As an International Woman of Leisure, I enjoy a pretty sweet life packed with parties, adventures and the occasional foray into the depths of the collective pysche. But as a Broke-Ass Hack, I also have to take a break now and then to go home, do some laundry, squats and lunges, and work enough goofy gigs to pay the bills and finance my next trip. So when I got back from my fantastical jaunt to Hawaii, I had to put my nose to the grindstone and get busy hustling; I only had a few days before my next adventure, so I really had to bust my ass to make my nut. Fortunately, the Hustle Gods were smiling on me…and I scored a grueling 40-hour gig in a dog costume!
This was one of those gigs I book occasionally through an agency that deals exclusively with mascot characters — they needed someone 5’1″ – 5’3″ to wear this famous cartoon dog costume at a insurance event…for ten hours a day, four days in a row!! Brutal, but a fat paycheck at the end…and because the shifts were so long, and the costume was so hot, they hired another chick to alternate 30-minute shifts with me, so we each only had to go out in costume for 30 minutes at a time, with a 30 minute break for air in between. Not too bad!
The other chick they hired was this ultra-waifish blonde actress/singer with whom I used to work a lot of gigs back in the day, until she moved to Hollywood to make it big in Show Biz. But I guess breaking into showbiz is harder than it seems, since she needed cash badly enough to come back to Vegas for this dogsuit gig. To save even more money, she asked if she could stay at my place…so I made up a bed for her on the floor in my dressing room, surrounded by my creepy mannequins and 112 pairs of shoes.
Now, this chick is cool as shit — I really like her. BUT, she is one of the most high-strung people I’ve ever met!!! A musical-theatre-type with a degree in Vocal Pedagogy, she also has several clinically-diagnosed phobiæ (including the inability to hear the sound of food being chewed — she literally backed away from me in horror when I was eating some almonds once), and a mile-a-minute stream of chatter which is only ever interrupted long enough for her trembling hands to pop an Adderall and wash it down with a gallon of Diet Coke. She drinks so much Diet Coke, in fact, that she even carries a handbag designed to look like a giant can of Diet Coke — I’ve never seen anything like it! But she’s a super nice chick, with some super interesting stories to tell about her offbeat money-making endeavors in L.A. (If that chick ever starts a blog, I’m doomed….her shit is way more interesting than my tired old shtick!!!)
Anyway, this dog suit gig basically consumed four entire days of my life — I woke up, drove to the miserable corporate campus of one of the local casino companies, and suited up in the costume…then shuffled down the hall to pose for photos with casino employees and their snot-nosed brats at this soul-crushingly depressing insurance faire they had going on, where employees were supposed to go in and shop for supplemental insurance. It was basically a room full of Willy Loman/shark hybrids, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting blackjack dealers, cocktail waitresses and restroom attendants in the hopes of luring them into signing over parts of their meager paychecks just in case something unthinkable were to happen. Meanwhile, to lure them in, they had all these depressing “Kids’ Activities” like face painters, balloon twisters…and one sad bitch in a dogsuit. “Fun for the Whole Family!” Ugh.
I can’t afford to have lofty morals or anything like that, so I just kept my mouth shut and put on the suit every 30 minutes, for 10 hours a day, all 4 days. It really wasn’t that bad, and I just kept my eyes on the prize: a $1,000 payday at the end of it all. That’ll buy a lot of shrooms and booze!!!
Meanwhile, there was another big trade show going on in town that weekend over at the convention center — the specialty graphics show. Wouldn’t you know it, in no time flat my phone started blowing up with tradeshow model friends of mine texting me photos from the convention center — apparently, the show was using that fucking stock photo of me in the showgirl costume on all their banners and promotional marketing!!! (I did an unpaid photo shoot once with a photographer who turned around and sold the pics to a stock photo agency, and they turn up everywhere.)
