Playa Name: Sassy
Camp/Village Name: The HeeBeeGeeBee Healing Oasis
Camp Website: http://www.heebeegeebeehealers.org/
Any Burner related project you want to promote besides your own camp/village?
My business, Sassy Facilitation, gets to write Burning Man off on my taxes… because of the amazing professional development I get out there and bring back to the default world to build those radical conceptual and infrastructural bridges more effectively. www.sassycooperates.org
BurnerLove: You do a lot of work in the world of co-ops – facilitating communication, working to help co-ops achieve their goals, thrive, grow and be awesome – what have you learned from Burning Man that has helped your understanding of co-ops.
Sassy: There are so many overlaps in the skillsets applicable in my work with co-ops and the work I do to contribute to the Burn. My first 2 years were spent organizing small camps of friends sharing a few things, and I quickly realized how much my training as a co-op organizer contributed to our having an easy and fun time of it. Then I found the Heebees, and suddenly, I get to write Burning Man off on my taxes. Yes, it uses so many of my professional skills, it’s actually legit. Looked at from my sector’s point of view, Nectar Village and it’s member-camps is basically an umbrella co-op system (much like the fabled Mondragon co-ops in Basque, Spain, or the Arizmendi Bakeries in the SF area, formed based on the same model), which is chartered to support 2-3 weeks of partying and providing healing, power, and other services to its members and the community they create.
I learned so much from the dust that I bring back to my daily work.
I learned anew how the default world truly neglects the incentivising power of fun. it sees fun – frivolity, celebration, and dancing til you drop – as separate from work; it is play, and it doesn’t belong in our labor systems. We Burners experience them to be wrong – we understand that having the most epic experience possible is a great motivator for people to not only think radically outside the box about what is possible, but to then act accordingly, and actually organize and commit to create it.
I learned about the power of normalizing radical expression and creation. Coming to the playa, you are likely to find folks not only accepting you and what you do, but celebrating it, and perhaps even pushing your dreams farther than you could ever have imagined. And this is Normal – not just precious and rare, but truly the way we live our lives in our community. This new normative reality opens people’s minds and hearts in such amazingly productive and transformative ways.
I learned through daily experience how adversity and challenging parameters can spur and facilitate growth and creation, not just kill or distort it. A freak 80 mph windstorm one day during setup led us to reorganize our work-days with productivity ice-cream breaks scheduled in – and now we can set up fast enough to begin supporting our village before the gate opens.
I learned how a bank slate of an environment can do so much to our perspective on our resource and waste streams. I have a degree in Sustainable Ecology, and am steeped in this stuff; yet even I have had my eyes opened year after year by just what it takes to build and run a modern city of 50k+. It is both dismaying and humbling, and – curiously – heartening. Because for so much we use, and waste, so much is created, reused, and celebrated.
BurnerLove: Quick few words of advice for virgin Burners this year?
Don’t go to the burn until you are really called to go; then, go, and don’t carry any expectations with you
– they will only become baggage. Be prepared to participate with your whole self – but remember that voyeurism is participation, when done right. Be prepared in general – read the guides, talk to friends and strangers, bring enough water and food. Most of all, bring an open heart and mind, and be ready to have your mind opened. Take notes. Take pictures. Take away the lessons, connections, and most of all, the joy
BurnerLove: One piece of wisdom from successful, juicy co-ops you’ve participated in that people can take and apply to their camp at Burning Man to make it work better. Even if its only 10 people, 2 ice chests a BBQ and a 20 year old RV?
Sassy: Ironically enough,
though our city and culture is built on a certain amount of lawlessness and creative chaos, the key to an awesome camp experience is a solid and playa-ready communication structure.
Whether you are a few groups of friends sharing beer and a common shade structure, or a village as complex as Nectar, everything will flow more easily, safely, and with more epic heights of awesomeness if ya’ll communicate well before, during, and after the Burn. Setup a listserve, have different folks in charge or wrangling the different aspects (like water, shade, travel, food, beer, any camp public offerings – including the supplies to offer it, including any permits needed, and the labor to staff the offering, and the labor system that will setup, maintain, and strike the camp on playa). Decide how you are going to decide things before you have high stakes decisions to make at 4 am in the middle of a dust storm. have plans for how ya’ll will communicate and share labor when ‘playa happens’ and folks disappear on a soul-retrieval journey or spontaneous pony posse. Decide who will be lead in emergencies, who will re-stake camp after dust storms, and who make sure the beer stays cold. make it fun, but remember that doing it right makes the burn so much better
BurnerLove: You are active in various aspects of the kink/BDSM community on the playa. What’s the biggest difference in how the kink community represents/expresses/organizes itself on the playa and in the default world?
Sassy: In my experience there is very little difference, except perhaps in my context. Off playa, I run with a fairly intimate ‘tribe’ of kinky/BDSM identified folks, and we are mostly queer, and of all ages, body types and genders. We tend to have private parties and gatherings. On playa, I tend to rub shoulders with more strangers – and while there are many queers, and I do find them to play with, the overall scene is much more straight, and less ‘edge-blurring’ and ‘bendy’.
Yes, my on playa experience is a bit ‘more mainstream’ than my off playa SM play
– but its also more varied. I run into more folks doing other weird things and trying different methods of doing those things in the dust than in my home community. And that, I find priceless.
BurnerLove: I know you are involved in helping sex/kink orientated classes/events work out safety plans and other important logistics. Could you give a quick response why that is so critical and maybe some links or resources where folks thinking of organizing these types of classes/events can get more information.
Sassy: If you want to play with kink, and reap the full benefits of that play – which can and does include anything from pleasure, orgasm, deep trance states, and even psychological breakthroughs – you must first build a safe container to hold and guide that play. Without doing that work beforehand, it is very very hard to safely and successfully have a transformative and fun play session. But
if you do set up the space right, the possibilities are truly endless for what you can accomplish together.
There is a lot of great literature out there, but a few examples of folks who do it right (and tell you how) are: girlpile.net, “Come Hither – a commonsense guide to Kinky Sex” by Dr. Gloria G. Brame, and of course the playa’s own Bureau of Erotic Discourse.
BurnerLove: A ‘kink curious’ Burner wants to scratch that itch on the playa for the first time. What should she be aware of? Anything not obvious or counter intuitive she should keep in mind? Maybe something that doesn’t apply outside of Burning Man?
Sassy: Try playing at a party or in a group for the first time. Be aware of your boundaries, and keep them in your conscious mind. Remember that just because you are in a radically different place and probably having a heightened experience, it does NOT mean that you have no boundaries at all. In fact, especially
at the Burn, boundaries are what enable us to soar to new heights – they are the structure and safety line that enable us to scale the unscaleable walls of our fears and hopes and desires.
this is always true, but especially hard to keep in your mind, heart, and actions on playa. Perhaps make a plan with a buddy to be able to ask for instant aftercare, at any point in the week – i.e. either of you could come up to the other at any point and ask for 10 minutes of check-in and aftercare; preparing this kind of mutual support safety net can actually help eliminate the need for it.
BurnerLove: Is playa dust a magical aphrodisiac full of wonder and synchronicity or is it just me?
Sassy: Yes, it is. No, its not just you. It is truly a magical place – and anything you do out there is touched by that magic. Bring an already magical SM scene to the playa, and you will probably find you’re off in the clouds flying higher than you could have ever thought possible.