On Saturdays I answer questions from my readers or respond to frequent web searches. Here are answers to some questions about Burning Man.
What kind of person frequents Burning Man?
The short answer: All kinds of people go to Burning Man. If they can afford it.
Longer: In The People of Burning Man, there is a quiz that challenges the reader to match 9 fabulously dressed or undressed Burners to their default world professions. On the page are 2 attorneys, a computer programmer, a theater student, a real estate agent, a movie actor, a tax accountant, a photography agent, and the owner of an import boutique. This is a glimpse of the diverse people attracted to the event — you can never assume what a participant might do back in reality camp, or whether that job is their career or just something to get by until their real art starts making money.
I find it significant that “theater student” and “movie actor” are in the list above. I’d bet that some of the other 7 have some acting experience — and yes, I count Rocky Horror Picture Show cast here. In my experience, the Burn seems to draw from many people who didn’t fit in so well in their younger days — as if all of your high school’s hippies, punks, nerds, computer geeks, and thespians decided to build their own city so they’d finally have a place to belong. There’s a theatrical air to much of what happens on the playa — from the costumes and actual plays performed on theme camp stages, to the bustle of activity on Burn night which very much resembles actors and actresses hurrying to put their makeup on before curtain.
In the 2008 census, 40% of Black Rock City residents said they think of themselves as artists. To some extent, the kind of person who would want to go to Burning Man likes to see fabulous, unforgettable things while just sometimes being the center of attention too.
Where can you find effigy burns in your area?
Burning Man makes it relatively easy to find area Burners thanks to the Burning Man Regional Network. There are regional contacts and mailing lists located throughout the United States and in many other countries. Getting on the local mailing list or writing to a regional contact will help you find where your tribe gathers near you.
What is shirtcocking the right way?
It has come to my attention that a some people, particularly submissive kinksters, love the idea of a man in a suit and tie who is so urgently horny that he just drops his pants and bends his lover over on the spot. Since I am not a suit-wearing person and what I’ve just described might be called suit-cocking, I’m going to say there’s no such thing: Put on some fucking pants. Or take off your shirt.
Submit questions for Kit via the comments or contact info at the top of this page.
For more of Kit’s writing about Burning Man culture, see A Burner Lexicon.