Well, I thought it would be pretty cool to have a banner of myself to hang in my garage or something, as a reminder to always read model releases carefully…so on the last day of the trade show, I headed over to the convention center the second my dogsuit gig was over. The trouble was, I didn’t get off til 7pm…and the tradeshow had ended at 4:30. By the time I got there, they had already torn the place apart — and all the banners with my pic on them were already in a dumpster somewhere
The only thing still on display was this ginormous fucking 20′ x 40′ monstrosity that hung over the main entrance to the show…but no matter who I asked, I couldn’t find the person in charge of it, to see if I could have it. MAN! If I had a 20′ tall poster of myself, I’d never forget to read a model release again!!! The frustrating thing was, there were all manner of people bustling about dismantling the convention — but they all worked for different entities, and no one had any fucking authority: Security told me to ask GES, the GES guy told me to ask Show Management, and Show Management was nowhere to be found :-/ Finally I gave up and went home, and for my trouble, the fucking Convention Authority had put a ticket on my windshield, threatening to tow my car because it was parked in an unauthorized area. WELL, FUCK YOU, TOO, ASSHOLES! I’ll never be on one of your shitty banners again!! Oh, wait…I don’t have any rights to the photo, so I have no say-so in the matter. D’OH!!!!
Aaaaaaanyway, I put it all behind me in the interest of getting on with my life and getting on with my dogsuit gig, so I could finally finish it up and get the fuck out of Dodge and onto my next adventure, which happened to be an exceptionally amazing one. The minute that dog suit was off for the last time, so was I — off to the desert, for my long-awaited return to Fabulous Saline Valley Hot Springs!!!!!!!
I’d been dying to return to magical Saline Valley for quite some time now — the last (and only) time I’d gone was way back in 2011, but that fantastically magical place has been lodged in my memory ever since. If you don’t remember/haven’t read my other blog about this fantastically remote desert oasis, the Saline Hot Springs are basically a collection of pristine, volunteer-built-and-maintained cement hot spring pools shrouded by shaggy palm trees, waaaaaaay the fuck out in the middle of nowhere, on the far northwest edge of Death Valley, miles and miles and miles away from anything. There’s no cell phone service, and the only way to get there is to leave the pavement and traverse a 50-mile-long washboard dirt road that keeps out all but the most intrepid, hardcore desert kooks.
On my last trip I’d been incredibly fortunate, as I was woefully underprepared and really should have ended up one of those dumbass tourist fatalities you read about — getting to Saline is a HARD CORE ADVENTURE requiring a BAD ASS vehicle, plenty of water and food, two full-size spare tires and/or a tire repair kit…and TONS of patience. The road is so miserable, it has been known to bust axles, tires and oil pans like they were made of papier-mâché…so you have to drive reeeeeeally slow, like 5-10mph, and get out of the car to move boulders and shit every now and then. Keep in mind, if you do bust a tire or oil pan, there is no cell phone service and very little (if any) vehicle traffic for 50 miles in any direction….and this is Death Valley, so you’re basically FUCKED!
Anyhow, by the grace of Dog I made it out from that first trip alive…but at the end of it all, I vowed never to return to Saline Valley unless I was in a 4WD high-clearance vehicle –preferably someone else’s!!
Well, guess what — a reader of this blog emailed me a month or two back, inviting me to return to Saline with him in a rented 4WD Suburban…all meals and supplies included! This man lives in Atlanta, but he was willing to fly to Vegas, rent a car, buy camping gear and food and stuff, and haul my ass down a 50-mile washboard dirt road just for the chance to soak in the hallowed waters of the Saline Springs with me. How could I say no to that?!?!?!?
Yet again, you might think it unwise to meet up with a strange man and follow him into the remotest reaches of the desert — look what happened when I met up with Jack Johnson at Deep Creek!! But to that I say, a life well lived takes some risks…and besides, the guy emailed me a few times telling me about himself: a retired physician who had read many of my blogs and knew quite a bit about me and my bizarre-O lifestyle. He seemed like a really nice guy…so what the heck? Sometimes you gotta trust your instincts…and guess what; I’m glad I did! He turned out to be a super cool person, and even told me I could print uncensored photos of him here, and could use his real name — he said he was PROUD to know me, unlike “other” wussy haters who party with me but want to remain anonymous. As wonderful as I think his openness is, however, I’m still going to call him by a pseudonym…because it’s just more dramatic and fun that way So we’ll call him “Dr. Kildare.”
