Holy cow, Burning Man is right around the corner! It never fails — every year it sneaks up on me, and I end up scrambling to get my costumes and stuff ready last-minute. But this year is even worse than usual!
Ironically, I figured I’d have plenty of time this year, since my planned trip to Sturgis got cancelled thanks to my bitch-ass ex-girlfriend bailing on me (I still haven’t heard a word from her — it’s like she flipped a switch and totally froze me out of her life). But before I had the chance to sit around and cry about Sturgis and/or start preparing for Burning Man….wouldn’t you know it, my friend Dr. Kildare made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: come camping with him in Colorado for a week! He even offered to pay my airfare; how could I turn that down?
Besides, I’d never been to Colorado and have always wanted to check it out — especially now that marijuana is legal there 🙂 So I put my Burning Man prep aside, threw all my camping gear in my roommate’s ginormous old Army duffel, and headed for the airport. I’d have plenty of time to get ready for the Burn after I got home, I told myself.
Dr. Kildare met me at the Denver airport, and we headed back down south to this weird high-desert valley he’s enamored of down near the New Mexico border. But first things first — along the way, we had to stop at a dispensary to buy some legal weed!!! We ended up going to The Spot 420 in Pueblo, which turned out to be a fantastic place; management was super friendly, and hooked us up with all kinds of free swag including koozies, shirts, hats and sunglasses. Dr. Kildare went buck wild and bought $170 worth of cookies, hash oil and Purple Passion grape-flavored THC concentrate…but all I really needed was less than one gram of Indica, so I could take a few hits off my pipe at bedtime every night, to help me sleep. I’m a lightweight!
But since we had all that other stuff aaaaaanyway….I went ahead and indulged, enjoying a fabulous sun-and-marijuana-soaked week of hiking, camping, hot springing and Rocky-Mountain-Oyster-eating. Dr. Kildare is like me, always on the go — so we would never really indulge until 6pm or so, after we’d done everything we wanted to do all day. No wake & bake for us; I like to save my high as a reward for a hard day’s fun, and he’s the same way.
Anyway, the first spot we camped was down at the Great Sand Dunes National Monument near Alamosa. Holy cow was that place beautiful!! It’s basically this
GINORMOUS dune field at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains — I think the highest dune is around 800 feet tall, and people come down there from all over the world to go “sandboarding” (snowboarding on sand, LOL). These dunes are also closed to OHV traffic, so there are no bothersome rednecks razzing around belching gas and noise pollution and throwing beer bottles on the ground. It’s a very peaceful place, and beautiful in an otherworldly way — this huge, vast dune field surrounded by forests and meadows, with a creek that runs right through the sand!!
I’ve never seen anything like it. The first night, Dr. K and I got baked and walked down to the creek from the campground, and it was pitch dark. Dr. K is anti-headlamp, so we walked by the light of the stars, along this little path through the meadow to the creek, which runs along the base of the dunefield. Since it was too dark to see much, all my other senses were heightened, and the feeling of the cool water running through the wet sand was really out of this world! The trickling of the creek was the only sound, and all you could really make out was the occasional glint of starlight on the water — and the occasional flash of a headlamp waaaaaaay out on the dunes, where the truly hardcore had gotten backcountry permits to camp out.
Being baked certainly added to the experience, and Dr. K got all fired up with the idea that we, too should camp out on the dunes the following night. Now, I can think of nothing more otherworldly and amazing than camping out at the top of an 800-foot sand dune, surrounded by miles of sand hills and sand valleys — how freaking awesome and Bedouin would that be, to have a little campfire and a glass of wine under all those stars, surrounded by all that sand?! But the idea of schlepping my gear, plus water, wood and wine, alllllll the way up an 800-foot dune sounded like the opposite of awesome!
The next morning we hiked to the top of the dunes in the daylight, and it was such an ass-kicking workout that Dr. K abandoned the idea of camping up there anyway, and we just enjoyed a day of hiking, instead. In the afternoon we drove to the nearest liquor store to get some champagne — I figured that Purple Passion grape-flavored THC concentrate would taste amazing mixed with some good old-fashioned champers. But it’s not like there’s a BevMo or a WalMart or anything way the fuck out there in the ultra-desolate San Luis Valley! Finding a bottle of champagne seemed like a pretty tall order.
