I get the seasonal blues everrrrrrry year after Burning Man — fun’s over, back to school, leaves are changing and everything’s slowly fading into the first fuzzy shades of death — including me (a subtle reminder of which being my birthday, Sept. 22nd — a/k/a the 1st day of fall). Grim, huh?! Well, thankfully, this year I have a bunch of fun stuff to look forward to, to distract me from my usual melancholia!
First, an exceptionally misanthropic, grouchy, chain-smoking photojournalist lady-friend of mine offered to take me on a whirlwind overnight vacation to the town of Goldfield, NV! She initially proposed hiring me as a tour guide to take her “into the desert, to an unusual/photogenic spot…” so I wracked my brains and came up with the idea of exploring Goldfield — a tiny ex-mining/semi-ghost-town on the U.S. 95 between Vegas and Tonopah. At one time (early 1900s), Goldfield was a boomtown with a population of 20,000…and even hosted a championship boxing match that drew 8,000 spectators (Gans vs. Nelson, 1906)! Now, it’s just a dusty, rusty collection of artsy junk on the side of a highway, with a population barely above 200. YAY!
I pass thru Goldfield every year on my way to and from Burning Man, but I’m always in such a hurry that I never really stop and soak up the ambiance. It seems like a really interesting/bad ass spot…so I’m totally stoked to go. A friend tipped me off to an abandoned brothel nearby, and also to the fact that the bartendress at the saloon in town is SUPER FUCKING GROUCHY and a total hater….so I can’t wait to pit her against my lady friend, who is also SUPER FUCKING GROUCHY — and from New York! No desert grouch can POSSIBLY compete with a city grouch — so it’s ON (ding)! My friend says that the way to really piss off the lady bartender is to ask her, “So how was Goldfield flooded? There’s no river here; it’s the middle of the desert!” According to this friend, when he asked that innocent question, she HARRUMPHED, turned her back to him and muttered, “Ain’t ya ever heard of fuckin’ rain?! Take your city money and spend it somewhere else!!!!”
Anyhoo, I can’t wait to see how my city friend handles this cranky old bitch — this could be even bigger than Gans v. Nelson! We depart first thing in the a.m. — I can’t wait!
Then, when I get back from Goldfield, I’m headed back up the 95 to work some biker rally in fabulous Reno, NV! The chick that I went to Sturgis with last year invited me to go work a bikini bike wash with her next weekend, and she got a free room in Tahoe so it’s basically a 100% moneymaking endeavor for both of us. We leave Tuesday, first thing in the a.m. — I can’t wait!
Then from Reno, I’m headed over to San Francisco, to work a three-day tradeshow gig at OracleWorld at the Moscone Center. Tradeshows are usually pretty lame, but this one pays well, and I have a free place to stay at my brother’s crib across the Bay in Oakland…so I’m gonna suck it up in the name of cheese-stacking. Because lord knows, I need the cheese! I leave for that next Sunday, first thing in the afternoon….and I can definitely wait, but I’m still planning to have some fun!
Then, I have a couple days before I have to be back in Vegas, so I’m either gonna visit the Be &BeWell in Santa Cruz and try their sensory deprivation tank…or maybe head to Big Sur instead, and hike to/camp out at Sykes Hot Springs with my sister. Either way is gonna be fabulous, and I can’t wait!
From there, I can cruise back down to Vegas in time to hit the big Hempfest festival on October 4th — a daylong party going down at the Clark County Government Center, with bands and vendors and all kinds of pot-related shenanigans. I’m not being paid to attend, but I figure it’ll be good networking for me to show up in my Mary Jane showgirl costume — maybe I can schmooze Dr. Reefer into renewing my medical card again for free! (My card expires in November, but I’m not sure I can/want to shell out the cash to renew it…ya know? It’s like $200 in Nevada!).
And then after that, I’m supposed to hike down to Havasupai Falls on the West Rim of the Grand Canyon — an area said to be astonishingly beautiful, but you have to have a special permit to hike it, because it’s on Indian land. I was supposed to do this hike with my frenemy Alex and a bunch of his friends, none of whom I know at all…but I figured it would be OK because Alex has a girlfriend now, and seems to have mellowed out a bit. Yay! Alas, however…his girlfriend fucked up her shoulder the other day racing a dirt bike or something, and now they might not be able to do Havasupai :/ So I could still maybe go with the other people…but I don’t know them at all, so it might be kinda weird/awkward. We’ll see!!
