This morning I found myself in the unenviable and undeniably bizarre position of squatting over my toilet with a pair of super-sharp hair scissors, snipping perilously close to the delicate flesh of my anus. Why the fuck was I trimming my ass hair, you ask??
I asked myself that same question.
photo credit: C.J.
As an art nude model, I understand and accept the responsibility I’ve assumed to maintain a neat, slim, fit, conventionally attractive appearance. I lift weights, I run, I tan, I diet, I shave, I trim, I moisturize, I hydrate, I cleanse, I floss, I file, I spend 45 minutes prior to a shoot making up my face, and I spend a great deal of time and money caring for and styling my hair.
Apparently, this isn’t enough!
It seems that these days, the definition of “conventionally attractive” has become invasive to the point where it’s no longer enough to trim your bush and shave your bikini line down to a modest landing strip. These days, apparently, photographers want you to shave everything — including your asshole!
Now, keep in mind — I market myself as an art nude model. Not an adult model, not a webcam model, not a porn actress. My bio on Model Mayhem clearly states the types of content I am comfortable with and willing to shoot:
photo credit: L. Hoth
[My] rates are for art and glamour nudes…NOT erotica. To be clinical, I will shoot anything except for masturbation, implied masturbation, spread-eagle shots and insertion of objects into my ass/twat.
Basically, you can photograph my labia majora all day long…and if you REALLY want to photograph my labia minora and other innards, be advised that my rate for clinical, up-close spread vag shots is $700/hour. So go ahead; bust out your most powerful telephoto lens, jeweler’s loupe, what-the-fuck-EVER, and blast away! I’ve been told I do have a very shapely vagina For $700 you too could have 60 wondrous minutes of staring at/photographing it, and I *WILL* donate $100 of that to Planned Parenthood.
(No photographer has ever, as of yet, taken me up on the Vagina Challenge, preferring instead to cajole and dissemble (“Don’t worry, the way your leg is angled it’s all hidden in shadow.” Yeah, right!)
a modest bush photo credit: Cam Attree
Partly to cockblock such dissemblance, my practice is to rock a modest bush — that way, even if a photographer tries to pull one over on me, at least my anus and vagina are somewhat camouflaged. And though most of the photographers I shoot with are respectful of my comfort levels, I still prefer to maintain a bush for reasons of physical comfort and personal aesthetics.
Of course I understand that aesthetics vary, and I’m sure my bush costs me shoots here and there…but guess what? If a photographer insists on it, I am totally willing to shave my pubis, groin and labia! Though I do feel naked and weird when bald, it’s not that big a deal, and I am happy to oblige.
But I draw the line at my taint!!!
Because of my limitations, I see no need to shave any further south than my labia majora. I don’t pose for spread-leg shots anyway, so why should I shave my perineum and anus? If a photographer has read my bio and is truly respecting my comfort levels, any hair that grows below my labia won’t be showing in any of the photos, anyways.
I mean, shit — I’m already naked!! Is there noinch of my body I can keep as my own — not even myasshole?!?!?!?!
photo credit: Photoman027, Diverxity.com
Apparently not. In the last couple of months I’ve had two or three photographers raise the issue of my ass hair. Having just this morning caved to pressure and trimmed it, I can tell you with 100% certainty that said hairs were only .5″ long at most. Had my posing comfort levels been honored, they shouldn’t have even been visible!! Have you seen my ass?!! 1/2 inch of anything should not protrude beyond the curve of my buttocks…unless someone was shooting me from an unflattering and unexpected angle.
In any event, I understand the evolutionary biology behind all of this: a bald pussy is a young pussy. Men want to be sure their potential mate is prepubescent and thus unlikely to have been sullied by other dicks. Some guys also profess this preference for better visibility, or for less interference during cunnilingus.
Or, apparently, anilingus.
But I’m not in the business of anilingus, cunnilingus or for that matter any-fucking-lingus — I’m just trying to be an art model!!
photo credit: Shutterbug Studio
Has society become so sexually jaded that a traditional, beautiful, tasteful art nude is no longer a turn on?
Is a subtle glimpse of bush (or shaven pubis) no longer enough?
photo credit: Taylor Maxwell
What happened to less is more?!
Does it really take a fully shaven, tweezed, plucked and bleached expanse from navel to anus to turn guys on these days?
The temperatures in Vegas are creeping into the triple digits, so that means it’s time to get the hell out of Dodge and see some more of this amazing country. It’s time to bake in the sun in the company of cantankerous old hippies at Red Rock nude beach in Marin County…to make camp stove coffee on the tailgate of my truck, overlooking the Pacific Ocean from a foggy Lost Coast bluff…to smoke weed with bearded van-dwelling strangers while soaking naked in the secluded old-growth forest hot spring pools of Oregon. In short — it’s time to live!!!
These adventures and more await me on my 2015 Summer Adventure Tour, tentatively outlined above. After wending my way up the coast through Northern California and across Oregon, I plan to explore the hot springs of southwest Idaho, earn gas money by posing for a photo shoot or two, and then make my way back down through northern Nevada to take care of unfinished business from my February trip, which was cut short due to cold weather. There are still a ton of fabulous hot springs, ghost towns and assorted other attractions up there that I need to check out!
To do all this, I need money — money to pay for trip expenses, but also to cover my nut for all that time I’ll be taking off from hustling. With that in mind, I’ve really been busting my hump lately, socking away cash like a Fundie mom stockpiling cans of powdered chipped beef for the apocalypse.
Last fall in Reno
My hump-busting was thrown for a loop, however, when my friend Blondie proposed a trip up to Reno, to hustle for tips at a biker rally like we did last October. I had about $750 worth of gigs lined up that weekend in Vegas, but Blondie wheedled/cajoled/coerced me into gambling on the uncertainty of Reno instead — though it wasn’t a sure thing, there was the distinct possibility that I would make more than $750, plus have a lot of fun in the process. Last October I made a similar gamble and it paid off handsomely — we really cleaned up at the fall Street Vibrations rally, and afterward I concluded that sometimes a bird in the hand is not worth two in the bush. So to speak.
So I decided to let ‘er ride, and once again rolled the dice on Reno. But this time…I totally crapped out!
This was the spring Street Vibrations rally — they used to only do it in the fall, but decided to try a spring rally as well, since the weather is so nice this time of year…usually. I guess Blondie heard about it from some of her biker fanboys, one or two of whom were exhorting her to come up for it, so she in turn convinced me to cancel all my Vegas gigs and go with her.
I should have known the whole trip would be a bust right from the start; as we rolled thru Goldfield, we stopped to say hi to this nutty Evangelical Christian gold miner/perv who had given my sister and me Chick tracts last February, and while bullshitting with him at his tourist trap jewelry stand, another old perv in a Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirt showed up and started hitting on us, telling us how he’d just come from “the cathouse near Area 51.” Upon closer inspection he appeared to have a dingleberry in his mustache, so either the whores up there have exceptionally poor hygiene, or the dirty motherfucker was lying and had really been eating trucker ass at a Flying J. Either way, we took a couple more Chick tracts and got the fuck out of there.
the town was deserted
Anyway, we rolled into Reno Wednesday night to find a completely deserted, freezing-cold ghost town, with nothing but drizzling rain and a few stray methheads awaiting us on Virginia Street. Supposedly the rally went from Thursday-Sunday, but Blondie had talked me into going up a day early, on Wednesday, so that we would be relaxed, refreshed and ready to hustle once the bikers started rolling in — one of her photographer friends had gotten us a free hotel room right on Virginia Street (the main drag), so we could spend the extra day laying at the pool or something, working on our tans. HA!!!
Not only was the weather shitty and rainy, but someone had given us faulty intel — the rally didn’t even start til Friday, and attendance was expected to be a fraction of the fall numbers. I turned down $750 worth of work for this?!? I had even tried to hedge our bets by applying for a $27/hour promo modeling gig in Reno, but Blondie wouldn’t let me — she insisted we’d make more money just hustling. So now I was pretty pissed.
But since we were already there, we decided to make the most of it, and spent Thursday sleeping in and working out at the hotel gym. One of Blondie’s biker fanboys showed up that evening with a buddy in tow, and the four of us ended up spending the evening together like we were on some fucked-up super-awkward double date straight out of Grease (trust me, I’m certainly no Sandra Dee…but compared to the guy they stuck me with, I’m Pat fucking Nixon!!!!!!).
Aw gee, we’re like the Archies!
The evening dragged on from one bar to another as the one guy, we’ll call him Justin, mooned over Blondie like a lovesick puppy. Meanwhile, he had overindulged to the point of vomiting all over the bathtub the night before, so he was hungover and subdued and not the most exciting company…but still resolute in his efforts to work his way into Blondie’s pants and/or heart. Rather than just sit there and watch that shitshow, I turned my attention to the other guy, who we’ll call JJ…who was actually pretty cute, in a vo-tech-dropout kind of way.
Sometimes when I’m bored, I entertain myself by playing Terry Gross, probing the psyche and personal backstory of whatever unlucky sap happens to be with me. In this case, I had plenty to work with: “What makes your sister a whore?” “Why don’t you visit your son more often?” “Why don’t you talk to your dad?”
Poor JJ went along with it (“Well, ever since I ran his patrol car into a ditch…”), but mostly as a diversionary tactic to distract me from his own sly probing — into my pants!! I had on those cheesy stripper chaps I always wear to biker rallies, and before I knew it his callused palm had wormed its way onto the bare part of my inner thigh: “I kin feel yer puss!”
Biker double date
“I said yer pulse!”
His oddly endearing leering continued, even after I shifted my position so that he had to remove his hand, which he now measured up against mine — which was, of course, much daintier. “Is all of ya that little???!”
“Yeah…especially my tits. This is alllllll padding.” I poked my triple-padded bra for effect…but what I really should have said was, “All of me except for my pussy! That’s shit’s baggy as fuck!!!” I really enjoyed cockblocking this poor motherfucker, especially when I asked to see a picture of his son and he had to scroll through about 500 ultrasound photos ofdifferentbabies to find it on his phone. Come to find out, the disingenuous rascal actually had eight kids by two different women…non-sequentially!!!!! And he was only 29!!!
Oy, vey. I certainly didn’t travel 500 miles to be groped by leather-clad Neanderthals (well OK, I did, but only if they were putting money in my ass crack), and I wasn’t making any money sitting there with Chester the Molester. At least Blondie was able to broker a deal with the manager of the bar whereby we got free unlimited Bahama Mamas in exchange for a few of the shitty, dried-out old cigars she was trying to hawk…so at least I got a nice sugary buzz on for free. And then it turned out to be bar trivia night — with the grand prize being a $40 dinner voucher!
with Forrest, the adorably wholesome bar trivia host
“If I’m not making any money tonight, at least we have to win bar trivia!” I insisted, strong-arming the rest of my posse into joining me, ill-advisedly letting JJ pick our team name — Your Mama (um…which one?). This wholesome cruise-director-type Mormon kid named Forrest was running the trivia night, and he eyed the four of us skeptically: two idiot ho-bags with their asses hanging out and two leather-bound troglodytes halfway up their birth canals — let’s just say we weren’t likely to be mistaken for the Cal Tech physics department.
But you know what they say — you can’t judge a biker by his colors! JJ, it must be admitted, mostly sat there drinking beer and plotting new ways to grope me, but Justin turned out to be a real fount of useless information — and, come to find out, a genuinely cool, super smart, well-spoken guy! Once his hangover wore off and he was able to utter polysyllabic words, I came to really like him, and saw him in a totally new light. D’oh!!! I can be a real Judgey Jane sometimes. Even Blondie came through on a couple of the questions — it was a real team effort.
And guess what? Team Your Mama emerged victorious, beating the towering intellects of a roomful of drunken Reno tourists (there I go again) and walking away with a big, fat $40 gift certificate which we promptly took to the coffee shop for a celebratory feast. All in all, what started as a miserably awkward night turned out to be a lot of good, clean(ish) fun — pub quiz with bikers! Who knew?!
Anyhoo, the next day was Friday — time to get our hustle on. This rally might not be all we expected, but we were hell-bent and determined to squeeze every dollar we could out of the few assholes that were there!!! The weather had cleared up, and for a minute I thought things were really going to turn around — I ran five miles along the picturesque Truckee River trail in the morning, and just like last summer I was taken aback with how nice Reno is. It gets a bum rap, but I’m here to tell you that it’s a pretty cool city. There were all kinds of hipsters out and about on the trail, walking dogs and riding bikes, playing with pitbull rescues and practicing slack rope on the grass; it was a pretty cool scene. So after showering and suiting up in our chaps and whatnot, Blondie and I took our newfound optimism down to Virginia Street, to finally start raking it in.
Alas…..the best-laid plans of underdressed idiots are often fucked up, in this case by the management of the Street Vibrations rally; last time we had somehow been allowed to fly under the radar and “give away” cigars and stuff for “donations” (i.e. basically sell them without a permit or license) off this tray Blondie carried around with her…but this time, management put the kibosh on our operation right away. Oh, well — we still had our chaps, riding crops and asscracks; we’d just work the whips-for-tips angle.
one dollar at a time
But it was sloooooow going, let me tell you. Attendance was poor, the crowd was cheap, and we really had to degrade ourselves just to make a few bucks — it was straight-up pathetic. I was really questioning my life decisions, ya know? I mean, it’s one thing when generous bikers are stuffing 20s in your ass….but another when you’re having to wheedle dollars from dumbasses.
With New York
We soldiered on through the afternoon, but it got so bad that we ended up taking an extended break at the Circus Circus sports book, where we befriended an alcoholic street hustler named New York who had a bunch of drink vouchers he was more than happy to share with us. But wait, there’s more! As we sat there drowning our misery, this old perv we’d chatted with earlier came up and sat down beside us: “So…how much does company go for in Reno these days??”
OMFG, he seriously thought we were prostitutes — and to be fair, I really can’t
Gee, I don’t know WHY he thought we were prostitutes
blame him, dressed as we were. We set him straight and sat there chatting with him for quite a while — he was a nice, older professional-type from Sugarland, Texas who had been on a cross-country motorcycle ride with his buddy, until his buddy ate it on a highway near Bakersfield and ended up in the ICU with a busted spleen. The guy left him there and continued on the ride anyway, and despite being allegedly shaken to the core by the accident, had apparently recovered enough to hit on two prostitutes at the Circus Circus sports book less than 24 hours later. Men!!
Then it turned out he was also an amateur photographer and fellow Model Mayhem member! Ever hopeful of salvaging this miserable trip and making a few bucks, we told him that though he couldn’t hire us for sex, we were models and he could hire us for a photo shoot! His response slayed me: “Oh, I don’t think my wife would like that!” But…she’d be okay with you hiring prostitutes?!?!
heading up to Virginia City
After that little encounter we decided we’d better pack it in and hit the sack early, since tomorrow was Saturday — the main day of the rally and our last chance to stack any real cheese. We planned to get up early, put on saloon girl costumes and head up to Virginia City, this old-timey little tourist town in the hills where all the bikers go on Saturday afternoon. We figured we’d sell a bunch of cigars up there (since they wouldn’t let us do it in Reno), then come back down to Virginia Street in our chaps in the evening. We were hell bent and determined to make money — but at this point I needed to make around $600 to break even, so I wasn’t too optimistic.
To make matters worse, of course Saturday started with a visit from my Aunt Flo, and I felt and looked like nothing so much as a big, fat Zeppelin in a corset, fishnets and garter belt — not exactly the look I was going for, but there was nothing to do but sack the fuck up, shove in a tampon and get to work.
We drove up to Virginia City and finished getting dressed in the parking lot of some old-time church, the bells tolling ominously in the background as we laced our boots and adjusted our stockings, mocking us as we minced our way up a cobblestoned hill to the main drag. We stumbled along the old-timey wooden plank sidewalk, posing for a few photos here and there but mostly being glared at by an astonishing profusion of non-biker retiree couples and families, until finally Death came tapping on our shoulder again — this time in the form of the Sheriff of Storey County, who kindly but firmly told us we had to leave.
…and STAY out!!
That’s right — we were literally run out of town by the Sheriff, LOL. As miserable as it was, I had to laugh; I mean, what the fuck next on this trainwreck of a trip?! The Sheriff was actually pretty nice about running us off, and in fact blushed profusely while doing so, but he wouldn’t even let us stash the cigar tray in the truck and just pose for photos — which I’m pretty sure is a violation of First Amendment rights, but I didn’t know enough about busking law to really argue with him about it. I mean, I’m pretty sure the sidewalks of Virginia City are public property…but then they are those old-time board sidewalks, so maybe that doesn’t count…and also, they do have their own costumed characters walking around in old-time dress posing for photos for free, so I guess we were making them look bad.In any event, Sheriff Guthrie wouldn’t even let me take a photo of him running us out of town What an unmitigated fucking disaster this trip was turning out to be.
at Circus Circus
So we slunk out of town with our fishnets and feather boas tucked between our legs, and drove back down the mountain in the rain, figuring we might as well try our saloon-girl shtick down on Virginia Street, since we were all tarted up anyway. But it just wasn’t the same without those asscrack tip jars, and we didn’t make much.
But we did have some fun — first we met this really cool paralyzed biker who had a built a specially customized sidecar on his bike that served as a platform for his wheelchair by day, and turned into a stripper pole by night — so we had some fun posing for photos with that. Then we ran into good ol’ Justin and JJ again. Poor JJ was bent over doing something to a bike, and since I had just found out
about him having eight kids by two women, I ran up and started whaling on his ass with my riding crop, berating him semi-jokingly for being a deadbeat dad. But unbeknownst to me, his own estranged dad had actually come down to see him, and was standing nearby…so I probably totally fucked up their fragile reconciliation process. And even worse, his dad happened to be Sheriff of a neighboring county — and probably could have put in a word with Sheriff Guthrie up in Virginia City, if it hadn’t been for me and my big mouth. D’OH!! Lesson learned: sometimes it’s best to let deadbeats be deadbeats!
Speaking of JJ, I thought of him again later that evening, when Blondie and I were standing in one of the casinos taking shelter from the rain and trying to count our money…and she noticed blood all over my inner thighs, right where my chaps cut away to reveal the skin. I guess my period was so heavy it had soaked my tampon string like a paintbrush, and I was making impressionist art without even knowing it…all while standing obliviously in the middle of a crowded casino where everyone could witness the sorry-ass pathetic mess of my life!!!! I swear, every time I thought this trip couldn’t get any worse…it upped the ante.
I had no choice but to have a sense of humor about it, though — and thought that if only my Aunt Flo had shown up a couple days earlier, when JJ was groping me down there, he would have been in for a real treat!!!! But then again, this is a man who says he likes having his dick bit (?!?)…so who the hell knows; it may have just fired him up even more, and JJ Jr. IX would be nestled in my womb as we speak.
Earlier that day
Anyhoo, after that little debacle I was finally ready to throw in the towel…but we made one more round inside the El Dorado casino, where we ran into our alcoholic street pal New York, and one of his video poker buddies ended up buying up all the Night Bullet Blondie had on her tray (they said she couldn’t sell stuff at the rally, so she decided to try her luck inside the casinos, instead). See, the idea was to sell cigars to the bikers, but alas I’d been sick during last month’s tobacco convention in Vegas, and hadn’t been able to go collect free samples…so our inventory was low, and we didn’t have many actual cigars on the tray; it was mostly piled up with other crap like Swisher Sweets, Advil samples, keychains, promotional koozies and the aforementioned Night Bullet — a sort of over-the-counter, poor man’s Viagra sold in convenience stores in little yellow packets featuring a photo of a woman moaning in ecstasy under the legend “Don’t pull it…without NIGHT BULLET.” LOL!! All weekend long no one had wanted to buy the stuff, as bikers are hyper-masculine and they all claimed not to need it….but this guy at the El Dorado knew a deal when he saw it, and took all our stock for $20. Score!
Out of desperation, Blondie devised a new tactic: let guys pick any four items from the tray, plus get a spanking from me, all for a $20 donation…and at first it looked like it might actually work, until the manager of the El Dorado came over and kicked us out: “You girls better take your show somewhere else!”D’oh, busted again — at this rate, I’d be kicked out of every place in northern Nevada!!!
Actually, being reduced to hustling like this was super embarrassing for me; I’m mostly a law-abiding person, and I felt really weird and shitty pissing people off and flaunting their regulations, especially as I had turned down an honest paycheck to do it. And the fact that we had to wheedle, cajole and make up dumb stories (“Our boss is really mean, and he says we have to sell everything on this tray before we can go home”) to make a buck just really didn’t sit well with me. Hmm, I guess I have more dignity than I thought…buried in there somewhere under the cheap fake leather and bloodstains.