Meanwhile, my sis had also been wanting to check out Saline Hot Springs for quite some time, so she drove down from the SF Bay Area and arranged to meet up with Dr. Kildare and I at Panamint Springs, the closest “town” (really just a motel/cafe/gas station) in the area, so we could caravan down that horrible dirt road together, in the interest of safety. (Even tho my sis has a 4×4, it’s better to be cautious…ya know?)
So after lunch at the cafe in Panamint, we all set off on the fabled dirt road. I had been telling them all about how horrible this road was for weeks and weeks…so imagine my surprise when it turned out not to be nearly as bad as I’d remembered! I must have looked like I was completely full of shit…but apparently, Saline Valley Road is technically a county-maintained road, and someone finally whined about it enough to where they graded the whole thing last winter, and now it really isn’t bad at all. We could still only go about 20mph, and up to 30-40 in a few spots….but it was MUCH better than the last time I’d traversed it. I’m not saying it’s an easy cruise — it’s still the worst road I’ve ever driven on, so BE ADVISED! Also, a winter storm could come along and fuck it up royally at any moment…so conditions are subject to change. If you’re planning a trip out there, your best bet is to check the online message boards at the Saline Valley Preservation Association forum…they have a thread there regarding latest road conditions. (I did check this myself before embarking on the trip, but refused to believe the road was as good as everyone said.)
Anyway, the road was bumpy and long, but nothing our SUVs couldn’t handle, and we ended up rolling into the hot springs right around dusk. MUCH easier than my previous trip, where I had been stumbling around in pitch darkness without a clue! On that trip, my friend and I had just set up camp at the first place we came to, down in the bushes near the lower springs. On this trip, Dr. Kildare wanted to camp farther up, near the Palm Springs…out in the open desert, under a bazillion stars. It was FABULOUS!
Once camp was set up, we hiked down in the dark to soak in the lower springs. The lower springs are sort of the main gathering area, with a communal firepit, dishwashing area, showers, soaking pools and a nice shady lawn where you can relax during the heat of the day. They even have a little lending library full of musty paperbacks (and a sign warning you to keep the doors closed, as wild burros like to cruise in and eat the books). We couldn’t see any of this in the dark, but I wanted to hang out down there because I had one more friend driving in that night from Flagstaff, and I figured the lower springs would be the easiest place for him to find us.
Sure enough, there was a group of people hanging out down there soaking in the pool next to the campfire, so Dr. Kildare, my sis and I all joined in. It was a fun group; a radio DJ and his snowboard-instructor brother from Mammoth, plus two hot fireman from the Bay Area. In other words, that pool had more simmering sausage than a pot of Andouille gumbo! But that’s what I love about hot springs — even where nudity is the custom (ESPECIALLY where nudity is the custom), a single gal need never fear jumping into a tub full of strange men. These places area all about naturism (in my experience, anyway) — nudity without sexuality. One more reason why I VASTLY prefer hot springs to nudist resorts…which almost always prove to be swinger hotbeds :/
Anyway, we all hung out soaking and bullshitting until my Flagstaff friend finally showed up, peering into the firelit darkness to ask if “Phyllis” was around. Phyllis was the code name I had chosen for myself at Saline; I don’t typically go by a pseudonym, but I was kinda skeered down there because the Saline regulars can be a real hard-nosed band of haters when it comes to “outsiders” writing/blogging/Yelping about their precious springs — all of which I have done, many times! I got quite a bit of hate mail from certain regulars out there when I wrote about my first trip to Saline….so I thought it might be prudent to go by a fake name whilst on their turf. So, “Phyllis” it was.
