Return from Burning Man

Waaaaaaaaaaaah, Burning Man is over 🙁

I’m not the only one pissing and moaning about it — this week, many a dust-covered sparkle pony is lamenting their return to the “default world” (as Burners somewhat pretentiously call real life).  I can see being bummed out about having to return to a soulless desk job in some corporate behemoth somewhere…but even MY fabulous, entertaining life can’t compare to the no-holds-barred mayhem of the Playa. I miss it! Vegas simply cannot compare.

To recap: my sis flew down from the Bay Area on Saturday afternoon, so that I wouldn’t have to make the long, lonely drive alone. I picked her up at the airport, we packed up my truck with all my costumes, booze and assorted camping supplies, and then made one last Wal Mart run to buy a Bota Bag (wineskin) for her Greek Goddess costume…and then I went in to work one last miserable shift of souvenir foto hell at the theater where I work. Then first thing the next morning, we were off!

We left Vegas around the ungodly hour of 8:30am, and hurtled up the highway as fast as we could. The plan was to arrive at the gates around 6pm — they SAY they don’t open until midnight, but if enough overexcited jackasses show up, they open early…which is what happened last year, and which is why rule-abiding dumbasses like my sis and I got there too late to grab a good campsite (we were stuck waaaaay out in the boonies last year).

We planned on arriving in Fernley, NV around 2pm, and meeting up with our other camp mates at this awesome restaurant called the Wigwam, for one last cooked meal before we all headed to the gates together. Alas, however, our plans were waylaid by the fact that it took SIXTEEN HOURS for my brother-in-law and his crew to get from the Bay Area to the playa! That’s supposed to be a 5-hour drive, tops… but they had issues. First they had to stop and pick up some stranded French Burners whose RV had broken down…and then they had to stop in Reno for groceries…and THEN they could only drive 45mph because their RV was so heavy 🙁 One way or another, a 5-hour trip ended up taking them 16 hours.

Meanwhile, my sis and I traversed the ENTIRE state of Nevada in about 10 hours! No mean feat, considering that we stopped for gas twice, and blew out a tire once. Fortunately, the blow-out happened right after we had stopped to pee at a brothel/truck stop/convenience store in Amargosa Valley, where we met some European Burners who then pulled over to help change the tire. I was sweating balls, though, because I only had one spare — and it was old and crusty as hell (my trailer dates from circa 1985, and I’m sure the tires are just as old). We decided to slow down from 80mph to a more sedate 60mph…at least until we got to a town big enough to have a tire shop open on Sunday. And that’s no easy feat in central Nevada!

MEANWHILE, when we were about 2.5 hours out of Vegas, I suddenly remembered that I forgot to pack TWO VITAL COMPONENTS of my trip — possibly the two MOST vital components: my mirror (can’t get fabulous without one) and my mushrooms (I wanted to make a vegetarian pizza for my campmates, don’t you know). FUCK!

I considered turning back, but I was already 2.5 hours out — ARRRRRRGH! Thankfully, I remembered that my roommate was coming up on Wednesday…so I figured I’d just have her bring my stuff up, and I’d make do til then. But boy, was I pissed! After packing all that other dumb shit — to have forgotten the two most important things! Ever the optimist, I figured the good Lord was trying to tell me that I shouldn’t worry so much about my appearance, and that I should sober up — but then I remembered that I don’t believe in the Good Lord, and that I was just fucked, plain and simple.

Thankfully, we made it up to a decent-sized town (Fallon, NV…a creepy little town that’s home to a Naval Top Gun flight school, and which is also home to seriously poisoned groundwater that causes leukemia, so don’t drink the water) without incident, and I was able to buy two new tires at the Wal Mart while my sis stocked up on last-minute groceries (although they were sold out of water, booze and limes). From there, we made it up to the gates of Burning Man by around 7pm — and shockingly, traffic was pretty thin! It was still light outside, so we figured we’d have plenty of time to get in and find a good spot.

