Lust Life: Burning Desire


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Shortly after I arrived in the desert, he came out of the darkness to welcome me. I knew he would be there, but my long journey had jet-lagged all such information, so that when he appeared, wearing loose, layered robes and an Arabian scarf on his head, I fluttered with surprise at the sight of him. His costume was something you might see on men in Northern Africa or the Middle East. But his origins are Columbian and we were in Black Rock City, Nevada, where you can wear orange fur with a kilt or nothing at all, and either choice is completely normal. He gifted me with a long, juicy kiss. His mouth tasted like a grape Blow-Pop.


He helped me pitch my tent, then disappeared into the night. The following morning, I wandered from my home base (Camp Beaverton for Wayward Girls) to Camp Kinky Queer, where he was staying. I saw him standing near the Penske truck, a.k.a. BDSM dungeon. What is she writing about now? A sex cult? One of those hedonism retreats? If you’re not familiar with Burning Man, it doesn’t make any sense. And it seems like so many things it is not.


We were both virgins to this annual weeklong creative collective in the desert, where art overrules politics and spiritual energies freely mingle. In Black Rock City, sex is not an isolated aspect of private life, but an open extension of radical self-expression within an intentional community. Every day and night, sounds of sexual ecstasy could be heard emanating from tents throughout our Freedom Community village. It was as normal as overhearing television from neighboring homes while walking down a generic suburban street. We were choosing, along with an estimated 44,998 others, an environment of extremes, where genuine giving and sharing replaces commerce, where pleasure is the elixir of life and love the unifying sentiment.


As we melted into a long embrace, I recalled our New York play party encounters and wondered how our attraction might play out here at Burning Man. His gentle kneading of my upper back muscles inspired thoughts of a massage in the delirious desert heat. Later that day, we slipped into his tent and he gave me the sensual massage I craved.…


Sundown brings on transformation in the desert. As the mind-staggering heat of day dissolves into a chill reminiscent of late autumn in New York, most BRC citizens exchange their daily minimal attire for something more exotic and imaginative. I put together an outfit echoing a 19th-century French circus: Victorian-style cream corset, leopard print panties with red panels on the sides and ruffles around the legs, black lace garters holding up red-and-white striped stockings. My black motorcycle boots, exposed to the inevitable playa dust, would soon appear to have been resurrected from an antique trunk.


I wandered the surreal landscape alone, among costumed creatures bathed in the illumination of headlamps and neon glow sticks. One group reconstructed Astor Place on this bizarre canvas of dream fragments, including the cube sculpture and a row of free press boxes. I shifted through the moving labyrinth of people and bicycles, fire-spitting Art Cars resembling pirate ships (like parade floats with blowtorches attached), vehicles constructed from mismatched parts choosing to be a cupcake or giant grasshopper. If bananas had sprouted legs and become a new species in this wonder-world of creation, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised (well, maybe a little).


So I sipped a glass of absinthe at one of the many bar camps, imagining that I would find the Sheik in our village dome of luxury, waiting. Indeed, he was there, incarnating Lawrence of Arabia on wine-colored cushions, surrounded by red-rose drapes, sketching his desert impressions on a stack of blank cards. I entered his space and soon we were playing frottage to the undulations of a dream. He tapped into my submissive side: Once a free-spirited French circus performer, I was now a helpless captive, mistress to the Sheik. We retreated to his tent, where I shuddered to the rhythms of his tongue, my striped stockings clinging to my quaking thighs.


The night didn’t end there. We stayed up till an unknown hour, sharing imprints, marveling at the Dali nature of this arid scene—constantly transforming, time-melting, dream-embodying. We drifted into sleep as the pulsating dance beats of playa clubs faded into a place where noise no longer matters. In a few days, his Queen would arrive and sweep me into her shadow. Perhaps we would have a ménage à trois. Until then, we were just two open souls connecting in the dust.


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