Anyway, after THAT I’m flying to beautiful Kona, Hawaii to visit my new friend Dr. Who!! Not only is he a fabulously interesting and charming person, he also has a coffee farm in Hawaii (!!)…and he invited me out for a visit. It also happens to be the weekend of the big Iron Man Triathlon race, which he is working the medical tent for, and he got me a gig as a volunteer, helping woozy racers and whatnot. FAR OUT!!! Those triathletes are out of this world — for this race, you start out swimming 2.4 miles, then you race a road bike for 112 miles, and then run a full marathon (26.2 miles). The elites do it in just over 8 hours total….WTF!! This, I gotta see to believe. I know I said “I can’t wait” about a bunch of other shit already……..but for this, I REALLY can’t wait!!!
So anyway, where I’m at now is looking back at a fabulous summer, and ahead at a wonderful fall…but stuck in the present, which is admittedly kinda on the shitty side. It’s still hot as fuck and twice as humid here in ShitTown U.S.A. a/k/a Vegas, and to make things worse, business has been kinda slow.
When I rolled back in from Burning Man, I was ready to pack my shit away and get right back to work, and start stacking that cheese back up for my next adventure. I only made about $900 in August, so I was especially hurting — plus a freelance piece I was supposed to do about Burning Man for Men’sHealth.com (of all things) fell thru last-minute, so now I was left scrambling. Thankfully, I never scramble too long — I rounded up a couple photo shoots, a convention gig and an afternoon stint as an airport greeter, holding up a directional sign so that a bunch of visiting oncologists could find their limo drivers. (One would really hope that one’s cancer care was in the hands of someone capable of finding a limo driver….but…you never know.)
But before I could do any of those gigs, I had a little “personal grooming” to attend to. You see, at Burning Man I basically let my freak flag fly and my body hair run rampant — not just my nether-regions, but my armpits as well! That kind of shit is great for art and shock value, but not so good for paying work as a nude model or a tradeshow hostess — so alas, I finally had to kow-tow to the bourgeois demands of Society and shave 🙁 But before I did, I made sure to visit my dear friend Randy at Shutterbug-Studio, and capture it all in a fabulous photo shoot! I started out trying to emulate Patti Smith’s “Easter” album cover photo….and it got waaaaay out of control! Bwahahahahahaha 🙂
So anyhoo, once I shaved, I was good to go back to work in the mainstream — and the first gig I booked was this cycling industry tradeshow, Interbike. This company was looking for an “enthusiastic, blonde” tradeshow hostess…but I applied anyway, even though my hairs are dark as sin (especially the ones I’d just shaved, LOL). I emailed them saying something like, “I’m available, and enthusiastic…but if you must have a blonde, so be it!” Well guess what — they admired my chutzpah and hired me! And it was fantastic!
The company I was working for makes full-size folding commuter bikes, and their shtick at the tradeshow was a contest: Whoever could fold their demo bike the fastest would win $500 CASH! So my job was basically to stand in the aisle barking like a circus carny, trying to get guys to come enter the challenge. Boy, was that ever a gas!! First of all, Interbike is a show attended by NOTHING BUT the most outdoorsy, athletic, non-conformist-type guys — so not only did I have plenty of eye candy to keep me amused (that’s the kind of guy I like), but finding contestants for the Bike Fold-Off was super easy! EVERY guy wanted to try, and eventually it got SO competitive that the same four guys were battling each other over and over and OVER again (there was no limit on the number of attempts you could make…alas). It was down to this adorable Canadian kid, two brothers from Utah, and then this crazy Asian guy from Cali…all of whom were able to fold the bike in less than one second! The competition was fierce for that $500 — I almost got hit in the face a couple times when the front bike wheel went flying. The Canadian kid ended up winning with a time of 0:0:47 (that’s less than HALF a SECOND!), and boy was my stopwatch thumb sore by the end!
All in all, though, it was a huge gas and a total riot to work — I have rarely (if ever) had that much fun at a tradeshow! A convention center full of smokin’ hot outdoorsy guys, a fun gig — what’s not to like?! If only ALL trade shows could be like this! The client I was working for was super cool, too — and they were so pleased with my performance that they gave me a bonus, and asked me if I’d work other trade shows for them as well! “Sure!” I said enthusiastically — because seriously, I would love to! Their product is really cool, too — really nice full-size aluminum folding bikes that weigh less than 24 pounds; totally portable!
The only problem was, the boss wasn’t sure they had all my contact info, so I offered to give him a card — but when I reached into my card holder, I realized I didn’t have any G-rated cards!
See, over the years I keep ordering new business cards, and they just keep getting racier and racier. At first, I started out with Exhibit A: generic, cutesy, sexy enough to be fun and interesting, but still safe enough for Corporate America. I don’t really like to use this card anymore though, because the Model Mayhem and OneModelPlace numbers are obsolete (and who even uses OneModelPlace anymore?!?). But, if I’m really in a bind, I’ll hand out this card.
