PLAYA DRUG GUIDE - 2003
The last time Piss Clear ran an extensive drug guide such as this one was way back in 1998, so we figured it was high time (pardon the pun) to bring it back.
We sent the word out to our various writers, asking everyone to submit anecdotes about doing drugs at Burning Man. You won't always find tips and tricks here, but hopefully you can learn a thing or two from other people's experiences - both good and bad. Besides, who doesn't love articles about doing drugs on the playa? Why, you could get a contact high just reading this!
One word of warning, though: be careful out there. Black Rock City may seem like Utopia, but it still exists in the state of Nevada, where, as you may have heard, most of the substances listed here are illegal. Be discreet and use caution - there are more cops out here than ever before. Never do drugs out in the open, and be wary of who you offer them to. Be safe, and always be sure to drink plenty of water. Have fun!
Absinthe is fun, but it can make you do crazy things. Rumor has it that last year, after a heady evening of absinthe intake in the VIP Lounge of the infamous Duck Club, the owner, known only as Slim, began crawling around the open roof. Alas, when nature called, there was no porta-potty on top of the Duck, so he lifted up his Utilikilt and peed right there, over the balcony ... and onto his bar staff. Needless to say, the bartender was, pardon the pun, pissed!
- Adrian Roberts
Acid is pretty much a staple drug here at Burning Man, but it's a lot less disorienting now that there's a city infrastructure. Back in 1995, before there were city streets, the best way to locate your camp was to sort of triangulate, using the Man as one reference point and usually some big mountain as another. Once the Man burned down though, it became a real challenge to find your way back to camp, especially at night.
My campmates and I had the bright idea to decorate our camp with a lot of glowsticks and other lights, so even on acid, finding it would be a cinch. What we didn't count on was some asshole stealing the lights. It took us over two hours to find our camp, and when you're tripping your brains out, that is no fun.
The lesson? Since there are streets nowadays, go ahead and take that seventh hit! You'll always be able to find your way home, unless you wander into the desert chasing the white rabbit.
It was a typical cold night night on the playa, back in 1999 - a year more people got laid, I think, because it was just too damn cold to do much else.
Anyway, I had just gotten a pro drag queen makeover from Taffy at MASHcara, the first one ever in my life. I was wandering around the playa when I saw a Ranger vehicle parked, with its lights on. They were trying to rope in this skinny kid who drank waaaaaaay too much of the Kool-Aid. His clothes were nowhere to be found, and it wasn't getting any warmer.
So this skinny naked boy is dashing around the deep playa, but the lights of the Ranger car would intrigue him, so he would come creep up to it, touch the headlights with his index fingers, and make a funny "whoop whoop" sound. He was doing that to everything he focussed on. Your hat, a rock on the ground, whatever - "whoop whoop."
As the Rangers walked up to him with a blanket, he'd dash off into the playa again. So they'd stroll back around and act like they were just hanging out. The next time he came up, I thought I'd help out, since I wasn't wearing a uniform. I said something like, "Hey buddy, aren't you cold? How about a warm blanket?" He walked up to me, eyes bugging out, and points to my face and says:
"Too much makeup."
Then he dashed off again into the deep playa.
And that's it. He ran off and was never heard from again. If you come across some bones out there, it might well be him. Give him a "whoop whoop" for me.
- Caution Mike
This is about hangovers and you. One supposes that if you're hungover, you're probably not reading this right now. But perhaps one of your campmates is reciting this to you while you're hurtin' from last night's partying. Quick, my shriveled friend, ask for some water - piss clear! - and listen on.
First and foremost, alcohol dehydrates you. In addition, it also depletes nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C. Some drinks are worse than others, so I suggest you avoid cheap plonk wine and brandy.
Before you start all over again tonight, drink plenty of water and score some zinc tablet and vitamin C. Or eat some fruit. If you hurt, pop a painkiller as well, such as aspirin or ibuprofin. That is, providing you're not on any other meds, in which case you should not be drinking alcohol at all, my friend.
