It’s been two weeks…and I still feel like I was run over by a bus!
A ginormous, double-decker, furry LED-covered bus with a 100,000-watt sound system blasting acid house, no less. But before you start feeling sorry for me…if you’ve never woken up feeling like you were hit by such a bus…then you haven’t lived!
The name of this bus was Youtopia, which is what the San Diego locals call their annual Burning Man regional campout. In Burning Man culture, each major city or region of the country has its own community of local Burners, and many of the bigger groups host officially-sanctioned regional campouts, sometimes attracting thousands of partiers. We had our own regional in Vegas back in May, which drew about 900 people, and was a total fucking blast.
Since regionals are on a smaller scale than the real Burning Man, they are marginally less exhausting — and if you’ve ever wanted to go to Burning Man, they’re a great way to get a taste of Burning Man culture without going to all the hassle and expense of driving all the way up to the Black Rock Desert. In fact, many people never even bother going to the real Burning Man — which in many Burners’ opinion has already jumped the shark, and has become little more than a douchebag-infested rave. The regional Burns are considered by many to be more authentic.
The San Diego campout is one of the bigger regionals (around 3,000 attendees), so when a friend from the area invited me to come along and camp with his friends, I shelled out $180 for a ticket and headed over to see what it was all about. I was curious to see how it compared to the other regional events I’d been to in Vegas, Arizona and San Francisco…and I am here to report that it was fantastic!
Unlike Burning Man, which is held on a stark, treeless desert playa, Youtopia takes place in the beautiful, forested hills of an Indian reservation out near Temecula, far from the prying eyes of Johnny Law. People set up camp in little ravines and gullies among the scrub oak, and in the mornings the mountaintops are blanketed in coastal fog and mist, making for an otherworldly, mystical vibe. After dark, the landscape twinkles with colorful lights strung in all the trees, and you sort of wander around through the forest from camp to camp, like some kind of psychedelic-drug-fueled game of Dungeons & Dragons. It’s actually pretty magical!
But the location is a blessing and a curse — It can be kind of hard to walk up and down those steep hillside trails when you’re wearing platform boots and shrooming out of your gourd. Also, apparently last year a few members of the governing Indian tribe got drunk and stormed onstage at one of the dance camps to cuss out all the stupid white people flailing around in tutus and furry boots, making for a really uncomfortable scene what with all the guilty liberals in attendance. Unfortunately, nothing like that happened this year 🙁
Anyway, I’m glad I went — I met so many cool people; mostly from the San Diego area, but also many from L.A., Arizona, Utah and a few familiar faces from Vegas. But most of the attendees were locals from San Diego, including the group I camped with, who called themselves the Spillage Village and who were super welcoming and friendly. That San Diego Burner community is legit as fuck!
Spillage Village was camped on a hillside in a little forested valley, and we had some really interesting neighbors. On one side, we had the Frauditorium, who erected a full-on performance stage and hosted a talent show and an acro-yoga class taught by circus performers. Then on the other side, we had the Angry Brown Girls Bar, which was pretty much what it sounds like: a bar staffed by (understandably) pissed off women of color. Anyone was welcome to come in and have a drink, as long as you were willing to be enlightened…so of course I went in and sat down.
Well, things got really interesting when a group of well-meaning hippies set up a stand right next to them handing out slices of chilled cantaloupe and watermelon! One of the Angry Brown Girls stormed out and asked them to move, as they considered it insensitive to host a watermelon stand next to a brown girls’ bar. The chick who was handing out the melon was totally taken aback, as she truly didn’t mean any offense (handing out chilled melon slices is common at Burning Man)…but the Angry Brown Girls were pissed, and insisted she leave at once.
Unfortunately, the melon girl only made it worse for herself by sarcastically quipping, “Fine, I’ll take my blackface elsewhere!!” Oooooh!!!!! It was pretty tense there for awhile, let me tell you.