When I started writing for the paper, I upped my game to Exhibit B: racier, but by then that’s what I was known for, so it was expected. Also, by then I had started this blog, so now I had
links to my scandalous diary all over it.
And then, last year I trumped everything with my pièce-de-résistance — Exhibit C, which I find hilarious but which you have to have a certain sense of humor to appreciate. It’s modeled after one of those cheesy hooker cards they hand out on the Strip, but if you read the fine print you can tell it’s a joke — and the reverse side is a totally straight bidness card anyway just in case you really didn’t get the joke. I can only really hand this card out to SUPER COOL people who really get it….so I don’t hand it out nearly as often as I’d like 🙁
Anyway, at the Interbike show, the boss of the
company I was working for asked me for my contact info, so I fumbled through my bag, trying to find something inoffensive…but alas, all I had on me were my PG- and R-Rated cards. I gave him the PG one, but I’m afraid that because it has my website address on it, he probably already went to this blog and freaked the fuck out — and might not hire me for any future trade shows 🙁 D’oh!!! Needless to say, I went straight home and logged onto VistaPrint to order some boring-ass new vanilla cards that just say my name, number and “TRADE SHOW MODEL.” BOOOO-RING…..but sadly necessary.
So after being around all those hot guys at the Interbike show, I was all pumped up on the Great Outdoors, and ready to get out in the fresh air and do something wild! The next day, I drove out to Jean, this little NV/CA border town with nothing but a casino and a prison, to meet a reader from Southern California who’d ridden his new Harley out to meet me for lunch. He even placed a $100 blackjack bet for me (which I of course lost….I’m terrible poison at the tables…so please, for the love of dog don’t ask me to gamble with you. Or dance with you. Anything else, I can handle). Anyway, that was fun…but I was still craving adventure!
Fortunately, a videographer friend called me up the very next day, to see if I wanted to help him out filming a commercial for one of those tour companies that takes you on an ATV ride through the desert. All I would have to do is ride an ATV around and be filmed doing it…so, despite the fact that I have NEVER ridden an ATV in all my life, and the fact that Dr. Who calls them “Kidney-Donation Devices,” I said Hell, YES!
We all met up at 7am Saturday morning and drove out to Logandale, this little redneck town north of Vegas where the tours start out. The owner of the company had rounded up about 12 people altogether to be in this commercial, which was an unpaid gig but you got a free box lunch and a free ATV ride out of it, so I guess he had no problem finding volunteers. Anyway, they strapped us all in and then one of his tour guides led us on a 28-mile course through the desert, starting in Logandale and then winding through the astonishingly beautiful Valley of Fire. It was BREATHTAKING!
The only downside was that it was hotter than the devil’s taint that day, and we kept having to stop and idle in the broiling desert sun while they set up camera shots and stuff…so by the time we reached the halfway mark, everyone was hot and sweaty and kinda grouchy. So we stopped in the shade for lunch, and then headed back out after a little break to finish the course.
This time, this young dude led the pack, and he was going a little faster than the tour guide had been. In trying to keep up with him, one of my tires hit a rock, and my ATV ran off the trail and down a fairly steep embankment! I tried to crank the wheel hard to the left to get back on the trail, but I spun out and my ATV tipped over and crashed on its side. I was only going about 15 mph, but it still knocked the wind out of me!
Well, everyone got out and ran over like “OMG are you OK?!?!?!” And I was; they really had us strapped in there good, with NASCAR-type harnesses and helmets and everything…but I was still shaken up, especially because everyone was in my face going “OMG OMG OMG!” So I unharnessed myself and extricated myself from the ATV, standing on trembling legs to prove that I was OK — and I even tried to make a joke about it, to sort of defuse the tension: “Well, I hope they at least got some good footage of that wipeout!” LOL, haha.
Everyone sort of laughed nervously, and just then is when the owner came roaring up on his dune buggy. I guess he saw us all standing around his brand-new busted up ATV laughing, and he freaked out! “THAT’S AN $8,000 RIG YER LAUGHING AT!!!!! THAT’S $500 WORTH OF DAMAGE!!! WHO’S GONNA PAY FOR THAT!?!?!?!?! IT’S NOT A JOKE!!!!!”
Whoa! We all calmed down right away, and I felt terrible — I mean, I certainly didn’t wreck the rig on purpose! I wasn’t even razzing around all crazy, just following the trail behind the guy in front of me! But this man was beyond irate, and just kept yelling relentlessly at me, making me feel like a total dumbass.