After being kicked out of the El Dorado, that was it — we were officially done. We took the tray of crap across the street to this little biker bar, Shooters, where the owner was actually OK with us hanging out working our shtick, and decided to just fuck it all and have a good time on our last night in Reno. We did have to get up super early the next morning, to drive back to Vegas in time for this photo shoot I had booked at 5:45pm…but, what the hell, you only live once. Might as well have some fun on this trip!!
outsourcing our job
At Shooters, we made a couple rounds before handing off our tray to this one drunken old biker who said he would go around and sell stuff for us, no problem. I gave him my hat and riding crop, and the boozy motherfucker actually went around hawking koozies and keychains!! So with our work thus subcontracted out, we were able to just relax and party, knocking back a few drinks with this adorable group of hipster bikers from Oakland who Blondie remembered from the fall rally.
OMG, these guys were so cute! After a weekend of dealing with nothing but grizzled, beer-sodden hard-assed pervs, it was fun to keep company with someone closer to my own aesthetic for a change; plus, they were cool as fuck. I guess “hipsters” isn’t the right word for them, but one of them was rocking a man-bun and a lumberjack shirt, and
another guy had long, curly Christlike locks and had been to the same John Prine concert I attended in Vegas last December. Whatever they were, they were very nice and fun to hang out with, and we stayed out way too late partying with them at the bar. I kept saying I had to go get my beauty sleep for my photo shoot the next day, and the one guy kept saying, “You’ll never remember the nights you got plenty of sleep — but you’ll always remember the nights you stayed out and partied!” NOT the thing to say to someone with FOMO (that’s Fear Of Missing Out, an actual clinical diagnosis of the digital age from which I suffer mightily).
But finally, around 2am, we bid them adieu and stumbled back to our hotel room. As a parting gift, we gave the hipster bikers those Chick tracts the Evangelical miner in Goldfield had given us, telling them to read ‘em around the campfire the next night, on their way back to Oakland, just like my sister and I had done in February — and they could then throw them into the fire, as we had done. I’m here to tell you that nothing gets a campfire crackling like some Chick tracts!
So, the next morning we dragged our asses out of bed, in a world of hurt, and lugged our bags of cigars, koozies, feathers and leathers out to the truck for the long drive back to Vegas. I’d counted my money, and that interminable, exhausting weekend had only netted me around $350 in sweaty, stinky $1s and $5s, which I had rolled up and stuffed into a sanitary napkin disposal bag in my purse. WHAT A BUST!!!!Still, as we headed south through the lonely, barren desert, we had plenty of time to talk about everything we’d been through…and we ended up laughing our asses off. It wasn’t a profitable trip…but I guess, in a really weird, fucked-up way, it was kinda fun.
Here in Nashville
Anyway, I made it back to Vegas just in time to fix my hair and makeup before hauling ass to the photo shoot, after which I came home exhausted, just wanting to sleep for around 70 hours or until I figured out what I want to do with my life, whichever came first. Unfortunately, however, another friend from LA was on her way over to stay with me the next few days while we worked the mascot expo, which was to consume the next three days of my life…plus I had three more photo shoots and a video shoot, all in that same week, so I never did get the chance to catch up on my sleep And now I’m in Nashville, visiting my good friend J.R., with whom I went out honky-tonkin’ downtown last night until 5am…so it looks like I’ll never get any rest.
To every thing, there is a season: a time to weep, a time to laugh; a time to mourn, a time to dance. A time to run around the desert with a blender plugged into your vagina mixing up frozen cocktails…and a time to finance it by standing around a convention center for four days, bored shitless, hawking cheap wedding rings to chintzy jewelers. That’s life!
heading into the dreaded jewelry show
Regarding the jewelry trade show — I worked for the same client last year, and it was such an endless, soul-crushingly dull gig that I swore I wouldn’t do it again. But, guess what?? When they called me back about a month ago, I said yes. I guess it’s like childbirth — you forget how bad the pain was after awhile, and next thing you know you’re knocked up again and picking out names.
Why is this tradeshow so odious compared to other shows? The client themselves are OK — I’ve actually become genuinely fond of the crazy Chinese motherfuckers. They’re just doing their thing, grinding out cheap men’s wedding rings in some factory in Hong Kong and selling them to browbeaten rednecks who’ve blown their whole Chick-Fil-A paycheck on their fiancee’s .025 carat diamond solitaire. But the tradeshow itself is another story!
closed for Shabbat
I don’t mind working shows so much if I can stay BUSY, but the jewelry show is a bitch because half the exhibits are closed on Saturday so that the Orthodox Jews can observe Shabbat, and that day is slow as fuck. It was especially bad this year, as my main entertainment was this amazing family of Persian Jews across the aisle — I’m telling you, these people need their own reality show; they were ten times
At the jewelry show
more interesting than those schmucks on Duck Dynasty! There was the careworn, hunched little matriarch, her two wheeling-and-dealing sons, the Latin American branch of the family and then the super-swarthy, super-hot little Israeli nephew or whatever who hit on every woman who walked by, buyer or not…myself included! Anyway, without them the day really dragged…but I wrestled every second that ticked by and finally, soaked in blood, sweat and existential self-doubt, emerged victorious from the over-air-conditioned fluorescent-lit tenth circle of hell, clutching an $800 check in my gnarled claw. FREE AT LAST…LAISSEZ LES BONS TEMPS ROULEZ!!!
high times at Forgotten City
The main bon temp was our local Burning Man regional campout, where around 800 hippies, ravers and boozers from Vegas and the surrounding area converged on a water retention basin outside Boulder City for three days of drug-fueled mayhem made possible by Wal Mart and the Halloween Superstore. All these Burning Man events pretty much boil down to the same thing: middle-aged white people in tutus and platform boots armed with spanking paddles and travel mugs full of sugary jungle juice wandering through crowds of glassy-eyed raver kids in furry animal hats jerking arrhythmically to earsplitting waves of 200bpm electronic noise wafting from 50 foot stacks of 5,000-watt speakers. Fun times!
My vagina charges cell phones
As they say, if you can’t beat ’em, aid and abet ’em…so with that in mind, I decided to step up my game this year and really make a contribution to the party. Normally I just run around in slutty outifts “adding atmosphere,” but there comes a time in a gal’s life when just being atmospheric won’t cut it anymore. So for this event, I decided to create a sort of interactive performance art piece based around the Electric Vagina codpiece I made last year for my short-lived mudwrestling career. I’m not sure why I never thought to wear my Electric Vagina to a Burning Man event before, but I’m here to tell you…it went over great!
IT CAME FROM THE ELECTRIC VAGINA
My performance was this: I dressed up in a freaky sort of space-babe ensemble and walked around the festival grounds pushing a stroller covered by a pink baby blanket, from which emerged a cord that was plugged into my Electric Vagina. To drum up ballyhoo, a couple days prior to the event I had posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram: “IT CAME FROM THE ELECTRIC VAGINA!! What lies beneath the blankie??! Is it some kind of squalling Space Brat?!?!!!”
Hell, no!! I only use my vagina for good!!! In true P.T. Barnum style, at the event I whipped the baby blanket dramatically aside to reveal it was a blender plugged into my outlet! A blender powered by Kegels, penis envy and feminist angst, with which I mixed up frothy, refreshing Vagina Coladas and Vaginaritas for everyone. COME ONE, COME ALL!!!
Speaking of feminist angst…just as with the Great Strap-On Experiment of Burning Man 2014, what started as a quasi-feminist statement of empowerment devolved almost immediately into lewd shtick: “Hey Wonderhussy, lemme get some of that pussy juice!” LOLz! Ah, Burning Man…fertile breeding ground for spiritual epiphanies and societal paradigm shifts. They say.
But either way…the fact is, after last year’s tampon string disco ball, I really do have to up the ante at Burning Man this year….so, the Electric Vagina will be coming with me, and you’ll find me serving up icy-cold Vagina Coladas near the Arctica ice stations, afternoons from 3-5. I must warn you though, it gets pretty intense when I’m grinding up the ice with those steely blades — I really put my pelvis into it, squeezing and thrusting and shrieking to the heavens like a woman in the throes of agony/ecstasy. Beware!!
Before Burning Man though, I do need to figure out a way to light up the vagina for nighttime — at the regional campout, my nighttime attire was a gold bodysuit with a ray gun plugged into the Electric Vagina. It made for a pretty bad-ass Barbarella look, especially since I had also spent 3 hours painstakingly crimping my hair ’80s-style…but it would be a reallybad-ass look if I could figure out a way to outline the outlet plate, the pin striping and the ray gun cord with some kind of LED lighting! And maybe even a strip of lights running vertically up my bodysuit from crotch to neck! If anyone knows how to do that kind of thing, hit me up…I don’t want to use EL Wire or anything amateurish; I want this to look professional!
Anyway, speaking of Burning Man…..it’ll be here before you know it, so I guess I’d better get back to work. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Reno, to which I have traveled with my friend Blondie with the aim of hustling for tips at the Street Vibrations biker rally. We did it last October and made pretty good money…so hopefully, things go well again, because I need to make some serious coin before Burning Man. All that piña colada mix and rum ain’t cheap…not to mention the mushrooms!!!
Sigh…better go get tarted up. It is once again a time to gather stones together…so that I can cast them all over the fucking place come August 😀
In the shadow of the Stratosphere, by Jim K. Decker
Everyone knows hot babes look best when juxtaposed against rusty shacks, railroad tracks and desert cracks — you learn that shit in Glamour Photography 101. And you can’t browse Vegas portfolios for two seconds without tripping over red rocks, Joshua trees and busted-up airplanes down at the fake ghost town near Nelson; I think it has something to do with the contrast between succulent flesh and a parched, withered landscape. Youth vs. decay…or something like that.
In any event, there’s one more tired and true trope that belongs in every serious fauxteur’s portfolio: graffiti. Every model worth her salt has at least one or two shots humping a cinderblock wall covered in the neon scribblings of some half-witted cholo…it’s practically a requirement to join Model Mayhem! To that end, photographers and models are always asking me where there’s good graffiti in Vegas…so, ever amenable, following are some of my favorite graffiti locations in the area.
Rock-A-Hoola waterpark, by Kelly Garn
Hands down, the best graffiti I have personally ever seen in the area was at the abandoned Rock-A-Hoola waterpark, down near Barstow. It’s a 2-hour-plus drive to get there, but what a goldmine!! Tons of colorfully painted abandoned buildings, all covered in scathing commentary and thought-provoking slogans; I like my graffiti with a message, and this place definitely satisfies, thanks to an NYC-based crew called Trust-O-Corp. Great job, guys!!!
Rock-A-Hoola waterpark, by Kelly Garni
Rock-A-Hoola waterpark, by Shutterbug-Studio
I shot at this location twice, both times in December 2013, and the results were so fan-fucking-tastic that there’s no way I can post them all here. If interested, you can see many more here, here (if you’re on Facebook), and here (if you’re a Model Mayhem member).
Unfortunately, since I shot there, investors have stepped in with plans to reopen the waterpark…and there’s heavier security on duty these days, making it impractical to sneak in for tasteful Art nudes. And anyway, another artist who goes by Aware. has since come in and covered a lot of the cool, colorful graffiti with shitty black Olde-English lettering…so the place isn’t nearly as amazing as it was before. Nothing gold can stay!
Wheel of Misfortune, by Shutterbug-Studio
Speaking of Aware., I can’t hold his crappy work at Rock-A-Hoola against him because he also created one of THE most amazing graffiti pieces I’ve ever seen, anywhere — the Wheel of Misfortune, right outside town near Lake Las Vegas. I just shot there/blogged about it the other week, so I won’t repeat myself too much…but it’s awesome. A giant, 100-foot circular cement holding tank from an abandoned magnesium mine has been repainted to look like the wheel from TV’s Wheel of Fortune game show…but instead of saying things like “LOSE A TURN” and “BANKRUPT,” the stripes all say shit like “LOSE A HOME” and “BANK-OWNED” — a reflection on our recent local housing crisis. Plus, all the dollar values are $000. Awesome!
Wheel of Misfortune, by Shutterbug-Studio
The only shitty thing about shooting here, aside from the myriad “NO TRESPASSING” signs and an abundance of possibly carcinogenic black soot all over everything, is the scale — the Wheel is so huge that it’s tough to get the full scope of it in a photo where you can still make out the model. In my experience, unless you zoom in and just capture bits and pieces, it ends up looking like an adult version of “Where’s Waldo?”
Near the Wheel of Misfortune, by Shutterbug-Studio
But if you zoom in, you can get some pretty cool shots that still convey the idea. Moreover, there are other circular basins nearby with tons of other colorful, marginally cool graffiti on the walls and stuff….so the Wheel is not your only option.
In the Arts District, by Jim K. Decker
Now, if all this carcinogenic soot and trespassing is too rich for your blood, you can always just be a puss and head down to the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas — the general area around Charleston Blvd. and Main Street has a lot of pretty cool stuff painted on the walls of the various buildings and warehouses in the area. The only bummer with shooting down there is, you’re in full sight of any Looky-Lous or homeless winos who happen by…and sometimes the pedestrian traffic down there can be pretty heavy. So if you or your model are shy, be advised! Also, for that same reason, the graffiti in the Arts District isn’t really ideal for shooting nudes…UNLESS….
Downtown Las Vegas, by Shutterbug-Studio
…your name happens to be Wonderhussy, and your m.o. is IDGAF! In that case, blast away, as I did this past February, when I went cruising around downtown Vegas in a pair of high heels and a satin robe, with which I covered my shame until the photographer was ready to go. BAM! I dropped the robe, he got the shot, I threw the robe back around me and we were in the car, on our way to the next stop, before anyone knew what hit ’em.
Downtown Las Vegas, by Shutterbug-Studio
I think it was a weekday afternoon around 4pm when we did these, and we hit about 5 or 6 different locations, both in the Arts District and then further north along Stewart Ave. in Downtown Vegas, where a bunch of super-cool murals were commissioned for the Life Is Beautiful festival last October. We got WAY too many amazing shots to post here, but if interested you can see more here (must be a Model Mayhem member to view).
If you aren’t doing nudes, I don’t think shooting at the LIB murals would be a problem…aside from the aforementioned passing winos and Looky-Lous. Just drive down Stewart Ave. between like 6th and 10th, and take your pick! There’s plenty of street parking, and a 75% likelihood that your car won’t be broken into and your gear stolen. Don’t be a wuss!
Vagina Dentata! Pic by Flash Adams, body paint by Suzanne Lugano
Finally, if you’re REALLY not a wuss, and don’t mind risking an encounter with a methed-out homeless hooker’s icepick shank…check out one of my other all-time favorite local graffiti spots, located far beneath the Vegas Strip in the network of storm drain tunnels that cris-cross the city below the surface.
These tunnels were built to channel flash flood waters into Lake Mead — many don’t realize that Vegas gets monsoonal thunderstorms in the summertime, when the sky cracks open and massive amounts of water comes pelting down on the sunbaked desert, which is unable to absorb it all quickly enough, creating hazardous flash flooding. Before the tunnels were built, parking garages on the Strip used to flood all the time, and peoples’ cars would bang into each other like floating bumper cars. It was insane!
In another, less-graffitied storm tunnel, by Iancentric (with Fearra LaCome)
Nowadays, the tunnels channel all that rainwater safely into the various area washes, where it eventually flows down into Lake Mead. But on the 360 days a year when it’s not pouring rain, these tunnels have become a permanent shelter for a vast underground population of homeless people seeking cover from the blazing desert sun. A guy I know explored the tunnels extensively, and wrote a book about his experiences interviewing all the various kooks who live down there — check it out! It’s really interesting.
As far as a photo location, these tunnels are somewhat challenging. Aside from the icepick-wielding meth-heads, it’s also SUPER dark down there, requiring lights and other expensive gear that might potentially be appropriated by said meth-heads. The tunnels can also be kinda stinky, and are said to be home to giant cockroaches, crawdads, rats and other subterranean sewer-dwellers. But if you can get past all that, they’re an awesome place to shoot, with some pretty killer graffiti!
All kinds of nasty sewer-dwellers in these tunnels! Pic by Iancentric, with Fearra LaCome
I only shot down there once, a few years ago in the dead of winter — so there were no cockroaches or crawdads, just bitter, bone-chilling cold. Even worse, we shot at night, to better avoid detection when we entered the tunnels by way of a wash near the Rio Hotel…so it was extra cold. And even worse, I couldn’t even really wear a robe or sweater or anything, because I had been bodypainted to look like a crazed post-apocalyptic sewer dweller with monsters on my nipples and teeth on my vagina (this was the only time anyone’s ever bodypainted my labia and clitoris…kudos to you, Suzanne Lugano).
More Arts District graffiti, by Shutterbug Studio
To his credit, the photographer did what he could to make the experience more pleasant for me — he brought along a wagon full of lights, a propane heater and even a boombox so we could listen to music while we shot. He also brought along a second shooter, who, along with the bodypainter, sort of stood guard to make sure no crazy people came up on us from either direction. We must have resembled some kind of far-out Dungeons & Dragons/Goonies adventure party as we set out with our wagon full of gear, the photographer leading the way with a propane lantern, taking us ever deeper into the tunnel until we reached the spot he had scouted out the day before. All in all, we probably trekked about 1/4 mile into the tunnel — where it was pitch fucking black in either direction. Not for the claustrophobic!!
Anyway, the shoot proceeded without incident, and we ended up getting a killer photo out of it, so it was definitely worthwhile. But even if we hadn’t gotten any good photos, I would still have enjoyed the shit out of it…because talk about an adventure! People don’t realize it, but I’m actually only 25% model, 75% adventuress. In my book, half the time the journey IS the destination….ya know? So if you ever want to hit up any of these (or other, as-yet-undiscovered locations)……
Out of all the wacky gigs I do to pay the bills, one of my hands-down favorites is working for my friend’s concierge pranking service, as a planted actor. This company specializes in fucking with people in a spectacularly theatrical fashion: want some random wacko to throw a pie in your buddy’s face? What about a case of mistaken identity involving a transvestite hooker and an alcoholic circus clown? Hiring this service to prank your friends ensures that your Vegas vacation will end up being something truly memorable…instead of just another vodka-, cologne- and puke-soaked fist-pump-a-thon.
Prepping for a piss prank
I know this sounds like a paid ad, but it’s really true: I freaking love this company’s concept, and I love working for them as a planted actor. Call me bitter, but there is something so satisfying about fucking with the self-absorbed nouveau-riche douchebags who frequent Vegas. I can’t get enough!!
I hadn’t participated in any pranks in quite a while, due to scheduling conflicts…but last week, I had the pleasure of taking part in two of them! The first was one of the most popular packages: the classic and universally beloved piss prank, in which a flirty actress shows up, gets drunk, and “pisses” on the prankee (of course, it’s not real pee…just water trickling through an elaborately rigged apparatus). Sometimes it’s a Vegas showgirl who does the pissing, and sometimes a stereotypical bottle-rat nightclub party girl.
Blondie at work, disarming the victim
In this instance, the client was a group of well-heeled East Asian lads from London, in town for a bachelor party….and the pissing was to take place poolside, in their cabana at one of the dayclubs. I happened to be available, so me and my friend Blondie headed over to WOW Beach (not its real name) to execute the prank.
pissing on a bachelor
Of course, the pissee in this instance was the bachelor — his buddies had set it all up without his knowledge, and every single guy in the group of 10 was in on it except for him. So my job was fairly easy — just show up in an intricately rigged bikini, play drunk and stupid, ingratiate myself with the group, get invited into their cabana, have a couple drinks, get friendly with the bachelor, straddle him as if I were about to demonstrate a Genuine Vegas Lap Dance™…. and then let ‘er rip!
BOOM — 500 cc’s of body-temperature water, trickling from my bikini bottom all over his swim trunks. Shock, horror, and laughter ensues….as Blondie and I scuttle away in mock shame, leaving the bachelor dabbing furiously at his soiled board shorts with a napkin as his buddies collapse in hysterics nearby. GOOD TIMES!!!!
Ooops…OMG I’m so sorry!!
You really can’t go wrong with the piss prank — it’s a classic for a reason, and as mentioned, there are many different scenarios under which it can be pulled off. But sometimes, a client wants a bit more….as was the case earlier in the week, when I was assigned to play a nefarious hooker.
This was a more intricate prank, involving 6 or 7 actors over the course of two nights (if you have the cash, the service will work with you to plan a more elaborate prank…otherwise, you can choose from their set menu of a la carte pranks). In this scenario, a guy was setting up his ex-college-roommate, who happened to be in town with six or seven other friends for his bachelor party. The whole group was supposed to go to one of those dumb machine-gun ranges…but fortunately, our client had the good sense to spend their budget on this prank, instead. MUCH more fun!!
The first night, it was arranged that our client and his buddy, the unwitting bachelor, would come into a bar at Planet Hollywood…where they would encounter my character, a common Strip hooker sitting at the bar nursing a fake cocktail. Our client was tipped off to what I was wearing, so when they came in, he steered his buddy straight over to where I was seated. We struck up a conversation, I “took a liking” to the client…and after 15 minutes or so, I invited him to come with me to “buy cigarettes.”