But astonishingly, in the tiny, dusty little town of Blanca we found this Ukrainian woman running a sort of convenience store/liquor shop out of an old adobe building in the middle of nowhere. It was like something out of a Wim Wenders movie — how did she wind up there? But she did happen to have a bottle of Russian champagne in the walk-in cooler –Sovetskoye Shampanskoye, this old-time Soviet-era sparkling wine from Belarus. “We drink on New Years when I was little girl,” she waxed nostalgic, vouching for its indisputable high quality. SOLD! I never thought I’d try Russian champagne for the first time in the Colorado desert….but guess what? It was pretty damn good!
After a few days at the dunes, we headed up north to this amazing nudist hot springs resort called Valley View, nestled in the wooded foothills overlooking the San Luis Valley.
Valley View is your typical nudist hot spring resort — New Agey, full of hippies, with communal kitchens and a music room and stuff like that…but unlike other resorts I’ve been to (Harbin) it’s much less sanctimonious and pretentious. They let you use your phone (there is decent WiFi and cell service), plus it has a more laid-back, slightly busted-up vibe which I totally dug. There are a few cabins and dorm room beds you can rent, plus plenty of RV and tent camping in the forest — so Dr. K and I set up camp, mixed up some Shampanskoye and Purple Passion, and hit the soaking pools.
There are several different soaking pools at Valley View, all fairly rustic, with sandy or gravel bottoms, surrounded by the most beautiful wildflowers and trees. Most of the pools up on the hillside are kinda lukewarm or tepid, but there are two nice hot ones in a grove of apple trees, plus there’s even a full-size swimming pool and a sauna with a cold-plunge pool inside the sauna! The bathrooms and showers are plentiful and pretty clean, and overall I have to give this facility an A+. GREAT place!
Once the Purple Passion kicked in, we wandered around in the dark (remember, Dr. K is headlamp-averse) exploring the grounds. First, we came upon an awesome, enormous open-air wooden pavilion structure strung with colored lights, a communal kitchen on one side and a bonfire in the center, with s’mores accoutrements laid out for all to enjoy. HELLO!!! I spent a few hours beasting on s’mores and drawing all over the walls with chalk, which was provided for just
that purpose, before following the sound of piano music wafting through the dark forest to another building, where a music room had been set up with drums, xylophones, guitars and all manner of other wacky instruments including a hammered dulcimer! Oh my gawd, I’m telling you this was the best place to be high this side of Burning Man. I will definitely be back to Valley View!!!
Aside from just hanging out soaking and relaxing, Dr. K and I also took a trip down into the valley to explore some of the little towns in the area. That really is a unique corner of the country — I mean, when I think of Colorado I think of the Rockies and whatnot, but the San Luis Valley is a really bizarre, windswept, funky little oasis full of some of the best weirdos you’ll ever meet! We checked out an old movie theater in Saguache, a New Age ice cream parlor in Crestone, and this UFO viewing center in the middle of the valley near Moffat, where for $2 you can climb up on a two-story platform and look for mysterious lights, which are said to appear often in that area (the lady working there told us alllllllll about it). Overall, a great and ultra-funky place!
After a few more days camping in the area, it was time to head back north to Denver so I could fly home to Vegas — I had a trade show gig booked the day I got back, so I couldn’t dilly-dally around. We had one last meal of Rocky Mountain Oysters (aka deep-fried bull testicles, which I found to be okay, but probably wouldn’t eat again), and then Dr. K got us a room for the night so I could get cleaned up and trade-show ready — I literally was going straight to work from the airport when I landed in Vegas the next day.
This meant I finally had to shave my armpits, which had gotten SUPER hairy over the 7 weeks I let them grow out this summer. The last time I had shaved was back in June, before that romance novel cover audition — since then, I hadn’t had any gigs requiring me to shave, so I just let the hair grow as a sort of science experiment as I went about my summer fun. WOW!!! I had no idea my armpit hair could get that thick — it was nuts. Thankfully, Dr. K was cool enough to film this video of me shaving them…if you’re interested in seeing for yourself:
Anyway, I flew back to Vegas the next day, grabbed my ginormous duffel from baggage claim, ran to my car and drove straight to the convention center for my trade show gig. But ALAS, in the meantime the guy who hired me had had second thoughts…doubting my ability to get there in time from the airport, he had already hired another girl to replace me. D’OH!!!! I’m telling you, people — I am a woman of my word!! If I say I’m going to be somewhere at a certain time — BY GOLLY, I’LL BE THERE!!! I’m no amateur; I’m Wonderhussy, goddammit! The guy was cool though, and paid me a consolation fee…but it still kinda sucked.