Eat well before you start to imbibe. For every drink, have a glass of water. And forget about coffee. It's a diuretic, just like booze.
If you have a hangover, you can rub a lemon under your drinking arm like in Puerto Rico. Your campmates can only approve. A pickled sheep's eye in tomato juice does the trick in Outer Mongolia. Dancing or making love helps. Whatever you do, don't call me, 'cause personally I'm always pissed, yet hydrated, and am only available for emergency hangnails. Now where's my drink?
- Dr. Proctor
Hard liquor equals hard currency here in Black Rock City. Fuck gifting. When it comes to something you really want, barter is the best way to do it, and nothing is better to barter with than booze. We always bring a bunch of those little airline bottles. They're cute, pocket-sized, and perfect for all the barter bars.
- Adrian Roberts
"But it's too hot to drink coffee on the playa!" Oh, stop whining you pussies, and don't even mention that iced coffee bullshit. Some of the hottest, spiciest food and the thickest, darkest coffee is served in the hottest countries around the world. I started going retro the last couple years by using a stovetop percolator (you can find one in a camping store) and honey, it brews up the darkest, bitterest brew this side of the Congo. It's just what I need to get me through a day full of "Welcome home!" wankers and all the blonde dreadlocked dickheads that are trying to take over the playa.
- Rev. Blind Toaster
Cocaine is the "secret drug" of the playa. A lot of people do it, but no one really talks about it - at least not the same way everyone talks about getting stoned, or dropping E, or frying on acid.
It's also one of the best drugs here. Who wants to be looped out of their heads on psychedelics, especially when the whole vibe of Black Rock City is so trippy already? What you do want to do though, is stay up all night and party. You want to dance your ass off, meet new people, and see as much art out on the playa as you can. Cocaine helps facilitate all of this, while keeping you with a relatively clear head, undulled by booze or psychedelics.
And unlike crystal meth, which can leave you up for days, feeling edgy and irritable, good cocaine will have you in bed asleep three hours after your last bump. Of course, you need to be disciplined enough to know when to say when, and with cocaine, it's hard to say no when you've still got a bump left in your bindle. So be careful, you big cokehead!
- Adrian Roberts
Spend more for the good stuff. Every year there's somebody in our camp who buys crappy cocaine in bulk or something. Like Costco-brand coke. Then he and his campmates avail themselves to this gas-smelling devil's dandruff for the first few days, thinking, "Hey, at least we're not doing crank." But by the third day, they're all snarling and vicious. This crap doesn't actually get you high - it just moves you straight to the edgy and irritable phase.
Back in the dot-com heyday, other folks in our camp were getting the purest Peruvian flake. A nice clean way to stay up for an evening without feeling like ass for days afterwards. The moral? You get what you pay for. And coke is no place to cut corners.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was feeling a lil' tired after a long drive from SLC to BRC. Lo and behold, ho and blow, shortly after arriving, a friend let him know that she had some glass. Glass, crystal meth, speed - pure, sweet, and wonderful. More bitter than caffeine, it's a punch in the nose. It's what kept the Navy Seals on long range patrol in 'Nam killin' killin', and what kept the Nazi pilots blitzkriegin' in WWII. Za-zing!
So, this friend of mine goes for a bag (ironically traded for Viagra). Suddenly, he goes from one minute, one thought at a time, to a time-lapse chunking of hours going by, and before he knew it, Burning Man was over. What should be a wonderful experience became a blur of words and fire and road and before he knew it, he was back to Real Life, punching the clock again.
And he hasn't been back since.
You can argue about how wonderful the extra energy is and how time suddenly blossoms. You can say, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." But ultimately, you need some sleep. That wonderful sensation of waking, thinking you were dreaming of the playa, then realizing it isn't a dream, that you really are here - it won't happen if you never fall asleep.
I guess moderation might be possible, for people who know where that switch is. But for me, I've become a tnurd again (temporary non-user of recreational drugs).
- Gavin Heck
You know, just once, try not going to the Burn on Ecstacy.