Something similar to what I wore as my hooker costume
The two of us disappeared for another 15 minutes or so, reappearing with mussed hair and lipstick marks on the client’s neck…as if I had just taken him to my minivan on the roof of the parking garage and had sex with him (really we just went around the corner and sat there bullshitting for 15 minutes….the guy was cool as fuck!). When we came back into the bar, his buddy (the bachelor) was still sitting there waiting for us…and when we reached him, I tapped the client on the arm: “Hey, are you going to the ATM, or what? I need my money….I have another call at the Venetian in 15 minutes.”
“What?” The client played dumb, pretending to assume we had just shared a spontaneous “What-Happens-In-Vegas” freebie tryst. As if!!! After badgering him for the money for a few minutes, I “gave up” and went across the bar to where another actor was planted — an ominous-looking big, bald guy in a pimp suit, and pretended to confer with him, shooting angry glances over at the client and his buddy every now and then.
Finally, I followed my “pimp” back across the room, hanging back as he confronted the client: “Hey, pal. You know how this works. Pay my girl, or my people are gonna get really upset.”
Unrelated shot of the legendary Sneakapeekapuss pic by Dead Clown Studios
Of course the client (who was in on all this, remember) stammers indignantly that he doesn’t owe me anything, that nothing of the sort was discussed. Meanwhile, his buddy (the unwitting bachelor) is looking on, half bemused and half nervous. This guy really fell for the whole shtick — it was awesome!!
Anyway, they keep arguing back and forth until finally the client “chokes up” $100 – way less than the actual cost of doing business with a fine hooker like me. This infuriates my pimp, and he jams the $100 bill back in the client’s pocket, ominously intoning that he has other ways of getting his money back…and then saunters off, me in tow.
This all went down on a Wednesday night — apparently, after we left, the client and his buddy got out of there pretty quick, with the buddy assuming that it wasn’t safe for them to hang out at Planet Hollywood for the remainder of their vacation, because some random pimp had it in for them. LOL! They spent the next couple of days partying at other Vegas hotels, and on Friday were joined by the rest of their posse, for their big blowout night on the town.
After drinking at a bar downtown all evening, the plan was for everyone to come back to the hotel room for a little in-room stripper service before going out to one of the nightclubs. But before the group headed back, the client (who was the only one in the group who was in on the prank) sneaked back to the hotel room ahead of time….where the rest of us were waiting to set up the big finale.
When his buddies all finally made it back to the room, they were confronted by two ginormous thug-type bouncers, who ushered them in and instructed them to pay attention; that this was a serious situation. At first all they saw was me, in my hooker costume, smoking and looking pissed off on the bed, which was bloodstained and covered in bloody medical tools. Of course, none of them recognized me except for the bachelor, who remembered me from Wednesday night and visibly blanched…especially when my “pimp” came storming out of the bathroom, stabbing his finger into the bachelor’s chest: “You little shit; remember I told you I’d get my money? Well, you have exactly 15 minutes to get your buddy to a hospital. As soon as I leave, you better haul ass!!”
Then, another actor in blood-soaked scrubs comes rushing out of the bathroom, stuffing gear and gauze and a mysterious bloody glob packed in ice into his briefcase: “Let’s get out of here!!” We hurry out of the room, followed by the pimp and the bodyguards…and then the bachelor and his boys enter the bathroom to find their buddy (the client) with his ribcage wrapped in gauze, sitting in a bath tub full of ice. SURPRISE!!!!! By this time, they know it’s a joke….and when, at the client’s urging, they peel back the gauze on his ribs……there’s no wound at all, just a message written in Sharpie: “YOU’VE BEEN PLAYED! LAS VEGAS THE GAME.” LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!
After the big reveal, we all went back into the room for a hearty laugh — the bachelor was absolutely delighted, saying he’d figured something was up tonight…but that he had completely believed the Wednesday night story, and had been afraid to go to Planet Hollywood ever since. All in all the prank was a great success, and the guys all agreed that it was much more entertaining than shooting dumbass machine guns. Winning!!!
So, a good time was had by all….although one of the guys in their group, who resembled nothing so much as a red-faced rapist Kennedy cousin, apparently was so drunk/confused that he thought I was an actual prostitute, and kept asking for my number…as if I really turned tricks in a MoBro (that’s mobile brothel, a/k/a minivan on the roof of the parking garage). For reals?!?
wine tasting in Pahrump
But even worse than the feeling of being mistaken for a hooker was the feeling I got from pretending to bea hooker. Oddly enough, my mom happened to be in town that day with a friend…and earlier that same afternoon, we had all gone out to Pahrump, to taste some wines at the Pahrump Valley Winery, after which we decided to head over to Sheri’s Ranch, one of the legal brothels in the area.
As you may or may not know, prostitution is actually legal in Nevada — but only in counties with populations fewer than 200,000, which means Clark County (wherein lies Vegas) is out. The closest county to have legalized prostitution is Nye County….home to the dusty, nondescript redneck town of Pahrump, about 60 miles northwest of Vegas, just over the county line. So you can bet your sweet bippy that there are a couple of really nice brothels in Pahrump, as close to Vegas as legally allowable.
Of these brothels, one of them — Sheri’s Ranch — has an extraordinarily open policy of allowing any and all looky-Lous onto their premises, where you can enjoy drinks and lunch in the sports bar, and even get a tour of the full facilities from one of the girls, if you want. I’ve had lunch there and taken the tour a few times, and have always enjoyed it and been truly fascinated by the mechanics of the place — it’t a legit business!!! So when my mom’s friend wanted to go check it out, I was all for it.
I’ll have to class up my hooker shtick… photo by Alejandro Cerdeña
As with my previous visits, we sat at the bar and enjoyed a drink while waiting for the next available working woman to come give us a tour — and when she arrived, she was everything you would not expect a prostitute to be: tall, blonde, truly attractive, flawless complexion, intelligent, well-spoken and polite. In other words…..the exact opposite of my rough caricature of a hooker in Las Vegas: The Game.
She gave us a tour of the facilities: the parlour where the client sits to choose from the lineup, the jacuzzi room, the Budweiser room (Sheri’s is the only brothel in the world with a corporate sponsor), the Fancy Restaurant Room (because of strict STD testing rules, while working, the prostitutes aren’t allowed to leave the premises…so if a client wants to take them to dinner, they do it in this little fake restaurant room, with linen tablecloth and fine china and a sign on the sideboard reading “CONDOMS MANDATORY AT ALL TIMES,” and a pillow on the floor by the man’s chair “for dessert”). It’s far out!
There’s also a gym and a volleyball court and a pool and a rec room, plus a row of dorm rooms where the working girls live and do their business while onsite…and there’s even an S&M dungeon, where particularly naughty clients are taken by the women who are professionally trained Dommes — as was our tour guide (!). I was just getting ready to ask her 1,000 questions about her experiences as a Domme, when the little red light that’s on the ceiling of every room in the building started flashing: “Girls, we have a lineup! All ladies report to the parlor immediately. Girls, we have a lineup!”
To the lineup!! photo by Alejandro Cerdeña
Now, when those red lights start flashing, every woman on duty at the whorehouse has to drop whatever she’s doing — even if she’s in the shower, washing her hair, as was once the case — and hurry into the parlour for the lineup, when they all parade in front of the customer so he can choose who he likes. So, when the light started flashing in the middle of our tour, that meant the tour was cut short :-/ Our guide had to go. D’oh!!!
Our guide hurried down a hallway to get in line with the other girls, and the madame ushered us out quickly…through the parlour, where a salivating Asian man was sitting on the ornate faux-Victorian sofa, rubbing his hands together in glee (OK, he probably wasn’t…I don’t know, I didn’t want to be rude by staring at him, so I’m not sure what he was doing). And just like that, we were back out in the bright Pahrump sunshine….and back into our car for the trip back to Vegas, where in a few short hours’ time I would be getting dressed up in my hooker costume for part II of the kidney prank.
But as I was getting dressed that night, I felt kinda shitty. My idea of a “hooker outfit” was a short, tight black minidress and thigh-high Pretty Woman boots, with giant hoop earrings, smudged makeup and sky-high teased hair — Central Casting, always good for a laff. I thought back to our tour guide from that afternoon, Olivia — and in a way, it felt like I was disrespecting her.
In flagrante! Photo by Alejandro Cerdeña
On the tour, we had all been careful to be polite, and not come across as judgy with our questions and preconceived notions about what her life and work were about. I have zero reservations about prostitution — it’s not for me personally, but I feel there is nothing wrong with it as a way of making a living, and in fact I’d argue that prostitution is genuinely necessary for the functioning of our society. Prostitutes fill a basic need — not just for pervs and frustrated men who aren’t getting any, but for paraplegics and shy virgins and those who prefer to skip the expensive complications of a “real” relationship. As I understand it, men have to get their rocks off….and Lord knows I don’t want to service most of ’em. So why begrudge a less finicky woman for making a buck? Yet, here I was…playing a hooker for cheap laffs. Hmmm.
The issue did weigh on me, and I did feel like a bit of a hypocrite….but guess what? I still did it, to make a buck…and also because these pranks are just so much freaking fun! How could I let a thing like ethics stand in my way of getting one over on some East Coast frat boys?!?!?! Answer: I couldn’t!
Photo by Alejandro Cerdeña
But interestingly, the quandary isn’t mine alone — my friend who runs the pranking business had a similar revelation a couple months ago. He was walking home shirtless from his CrossFit class, though a semi-seedy section of downtown Vegas, when a woman in an SUV pulled up short to holla at him (my friend cuts a very striking figure, being one of the most hirsute and razor-averse people I’ve ever known, and stands out in any crowd due in equal parts to his fit physique and his coat of rust-colored fur).
After chatting with this woman in the street for 20 minutes or so, he learned that she was a massage therapist…so he invited her up to his high-rise condo to give him a massage. She set up her table and everything in his condo, and proceeded to give him a thoroughly legit massage…but there was still an air of illicitness about the whole thing, which intensified when the woman finished the massage, and crawled up onto the massage table to lay beside him.
Photo by DjwB
Here’s the part where, in the typical Vegas narrative, this woman who picked him up on the street and wormed her way into his high-rise condo would give him a happy ending — right??
Well, imagine my friend’s surprise when, instead of reaching for his junk, the woman instead simply wrapped her arms around him and enveloped him in a long, warm hug. A real happy ending! It was so totally unexpected, so sweet and un-seedy, that it totally threw him for a loop….and made him think about things in a different light.
Like, what if there were a way he could turn his pranks around at the end, so that instead of just laff-fests involving broadly-painted stereotypes of loose women embarrassing themselves by fucking guys in minivans and pissing all over themselves…they somehow turned the tables and ended up oddly touching the victim’s emotions in an unexpected way? What if people came home from Vegas having had a great time with a real happy ending, without having simply debased themselves and/or others in the process?? Wouldn’t that be nice???
Alas, however, after having thought about it for awhile, and having asked me for any ideas I might have….my friend and I both came to the realization that real happy endings aren’t a profitable business model; party bros simply won’t pay for that shit. Nobody comes to Vegas for a revelation; nobody comes here for enlightenment. The only fuzzy thing around these parts is a Navel…and that’s just the way it is.
It’s a common misconception around some parts that I am a prostitute. And if you don’t know me, I can kinda understand why you might think that: I rent myself out by the hour, I get naked for cash, and I’ve been in more Vegas hotel rooms than even the most prolific hooker. But what people don’t understand is that I’m an Artist…and I’m just helping guys create Art!
OK, sometimes it’s even hard for me to believe that — as when, checking my email the other day, I was confronted with a closeup of my hairy anus, shot from a devious angle by an overzealous photographer with a hyperactive zoom lens. (For the love of Dog, WHY? If I intended to shoot that type of content, I would at least have the decency to tweeze, shave and/or bleach it!)
It’s all Art, right down to the tampon string inadvertently dangling from my twat pic by Photo Phantasia
But the truth is, “Art” is subjective…and means different things to different people. It’s not all black-and-white nudes reclining on rocks — sometimes it’s topless Secret Service agents with thigh-high stockings, lace garter belts and no panties. Highbrow, lowbrow, nobrow…who the hell am I to judge? The last thing I want is to come off like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, whose definition of obscenity was “I know it when I see it.” I’m just a naked ninny with a B.A. from a shitty state university, and I’ll freely admit: I don’t know shit!
James Turell’s Akhob Photo Credit: Florian Holzherr
But I do know what I like…and I’ve seen some far-out stuff lately! First, a friend tipped me off to this amazing ganzfeld installation by the Artist James Turell that has been quietly lurking on the 4th floor of the Louis Vuitton store in the Crystals shopping mall for the past two years. I had no idea this amazing installation was there, because a) I abhor that pretentious mall and all it stands for, and avoid it like the plague…and b) I can’t even afford to breathe the air in a Louis Vuitton store! But this I had to see, so I called ahead to make an appointment (it’s free, but you have to make an appointment as it’s a 20-minute private viewing experience).
Looking back toward the entrance to the ganzfeld Photo courtesy Louis Vuitton
Oh holy hell!! This was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!!! Basically, a ganzfeld is a giant seamless chamber uniformly backlit by colored light, with white noise piped in via hidden speakers…so that when you enter, it’s like stepping into a void, and you lose all sense of up/down/left/right. Pilots sometimes experience the same disorienting effect when flying thru clouds, and in fact you can recreate the effect yourself with some headphones and a ping pong ball cut in half, placed over your eyes while you stare at a bright light.
But why take the poor man’s route when I have this fabulous hi-class version awaiting me right down the street?? I took a deep breath and set foot into the rarefied atmosphere of the Louis Vuitton store, where a series of impeccably groomed saleswomen led me to an elevator that goes up to the secret 4th floor, which was just empty storage before Turell’s exhibit went in. I had to sign a release and put on these weird surgical booties, and then these two young chicks dressed all in white, kinda like sexy Oompa Loompas, led me into this dark, silent chamber, where you climb a set of stairs to enter the ganzfeld (as seen in the first photo).
they don’t allow photography in the Louis Vuitton ganzfeld, so I took this at the tram station, which also has a Turell installation, albeit way less cool
It was amazing!! Ideally, to experience the full effect of the ganzfeld you want to go alone, so there is no one/nothing in your peripheral vision, interrupting the void…and you want to go as far forward toward the front as possible, just short of the six-foot drop at the end. That way, your whole field of perception is filled with uniformly glowing color and humming white noise — far out!! My only complaint was that one of the Oompa Loompas stays in the chamber with you the whole time, watching that you don’t accidentally fall off the six-foot ledge…and I could see her in my peripheral vision the whole time, so it sort of fucked up the void effect; I had to avert my gaze to the right, which meant I could see some of the wall seam and the little alarm where the 6-foot drop is. Stupid liability!!!!!!
also at the tram station installation
Anyway, the full cycle takes 20 minutes, and then you have the option of touring the rest of the art pieces on display in the Louis Vuitton store. These turned out to be located mostly in little private salons where the über-wealthy shop via concierge service, hidden from the main floor and all the hoi polloi. If you weren’t a one-percenter, you’d never get to see this fabulous shit…which is pretty sad, in a way :-/ Still…as elitist and bullshit as it may be, I have to give Louis Vuitton props for making this amazing Art available to the public…even unrefined broke-ass hacks like me. Anyone can call 702-730-3150 and make an appointment to see it!
If, however, the idea of strutting into the Louis Vuitton stores freaks you out/makes you sick/violates your populist principles….don’t worry; I also just discovered some even badder-asser Art out in the desert, that’s also free to experience — all you have to do is gas up your car and ignore a few No Trespassing signs!
old magnesium slurry basin
My friend Tatiana tipped me off to this old abandoned magnesium mine out on the furthest reaches of Henderson, near the bankrupt nouveau-riche enclave of Lake Las Vegas, where there are all these ginormous, circular basins where I guess they used to rinse off the magnesium or whatever. These concrete basins are probably about half a football field in diameter, and most of them are just decaying away in the desert heat, dotted with shitty graffiti and strewn with litter and filth.
the Wheel of Misfortune by Aware.
But this bad-ass graffiti artist who goes by the name Aware. sneaked in one day and painted one of the basins in the way back to look like a giant Wheel of Fortune, like from the TV show! Only, instead of it being a regular Wheel of Fortune wheel with stripes reading “BANKRUPT” and “LOSE A TURN…” this is the Wheel of MISfortune, and the stripes say shit like “BANK OWNED,” “LOSE A HOME,” LOSE A JOB,” and “LOSE ALL HOPE.” Plus, all the dollar values are $000! I guess it’s supposed to be a statement of sorts on the whole housing/economic meltdown….which makes it particularly awesome that it’s located right across the street from broke-ass, poseur-ass Lake Las Vegas. HA!!!!!
LOSE ALL HOPE by Aware.
Anyway, I hiked out here one afternoon with Tatiana to check it out, was completely blown away, and then came back a week later with my friend Shutterbug Studio to make some tasteful Art of my own — a mixed-media masterpiece involving my Ass and my Twat. I sincerely hope the original Artist isn’t offended! (I’m a fan of Aware.’s work for the most part, but come to find out he’s the one who covered up the supercool Trust-O-Corp graffiti in the abandoned waterpark with shitty black Olde English lettering, so I can’t endorse him 100%.)
Google Earth screenshot showing Wheel of Misfortune
Apparently, you can see the Wheel of Misfortune from airplanes coming into Vegas — it would be out the righthand side of the plane, just past Lake Mead and due south of Lake Las Vegas. If you’re flying into town, be on the lookout! But if you want to check it out on foot, in person, be advised: there are NO TRESPASSING signs everywhere, and the place is really gross and dirty, and probably contaminated with all kinds of horrible stuff…..in short, just about as hazardous as venturing into that doucher-ass Louis Vuitton store, so choose your poison!!
Preparing to make some serious Art at a shoot at Cosmopolitan
Anyway, I’m all for appreciating the Art of others, but to pay the bills I gots to make Art of my own, ya know? Toward that end, I did a third photo shoot with this amazing photographer from the Bay Area out in Tecopa, near Death Valley — this is the same guy I shot with/shroomed with before, but he keeps hiring me because he’s working on an absolutely amazing project, which unfortunately I can’t give you the details of yet, because it really is so amazingly bad ass that he’s waiting to finish the series before releasing it to the public. All I can say is, these are among the coolest and most technically amazing photos for which I’ve ever bared my ass, and I can’t wait to share them with you!
Anyway, we stayed in a cabin at Delight’s Hot Springs resort this time, which has always been my favorite resort out there — I love the charmingly busted-up old cinderblock cabins they rent out, and the vibe is just overall sort of Bonnie-and-Clyde-meets-the-Apocalypse. The cabin we rented on this trip, however, was super busted up — it must have been one of the oldest ones on the property, and it was honestly pretty shitty…so be advised, and stay away from cabin #2!! I still recommend the rest of the property, though.
Our plan for this trip was to shoot two nights in a row, in the wee hours of the morning. The first night, we shot from 3am-5am, then went back and slept all day in the air conditioned cabin. The second day, we intended to shoot from midnight-2am…..but after a delicious lunch at Pastel’s Bistro and some after-dinner mushroom truffles, we got so totally zonked that we ended up pissing away the entire night laying out by the mudhole, staring at the stars and talking commie philosophy with some crazy poet in a bathrobe. FAR OUT!!! We’re actually going back next week to do another session — this photographer had never shot a nude model before, so he was pretty nervous the first couple of shoots, and really only hit his stride the third time…but then was derailed by mushrooms. So next time, I’m not bringing any distractions….it’s gonna be all about Art!!!
Speaking of nude photos, I also did a two-day shoot for this new website, Diverxity.com, that’s sort of an alternative to Model Mayhem…only porn-ier, and viewable by anyone — not just models and photographers (on Model Mayhem, only members can view the nude photos). I guess the idea is, models sign up and post explicit nude photos, and then anyone who wants to can sign up for a membership to view them — you don’t have to be a photographer. Well, I’m pretty square when it comes to shooting erotic/adult-type content (I don’t do it, so please don’t ask), but I’m friends with one of the guys who launched the site…so I agreed to be part of their first-ever group photo shoot, on location in fabulous Las Vegas.
This was a really cool idea — six or seven photographers signed up and paid who knows how much for two full days shooting a pool of eight models, one day at a rental house, and the second day out in the desert. Everyone took turns shooting with each photographer, and it was a pretty diverse group of models, as you can see from the photo…so everyone got a variety of shots.
Just hanging around pic by Dead Clown Studios
The house we shot in on the first day was nothing special, just an AirBnB rental squatting in the shadow of the freeway…but the desert locations we visited on the second day were amazing, and provided endless opportunities to create amazing Art. We hit the dry lakebed, a Joshua tree forest, some railroad tracks, a lonely desert road and then this fabulous rocky outcropping that had some kind of WWII memorial in the form of a cross at the top, that provided for a really cool backdrop. All in all it was a really fun day, and it fired me up about finally getting the Goddess Collective going!