Anyway, as mentioned this new arrival was an acquaintance from Flagstaff — a photographer I had shot with back in March, at my German artist friends’ compound down in Wonder Valley. Apparently this guy is also a true eccentric — a truck-driving cat-lover who used to bring his cat with him on long hauls, even keeping a litter box under the glove compartment, LOL. But I already figured he was nutty…otherwise, he wouldn’t have agreed to drive all the way out to the middle of nowhere to meet up with a drug-addled batshit nude model!!! But, either way…us nutty types are the only people worth hanging out with, in my opinion
Anyhoo, that first night was pretty mellow, and we all crawled into our tents pretty early. But the fabulous thing about camping with Dr. Kildare was, he likes to get up really early…and he likes to cook fantastic meals!! (Not unlike Dr. Who, now that I think about it!) So by the time my sis and I rolled out of bed in the morning, there was already coffee on tap in one of those catering carafes, followed by strawberries & cream and salmon, cream cheese and capers on water crackers. Holy Whole Foods, Batman!!! I contributed some Bloody Marys to the mix, and all in all it was better than any breakfast you could ever get at some poseur-ass 5-star hotel…because we were naked in the warm desert sunshine, surrounded by a vast, dramatic desert landscape, with towering mountains rising on all sides around us. F A B U L O U S !
We spent the day lounging in the shade down by the lower pool, reading and boozing and chatting with various leathery nude old men, all of whom had the most interesting stories to tell about their travels to this and other remote hot springs. Everyone was super friendly, so after awhile I got lazy and quit calling myself Phyllis — I don’t think anyone there knew or cared who the fuck I was, other than some nattering naked ninny in a cowboy hat. So, the day passed peacefully…drenched in that amazing utter stillness you only get when you’re way the fuck out in the middle of a barren, cell-phone-less desert.
But, every so often that majestic stillness would be broken out of nowhere by the screaming sound of fighter jet afterburners — Saline Valley also happens to be a designated low-level flight corridor used by pilots from nearby China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station to practice flying super low to the ground — as close as 300 feet overhead!! So you’d be sitting there naked, sipping a Bloody Mary and discussing the finer points of psilocybin, when all of a sudden this ginormous fucking F-18 would come swooping in out of nowhere, screaming through the valley, so close overhead that it rustled your pubic hair!! Sometimes they buzzed you so close, you could even make out the pilot in the cockpit!!! Far out!!!!!!!!
Even more awesomely, one of those pilots emailed me once, after reading my other blog about Saline Valley…and he attached a link to a video he shot, of what Saline Valley looks like from the pilot’s POV. But I lost the email, and can’t find it anywhere. Pilot, if you’re reading this…please resend! Anyway, rather than being a nuisance, those fighter jets really add to the bizarre ambiance at Saline. So weird!!!
Speaking of weird, one of the old-timers at the springs told us kids about an Elvis shrine someone had erected on a nearby hillside, so around sunset we went out hiking to find it. Alas, the dumb-ass park service dismantled it some time ago (apparently there’s a rule against erecting a monument or some such totalitarian B.S.), so all that was left was a pile of rocks. So we said a few words, and the DJ from Mammoth spelled out “T C B” in rocks at the base, and then we headed back down to camp for another one of Dr. Kildare’s fantastic meals — filet mignon and sautéed mushrooms, with a side of pasta kicked in by my Flagstaff trucker pal (who drives a bus for a living nowadays…so I’ll call him “Otto”).
My own contribution this time was dessert — I had a bunch of chocolate magic mushroom truffles, which I passed around to all takers. Those of us who partook started tripping a short while thereafter, and we all headed up to soak in the Wizard pool — one of the upper pools that is open to the night sky, so you can lay back and stare into the heavens at the thousands and thousands of stars that can only be seen from a remote-ass place like Death Valley (or Mauna Kea). It was absolutely magical to sit there in all that silent vastness, surrounded by cool, naked people with no agenda other than a good time.
