My journalistic engagement with Burning Man, which resulted in my new book, began in the fall of 2004 when hundreds of the culture’s artists staged what became known as the Borg2 revolt. As I worked on an article about it for the Guardian, I had the magical experience of watching the colorful characters in the book I was reading suddenly come to life.
I want to give that same experience to the readers of my book – The Tribes of Burning Man: How an Experimental City in the Desert is Shaping the New American Counterculture – and that’s how I’m structuring my Feb. 17 launch party. You’ll hear me talk about the book and read excepts from it, interspersed by meeting and hearing from characters in the book.
This is Burning Man by Brian Doherty is an excellent account of the event’s early years until around 2001, my first year, that I was reading when many of the book’s main characters launched their rebellion with an ad in the Guardian. Showman Chicken John and artist Jim Mason were the top signatories, their main foe was event leader Larry Harvey, and they had allies in co-founders Michael Mikel (aka Danger Ranger) and John Law and lots of Bay Area artists who were characters in Doherty’s book.
And suddenly, I was talking with these people, all recognizable from the book but so much more in real life, all fascinating, inspiring, multi-dimensional souls. It made the book so much more rich and gave a detailed backstory to the current controversy and those to come.
Some of those same characters and many more have said they’ll be at my event and will say a few words. Larry is returning from South America two days before the event, but he told me that he plans to attend and will say a few words, as will Michael and perhaps a third Borg member, Marian Goodell. Chicken will also be there, in his inimitable style.
Burners Without Borders founders Tom Price and Carmen Mauk plan to be there and speak; Rebecca Anders, a main character from the Flaming Lotus Girls section in the beginning of the book to the Temple of Flux section I conclude with, will be there, along with fellow Flux artists Jess Hobbs and PK Kimelman; Opulent Temple’s Syd Gris, another character who appears throughout the book, will speak and spin at the event; Fou Fou Ha will be there in costume to bring my indie circus chapters to life; artists Michael Christian and Peter Hudson will be there to talk about past projects from the book and their exciting new endeavors; performer Kid Beyond (my cohort in driving from Black Rock City to the Democratic National Convention in 2008) will be in the house and on the mic; Kinky Salon founders Polly Superstar and Barron Scott Levkoff will do a dramatic reading of their chapter on sex; and many more surprise guests.
So this should be a unique night to remember. See you there.