I didn’t let it bother me for long, though — as mentioned, I had a TON of prep work to do for Burning Man, and this would only give me more time to get ready. So, did I buckle down and git ‘er done? What do YOU think? Listen, when you’re the #1 Google result for “Las Vegas Nude Model” (!!!), last-minute gigs tend to pop up like mushrooms in the night…and it’s hard to turn down money, especially with all the cancellations I had this summer.
First I did a shoot in a beautiful suite at the Aria, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the most amazing monsoonal desert thunderstorm. (That room was a photographer’s paradise — if you can afford one of the Sky Suites, they make for great photo shoots.) Then I had a couple shoots with local photographers…and then, I got a call to make a surprise appearance in my showgirl costume, at some ancient goombah’s 80th birthday party over at this awesome old-school Italian restaurant on the east side of town.
Now, I’ve never been a fan of the whole “Everything was better when the mob ran Vegas” mentality (which is the grousy refrain of many old-timers in town, who insist that times were better when a bunch of two-bit thugs ran the show)…but there is definitely something to be said for that old-Vegas lifestyle — you know, martinis and Sinatra and showgirls and all that. Thugs or no, there was a fabulously bizarre sense of elegance back in those days that is fading from memory as all these old fuckers die off; this birthday party was a prime example.
It was in honor of some politically-connected attorney, and all his old-time Vegas cronies were there to celebrate, swilling martinis and feasting on osso bucco and whatnot, just like the good old days. The band played “Happy Birthday” as I carried in a cake, dragged the birthday boy to his feet and shook my feathers like a bedazzled rooster in heat as they segued into “Copacabana.” Then ancient funnyman Marty Allen grabbed the cake and for a minute looked like he would topple over face-first into it, but everyone gathered round and we all posed for a photo, instead. GOOD TIMES!
Being in a hurry as always, I kissed everyone goodbye, grabbed my cash and was out the door and on my way home in my busted-up pickup truck before you could say Bugsy Siegel. But on the way home, with Andy Williams crooning “Moon River” on the radio, I grew somewhat melancholy. Like I said, that whole way of life is on the way out, and the new Vegas is all about douchey mega-nightclubs and plastic-titted Raver Barbies, neither of which hold any interest for me whatsoever. What are these jackass millennials going to do for their 80th birthdays — hire some fat-assed Nicki Minaj impersonator to come twerk to a Calvin Harris cover DJ?? SHUDDER! When I got home, I poured myself a drink and raised a toast to the old-timers: Las Vegas est mort! Viva Las Vegas!
Anyway, I wasn’t melancholy for very long — I had just settled in to do some serious Burning Man prep…when my photographer friend from the Bay Area invited me out to Death Valley for another photo shoot. Death Valley in August? How could I say no to that?!!
Actually, it sounds worse than it was. We got a room at the motel in Shoshone — this funky little outpost on the eastern edge of Death Valley, near Tecopa — and there was air conditioning and a pool and everything, so the days were pretty comfortable. This particular photographer likes to drink really good wine paired with exceptionally fabulous cheese, so things were pretty cushy up until we actually began shooting — and even then it wasn’t bad, because our shoots are always at night.
Why, you ask? Well, I can finally tell you — it’s because he shoots these amazing long exposures of the Milky Way and stuff, so we can’t even start shooting until it’s late enough at night for the heavens to be in alignment. I mean, look at this fantastic photo!!! I just love the insignificance of my naked ass against all that infinite wonder; it’s one of my favorite photos taken of me, ever! Also during our shoots, we hang out enjoying the warm desert night air, listening to far-out electronic music and sipping cocktails in the darkness. Kind of like Burning Man, now that I think about it! Why do I even bother to go to Burning Man, when most of my life is spent doing the same shit, anyway?! (No need to answer that!)
Aaanyway, this photographer also wanted to try some stuff along the lines of those old Renaissance paintings on the theme of “vanitas;” as in, the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits. This is a theme I’ve thought about a LOT my entire life, so the concept was right up my alley. I loaded up any relevant props I could find around the house, including my magnificently gaudy throne, and trucked them all out to the middle of the desert so we could set this shit up one night. FAR OUT! It was definitely different from most of the shoots I do.
