Page 19


AFTERWORD Real Hallucinations BY JULIE HOLLAR “This is real life!” Damian’s mom is shouting through a megaphone while jumping on an aerobics trampoline inches from our stage. Under the bright lights two girls kiss each other voraciously, rolling on our futons to the cheers of the gathering crowd. Shelly, still all dressed up as Child Star Dana Plato, grabs the megaphone from the wide-eyed fifty-something woman with a bob and glasses. “Damian’s mom wants more noise!” she bellows. “Slap that butt, claw that back!” The girls happily comply. Damian paces nervously in the shadows, skirt flowing, shaking his head at his mom. “Who are those girls?” someone whispers to me. The commotion has drawn our whole camp out from their betweenshows break in the green room. I shrug. They shrug. We turn back to the stage and cheer. l t’s the Wednesday before Labor Day and everything I own is covered in dust. Gluey glitter still sticks to my neck and stomach. Pink glow-in-the-dark paint crusts in my hair. I might have to break down and go to a hair-washing camp it’s not far, I hear there’s one on Jupiter. And I, believe it or not, am on Earth. The corner of 7:00 and Earth, that is, the place I called home for my week at Burning Man. For the uninitiated, “Burning Man” is a free-form arts festival, culminating with the torching of a flaming wooden human figure. The festival began as a small San Francisco event in 1986, and has grown to an annual celebration and conflagration in the Nevada desert, complete with a road system, rangers, newspapers, and radio stations. This year, the streets of Burning Man’s Black Rock City were laid out by time and space, so that the concentric rings of the city corresponded with the solar system, and were intersected by the hours on a clock. At night, you could walk out in the open desert and look back at the colorful neon city \(whose population reached more you were seeing the early days of Vegas. A The Burning Man Steven Noreyko OCTOBER 15, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29