Consent: Touching, Hugging & Progress On The Playa

By Terry Gotham

No discussion of harm reduction can stay on drugs forever. While we’ll continue our cavalcade of questionable substances next week, I wanted to take a quick break to chat about something that goes hand in hand with intoxication: Consent.

As we saw in the Burning Man crime reports, Black Rock City has made stunning progress on this front. More so, I believe, than any other festival or large scale music event in the world. Going from 13 to zero sexual assault arrests in 2 years should be congratulated, especially with what happened in 2012. While it’s possible that sexual assaults occurred that were not reported, that would have been true in the years with high arrest numbers as well.  To that end, it’s important to recognize when efforts are being made & good things are happening, and this is a good thing.

Consent violations, big or small, are some of the most unacceptable & problematic experiences that occur in adult environments, especially when assumed participation in radical self-reliance, potent internal & social pressures and controlled substances are present. There are a couple of different kinds of consent, so I figured just in case anyone needed a refresher, I’d go over them really quickly.

Express consent is probably what you’re thinking of when someone uses the word “consent.” It’s usually given in some confirming way, whether it’s verbal/written, or non-verbal, through hand gestures or head nods. This is not something that can be given while rolling face, tripping or drunk off your ass. This is a type of consent that’s also “ongoing.” To explain, just because someone consented to getting to 2nd base, that doesn’t mean they give consent to go any further. There’s a related, modern type  of consent that’s being used that I support heavily, called Affirmative consent. This is also known as getting an “Enthusiastic Yes” as opposed to just waiting for a no.  Consistent checking can create a comfortable & consensual crib, yo.

Implied consent is just what it sounds like. Even Wikipedia describes it as

“a controversial form of consent which is not expressly granted by a person, but rather inferred from a person’s actions and the facts and circumstances of a particular situation”

As you can imagine, this shit does not hold up at universities or in court. So, just because you think it’s been given, don’t assume. Make sure, as the absence of no doesn’t necessarily mean yes. In more clinical or formal settings, Informed Consent is used. For example, if you join a medical study, you usually sign an Informed Consent form, which details the nature of the study and any risks/rewards of participating. Informed Consent is required in environments where Express consent would not be enough. Additionally, a conversation about the study should be had before the form is given to you. Don’t just sign something if you haven’t read it. I know, none of us read the iTunes terms of service either, but this one’s important, especially if you’re in a medical or legal environment.

Finally, Unanimous consent is something you may find a little more often in groups of people who take drugs, or in other cases, poly relationship systems. There are times where consent isn’t a negotiated one-on-one thing. If you & your campmates want to get blasted on Tuesday night, sometimes it won’t happen unless everyone decides to do it. That’s a good way to think of Unanimous consent. Additionally, in sexual activities that have more than 2 people in them, or relationships that aren’t simply monogamous, sometimes unanimous consent is required before something can happen. This is a much more complex form of consent, as any one person can break it down and bring the negotiating process to a halt. There is a lot of empathy and understanding required here, because attempting to seek a “compromise” can be seen as pressuring and inherently inappropriate. Making  sure the least comfortable person feels they’re being heard is a great place to start. There’s some more information about consent violation, especially in the kink world here. For a giant resource center focused on Sexual consent violation, head here.

There’s a lot more here, so definitely hit up the 11th Principle. They’ve worked hard to make consent a visible part of the Burn. Say hi, like their page & tell them Terry Gotham and sent you.

Why We Burn: Ryan & Erika

(In an effort to bridge the gap between the coasts & inject some positivity around these parts, I’m going to be taking time to interview some of my favorite East Coast burners about the Burn & their experiences on-and-off playa. I’ll be talking to luminaries, logistics gurus, producers & minor celebrities in the Burner community here on the East Coast. Asking them about a number of things, but most importantly, why they burn.) By Terry Gotham

Photo by Saida Mouradova -

Photo by Saida Mouradova –

1. How long have you been burning & what originally motivated you to make the pilgrimage?
Ryan: This past year was my 5th consecutive year. What originally motivated me? It all started when I went to go help with a DiSORIENT party back in 2010 I would say. I was going to New York City all the time on a bus, every weekend I’d ask my friend what sort of events were going on. He was like”You should go to this DiSORIENT party, they’re these like, burner people, and they need help setting up their party” and I was sort of into that at the time. I fell in love with the vibe of the whole Burner scene through that. In 2011, I had a brother-in-law/veteran burner of maybe 7 years? He messaged me on Facebook being like “Burning Man tickets are on sale you should buy one. If you can’t go, just sell it.” So that’s what I did. From there I managed to find friends who were going and coordinate with them.
Erika: I have only been one year. I went because of Ryan, but I did say when I was a teenager that I would always go when I turned 25. And I’m 25 this year, so I decided to go.

