Yesterday I blogged about all the shittiness in my life of late. Today I’ll tell ya about the GOOD stuff!
A few weeks ago, I got a wild hair up my ass (more likely I was drinking wine and surfing Facebook, which always gets me into trouble) and volunteered to help out with this big project the local Burning Man community was working on: a festival to celebrate the Burnal Equinox, which is the halfway point between Burning Man 2011 and BM 2012. They decided to hold it in conjunction with this cool street festival/art walk kinda thing called First Friday (so called because it’s always held the 1st Friday of the month). They close off all the streets in this one section of downtown Vegas (the so-called Arts District), and all these artists and vendors and food trucks and stuff set up…and it’s generally a pretty good time. They’ve been doing it since 2003 or so, but I didn’t start going til 2010, because I’m a total hater and I thought it was gonna be lame — you know, one of those things where people are TRYING too hard to be cool.
But it actually IS really cool! It has become slightly corporate — I don’t know exactly what happened, but the lady who originally started it had to bail out, and supposedly it was “in danger” of dying out until Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos/Savior of Downtown Vegas™ stepped in and Saved The Day. (If you haven’t heard, Tony Hsieh has decided to singlehandedly save downtown Vegas from itself. Bye bye crackheads and derelict motels, hello hipster bars and family-friendly First Fridays. Grumble.)
Anyhoo, the local Burners got permission from the First Friday brass (it just seems wrong that a “counterculture” festival should even have brass) to host a mini-Burning Man celebration in an empty lot downtown, near where the street fair takes place. Local artists spent weeks building a 20-foot tall wooden showgirl named Lucky Lady Lucy, which was to be burned after a sort of carnivalesque stage extravaganza featuring fire dancers, fire hoopers, fire spinners, fire belchers and fire farters (can you tell I find the fire arts overrated?! Nevertheless, I plan to learn fire spinning myself…a friend has graciously offered to teach me!).
Aside from the flame-brains, the revue was also to include performances by the Burning Opera, a sort of “Jesus Christ, Superstar”-type rock opera all about Burning Man. After the opera, right before they lit Lucky Lady Lucy on fire, there was to be a sort of Burning Man fashion show featuring Lady Lucy’s bra, panties and feather boa…and they put out a call for volunteers to help out. I offered to model in the fashion show, but…before ya know it, I had been suckered in to RUNNING the fashion show! I guess I was OK with that — I’ve been wanting to get more involved with the community — but next thing you know, I was not only in charge of finding five models to create outfits for…but now I was in charge of MAKING THE BRA AND PANTIES! How the fuck does one fashion a metal bra for a 20-foot-tall wooden showgirl that hasn’t even been constructed yet?! It was insanity!!
To make matters even WORSE, I went to what I thought was a rehearsal meeting for the fashion show…but it turned out to be a rehearsal for the Burning Opera cast! Somehow, I got suckered in to performing as a member of the Tribe — a sort of dancing Greek chorus that prances around the stage while the principal performers sing. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the fact that we had to learn CHOREOGRAPHY — when I tell you I am one of the world’s worst dancers, I ain’t lying. It was REALLY TOUGH!
Still, I’m totally glad I did it…now that it’s over!! At the time, it was totally stressful. I was dealing with my extorting roommates, I still hadn’t fully moved into my new place, I had to work, and somehow I was supposed to devote 40 hours a week to these Opera rehearsals and Lucy bra-making activities. INSANITY! But I met some reeeeeeally cool people, so I’m TOTALLY glad to have done it.
Most of the cast came down from San Francisco to perform, and they were a colorful crew of bad-asses. The director was this hardcore bad-ass Opera Artiste with a Vision, but sadly all he had to work with were Vegas losers who either never showed up for rehearsal, or else had no imagination beyond tutus and furry boots. It was so “Waiting for Guffman…” I really felt for the poor guy. Still, a ragtag gang of locals slowly came together, and thanks to many hours of rehearsing, Herr Direktor sloooowly got us into shape.
Meanwhile, as the “team lead” for the “fashion show” part of the revue, I had to attend all these crazy meetings with the local Burning Man muckety-mucks, who actually turned out to be a REALLY cool group of people. Finally, some Burners who actually DO SOMETHING other than eat ecstasy and hula-hoop!!! It’s about fuckin’ time — I was starting to lose faith!!! Back when I first attended Burning Man, I expected it to be a life-altering experience full of amazing art, hardcore artists and counterculture superheroes. Sadly, I found it to be little more than a bunch of drunk frat boys and high 40-somethings in furry boots, hula hooping to dubstep. I suspected there was more to it, and that I just wasn’t looking in the right places….and this past week confirmed it!