Alas, the silence was destroyed by our relentless shroomy nattering — about all kinds of stupid topics from cabbages and kings to the merits of Angelina Jolie vs. Jen Aniston. Apparently, my sister is on Team Angelina, and feels she has been wrongly maligned by the media as a scabrous, homewrecking whore when really it’s all Brad Pitt’s fault!! I never thought I’d be in the position of defending a humorless dullard like Jen, but in that situation I did have to take her side — Angelina had already busted up Billy Bob Thornton’s thing with Laura Dern, so she definitely knew better when it came to Brad. An honorable woman would have told Brad/Billy Bob to break it off with Jen/Laura before getting involved….but apparently, that bitch has a magic pussy that can lead men off a cliff faster than the Pied Piper. Anyway, my sis and I finally had to agree to disagree, because this is one topic on which we’re never gonna see eye to eye!
That craziness went on late into the night, and a genuinely good time was had by all — even those among us who didn’t eat mushrooms. Dr. Kildare even said later that it was one of the most fun nights he’s ever had in his entire life! Apparently, even when I’m high as a kite and arguing drunkenly about some dumb HollyTwats, I’m fun to be around But I wasn’t sure everyone felt that way…so the next morning I made sure to apologize to the other campers in the area, as they were taking their morning soak. No one was upset though, and everything was cool.
Anyway, we were all pretty hungover that day, so didn’t do much other than swill a few mimosas and lay around in the shade some more. We did sack up and hike to the undeveloped Upper Springs, way up the hill about 2 miles, just to get some exercise….but after that, we just had a light dinner and hit the sack early, so we could get up and watch sunrise one more time before leaving.
Let me tell you, it takes a lot to get me up for sunrise…but that was totally worth it!! I wasn’t feeling well, as I hadn’t slept for shit since arriving at Saline, and I was coming down with a cold or flu or something…so I was kinda subdued, but it was still fabulous to see the sun come up over the valley, bathing everything in pink and orange, my absolute favorite color combo of all time (I call it “porange”). Dr. Kildare made us one last fantastic breakfast, we packed up camp, had one last soak…and then headed off back to Vegas, pulling back into my driveway that night around 7pm. My sis followed us home, since the very next day we were both heading to L.A. together to attend a Halloween party at the home of some porn industry people we’d met at Burning Man, and it made more sense for us to drive together.
So we basically took showers, did laundry and passed out….then got up the next day to head back out on the road again. To break up the drive, I proposed we stop off for lunch in Yermo, a dusty little desert outpost near Barstow that was home to the first-ever Del Taco restaurant. Someone had told me about this place awhile back, saying it was unlike any Del Taco anywhere, and I somehow took that to mean it would be more fancy or gourmet or something. In actuality, it’s not even a Del Taco anymore — just a sunbaked little burger shack at the side of a lonely desert side road, surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling gas stations and other picturesque Americana. The food is still pretty much the same shit as Del Taco, and not really any better…but the ambiance is far out! And the old Del Taco sign is still perched atop the roof, though the paint is peeling pretty badly. I definitely recommend stopping here on your next trip from L.A. to Vegas — take the Yermo Road exit, and look for Tita’s Burger Den. You won’t be sorry!
Once back on the road, we headed straight for the San Fernando Valley– our good friend Dr. Who was meeting us for the party, and had booked a genteel room in Calabasas for the three of us to crash in afterward. The party hosts were his Burning Man campmates, and we had all three been looking forward to this shindig for quite some time — although we’d had the devil of a time trying to come up with a clever group costume for one man and two women. Three’s Company? Lame! Two Girls, One Cup?? As tempting as it sounded to dress Dr. Who as a cup of shit and then go around all night licking him, I still felt we could do better.
Finally, we ended up settling on the weird, meta idea of dressing up as the party hosts themselves. Far out!! As mentioned, the people throwing the party were all in the porn biz, so I dressed as the producer, Dr. Who dressed as his sexy blonde wife, and my sis dressed as the sound guy, whose house the party was at. My trusty bag of dongs came in handy yet again, as I wore a strap-on with the tip poking thru the crotch of my overalls (the producer is known to wear overalls, and he won the SpeedBoner contest at last year’s Slut Olympics at Burning Man) and my sis jammed another dong into the end of her “boom mic” (a paint roller on a broomstick, lol).