And, since I had hauled my throne all the friggin’ way out there anyway…I had an idea for another photo, which the photographer kindly indulged at sunset one evening. This is one of my all-time favorite photos ever; you might have noticed I even changed the header of this blog! I had the idea that it would look really surreal/bizarre to be wearing a crown and sitting on a throne in the middle of nowhere, sort of like the old Maxell tape ads…but after seeing the results, I realize it looks more like an homage to the Anton Corbijn video for Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” Either way….I dig it!
Anyway, after getting back from Death Valley I still had one more weekend to hunker down and prepare for Burning Man. I was trying to make a second electric vagina codpiece — one that lights up for nighttime use — and in addition to that, I had to shop for food and booze, plus pack up all my costumes and camp gear. In sum, I had a shit ton to do…but guess what? I ended up going out of town AGAIN! But this time I had an exceptionally good reason.
Now as you probably know, I’m a huge supporter of equal topless rights; if a man is allowed to sunbathe topless on a beach, then a woman should have the same privilege, no? Sadly, however, our society is so fucked up that you can post all manner of violent nonsense on your Facebook page…but if you show one female nipple, your account gets suspended. How does that make sense?! It all stems from some ancient superstitious nonsense about the first woman on Earth having eaten a magic apple proffered by a talking snake; I don’t get it either, but believe it or not it still informs our culture thousands of years later, even today when it is generally recognized in the U.S. that men and women are equals. Sheesh!!
Well, every year on the Sunday closest to Women’s Equality Day (August 26th; the day women in the U.S. were granted the right to vote), this group called GoTopless.org holds protest rallies in cities across the world. I’ve never been able to attend one of them, however, because I’m usually at Burning Man in late August, so I miss all the fun. Well, this year, because Labor Day falls so late in September, Burning Man doesn’t start until August 30th….which means I was finally able to march in a topless rights parade! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, so of course I put my Burning Man prep plans on hold for a few more days.
Now here in Vegas, there is virtually no topless rights movement; this town makes a big chunk of its revenue off women’s tits, so showing them for free does not go down well. You gotta PAY to see nipples in Vegas; tits are a commodity here! Luckily, however, there’s a huge topless rights movement down the road in L.A., and they have a big parade on Venice Beach every year…so I signed up to join the fun and headed out there Friday afternoon. The actual rally wasn’t until Sunday, but I figured I’d make a weekend of it; Friday there was a pre-party at some kooky warehouse in Culver City, and then Saturday I planned to head down to San Diego and finally check out Black’s Beach, a well-known nudist spot I’ve been dying to visit.
I even signed up to perform my Electric Vagina act at the Friday night party, so I got in for free. The only problem was….I didn’t really have an act, per se; I just make vagina coladas in a blender plugged into my crotch. And with everything else going on, it’s not like I had time to work up an act…but guess what? I did anyway! I choreographed a brief performance to Iggy Pop’s iconic “Pussy Power,” involving my baby stroller, blender and some new props I thought up, threw it all in my truck, and hit the road, arriving at the warehouse in Culver City around 6pm. Whew!
Let me tell you, that party was far fucking out!!! The warehouse was this artsy, funky party space used for local Burning Man events, and they had a stage set up and a bar and everything. The party was being hosted by the GoTopless.org group, who also happen to be Raëlians — members of a French sex cult who believe mankind is descended from a master race of aliens (they were in the news back in 2002 when they claimed to have cloned the first human; you might have heard of them then). So the crowd at this party was about 40% Burning Man artist-types, 40% Raëlians, and 20% single men who were just there to perv on the topless chicks. In other words…..best party everrrrr!
After a viewing of the topless rights movie “Free the Nipple” (which was actually super lame; a bunch of cute young white girls, plus one token black chick and one token fat chick, running around scowling earnestly with their titties bouncing…like a topless version of SpiceWorld), the party got started. Since I was getting up early to go to San Diego in the morning, I asked to be one of the first performers, and it went over OK. Unfortunately the DJ was unable to play my song, so I had to perform to some random electronic music, and there was no lighting or anything…but still, for my performance art debut I’d say it went over well. I met a lot of interesting people from the L.A. Burning Man art scene, and ran into a few people I already knew…so I was glad I went.