Aaaaanyhoo, the First Friday brass was totally skittish, wanting to make sure the event was “family friendly” (are there two more offensive words in the English language?!), since they’ve spent “a lot of money” trying to get families to come down and enjoy First Fridays. Poor Herr Direktor had to censor the shit out of his libretto, removing all references to drugs, alcohol, nudity, cusswords and paganism (seriously, they had to change a line about “pagans and Wiccans…” WTF!!!!)…and by the time he was done, it was looking pretty fucking sad. It’s a testament to the awesomeness of the cast that the whole thing didn’t end up being Disney on Ice (with tutus and furry boots).
Meanwhile, the First Friday brass and the local BM bigwigs stroked each other into a cautious détente, determined to make this work. Some of the First Friday people (Tony “Savior” Hsieh among them) had gone to Burning Man last year for the first time, and were “amazed” and “impressed.” They wanted everyone to know that Burning Man wasn’t just about drugs and nudity — it’s about so much more. Uhhh…..did you guys stay in your air-conditioned RVs watching Disney videos the whole week?!?! HELLO!!!
Aaaaanyway, the First Friday people had a vision, and the local Burners had no choice but to conform to that vision… so we did. The Opera cast had to cover up their tits and whatnot, and there was to be no talk of drugs or alcohol. My character was supposed to be a drunken alien party girl named Saturnalia…but even that was called into question, because the mayor was gonna be there, and families were gonna be there…and is that the kinda image we want to portray???
YES! Yes, it is the image I want to portray! Look, the mayor’s HUSBAND (our ex-mayor, Oscar Goodman) is a notorious boozer whose shtick is martinis and showgirls. Is a drunken alien party girl really going to offend his wife?! (The answer is NO — when the Mayor and the ex-Mayor showed up, Oscar grabbed my glowing green bottle of alien booze (Palmolive with glow sticks inside) and pretended to chug it. That settles that stupid argument). Ha!!!
I almost wanted to quit the whole thing after First Friday came down with all these bogus rules…but I soldiered on. I briefly considered an intentional “wardrobe malfunction,” just to make my point (look, my nipples are fucking harmless, people! GET OVER IT!)…but I gritted my teeth and chafed under the yoke of the Man for the greater good of the local Burner community. And I’m glad I did, because as lame as it sounded, it actually ended up being super cool.
Almost every single person who said they’d help with the fashion show FLAKED on me, so I concentrated more on my Opera rehearsing, and let the fashion show part fall by the wayside. I did spend about 8 hours making a light-up bra and panties for Lady Lucy out of wire and LED blinkies, but the rest of the time was spent rehearsing dance steps and trying to come up with an alien costume. I already had an alien costume, from this space disco I went to back in 2010, but Herr Direktor wanted something badass, so I felt all this pressure to come up with a Hollywood-quality costume with appendages and all whatnot. Alas, I was short on time, so at the last minute, I showed up in my old space disco costume….and they all loved it!!! So I freaked out for nothing, as usual.
A couple days before the show, the principal cast members came down from San Fran to rehearse, and it was the coolest band of gypsies. The actors were a colorful crew of hardcore counterculturists, including some super-hot hipppie dudes and this one amazingly badass Sparkly Hippie Starshine Superheroine named Dr. Deb who was unbelieveably amazing and made me want to be her. There was a live band playing all the music, and they were AMAZING, too — I guess back in S.F. they are members of a band called Battlehooch, so if you live in that area, check ’em out! The bass player was an exceptionally cool guy who looked like an Amish David Koresh…he had an unforgettable look — but the rest of the band was amazing, too. And they were all super friendly and cool.
After a couple days rehearsing with them, we were good to go — or at least as good as we were gonna get. I don’t know how Herr Direktor didn’t pull out all his hair over us and our pathetically inept dancing — we missed all our cues, and mostly stumbled around like a rag-tag band of spastic drunken vaudevillians. Good times! Despite our unrefined ways, I gotta give my fellow Vegas performers mad props for at least trying — no one else even bothered to show up!!! There are hundreds of Burners in Vegas, but as previously mentioned, many are the high, hula-hooping kind. Thank goodness there were at least a few hardcore types out there who sacked up and dove in. I became pretty good friends with a few of them…now I know who the cool people are!