That way, you see, you won't need to worry anything about timing. You won't need to worry about "coming on" just as the Man goes up in flames.
And you won't need to worry about needing to take a ferocious dump the minute you come on, and having to fight your way through the huge crowd of people to try to find those damn porta-potties in the dark, and then worrying about the fact that you lost all your friends, and that you're completely disoriented, and that you're high as a kite, and you're feeling oh-so-good, but damn, where are you friends, you're supposed to be experiencing this with them dammit, and oh, you feel so good right now, and you're breathing deep, and fuck, you need a lollipop right now, and some water, oh good, you have water, you need to drink some water, but fuck, your friends have the lollipops, and oh, you feel sooooo good, especially now that you've taken that dump, but fuck, where are they, oh wait, the Man is burning, wow it's so beautiful, I love everyone here, everyone and everything is so beautiful. Sigh.
Anyway, the Burn is still pretty beautiful, even without the E, and you can always drop it after they burn the fucker down. I mean, they burn him pretty early in the evening, and hell, you've got all night, right? Just be sure to drink PLENTY of water.
- Adrian Roberts
Ketamine is my personal favorite mind-altering substance. Technically, it is legally administered as an animal tranquilizer, but why should that fact deter human animals from its consumption? Needless to say, it doesn't deter me in the slightest. I'm like a kid in a candy store anytime I can get my paws on the stuff (which really isn't very often).
The trick with ketamine, as with many other substances, is the dosage. A huge rail will probably render you sick or at least incapacitated for a bit, so its best to start off with a keybump or two and see where that takes you.
Where do you want it to take you? Out of your body. In addition to being a tranquilizer, ketamine is also a dissociative, meaning that the perfect dosage will give you the feeling that your mind is completely outside of your body. Quality playa time with a feline playmate is the shiz knit.
- Orange Peel Moses
What's up with Europeans and blunts? I try to share my once-a-year-primo-splurge pot with them and they always roll it with a pile of skanky Bull Durham and start passing it around the RV. Nothing says buzzkill like the taste and smell of hand-rolled tobacco when you're expecting a few hits of that aromatic Humbolt from your eyeball pipe. Sure it makes it last longer, but it also takes longer to get you where you want to go, if you know what I mean.
- Rev. Blind Toaster
Just remember, this is Nevada, not California. Cops can smell pot. Be discreet, and avoid getting busted.
- Adrian Roberts
- Rev. Blind Toaster
At the 2001 Burn, I did an eighth of 'shrooms, because I just wasn't getting fucked up enough off of 3/4 of an eighth.
Well, I guess this batch was a right powerful one. At first, I felt the sudden urge to take a huge crap. On the way to the porta-potties, I dry-heaved, and thought, "Oh, that's odd."
As I sat in the stall, I started sweating and feeling nauseous "beyond belief." Something was wrong and on top of it all, I was feeling paranoid. At this point, I felt that if I tried to squeeze anything out of my ass, a valve would burst or something. I didn't know what to do - I was fucked up in a bad way.
At the very height of my freakout, I heard my girlfriend and her friend calling to me. I got my pants up (barely) and opened the door.
Next thing I know, I'm waking up on the ground, about three steps from the potties. I lay there for at least 45 minutes with several people coming to my rescue. I went in and out of these horrible feelings. They tried to make me puke it up, but I couldn't. They tried to keep me warm, but I was freezing. One person, a kind chiropractor (who only wanted to party, and not babysit some dork) thought that I was going into shock.
Finally, an ambulance came and took me to the Medical Tent at Center Camp. It was the longest fucking ride of my life! They put an IV in my arm. As I started to feel better, everything got very funny. The three of us sat in the med tent, laughing our asses off like six-year-olds. After awhile, they released me, and we actually went out and played that night.
Let me just say, what a great staff over there at Medical! In fact, last year I went back on the one-year anniversary of the incident to bring gifts and say hi to the guys who helped me. Many of them were the same people, and they remembered us too.