WRONG! Despite the “thin” traffic, we ended up sitting in gate traffic for 2.5 HOURS! I guess they had to do an extra super duper hardcore job of searching everyone’s trailers on the way in, to make sure no one was trying to smuggle anyone else in, since this was the first year the event sold out and there were a million pissed off, panicking hippies who were desperate to gain ingress by whatever means necessary.

Since we were just sitting there, we decided to start partying anyway and mix a drink — but we had to be careful, since the po-po were EVERYWHERE this year! They were ready to bust you for the slightest little thing, too — one Burner I spoke to said the cops caught them sparking up a joint, and they were fined $500 and had all their weed confiscated. Seriously?! Here we are, traveling waaaaaaay out into the farthest reaches of No Man’s Land…and we STILL can’t have a little fun? It’s not like we’re lighting up across from an elementary school in downtown Des Moines, for Chrissakes!

I was in kind of a foul mood by then, due to all the beer-swilling mookish jackasses in line around us — exactly the kind of frat-assholes I despise, but unfortunately they dig Burning Man, too. Plus, the asshat “Greeter” who let us in was kinda snarky to me, so when I finally entered the vaunted gates I was in a pretty shitty mood. Nevertheless, we cruised in and found a decent spot along Hajj road between 8:15 and 8:30 (the roads are laid out in a half-circle, lettered A-H going outward, and intersected by roads numbered like a clock, from 2-10). We had to save a pretty big spot, not only for our Bay Area peeps but also for some friends from Vegas who were coming up later in the week…but we found a suitable place, set up my camper, and waited for the Bay Area contingent to arrive.

Unfortunately, the only music I had on my iPad was mellow, sleepy-time music…so after a cocktail or two, my sis passed out curled up in my pink fur coat, and I gave up shortly thereafter and went to sleep myself. The rest of our crew rolled in around 3am, and I vaguely remember my sister’s husband yelling “HAPPY BURNING MAN” in my ear, which I did my best to ignore and went back to sleep. Then in the morning, we set up camp.

In all, it was my sis and I, plus her husband and about a million of his crazy Israeli friends. As mentioned in my last blog, many Israelis are no-goodniks referred to as Shimonim — basically loud, aggressive, white-trash freeloaders. Well, our original crew was solid — my brother-in-law, his good friend, and a married couple they knew… but over the course of the week, some very sketchy Shimonim drifted in and camped with us, uninvited! WTF?! Apparently, the one guy wasn’t really a “shimon,” but just more of a “lab-lab…” basically a useless deadweight as opposed to a malicious freeloader. But the rest of ’em were MOOCHES! They ate ALL MY MUSHROOMS, the fuckers! So I wasn’t even able to make a pizza!

Aside from the Shimonim, everything was great. Our camp setup was solid, our drinks were good and the weather was great. After setting up, we proceeded to get drunk — and stayed that way for the next 7 days! It was FABULOUS!

Rather than blather on and on about how fabulous the art was, I posted all my photos here, so you can check ’em out for yourself. I also took a few videos and posted ’em here, so you can see even better what kind of nuttiness goes on up there!

Suffice it to say, I rolled around all week in various dusty states of undress, in varying degrees of altered consciousness, with swamp ass and a fierce buzz. I intended to do a few photo shoots up there with some photographers I’d contacted prior to the event…but I was just too out of it to get it together. I did do one shoot with a group of photogs from Arizona who I met in Center Camp one day…but other than that, I just ran around in fabulous outfits, looking at fabulous art and having a fabulous time.

One afternoon I was riding along in my boots and pasties, when I ran into the annual Critical Tits parade — a very popular event at Burning Man where hundreds of topless women ride bikes through the city. Since I was there anyway, I joined the parade…and the route took me past a bodypainting booth that had a painting of me on the side!! Come to find out, the artist was some guy from Vegas who had seen my pic on some website, and was inspired to paint it. When I told him it was ME, he said, “You’re Wonderhussy?!” Right on, bro! You bet your sweet bippy I’m Wonderhussy! It was fabulous — since I didn’t create any art myself this year, I felt somewhat validated to have contributed in even this small way.