Besides me there was this super cool mother-daughter duo (who also helped with the fashion show, dog bless ’em), this amazing kooky Piratess who used to be a US Forestry firefighter (!!), a good-spirited young fellow in a furry cat costume, and these two blonde Polish chicks who showed up in blinky rave wear at the last minute and barely learned the dance steps in time. A motley crew to say the least, but we made it happen with the help of Herr Direktor and the other cast members, whose moves we pretty much followed onstage.
The day of the show, my sister came to town with her crazy Israeli husband — he was in town for a bachelor party with some of his crazy Israeli Burner friends, so we all planned to meet up after the show and party. My sis came to the show with me, and helped out backstage with costumes and whatnot, and generally had a blast. Once the final show was over (we did three performances, at 6, 7 and 8pm), they lit the showgirl on fire and it was PARTY TIME! All that hard work was behind me, so I reeeeeally let loose. I mean, REALLY let loose! I ate a friendly fungus, drank some wine, and wandered around the festival area for awhile as Lucy burned (I’m not much on watching fires; I get bored). This crew of party animals from Santa Cruz called the Dancetronauts were there in their giant spaceship (seriously; they built a huge spaceship out of an RV, and it jacks up on a scissorlift) with a bunch of scantily-clad Dancetrohotties go-go-ing wildly atop their 100,000-watt sound system, as the Dancetronauts themselves (a bunch of hot mooks in NASA flight suits) ran around blowing giant smoke rings into the huge mass of writhing, dancing people before them. It was INSANE!
The Dancetronauts played until around 10:30pm, by which time Lucy had burned down to the ground in a neat pile of ashes (much to the dismay of the waiting phalanx of firemen, who were eagerly expecting a disaster…sorry boys) — and then the real party began! A bunch of local Burners had trucked their art cars and mutant vehicles downtown, and the police very graciously allowed us to have an Art Car parade down the city streets to the Plaza hotel, where the Dancetronauts were having a huge street party. My sis and I wanted to ride the Soul Train (a friend of mine’s amazing neon choo-choo train), but he was already full, so we hopped on board the Pedal Pub instead, which is probably my #1 all-time favorite art car of them all — it’s an 8-seater bike, with four seats on each side, all facing inward to a bar. The bartender stands in the middle on the checkered floor, and steers as the people sitting at the bar all pedal. It’s NUTS!!!!!! I don’t know how the fuck it works, but it does — and it’s AWESOME!
We pedaled all the way down to the Plaza, then got off and proceeded to dance like mad people in the valet area out front, in the shadow of the Dancetronauts’ spaceship. Fantastic!! I’ve rarely had that much fun in Vegas — I danced like a madwoman. I ran into a lot of people I knew, and it was just a fabulous time all around. About 2am they brought the party indoors, to the showroom, which had been converted into a sort of fake Burning Man with lasers and smoke and signposts like you see out at the actual Burn. Really fun! I’m here to tell you, I danced more or less non-stop from 2pm til 5am (!!!!!!!) — FIFTEEN STRAIGHT HOURS! When I wasn’t dancing, I was pedaling that Pedal Pub…which wasn’t exactly slacking off. I figure I burned about 900,000 calories — nice! Around 5am my sis fell asleep at the table, and some fucknut spilled a beer all over my fur coat (ASSSS! I *HATE* beer, more than anything!), so we left, and went across the street for breakfast at DuPar’s coffee shop. Then we took a cab back to my car, and from there drove the short 5 minutes or less to my new house, which is conveniently located downtown in the heart of all the action. Once home, we passed out cold and slept all day, til it was time to take my sis back to the airport. Fun!
After I took her to the airport, I pretty much felt like I’d been run over by a giant, blinking, furry bus. I intended to stay home all night, but the Dancetronauts were having a second street party down by the El Cortez…and being as I live so freaking close by, I figured I might as well stop by for a few hours. The problem was, I didn’t feel like putting on all my makeup and stuff (it was already 10pm by that time)…so I came up with an ingenious idea: wear my fantastic, beloved Second Skin bodysuit, which covers my ENTIRE body and face, so no makeup is required. PROBLEM SOLVED! I put together a fabulous outfit and went down to dance a little more, but the party totally sucked — everyone was either exhausted from the night before, or at the other shows in town that night. (The hippies were all at Mickey Hart at the Hard Rock Cafe, and the bean-eaters were all at Bassnectar over at the Palms… the tribe was fractured.) I left after a couple hours — the vibe was lame. Just a bunch of aggro teenagers and middle-aged people standing around staring at the Dancetrohotties…I totally wasted a badass costume on that jive-ass crap. Boo!