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Ketamine: Destroyer of Scenes, Savior of the Depressed

This week, I want to discuss a substance that has developed a huge global following and staunch defenders on both sides of the Atlantic. Ketamine has become one of the most used substances in the Burner, rave & dance music communities. Whether you’re in London, New York City, Hong Kong, Cairo or Seattle, you’ve seen it diffuse into your scene. A dissociative anesthetic that’s never actually been used on horses, the crystalline powder took many dance floors by storm. In recent years, it’s not just become tethered to dance parties, but to treatment-resistant depression as well, with Ketamine infusion centers popping up at a surprising pace. But first, a little bit of local history.
I can’t speak for how the Ketamine may have filtered into your personal scene, but I can speak about the parties that I cut my teeth on, back during the era that people still thought we’d be greeted as liberators in Iraq. My friends and I first saw the issue when people in the psytrance scene couldn’t find LSD here in the city. While some chose to do 2C-I or roll, others began using this psychedelic powder that seemed to only last 40-60min. The utility of having a powder that only lasted 40min vs. a tab that could last 6-8hrs seemed to be immediately apparent and it started being THE thing.

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Be Leery Of The Leary [Update]


2015 leary sarandon

There has been a lot of press this year about Susan Sarandon’s ceremonial procession to lead Timothy Leary’s ashes to the Totem of Confessions, where they were placed underneath the Masturbating Nun (supposedly locked up to censor protect children from offensive art).

Now, further details are coming out. Most of the people in the parade partook of the “sacrament”, which meant drinking the ashes. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if some LSD was mixed into this magic punch.

A number of videos of her speech have been posted online, and covered in mainstream publications like the Daily Mail – but strangely most of them cut the video before she started talking about the CIA. This one contains the full speech, and some analysis about the broader occult context behind it:

Sarandon says “If anyone doesn’t know who Timothy Leary is and you’ve taken acid, you should be ashamed of yourself…he was the leader of the whole thing to take acid away from the CIA, and make it a means of exploration for everybody”.

After the Burn, Sarandon went on the talk show circuit to promote the ritual. Media coverage included People, Hollywood Reporter, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly.


She told Jimmy Kimmel: “Burning Man is a celebration in the desert of all different kinds of people. It’s about self reliance, it’s about acceptance, it seems to be about drugs and nudity – there’s a lot of that too. A lot of art all over the place. This year I had a mission, which was to take Timothy Leary’s ashes, which I had some of, and take them to a chapel…we did drink them”.

Who gave Susan this mission? And who gave Timothy Leary – the man who wrote the CIA’s entrance exam, known as “The Leary”his mission?

Leary said “at least 80% of the people I ever worked with were part of the CIA”. He described the “Liberal CIA” as “the best mafia you can deal with in the Twentieth Century”. He gave “total credit” to the CIA for creating the entire counter-culture movement.

John Lennon also said “we must remember to thank the CIA and the Army for giving us LSD” in his last interview. He was assassinated by a mind-controlled patsy in front of an ex-CIA doorman a few days later.

Timothy Leary and Billy Mellon Hitchcock at the Millbrook Estate

Timothy Leary and Billy Mellon Hitchcock at the Millbrook Estate

In fact it was British agent Aldous Huxley who tasked Leary with forming an “LSD Illuminati” to spread the drug. He did this with the help of members the powerful Mellon banking family, who provided a castle for his cult and helped fund global drug distribution networks after LSD was made illegal in 1966. At that point the CIA was the biggest purchaser of LSD in the world, having bought an estimated 100-250 million trips, or a third of all the acid ever manufactured, from Sandoz in Switzerland – owned by another powerful banking family, the Warburgs.

Huxley’s goal was to use drugs to create painless concentration camps for entire societies. His brother Julian is generally regarded as the father of transhumanism.

Today's Titans of Transhumanism - now called ABC.XYZ

Today’s Titans of Transhumanism – now called ABC.XYZ

Leary’s famous catchphrase “tune in, turn on, drop out” was actually developed on Madison Avenue by marketing guru philosopher Marshall McLuhan.

There are some interesting parallels between the values of the hippies in the Sixties, who thought they were changing the world with drugs and free love, and today’s socially engineered Burners, who think they are changing the world with “drugs and nudity”, as Sarandon puts it.

Robert Anton Wilson said “perhaps the final secret of the Illuminati is you don’t know you’re a member until it’s too late to get out”sound familiar, Burners?

Nothing to see here, move along…and be sure to worship the prophets you’re told to.

sarandon kimmel

Sarandon on Jimmy Kimmel live:

The official mini-documentary from Future Eyes TV:

“America is going to become a Burning Man country”


[Update 9/22/15 5:09pm PST]

This occult ritual-within-an-occult ritual was promoted in Burning Man’s official newsletter The Jackrabbit Speaks V19#35, the week before the event started. As usual, not all of the information coming from this source was accurate. In particular, they got the details of his most famous catch-phrase wrong.


Burning Man 2015: Final Resting Place of Timothy Leary

Date: Thursday, September 3

Time and Locations:

6:00 pm – Gathering at Cirque Gitane (8:15 & Geek)

6:30 pm – Art Car Procession to the Man.

7:00 pm – Join forces with the Billion Bunny March Against Humanity.