Now aside from  riding my bike around by day, I also partied by night. I’m not a big druggie, so I didn’t go balls out (much to the dismay of my camp-mates)…I slept fairly well in my cozy trailer, and didn’t eat or drink toooooooooo much. I did have a couple of benders, however: Wednesday night there was a big Infected Mushroom concert out on the playa, and being that I was camped with a bunch of Israelis (Infected Mushroom is some kinda weird Israeli electronic music group), we all simply HAD to fire up and go. I didn’t much care for the music, though (it was very aggro), so I wandered off and found my own party dancing at a bad-ass solar-powered art car that was decorated to look like a taco truck! Apparently the DJ knew me, but I was so out of it that I didn’t fully recognize him and just kept dancing like a madwoman in my all-white Madonna-meets-Dr Zhivago ensemble (the Infected Mushroom concert was supposed to be a White Party, so we wore all white). Goooooooooood times! I danced until around 6am, then crawled into my cozy trailer bed and tried to sleep for a few hours. I wasn’t much good the next day, however 🙁

The second bender I went on was even better! There’s nothing I love like a good drum circle, and there was a big one at the Temple at sunset on Friday. I got there early and nabbed a good spot atop a sort of platform, and proceeded to dance and drum like a RAVING METH-HEADED LUNATIC for three solid hours!! I swear to you, I have rarely if EVER had that much fun!! I didn’t feel like lugging my drum all the way out there (the Temple is located way out in the Deep Playa), so I just brought one of those fake drum heads you use for practice, and banged on it with one of those little bellydancer cymbals that fits over your finger with a piece of elastic. It made a great sound, plus I could “diiing” it on the rim of the drum head for extra effect. I went APESHIT with that rig!

Around 150-200 people ended up joining in the drumming: drummers and didgeridoo-ers and dancers and trancers; all manner of blissed-out hippies came from far and wide across the playa to join in the jubilation. Better yet, that mystical little man showed up — you know, the one I wrote about last time… the little man who appears at every drum circle, at every Burning Man! He’s about 4 feet tall, and wears Birkenstocks and a blissed-out expression as he dances amidst all the drummers. I was really hoping to see him this year, and I was sooooooo excited to spot him that I finally worked up the nerve to introduce myself. As with all mystical legends, however, he couldn’t live up to his reputation — he’s from L.A., and had a very pedestrian California accent. I guess I was expecting him to be Finnish or Icelandic or something and sound more like Björk. Still, he was SUPER cool!

Alas, I have no photos from the actual drum circle because the rest of my crew blew off the drums in favor of this dumb Trojan Horse party they were having nearby — some asswads built a full-scale Trojan Horse from wood, and then all these nuts dressed up like Greeks to tow it out to the playa and then burn it. The party ended up being lame, though, so my crew came and found me at the Temple after all, and we ended up having a fabulous evening dancing on various art cars on the playa. This one car in particular had a trampoline in the middle, which was fan-fuckin’-tastic…and another one was built to look like a hillbilly front porch, complete with pickin’ and grinnin’ grannies. *F*U*N*!

From there, we wandered on and stumpled upon this SICK-ASS performance by a crazed marching band who were playing dubstep, while half-naked weirdos spun fire out front and a hundred whacked-out dubsteppers danced on a double-decker art bus in the background, putting severe strain on the shocks of that poor bus. After that, it started getting really cold…I was fine, since I was wearing this ginormous fur coat I bought at the St. Vincent de Paul warehouse in downtown L.A. and then dyed pink, but my sis was freezing so we made our way back to camp.