Anyway, as mentioned I didn’t stay at the party too late because I was meeting a friend at Black’s Beach in the morning –but thanks to traffic and my sleep deficiency, it was more like afternoon by the time I got down there. But OMG, what a fantastic place!! There were hundreds of naked people hanging out in the sun, playing volleyball and frisbee and just relaxing and enjoying being naked — no swingers or perviness, just naturism. Everyone was SUPER friendly, and I really enjoyed the crowd — I will definitely be back there again. The only downside to Black’s is, there’s nowhere free/cheap to camp out nearby (it’s in La Jolla)…but thankfully I was with my friend that I met up with at Deep Creek earlier this summer, and he let me stay at his place up in Newport Beach. So after spending all day in the sun, we went back to his place and crashed out, so that I could get up in the morning and go to the rally in Venice.
Incidentally, the whole time I was in So Cal people kept asking me if I come out there often — and the answer is no! Despite the miserable traffic, heavy smog, parking nightmares and proliferation of douchebags, I do like it there a lot — there’s so much to do! But I don’t think I’d ever move there. Say what you will about Vegas, it’s much easier to be free here. I’m not tied to a $3,000-a-month rental, and I can be out in the middle of the desert in no time. Wide open spaces = F R E E D O M ! ! ! The desert is much more my scene.
Anyway, the next morning my friend made me an awesome big-ass breakfast, and I was on my way to Venice. It was pretty hot that day, so I didn’t wear much — some Wonder Woman boots, star-spangled panties and my Electric Vagina codpiece…with a power drill plugged in, with a 9″ concrete drill bit with an American flag waving from the end. On my nipples, I had flesh-colored pasties on which I’d written “FREE ME” in pink crayon…and on my head, my trusty WONDER HUSSY trucker cap and a ponytail. Low profile, ya know? 🙂
The parade started at the north end of Venice Beach, and when I got there, it was a real shit show — in addition to the usual crew of freaks and weirdos, there were dozens of topless women and hundreds of ogling men milling about, plus a few cool guys wearing pasties and bikini tops in solidarity. A religious group had wheeled out a giant wooden Bible and an angry hatemonger was ranting and raving over a megaphone about how we were all going to hell, but this awesome chick with a Rod Stewart mullet and a boombox was blasting “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to drown him out as we all cackled maniacally and danced, waving our asses and titties in his face. It was a blast!!!!!
Once the parade started, we marched down the boardwalk, now numbering in the hundreds, with more and more people joining our ranks along the way. A giant-bare-titted woman on stilts led the way, followed by three sexy Asian Raëlian chicks in UFO mini dresses carrying giant titty umbrellas, and this buff young kid on shrooms who’d been coerced into putting on a sailor costume and pushing this topless mermaid in a wheelbarrow. Meanwhile, the brains of the operation — these three feminist activist types with fake nipples stuck all over their bodies — shouted rallying cries into a megaphone to get the crowd fired up. Like I said….what a shit show!
I marched along with my power drill whirring frantically, spinning the American flag in the face of oppression. When asked, I explained that it was a symbol of empowering the feminine — women don’t realize how much power we hold; if we would only learn to harness the power of the puss, we could rule the world! I tell you I must have posed for 300 photos and done 20 or 30 interviews; it was fantastic! I never wanted it to end!!
Alas, however, I knew I was facing a 5-hour drive home…plus I still had to get ready for Burning Man! I followed the parade all the way to the end, and hung out and danced for a while, having SO MUCH FUN that I literally had to tear myself away — I would have loved nothing more than to join the afterparty at a local bar, and get shitfaced while dancing late into the evening. But…duty calls.
So I walked allllll the way back to my truck, and even then I couldn’t break away — a bunch of cholo bikers from the Vagos bike club were hanging out nearby and wanted me to pose for photos with their bikes, haha. Just like the bad old days with that fat dumbass Blondie! I obliged them, then finally stripped out of my swamp-assy Wonder Woman panties, changed into something more comfortable, and got the fuck out there — hauling ass for the desert.
And that, my friends, is the story of how I now find myself in the unenviable position of having less than 24 hours before I’m supposed to leave for Burning Man….and WAY too much prep work still to be accomplished!! Shit, I’ve already spent far too long writing about all this; time to shut the fuck up and finally get to work.
And this time I mean it!!!