Fortunately, there was plenty of feel-good lovey-dovey shit on the third side of our camp: a ginormous, obnoxiously pink heart-themed Goddess-worshipping compound run by a love guru named Halcyon. Halcyon has hot pink hair and a pink RV with giant wings airbrushed on the side and the legend “HUG NATION” emblazoned on the back, and he travels around spreading love and hugs all over the USA. Come to find out, “Hug Nation” was the name of a webcast he used to co-host every Tuesday with his 90-year old ex-Baptist-minister grandfather; apparently they touched a lot of people, and when his grandpa died, Halcyon mixed his ashes into the paint used to airbrush the wings on the side of the RV! You can see the whole story at GrandpaCaleb.com, and it’s actually pretty interesting.
Now, I had seen some of Halcyon’s videos on YouTube (he does a lot of stuff about Burning Man, which I watched when I was preparing to go up there the first time), and I kind of expected him to be a self-absorbed twat. So imagine my surprise when he turned out to be one of the coolest people I’ve ever met! I felt an instant connection with him, and we hit it off right away. One thing that particularly resonated was his theory about an “Optimism Tax,” which basically says that trusting people is OK, even if you get taken advantage of from time to time — it’s better than being a suspicious hater, and anything you lose is basically just a “tax” for being optimistic. Now, living in Vegas all these years has made me very cynical….but I do still believe most people are basically good, which is why I’m not afraid to do half the shit I do — go out to the desert with strange men, meet up with random strangers at hot springs, etc. Sure, every once in awhile I suffer a blow like the Jack Johnson debacle…but it’s a small price to pay for living an open life with an open heart. Sign me up, and pass the pink Kool-Aid!
Anyway, aside from all the interesting characters, there was also a lot of cool art at Youtopia; I made my own contribution to the scene by whipping up several ultra-dramatic batches of Vagina Coladas with my Electric Vagina-powered blender at the Art Bar one afternoon. But I also wore my Electric Vagina at night, with a silver space suit and a ray gun plugged into my crotch, and went around bathing people in gentle rays of estrogen, neutralizing all the testosterone and even bestowing temporary 48-hour festival sterilizations on the nutsacks of all the men: “Go ahead and fuck anybody you want — starting NOW!!!” Let me tell you, my services were extremely popular.
Because let’s face it: these Burning Man events are always a fuckfest thinly disguised as an art festival. Between the Orgy Domes, S&M dungeons and “Goddess Pampering Stations,” you can’t walk two feet without drowning in lube and pheromones; I guess that’s what happens when a bunch of half-naked people get fucked up on booze and drugs and lose their inhibitions. I don’t experience that effect personally… but then I run around naked on the regular, so it’s not such a big deal to me. Tits and nutsacks have lost their magical powers over me….ya know?
Not so for everyone else!! I had barely woken up the first morning there when one of my campmates came over with a pot of warm water to give me a sponge bath; I went along with it and laid back naked, tampon string dangling seductively from my twat, and listened as he told me all about this thing he practices called Orgasmic Meditation. Basically, it’s a sort of highly regimented cult-type thing where women lay back and let strange men with rubber-gloved fingers massage their clitorises in a very specific fashion for exactly fifteen minutes, with no eye contact and no emotional or personal component. Then both parties describe the exact feelings and sensations they had during the process, and some sort of enlightenment is apparently reached. Interesting!
Then there was this other guy camped across the way, who had set up a giant body-art pavilion where he would cover your naked torso/ass/tits/whatever in neon paint, and you would then roll around on a piece of butcher paper, creating “art” with your painted body. Now, the last fuckin’ thing I want to do at a three-day campout with no showers is get paint up my asscrack, but the guy was so earnest and persistent that I finally agreed to let him coat my nether-regions in paint, including my tampon string, so I could make an artsy imprint to hang on my wall. My intent was to make a sort of feminist statement, with the tampon string slashing between my labia…but the string didn’t end up making much of an imprint, and all the whole process ended up doing was getting him riled up to the point where he commented that this was “only the second time” he’d gotten aroused doing this. Remember what I said? It’s a fine line between an art festival and a fuckfest!!!!!!