7:30 pm – Marching Band, Art Car, Kazoo processional to Totem of Confessions. Electric Kool-Aid party

Lauren writes:

“One of the most famous countercultural icons of the 1960s, Timothy Leary, was among a small group of renowned social scientists who abandoned traditional Western methodologies for the sacred culture of Tibetan Buddhism in an effort to pursue mystical revelation and personal liberation. As an advocate of guided meditation through hallucinogenic drug use, Leary initiated a cultural renaissance with his ‘turn off, tune in, drop out’ mantra. After his death in 1996, several grams of Leary’s ashes were launched into space aboard a Pegasus rocket. The rest of his ashes were dispersed amongst loved ones, some of which are making their way to the playa this year through Cirque Gitane, an intergalactic travel camp located at 8:15 & Geek.

On Thursday at sundown, Cirque Gitane will encourage everyone on the playa to be a part of a Timothy Leary extravaganza. This celebration of Leary’s life will turn into an elaborate funeral procession that will travel through the playa to veteran artist Michael Garlington’s ‘Totem of Confessions’ on the 3:00 Promenade and 1600 feet from the Man.

The march will culminate with the ashes being placed inside the ‘Totem of Confessions,’ and when the Totem is burned, the ashes will burn with it. Burning Man will be one of the final resting places of this exceptional man, who President Richard Nixon called ‘the most dangerous man in America’. Leary taught people to tap into the wisdom of indigenous cultures and to treat the natural world as an extension of themselves.”

(Photo by Philip H. Bailey, CC-BY-SA)

El Sherpo: Latina Labor Abuses At Plug-n-Plays

Representing my country

A photo posted by Valerie Kelly Sandyballs (@mexicansandyballs) on

(NB: the Burner pictured is a full participant, not a sherpa in any way)

A guest post by Buena Chica. This first appeared in the last edition of this year’s Black Rock Beacon.


Everyone has their breaking point – when we sit in silence, break down, and cry on Playa. Sometimes we cry out of gratitude, in awe of the beautiful installations and experiences that have been so laboriously created for our entertainment. And sometimes we cry at the realization that we have been doing it all wrong for so long in our lives.

My own tears this year had a completely different base. I had long heard about those plug-n-play camps: Building a compound surrounded by giant RVs to keep the “peasants” out of the decked-out “members’ only” elaborate amenities. Considering the “Sherpa” phenomenon of last year’s burn, and the promise by Bmorg that these camps would align to our Ten Principles, I was shocked to encounter the construction of one such camp during my own Early Arrival on August 21st.

Let me be absolutely honest, my fellow Burners, and tell you that even now I am crying as I write these words: My shock quickly turned to horror as I observed that this particular plug-n-play camp was being built by Latino laborers. Every day, as all the Early Arrival Burners went on building the city for you, these Latino laborers worked from early morning through the night to build a camp for people who are obviously oblivious of the Principles that have taken so much time to establish in our temporary city.

It took me four days to build up enough courage to talk to some of the laborers to learn about the appalling conditions they contracted to: Low pay and no leaving the camp nor being present on the rare occasion the camp opens its doors to the general population. As more and more Burners started arriving to set up their own camps, I was further appalled by the comments they would direct to these workers. From my own tent I heard on more than four occasions passengers of art cars driving by hurling insults such as “How does it feel to work for rich people?”, “Fuck your Burn, Sherpas,” and “Get out of my city.” So not only were the Latinos brought in to serve a particular kind of people who do not abide by our Principles, but now they were being abused by our fellow Burners who did not understand the situation: They are NOT Sherpas, as at least Sherpas are invited to entertain at parties. The workers were particularly selected to build these kind of camps then stay out of view and not partake in the rest of “our” Burner experience.

We hear it every year: Why are there no minority Burners? Well, here is one answer for you: You bring people who look like me to serve you but not to be seen or integrated as equals.

Just yesterday I walked around Center Camp Cafe to see the amazing artist murals. There is a display of colorful pictures. As I stepped closer, I observed that everyone in those pictures looked like me – Latino, African-American, minorities – who had been killed by cops in the Default World. I turned around to see Burners in various getups and outfits on bikes going in every direction. Nobody looked like me. I turned back to see the mural again; everyone looked like me. And then I remembered the 15 or so Latino laborers at the plug-n-play camp hidden away from view not far from the 9:00 Plaza.

Why are there so few minorities on the Playa? The answer lies within. How do you see me? How am I included in your own lives in the Default World? Am I just your hired help? Or do you include me as a participant in your own community? If you do not ask these questions, then you are Doing It Wrong, not only these abhorrent plug-nplay camps.

This article was written Saturday morning and published in Sunday’s edition of the Black Rock Beacon. On Saturday evening, Buena Chica was at The Temple of Promise and observed the BLM arrive in a procession with pictures of fallen comrades.  A crowd of Burners started chanting “All Lives Matter” which is a total indignation and insult to the “Black Lives Matter” movement in the default world……. but as the BLM receded, Buena Chica finally read the message written by the BLM upon the Temple’s entrance: Police Lives Matter.  She is grateful for the Burners who stood in solidarity and acted with IMMEDIACY to remind the BLM that they are Doing It Wrong and do not fully follow our Principles as well.