- Crash Almighty
Mushrooms are an iffy proposition out on the playa. Dosage is hard to regulate. Different batches of 'shrooms are, well, different. And I never seem to remember which is more potent, the caps or the stems.
For me, it seems like every other mushroom trip is a bad one. One year, it'll be great, and I'll be dancing around the playa having a grand ol' time. So of course, the following year, I eat them again, only to have the universe come crashing down on me. Then I vow never to do them again. Until the next year.
- Adrian Roberts
You know, don't you think it's pretty hypocritical of the Burning Man organization to print things in the Survival Guide like "the use of drugs in a physically challenging and hazardous environment can create a serious health hazard," while its founder, Larry Harvey, is seriously addicted to one of the most hazardous drugs of all, nicotine?
More people die from cigarettes than all other drugs combined. And hell, just standing next to Larry Harvey while he's smoking (which is pretty much all the time) puts you at a health risk. I could be shooting up heroin right next to you, and you wouldn't be physically harmed at all. But hang around Larry for just a little bit, and you'll breathe in so much carcinogenic secondhand smoke that you'll feel the lung cancer coming on before you even know it.
- Adrian Roberts
Without a doubt, this is my favorite drug on, or off, the playa, due to its sheer intensity over a very brief amount of time. But brief amounts of time can be quite deceiving. Nitrous is often misunderstood as some kind of "hippy" drug (it's also known as hippycrack). Believe me, I ain't never liked the Grateful Dead, but for me, N20 is the perfect Burner drug!
There's nothing so nice as sitting cross-legged amongst a circle of friends, doing balloons, flinging yer head back, and having it literally "bounce" off the playa! And then laughing about it.
The interesting thing about nitrous is the sort of afterglow effect after focusing on a certain sound. In my experience, I've come to the realization that Black Rock City is literally "buzzing" to the sound of generators 24/7. You might block it out most of the time, but a good huff on a balloon will send you right into that "d-d-d-d-d-r-r-r-r-r-r" sound - and no, it's not techno. It's a generator, and it's actually comforting sometimes.
A good friend of mind has a great story of going out alone into the wide open playa one year, lying down on his back to do balloons while staring into the starry night sky. After some time, he soon came to the realization that the two bright stars he had been staring at were in reality the glistening eyes of a stranger, who was standing over him, and the sound echoing in his ears was this person's voice:
"Are you alright? Are you alright-t-t-t?" "Uh... yeah, I'm fine..."
- Eggchair Steve
2CB is a psychedelic drug similar to acid or mushrooms, but often with milder effects. If you do enough, you can get visuals, but you have a clearer head space than with other psychedelics.
A few years ago, the weather was particularly bad at Burning Man, and there was one day where it rained off and on constantly. We kicked it in the shelter of our RV, but to help alleviate the tedium, I dropped some 2CB. As it turned out, I leave the RV all day. A pretty lame time in Black Rock City, right? Wrong. Not on 2CB!
Throughout the day, we entertained a steady stream of people, who dropped by to visit, seek shelter from the duststorms, or comment on something that was written in the paper. Even though I was stuck in the RV, I never once got bored or restless. The 2CB kept things interesting, as did the conversations with our various visitors. To this day, that remains one of my best times ever in Black Rock City - which really says something, considering I didn't leave the RV all day!
- Adrian Roberts
VALIUM / XANAX
We have a joke around here at Piss Clear headquarters, and that's that every night, we "worship at the House of Xanax." After a night of heavy partying - okay, pretty much every night in Black Rock City - it's nice to come home to our little friends. Valium and Xanax both take you down from whatever you're on, and help you sleep - and sleep solid. In fact, I've never slept so good at Burning Man!
The best part is that they're both legal. What's that? You don't have a doctor's prescription for it? Oh yes you do! Next year, about six weeks before you head out for the playa, do a Google search on the internet for Valium or Xanax. It's readily available through overseas doctors. Why, my doctor lives in India!
- Adrian Roberts