So now the party’s over, but it totally whetted my appetite for all things Burning Man. I’m really in a bind this year — as you may have heard, the event sold out for the first time ever last year, and this year they had such overwhelming demand that they instituted this whack-ass lottery system for tickets. Me and everyone I know entered the lottery, but no one I know won tickets! Whaaaaa?????! Even the freaking Dancetronauts only “won” two tickets — out of forty Dancetronauts!!! The majority of the ticket winners (well, 40% anyway) are said to be first-time attendees….which has caused a lot of tension in the Burning Man community.
On the one hand, I feel like first timers (especially square first-timers…people who are not wacky at all in everyday life) are the ones who really get the most out of Burning Man. People like me, who wear crazy costumes every day and live their entire lives like it’s Burning Man, don’t have as much to learn, or have as much expanding to do, as some random frat idiot who needs an eye-opener. So is it really fair to let us wacky types monopolize the event, when there are clearly people who need it more than we do???
On the OTHER, MORE IMPORTANT HAND, Burning Man is gonna be lame as hell if all the hardworking regulars aren’t able to attend!! Who’s gonna bring all the fabulous art? All the amazing mutant vehicles and art cars?!?! All the large-scale interactive camps and experiences?!?!?!?!?!?!????? If 40% of the attendees are newbies, it’s not going to be the same at all.
But, what can really be done? The BLM (gov’ment) caps the attendance at 50,000…and since every asshole (myself included) comes back from Burning Man telling all their friends “OMG you gotta go to this sometime!” it was bound to get too big for its furry britches. It just sucks being on the outside — my sis and her husband were able to buy two tickets in this stupid resale program they instituted, but what about meeeee?? I was able to at least get on the resale LIST, but that doesn’t even come close to guaranteeing that I’ll actually get a ticket. There will likely not be enough people reselling their extra tickets, and I’ll be shit outta luck.
Meanwhile, the whole reason behind this bullshit lottery is that they didn’t want “scalpers” to buy the tickets, then mark ’em up and sell ’em on eBay. Well, guess what?!?!?! There are ALREADY a shit ton of tickets on eBay and StubHub and the like, going for upwards of $5,000 each!! FUCK! What’s a girl to do????
If you’re reading this blog and you have an extra ticket, please let me know. I will pay face value, cash, and you’ll be helping out a poor battered soul who has just lived through a really shitty year. C’mon, guys!!!
I’ll leave you on a slightly more upbeat note: one night, after Opera rehearsal, I had to run to WalMart…even though I was wearing my kooky silver fur coat and wacky black pleather pants and Frankenstein boots. I knew I was running the risk of winding up on PeopleOfWalMart.com, but I had to go — I have this weird rash thing on my eyelids, where they get all red and dry and scaly and make me look like I’m about 60 years old. I’ve had this problem on and off for years, but it got a lot worse recently, and I somehow got the idea it might be caused by a fungus. I went online and Googled “eyelid fungus” and all these message boards turned up where people were saying they had cured it with yeast infection cream! So, when I went to WalMart in my crazy outfit, I was buying all kinds of yeast infection meds — creams, pills, etc. I must’ve looked like a REAL piece of work, ha ha ha!!!!! But whatever — IT WORKED! I’m pleased to report that by applying vaginal cream to my eyelids each morning and night, I have more or less cured my problem. Hooray for Google!!!
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Always love to read your stuff. Stoked that you used my picture.
Wait, I used your picture?!? Oooops…forgot to credit ya! Which one?!?!
Hi there! I stumbled across your blog somehow– I was at the Vegas burn last Friday, too, and while I didn’t meet you, I did see you and dance past you a couple of times at the Plaza. In answer to your question about how to get your burning man vibe on now that you can’t get tickets, the answer is, “regionals.” Las Vegas has one (Forgotten City) over Memorial Day, which is sadly, I understand, sold out already. We here in Utah have Element 11, which is the Utah Regional (11th year, even :), and will happen July 12-15. We are just getting ticket sales set up, they should be available starting after April 1. Come burn with us!
And also, while I’m sorry you wasted your time at the ElCortez party on Saturday night, I’m glad to hear that my instincts were right- I feel better about not going. Actually I was so exhausted from dancing so much (on top of everything else) that I couldn’t quite see myself standing much less dancing if I went out Saturday night. But sorry it sucked 😉
maybe see ya in Utah!
Fo sho, Mad Maxine!!! I already got my ticket to Forgotten City 2.0, and am also going to an AZ regional called Saguaro Man at the beginning of May. I’ve been wanting to check out Element; you just reminded me to do so for sure!! Thanks!