The Goddess Collective
The whole reason we started the Goddess Collective was so that we could arrange group shoots like that — the Collective membership is now up to 6 or 7 high-quality, mostly untattooed, all-natural Art models, and between us we know a shit ton of fantastic locations out here in the desert. All we need is a van and 3-5 photographers, and we could totally help satisfy the Art needs of the entire planet! We need to get on this!!
Mister Tony ad his Audi
But meanwhile, I have other fish to fry — crazy psychedelic German performance Artist fish!! I was recently approached by a local wacky personality/singer/performance Artist by the name of Mister Tony, who wants me to be a part of his act by driving him around L.A. in a giant psychedelic hearse, while he lays in a Plexiglas coffin in the back, with his EDM tracks blaring from the external sound system, with the goal of attracting the attention of record labels out there. HOW COULD I SAY NO TO THAT?!
The Happy Hearse
Mister Tony’s story is actually really interesting. A few years back he was just another German automotive engineer toiling away at the BMW plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina…but then he got laid off, his dog died and his wife left him, all of which led to a meltdown/epiphany: he wasn’t meant to be an engineer, he was born to dance!!! So he spent his severance pay on a bunch of electric-acid-Kool-Aid-colored pimp suits and a hearse with a $20,000 psychedelic paint job, and moved to Vegas to become a superstar!
I first met him back when I worked at a nightclub — he goes out every single night, making the scene and getting his name and face out there. Back then he gave me a copy of his CD, which is a bunch of EDM-type dance tracks with titles like “Please Mister Tony” and “The Happy Hearse,” and I was totally blown away. It was like Dieter’s Dance Party crossed with Austin Powers and maybe a dash of Kraftwerk — intense!! So when he approached me recently to be a part of his act, you can see why I said yes.
Out on the town with Mister Tony
I guess he feels like he’s milked the Vegas market long enough, and now it’s time to move up to the big leagues — i.e. go to L.A. and try to get a record company to finance a music video, which he is certain will go viral a la Gangnam Style, making him famous and wealthy in the process. He offered me an 80-20 split if I go with him as his chauffeur, driving this fuckin’ hearse up and down Sunset Blvd. or whatever…but he also wants me to be part of the act!!
During his darkest hours in South Carolina, when rednecks were beating him up as he tried to perform in the clubs out there, a dark side to his personality emerged, telling him he wasn’t good enough, that he should give up, etc. But rather than give in to this self-doubt, he gave his dark side a name and a character– Evil Tony! Evil Tony can’t stand the fact that Mister Tony goes around spreading happiness and the joy of dance, so he sends his secret weapon, Wonderhussy, to seduce and destroy Mister Tony…thus ending Mister Tony’s reign of joy. Evil Tony possibly also has a devil’s tail which he plugs into Wonderhussy’s Electric Vagina to recharge his Evil energy…this shit is all still in development. LOLz!!!!!
The tables have turned!
Anyway, this is all 100% on spec, and I don’t expect to make any money off of it….but what the hell, sometimes ya gotta do shit for the fun of it, right?! Sometimes it’s fun to make Art for the sake of Art, ya know? But by some miracle it does pan out, and I do become a viral video sensation…I have a plan! I’m gonna use my newfound wealth to hire male models and make my own Art. Art involving lace buttfloss, silly facial expressions and ridiculous poses. I may even get a close-up of a hairy anus or two, who can say? I plan to call this genre Revenge Art…and who knows, some day you might catch my show on the 4th floor of a K-Mart somewhere in Nebraska.
P.S. I also went down and hiked the Grand Canyon last weekend…..here’s a short video about it. They say you’re not supposed to attempt hiking all the way down to the bottom and back in one day…but this is the second time I’ve done it, and I’m here to tell you it’s totally doable. It’s an asskicker — something like 4500 feet in elevation gain and 17 miles roundtrip — but it’ll definitely help get you to the point where you can crack a walnut in your ass!!!!
The only shitty thing about being self-employed is that you can’t call in sick — the show must go on! I came down with some kinda crummy cold/flu thing about a week ago, but…no one is paying me to lay around in bed hacking up mucous. I had to sack the fuck up and git ‘er done!
I had two photo shoots booked earlier in the week, so I just chugged some DayQuil and carried on with the sexy/flirty shtick as best as possible. But it was rough going, let me tell ya — as soon as I was done, I pretty much went home and passed out in bed….and canceled everything else I had planned for the week. BOOOOOO! I hate canceling!! Not only did I miss out on a killer party down at the hot springs with a bunch of Cirque du Soleil acrobats, but I also had to forego my annual 4/20 busking expedition in my Mary Jane showgirl outfit…something I had waited for all year long.
Heading out to busk…
Actually, I did manage to busk a little bit before I really got sick — because 4/20 fell on a Monday this year, which is kind of a slow night of the week, I also went down on Sunday evening 4/19, to try and capitalize on the dregs of the weekend crowd. But it was horrible! Not only did I feel crappy, but the crowd was cheap as fuck — I only made $19 in the hour and a half or so that I was down there :/
But the worst part, as usual, was the other buskers down there. Some of those losers can be real assholes! The first guy I ran into was wearing a pot leaf costume, too — so I went up to him and complimented him on it (even though it was super shitty), and assured him I wouldn’t stand nearby. But what kind of thanks did I get? He accused me of stealing his idea!!! I was like, “WTF?! I made this costume three years ago!” to which he replied, “I’ve been down here every day for two and a half years, and I’ve never seen you.” Uhhhhh, yeah, dickwad! That’s because I have a LIFE and only come down here once a year — if I did it more often, I’d blow my fucking brains out!! Accuse me of stealing your idea?! Give me a fuckin’ break!
Pic courtesy Tracie D, TripAdvisor.com
Then it got even worse/better. Remember how last time I tried to go busking, I got into a big fight with midget Mr. T, and he threatened to call security on me because I was standing on “his” spot? And he ended up calling me a “stanky-ass ho?” Well, this time I was very careful to steer clear of Mr. T and “his” dumbass spot…but apparently, he’s a dick like that to everyone, because guess who got arrested for starting a fistfight with one of the guys from KISS?!?!?!?! LOL that’s right, I am supremely pleased to report that Mini Mr T and “Peter Criss” (there’s a group of very successful buskers who dress as KISS) were both arrested for fighting over who gets to stand where on Fremont Street. I’m not making this shit up!! Even better, come to find out “Peter Criss” had outstanding warrants, so they took him off to jail. They let Mr T go, but they banished him and all the other members of KISS from busking for the rest of the night.
pic courtesy Kory R, flickr.com
Serves them all right, if you ask me! I don’t know the KISS guys, and to be honest they’ve been doing it for so long down there that I bet they’re all right….but that Mr T is one of the biggest pricks I’ve ever encountered. The other buskers told me that he and “Tupac” are very territorial, and will threaten any other busker who comes near “their” spot. So if you’re reading this, and you’re anywhere near Vegas — or if you plan to be in Vegas anytime in the near future — will you please do me a solid and go downtown, pose for a picture with Mini T…..and then stiff him??? Just to piss him off???? That would be so amazing and would totally serve him right for being such a dick. Thanks!!!!
Aaaaaaanyway, it’s been three weeks since I last updated this blog, so I have plenty more to write about than a bunch of halfbaked morons down on Fremont Street. After my last update, I headed up to the Bay Area of California, to attend the funeral of my ex-brother-in-law, Mike, a police officer in San Jose who was tragically killed in the line of duty last month.
a still from the last porn I was an extra in, Titty Heist
At first I wasn’t sure if I should even go — I hadn’t talked to him in a few years, so we weren’t really close friends anymore. But he was with my sister for ten years, and during that period we hung out quite a bit and did a lot of crazy shit together. He was basically a member of our family…and since the rest of my family was going, I felt it would be shitty of me not to go. So I cancelled a porn extra gig I had booked, and drove up to San Jose for the funeral.
Now, this wasn’t just any funeral — since he was a police officer, it was a huge to-do, held at the SAP Arena (home of the San Jose Sharks hockey team), with something like 15,000 other police officers and an assortment of politicos and other blowhards in attendance. Since Mike had remarried, my sister was not invited to sit with the family, which is to be expected, I guess….but it was still kinda sad how they cut her completely out of his life story. They had a slideshow of photos documenting his life, but they edited her out of every snapshot, and made no mention of his first marriage in the obituary. Again, I can totally understand doing that out of respect for his second wife…but it was still sad, especially because Mike was almost like a father figure to my other sister and brother, and they really looked up to him when they were growing up. But they were all cut out of the memorial, too.
It was all good, though — after the official ceremony was over, we all went back to my sister’s second ex-husband’s house (her second husband also knew Mike, and is still good friends with our family) and had our own memorial — with all of our photos of Mike. Let me tell you, we have some real doozies!!!! Out of respect for his professional reputation/legend, I won’t post any here — but rest assured, Mike was anything but square when he hung out with us!!! He truly was a cool-as-fuck guy with an open mind and a real progressive bent…and he will be sorely missed I have mixed feelings regarding all this anti-cop bias out there now…I mean, I’ve certainly had my share of run-ins with The Man, but at the same time, look how fuckin’ dangerous their job is! Mike was just responding to a call, and some suicidal whackjob shot him in the head. Neither side has it easy.
Rent Me pic by Dan P.
Anyway, after a few days in the Bay Area, I had to head on back down to Vegas to take care of some business before my next adventure — I had a photo shoot with this awesome Norwegian photographer, and then I had to do my damn taxes (if you’re curious, I juuuuust squeaked in over the poverty line). But once I got all that shit out of the way, I was off again!
This time, my travels took me back down to the desert near Palm Springs…because it’s festival season, and you know what that means. NO, not Coachella — puh-lease! I have better things to do than hang out with trustafarian douchebags and chicks in hi-waisted stonewashed jean shorts listening to Indie shoegazers barfing angst all over their American Apparel leggings….blecccchhhhh!!! I’m talking about the Wonder Valley Experimental Noise Festival!!!
camping in the desert behind the Palms
What is experimental noise, you ask? It’s sort of like music, but without traditional rhythm or melody…and it is far fucking out!! They have these noise festivals out in the desert behind the Palms Restaurant from time to time, and I’d been wanting to check one out ever since I go-go danced at the Noise Disco there last August. The Palms even lets you camp out back for free, so my sister and I made plans to meet there Saturday afternoon, check out the Noise, and then travel around for a few days afterward before heading home.
all the modern facilities
Holy cow, was that ever amazing!! It was basically a bunch of awesome nerdy white people in their 30s and 40s, plinking and plunking on weird instruments, making heavy use of feedback and distortion, and just generally ruckussing around and having a grand old time. As mentioned it was the same weekend as Coachella, but let me tell you….the Wonder Valley Experimental was about as far from Coachella as you can get!! I’d rather hang out in Wonder Valley listening to noise any day of the week…it’s way more interesting!
Here’s a short video compilation I made of some of the acts. I didn’t take nearly enough video, but you get the idea — it was insane!! I wish I would have gotten more footage of this one lady who performed toward the end — she had this freaky fucking act with a ventriloquist doll, that involved a lot of whispering and screaming and psychotic-sounding gibberish….OMG it was incredible! But I was pretty wasted by then, so none of my footage came out
Meanwhile, I also recognized a few people from the Noise Disco last August — many of the same acts were playing. At one point, I went over to say hi to my friend Rich Polysorbate from Alien Agenda….and almost immediately was sorry I did, as he greeted me with, “Hey, you like danger, right?!” Come to find out, he was busy stuffing a bunch of fireworks into a piñata…and wanted me to douse it with lamp oil, light it on fire, then wave it around on a broomstick during Alien Agenda’s performance. How could I say no?!?
with Alien Agenda
He outfitted me in a “safety suit” made of disposable painters’ overalls, which had been specially customized for me by one of the other members of Alien Agenda, and loaned me one of their tinfoil helmets…and just like that, before you know it I was performing with Alien Agenda! Rich ended up doing most of the piñata-waving, so I just danced around the periphery and stirred up the fire, blasting everything with lamp oil from time to time and basically adding a shit ton of ambiance. I can’t tell you when I’ve had that much fun! Here’s a video; see for yourself:
The next morning, my sis and I packed up camp and had a delicious brunch at the Palms before heading on our way. Our plan was to hit the swap meet in Yucca Valley before heading on out toward the coast, but…again, we got to the swap meet too late, and most of the booths were already closed up Those desert rats get started early; by noon, most of them had already packed up and left. I guess next time I’ll have to camp out across the street…that’s the only way I’ll ever be able to get there early enough!
So instead, we drove out toward the coast to spend some time at the beach. I had planned to hit up the Big Caliente hot springs in the mountains near Ojai, but alas, the roads were impassible due to recent rains. So we just camped out at a place called Wheeler Gorge, and it was OK. It just sucks having to pay for camping…I’m spoiled with all that free BLM boondocking we did in AZ and NV :-/
Swanning around Ojai in my favorite caftan
The next day we went down and checked out the fabulous town of Ojai, which seems to be pretty much rich new Agers and hippies, and then headed on toward one of my favorite places ever, Pirates Cove nude beach near San Luis Obispo; I hadn’t been to the beach in a while, and I guess I was jonesing for some salty sea air on my hoo-ha. The only bummer was, there’s no free camping at all in that area, so we ended up shelling out $45 to camp out nearby at this place called Avila Hot Springs.
“camping” at Avila Hot Springs
I do not recommend camping or even soaking here; the facilities are pretty much totally lacking in ambiance, and the campground is basically a parking lot next to a U.S. 101 offramp. The soaking pool is very shallow and kinda murky and gross, and even the clientele wasn’t very friendly — not sure what people see in this place!!
But on the plus side, it’s only a 10-minute
you have been warned!
drive from Pirates Cove nude beach….so at least we were able to get in some quality nude sunbathing time. We got up fairly early and went into nearby Avila Beach for coffee (also not recommended — Avila Beach is a creepy, Stepford-esque fake beach town straight out of Disneyland), and then spent all afternoon baking on the sand at Pirates Cove. Ironically, I was sitting there naked sewing clothes — a fan of this blog had invited me to a Jimmy Buffett concert in Orlando later in the week, so I was putting some last-minute touches on my costume for that. Multitasking — it’s what I do!
at Pirates Cove
Anyway, I would have liked nothing more than to spend at least a few days basking in the sun at Pirates Cove — it’t a beautiful spot, and I hear there are a lot of cool locals who hang out there…but as luck would have it, I got a text message from a fellow model in Vegas telling me an opening had come up at the big Broadcasters’ tradeshow the next day. So in the interest of making money, I figured I’d better pack up and drive home in time to work it. Around 4pm my sis and I hiked out, and I cruised back to Vegas, getting home just in time to pass out for the night.
at the NAB tradeshow with Lou Magelowitz
Fortunately, I only had to work the tradeshow for that one day — the very next day, I was off to Orlando, to see that Jimmy Buffett concert I was talking about. As mentioned, a reader of this blog messaged me the week before, asking if I wanted to be his date to the show, since his longtime girlfriend had backed out. Hmmmm…..Jimmy Buffett?!?
Now, as always my first inclination was to say YES — but then I remembered my new policy of saying NO, which I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to adopt as a means of warding off exhaustion. I mean, I’m not even really a fan of Jimmy Buffett…..and flying all the way to Florida to see him play is a huuuuge carbon footprint.
But then I realized that my carbon footprint is already the size of Rhode Island, thanks to all the roadtripping I do….and that seeing Jimmy Buffett perform in Florida is one of those things that should be experienced in the course of a fully-lived life. But the thing that really sealed the deal for me was this: the guy who invited me to the show also offered to take me shopping or sightseeing or whatever I wanted the following day. Well, I didn’t really want to go shopping, and I had just been at the beach in California, and I have no interest in theme parks…
Theme parks!!! That’s when I remembered The Holy Land Experience, this whacked-out evangelical creationist Christian theme park in Orlando…a place I’ve always wanted to go! So I messaged the guy and told him I’d be happy to join him at the Buffett show…as long as we could go to the Holy Land Experience the next day, too!
pre-gaming with some tater tots and the obligatory cheeseburger in paradise!
Fortunately, this guy was cool as hell and totally onboard with the idea, so the day after the tradeshow I got up at 4am Vegas time, hauled ass to the airport, and flew to Orlando. The guy who had invited me did an amazing job making me feel welcome — he even greeted me at the airport with a “WONDER HUSSY” sign like limo drivers carry, LOL! He had even booked me my own hotel room, at a swanky place downtown near the events center where the concert was taking place, so after checking in, we went out for a few margaritas to get primed for the show. I guess originally he had planned to take his longtime girlfriend to the show, and that’s why he had booked the hotel room…but things didn’t work out, so he did what everyone should do when they’re in a pinch: CALL WONDERHUSSY! Hopefully, he ended up having a decent time after all. I know I did!
Now, I had never seen Jimmy Buffett live, and I didn’t even really know many of his songs…but it was actually a pretty good show, and besides, I drank so many margaritas I could have been watching One Direction and I wouldn’t have noticed! The show itself was great — Jimmy Buffett performed barefoot, and genuinely seemed to be having the time of his life — but as always it was the people-watching that really got me: thousands and thousands of blitzed white people in Hawaiian shirts and grass skirts; ex-frat-bro types and their leathery tanned wives, all drunk as skunks and swaying to the music. It was like a Grateful Dead show for the Tommy Bahama set — absolutely amazing!! I even saw a few non-white people in the crowd!
But as amazing as that concert was, it could not compare to the fabulousness that awaited me the next day at the Holy Land Experience. O…….M……….G!!!!!!!
the fabulous, inimitable Miss Jan Crouch
If you’ve never heard of it, The Holy Land Experience is this fucked-up Bible theme park built by the good people of TBN — that’s the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a/k/a one of those televangelist channels with big-haired ladies asking you for money in return for prayers, etc. The fabulous woman in this photo is Miss Jan Crouch, one of my all-time heroes and style icons — I mean, just look at her!!! I’ve seen her on TV many times, and have always wanted to meet her.
Aside from asking for money on air, TBN also charges $50 to get into their theme park…so you know they’re raking it in — especially because, as a religious institution, they qualify for tax-exempt status (to maintain that status, they have to let people into the park for free one day a year…but they close half the park down “for repairs” on that day, haha). And once you get in, you can’t turn around without bumping into another opportunity to spend more money — there are gift shops around every corner (none selling anything cool, alas…just dumb stuff like study Bibles and Christmas ornaments) and snack bars all over the place (selling Chick-Fil-A….of course).
?!?!?! I think this was supposed to be King David
Now, if you’re a true Christian, you’d be very disappointed by the Holy Land Experience — though it’s billed as an educational step back in time to Biblical days, it’s really just a super-cheap, seriously tacky mess of glitter and rhinestones, with a few sad sacks in crappy Christmas Pageant costumes working the gift shops and food stands. Really pathetic! There are no rides of any sort, and there aren’t even any live characters walking around dressed as Jebus, etc. — just cardboard cutouts strategically placed about the grounds.
But since I wasn’t expecting anything more than a few laffs, I actually had a pretty good time. It only took us about an hour and a half to scope out the entire park (it’s really small, and really fucking chintzy), and I was actually just getting ready to write the whole thing off as a colossal waste of time and money….but then two things changed all that.
First, they had a live baptism — anyone who wants to be baptized can sign up at this kiosk, and then an actor playing Jebus dunks you in a fountain in front of an audience of befuddled, cheering halfwits. At the show I witnessed, Jebus baptized a white guy and then this black couple — and all three of the victims looked so happy afterward, it made me curious. I would have volunteered to be baptized myself, just to see what it was all about…but I wasn’t wearing waterproof mascara, and you know how that goes. (I know Jan Crouch understands!!!)
you weren’t supposed to take photos during the show, so I stole this one from someone’s Yelp review
Besides the baptism, the other amazing thing I saw at the Holy Land Experience was the 4:00 Passion Play — sort of a Broadway-style retelling of the Story of Jesus, complete with glittery costumes, soulful singing, thundering sound effects and a rousing finale in which Jebus Himself came out into the audience and laid His hands on various audience members, curing them of back pain, cataracts, cancer and more! IT WAS INCREDIBLE! Whoever did the costuming on this masterpiece deserves a Tony Award — it was exceptional, especially the gothed-out chain-festooned hoodie-trenchcoat worn by Satan, and the slutty Hot Topic ensembles worn by his three writhing demon-whores.
Costuming aside, the most incredible part of the whole show was the fact that Miss Jan Crouch herself was hanging around back in the wings, just offstage — because I was in the front row, I could see her lurking back there, but alas she never did come out onstage. I think she was probably waiting until the show ended, at which time she would come out and ask for donations…but UNFORTUNATELY, I had to haul ass to the airport to catch my flight back to Vegas, so I didn’t get to meet her. Boooo
farm league Jesus
I was in such a hurry to make my flight, in fact, that I almost ran right past Jebus himself on my way out of the park — I had been wanting a photo with a “real” Jesus all day long, only finding those cheesy cardboard cutouts…but as I ran out of the park toward the airport, I ran into one of the two live Jesuses on duty that day. The main Jesus was back in the theater, still rambling on curing people of cataracts and whatnot. But apparently the 2nd string Jesus, the one who’d done the baptisms, was still lurking around the park…so I stopped for a quick photo with him before hauling ass for the airport. Whew!!!! Just in time!!
thank you Jebus!!