I had also bought a ginormous old bra and sundress for Dr. Who to wear with his blonde wig and false eyelashes, so once he arrived at the hotel, we set about dressing him up. To make it even more fun, we also applied liquid latex to our faces and did zombie makeup…so we were basically the Undead versions of the party hosts at the party we were going to. Kray-zay!!! By the time we left the hotel and headed for the party, we were quite a sight.
Let me tell you, I’ve been to some parties in my day, but this one was nuts! These porn industry types really know how to let loose, ya know what I mean? The crowd was astonishingly diverse, and the costumes were pretty creative. You’d think at a porn party it would be all balloon-breasted starlets in slutty nun outfits or whatever — well, this was not the case. There were plenty of hot actresses there…but there were also a lot of stone-cold kooks! Our meta-costumes went over extremely well, and after a ketamine-laced rum & Coke or two, I was feeling no pain and having the time of my life, dancing around the living room in my overalls and flipflops, with my fake dick hanging out, not a care in the world. I’m here to tell you, that was the most comfortable Halloween costume I’ve ever worn — usually I’m suffering in high heels and some kind of wig or corset, but not this year. Zombie Drag FTW!!!
Astonishingly, despite the abundance of luscious pornstar trim hanging around, my sis and I got plenty of action — even in our zombie drag. Apparently, those guys see hot chicks all the time, so a little titty aint no thang and they’d rather talk to a dirty hobo cholo (which is what I looked like). Go figure! I knew I loved that industry; they really are good people. Which reminds me — they finally aired that news story I was interviewed for, about the porn biz “invading” Vegas. As I feared, the angle is sensational and alarmist…but at least they didn’t edit my words to make it seem like I said things I didn’t. See for yourself:
Anyway, we danced our asses off at that party until 5am (!!!!!), when we finally thanked our poor exhausted hosts, climbed into Dr. Who’s rental car, and headed back to our hotel to crash. I was e x h a u s t e d, and still feeling sick, but there was no time to sleep in, since Dr. Who is a bionic freak who only needs 4 hours of sleep per night. He was up & at ‘em at 10am, showering and getting dressed so he could go visit some other friends in the area. Meanwhile, my sis and I dragged ass like two beached sea lions, moaning and groaning and fumbling for the coffee and Blowfish (a hangover potion that actually works pretty well…I officially endorse this product!).
So Dr. Who took off, inviting us to meet up with him later at the house of last night’s porn producer and his wife, where they were all planning some sort of fucked-up sleepover with a bunch of people in town from their Burning Man camp. It sounded fun, so my sis and I made some sort of vague noncommittal reply…but we knew if we went to that sleepover it would be another late night of not enough rest, and both of us were feeling pretty tore up. We decided to go get breakfast and think about it….and as we sat there, we decided our health would be better served by driving around L.A. for the day looking at various Manson Family crime scenes, then heading back out to the high desert to get a motel room near Apple Valley, so we could hit up my beloved Deep Creek hot springs in the morning before heading back to Vegas.
So we cruised around town, stopping off at the old LaBianca residence in Los Feliz, where Charles Manson’s deranged killer hippie minions murdered a middle-aged couple…and then we hit up Sharon Tate’s old house in Benedict Canyon, which actually isn’t even there anymore; some idiot bulldozed it and replaced it with a McMansion, but the front gate is still there and you can sort of get the idea. Finally, we headed up to Chatsworth to the site of the old Spahn Movie Ranch, where the Manson Family members once squatted in various cabins and ranch buildings, living for free on the dime of poor old blind George Spahn. The ranch is long gone, but apparently you can still hike to a cave where they used to hang out — unfortunately for us, it was already dark by this time, so we didn’t even get out of the car. Still, it was a spooooooooky place, and I definitely plan to go back sometime!