My first reaction was to start crying, but I didn’t want to be a pussy, so instead of crying I did something very stupid — I yelled back at him: “I didn’t do it on purpose!! What do you want me to do — suck your dick?!?!?!?!”
Oooooooh! Now he was really pissed — you never heard someone scream at a woman like this man did at me, in front of about 12 other people who all just stood there looking at their feet, not saying a word in my defense. Listen, buddy — I’m doing this commercial for free, it’s hot as fuck, I’ve never ridden an ATV before, you gave me beyond minimal instruction…and now you’re mad at me because I scraped up your ATV? I do understand it was a brand new rig, but….guess what?! Breaking my NECK is way more expensive than $500!
This man screamed and screamed at me, calling me every name in the book and telling me he was gonna make me walk back (in 100-degree-plus weather, about 14 miles from town). So now I really did start crying — bawling my eyes out, actually — and finally the others stepped in and made us calm down. Realistically, I understand why he was upset — he was hot, and angry about other stuff, and I had just scraped the hell out of his brand new ATV and then sassed him in the most scandalous way imaginable. But, really??
Anyhoo, he ended up apologizing, and I accepted…but it kinda soured the day and I was actually kind of afraid — I’ve never been yelled at like that in my entire life, EVER. EVER! Even though I haven’t named any names here, I was still afraid to even blog about the whole thing…so if this guy does come after me demanding his $500, will you all please do me a favor and chip in 50 cents or $1 to my defense fund? In writing this, I decided that it’s actually worth $500 to me to tell this story. Thanks!!!
So aaaaaanyhoo, after we calmed down, we all got back on our ATVs and rode back to the ranch. I was still bawling my eyes out inside my helmet — I think more than anything, I felt humiliated and betrayed — by the fact that no one stepped in and had my back while I was being screamed at. But, I do understand why no one did — the guy was going BALLISTIC, and we were out in the middle of nowhere in 100-degree+ weather, and he was our only ticket back.
Once we got back, the owner apologized again and high-fived me, so I made good with him and to be honest, I probably would recommend his ATV tour packages to tourists — it’s a really fun, beautiful excursion that shows you the other side of the Vegas valley. Just be careful and don’t wreck one of his rigs!!!!!!!!!!!
After that, we got the hell out of there, back to the city, where I changed into a dirndl and headed over to the Hofbrauhaus for the annual Oktoberfest keg tapping with Siegfried & Roy. A friend had invited me as his dinner guest, so I forgot the tragedies of the day and stuffed myself on wienerschnitzel and whatnot while enjoying the spectacle of the Barons of Botox limping down the aisle, greeting their adoring public. Siegfried & Roy are still astonishingly popular in Vegas, and even though Roy can’t really move around too good since the tiger attack that almost killed him back in 2003, they still put on a good show for their adoring public — they were out there for hours posing for photos with fans! The best part was, Roy had on this fake lederhosen dickie-type thing, which I guess gave him the appearance of wearing lederhosen without the hassle of actually having to put his legs through pant holes. It was more of a leder-lanyard than anything, really. Awwww!
Anyhoo, I made merry at dinner but then went home and collapsed — I was exhausted!!! And my neck and shoulder were sore as fuck for a week afterward — the safety harness in that ATV worked really well, but I still bonked my head pretty hard. D’oh!!! Oh well…at least I still have both kidneys 🙂
After all that craziness, I decided I better lay low for awhile and maybe just help a friend, to right my karma or whatever. As it happened, my friend El Pulpo (the guy with all the kayaks, from my kayak adventure last April) needed a ride out to California, to look at a pickup truck. Some a**hole had stolen his beloved Tacoma from the street right in front of his house, and he’s been unemployed for quite a while, so he was having a hard time finding a new rig at the right price. He had his eye on one out in Corona, CA, so I agreed to drive him out there to look at it — a 4-hour drive, each way!
Now, this isn’t really that weird when you consider that we live in Vegas, which is basically like living on an island — it’s 4 hours in any direction to the nearest city of any reasonable size. The population base here in town is only around 1.5 million, which makes dating a bitch and buying a truck almost as difficult — so sometimes you just have to sack up and drive out to California, with its far bigger population base (and yes, I HAVE driven out there to meet up with a date…which didn’t work out, although the guy was a TOTAL badass who lived in a Zen cabin on a mountaintop farm in the middle of downtown L.A. [you read that entirely correctly, yes! It was amazing]).