I’ve never been so late for a flight, and I was really sweating it — I had a vaporizer full of weed in my suitcase, so I didn’t want to carry it on and have it go thru the X-ray and everything. But you know how sometimes they won’t let you check a bag if it’s less than 40 minutes before your flight leaves? Well, I told the guy at the check-in desk that I was late because I’d been at the Holy Land Experience….and he totally let me slide!!!! BOO YA! Who says Jesus doesn’t save?! I’m pleased to report, both me and my vape both made it back to Vegas just fine
me being polite, on a fancy couch at the Holy Land Experience
**P.S. I just want to note that I was very polite and low-key while at the Holy Land Experience….I dressed modestly, and kept all my snarky remarks to myself. I’m an atheist, but I’m not one of those loud-mouthed braying-jackass-type atheists who gets in everyone’s face with their beliefs…I’m just the yellow-bellied kind who acts nice to peoples’ face, then goes home and writes a snarky blog about them.**
***PPS For a full photo account of my trip to the Holy Land Experience, see my Facebook album***
Sock it to me!
Anyway, I got back to Vegas just in time for the next exciting item on the agenda: the biannual Blinking Man bicycle pub crawl, this whacked out sort of neighborhood bike ride they do around downtown Vegas, where everyone dresses up and decorates their bikes with blinking lights and stuff, then rides around from bar to bar getting soused. It’s one of my all-time favorite events, so I wanted to be sure I was home in time to get ready for that. This time the theme was the Beatles…so I rigged up an old-time 1960s bathing suit, then strung some lights in an old beehive wig I once bought at a drag store on Hollywood Blvd. I even placed a miniature version of the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign at the very top, in honor of Miss Betty Willis, the sign’s designer, who died that very same day out in Overton, this creepy little Mormon town near Lake Mead. It came out great, and a fabulous time was had by all.
in happier times, in the “Garden of Eden”
Soooooo….after all that, no fucking wonder I got sick!! You might say my sickness was Divine Retribution, incurred by my mocking the Lord Jebus Christ at the Holy Land Experience….but I prefer to believe that my sickness was caused by Germs, incurred by my flying on an airplane, which is basically a giant petri dish of bacteria. The last time I got sick was when I took that cruise…..also a giant petri dish. I think I’m gonna stick to road-tripping from now on — my truck may be slightly beat-up looking, but at least I keep it clean inside!!!
Anyone who’s ever driven between L.A. and Vegas has seen the sign for Zzyzx Rd. — and has probably wondered WTF it’s all about. Zizz-who?!
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
I’d always wondered, myself — I mean, my name is Wonderhussy, and I wonder about everything. So a few weeks ago, I packed up my high heels and breath mints, rounded up my photographer friend Shutterbug Studio, and headed out into the desert to unlock the secrets of Zzyzx.
Shutterbug and I often take off for the day on excursions like this, searching the farthest reaches of the Mojave for new
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
and exciting photo shoot locations. That’s how we ended up shooting at that abandoned brothel and that abandoned water park; the desert is full of funky shit baking away in the sun, waiting to be discovered — you just have to get out there and look for it. Maybe Zzyzx would be a cool new spot to get naked and create Art!
If you know anything about me, you know how much I enjoy posing nude outdoors. Shooting in a studio or hotel room is fine, but for a dramatic and unique backdrop, you just can’t beat the desert. And while “other” Vegas-based models and photographers tend to use the same tired-ass old locations over and over again (the fake ghost town at Nelson, the dry lake bed, Red Rock Canyon)… I get restless. Those are all great locations, but…after 999 photo shoots, you start to get bored and look for new places.
circa 2005, at an old abandoned motel that used to be right on Las Vegas Blvd, near where the M Resort is now :/
The problem is, during the mid-2000s housing boom in Vegas, all the cool decaying stuff within 50 miles or so was bulldozed to make way for plastic surgery clinics and shitty cardboard tract houses. Case in point: this badass old abandoned motel used to be right on Las Vegas Blvd., down around where the M Resort now stands. Unfortunately, by the time I started modeling for a living they had torn it down for that dumbass casino… and a fabulously picturesque and convenient location was forever lost
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
These days, you have to drive pretty far out into the desert to find interesting new shooting spots. And I mean way out there — all the good places within an hour of town have been pretty much done to death, so shooting at a new spot requires quite a bit of travel time. Fortunately, however, Shutterbug and I don’t mind spending an entire day cruising around the desert in his 4WD Jeep; as long as he has enough Pepsi and cigarettes, he can go all day! And as long as I have a Coke and occasional cell service to keep up with my daily non-stop avalanche of email…I’m good too
So, we decided to head south on the I-15 and check out Zzyzx Rd, about 2 hours outside Vegas. It worked out great, because Shutterbug had some winning lottery tickets he needed to cash in anyway, at the Lotto Store
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
out on the NV/CA state line (NV has no state lottery…so, as if there aren’t already enough opportunities to gamble out here, many locals make the 45-minute drive to the state line to buy lotto tickets in California. There’s this whole weird store devoted to them right over the state line — you go in and it’s like a methadone clinic, with people lined up around the block to get their fix. Bizarre!).
Anyway, after cashing in his tickets
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
there was still another hour or so to go…so I did some research on my phone. A quick Google search revealed Zzyzx (pronounced zizz-ix, if you didn’t know) to be a made-up word, invented by a 1940s health guru as the last word in the English language. Under that illustrious brand, he peddled a line of bullshit supplements and ran a sort of old-timey health spa out near a mineral spring on the edge of the Soda Dry Lake bed south of Baker, where people could swill mineral water and bake in the desert sunshine, curing themselves of a litany of ailments. Eventually, however, the Feds shut him down and forced him out…and the abandoned spa buildings have been crumbling in the desert sun since 1974.
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
An abandoned spa on a dry lake bed far enough from Vegas to keep all but the most dedicated methheads from defacing it?!?!? How much awesomer of a location could you ask for? Wikipedia did also mention that the California State University system now uses Zzyzx as a desert studies center…but ever the optimists, Shutterbug and I figured there would still be some areas we could sneak into, so we didn’t let that stop us.
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
Alas….for once, we struck out I am disappointed to report that all the buildings at Zzyzx are indeed being used by CSU, and there aren’t any abandoned ruins to shoot in out there. Even the fountains and stuff are surrounded by university outbuildings, with busybody do-gooder desert conservationists-in-training hanging around everywhere you turn, so you can’t exactly drop trou and strike a pose. That’s great for the desert…but bad for nudies. D’oh!!!
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
After driving around for a few minutes scoping out the disappointing situation, we ended up settling for a few quick nudes out on Soda Dry Lake, just off the road leading out to the Zzyzx spa. That is a weird lake bed — jaggedy and crumbly, with a coating of blinding white powdery stuff on top, like coke-encrusted boogers. Not very comfortable to recline on, let me tell ya!
Well, now where to?! We didn’t drive this
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
far out into the middle of nowhere to go home empty-handed, so we decided to head back into the tiny little “town” of Baker to look around. Baker is one of those pit stops on the L.A.-Vegas route that’s really little more than a few gas stations and some fast-food outlets. They tried to gussy it up a bit and lure in a few tourist dollars by erecting the World’s Tallest Thermometer and opening an Alien Jerky store…but it’s still a pretty depressing, dusty little outpost with little to recommend it other than the fabulous Mad Greek restaurant (don’t ask me how those poor Greeks ended up in that godforsaken corner of the Mojave Desert, but it’s awesome). But the sign says “Population: 600…” so I figured there must be more to it; surely there was someplaceworth shooting, somewhere in town!
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
Sure enough, right away we came upon the fabulous, abandoned Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel! I don’t think it’s been closed down very long — less than 5 years, I guess — but the decay definitely set in fast. The desert’ll do that! But despite the fact that it’s located right out on the main drag — Baker Blvd. — the place wasn’t in that bad of shape. I guess most people don’t stop in Baker long enough to dick around and deface a motel and whatnot — they just gas up and get the fuck out!
Does this unnerve you? pic by Shutterbug-Studio
Anyway, we shot in and around the rooms for awhile (the doors are boarded up, but the windows are busted out and can be climbed thru), and then headed over to the old office, which was even easier to get into, as the sliding glass door was totally busted and wide open. Someone had inexplicably emptied a jar of pickles on the floor — and fairly recently, too, as the desert hadn’t yet sucked all the juice out of them! The strange shit you find in abandoned buildings….LOL!
The pool area was well-fenced-off, so we couldn’t really get in there without doing some major climbing…so we cruised around the back, instead, to a sort of open desert area that had a shit ton of busted-up, rusted-out old cars, RVs, boats, shipping containers and military transport vehicles. It was better than Disneyland — a photographer’s paradise!!!! I could have shot out there for days without running out of ideas. It was incredible!
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
Now meanwhile, we did pass a few methily-lettered “NO TRESPASSING” signs…but we never did see anyone there, or any dogs or anything, so I guess we were lucky. That’s one of the risks you run, shooting out in all these cool, abandoned places — aside from broken glass, rusty nails, spiders, rats and scorpions….you also have to worry about methheads and their vicious attack dogs. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
Anyway, after shooting our fill among the rusted out cars and boats, we got back in the car and cruised around the rest of Baker, which wasn’t much — a few cinderblock apartment buildings, a bunch of trailers, a post office and a car repair place…and that’s about it. I can’t imagine who lives out there! It’s hotter than Hades in the summer, and it must be a pretty lonely place any time of year. Crazy!
pic by Shutterbug-Studio
Since there wasn’t anything else going on around Baker, we got back on the 15 and headed back up to Vegas. We made one final stop at the Halloran Springs exit, which I guess used to have a cafe and a gas station and a few houses…but nowadays it’s all abandoned and covered in fabulous graffiti, so we fired off a few more shots there before finally calling it a day. We poked around in the rubble of one of the abandoned houses, and it was a trip — it looked like a family with kids had lived there, but had suddenly been evicted, almost overnight. There were still clothes and books and toys and DVDs laying around everywhere, but the windows were all busted out and the desert was already starting to take over again.
Rage, rage against the drying of the pickle pic by Shutterbug-Studio
It was kinda sobering; I think I caught a glimpse of my own future in the ruins of that cinderblock shack. Some day, when Lake Mead has dried up and Yucca Mountain is bursting at the radioactive seams, and the desert has finally sucked all the juice out of my pickle…some half-naked nitwit will probably go poking thru the ruins of my house, kicking aside dusty old feather boas and sunbaked trucker caps, looking for a good place to plant her fat ass and create Art. By then, who can say how many megapixels her photographer’s camera will shoot…and how many hairs she will have allowed to sprout on her pubis?? Styles change — but one thing is for sure:
The desert always wins!
All pics taken 3/30/15 in and around Baker, CA (except as noted)
I mean that not only in a Carpe Diem, be-here-now kind of way…but also in a strictly literal sense; the weather at this time of year is PERFECT for desert adventuring. So that’s just what I’ve been doing. Carpe Diem? CARPE SCROTUM — grab life by the balls!!
For my March adventure, I wanted to finish exploring Nevada — remember, I was only able to make it halfway up the state last month, due to shitty weather. But I didn’t really have enough time — I only had about a week free, and that week coincided with the annual visit of my German musician pals, Käpt’n Rummelsnuff and his First Mate, Christian Asbach. And when those guys come all the way from Berlin….Nevada can wait!!!
You may remember from last year that together, my friends perform as Rummelsnuff — a far-out sort of post-punk industrial-pop act with an Eastern bloc aesthetic. They classify their music as electro-pogo, but it’s really hard to describe/categorize….so here’s the music video we shot with them at their ranch last year. Decide for yourself:
Anyhoo, THOSE guys were back in town — and by “town,” I mean the remotest desert out by Twentynine Palms, where they have a sort of winter compound out in a place called Wonder Valley. For the last few years I’ve gone out to stay with them for a few days….I love that place, and they’re super cool people!
But before heading out on this latest adventure, I had to make my monthly nut. First things first! Luckily, there was a photography convention in town, so Vegas was flooded with photographers and I got quite a bit of work off that. I did one shoot at the Palazzo and another at the New York, New York — which has totally pedestrian rooms, but which you can also see from the photos here proves that it’s not the room, it’s the people involved. This photographer was very cool and he captured some great shots. Most of the black & whites in this blog are by him.
At Big Dune with DespayreFX
Then another day I shot with my Canadian photographer friend, DespayreFX. We’d shot together back in January, and had so much fun/got such great results that he hired me again, and this time he booked a really swanky penthouse suite at the Delano (formerly known as THE Hotel). What an amazing room for shooting!! We got some really incredible stuff, and also ventured out to Big Dune in Amargosa Valley, and got some bad-ass stuff there, too. I don’t typically shoot at these dunes because they’re pretty far from town (a two-hour drive)…but for DespayreFX, I’ll do anything (well, almost anything…LOL).
But our shoot almost didn’t happen, because of the dumb-ass customs agents at the U.S. border — Despayre lives in Vancouver, Canada, and ran into trouble as he was trying to get to Bellingham, WA for his flight to Vegas. Apparently the customs agent saw all his photo gear and assumed that he was coming down to the U.S. to steal American Jobs™…and when he explained that to the contrary, he was coming down here to pay an American model, they didn’t believe him.
At the Delano penthouse by DespayreFX
Meanwhile, I had no idea any of this was going on — I was going about my business, ferrying another photographer out to the fake ghost town of Nelson for a shoot, when I got a call: “This is U.S. Customs Officer Baker. Is this Sarah Jane Woodall?”
Yoikes!!! Did he read my blog about the goodies I stashed in the desert on my way into Mexico?!? What kind of mess was I in now?????
Big Dune by DespayreFX
But all he wanted to know was if Despayre’s story was true. I told him the truth, that Despayre had hired me…and he seemed very skeptical: “Is that how this typically works??!”
Um, yes! That’s how I make my living, dumbass! Of course I didn’t say that to him — I was unfailingly polite, as was Despayre…but despite our best combined efforts, they still ended up detaining him at customs for three hours. He ended up missing his flight because of it, and had to book another flight out of his own pocket — from Seattle, because all the Bellingham flights had already left. All told, this snafu cost him something like $1,000 — what a racket!! Any Canadian photographers who are reading this, take heed!
More from the Delano penthouse, by DespayreFX
Aside from photo shoots, my friend Dr. Kildare also came back to town to shoot more scenes for this sort of docu-comedy he’s making based on my life….and this shoot almost got fucked up by American Idiots, too! Basically, there were two things he needed to shoot this time: some scenes out at the dry lake bed, and some more footage of me riding my bike down East Fremont Street with the existentialist ventriloquist dummy strapped to my back. And both of those plans were pretty much derailed by an unfortunate coincidence — the Mint 400 offroad race/redneck jamboree was taking place that very same weekend, and was already using both locations!! They had East Fremont all cordoned off for some dumb pre-race circle jerk…and then the race itself was being held out at the very same lake bed he wanted to shoot at — Roach Lake in Jean, NV. D’oh!!!!
Shot by Dr. Kildare out at Jean dry lake bed
Still, we managed to shoot the necessary content — we hit the farthest reaches of the lake bed, as far as possible from the hi-octane idiocy, and just ignored all the “TEMPORARILY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC” signs (this was a few days before the actual race, anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal). And the stuff we shot came out pretty freaking amazing!!! I’m telling you, this movie (working title: WONDERHUSSY) is going to be something else — every time he shows me the rushes, I’m really impressed with the production values and the content. Hopefully it takes the Sundance festival by storm!!!
the great outdoors!!!
Anyway, after all that running around and sucking it in, sticking it out, etc. it was finally adventure time again. I started my break with a little overnight kayaking/camping trip on the Colorado River with my friend Rick, and it was just absolutely fantastic — the weather was A M A Z I N G, and the wildflowers were insane — the desert really does bloom this time of year. We paddled
downriver a ways to this sandy little beach, then set up camp and made a fire and sat out enjoying the night. The only bummer was, there was so much garbage everywhere — we packed out like 3 bags full, but there were still at least three dumpsters full left What the fuck is wrong with people?!? Anyway, here’s a short video I made about the trip:
Aside from all the litter, the other bummer was that of all possible times for Wheel of Fortune to come back to Vegas for auditions, it happened to be THAT weekend. You may recall that I auditioned for Wheel of Fortune a couple of summers ago, and totally aced the audition — and they said to be on the lookout for a postcard or email from them in the next two months, with information on the next step. Well, fuckin’ Gmail accidentally sent the email into my spam folder, and I didn’t find it until it was too late!!!! I missed being on the show by two freaking days, and I’ve been pissed off about it ever since. Do you realize how many adventures I could finance by going on that show?!?!? FUCK!
I left THIS for Wheel of Fortune :/
So now they were finally coming back, and I knew I couldn’t miss it. They had three auditions on Saturday, and three on Sunday — so I figured I’d still go kayaking, but leave in time to make the last audition on Sunday. Which meant tearing myself from the beautiful sun-drenched river to go sit in some shitty hotel ballroom with a bunch of other greedy assholes….but whatever; you do what you have to do.
photo credit: theexplainer
ALAS, however, I think I totally wasted my time — I didn’t realize how freakishly lucky I was at my first audition. See, when you arrive to audition, you fill out a little card and then they put everyone’s name in a raffle drum, then randomly pick out names to come up onstage and play the game. While you’re up there, they interview you and stuff to see how personable you are, and if you’d be good on TV. HELLO!!!! Last time they picked my name right away, and I went up, charmed the pants off one and all and solved the puzzle before anyone else. But THIS time, I sat there and sat there and sat there……and they never drew my name DAMMIT!!! I guess there were people who had gone to all six auditions, and finally got picked….so I guess I should have forfeited kayaking altogether and just stayed in that fuckin’ ballroom all weekend. But, really??
by SW Images
Anyway, supposedly they said they might still call those of us who were in the audience but didn’t get called up…so I guess I’ll keep checking my spam box for the next two months. But I have my doubts. Anyone know anyone at Wheel that can get me in???? I really need to win some money — BADLY!!!!! I could finally buy a badass off-road rig or van with that kind of cheese!!!
So, I was pretty pissed off about that whole debacle, but I didn’t have too long to stew about it because the very next day I was off to meet my sister for our March adventure — before heading down to Wonder Valley to visit Rummelsnuff, we had planned to meet up in the mountains east of Bakersfield and camp out at this intriguing-looking set of hot springs on the Kern River. I left Vegas on Monday around noon, heading up U.S. 395 toward Ridgecrest, then cutting across to the west over Walker Pass…and H O L Y H E L L ! ! ! ! I’ve never seen anything like it — it was astonishingly beautiful!!!!!
Kern River valley
I’m telling you, I had no idea this area even existed, but it was incredible. It was lush and green from the winter rains, with wildflowers all over the place — sort of how I picture Wyoming, only with Joshua trees. Fabulous!! I almost wrecked my truck six times gawking at the amazing splendor of it all. It’s the area around Lake Isabella, if you’ve ever been up there — just absolutely breath-taking.
camping on the beach of the Kern River
Anyhoo, I met up with my sis at Remington Hot Springs…these rustic little hippie-dippie man-made pools right on the edge of the river, in a forest. The parking area is only about 1/4 mile up the hill from the springs, and most people just camp up there…but since we’re badasses, we packed up our gear and headed down to the river, and set up camp on a secluded little beach down by the springs. Natural-beauty-wise, Remington is definitely in the top 2 or 3 springs I’ve ever been to — just amazing. The only downside is, the soaking pools aren’t very hot — there’s really only one tub that’s a decent temperature, and it’s pretty small, fitting about 5 people max if you really squeeze in.
Remington Hot Springs
Fortunately it was all dudes down there, so when my naked sis and I showed up there was more than enough room for us in the hot tub…and we enjoyed a nice, long soak late into the evening, with the peaceful sound of the Kern River rushing past in the background. What a magical place!! I had heard it can get really crowded with riff-raff from Bakersfield, but on this Monday evening it was pretty chill — and no trash or anything laying around, either. At first, I did get a slightly creepy vibe from the parking area — it looked like the kind of place a car might get broken into, because there were a lot of mixed characters hanging around, and apparently some poor guy’s van had been burned to a crisp a couple nights before — but apparently it was his bad, for dropping a cigarette butt on the ground next to a gas can, I guess. In any event, I had no bad experiences. In fact, everyone I met was cool as fuck!
Yay for naked mornings at a hot spring!
