on forever…

One thing I know for sure, I need to make some ca$h, and pronto — I spent almost $400 in gas in the past 12 days alone!!!! So if you’re a Bay Area-based photographer, and want to hire me for any projects any time between now and August 19th or so….holla at me!! Or if you need any copywriting or editing or other writing-type work, I can do that as well. I need adventure money….because in the words of Robert Earl Keen…

“The road goes on forever and the party never ends!”

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P.S. for more photos from my Mexico trip, see my Facebook album!!

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