Go playa with yourself

Burning Man image by loupiote (Old Skool) from “the temple of forgiveness”. More of their photos are here and here.

This week’s SF Chron column is the sweetly cranky Go Playa With Yourself: Violet Blue explains why sex in the city is so much better during Burning Man — and yes, I’m already getting email telling me how closed-minded I am. It’s cranky and I had some fun, so? Anyway, hope you enjoy it with the appropriate amount of snark, humor, and of course, open-mindedness:

Last year I did my very best as a sex educator to make sure fewer people than usual would bring That Burning Sensation back home from that yearly rave destination in the Nevada desert, Burning Man. Sure, I also made fun of people who pay $300 to visit a festival where they can wear nothing but Crocs with socks while ogling body-painted sex clowns and really finally getting to be themselves, man.

Maybe that second part is why I didn’t get more feedback from attendees of the event. “You are the savior of my sunburned genitals,” no one said; “Baker Beach has a lot to learn about driving 16 hours to be nonconformist in the quest to find myself and get a sunburned peen.” I had imagined people telling me “I never imagined the delicious friction of sand and Astroglide; back home in San Francisco I always have to ride Critical Mass without underpants to get the same sensation. Nevermore!”

Instead, I was forced to seek solace in my own kind. I sat in my imaginary throne-booth at the totally empty uber-hip Mission District Ritual Roasters*, surrounded by a cadre of young, pale, easily sunburned Goth boys and girls complimenting me on my flawless complexion. (“Stay out of the desert, my dark darlings,” I’d answer with a lace-cuffed flourish of a cupcake-heavy hand.) My homo homeboys in the Castro admired my taste in gloriously Steampunk-free fashion, while we shared knowing winks about those who pay hundreds of dollars to get blown by alkali dust all weekend, as opposed to simply paying for drinks to get blown all weekend (though I have to travel to The Lex to receive service, but still).

Sex in San Francisco rocks during Burning Man weekend. Not because the hippies and steampunk hipsters are gone – OK, yes, that helps the atmosphere – but for at least five reasons:

One: Male, female or trans – if you live in The City, finding a parking spot in the Mission, SOMA, South Beach, NOPA, the Castro and yes, even the Marina is enough of a shocking turn-on that most of us will have at least 10 instant hard-ons a day regardless of what’s between our legs, not to mention making thighs quake city-wide with the ease of getting a taxi all weekend long. And just the thought of all those fixies being off the streets makes us motorcycle riders quiver with anticipation. Burners gone = clearer streets = hornier populace.

Two: It’s not just hippies and vaudeville hipster performers that are temporarily pulled from the dating and mating pool over the long weekend. Ravers and bubblicious Disneyland-of-BoingBoing-seeking wealthy tech industry wonks with pimped-out Air Streams also comprise the 50,000+ revelers who spend a s-ton of money to create the fourth largest city in Nevada for a week. And pollute it more than NASCAR, primarily to re-create Castro Halloween two months before we start boarding up our windows here. (…read more.)

* Yes, people are emailing me about SF Gate’s broken links in my piece — *all* links past Ritual Roasters the third paragraph are broken. I’ve notified the Gate, I hope they get fixed…


  1. Hah! You can only imagine how many folk came through my erotic place of employ in the past week. They said “stocking up for Burning Man” and I said “oh, nice” out of politeness. When asked why I wasn’t going, I turned to my milky white skin, then turned back to them: “sun burn, you know?”

  2. Bwah ha ha!
    I think your article was great. I’m from Seattle and we experience a similar exodus this time every year. After three years I have announced to all my many burner buddies that I am retired. I think BM can be an amazing experience. I will always look back on my first year as a meaningful and wonderful adventure…but since then…meh.
    I think the message behind the madness that far too few burners recognize is that it should be looked on as a tent revival. Take it as inspiration to find similar offerings in your own community. And if you can’t find it create it.
    I feel very privileged that the majority of my pals live the dream year round and take the event in the desert with a big gritty grain of salt.

    Because I can’t resist, on the topic of playa sexuality… my third time out one of my camp mates had at least attempted to play safe with a little dusty, tent-bound, nooky. However 4 days later she discovered to her own disgust (and all her friend’s amusement) that she had a small souvenir from the experience. In a hotel on the way home, after researching a bit of feminine itching, she found the condom still inside her. I know that “leave no trace” is one of the guiding principles of Burningman but some sacrifices should never be made.

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