The most interesting of the bunch was this dreadlocked vandwelling busker from Big Sur named Lonnie, whose act consists of him playing guitar and singing while two rabbits sit on his head. Meanwhile, the rabbits have the run of his van, and apparently poop and pee all over the place as they please. Alas, I did not have the opportunity to visit Lonnie’s van…but I found him to be very charming and entertaining, as he sang songs and recited poetry to us all night long.
Then there were a couple of local guys, retired big-rig drivers who I found endlessly interesting to talk to. For some reason I’m fascinated by long-haul truckers, and these two guys indulged me by telling me all about the truckin’ life. They were super cool, and one of them gave my sis and I parting gifts of a colorful scarf heavily scented with stripper perfume, and a framed cross-stich of some howling wolves in the snow. AWESOME! I didn’t have room for the wolf painting in my house so I left it at a thrift store down in Lucerne Valley later in the week….but the scarf has already become one of my favorite accessories
A hippie bus near Remington
Then too there was this little hippie family living in one of those A-frame pop-up campers — a mom, dreadlocked dad and their little girl. These people were what is commonly referred to as “Drainbows” — as in, the type that attends hippie jamborees like the Rainbow Gathering, but who live off government assistance and are basically lazy pot-smoking drains on the economy. Now, I can’t say for sure that this kid and his wife didn’t have some sort of debilitating medical condition that prohibits them from holding a job, but….the father did bitch about food stamps and WIC only paying for “shitty cheese” and bread containing high-frustose corn syrup. Jeez! Beggars can’t be choosers, bro — I’m sorry my tax dollars don’t cover Gruyère and Ezekiel bread!!!
trail to the hot springs from the parking lot
Now, speaking of foodie food — before we headed down to Wonder Valley the following day, my sis and I decided to hit up the Vons grocery store in Lake Isabella and buy supplies for a gourmet fucking feast at Rummelsnuff’s compound. It was the least we could do to repay their hospitality, for letting us stay there! We loaded up on caviar, brie, capers, water crackers, asparagus, peppers and lots and lots of steak — we know how Käpt’n Rummelsnuff is when it comes to his protein!! We also got champagne, cabernet and port wine for dessert, with grapes and, yes, Gruyère — we don’t fuck around!!!!!
Once the cooler was loaded up, we headed down south to the Cat Ranch (the name of their compound; so named because it was infested with feral cats when they bought it off an old blues musician). It was a pretty barren ride through the off-road redneck paradise of Lucerne Valley, but we finally rolled in around dusk, and the party began. My friend Fabian was also there from Vegas, and he had brought along a friend of his who used to be the tour manager for the Killers, but is now apprenticing to be a butcher. That guy had brought even more meat, so the night promised to be a real sausagefest…..in more ways than one!!!!
arrival at the Cat Ranch
First things first, though — upon arrival, First Mate Christian mixed up cocktails, and we all climbed the rickety spiral staircase to the roof, to watch the sunset. By the time that was over, Käpt’n Rummelsnuff had fired up the grill, and the grubfest began in earnest. There is no running water or electricity at the Cat Ranch, so we enjoyed champagne, caviar and all the accoutrements in the tiny, cluttered kitchen by the light of a kerosene lamp and those colored glowing balls my sister bought me for floating in hot springs — they add instant ambiance to any situation!
Then we all headed out back to the “backyard,” a sort of fenced-in courtyard that is half outdoor gym, half lounge space, where the apprentice butcher set about grilling up all the various and sundry meats in attendance. Oh my god, I’m not normally a big meat eater but I ate so much meat that night — steak and bratwurst and Italian sausage and chicken, and all kinds of crazy grilled awesomeness. The booze and weed were flowing freely, as was the conversation, and it was an amazing night all around. After awhile, the neighbor lady Jill came by with more champagne and peanut M&Ms, which perfectly complimented the port wine, cheese and grapes. UGH!!!!!
the next morning at the Cat Ranch
The next morning we were all pretty hung over, but fortunately there was plenty more meat on deck — nothing like glistening slabs of thick-cut artisanal bacon to cure a hangover, ya know??? Fabian and the butcher had to leave early, but the rest of us sat around all day in the shade listening to Nico’s Desertshore album, which was the perfect soundtrack for a Teutonic post-gluttony desert comedown. I finally had some time to start embroidering that caftan I bought in Bisbee back in January, so I pretty much just sat around all day working on that. It was very relaxing!!
desert hot tub
Around sundown, Christian and my sister and I all went over for a sunset soak in the neighbor lady’s Jacuzzi, and then we headed back to the Cat Ranch, where der Käpt’n had prepared a light meal for everyone of various chopped salads and rice. YUM!!! We pigged out again, then Christian fired up their little ramshackeldy sauna, and we all took a nice, therapeutic shvitz. And remember, after sauna you have to hose off in the open-air shower, which is really just a water tank on stilts that you stand under, bathing in a stream of cold water under the desert stars. Legs first, then arms, then belly, then chest — you don’t want to shock your system, you know!! Let me tell you, I slept WONDERFULLY that night!!!
Der Käpt’n made me stay for the show!
Now meanwhile, Rummelsnuff (the band) had managed to book a show the following Saturday night, at the local dusty dive bar, the Palms — and so the Käpt’n invited us to stay all week, and attend the show. I didn’t think I’d be able to make the show, as I had a photo shoot in Death Valley on Sunday…but my shoot wasn’t until 5pm, so I figured why the hell not?? If I left Wonder Valley early enough Sunday morning I could go home, take a shower, shave my various body hairs and wash my head hair, and still be in Death Valley in plenty of time for my shoot. So, why not????! YOLO, baby!
We didn’t want to wear out our welcome at the Cat Ranch, though, since it was still only Wednesday at that point…so rather than just sit around the ranch all week boozing and sewing, my sis and I took off for a couple days to explore the area.
hiking at Joshua Tree
The first day, we went to Joshua Tree National Park — a cool desert paradise full of Joshua trees (duh) and crazy rock formations that are super-popular with rock climbers from all over the world. I myself went rock climbing there once, last August, and I don’t get all the fuss — but many people are obsessed with climbing. It’s like a cult — they spend every waking moment and every dime on climbing, climbing gear, and the climbing lifestyle…which apparently includes lots of stuff like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Dave Matthews CDs and primo-grade chronic. Those climbers are faaaaar out!
shitty campsite at Joshua Tree
Not being climbers, my sis and I just wanted to camp out and go for a few hikes. Alas, this was right in the middle of Spring Break, so all the campgrounds were jam-packed, and we were lucky to get a shitty campsite right next to the road, cheek-to-jowl with squalling families and right downwind of the toilets :-/ BOOOOO! Now that I have all this BLM boondocking camp experience, it’s the only way for me — this “civilized” camping shit is for the birds!! But we still enjoyed a nice campfire and a good dinner, and went on a couple of pretty good hikes. My personal opinion? If you’re not a climber, go to the Mojave National Preserve, instead. There you’ll find similar topography, tons of Joshua trees….and it’s FREE to get in! Plus, there’s tons of camping — much of that free, too. And it’s WAY LESS CROWDED!!!!!
naked bouldering at Joshua Tree
The next morning, we packed up camp and headed back up north a ways to pay a seasonal visit to my beloved #1 all-time favorite place, Deep Creek Hot Springs. I had been there in winter, summer and fall, but never spring — and if the wildflowers around Remington Hot Springs were any indication, it was probably a riot of orgasmic beauty!!!! How could I miss seeing that?!?!?
Pappy & Harriet’s
Before heading up, though, we stopped for lunch at this touristy-looking joint called Pappy & Harriet’s, in a place called Pioneertown outside Joshua Tree. Apparently it was used to film old Western movies back in the day, but now it’s just a tourist trap with an amazing saloon/restaurant, with astonishingly good, healthy fare. I guess they also feature live music every night, but we were there too early to see any bands — hipsters come all the way from L.A. to see shows there; it’s that kind of place. For that reason, my endorsement is not 100% enthusiastic….but the food really was good, so if you’re in the area, check it out.
Anyway, after lunch we headed to Deep Creek, and packed all our gear down the loooooong trail to the hot springs — unlike Remington, this is more like a 2-mile hike to the springs, so you have to be pretty dedicated if you want to
Deep Creek Hot Springs 4 LIFE!!!
camp out down there. I made sure to bring my colored balls, and they looked fantastic in the dark, tucked away into crevices in the rocks around the soaking pools. The only bummer was, again, it was Spring Break….so the crowd down there was almost exclusively young kids from area universities…and none of them were very interesting to talk to :-/ Normally when you go down there it’s all naked old conspiracy theorists and kooks…..but this time, it was all bros and bikini girls. No one was even naked!! You could tell, they all thought my sis and I were total hippie weirdos for being nekkid. But whatevs; we still had a nice night.
In the morning we packed up our gear and hiked up out of the canyon in the brutal sun. Here’s a video I made about the whole experience:
Before heading back to the Cat Ranch to get ready for the big Rummelsnuff show that night, my sis and I first stopped off in Yucca Valley to check out the legendary Yucca Valley Swap Meet. I love me some swap meets, and this one was said to be particularly amazing, being as the desert in those parts (Yucca, J Tree, Landers, 29 Palms, Wonder Valley) is chock-a-block with artsy, broke bohemian refugees from L.A. It’s basically Kook Central!
Yucca Valley swap meet
Alas, we got there too late and the swap meet had already mostly shut down…but we wandered around anyway, marveling at the amazing set-up. This swap meet is held on the grounds of an old, defunct drive-in movie theater, and the swap meet booths are permanent structures, like kooky wooden old-west-type shacks and huts with stained glass windows and kooky artwork everywhere. AMAZING!
Even more amazing, we were looking in the windows of this weird building made of painted spray-foam called the Crystal Cave, when out of nowhere this wizened old man in yellow Hunter S. Thompson sunglasses and a leather vest and cowboy hat appeared — he had built the Crystal Cave himself, and wanted us to see inside!! O…M….G…..I cann’t describe in words how amazing this Crystal Cave was inside. I tried to take photos, but you can’t even get the idea: basically, it’s like being inside someone’s eyeball who’s tripping on acid!!!!! Everything is made of brightly-painted spray foam, with colored lights and crystals and little figurines scattered about in nooks and crannies. You sit on a little cushioned bench, and he closes the door behind you so that you’re in complete solitude — the foam is also soundproof. It’s just you and your thoughts inside this crazy psychedelic diorama…..and it is FAR FUCKING OUT!!!!!!!
inside the Crystal Cave — this photo does NOT do it justice; you have to go in person
After enjoying the Cave for a while, we came out and chatted with the old man, and he was so wonderful! He said he just wanted to share his happiness with others….and by golly, he sure did. I left that place feeling 100% happy, awesome and amazing — in fact, I felt that way pretty much the whole week!!! It was great!!!!!
So then it was time for the Rummelsnuff
meanwhile, back at the ranch…….
show. We headed back to the Cat Ranch and got dressed, then drove over to the Palms Restaurant. I’ve written about the Palms before, describing it as a sort of Mos-Eisley-cantina-type dusty little desert shitshow with all kinds of kooky characters and astonishingly good food, sitting all alone in the middle of nowhere on Amboy Road, halfway between nowhere and tumbleweed. This night, in honor of Rummelsnuff, the house specialty was bratwurst, so we fueled up on yet more meat, then sat back and watched the show. Curious desert dwellers from miles around had come out to see what this Rummelsnuff was all about, and it ended up being a great night, with a great turnout! The show was amazing, except for the part where Käpt’n asked me to sing backup on this Boney M song, and a great time was had by all. I’m here to tell you, seeing Rummelsnuff at the Palms is like seeing the Rat Pack at the Copa or Hank Williams at the Grand Ole Opry — it’s legendary!!!
cruising back to Vegas on an overcast desert morning
After the show, the plan was for more partying into the night, then brunch the next morning at the Palms (they have great Bloody Marys and veggie omelets)…and then board up the Ranch so that Christian and Käpt’n could head back to Berlin (the Ranch sits unattended 11 months out of the year). I would have loved to be part of all this, but ALAS, I had to be in Death Valley the next day…so I went to bed early, then got up, broke camp, and sat on my tailgate enjoying one last cup of coffee with Christian before heading out. Käpt’n Rummelsnuff made me a guacamole sandwich for the road (more protein)….and then it was time to say goodbye. Well, not goodbye — Auf Wiedersehen. Til next year!!
So, I cruised back to Vegas, scraped all the crud and body hair off, did my hair and spackled on some makeup, and then got back on the road again, Death Valley-bound. I was meeting the same photographer I shot with last month, when I stayed at the Amargosa Opera House — the guy with whom I totally hit it off, this super-artsy, gaunt motherfucker who is sort of a cross between Tom Waits, David Lynch and R. Crumb. He’s awesome!!!
Out in Death Valley photo by Crumb Lynch
Anyway, this time we were camping out at one of the campgrounds in Death Valley — Mesquite Springs. After I set up my tent, we loaded up some music, wine and cheese and headed out into the desert to shoot, getting there right around sunset (this photographer shoots starry night sky stuff, so the later, the better). We passed the evening shooting and bullshitting, sitting around drinking this amazing wine he’d brought from his wine cellar, paired with some exceptional cheeses he’d also brought, listening to some far-out William Orbit electronica and just generally enjoying the fabulous desert night. I tell you, some people know how to live!!!
More by Crumb Lynch
After shooting, we headed back to camp to get high and talk some more…but alas, it was one of those shitty, developed campgrounds chock full of families and angry people, and we hadn’t been in camp more than 2 minutes when some bossy old biddy came shuffling over to shush us, telling us we were making way too much noise in the middle of the night (it was about 11:30). Like I said, I’m all about desert boondocking – fuck this developed campsite shit! I’d rather set up camp in the middle of nowhere, piss on a bush and and brush my teeth with bottled water, any day!!! We ended up having to hang out inside the photographer’s car, just to keep our conversation from bothering all the sleeping biddies. But it was cool — we sat in the car and got baked, and had a pretty good time, considering. But the REALLY good times were yet to come!!!!!
The next morning, our plan was to head down to the fabulous little desert outpost of Tecopa, home of a few dusty old hot spring resorts from the 1940s, and also home to a fantastic all-natural muddy-bottomed hot spring in the middle of a vast, barren desert valley. It’s one of my all-time #1 favorite places in the entire world, and it’s only 80 minutes outside Vegas! Anyway, this photographer had read about it in my blog or on Yelp or somewhere, and wanted to spend a night hanging out there, shrooming and just being mellow. So of course I said YES!!!
Death Valley wildflowers!
It was a beautiful day — just driving through Death Valley, with all the wildflowers blooming, and some relaxing Santo & Johnny slide guitar on the stereo, bathing in the clean, warm desert air with the windows down….omg it was fantastic. I wish you all could have been there!!! We arrived in Tecopa in the early afternoon, and enjoyed one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my life on the patio at Pastel’s Bistro — hands-down my #1 all-time favorite restaurant, anywhere! Seriously, this place serves amazing healthy, gourmet food out in the middle of freaking nowhere — you have to try it!
earlier in the week, at Remington hot springs
Pastel’s doesn’t have a liquor license but they let you BYOB, so my photographer friend busted out another bottle of super-nice red wine from his cellar, and we sat there in the shade eating and drinking and just generally being happier than pigs in shit, enjoying La Dolce Vita 1,000 times better than Fellini ever did! About halfway though the meal, one of my kooky friends from Vegas showed up — I had invited him and my sister as well, to make it a party, but alas, my sister ended up not going, so it was just me and the two guys. But it turned out fantastic.
We all agreed to meet up at the mud spring and take shrooms around 5pm, so after lunch my Vegas friend got baked with the chef, and the photographer and I went back to our rented cabin to take a nap. Normally when I go to Tecopa I stay at Delight’s resort, which has really charmingly crusty old cabins — but this time, the photographer had booked a room at the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, which has similarly crusty old cabins, and is almost equally charming. I’d have to give Delight’s the advantage, though, because some of the soaking pools there are open to the night sky…whereas at this resort, the tubs are all indoors and kinda creepy in an institutional way.
My beloved Tecopa mud spring
Anyway, the photographer and I got high and zonked out for an hour or so, then got up and packed some gear and cruised down to the mud spring. It’s not far from the resorts, and honestly I prefer to just walk — walking down a desert highway in your bathrobe while shrooming is an experience everyone should have.But we had firewood and blankets and too much crap to carry, so I drove us down there in my truck, and we met up with my Vegas friend at the appointed hour. We set up camp on the shores of the mud spring, then ate some mushrooms and lay back to watch the sunset.
Oh…..my…..GAWD!!! I have rarely had such an amazing experience. It was perfect. The weather was just right, and the sunset came on in a gentle riot of dusky desert magnificence just as the shrooms were really starting to kick in. To make things even better, my photographer friend had this incredible-sounding little boombox with him playing some kind of far-out spacey, twangy pedal steel liquid fabulousness that fit the mood so perfectly I felt like I was surely in a Werner Herzog movie. I know I say this a lot, but….this experience really was FAR OUT! It was one of my best nights, ever.
My colored floaty balls (at Deep Creek, earlier in the week)
We spent the evening laying back on a sleeping bag, swimming in the fabulous desert stars. Every now and then we’d get up and soak in the springs, and when it got dark I busted out my colored floaty balls, and set them adrift in the pond for even more ambiance. After a while I built a little bonfire, and we had some more fantastic wine and cheese, and some really far-out conversation, too. You might say we were poisoning our brains and wasting our lives, but………I’m here to tell you, that experience was everything I want out of life. All my senses were alight — the warm desert night on my naked skin, the sharp taste of the cheese and wine, the smell of desert springtime, the sound of frogs and crickets mixed with that fucking amazing pedal steel…and the beautiful sky full of billions and billions of stars, all laid out before us like a smorgasbord of possibility. What more could you ask for?? I sincerely wish everyone reading this could have been there. There would be world peace, for sure.
Around 1am we packed up and headed back — my Vegas friend back to town, and the photographer and I back to our cozy beds in the cabin. In the morning, the only bummer was I had to be back in Vegas for this photo shoot I had scheduled at 12pm — I would have loved nothing more than to dilly-dally over brunch at Pastel’s, but even though I hadn’t heard back from the photographer with whom I was supposed to be shooting…I am a true professional, and I headed back into reality anyway I bid adieu to my shroommate, then headed back to town, stopping at a McDonald’s to put on makeup and make myself presentable. And then…wouldn’t you know it, the fuckin’ photographer flaked on me anyway. GRRRRRRRRR!!!!!
So, anyway….basically I had an amazing, sun-drenched, wonderful week filled with every Earthly delight imaginable. It was the perfect beginning to a perfect spring, with all the promise of a fabulous summer ahead. I was literally high on the whole experience, feeling sunkissed and happy and optimistic about everything in this life…the way I wish everyone could feel, at least once.
But the next morning, it was all blown to shit. I woke up to a text from my mom, telling me that that my sister’s ex-husband, Mike, had been shot and killed — he was a police officer in San Jose (CA), and he had been killed the night before, in the line of duty, while responding to a call regarding a drunk guy with a gun who was threatening suicide. On his way into the guy’s apartment complex, the guy shot and killed him (and then killed himself).
Mike making a trampolini (a martini shaken while jumping on my old trampoline)
Holy shit, I wasn’t even this sad when my dad committed suicide a few years ago — this was Mike!! I knew him better than I did my dad — he and my sister were together for ten years, and over that time we spent many, many hours hanging out together. I basically grew up with this motherfucker — he helped teach me how to drive, and how to shoot a gun (he’s the one who talked me into getting my handgun…he was a real gun nut), and we traveled around all over the place together, laughing at stupid shit and just having a good time. I hadn’t seen him in about five years (he and my sis divorced around 2009), but it was still terrible fucking news. He was only 38!!
I did not expect to be this sad about Mike’s death, but fuck….it made me bawl and bawl my eyes out. I guess partly because we shared our youth, and this was like the final death knell in a way — but also partly because he is dead. Sure, he was a cop and I am a drug-addled naked hippie…..but guess what?! He was a cool as fuck person, and a good cop — not all cops are assholes!! My sister was with him for 10 years, for chrissakes — she had quite a bit of influence on him, and he was a pretty progressive guy. ARRRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Hero (my mom had just gotten new carpets, and made him wear plastic bags on his feet to keep them clean)
Anyway, I am planning to go back to San Jose next week for the funeral, which promises to be a real shit show — every politician in California is jumping on the bandwagon, angling for a piece of the action…so much so that they are having his funeral at the freaking SAP Pavilion, which is an arena where the Sharks play. And even in an arena, we had to get our names on a guest list to get in. Wow!
I’m sure this memorial service will be a super pompous affair full of bullshit and rhetoric, with liberal use of the words “God,” “honor” and “hero…” which, as a snarky hipster intellectual elitist, I find ridiculous. But…..I was thinking about it, and if anyone ever really was a hero, I guess Mike was. I mean, he died going in to stop some crazy dude with a gun — protecting innocent civilians from whatever mayhem might have ensued. He basically took a bullet for the neighborhood If that’s not a hero, I don’t know what is.
this is how I remember Mike — always game for my family’s fucked-up costume parties!
