Rare Video of Early Burning Man at Baker Beach

This was posted in 2019 and has received very few views (258 at the time of writing).

The claim is that the footage is from 1986. The number of people around does seem to match the official story of the first burn.

Can anyone identify the people in this video? Larry Harvey, Jerry James, Flash…who else?

The head of the Man being burned in this video looks much like the traditional Burning Man trapezoidal face we see today.

1. Source: YouTube

However, the first Burning Man looked markedly different.

This image we have of the Burning Man on the Summer Solstice sunset 1986 was originally posted on Burning Man Founder “Danger Ranger”‘s Flickr page, with photo credit to Jerry James. The EXIF metadata of this photo has the date as 2008, perhaps when it was digitally scanned.

2. Image: Jerry James
3. Source: YouTube

Although there are some similarities, to me these figures look noticeably different. The first image looks most like the modern day Burning Man, with a triangular head and only 2 “horns”. The second looks like Pan or Baphomet with flared hips and muscular parallel legs, goat head, devil horns, and an occult heptagon central shape. The third has a love heart face, pentagon central shape, boobs, hourglass figure with straightened shoulders and more human-looking hips, angled legs and crown.

Why Are There Multiple Original Burning Man Effigies?

Did they rearrange one statue to get two different images? As above, so below? Or was there a Satanic burn in 1985, followed by a love heart “Burning Woman” in 1986 which they brought a film camera to?

The Horned Devil image was chosen to represent Burning Man in this flyer for the 1987 Summer Solstice (Midsommar) event:

Here is one of the earliest recordings of Larry Harvey’s story of how it all got started. The clip at the start of this post seems to have been taken from here. Note that he says “1985” at 0:57 seconds; at 1:18 he says “ten feet tall”.

According to the official story, the Burning Man effigy has never been 10 feet tall.

The oldest “official” footage from the Burning Man Project’s channel is from 1988. There were quite a few more people around by then, and The Man is much bigger.

The 1988 statue is definitely 30 feet tall

Was it 10 feet taller again in 1989?


The Burning Man origin myth is explored in great detail in Part 4 of my series Silicon Valley’s Secret Weapon – the Shadow History of Burners.

Snake Theater Beelzebub Burn, Sausalito 1979. Image: Bruce Forrester
Timothy O’Neill, aka Elder Mech, held Wicker Man burns on Ocean Beach SF before 1986

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