Now we headed back out toward the desert, and as we drove, I hit up Orbitz to see about a cheap motel room in Apple Valley, Victorville, Palmdale or any other of those depressing, lamentable desert burgs. Being from Vegas, I am totally spoiled when it comes to hotel rooms — here, you can get a fairly nice room at one of the Stations Casinos for around $30-$40; not so elsewhere! The cheapest place we could find that didn’t have terrible reviews was a Knights Inn in Palmdale; so we booked the room, checked in, dragged our bags and weary asses down the walkway and opened the door. All we wanted to do was drink some wine and pass the fuck out — but there were bugs all over the room!!! Crawling on the table, on the headboard, the pillows…and all over the bathroom. YUCK!!!!!!!
I’m here to tell you, I’ve stayed in some shitty motel rooms in my day, but I have never seen anything like it. It must have been due to the fact that the weather had just turned, and this nasty fucking cold front had blown in, rousting out the bugs and signaling an abrupt end to my beloved summertime Boooooo!
Either way, we weren’t about to stay there, so we got a refund and figured we might as well just head back to Vegas. After that horror, we didn’t feel like dicking around with another shitty motel — in fact, I’m going to be scared off from all motels for quite a while now, because of that experience. So even though I was exhausted, I somehow managed to drive us all the way back to Vegas, where we collapsed into bed around 1am and slept for around 3 days. We were just annihilated from all the adventuring of late, and the weather change, and the seasonal flu nonsense.
But wouldn’t you know it, we couldn’t rest for long — before you know it, one of my friends messaged me, inviting us out for a day at Tecopa Hot Springs, this amazingly freaky little desert outpost between Death Valley and Pahrump. Back in the day (’40s-’50s), it was a hotspot for Hollywood types looking for a relaxing, curative getaway…but nowadays, it’s just a collection of rundown old hot spring “resorts” and a bunch of snowbirds living in trailers and RVs. In other words — a fantastic spot, and only 90 minutes from Vegas!! A little soaking, a little shrooming….how could I say no?! Tecopa is one of my favorite places ever, and I wanted my sis to see it!
So we loaded up some drugs and bathrobes, and headed back out into the desert in my friend’s tricked-out Honda. This crazy motherfucker likes to drive fast, and has already been busted going well over 100mph twice….but it’s hard not to do on those lonely desert roads, so we got to Tecopa pretty quickly, and checked into a room at Delight’s Resort (we didn’t plan to stay the night, but this friend likes to rent a cabin there when soaking, just to use as a basecamp of sorts). Meanwhile, Delight’s has been taken over by some Koreans from Vegas, so the sign is now in Korean and I can’t read it…but I’m pretty sure it’s still called Delight’s.
Anyway, we all stripped down, put on our robes, swallered our shrooms and headed off to soak. The tubs at Delight’s have that Korean spa aesthetic — walled-in private rooms that are regularly bleached and scoured, so you know they’re sparkling clean…but lacking a certain measure of ambiance. So after soaking awhile, around sunset we decided to head down the road for an open-air soak in the all-natural mudhole, about a half mile away.
It was amazing — we shuffled along the
desolate highway in our robes and flip flops, across the most vast, barren moonscape this side of Mars, all bathed in the magnificent golden light of pre-sunset, tripping our balls off. Finally, ahead in the distance we saw a little smudge of green — the mudhole! This lonely patch of marshy vegetation sits in the middle of the most enormous expanse of barren desert you’ve ever seen, just like the springs of Saline Valley. Totally surreal…and as we approached, it was even moreso, as there was a group of Russian acrobats hanging out around a lonely campfire drinking birch water and potato juice, with tinny Russian pop music wafting from a little transistor radio. They were all performers from various Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas, and come out to Tecopa on their days off for a taste of home, I guess. Far out!!!
We soaked in the mudhole, enjoying the breathtakingly fabulous sunset while chatting with one of the acrobats, a giant, barrel-chested Slav with a curly blond mullet who has been performing in Cirque shows for 17 years!!! I was astonished that his career had lasted that long, as it was my assumption that circus life is tough as fuck, and burns through acrobats in a few years. In fact, he did tell us that he’s had “many, many surgery” and showed us scars on his abdomen where some fountain had blasted him over and over again while a roomful of drunken tourists yukked it up. What a life!!! He did say he plans to retire after New Year’s, and possibly take up indoor marijuana farming — so who knows what the future holds?