But, whatever. My family plans to have our own, unpretentious (and no doubt booze- and drug-fueled) memorial service afterward…and we will remember him the way we knew him — as a super nerd obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons, Jiu-Jitsu, calculus, guns and the History Channel; a straight arrow who nevertheless tolerated and embraced the kooky antics of my fucked-up, weird-ass family.
Even in the midst of this circus at the SAP arena, I’ll be thinking of another time I went to that arena with him — somehow, my sister and I once convinced him (waaaaay back in the day) to get up super early and wait in line for Neil Diamond tickets (!!!) at that same venue. We got there at like 7am, and sat around with a bunch of old super-weirdos, including a kids’ party clown, eventually scoring front-row seats to the show. Then we went home and ate a bunch of donuts and laughed ourselves silly before passing out for a nap. Those were the days!
It goes on
But meanwhile….these are the days, too. Spring has sprung, and life doesn’t stop. Wildflowers, stars, shrooms, donuts….Neil freaking Diamond! Carpe Diem, Carpe Scrotum…..whatever you do, just enjoy it.
After working my ass off in Vegas the first couple weeks of February, it was finally time for another roadtrip with my sister…this time, one that I was ESPECIALLY looking forward to: Nevada!!
I’ve lived here in Vegas for almost 15 years, and although I’ve explored southern Nevada more than most residents…I still felt like I was missing out. Nevada is a HUGE, vast state, and even my wandering ass had only really ever made occasional forays into the wilds outside of the U.S. 95. corridor between Vegas and Reno. I just knew there was some fucked-up shit out there, and I was super excited to explore it!
Now, a huge chunk of central Nevada is a no-go because it belongs to the U.S. Gov’ment as part of the Nevada Test and Training Range (you know, where they used to test aboveground nukes back in the day, and where Area 51 is). So my initial itinerary called for us to circle all around this no-man’s-land, heading up the 95 to Gerlach and Winnemucca, east over to Elko and Ely, and then down along the 93 back to Vegas. However, the weather turned nasty as fuck, and it ended up being too freakin’ cold up north for us to camp or even really enjoy ourselves exploring. So we amended our itinerary and made this a Southern Nevada trip…with the second Northern half to come later this year, when the weather warms up!
NOTE: I have a TON of photos from this trip posted on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wonderhusssy…so check that out, cuz I can only post so many here. Also, in keeping with my New Year’s resolution to start making more videos, I recorded several shitty travelogues along the way as well, which are all at www.youtube.com/wonderhussy. Please excuse their crappiness; I was learning as I went. The sound is shitty on some of them, and my hand isn’t as steady as it could be. But I’m learning!!!
Getting ready at the McDonald’s in Pahrump, on the way to Death Valley
Anyway, my trip started sort of unofficially with this photo shoot I had booked out at Death Valley…which technically isn’t part of Nevada, but it’s so close to the border that it might as well be. This awesome photographer from the SF Bay Area had hired me to pose for some super arty night sky stuff — he normally goes out with a startracker and does really bad-ass long exposures of the stars and whatnot, but he got the idea to add a nude model into the mix, so that’s where I came in.
Inside the Amargosa Opera House Hotel
I met him out at the ever-fabulous Amargosa Opera House hotel, right on the border of Nevada and California, where he had gotten us both rooms for the night so that we could stay out late shooting and then just come back and crash, without having to drive all the way back to Vegas. Nice! I’ve stayed in that hotel before, and it’s old as balls, crusty as fuck… and SUPER BAD ASS! They say it’s haunted, if you believe that kind o’ claptrap…but all I know is that it’s very atmospheric and quirky. It was originally owned by this eccentric ballerina from New York who retired there, and who even now at the age of 90 or so still performs occasionally in the adjacent Opera House. She even painted a mural of a fake audience on the wall, for those times when there was no one around to watch her dance. I love it!!
If I don’t get a vehicle pass to Burning Man, I’ll be forced to ride a horse there!
Anyway, I dug the shit out of this photographer the minute I first saw him sitting in the lobby, hunched over his laptop trying to buy Burning Man tickets. As you may know, the first chunk of Burning Man tickets went on sale Feb. 18, when something like 80,000 people logged in all at once to buy 40,000 tickets. Supply way exceeded demand, so a lot of people were left disappointed…even after sitting there on their laptops for an hour or more, trying to get through. Apparently, some tech-savvy douchers hacked the system and sneaked in ahead of the line to scoop up a number of the tickets…but the rest were bought the honest, old-fashioned way: by regular douchers and dickheads who don’t plan to contribute anything to the festival, but who just wanna go ogle naked chicks and fistpump. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! I personally know several people who fit into this category, and the balance is tipping so much these days that I honestly believe Burning Man is getting ready to jump the shark (you might say it already did). Anyway, I did get my own tickets as part of this art project I help out with every year…but I still need a vehicle pass, so if anyone has an extra one, hit me up (they’re trying to limit the number of cars/pollution from people driving up there, so they only issued a small number of car passes, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to drag my trailer up there now).
As it happened the poor photographer wasn’t able to get tickets, but he wasn’t really stressed over it since he’s been going to Burning Man on and off since like 1995, so he knew what the fuck was up. Anyway, he was a super cool dude and we hit it off right away — one of those emaciated, artsy Tom-Waits-type fuckers with a bushy head of fabulous gray hair and a penchant for Art and Adventure. A kindred spirit for sure!
pic by C. Jackson
We cruised around Death Valley all afternoon, shooting at this AMAZING little oasis called Darwin Falls, up behind Panamint Springs, where there’s a lush, semi-tropical little pool and waterfall year-round — even in the midst of the brutal, searing Death Valley summer. That place was amazing!
Then, once the sun went down we headed over to the low, rolling Mesquite sand dunes for the night sky stuff. The weather was pretty nice, fairly balmy, and I had my fabulous fuzzy new hot springs robe to keep me warm in between shots, so it was really pretty comfortable. The only bummer was, I forgot to bring some booze/weed/shrooms — of course I had no way of knowing I would hit it off so well with this photographer, so I hadn’t packed any…but it would have been wonderful to sit out on the dunes under the stars drinking wine and getting high.
the fabulous Mesquite sand dunes
As it was, we had so much fun shooting and talking that we got totally lost trying to hike back to the car in the darkness, and ended up walking along the highway for two miles, me in my bathrobe like Jeff Lebowski, him in this woolen peacoat and fedora like R. Crumb. This kooky old Brazilian photographer out in the dunes told us he’d been trying to wave at us with a flashlight to let us know we were walking the wrong direction, but we were so busy chatting that we never noticed. Oh, well — it’s never a bad thing to burn extra calories!
When we got back, we shot some more nudes in the hotel room and then sat out front of the hotel on this little patio, smoking and drinking and listening to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s version of “Fanfare for the Common Man” late into the night. FAR OUT!!! It was one of the most surreal, and most fun, photo shoots I’ve ever been on. That guy is legit as fuck, and I can’t wait to shoot with him again!
Anyway, the next morning I was feeling pretty rough, but after chugging some coffee and bidding adieu to Tom Waits, I cruised back into Vegas by way of Pahrump, met my sister at my house, and we officially started our road trip around the Great State of Nevada. IT WAS ***AMAZING***!
At the fertility temple
From Vegas, we headed up U.S. 95 north, making a brief stop at the Sekhmet fertility temple to ask the Goddess for a blessing on our travels. While there, I finally got to meet the Priestess herself, this wonderful woman in a purple top who lives out there and cares for the shrine. She invited us to come back for one of the ceremonies they have out there, like the upcoming Beltane or the Spring Equinox, when a bunch of women all get together and chant and burn shit and whatnot. It sounds fabulous!
Unassuming Yucca Mountain
Then we continued up north toward Beatty, stopping for a late lunch and veering off on a side road to check out a ghost town one of the locals had told me was up a dirt road at the base of Yucca Mountain. You know Yucca Mountain — the site where they plan to store all the U.S.’s nuclear waste in the near future? Well, shit! I didn’t realize how close it is to Vegas — only about 90 miles, just outside Beatty. YIKES! Oh well, I guess they have to store it somewhere — and as I was about to learn on my road trip, central Nevada always ends up being the dumping ground for that kinda shit. The gov’ment doesn’t care about the random collection of kooks and rednecks out there!
Anyhoo, I never did find a ghost town up there — just a lonely old hunting cabin, so we continued on our way north toward Goldfield, stopping for a few sunset photos at the Junk Car Forest, and then continuing north thru town to camp out overnight at the fabulous, isolated little Alkali Hot Springs. I wasn’t sure camping was allowed at the springs, but the super-friendly kooky hippie lady at the Goldfield Visitors’ Center assured us that it was OK — the springs are technically on private property, but the guy who owns them doesn’t mind people camping there so long as they clean up after themselves. Awwww!
Soaking at Alkali hot spring
We set up camp by the springs and proceeded to enjoy a fabulous sunset soak, with the most amazing wintry landscape before us. When it got dark, my sis busted out a candle and these amazing colored glowing floaty balls she bought me as a gift — you set them in the water, and they float around the pool adding ambiance. Awesome! We soaked for awhile, then had a campfire and then crashed out pretty early. No one bothered us — it was a fairly quiet place to camp, except for the road leading to some mine nearby was pretty busy with truck traffic until about 8pm. After that it was very peaceful.
My new friend
In the morning, I was enjoying a peaceful sunrise soak when this wild-haired old man showed up out of nowhere, asking very timidly if I was going to be much longer. I guess he was nervous because I was naked, but I just invited him in to join me in the tub, and when my sister woke up we all three enjoyed a nice, friendly soak with some excellent conversation. I just love thekinds of people you meet at hot springs — and the kinds of conversations you have! This guy was amazing — a vandweller with severe PTSD who can’t stay in any towns that have modern cars, the kind with alarms that go off when you open the door, because it sets off his PTSD. So he sticks to backwoods little towns where people drive old clunkers — like Goldfield! He had been camping out by the Alkali springs for a couple of months now, and he was a real fount of information — he told us that some Goldfield residents who don’t have indoor plumbing use Alkali hot spring as the town bathtub, coming out there to soap up and shave and everything!! YUK! But I guess someone also comes to scrub it out every now and then, because it was a pretty clean little pool. I recommend soaking here 100%!
How to file a mining claim
After we finished soaking, he invited us across the valley to his camp, which he had set up near an abandoned old corral. He served us some super-crappy instant coffee and gave us some advice on filing mining claims — we met more miners on this trip; apparently backcountry Nevada is full of busy little beavers pecking and digging and gouging at the earth, trying to pry loose its sweet, sweet minerals. He also tipped us off to these amazing hot springs down in New Mexico that he said we could all go in on together, and buy from out under the current owner, some lady with whom he had a grievance over an unpaid debt. I took his cell number and told him I’d think about it.
Next, my sis and I headed back into Goldfield for some REAL coffee at the Dinky Diner, and then kinda bummed around town for a bit, looking at all the kooky art and artifacts laying around everywhere. That town is like a mini Jerome, AZ — full of artsy kooks. I love it! We also spent quite a bit of time chatting with the proprietor of this rockhound/gold panning souvenir shop
Sunbaked dolls on an art car in Goldfield
on the northern outskirts of town, who gave us a fairly in-depth lesson in gold mining, peppering his lecture with references to “Orientals” and “slant-eyes” before offering us a couple of Chick tracts. If you don’t know, Chick tracts are these SUPER-creepy little comic books that hardcore Christian evangelists hand out, trying to convert you from your sinful life of heavy metal/drugs/alcohol/greed/etc. I’ve collected them for years because they’re SO weird, but this guy was completely serious when he gave them to us, informing us that none other than the Holy Ghost had sent us to him to receive this message. That guy was a trip, but we burned those goddamn Chick tracts in the campfire that night. I prefer to keep to my current path of sin, thank you!!
Fish Lake Hot Springs
After touring the evangelist miner’s stepdaughter’s new cafe that she’s about to open at the north end of town, my sis and I headed further north, for a late lunch at the fabulous grand old Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah, where we had (what else but) Miner’s Stew, served steaming hot in these amazing bread bowls. OMG I have rarely eaten such a delicious meal — seriously, it was amazing! Again, as on our Arizona trip, we were trying to be cheap by eating only one meal a day, and camping for free whenever possible — so to that end, we next headed west toward the NV/CA state line to camp for the night at the barren, desolate Fish Lake Hot Springs, out in the scrubby desert near the town of Dyer. But before leaving Tonopah, we stopped in at the Tonopah Station, where you can roll the dice for a free hotel room — they have this cage at the front desk with three oversized novelty dice in it, and you flip the cage to roll the dice. If all three come up the same number, you win a free room for the night! So we thought we’d better at least try to win a room before heading out to camp. Of course, we lost — so camping it was.
Soaking at Fish Lake
But if you have to camp out, might as well be a badass place like Fish Lake Springs! It’s basically a big warm pond with an adjacent concrete soaking tub full of hot water, with some BBQ grills and a vault toilet nearby….in the middle of this vast, desolate valley. Not the most atmospheric soak, but still cool in its own way. I’d been there once before, last year with my frenemy Alex, and had always wanted to camp there…so I finally got my wish. We were really lucky with the weather — I guess it gets pretty windy out there, being as it’s located in the middle of a V A S T, barren valley…but on the night we camped, it was calm and pretty nice. Cold as fuck, though — there was snow on the mountains all around, and I had to add extra peppermint schnapps to my cocoa and put HotHands in my socks in order to sleep. But I survived!
Morning soak at Fish Lake
Fish Lake’s soaking policy is sort of play-it-by-ear, textile-wise — after dark, we soaked in the nude with this cool Canadian snowbird couple, but in the morning we wore bikinis because there was a family with kids camped nearby, and we didn’t want to piss anyone off. Whatever! I really hate having to tote around a soggy bikini, especially in winter….but it was worth it. We had a great morning soak, then headed back out on the road toward our next destination — these remote hot springs in the mountains outside the town of Hawthorne. (Nevada has a TON of natural, undeveloped hot springs…so we aimed to hit as as many as possible on this trip.)
Hawthorne is this über-creepy little town in the middle of nowhere, NV that owes its existence to a U.S. Army Depot base that doubles as a munitions storage facility — they store the ammo in dozens of creepy, molehill-like bunkers in the desert all around town, and it’s all very Twilight Zone. The town milks the jingoist shtick by billing itself as the “Most Patriotic Town in America,” and indeed, everywhere you look it’s Red-White-n-Blue, Stars-n-Stripes. But overall, it’s a pretty bleak, blighted little outpost; I pass thru every year on my way to and from Burning Man, and I’ve always been fascinated by it. Since the weather forecast was for snow and sub-20-degree temperatures, we decided to bail on camping and get a cheap room in town for the night, and do a little investigating. But first, we headed into the mountains looking for these hot springs.
I HATE giving up!!
Walker Warm Springs are located in the eastern Sierra near the CA/NV state line, in the mountains west of Hawthorne and east of Yosemite. I had the GPS coordinates, but following them took us waaaaay out into this SUPER-remote valley, miles and miles from anything, and I lost my signal and couldn’t figure out where we were after awhile. We finally came across these two adventure-bro-types in a lifted pickup who told us that they had tried going to the same springs, but that the road was impassable, so we’d better give up (even though my sis has a 4×4 SUV)…so with much gnashing of teeth, we agreed we’d better just turn around and go back into town. Boooo! I hate giving up!!!
Creepy-ass Walker Lake motel
So we cruised back to Hawthorne and got a room for the night. The local casino, the El Capitan, is under renovation and is apparently becoming quite uppity, because they wanted $60 for a room that night!! We thought we could do better, so we headed up north of town to nearby Walker Lake, this huge bright blue lake out in the middle of the desert that has a really cool, crumbly old nautical-themed resort on the shore that I’d always wanted to check out. The whole scene was totally Twilight Zone — this huge, vast lake in the middle of nowhere, that no one ever uses, and which is said to have a secret tunnel at the bottom leading all the way to the Pacific Ocean by way of Malibu, thru which the U.S. Gov’ment transports top-secret USOs (that’s Unidentified Submerged Objects)…and then this shitty, crumbling motel on the shore. Alas, no one was at the front desk, and despite our repeated phone calls and buzzer-ringing, no one ever showed up. So we resigned ourselves to staying back in Hawthorne proper.
The ominous Sand-n-Sage
Back in town, we got a room at the super-cracky-looking Sand-n-Sage Lodge. The price was right, and the man at the front desk was SUPER friendly and cool — this sprightly, toothless little imp who made us feel right at home, even calling us in our room later that night to let us know that he’d be making breakfast at 7am. Talk about hospitality! The room itself was pretty gnarly, but clean enough — you can see for yourself in this video I made (remember, my video skills are VERY rudimentary, so bear with me as I figure this shit out):
Anyway, we chatted with the front desk guy for quite awhile — he confirmed the Walker Lake tunnel theory, going so far as to claim that “no one” has ever seen the bottom of that lake, it’s so deep — and then we headed to the El Capitan for some nasty-ass, greasy-spoon diner food. Then we headed across the street to the fabulously patriotic-looking Joe’s Tavern for a nightcap.
Joe’s (Patriotic) Tavern
What a cool place!! I was afraid it was gonna be one of those surly locals’ bars that don’t take kindly to traveling big-city types, but I was very wrong — the bartender was cool as fuck, helping me figure out a palatable drink utilizing apple pie schnapps, and the other clientele were also exceptionally friendly. We met this cool black couple who had met and married in town — the guy was Wayne Newton’s bodyguard’s nephew, but moved to Hawthorne to be near his mom, and the woman worked at the US Army Depot. They both loved Hawthorne, even though they filled us in on the town’s racist history, when black people weren’t even allowed in the El Cap. But times changed, and in fact that’s where they met — dancing at the El Cap! What a cool couple — they kept offering to buy us drinks, but we were pooped so we headed back to to Sand-n-Sage pretty early and zonked out.
Front desk clerk at the Sand-n-Sage
The next morning we got up super early to avail ourselves of the desk clerk’s breakfast spread. I tiptoed into the office to help myself to some coffee — I didn’t want to wake him, as his living quarters are right behind the office, but I think he waited all night for me to come in because the second I opened the door he magically appeared, all rumple-headed in his jammies, and kept me company as I ate and drank. What a nice man — I mean seriously! At the time of my stay there were only one or two other rooms occupied, so I guess he was lonely; he can’t leave the motel because he’s the only one in charge of the front desk, which is open 24/7, and the owner moved all the way to Reno, so she’s no help. I don’t think he ever gets a day off :/
After breakfast, my sis and I headed back into the mountains, determined this time to find those fuckin’ hot springs — ain’t no way two bros in a truck are gonna kill MY adventure, dammit!!! This time we had different directions, from a book, and we decided to take the road as far as possible and then just hike in once it got too burly. We needed the exercise anyway, after that gross-ass diner food the night before.We made it pretty far, to the point where it was only about another 3 miles or so…and we decided to just hoof it the rest of the way. But first, we busted out the camp stove and made some hot cocoa with plenty of peppermint schapps to fortify us — it was COLD as FUCK up there in those mountains, with snow on the ground (not enough, however, to melt for our cocoa water).
Sure enough, after about three miles of hiking down into this desolate wintry valley, we passed an old mine, a rusted-out schoolbus, some bloody cow entrails….and then at last came upon the Walker River, and this fabulous little stone soaking pool!! It was one of the most beautiful, isolated little soaking tubs I’ve ever seen — technically only 37 miles from Hawthorne, but they were 37 burly-ass miles. Although, apparently the Hilton sisters have been known to soak there, as their family owns a ranch nearby….so I guess it’s not that bad ass :/
“Soaking” at Walker Warm Springs
Alas, however, it was SUCH a freezing cold day that we couldn’t get the pool heated up warm enough to actually soak in — so we just kinda got our feet wet, and then headed back up the trail to our car. Oh, well — it was still a fun hike! Here’s another shitty video I made showing the hike:
Next we planned to head up north to the tiny town of Austin, near the geographical center of Nevada, around which are clustered a shit ton of hot springs. But first, on our way out of town we stopped at the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum — a crazy collection of kooky bombs and weapons and shit that is out of this world!!! I’m here to tell you, that town is ALL kinds of fucked-up…but I love it! I definitely recommend stopping there if you’re ever passing thru that way.
At the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum
Before heading out to Austin, which is very isolated and remote, we stopped in the fair-sized metropolis of Fallon to stock up on HotHands and schnapps and stuff, because we still planned to try and camp out at some point — even though the low that night in Austin was supposed to be about 18 degrees! It was around then that we aborted mission on exploring the northern part of the state — we decided to postpone that part for warmer weather, and focus on southern and central NV for this trip. We figured we could do one or two more motel nights up in the central area, then head back down south to warmer climes in the Mojave desert for more free camping.