I mean, you couldn’t get away from it! I was walking around one afternoon with a couple of my campmates when we stumbled on a Banana Blowjob Contest — whoever gave the best blowjob to a banana won some sort of prize, I guess. The contest was being emceed by a chick I know from Vegas, so when one of the scheduled contestants was a no-show, she called on me to fill in. Fuck!! I had no game plan — I mean, one of the other contestants had peeled and sucked her banana using only her toes, and another chick placed her banana in a crotch of some hippie and dry-humped him to much hooting and hollering from the crowd. How the fuck was I supposed to one-up that?! I ended up seizing my banana in a vise-grip, crushing out the innards in a gooey pulp, then flinging that pulp at the judges like an orangutan flinging its own shit at a zookeeper. Take that, ya oversexed perverts!!!!!
But lest you think me a frigid, humorless killjoy, dig this. Another camp called Porntopia or something like that had a party one afternoon, with all kinds of sex-themed hijinks going on (shocker!!): vibrator races, bobbing for dildos — silly stuff like that. But they also had a dome way in the back with a couple of Sybians inside.
If you don’t know, a Sybian is a sort of upholstered sawhorse with vibrators embedded in it, which women are supposed to ride, hands-free, until they get off. They’re popular with the Howard Stern crowd, and I’d always been curious to try one. So when a malodorous half-baked hippie kid came up to me and asked me if I’d go into the dome with him (you had to have a partner to get in, so he was desperately asking everyone who walked by), I actually agreed.
What a weird experience!!!! I didn’t even know this kid’s name, but we went into the dome and sat on this sawhorse together, facing toward one another, each of us astride our own personal vibrator with our own controller….and we fired them up and went to town. The kid kept trying to hug and kiss me, but I wasn’t about to get into all that; like I said, I didn’t even know his name, and I wasn’t attracted to him physically in the least. I’m just there to try the fuckin’ Sybian, bro!!! It was WEIRD — I felt like how I imagine it must be for a fuckboy; I got off pretty much right away, but out of politeness sat there sort of letting him manhandle my back and buttcheeks while he went on and on and on. He took so long that I ended up getting off again, and still had to sit there as he flailed about, trying (unsuccessfully) to kiss me between gropes. Meanwhile, the sun was going down and I still had to lug all my vagina colada gear back to camp, which was quite a distance away, so it was like, “Hurry the fuck up, kid!!”
Finally I’d had enough, and I guess the kid realized he was never going to get any nookie from me, so he gave up, too….and we dismounted and walked away, never to see each other again. WEIRD! I’ve never been one for casual or anonymous sex, and this only reinforced my conviction. NOW HEAR THIS!! All you swingers who constantly email me, inviting me to “play” parties and shit like that— I’M NOT INTO IT!!! I want love, dammit — or at least fondness. And if I can’t have that…I’m not interested.
Anyway……….considering all this attempted kissing and groping and drink-sharing and pipe-passing, it wasn’t really a surprise when I felt my tonsils starting to swell up toward the end of the weekend — I was getting sick. That campout was one big Petri dish of bacteria, and it finally got to me. The Miso Horny camp was there doling out homemade miso soup, so I drank a bowl or three of that to try and stave it off….but it was no use. Three days of running around a drizzly forest half-naked and hopped up on shrooms and cheap wine is bound to do it….ya know?!
In the interest of not getting sick, I tried to hit the sack early on the last night… but when my campmates and I got back to Spillage Village, I accidentally set off a raging afterparty when I queued up Milli Vanilli on my cellphone, and everyone crawled under my shade canopy for a two-hour late-nite singalong, mostly to the music of Abba, of all things. Come to find out, everyone likes Abba! The worst part was, I’d been getting ready for bed and had already gotten undressed, so I was sitting there doing all of this in nothing but a microscopic piece of Victoria’s Secret buttfloss, surrounded by affable drunks and rainy forest. It was actually a total fucking blast….but like most fun things, it wasn’t good for my health.
Aaaaaanyway, that’s how I came to find myself limping back across the Mojave Desert to Vegas, feeling like I was hit by a furry, blinking bus. Just like the real Burning Man, Youtopia was an amazing party — but exhausting! Enlightening? Not really. Boundary-pushing? Not so much of that, either. But it was totally fucking fun….and I will probably go again next year.
And it’s not just because of the Sybian!!!!!!