But it reminded me of a story that my Diet-Coke-a-holic actress friend had told me, during one of our breaks at the dogsuit gig. She used to be one of those strolling opera singers at the Venetian (you know, the ones that wear those old Renaissance costumes and walk around the Grand Canal Shoppes), and she said one of the jugglers who performed with them was from Russia. They only made $17/hour at this job, but it was steady money and pretty good hours, so I guess the Russian guy eventually had his son drop of high school and get his GED so he could become a juggler as well! That’s so Russian: “In Soviet Russia, Clown College is better than State College!!!”
Anyway, as the sunset faded away into a magical desert darkness, the stars started coming out and we struck up a conversation with another guy in the mudhole, a Tecopa local who had lived in the area for years and years. Boy was HE a helpful fount of information!!! He told us about all these crazy UFO sightings in the area, and even dished us a little of the local gossip — apparently one of the other hot springs resorts near Delight’s is for sale. Hmmmmmm!!! I can definitely think of worse things than whiling away my declining years running a kooky desert hot springs resort……..let me think about this!
Once it was full-on dark, my sister and I started to get hungry, so we climbed out of the warm pool into the freezing night air (I’m telling you, summer is over — it was a low of 32 degrees out there that night!!) and bundled back up in our robes to shuffle back along the highway to our room at Delight’s. None of us had thought to bring a flashlight, but the moon was almost full and there was so much ambient light that we didn’t even need one — it was magical!! Still pretty high, we soaked at Delight’s for awhile longer before getting dressed and heading down the road to see if the good people at Pastel’s Bistro were still there.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned Pastel’s Bistro before, but I’ll go ahead and say it again: this is a fantastic little restaurant in Tecopa, all the way out in the middle of nowhere, that serves bad ass healthy, organic, high-quality foodie-type gourmet food at very reasonable prices, in a super-charmingly funky, bohemian atmosphere. The cook is a guy who used to be a chef at a highbrow restaurant in Vegas before he said “Fuckit!” and hauled ass to the desert, where he now gets baked and noodles around in the kitchen, cooking up all manner of fantastically fabulous, unexpected fare for weary desert travelers and random locals. His partner is a sort of kooky hippie-type chick who waits the tables and helps out, and they are both super-legit people. One of the best restaurants I have ever been to!!!
The only bummer is, they tend to close up kinda early…so usually when I come out to Tecopa, by the time my shrooms wear off it’s too late to eat there. As a result, I’ve only ever had two real meals there — but both were exceptional!! This time, they were just getting ready to close up, so they didn’t have any real food left…but they did have some soup — some bad ass meatball-vegetable-three-bean-soup!! I’m here to tell you, after freezing my balls off getting out of the hot springs, that soup was the best thing I’ve ever had!!!! They served it up with some garlic bread, and it was really one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Thank you SO MUCH, guys, for serving us even though you were trying to close up and go home!!!! Again, I can’t say enough good things about this place — if you ever want to meet up for a fun afternoon, I heartily recommend coming out here for a soak and some lunch. It’s only about 90 minutes from Vegas…hit me up!!!!
After dinner, my friend wanted to do one last soak at Delight’s before heading home. My sis and I were too cold and sleepy, so we told him to go ahead and we would sleep in the room…but next thing you know, my friend fell asleep as well, and we all three dozed off until around 1:30am, when we finally got up and drove home. Another long, exhausting night….but magical!!! You tell me — how can I ever get enough sleep, when all these fantastical magical experiences keep presenting themselves to me?!?!?!?
Anyway, my sister and I slept late the next day, and then she finally left, headed back up north toward the Bay Area, where she’s spending the winter in a cabin in the redwoods up near the Russian River. I’m coming to visit her in a few weeks, in fact — but first, in the meantime, I have some other stuff to do: some photo shoots, a cigar convention, a Mexican Riviera cruise…and finally getting around to riding that giant fucking Ferris Wheel that has been looming over the Vegas Strip since March!!!
Shit…..looks like I’ll never get enough sleep!!!