Aaaaanyhoo, I drove El Pulpo out to Corona, which is like a little redneck suburb in a sort of rednecky dirt-bikey part of SoCal called the Inland Empire, and these two squirrelly redneck dudes tried to sell him this old beater truck…which on craigslist was fine, but in person had all kinds of problems! On the drive over, they texted him: “Oh P.S. there is a few chips in the windshield,” but by then we were already halfway there….and when we got there, they weren’t chips at all but HUGE CRACKS! The whole fuckin’ windshield was basically shattered! Damn shady rednecks. You could tell my friend felt bad dragging me out all that way, but I didn’t want him to feel like he had to buy that truck, and so I told him. Thankfully, he agreed…so we drove back empty-handed. A total of 8 hours, just to be hoodwinked by rednecks! Those rednecks must have thought we were a couple of real rubes from the desert…little did they know, us Vegas people wrote the fuckin’ BOOK on hoodwinking!!!
It was cool though, because my neck was still sore from the ATV crash and I didn’t mind sitting on my ass driving on the highway all day — plus, El Pulpo paid for gas and lunch, so we stopped at this Del Taco in Barstow which someone, somewhere told me once was like the fanciest Del Taco in the entire world. Supposedly, the Barstow Del Taco was the first one they ever opened, and it’s like a gourmet version — all fancy and shit. Well, I can’t for the life of me remember who told me that…but it is most certainly not true at all!!! It was a regular, ghetto-ass old Del Taco with shitty fake Mexican food…which, since I was PMSing, I beasted the fuck out on!!!! Ugh.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to sit around digesting that for long, because the very next day a visiting journalist friend from NYC was in town, and he invited me to come along with him to dinner at the steakhouse at the newly revamped SLS Hotel-Casino, which used to be the Sahara, but has since been de-themed and douchified by some corporate gang of poseurs from L.A. or Miami or some other doucheburg. Gone are the camels and mosaic tiles and Moroccan shtick, and in their place is a sort of poor-man’s Cosmopolitan — all exposed ductwork and edgy wacky artsiness at every turn. It was actually pretty nice, I’ll admit….but I liked the Sahara better!
Anyway, the steakhouse was even more astonishing. If you haven’t been to an upscale Vegas restaurant lately, let me fill you in — regular-ass old meat and potatoes and whatnot just don’t cut it anymore for the chi-chi crowd. These rich motherfuckers are bored as fuck, and to get them to eat food, it has to be like foie-gras cotton candy or a twee-as-fuck miniature bagel&lox ice cream cone. WTF!!!!! If a starving Honduran saw this shit, he wouldn’t know whether to laugh, cry — or sneak over the border during the dessert course, when all eyes were on the Kobe Beef Mousse and he could beeline it for Home Depot without causing a stir.
The worst part of this meal was, in fact, the dessert — a 1%-er foodie abomination called the foieffle. You read that — the foieffle, as in, a foie-gras infused waffle, stuffed with peanut butter and honey and topped with julienned blanched almonds. Holy mother of irony!! Can you believe these rich motherfuckers!? Now, where I come from we use peanut butter to mask the foul taste of, oh, say, psilocybin mushrooms……so can you imagine the ignominy of force-feeding a fucking goose until its liver is about to blow, only to mask its flavor with fucking JIF?!?!?!?!?!?! There is really IS no God!!!!!
Worse than all that, though…was the fact that I sat there and lapped it all up like Eliza Doolittle on crack 🙁 Boo, me. Where are my principles?! In my defense, all I can say is, I was totally discombobulated from the amazing people watching in that restaurant. I tell you, you have NEVER seen a more astonishing array of wealthy weirdos and poseurs than in that place — or, I suppose, in any expensive new Vegas hotspot. The douchebags and poseurs all flock to those places, so an amazing show is to be expected! (If you’re curious and want to check this shit out in person, the place is aptly named BAZAAR MEAT, and José Andrés is the chef to blame. Bring your wallet!!!)
Well, I guess being around all those 1%-ers whetted my appetite for money…because I spent the next two days in garage sale hell, trying to unload some of my meager possessions on an unsuspecting public in the name of earning a buck or two. I cleaned out my costume room and my underwear drawer, my shoe rack and my kitchen cabinets, and ended up netting a whopping $125 for two days of backbreaking labor, sitting in my driveway drinking vodka grapefruit with my neighbor. SAD!!
But, at least I did get rid of a bunch of crap…so I’m kinda on my way to my ultimate goal of consolidating my current three bedrooms-full of crap into one, so I can recruit a second roommate and start raking in more rental income. (I currently have an office, a bedroom and a dressing room…three separate bedrooms, which I plan to squeeze into one!) I’m gone traveling most of the time anyway; might as well find another poor sap to shack up with my other roommate and my dog. Right?!
RIGHT! Because, as you know….I have a lot of traveling ahead of me. And I CAN’T WAIT!!!
See you when I get back!