Speaking of the cold, the weather was pretty good all week (except for a few dusty white-outs on Tuesday) and it didn’t get too hot during the day — only in the 90s. But nighttime was a different story! Our camp had the idea to dress up like Arabs, or Bedouins more precisely, and head out to the remotest corner of Deep Playa late one night, where we would set up a little stove and serve Turkish coffee to passers-by. But the weather was so freaking cold that we never really got around to it — we sort of half-assedly did it in the street in front of our camp, but that was all.

The week passed waaaaay too quickly, and before you knew it it was time for the big Saturday night burning of the Man. I’m not a fan of this rigamarole — just a crowd of drunken idiots yelling and hollering and pissing on the playa — so one of my campmates had the awesome idea of just climbing up on to the roof of his RV to watch from a distance. We lugged lights and cushions and drums up there, and had a little party with just our camp peeps. It was great!

The next day, Sunday, was the day they burn the beautiful Temple. This was to be even more poignant this year, since my dad had killed himself back in April and my sis and I made a little memorial for him and hung it up in one of the Temple rooms — and it would have been most cathartic to watch it all burn away. HOWEVER, my lame-ass camp mates had to be back at work by Monday…which meant they all left Sunday afternoon!!! I thought about staying on alone, but it just seemed too lonely and depressing. Besides, I didn’t relish the thought of sitting in traffic for 5 hours with everyone else — I figured leaving early, before the temple burn, would mean less traffic. Which it did — it only took 2 hours to get out, and I met up with my campmates in Fernley, NV for a delicious cheeseburger meal before we went our separate ways. Then they turned west toward the Bay Area, and I continued south toward Vegas…alone, since my sis went back with them.

I was feeling pretty good on the way home, although a bit pissed that I was leaving so early for no reason (I didn’t have to be at work til Weds. night)… so I decided to take ‘er easy and mosey along back at my own pace. I was so dry and dusty that I turned off at Walker Lake — this ginormous, beautiful lake in the middle of nowhere — to get my feet wet and maybe swim a little. HOWEVER, come to find out the water is very alkaline (super salty and stinky) and there are unexploded munitions on the shore…so you must bathe at your own risk! Still, I waded in a little and had my fun…but when I tried to leave, my truck got stuck in the sand! Two English Burners who had also stopped tried to tow me out, but it was no use…I was totally buried. I had to call a tow truck driver from nearby Hawthorne, and all in all it added 2 hours to my already 10-hour trip. I finally rolled into Vegas at 3am, dusty, bruised, scratched, banged up…and exhausted!

So, now I’m back in the “real” fuckin’ world. Waah waah, poor me — it could be worse! Check this shit out: a friend of mine left Burning Man on Tuesday morning, headed for Yosemite. On the way he stopped for breakfast at an IHOP in Carson City…and before he knew what was happening, some jackass with an assault rifle busted in and started shooting people up!!!!!!! It was all over the news — at least 4 dead, and several more injured. Talk about a welcome back to reality! Thankfully my friend managed to escape safely…but his trip was kinda ruined after that brush with mortality. Crazy, huh??!!?

Anyway, all this confirms my longstanding belief that one must live every day as if it were the last. I feel like I’ve been slacking in the adventures department lately…so now, it’s ON! Watch out, Vegas….here I come!

 

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About wonderhussy

I am a foul-mouthed, flat-chested bon vivant and adventuress who likes to curse, drink, smoke and run around nude, and I refuse to kow-tow to the bourgeois moral code of the day. I’ve lived in Vegas over ten years, and have a few stories to tell. I roll around town in a truck stocked with a Breathalyzer and a swizzle stick, a spare pair of panties and two stun guns. Don’t fuck with me!
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2 Responses to Return from Burning Man

  1. Admiralllll says:

    I guess I was there this year because I remember Haj street and off course, the Trojan Horse. Finally on to new month in my slog through your archives. I better pick up the pace if I hope to finish before the next Burning Man. And don’t forget your mirror next year because that’s part of the theme – something you didn’t even mention so I guess you don’t care much about it either.

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