Burner Handle(s): S-Laughter (rhymes with laughter) – I’m the S in S&M Productions, your Promo Team
Defaultia Region of Origin: Indianapolis, Indiana
Years Burning/home burn: I’ve been burning for 4 years, starting with Mosaic Experiment in 2014. I met this guy named Likewise at a party while he was planning this huge effigy for this fall burn in Ohio. I fell in love with the project, fell in love with him, and fell in love with burning. The rest is history. I’ve attended over a dozen burns since, including Reclaimation, Scorched Nuts, Transformus, Mudsaic, Paradox and the Gerlach Regional.
NSFW: I’ve visited 8 different kink and sex clubs in 6 different states and 2 countries.
Years of Servitude, ahem, volunteering: Four years – I’ve volunteered as a large scale burnable art artist, Ranger, resident Green Dot, and Promo Lead
Role: Promo Lead
Why: Three reasons: 1) Using my professional abilities on behalf of my community makes me happy. 2) My volunteer obligations will be DONE when I arrive at the event. 3) As the town crier, information conduit and chief communications guru – I KNOW ALL!!!!!!!!!!! mwuahahahaha
Why does your dept matter?
In order to have a burn we need people to come, and we need people to volunteer! Making sure all our online info is up-to-date, tantalizing all of you with snark and silliness, herding the other Leads to promo their departments, getting graphic artists like Big Mike to volunteer their time and talent to make graphics for our theme – all of the critical and sparkly parts of the Burn belong to my department.
Why does volunteering improve your burn/make you happy/work for you?
So umm… I’m socially awkward as fuck, believe it or not. Volunteering, especially when I was first burning, gave me a Thing to go do and reasons to talk to people. I quickly connected with other folks who really love the burn life. Plus, if your friends are all the cool, self-reliant, communal effort kind of burners, it means you know the USEFUL members of our community!
Our Volunteer Leads do a great job of rewarding and supporting our volunteers, like there’s usually at least one meal given out each year. Unlike other volunteer experiences I’ve had, I find burn volunteering rewarding, inspirational and more than a little cray-cray. As a Dept Lead, you get an invite to the Winter and Summer Planning Retreats, where you can watch Everyman attempt to be an effective leader, do good work while avoiding sobriety, and influence the entire burn itself.
Why should someone consider volunteering for you?
If you’re a graphic designer or social media whiz, it’s a great chance to use your professional skills for a fun reason instead of work. You don’t have to volunteer for a shift during the event. And you’re part of a very exclusive team, as we only need a handful of folks to accomplish our nefarious goals.
What's your favorite volunteer story?
So I’m the kinda person who’s either a wallflower or I am ALL IN! When I began to learn about Burning Man in 2014, I quickly came off the sidelines. Which means I showed up to attend a Black Rock Ranger Training to be part of one of the coolest departments ever. As part of getting things started, the trainer asked people to raise their hands if they’d been to 15+ burns, 10+ burns, 9, 8, - you get the idea. When he finished, I hadn’t raised my hand, and he looked at me. I raised my and stated I had been to ZERO burns. Yep, I showed up for volunteer training BEFORE my virgin burn. Try to be as cool as me – I dare you ;)
What's your best burner skill?
Logistics – I love keeping inventory of our gear and making sure Slaughter’s Bloody Bar is ready to serve the best Bloody Marys in the ‘Verse!
What's your choice nugget of wisdom for a virgin burner?
Leave your expectations at home. Bring your enthusiasm and an open-mind
Why do you love burning?
I love burning because of the community the 10 Principles creates. When you tell people to radically express themselves and participate, and by the way you’ll be included no matter what you do – it is astonishing and inspiring how the best of humanity shows up. The Principles are ideals we all strive to implement better – some of us naturally excel more at some than others. I find most burners are weirdos in some way shape or form, and it’s lovely to connect and party with each other in a world we all collectively create.
Have burns changed your life? How?
Attending burns has dramatically decreased my social anxiety, enabling me to take risks and engage in my life in a different way wherever I find myself. I found Radical Self-expression and Immediacy to be my most challenging points of growth. Working on both of those helped me discover my own agency – and that changes everything.
What does consent mean to you?
Consent has 5 main components: Caring, Communication, Caution, Consent and Context. Caring means the person I’m interacting with gives a shit about my well-being. Communication means we are actively negotiating and confirming that everyone is down with what’s going on – before, during and after. Caution means we’re paying attention to what’s going on and acting with some intention (or trying to). Consent means we want there to be a clear YES before anything involving someone’s body or other resources occurs. Context means we notice changes in the situation and check-in, for example, my partner might be totes down with boob grabs in our house but not consenting to boob grabs while out at the pub.
Which principle is primary for you and why?
Communal Effort really stands out to me right now. Burns really are what we collectively create, period, end of story. Unlike other festivals, burns rely strongly on the community to exist and function. Without volunteers, without theme camps, without artists – we don’t burn.
What keeps you sane in Defaultia?
Rituals and self-care maintain my sanity. You’ll prob see me outside my shade structure doing my morning yoga flow each morning (by the way, that’s also a sign that our bar is going to open in an hour or so).
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to be the kind of person who makes you feel better about yourself because we talked. And not in a cheerleader kind of way – in a shame-reducing, radical self-acceptance kind of way. Life is too short for fear.
What's your drink of choice?
Complex beers and excellent bourbon!