So anyway, after taking advantage of being in a decent-sized city by getting some non-greasy-spoon food at an awesome Vietnamese place in Fallon, we headed east along US 50 — a/k/a The Loneliest Road in America. This highway is SO
The Loneliest Road
desolate — at least the part between Fallon and Austin, and actually all the way to Delta, Utah — that the local communities decided to just roll with it and milk the lonely shtick as hard as possible. You can even get a “Loneliest Highway Survival Guide,” and have your “Loneliest Road Passport” stamped at the various podunk little towns along the way. FUN!!!
It was getting dark, and it was freezing, so we didn’t have time nor inclination to stop along the way at some of the awesome, lonely sites — Pony Express trail stops, salt flats, and this AMAZING-looking little bar with a lighted neon sign in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. I have to go back there sometime in the summer — it’s all BLM land up there, so you can camp for free!!! But because it was so cold and gloomy, we hauled ass straight for Austin, and got a room at the very aptly named Cozy Mountain Motel.
What a difference from the Sand-n-Sage!! This motel was the same price, but a world apart in coziness and cleanliness (I don’t mean to bag on the Sand-n-Sage; it was fine, but the Cozy Mtn Motel was AMAZING). So even though it was around 18 degrees that night, we were snug and warm — no HotHands needed!
In the morning, we got up and went
The International in Austin, NV
across the street for coffee at the International Hotel and Cafe — this AMAZING old building that had been built from the charred wreckage of the original International, over in Virginia City. The original International had been a seven-story palace where even Lillie Langtry performed, and in fact where the concept of the “Red Carpet” was invented (Miss Langtry didn’t want to get her dress muddy crossing the street, so they unfurled a roll of carpet for her that happened to be red), but it burned down in the silver boom years and they shipped the wreckage out to Austin, where they slapped together this new joint. It was an amazing place — one side was a saloon, with this ornate carved wooden bar that had been shipped “around the horn” all the way from London back in the day. The other side was a cafe, which is where we went for coffee.
When we entered the cafe, the frazzle-haired old proprietor was sitting at a table pontificating on terrorism and Muslims and whatnot. I guess he didn’t feel like getting up, so he told us to help ourselves to coffee — “behind the bar; cups are over there.” Nice! The only other person working there was busy cooking breakfast for this group of Aussie roadtrippers, and I guess they’re looking to hire a waitress…so for the meantime, we had to serve ourselves. I even stepped in and refilled everyone’s coffee, at one point — far out; I always wanted to know what it’s like to be a truck-stop waitress!! It beats being a lot lizard, I’ll tell you that!
After a few cups of coffee, the grizzled proprietor, Vic, gave us a tour of the saloon and chatted with us for awhile, asking us where we were off to next. We told him we were going to check out Spencer Hot Springs, right outside town, and he said he’d try to come out there and join us…but alas, he never did. Boooo! He was an amazingly crusty old kook, and I would have loved nothingmore than to have had a nice long soak and conversation with him. Oh, well….another time, for sure!!
Spencer Hot Springs
So anyway, we left town and headed out to Spencer Hot Springs, just south of US 50 near the NV 376 junction. WHAT AN AMAZING PLACE!! Kinda like the hot springs off the 395 near Mammoth Mountain in CA, these hot springs are located in a huge meadow that is dotted with a bunch of all-natural hot soaks, with snow-capped mountains all around. GORGEOUS — and again, it’s all BLM land, so in better weather you could camp out there for FREE!! I definitely plan to go back there in the summertime — it’s amazing.
Snow?! What snow?
There are three main tubs at Spencer, so we headed for the hottest one, where this lonely, hardy Canadian guy was camped out en route from a hockey tournament in Vegas to his home in the Bay Area. This guy was so hardcore, he hadn’t even bothered to put up his tent the night before — just slept in a sleeping bag with a woolen blanket inside, under the stars. Holy shit!! It was cold as FUCK out there — that guy was NUTS! We asked him if he minded us soaking with him — sometimes people just want to soak in solitude, ya know? — but I guess two naked chicks rolling in out of nowhere probably made his day. He turned out to be really cool, and we enjoyed a nice long soak with him, with some very pleasant conversation.
It was COLD!!!
In the afternoon, we got out and dried off and headed on our way, driving a bit farther south to try and find this other soak in the area called Diana’s Punch Bowl, which is said to run out of the top of this cinder-cone type volcanic formation. It sounded badass…but alas, we ran low on gas before we could find it, and had to abort mission and head back down south to Tonopah I hate it when that happens! This is why I need a big, badass desert 4X4 rig, with jacked-up off-road tires and a 50-gallon gas can strapped to the back. Dangit!!!
Clown Motel again
Since we were back in Tonopah anyway, we decided to do one more motel night at the fabulous Clown Motel — always a fun place to stop over. But first, we went back to the Tonopah Station to roll for a free room again, just in case…and we both lost again (You might think the dice are rigged, but I have a friend who swears he won a free room once.) So, Clown Motel it was — I stayed there back in September, in one of the beat-up old smoking rooms, and it was pretty gross…but this time we got a nonsmoking room, and it was fine — somewhere between the Sand-n-Sage and the Cozy Mountain Motel. See for yourself:
Because we had a nonsmoking room, we headed to the graveyard next door to smoke a joint before going to bed. While there, I decided to look for the legendary tombstone of this early pioneer who supposedly died eating library paste (!?!). My sis and I stumbled around that graveyard in the freezing cold dark for at least an hour, but never did find that tombstone (I later found out it’s actually in the Goldfield cemetery)….but, at least I got some fresh air and was able to make another one of my shitty practice videos:
The next morning it was still FREEZING as FUCK outside, so we decided to head south at once — but first, a brief detour north to the old ghost town of Belmont, where it is said the Manson Family hung out for awhile just before committing the murders in L.A., when they were cruising around the desert trying to find a hidey-hole. Apparently they left some graffiti on the courthouse wall in Belmont, and we thought that would be pretty cool to see, so we cruised up to check it out. Belmont itself was pretty cool, but deserted…and alas, there was no one around to let us into the courthouse so we could check out the Manson Family graffiti. (They are trying to restore the courthouse, so they keep it locked up tighter than a nun’s….well, you know.) Boooooooo
Graffiti in the Belmont Courthouse
From Belmont, we headed back down south to U.S. 6, which goes all the way from Plymouth Rock, MA to Bishop, CA (it used to go all the way to Long Beach, and was the longest highway in America!). We took U.S. 6 east to where it meets up with NV 375, a/k/a the Extraterrestrial Highway, intending to head south from there to Rachel, NV – home of the Little A’Le’Inn and the closest outpost to the top-secret government base at Area 51.
Middle of N O W H E R E
But before heading south on the Extraterrestrial Highway, we stopped at the junction with U.S. 6 because a friend had tipped me off to an amazing abandoned hot springs resort right there off the highway!!! This friend had in turn been tipped off by some locals in Rachel, who told him that the “KEEP OUT” signs could be safely ignored, and that it was a great place to soak. Boy, WAS IT EVER!!!!!!!!!
OMG, I have rarely (if ever) been to such an amazing place — right out in the open, in the middle of this vast, sunbaked desert valley, right at the intersection of two lonely, very infrequently traveled highways, this crumbling old hot springs resort sat fading in the winter sun. There was an abandoned old bar & grill, right down the way from a beautiful hot springs pool and changing rooms…all just sitting there, empty. I don’t understand how it ever got enough traffic to be profitable — when I say it’s in the middle of nowhere, I mean it’s in the middle of N O W H E R E ! ! ! ! See for yourself in this somewhat-less-shitty video I made:
I mean, holy shit!! That’s the kind of place roadtrippers dream about! And, as a bonus, there were all kinds of busted-up old buildings and shacks and shit around the area….a photographer’s paradise! Alas, however….the site is at least a 5 hour drive from Vegas, so it’s not really feasible as a nude photo shoot location. Although, if you really want to go there….email me I’m sure we can work something out!
At the A’Le’Inn
Anyway, after soaking awhile and goofing around taking photos, we headed south down the Extraterrestrial Highway to Rachel, where we stopped in at the Little A’Le’Inn for lunch. We had originally planned to stay the night in one of their “motel rooms,” which are actually trailers with shared bathrooms for every two rooms, but you also get access to a free library of Alien Abduction VHS/DVDs….but the weather down south was much better, so we decided to save money and try camping out again. I had heard about this ghost town called Delamar down in a valley outside Vegas, so we thought we might try staying there.
But this redneck chick at the A’Le’Inn told us we were nuts — according to her, Delamar is haunted!! Apparently she used to do coyote-calling contests down there, so she knew what she was talking about….and besides being haunted, it’s also plagued by mountain lions. Yikes! Still, we forged ahead with our plan….because while I do believe in mountain lions, I don’t believe in ghosts.
On our way down to Delamar, we stopped off at Crystal Springs, this beautiful little wooded soaking pond outside the town of Alamo, right at the intersection of the Extraterrestrial Highway and U.S. 93. Alas, it’s fenced off and marked “PRIVATE PROPERTY,” I think because it was a stop for the old Mormon wagon trains back in the day, and some Mormon asshole is trying to preserve it. We sneaked in anyway, and it was beautiful — but the water is only about 80 degrees or so, so it was too cold to soak in, anyway. Let the Mormons have it, I say!
Then we continued on to Delamar. I can’t believe I’d never been to this ghost town — only about 2-3 hours from Vegas, but amazingly cool!!! The road in is pretty hardcore — for most of it, you’re just on a washboard dirt road through an amazingly dense and beautiful Joshua tree forest…but the last couple of miles or so, when you’re climbing up into the hills on the opposite side of the valley, are pretty hardcore. You’d need a 4×4 with offroad tires, for sure.
Ruins of Delamar
But my sister’s 4Runner made it just fine, and we rolled in at sunset to find the most amazing, beautiful ruins of a lonely little ghost town — tons of crumbling stone ruins shining in the golden light of pre-sunset. FABULOUS!!!!!!! We set up camp on a bluff overlooking the entire valley, and it was absolutely amazing. No ghosts or mountain lions or anything bothered us the entire night — we didn’t see a soul until the next morning, when two camo-clad rednecks blew through on an ATV. Totally desolate — and totally awesome!!
Old glass shards, soon to be embedded into my backyard wall!
In the morning, we walked around picking through the ruins of the old buildings, scavenging for bits of broken colored glass and other goodies, like rusted-out old Levis buttons and shards of old pottery. It was a bonanza!! I collected a bunch of beautiful glass and stuff to use in the mosaic I’m planning for the cinderblock wall in my backyard — that way it’ll be an authentic Nevada mural, ya know? There was some pretty cool stuff out there!
On the way out, we stopped at the lonely little cemetery…and when we finally got back into cell range, I Googled the history of the town to find out what had gone down there. Apparently it was a gold-mining town, but it was nicknamed “The Widowmaker” because the gold was embedded in some kind of rock that created a ton of silica dust when it was crushed, and a bunch of miners died from Miner’s Lung That little cemetery out there did seem like a pretty lonely place to be buried…especially when you consider the fact that some of these asshole miners came all the way from Ireland and shit to make their greedy-ass fortunes. Dying and being buried alone in the desert was a big fear…and a reality for many. But, at least they didn’t die from eating library paste!!!!!
Abandoned warm springs in Moapa
After leaving Delamar, we continued back south through the town of Moapa, only about an hour outside Vegas, but home to some very curious things. There’s a wild animal sanctuary out there called Roos ‘N’ More, where you can go play with armadilloes and meerkats and cotatimundi and shit…but unfortunately it wasn’t open that day, so we just checked out this freaky old abandoned warm springs resort out there that used to be owned by Howard Hughes, and supposedly all the Vegas showgirls back in the day used to go out there to tan in the nude. After Howard Hughes died, some Mormon asshole bought it and turned it into a “family-friendly” warm spring pool…but there was some kinda fire in 2010, and now the ruins just stand there, drained of water and useless to anyone. Boooooo!
Valley of Fire
From Moapa, we continued on through the freaky little Mormon town of Overton (we were on the Utah side of the state now, so everything was had a Mormon taint to it), stopping at a grocery store to stock up before heading into fabulous, incomparably beautiful Valley of Fire to camp for the night. Even though it’s only an hour from Vegas, I have always wanted to camp out at Valley of Fire, because it’s so astonishingly beautiful and otherworldly — it looks like Mars! The rocks out there are all red sandstone, with weird caves and holes and faces that would probably appear to you if you were shrooming…so it just always seemed like a fabulous place to camp out. And guess what — it was!!!
Out campsite at Valley of Fire’s Arch Rock Campground
The only bummer about camping at Valley of Fire is, you can’t just throw down your tent anywhere — you’re limited to one of two or three designated campgrounds…and you have to pay for the privilege :/ Still, I ponied up the $18 Nevada residents’ fee…and it was worth it. We camped at Arch Rock Campground, the least developed campground there….and it was actually totally amazing. Each campsite is kind of tucked away into the red rocks, and feels very private and isolated…so even though we were pretty much back in civilization at that point, we could still pretend we were out in the wilderness. Fabulous!
Boozing by the campfire
Alas, I guess I got pretty fucked up that night…because for the first time in my life, I actually blacked out, and couldn’t remember anything after about 9pm. I didn’t even drink that much — just a couple glasses of wine, and then about 3/4 of my hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps — and then the next thing I knew, I woke up at 4am in my tent!! For the life of me, I couldn’t remember getting to bed…but I guess I did OK, because I had HotHands in my socks and I had even taken the time to wash my face with a wet wipe. But I didn’t remember any of it!!! The worst part was, I was on my period, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember taking out my tampon — I guess I did, because it was nowhere in evidence the next morning….but where the fuck was it?!?!?!? Yikes! I still can’t explain what happened — I hadn’t drank that much, but I guess I was just tired from being on my period or whatever. Hmmmm!
Ancient petroglyphs at Valley of Fire
Anyway, I felt fine when I woke up in the morning — a little hung over, and still some menstrual cramps…but I wasn’t about to let that stop me from enjoying a fabulous, beautiful day!! The weather down south was beautiful — warm and sunny and perfect for hiking, so that’s just what we did — cruise around Valley of Fire hiking up to all the popular spots. They have ancient petroglyphs carved into the rocks by Indians that are around 4,000 years old, so we checked those out…and then did some bouldering and scrambling on our own. That place is basically like a giant playground — the sandstone is easy to climb on, so you can romp around for hours like a kid on a jungle gym, not even noticing how many calories you’re burning. My kind of workout!!!
Then, just to spite the asshole ranger out there (they don’t allow nude photography at Valley of Fire, and in fact I’ve been kicked out of there before, mid-shoot) I climbed alllllll the way to the top of one of the rock outcroppings, and stripped off all my clothes so my long-suffering sis could take a fabulous panoramic shot of me NAKED AS A JAYBIRD, with all of Valley of Fire spread out below me. SUCK IT, ASSHOLES! I mean, come on — it’s not like the original inhabitants (the Paiute Indians) didn’t run around there naked anyway, back in the day!! Get over it!!!!!
Rogers Spring, a warm pond (about 80 degrees) by Lake Mead
After exacting my revenge thusly, I got dressed, climbed back down, and we headed out the back entrance toward Lake Mead, where we planned to get some food at the fabulously 1970s-nautical-themed Echo Bay Resort, and then find a place to camp out for the night. ALAS, I hadn’t been to Echo Bay since 2009, and come to find out the restaurant and motel are closed — the water level at Lake Mead has gone down so far that I guess business literally dried up, and the place had gone out of business years before
THIS is the kind of rig I need!!!!!
So we had to keep going to the next outpost that had a restaurant, which was Callville Bay. But the bartender at the restaurant there told us the kitchen was already closed, and all they had was deep-fried bar food. Well, by this point we were starving from hiking and scrambling around Valley of Fire all day, so we went ahead and ordered one of everything — deep-fried chips and salsa, deep-fried chicken tenders, deep-fried popcorn shrimp, deep-fried fish-n-chips. Y U C K ! ! ! I’ve never had a worse meal in my life, I tell you!! It was horrifying. I stuffed my face, but then immediately wished I could vomit it all up. And to tell the truth, it was so greasy that I probably could have…with minimal effort :-/
Goldstrike Canyon in spring
By now the sun was setting, and we were so exhausted and greasy that we totally pussed out on camping — we were only about a 45-minute drive from my house, so rather than unload all our camping shit and go through all that madness again, we cheated and went home to sleep in real beds at my place. But in the morning (well, afternoon), we got up for one final stop on our Southern Nevada roadtrip: the Goldstrike Canyon hotsprings, down by the Hoover Dam!
These hot springs are one of my all-time favorite hikes — you park at a trailhead just before crossing the Hoover Dam, then hike and scramble your way down a boulder-strewn canyon for about two hours until you reach the shore of the Colorado River. Along the way you pass several amazing, clear soaking pools full of piping hot water — it’s really a magical place! See for yourself:
View of Hoover Dam bypass bridge from the river
After checking out the amazing view of the Hoover Dam bypass bridge down on the riverbank, we hiked back up the canyon to soak in the best of the hot spring pools for awhile, chatting with this awesome group of middle-aged redneck types who get together every year and kayak down the river, like my friends and I did last April, camping out at the Ringbolt Hot Spring beach for a few days. Talking to them really whetted my appetite to do that trip again — you put in below the Hoover Dam, then float downstream soaking at the various hot springs along the river, camping out at the most amazing of them all — Ringbolt, a/k/a White Rock Canyon hot springs. We had such an amazing time doing it last year….I think it’s time to organize another trip! If anyone wants to do it, hit me up!
After the rednecks got out and kayaked off on their way, this other amazing trio of kids got in to soak — a girl and two guys. One of the guys busted out a little camp stove, and set about brewing up a pot of artisanal tea — apparently, he runs some kind of super-hardcore artisanal tea shop in Seattle called the Bioluminescence Tea Lounge, and he offered to serve us all tea right there in the hot spring! It was amazing!!!! He even had a little teapot, and these little cups and everything, that he’d packed all the way down the canyon in his backpack. Fabulous!!! I guess his idea is to one day start an adventure-hiking-tea-tour-company….but in the meantime, he was headed on down to Flagstaff for a job as a lumberjack, for some ecologically-minded tree-cutting operation that only chops down invasive species like tamarisk, etc. FAR OUT!!!!!! Those kids were SO FREAKING COOL — like I said before, I just love the kinds of people you meet in hot springs
Anyway, that little tea ceremony in the hot spring pool below the Hoover Dam was the perfect way to wrap up our fabulous Southern Nevada roadtrip. Like I said at the beginning of this blog — Nevada has a reputation as a barren, nuke-ridden shithole…but I’m here to tell you, if you just get off your fat ass and leave the slot machines and boring-ass Vegas suburbs behind, there is a wealth of fabulousness out there to discover!! I LOVE IT!!!!! I daresay I had an even better time on this trip than I did on my Arizona roadtrip — and that’s saying a lot!!!
Old pic of the Goddess Collective by Perry Julien…just realized this pst doesn’t have much T&A, so here ya go
After hiking back up from Goldstrike Canyon, my sister and were super starving…but this time, instead of shitty deep-fried crap at Callville Bay, we headed to downtown Vegas to this amazing, blighted old shopping center near where I live called the Commercial Center. Back in the day, the Commercial Center was the place to shop for the Who’s Who of the Vegas Nouveau Riche…but nowadays, it’s this post-apocalyptic, bombed-out-looking ginormous half-empty strip mall that’s mostly home to swinger’s clubs, gay bathhouses and Korean karaoke joints. But it also happens to be home to this Thai restaurant that was once rated the #1 Thai restaurant in ALL of America by Gourmet magazine — so every wannabe foodie asshole and his mother goes there, thinking they’re being super clever and edgy by venturing into the “hood” to get “authentic” Thai food.
pic by C. Jackson
The truth is, though, it really IS super badass food — it’s just that the wait is always at least 30 minutes, so you have to have a plan. Our plan was, we went out in the parking lot and smoked a joint, then walked over to this western-themed gay bar called the Badlands Saloon for a drink while we waited. We got totally baked and buzzed, then headed back just in time to beat the fuck out of an amazing Thai dinner that was about 1,000,000 times better than that shit we ate out at Callville Bay the night before. BOO-YA!!! It was the perfect celebratory meal to end our fabulous, incomparable Southern Nevada roadtrip. Long may it live in my memory!
What does the future hold? pic by C. Jackson
Now I’m back in Vegas, and alas, I don’t know exactly when my next adventure will be. My sister has been unemployed for about a year now, and she had originally given herself ONE YEAR to figure out what she wants to do with her life. Well, that year is about up…so I’m not sure what she’s gonna do. She still has a fat 401(k) and some savings she’s sitting on, but she’s a very responsible person, and it’s not in her character to stay unemployed for long. So, the future is uncertain: will she continue bumming around the Southwest with me? Or will she go back to work at some loathsome corporate gig? OR…..will she figure out a way to make money while traveling around with me on the road????